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Olivia de Havilland and the 11th Airborne

Olivia de Havilland in her 11th Airborne jacket

Dame Olivia Mary de Havilland, born 1 July 1916) was a British-American actress. Her career spanned from 1935 to 1988.  She appeared in 49 feature films, and was one of the leading movie stars during the golden age of Classical Hollywood.   She is best known for her early screen performances in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and  (1939), and her later award-winning performances in To Each His Own (1946), The Snake Pit (1948), and The heiress (1949).

Olivia de Havilland pin-up

Born in Tokyo to British parents, de Havilland and her younger sister, Joan Fontaine, moved with their mother to California in 1919. They were brought up by their mother Lilian, a former stage actress who taught them drama, music, and elocution.  De Havilland made her acting debut in amateur theatre in Alice in Wonderland. Later, she appeared in a local production of Shakespeare’s  A Midsummer’s Night Dream, which led to her playing Hermia in Max Reinhardt stage production of the play and a movie contract with Warner Bros.

Olivia de Havilland at Hollywood Canteen, 1943

De Havilland became a naturalized citizen of the United States on November 28, 1941, ten days before the United States entered  WWII militarily, alongside the Allied Forces.  During the war years, she actively sought out ways to express her patriotism and contribute to the war effort.

Olivia de Havilland visits the injured in Alaska

In May 1942, she joined the Hollywood Victory Caravan, a three-week train tour of the country that raised money through the sale of war bonds.  Later that year she began attending events at the Hollywood Canteen, meeting and dancing with the troops.

In December 1943 de Havilland joined a USO tour that traveled throughout the United States, Alaska, and the South Pacific, visiting wounded soldiers in military hospitals.  She earned the respect and admiration of the troops for visiting the isolated islands and battlefronts in the Pacific.  She survived flights in damaged aircraft and a bout with viral pneumonia requiring several days’ stay in one of the island barrack hospitals.   She later remembered, “I loved doing the tours because it was a way I could serve my country and contribute to the war effort.”

Olivia de Havilland in Kodiak, 1943

In 1957, in appreciation of her support of the troops during World War II and the Korean War, de Havilland was made an honorary member of the 11th Airborne Division and was presented with a United States Army jacket bearing the 11th’s patch on one sleeve and the name patch “de Havilland” across the chest

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Military Humor – ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Mildred Baum – Venetia, PA; Civilian, US Army JAG (D.C. office), WWII

Hilbert Ditters – Ferdonia, ND; US Army, WWII, PTO, Japan Occupation

Billy Joe Hash – Whitley County, KY; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Purple Heart, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Jim Honickel – Summit, NJ; US Army, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

Harold D. Langley – Amsterdam, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO / author, military historian

Jimmy Morrison – Hazelton, IN; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam

Robert Payán – Gallup, NM; US Army Air Corps, German Occupation, medic

Ronald Rosser – Columbus, OH; US Army, Korea, Medal of Honor

Salvador Schepens – Gulfport, MS; US Merchant Marines, WWII / US Navy, Korea, USS Wasp & Hornet, (Ret.)

Donald Terry – Apollo Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Cone (DD-866)

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Pin-up Girls Helped Win WWII

America’s entrance into WWII triggered the golden age of WWII Pin-ups — pictures of smiling women in a range of clothing-challenged situations.  The racy photos adorned lonely servicemen’s lockers, the walls of barracks, and even the sides of planes.  For the first time in its history, the U.S. military unofficially sanctioned this kind of art: pin-up pictures, magazines and calendars were shipped and distributed among the troops, often at government expense.

No history of any military unit would be complete without some info on its favorite pin-ups.  Keep in mind that in the days prior to women being in every military unit, soldiers would be in the field or in combat for months on end, or years as in WWII, without seeing or hearing a female voice.

Although a little revealing at times, pin-ups were not what you would recall pornography.  No one knows for sure when this trend began, but it is known that Napoleon’s soldiers carried pin-ups with them.

Usually pin-ups were wholesome American girls – movie stars, singers, dancers or just well-known celebrities, but occasionally, some of them were a bit on the “wild side”.  Some pin-ups were not real women at all, but drawings, like the well-known ones by Vargas.

“Gravy for the Navy”, Alberto Vargas

What would become the familiar pin-up began to take shape in 1917, when Wilson’s administration created the Division of Pictorial Publicity.  The art form’s ever-growing popularity bled over into other mediums, such as Hollywood, who jumped onto the bandwagon and movie execs began using sexually-charged imagery to promote their films.

This had such a success, it came as little surprise in WWII that pin-ups were used in recruitment posters and war bomb purchasing material.  Many considered this to be the pin-up’s “Golden Age” and thousands of images were commissioned to raise soldier morale while fighting overseas.  A U.S. soldier couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a pin-up girl: in barracks, on submarine walls and carried in pockets – they were never far away from a reminder of why they were fighting.

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Nose art for US aircraft regulations were eased and through WWII and into the Korean War, aircraft artistry would be in its ‘golden age.’  This not only helped the morale of the men, but it made a plane easier to identify rather than its serial numbers.  Although the art would also be of cartoon characters (“Thumper”) or hometowns (“Memphis Belle”), the majority were of women like “Lady Eve”, Forbidden Fruit” “Miss Behavin” and “Little Gem”, for example.

Adak Island, AK pin-up collection

The woman who became the champion pin-up girl was Betty Grable and winning that that title was a tough fight as she was up against such names as Hedy Lamarr, Dorothy Lamour, Ann Sheridan, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Esther Williams and many others.

For further research on pin-ups in aviation and nose art, Pierre Lagacé’s blog ‘Preserving the Past’ click HERE!  

                                                                                     Or ‘Preserving the Past II’ article HERE!

This information was condensed from stories found in “The Voice of the Angels” 11th Airborne newspaper.

For the 11th Airborne Division, the main woman was Olivia de Havilland, whose story will be in the next post.

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Current News –

To watch the vintage WWII aircraft flyover in honor of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two, Please check here for the count down and link for you to watch!!

For my post concerning the 2 September 2020 flyover. Please click here!!

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Military Humor – 

 

blind dates

 

 

 

 

 

‘Only one man in 1,000 is a leader of men. The other 999 follow women!’

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Farewell Salutes – 

Max Abram – Carthage, MI; US Army, WWII, Lt. Colonel (Ret. 37 y.)

John Childs – Jacksonville, TX; US Army, Vietnam, 2/506/101st Airborne Division, Lt. Col. (Ret. 21 y.)

Robert Butler – Lismore, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO, decoder

David Iggo (101) – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 415697, WWII, Flt. Lt., 457th Squadron

Wayne Kellog – North Hornell, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

Vincent P. Marketta – Brick, NJ; US Army, SSgt., 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (A)

Edward ‘Mike’ Reuter – Tacoma, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Tyler M. Shelton – San Bernadino, CA; US Army, Sgt., 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (A)

Margaret Shinners (100) – Middletown, RI; Civilian, US Naval photographer

Donald F. Wright – Coffeyville, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT-150/Ron 12

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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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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

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To be continued by forthcoming generations, we hope…

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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 (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……

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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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The 187th ‘Rakkasans’ – part (1)

11th Airborne Division, 1943 Yearbook

My father, Everett A. Smith, was a member of Headquarters Company/187th/11th Airborne Division, from 1942 until 1946.  From the very start of the division, General Joseph M. Swing was their commander.  Often called ‘Uncle Joe’, Smitty’s picture of him says, “My General” on the reserve side.

Major General Joseph Swing

Soldiers of the 187th Infantry Regiment (Airborne) have the distinction of belonging to the only airborne regiment that has served in every conflict since the inception of American airborne forces. Today, the First Battalion (1/187) and Third Battalion (3/187) of the 187th carry on the tradition while assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) of the 101st Airborne Division. The 3d BCT carries on the nickname “Rakkasans,” the nom de guerre of the 187th/11th Airborne Division.

Smitty reclining in front, on the far right, with the HQ Company/187th Regiment/11th Airborne

The Regiment was constituted on November 12, 1942 and activated on February 25, 1943 as the 187 Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR) at Camp MacKall, North Carolina. The two-battalion regiment was assigned to the 11th Airborne Division for the duration of World War II.

The first major milestone for the 11th Airborne Division, which along with the 187th Glider Infantry included the 188th Glider Infantry and the 511th Parachute Infantry, was to convince the War Department that the divisional airborne concept was viable. Airborne operations during 1943 in Sicily and the Italian mainland had not gone well. The 11th and 17th Airborne Divisions conducted the Knollwood Maneuvers in late 1943 and early 1944 that demonstrated to observers that an airborne division could be flown at night, land on their planned drop zones, be resupplied by air, and hold their objective until relieved. The success of the Knollwood Maneuvers was a major factor in the approval of future parachute operations during WWII.

courtesy of the U.S. Army Signal Corps

The 187th Glider Infantry and the rest of the 11th Airborne Division embarked for the Pacific out of Camp Stoneman, California in May of 1944. Their first combat action was to join the campaign in New Guinea on May 29, 1944.  This would start the long and productive relationship with the 5th Air Force.  The regiment joined the fight in the Philippines, landing on Leyte on November 18, 1944. The 187 GIR then landed on Luzon on January 31, 1945.

Camp Stoneman, “Through these portals…..”

The regiment, along with the 188th GIR, entered Luzon by making an amphibious landing on the enemy-held Nasugbu Point in order to flank the Japanese lines. The 187th Glider Infantry fought in other notable actions on Luzon, like “Purple Heart hill,” Tagatay Ridge, Nichols Field, and Mount Macelod. As part of the 11th Airborne Division, the 187 GIR was one of the units instrumental in liberating the Philippine capital of Manila. The regiment was given the honor of garrisoning the city. Moreover, the 187th was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for action at Tagatay Ridge and later a Philippine Presidential Citation for valorous combat performance in the liberation of Luzon and Manila.

November 1944: Two Coast Guard-manned landing ships open their jaws as U.S. soldiers line up to build sandbag piers out to the ramps, on Leyte island, Philippines. (AP Photo)

At the end of WWII, the 11th Airborne Division was selected as the first troops to enter Japan on occupation duty. On August 30, 1945 flew to Atsugi Airfield in Yamamoto, Japan. The 187th Infantry was the first American occupation troops, and the first foreign military force to enter Japan in more than 2,000 years. It was in Japan that the regiment earned its nickname.

Gen. Swing’s flag atop Atsugi Airfield hanger

The regiment had been converted from glider infantry to the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment. The Japanese had no word to describe these soldiers falling from the sky, so they used the made up Japanese word “rakkasan” to describe what the American soldiers did. The literal translation means “falling down umbrella men.” The locals started calling the troopers “Rakkasans,” and the name stuck.

To be continued…….

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Barns Jr. – Miami,. FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt.

Joan Carlsen – Littleport, ENG; RAF WAAF, WWII, radio operator

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

Jack Farley – Burdine, KY; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. (Ret. 27 y.), Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Milton Farmer – Canton, GA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Co. A/ 187th RCT, (Ret. 20 y.)

Daniel Grosso – Buffalo, NY; USMC, WWII, Purple Heart

Wesley McNaughton – Ottawa, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO, Electrical & Mechanical Corps

Leonard Nixon – Garden City, SC; US Navy, WWII, PTO, electrician’s mate, USS Bougainville

Elgin Roy – Chattanooga, TN; USMC, WWII, PTO & CBI

Donald J. Streiber – Bountiful, UT; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

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Send In The Old Guys!

Please remember throughout this post, it is meant to be humorous – don’t anyone be offended – have fun with it!

I am over 60 and the Armed Forces thinks I’m too old to track down terrorists.  You can’t be older than 42 to join the military – but they’ve got the whole thing backwards.

Instead of sending 18-year olds off to fight, They ought to take us old guys.  You shouldn’t be able to join the military until you’re at least 35.  For starters, researchers say 18-year olds think about sex every ten seconds.  Old guys only think about sex a couple of times a month, leaving us more than 280,000 additional seconds per day to concentrate on the enemy.

Young guys haven’t lived long enough to be cranky, and a cranky soldier is a dangerous soldier.  “My back hurts!  I can’t sleep!  I’m tired and hungry!”  We’re bad-tempered and impatient, and maybe letting us kill some terrorist a**hole that desperately wants to go to ‘Paradise’ anyway will make us feel better and shut us up for a while.

An 18-year old doesn’t even like to get up before 10 a.m.  Old guys always get up early to pee, so what the hell.  Beside, like I said, I’m tired and can’t sleep and since I’m up already, I may as well be up killing some fanatical SOB.

If captured, we couldn’t spill the beans because we’d forget where we put them.  In fact, name, rank and serial number would a real brain-teaser!

Boot camp would be easier for old guys… We’re used to getting screamed and yelled at and we’re used to soft food.  We’ve also developed an appreciation for guns.  We’ve been using them for years as an excuse to get out of the house and away from all the screaming and yelling!

They could lighten up the obstacle course however…. I’ve been in combat and never saw a single 20-foot wall with a rope hanging over the side, nor did I ever do push-ups after completing basic training.

Actually – The running part is kind of a waste of energy too…. I’ve never seen anyone outrun a bullet!

An 18-year old has the whole world ahead of him.  He’s still learning to shave or start a conversation with a pretty girl.  He still hasn’t figured out that a baseball cap has a brim to shade his eyes, not the back of his head.

These are all great reasons to keep our kids at home to learn a little more about life before sending them off into harm’s way.

Let us old guys track down those terrorists…. The last thing an enemy would want to see is a couple million hacked-off old farts with bad attitudes and automatic weapons, who know that their best years are already behind them!

Old sailor on the hunt.

HEY!!!  How about recruiting women over 50 …. in menopause?!  You think men have attitudes?  If nothing else, put them on Border Patrol.  They’ll have it secured the first night!!

Send this to all your senior friends – make sure it’s in big enough type so they can read it!

Contributed by Trooper Gilbert Wells and published in “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Division Assoc.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Buchanan – VA; USMC; WWII

Miguel M. Covarriebias – Hanford, CT; US Army, Iraq, Spc., 1/227/1/1st Cavalry Division, KIA

Leo Croce – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot, 398 BG/8th Air Force, Bronze Star

Brodie Gillon – UK; Royal Army Medical Corps/Irish Guards Battle Group, Iraq, Cpl., KIA

John Mastrianni – New Britain, CT; US Air Force, Korea, SAC & NSA Intelligence

Glen Ogden – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Marshal D. Roberts – Owasso, OK; US National Guard, Iraq, SSgt., 219th Engineering/138th Fighter Wing, KIA

Richard J. Smith Jr. – Mobile, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO & ATO, USS Pennsylvania

Herbert Stettler – Oskloosa, IA; US Army, Korea

Eloiza Zavala – Sacramento, CA; USMC, United Arab Emirates, Combat Logistics Battalion 13, driver, KIA

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Jump Boots – the Airborne trademark

508th Airborne Regimental Combat Team

Distinctive as Airborne itself, so are the dark, glistening jump boots of a paratrooper.  Troopers glory in their significance and only they know the secret pride when they glance down at their boots, polished like glass, and see in them the reflected valorous traditions of AIRBORNE _____ By: Cpl. Jim Ethridge

Jump boots belong to the paratroopers!  They are as distinctive as the airborne itself.  Others in the armed forces may wear them, but the dark glistening boots are the original trademark of the swaggering soldiers-of-the-sky.

At Fort Campbell, as with other installations were paratroopers are stationed, it is the jumpers’ delight to “fall out” each morning with starched fatigues, blocked hat and the mirrored footwear.

Corcoran Paratrooper boots

This is true of the 508th Airborne Regimental Combat team.  The doughty Red Devils flash all the dash and verve that marked the paratroopers of yesterday.  Very early paratroopers wore ordinary army shoes and some even used tennis shoes.

Then somebody devised a leather ankle-top boot with a big metal buckle across the top of the arch.  but this proven impractical after several paratroopers came down looking like spiders trying to get the suspension line unhooked from the buckle.

Next came the boot called the Corcoran.  The most beloved of the several brands of jump boots on the market.  These are still the main choice of the airborne warriors.

the boots of a “Flying Tiger”

Another popular, well-appearing boot is the Skymaster, which has the same thick sole and slash heel as the Corcoran, but it doesn’t quite have the snub, upturned hard toe of today’s famed boot.

An early fad was to replace the manufacturer’s eyelets with huge brass grommets.  The grommets called for the nightly ritual of removing the 72-inch leather laces and running a blitz cloth through the big eyelets – all 48 of them!

Red Devils and other paratroopers alike take pride in this hallmark of distinction.  They glory in its significance.  They are proud soldiers when they glance down at their boots, polished like glass, and see reflected the valorous traditions of the Airborne!

This article and pictures below are from: “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Division Association, Matt Underwood, Editor

paratrooper gear of the Pacific Theater

paratrooper 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Bettin – Milwaukee, WI; US Navy, corpsman, USS Jason

Walter Grisevich – Hartford, CT; USMC, WWII, PTO

Katheryn Hatch Klaveano – Woods Cross, UT; US Navy WAVE, WWII, flight orderly

Fernand “Bucko” Lambert – Artic Village, RI; US Army, Korea

Moises A, Navas – Germantown, MD; USMC, Iraq, Captain, 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Purple Heart, KIA

John E. Nichols – Springfield, VA; USMC; Cuba, Vietnam, Major (Ret. 44 y.)

Diego D. Pongo – Simi Valley, CA; USMC, Iraq, GSgt., 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, KIA

Wayne Smith Jr. – Fort Benning, GA; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Div. / Vietnam, adviser, Bronze Star, West Point alum ’49

Max von Sydow – Lund, SWE; Swedish Army, Quartermaster Corps / beloved actor

Ken Wright – Avalon Beach, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, ETO, Flight Lt., Spitfire pilot

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188th at Desert Rock, Nevada / Manzanar Relocation Center

 

One last mention of the 188th Regiment/11th Airborne Division at Desert Rock – at least for now….   🙂

 

I located this newsletter from the National Association of Atomic Veterans, Inc., published in 2013.  It might better answer many of the questions some of the readers had from the previous posts.

Click to access 2013_03_NAAV_Newsletter.pdf

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Manzanar Relocation Center  – east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Manzanar covered an impressive 540 acres of land in Owens Valley. Yet the desert was not a welcome home for most of the camp’s internees. The arid landscape made for blistering hot summers and harsh, cold winters.

While some large-scale farming helped keep the concentration camp self-sufficient, most of the internees were forced to hold industrial jobs at the camp’s garment and mattress factories. Wages for their work often topped out at less than 20 dollars a month.

Though it was surrounded by barbed wire and a series of guard towers, Manzanar comprised a variety of buildings, including churches, shops, a hospital, a post office, and an auditorium for schooling. Men and women shared bathrooms and bathing facilities, and living assignments were frequently random, meaning that a woman might be assigned to live with a man other than her husband. All in all, mess halls and residences were crowded and sparse.

Manzanar and the other internment camps closed after World War II, but many of the internees had nowhere to go. While the economic impact of their imprisonment was devastating, the social and cultural implications were likewise detrimental.

It wasn’t until 1988 that the U.S. federal government provided redress to these citizens, and offered each survivor $20,000. In 1992, Manzanar Relocation Center was declared a National Historic Site. President Bush offered a formal apology the following year.

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During the camp’s four years of existence, photographers were invited there to capture what daily life was like for the relocated citizens. Famed photographer Ansel Adams was one of just a few individuals to photograph the internees, though censorship no-doubt shaped his photos. Still, the images above provide a small glimpse at what life was like in the concentration camps.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Emery Arsenault – Dennisport, CT; US Army, WWII, PTO

James Ayala (100) – Ellsworth, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, tank gunner, 2 Bronze Stars

Lawrence Bunts – Nampa, ID; USMC, WWII, PTO

James J. Cansler – Bolivar, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co. C/1/28/8th Infantry Division, KIA (Germany)

Gordon Duggan Sr. – Enfield, CT; US Coast Guard, WWII, USS Glendale

John “Red” Gartner – Omaha, NE; US Navy, WWII, CBI, submarine tender USS Beaver

William Myers – Munday, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO,23rd HQ “Ghost Army”

Joseph Pelliccio – Bayonne, NJ; US Navy, WWII, USS Iowa / Korea, USS New Jersey

Charles “John Boy” Smith – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force & Navy, # 4312868

Rosalind P. Walter – NYC, NY; Civilian, Corsair aircraft riveter.

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