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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.

Click on images to enlarge.

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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.

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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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June to July on Luzon 1945

“Mopping-up”

General MacArthur relieved the headquarters of Sixth Army and I Corps of further operational responsibility on Luzon in order that the two could begin preparations for the invasion of Japan. The headquarters of Eighth Army and of XIV Corps assumed responsibility for the further conduct of operations throughout Luzon, where the only Japanese force still capable of effective, well-organized resistance was the Shobu Group.

For Sixth Army and I Corps, the meeting of the 37th Division and 11th Airborne Division units south of Aparri on 26 June had marked the strategic end of the campaign in northern Luzon. This conclusion attained considerable logic. The juncture had divided the Shobu Group’s remaining forces and had occurred while Yamashita was desperately trying to withdraw all available units into his last-stand area.

Moreover, Sixth Army estimated upon relinquishing control to Eighth Army that no more than 23,000 Japanese were left alive in northern Luzon and that these troops were disorganized and incapable of effective defensive operations. The 6th Army further estimated that only 12,000 of the 23,000 Japanese were located in the Cordillera Central between Routes 4 and 11, the rest in the Sierra Madre east of the Cagayan Valley.

XIV Corps would have under its control the USAFIP(NL), now a seasoned and reasonably well-armed force of 21,000 men supported by two U.S. Army field artillery battalions. Also under XIV Corps was the experienced Buena Vista Regiment, equivalent in size to a U.S. Army infantry regiment less supporting arms and services. All in all, it appeared that XIV Corps would become involved only in relatively easy mopping-up and patrolling operations.

The 6th Army had greatly underestimated the Japanese strength left in northern Luzon, and the 8th Army’s estimates, made upon its assumption of command, were but little closer to fact. Actually, at the end of June, close to 65,000 Japanese remained alive in northern Luzon, 13,000 of them in the Sierra Madre and 52,000 in the last-stand area between Routes 4 and 11.

Caring for injured Filipinos

Although organization, control, and morale were deteriorating, and although most of the troops were ill armed and poorly supplied, the Japanese in the last-stand area were still capable of effective resistance when the occasion demanded. The task confronting the U.S. Army and guerrilla units in northern Luzon was of far greater magnitude than any headquarters estimated at the end of June.  XIV Corps plan for operations against the remainder of the Shobu Group differed only in detail from those I Corps had previously employed.  Reduced to their simplest terms, both sets of plans called for the exertion of unremitting pressure against the Shobu Group wherever Shobu Group troops were to be found.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Anderson – Mackay, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/187th/11th Airborne Division

Francis Beecher – Norristown, PA; US Air Force, radioman

Greater love hath no man

Roy Custer Jr. – Miami, FL; US Air Force, Korea

Joseph Ferraro – Queens, NY; US Navy, WWII

Vincent Johnson – Minneapolis, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Al Kuschner – Great Neck, NY; US Navy, WWII

Carlo Lattinelli – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, Korea

Charles Merritt – San Diego, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Panamint

Allan Redmond – Chicago, IL; US Merchant Marines, WWII, engineer

James Thayer – Carlton, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO, General, Bronze Star, Silver Star

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78th National Airborne Day

“Airborne All The Way”

Author Unknown

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.”

Saint Mike

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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Airborne Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Barber – Toledo, OH; US Army, Vietnam, Captain, 101st Airborne Division

Billy Enzor – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Army, 187th RCT

Warren Evans – Clarksville, TN; US Army Korea & Vietnam, Colonel, 187th RCT, 2 bronze Stars

Edward Fallon Jr. – Boston, MA; US Army, Korea, 101st Airborne Division, pathfinder

Francis ‘Red’ Grandy – Russell, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII / Star & Stripes photographer

Henry Kalb Jr. – Atlanta, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Larry Noll – Sheldon, WA; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

Anothony Patti – Bronx, NY; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division, medic

William Shank – Harrisburg, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 338th Fighter Squadron/8th Air Force, Purple Heart, KIA

Reymund Transfiguracion – Waikoloa, HI; US Army, Afghanistan,  3/1st Special Forces Group, Sgt. 1st Class, KIA

Charles Watson – Vero Beach, FL; US Army, Artillery/11th Airborne Division

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SHOUT OUT !!!

Personal Note – I know I promised a post for the women on the home front for today, but the calendar has changed my schedule.  That post will appear Monday, 20 August 2018.

Thank you.

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June – 187th/11th Airborne Division

Jump at 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 hold up in the northeast corner of Luzon and General Swing had organized the Gypsy Task Force to take them out. On his orders, the unit would include “all Camp MacKall veterans.”

This unique unit 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.

Task Force Gypsy, Aparri, Luzon

Col. John Lackey, CO of the 317th Troop Carrier Group, 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.

C-47 Skytrain “Gooney Bird”

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.

Task Force Gypsy

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.

As the ground races up to meet the troopers, they see the tall, thick fields of the sharp kunai grass, flooded rice paddies, caribou 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.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – Tomorrow, 7 August 2018 is Purple Heart Day

purple-heart-day-us-holidays1-640x427.jpg

Over 1.8 million awarded to date.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hugh Adams – Portland, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Trevor Anstey – Chesterfield, ENG; RAF, WWII

Angel Flight

Gary Bohanick – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Michael Gagliardi – Boca Raton, FL; US Army, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Freeman Hepburn – brn: Bahamas/Port St. Lucie, FL; US Army

Richard B. “Rick” Long Sr. – Seven Lakes, NC; US Army, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

Samuel McAllister – Mt. Vernon, NY; US Army, 75th Ranger Regiment, Sgt. Major, (2) Bronze Stars, KIA

Christopher Nelms – Oklahoma City, OK; US Army (28 y.), Delta Force, Sgt. Major, (2) Silver Stars, KIA

Billy Sapp – Reno, NV; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st Marine Division

Kenneth Walser – Mesa, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, B-26 pilot

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187th/11th Airborne Division – Luzon, April 1945

This excerpt is from “The 11th Airborne Brick” by: Marvin Miller

[Filipino scouts had just killed 2 Makapili ( enemy sympathizers), and parts of the 187th/11th Airborne were near.]

The men in the company walked right by the bodies of the two slain men, the captain refused to even look in that direction as if he didn’t have the slightest idea of what just went on.  He would never tell a soul of what happened there that day.

A hard, driving rain began to fall on what Wayne thought was a Tuesday and 3 days later, it was still raining.  He kept his little New Testament Bible and his latest letter from Roxie dry by using a rubber bag he had taken off a dead enemy soldier.

Luzon, 1945

On that Saturday, the sun was shining brightly as they prepared to continue their trek through the muddy jungle trail.  They moved out within the hour and had made a couple of miles by noon.  The heat was stifling and the humidity made it unbearable.  It was difficult to breathe.

In an instant, a land mine and some snipers took the Filipino scouts out.  Shots were being fired from all directions as the troops found themselves in the crossfire of an ambush that had been carefully planned by the Japanese.  The rest of the company hit the ground in the thick vegetation for cover.

As usual, Fikes was shouting out orders to his men on how to fight the enemy, but the gunfire was too loud for him to be heard.  Besides, nobody ever listened to him anyway and he knew that in situations like this, it was every man for himself.  It was simply kill or be killed.  He grabbed a hand grenade, pulled the pin and quickly lopped it into the direction where he heard a Jap machine-gun.

The grenade exploded bu the machine-gun fire continued.  He tried again and missed.  When he jumped up the third time, the machine-gunner was waiting for him….

Plante got to his knees and then stood up shooting his flamethrower into one direction and then another.  He dove for cover after the third blast, waited a minute or two and then did it again.  He repeated this process over and over again for what seemed to be hours…

soldiers in the tall grass of Luzon

Wayne and Branson were firing their weapons too at every chance they had.  In fact, they had fired so many times that Wayne’s BAR malfunctioned.  He left his position close by his best buddies and crawled through the tall grass in search of another weapon.  He found an M1 just a few yards away where Pfc Hanson was laying dead.

The firefight seemed to be lasting for an eternity…  Both sides were running low on ammunition.  The Japanese were so low that they were now ready for  the second phase of their attack, the banzai charge.  They stood up, those without ammunition used the bayonets on their rifles or used their sabers.

Philippines, 1945

There were 53 in the banzai charge.  Over half were shot dead before they reached the Americans, but what few did reach the soldiers were either killed in hand-to-hand combat or shot.  It was over in less than a minute.

Branson was field promoted that day and took over Fikes’ platoon.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – SNAFU in “Outpost”

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth Anderson – Red Wing, MN; US Army, Korea

James Blevins – Ash County, NC; US Army, WWII, ETO, mechanic

Daniel Diana – Brooklyn, NY; US Navy, Lt.Comdr.

David Garcia – St. Louis, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, (MLB Mgr.)

Michael Healy – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 4th Rangers w/ 187th RCT / US Army Special Forces, MGeneral (Ret. 36 y.)

Gorge Keagy – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Coast Guard, gunner’s mate, USCG cutter Vigilant

Thomas Nix – Boulder, CO; US Navy, WWII, USS Lexington

Frank Osmer – Hudson, NH; US navy, WWII, gunner’s mate, USS Astoria

Virgil Smith – Haines City, FL; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Chuck Stevens Jr. – Van Houten, NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, (MLB 1st baseman)

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End of March 1945 for the 11th Airborne Division

 

Luzon, 1945

22 March – The 187th Reg., the 674th and 675th Field Artillery units had completed their move from Tanauan to Cuenca, Luzon; taking over positions left by the 158th.

23 March – the Japanese stormed A Company’e outpost on San Jose Hill.    The outpost forced the enemy back but had lost Captain Hanna who had not remained in the safety zone with the rest of his unit.  The artillery forward observer was able to  call in artillery fire on the enemy locations and the following morning.

Col. Pearson dispatched G and F Companies to clean out the area.  Tanks battered down houses and the engineers deactivated land mines, but NW of the village, the enemy fired from concealed caves and stopped the attack.

117th Engineering Batt. searching for mines

24 March – the Japanese reentered the village of Dita during the night.  Four battalions of artillery and a squadron of P-47’s made several strikes and the F and G Companies followed up with house-to-house fighting through the streets.  The intensity of the Japanese machine-gun and mortar fire halted the attack.

27 March – following a mortar barrage from the 85th Chemical Battalion and airstrikes using napalm, the 1st Battalion dug in at Bukel Hill and the 2nd Battalion held position near Dita.  Thus began the bloodiest and toughest battle for the 187th to date. (The 187th still exists today.)

Banzai

28 March – in a perimeter south of the Dita schoolhouse, G Company had repulsed another banzai attack.  At 0500 hours, about 50 Japanese soldiers had attacked F Company and its guerrillas.

B-24s and fighter-bombers of the 5th Air Force hit Balete Pass tracts and ridges, installations at Santa Fe, and ground support targets N of Laguna de Bay and in Cavite and Batangas Provinces and B-25s and A-20s attack troop concentrations at Baguio and Ilagan. Bombers hit the Cebu City area and pound airfields on Negros.  B-24s bomb Likanan Airfield. The 39th Troop Carrier Squadron, 317th Troop Carrier Group, moves from Leyte to Clark Field, Luzon with C-47s.

In spite of the shelling and air strikes, the enemy had been able to continue nightly banzai attacks.

Luzon, WWII

The 187th Regiment historian reported: “the Nips took a much heavier toll of the attached guerrillas who had the old-fashioned idea that tropical nights were made for sleeping.”  [11 were killed and 10 others wounded).

On Luzon, fighters from the 5th Air Force attack targets in the Cagayan Valley and north of Laguna de Bay, blasting bridges and gun positions over wide stretches.  B-25s, A-20s, and fighter-bombers hit Cebu targets, several of the strikes being flown in support of ground forces.

By 1 April 1945, the 187th had encircled the landward sides of Mount Macalod – it had not been easy.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Armstrong – Tyler, TX; US Army WWII

Franklin Bissett – Morgantown, WV; US Army, Korea, 187th/11th Airborne Division

One of the cemeteries at Tarawa.

Anthony Cooper – Jamaica, NY; US Army, WWII, 1st Inf/British 8th Army / Korea, 101st Airborne (Ret. 23 y.)

Elroy Dragsten – Bookings, SD; US Navy, WWII, 2nd Lt.

Lyle Gray Regina, SK, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO

Richard Hall – Portland, ME; US Army, WWII, ETO, 36th Division

Jeffrey McDougall – W.AUS; RA Air Force # 82473

Edgel Oldroyd – Springville, UT; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Tossie Parker – Tuscaloosa, AL; US Army, WWII

Albert Yamolovich – MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl., Arisan maru (POW ship), KIA

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Back on Luzon

Mount Macolod, Luzon

Back on Luzon in the Philippine islands, we return to the US Army still fighting Yamashita’s formidable soldiers…

When General Swing, Commander of the 11th Airborne Division, moved into the stripped-down Manila Hotel Annex, General Krueger began to visit him every other day. His competitive nature tried to get Swing to back-off from pushing into Manila first by saying, “don’t stick your neck out,” but Swing replied, “It’s been sticking out a mile since we landed.”

Mount Macolod was not some minor hill to be taken, this was a major battle for the 11th Airborne. It stands almost 3,107 feet, nearly vertical. On two sides, after a 1,200 foot drop, it has three ridges descending gradually. The north to south nose was known as Brownie Ridge, the east as Bashore and the third, a heavily wooded area that connected Mt. Macolod with Bukel Hill.

Brownie Ridge was the most heavily fortified section encompassing those infamous caves and tunnels previously built by enslaved Filipinos. G-2 (Intelligence), informed the soldiers that they would be up against the Japanese 17th Infantry Regiment and the 115th Fishing Battalion (Suicide Boat Unit), under the command of Colonel Masatoshi Fujishige (Fuji Force).

Mount Macolod

For the attack, the 187th, the 760th & 756th Field Artillery Battalions, the 472nd, the 675th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, the 44th Tank Battalion and Company B of the 127th Airborne Engineers were used. (To help avoid what could become very confusing here, I will concentrate on the 187th.) They were equipped with 155mm howitzers, 105mm howitzers, sawed-off 105mm howitzers, Sherman tanks, chemical mortars and flame-throwers. Air attacks were brought in to assist. An entire squadron of P-47s made numerous runs with bombs and then proceeded to strafe the enemy sectors.

F and G Companies of the 187th began house-to-house fighting, but were met by massive machine-gun fire. The enemy was dug in too far underground. Napalm strikes were brought in which enabled the 1st of the 187th to go around to the north of Dita and the 2nd held its position near the town. This was 27 March 1945.

Both units made a frontal assault into the Macolod area the following day. The flamethrowers were used on the enemy bunkers and E and G Companies made it to the top of the crest. Their M-1 fire took out snipers and more advancement was made, but the Japanese returned with mortar fire and a withdrawal was necessary. The enemy came at them throughout the night and following morning with banzai attacks. This was a fierce and bloody battle, especially for men who have never been sent into reserve for rest.

The small islands that XI Corps had to secure were Caballo, a mile south of Corregidor; Carabao, hugging the Ternate shore; and El Fraile, about midway between the other two. The Japanese on those islands posed no threat to Allied shipping–their ordnance was too light–but, like other bypassed Japanese garrisons, they had to be taken sometime. Although the islands had little or no military significance, the operations to secure them offer interesting examples of military ingenuity and unorthodox tactics.

Some of the 11th A/B troopers were put into a new light. There were no airdrops and no amphibious landings. They used native outrigger canoes to land themselves on Saipang Island where the enemy was using machine-gun fire on the troopers. It was mandatory that machinery to be eliminated. Therefore, at dawn, the canoes moved out. The paratroopers behaved like natives, but fought like soldiers and the small island outpost was cleared of Japanese.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Daniel Kahikina Akaka – Hoolulu, HI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd Regiment, Purple Heart / Senator & Representative

Franck Bauer – FRA; WWII, ETO, underground radio broadcaster, WWII 

Warren Baum – Miami, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, aircraft mechanic

Arthur Eberly Jr. – Charleston, WV; US Army, Korea

Norman Goldstein – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Carel Jan van Oss – Netherlands; RAF/Dutch Air Force & resistance, WWII

George Lawley – Bessemer, AL; US Army, WWII

Sherwood Maxwell – Henderson, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, A Co./675 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Norman Silvira – Union City, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical Co./187th/11th Airborne Division

Ted Young – Poole, UK; Royal Engineers, WWII, ETO

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