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Bombing of Hill 2380 – Luzon

XIV Corps, 11th Airborne operation area in Southern Luzon

USMC’s Iwo Jima’s Mount Ssurabachi was only 554 feet in elevation, but they called it a mountain.  THE US ARMY’S ANGELS OF THE 11TH AIRBORNE AND 1st CAVALRY ATTACK a HILL 2,380 feet, this was 4 times higher than Mt. Suribachi!!

3rd Attack Group

Watch this 7-minute video to see the interaction of the 11th Airborne Division and the 3rd Attack Group….

 

While the fighting continued on Luzon, Gen. Kenney, Commander of the 5th Air Force, was requested to go to Washington.  Plans for the operation (Olympic) to invade Japan were certainly in the works and had been for quite a while, Kenney told Gen. Marshall that they could land there any time they could get the ships to take in the troops.

Gen. Kenney, 5th AF

He felt the Allies had enough troops, Navy and air power in the Pacific, and Japan was about through.  He added that he did not believe it necessary to wait for Hitler to fold nor did they need help from the Russians to beat Japan.  Marshall did not agree with him and added that they might have to land in China first.

Kenney retorted that the effort to go into China could be used for Kyushu.  “It was common knowledge that the Japs had been putting out peace feelers for some time and I believed they would quit by the 1st of July or by September 1st at the latest.”  The end result was decided that the occupation of Kyushu would be tentatively set for December 1945!!

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Military Humor – 

Stealth fighter fly over.

“STEWART, THIS LOOKS LIKE ONE OF STAN’S BAD DAYS!”

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Carl Aiken – Rosman, NC; US Army Air Corps, 11th Airborne Division, Recon unit

Derek Boyd – Sussex, ENG; British Navy, WWII

Joseph ‘George’ Frumkin – Bronx, NY; US Air Force, Korea

3rd Attack Group

Jack George – Juneau, AK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Lt., B-24 pilot, 15th Air Force

Leonard Loffler – Washington DC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-51 pilot

Clarence Michalis – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Hall, Lt. (Lattington mayor)

Silas Peaslee – Yarmouth, ME; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Theodore Perry – Buckfield, ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Anthony Silvia – Middletown, RI;  USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc, Co. G/2nd Batt/7th/1st Marine Division, Purple Heart, KIA

Murray Wallace – NZ; RNZ Navy # 5728, WWII

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Brig. General Henry Muller – 101 years and still going strong

Henry Muller

This article is derived from “The Voice of the Angels”, the 11th Airborne Division Association newspaper.

It’s not every day that a US Army veteran gets to celebrate surviving an entire century while also being informed of an induction into the exclusive hall of fame for his combat achievements. That is the case with US Army brig. General Henry J. Muller will belong to the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame.

On his 100th birthday, about 40  gathered for the occasion.  They sat under the oaks n the front yard and thumbed through a photo album featuring pictures from past celebrations.  The celebration included a birthday cake bordered with 100 American flags.

Henry Muller with author, Bruce Henderson

“There’s nothing that could warn the heart of an old soldier more than on his 100th birthday than to be surrounded with family, friends and good neighbors… I feel especially blessed.”

Among those there that day was US Army Capt. Antoinette Deleon, to interview him for his induction into the Hall of Fame at Fort Huacheua, Arizona.  “It’s an honor for me to come here…”

Gen. Muller w/ the Capt. from Military Intelligence

Bruce Henderson, author of the best seller, “Rescue at Los Baños: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of World War II”, said, “Just think about it, I mean even today if there was a raid like that saving that many lives, it would be big news.  He (Muller) went beyond his duties as an intelligence officer – it was the real human being in him.”

Brigadier General Henry J. Muller was inducted on 22-23 June 2017 for his service as a Lt. Colonel, G-2 of the 11th Airborne Division during WWII.

Los Banos commemoration stamp

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Boas – brn: FRA; US Army, WWII, ETO, interpreter

Robert Cassidy Sr. – New Haven, CT; US Navy, WWII, ETO, LCVP Commander

Don Frazier – NV; US Army, WWII, gunnery instructor

Richard ‘Corky’ Holden – New Port Richie, FL; USMC, WWII, ETO, 2nd Division

Leroy Jones – Miami, AZ; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 1st Class

Judson Landers – Baton Rouge, LA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, corpsman

Richard Logan – Harrodsburg, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Sheldon Silverman – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Pvt.

Joseph Talbot – AUS; RA Air Force # 122912, WWII

Orville Thomas – Eldon, IA; US Army (Ret. 23 y.)

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Current News from: “Stars and Stripes”

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — The flag is in surprisingly good shape for its age.

Made at least 100 years ago, the red, white and blue have only slightly faded. The 48 stars remain neatly in place. The edges are slightly frayed, and a few small moth holes dot the banner.  But there is no more important family treasure for Patty Kelly Stevens and her relatives.  This American flag has been a reward, a sign of hope and a reminder of love and loss.

Now, for the first time in a century, the flag has left the family. On Friday, Stevens – now 93 years old – and dozens of family members made the trek from Oklahoma to North Carolina to donate the flag to the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville.

The flag – once presented to the family by Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood – has survived fire, war and time itself. And now, it will be forever preserved.  “It’s not just a U.S. flag…,” said Jim Bartlinski, director of the museum. “The story behind it is incredible.  We have an obligation to care for that flag until the end of time.”

During World War II, Stevens’ mother, Selma Croft, hid the flag under threat of death as the family was held prisoner for three years in the Philippines.

Airborne & Special Forces Museum

The flag – which briefly flew over the Los Baños Internment Camp – became a symbol of hope for the prisoners there in the weeks before a daring raid to rescue them.  And in the decades since, it has honored the caskets of several family members – including veterans and survivors of Los Baños.

“The flag means so much to me,” Stevens said. “To all of us… to my family.”

The flag’s story begins long before the war.

Alfred J. Croft, Stevens’ father, was a self-taught pilot who served in World War I and had come to the Philippines in 1918 to help train Filipino flyers. There, he met Selma, who came to the islands as a nurse in 1919.  The two married and lived in China and then Hawaii – where Stevens was born – before returning to Manila.

At a carnival in the early 1920s, Alfred Croft rescued the flag from a fire that had engulfed the event. Wood, then governor-general of the Philippines, was so impressed that he awarded the flag to Croft.

They lived an easy life in the Philippines, Stevens said.  But that changed on Dec. 8, 1941, a day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Selma Croft was awakened at 5:30 a.m. that day with news of the attack. Her husband was working in Hawaii at the time.

Stevens and her younger brother, William, were sent home from school early. And on that same day, the Japanese began bombing the island.   “We were not prepared for war,” Stevens recalled. The troops in the Philippines had World War I-era equipment. And they took heavy casualties as Japanese forces overran the islands.

On Jan. 6, 1942, the war reached the family’s doorstep. Stevens was 17, months from graduating high school and moving to California.

But Japanese soldiers ordered her to put her life on hold. They demanded that the family pack enough food and clothing for three days.

“The three days lasted three years and two months,” Stevens said.

Unbeknownst to Stevens, her mother packed the family’s American flag with her things. For three years, Selma Croft would keep the flag hidden – probably by hiding it in a mattress, Stevens reckons.

Stevens, speaking to a group of family and veterans at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, related how her family was held first at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. There were 6,000 prisoners on the campus.

As Santo Tomas grew more crowded, the Japanese sent prisoners to build another camp on the island of Luzon – a camp that would become known as the Los Baños Internment Camp.

Stevens’ story

Stevens said her brother – then 14 years old – was sent to help build the camp. He would never be the same, she said.

Meanwhile, Stevens and her mother stayed at Santo Tomas. As the war waged on, conditions became worse.  “They had a saying,” Stevens said. “‘When victorious, we can be generous.'”

As food rations shrank and abuse rose, Stevens said prisoners realized that American troops must be getting close.  After nearly three years in prison, Stevens said she and her mother were taken to Los Baños.

“We thought it was going to be better,” she said. “It wasn’t.”  At Los Baños, the prisoners were surrounded by jungle.  “We could look across the fence and see bananas on the trees,” Stevens said. “But we couldn’t get there.”

On Jan. 7, 1945, the prisoners received an unexpected surprise. As the inhabitants of the camp awoke, they realized that their captors had unexpectedly left them unattended.  The soldiers had been called away to a battle in Manila, Stevens said. Prisoners ran about the camp shouting “We’re free! We’re free!”

Amid the celebration, Selma Croft took her flag out of hiding and offered it to be raised over the prison camp.

“I had no idea she had it,” Stevens said. “We sang the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and ‘God Save the Queen.’ ”
Some of the stronger men left the camp to get food from a nearby village. Others broke into the Japanese food stores.

But even with no guards, most of the 2,000 prisoners – both civilians and troops – were unable to leave.  “We were afraid. We had no place to go,” Stevens said. “We couldn’t get away.”

When Japanese guards returned a week later, they repeatedly asked about the flag.  For three days, the guards searched prisoners’ barracks trying to find it.

Stevens recalled eating pigweed and brush. “Anything just to stay alive,” she said.  Prisoners could see Allied planes overhead, but they worried that any rescue would come too late.

“They had already dug the ditches for the bodies,” Stevens said.

On the early morning of Feb. 23, 1945, help fell from the sky – angels in parachutes.

As Filipino guerillas attacked from the ground, U.S. troops with the 11th Airborne Division came from the sky.

“It was the happiest day of my life,” Stevens said. “To see those paratroopers come.”

With bullets flying, the family hid under their beds. But the Allied forces quickly overran the Japanese guards.

Stevens said her freedom came with the sound of footsteps as one of the soldiers entered the barracks.

“Are you a Marine?,” she asked.

“Hell no. I’m not a Marine. I’m a paratrooper,” the man responded.

Iron Mike

Stevens said she can never repay the paratroopers who rescued her and others. That’s why it’s perfect to pass the flag to the Airborne & Special Operations Museum.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the airborne,” she said.

The donation – officially made on the 73rd anniversary of the Los Baños Raid – will be displayed through the weekend in the museum lobby, Bartlinski said.

Then officials will begin the needed steps to conserve the flag before putting it back on display in time for Flag Day in June. It will remain on display through July 4 and will eventually have a permanent home in the museum’s main exhibit hall.

Paul Kelly, Stevens’ son, said his family was willing to risk their lives to keep the flag. And he’s now encouraged that the museum will ensure it lasts forever.

“It’s not perfect,” he said of the 100-year-old flag. “But hell, what is?”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Adams – Connersville, IN; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Derald Bickford – Lincoln, NE; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division (Ret.)

Herbert Chancey Jr. – Chattanooga, TN; US Army, Vietnam, A Co/22 Regimen, Ranger

Leslie Colgrove – Fort Sumner, NM; US Army, 173rd Airborne Division, Lt. Col. (Ret. 22 y.)

Lewis Gilbert – Hackney, London, ENG; Royal Air Force, WWII, film unit

“Duke” Hipp – Nyssa, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, Purple Heart

Lawrence Lodewick – Alexandria, VA; US Army, West Point grad, 82nd Airborne Division, Bronze Star, Col. (Ret. 22 y.)

Leroy Murray – Springfield, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CMSgt. (Ret.)

Eugene Roy – Dorens, KY; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Howard Weger – Strawberry Point, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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February 1945 (4)

US Army soldiers on Luzon

The battles for Manila, Bataan, and Corregidor were only the beginning of the Luzon Campaign. Both Shobu Group, securing northern Luzon, and the bulk of Shimbu Group, defending the south, remained intact. With about 50,000 men at his disposal, the Shimbu Group commander, General Yokoyama, had deployed some 30,000 of them immediately east and south of Manila, with the remainder arrayed along the narrow Bicol Peninsula to the southwest.

Japanese groups on Luzon

The main Japanese defenses near the capital were built around the 8th and 105th divisions, with the rest of the manpower drawn from a jumble of other units and provisional organizations. East of Manila, their positions were organized in considerable depth but lacked good lines of supply and reinforcement. Shimbu Group’s eastern defenses obviously presented the most immediate threat to American control of the Manila area and would have to be dealt with first.

As soon as Manila was secured, he wanted the 11th Airborne Division to clear the area south of the capital, assisted by the independent 158th Infantry.

A reminder of what these soldiers were up against …
The stretch of blockhouses and pillboxes and tunnels, known as the Genko Line were filled with every imaginable weapon available from the Japanese arsenal. Along mountains, under fields and connecting the rolling hills lay the traps of heinous sorts silently in wait for any or all of the troopers.

The 1,200 two and three-story blockhouses entrenched with at least 6,000 enemy soldiers that lined the southern edge of Manila. A massive feat of ingenuity.

The size of some of these tunnels is amazing.  They could be large enough for a boat or plane and then some appear too small for a human to hide in.

18 February 1945, an unusual situation was discovered in Manila when three soldiers were returning to their headquarters in a mansion set on Dewey Boulevard South. A few blocks away, the troopers entered a house only to discover three Japanese men in robes and talking while they drank their tea. Somehow, they had been operating out of that house without realizing that the American HQ and General Swing were so close. It seemed incredible they were not discovered before. The three men were killed trying to escape the building.

Going door-to-door on Luzon

The commander of the 188th regiment turned his unit over to Gen. Pearson, now commander of the 187th, and they were incorporated into the Task Force and set out to attack Mabato Point. This zone sat two thousand yards south of Fort McKinley and held the Japanese Southern Forces Abe Battalion on the northwest shore of Laguna de Bay. This position gave the enemy an excellent vantage point of observation and fields that could be set on fire. As with the rest of the Genko Line, this area had been prepared by Japanese and Filipino workers since 1942 and had fortified tunnels. G-2 estimated about 800 of the enemy were hold up on Mabato.

Pearson put the 187th traveling along the railroad tracks and other regiments and battalions to other areas. When each unit was set, mid-morning on this date, Company B of the 187th launched the attack. The 457 Parachute Field Artillery was there to support with their pack 75s. Later that afternoon, air strikes were called in because the enemy was so well defended. When napalm was used, the fires used up so much oxygen that the enemy soldiers in the tunnels began to suffocate.

 

19 February, the Task Force struck again, but were having difficulty due to Japanese mortar fire. Finally, the mortar observers were located where they hid in the trees and sharp shooters took them out. A Japanese medical officer surrendered and through a Nisei interpreter informed Pearson that there were about 400 more Japanese in the area. A Filipino volunteer went to the enemy with a message of truce, giving one half hour of cease fire time for anyone to surrender. The end result has conflicting stories, but the fighting did continue. The surviving 15 officers of Abe Battalion were marched by their commander to the Point and committed hara-kiri. By 21 February, all resistance on Mabato Point had ended, but the Japanese were far from defeated in the Philippines.

Photos and data with the assistance of Rakkasans by Gen. Flanagan; The U.S. Army; ibiblio.org; Wikipedia,  Manila Hub & “Luzon” by the U.S. Army Center of Military History by Dale Andrade

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Myriam Alley – Tacoma, WA; US Army WAC, WWII

Lancer Carlson – McKinley, WI; US Navy, WWII, ATO

George Dane – Iowa City, IA; US Army, WWII

James Elia – Gilbert, AZ; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Ed Ficarra – Williamson, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 119th Armored Engineer Battalion

Annna Guzlas (102) – Connellsville, PA; US Army WAC, WWII

James Hansen – Duluth, MN; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Otis ‘Nudge’ Norris – St. Petersburg, FL; USMC, WWII, PTO

F.Stewart Stover – North Haven, CT; US Army, WWII, Pfc., Purple Heart

Dan Wescott – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII, 17th Airborne Division

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11th Airborne Lands at Luzon

American Eighth Army soldiers debark from LCI(L)s [Landing Craft Infantry, Large] in Luzon. “File number: 259015. Released: Feb. 14, 1945.

Navy lands Eighth Army on West coast of Luzon–Troops of the U.S. 8th Army under command of Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger, pour off Navy LCI’s (landing craft infantry) and wade ashore between San Narciso and San Antonio on the west coast of Luzon on January 29, 1945, in a brilliant move calculated to cut off Bataan Peninsula and to capture the naval base at Olongapo. Tactical surprise was achieved to such a dress that not a man, ship or plane was lost in the landing.” 29 January 1945.

Long before the American invasion began, General Yamashita divided his Luzon forces into three groups, each centered around a remote geographical region. The largest of these groups and under the direct command of Yamashita was Shobu Group, located in northern Luzon with about 152,000 troops.

A much smaller force, Kembu Group, with approximately 30,000 troops, occupied the Clark Air Field complex as well as the Bataan Peninsula and Corridor. The third major force, Shimbu Group, consisted of some 80,000 soldiers occupying the southern sections of Luzon, an area that included the island’s long Bicol Peninsula as well as the mountains immediately east of Manila. Most Shimbu units were in the latter area and controlled the vital reservoirs that provided most of the capital area’s water supply.

 

On 31 January, X-ray Day, two regiments of the 11th Airborne Division, under the command of Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Swing, landed unopposed. The paratroopers seized a nearby bridge before the surprised Japanese defenders had a chance to demolish it, and then the paratroopers turned toward Manila. The division’s third regiment, the 511th Parachute, dropped in by air to join the advance, which by the following day was speeding north along the paved highway toward the capital to the cheers of throngs of grateful Filipino civilians along the way.

 

Originally the 11th Airborne Division, one of Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger’s Eighth Army units, had been slated to contain Japanese troops throughout southwestern Luzon. But acting on MacArthur’s orders, Eichelberger pushed the division north.

Once they were on land, they started down Highway 17 toward Tagatay.  That journey consisted of approximately 30 miles of valleys, flat terrain of rice and cane fields, mountains and careful traversing along the crests of ridges.

The distance between Tagatay and Manila was about 37 miles, taking them passed Nichols Field before reaching Manila proper.  This was the main supply area for the Japanese troops and the city’s port was a crucial stop-off for the enemy on other islands.

Reference: “Rakkasans” & “The Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne” by: Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.; YouTube.com; U.S. Army; Hyperwar.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Delton Collins – Ashburn, GA; US Army, Korea, Co. E/187th RCT, Purple Heart, Chaplin (Ret.)

Robert Dunn – Danbury, CT; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

John F. Cox – Denver, CO; US Navy, WWII

William Hall – NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Roger Kissane – UK; RAF (Ret.), 249th Squadron

Stephen Reiman – Casper, WY; US Navy, Vietnam

Edwin Simpson – Rainvelle, WV; US Army, WWII

Richard Thomas – Kenosha, WI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Jerry Van Dyke – Danville, IL; US Air Force / actor

John Young – Orlando, FL; US Navy, Korea, USS Laws / NASA Astronaut (Ret.)

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Kiwis Over the Pacific

Flight Officer, Geoff Fisken

During early World War II operations in the Pacific, Geoff Fisken would become one of the most outstanding pilots of the RNZAF—the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Fisken was born in Gisborne, New Zealand, in 1918, and during the 1930s he learned to fly a de Havilland Gypsy Moth biplane. In 1939, Fisken was working for a farmer in Masterton, and at the outbreak of war in Europe he volunteered for flying duty.  In October 1941, as the threat of war with Japan was increasing, No. 67 Squadron was moved to Mingaladon, Burma, but Fisken was posted instead to No. 243 Squadron RAF.

With the Japanese attacks across East Asia and the western Pacific on December 8, 1941, No. 243 Squadron was assigned to defend the Royal Navy’s Force Z––the battleship HMS Prince of Walesand battlecruiser HMS Repulse. Two days later the British warships were attacked and sunk by Japanese air units. Then, as the Japanese advanced down the Malay Peninsula, Singapore became the target of an increasing number of bombing raids.

RNZ on Guadalcanal

After continuous missions,  No. 243 Squadron had lost the majority of its pilots and virtually all its aircraft. As a result, it was merged with No. 453 Squadron of the RAAF, which continued to operate along with No. 488 Squadron RNZAF.  Fisken claimed another fighter destroyed on February 1. Five days later he was bounced by two Japanese fighters, shooting down one while narrowly escaping the other, though he was injured in the arm and leg by a cannon shell. On the eve of Singapore’s surrender, Commonwealth pilots were withdrawn to Batavia (now Jakarta), Java, and later to Australia. As a result of his performance in Singapore, Geoff Fisken received a commission and was promoted to the rank of pilot officer.

Fisken was just one of hundreds of New Zealanders––Kiwis––who loved nothing more than a good brawl but of whom little is known today outside their island nation.

“Too Young To Die” by Bryan Cox

Many of you history buffs out there already have “Too Young To Die” by Bryan Cox or have seen a book review and already know The story of  Flight Sergeant Bryan Cox, who suffered a failure of both his radio and lights during the return flight but happened to stumble upon the landing strip at Green Island just as he was nearly out of fuel. It was not only a fortunate day for him, but also his 20th birthday. Below is another story of that day…

Bryan Cox (19), WWII

Continually fighting throughout the war, on January 15, 1945, during a strike on Toboi Wharf in Simpson Harbor at Rabaul, conducted by aircraft of Nos. 14 and 16 Squadrons flying from Green Island and No. 24 from Bougainville––a total of 36 Corsairs––one was knocked down by antiaircraft fire. The F4U was piloted by Flight Lieutenant Francis George Keefe of No. 14 Squadron, who managed to bail out, landing in the harbor.

An exceptional swimmer, Keefe struck out for the harbor entrance. For some time he made good progress. Then, in the middle of the afternoon, by which time he had been swimming for six hours, the tide and wind changed and he began to drift back up the harbor.

RNZAF on Green Island

A rescue force had been quickly organized while sections of Corsairs kept watch overhead to prevent Japanese attempts to capture Keefe. Two bamboo rafts were assembled and loaded aboard a Ventura at Green Island, intended to be dropped to the downed pilot.

As two Corsairs orbited above Rabaul awaiting the arrival of the Ventura, an American Catalina pilot circling just beyond the harbor entrance spotted Keefe and twice requested permission to land and pick him up. The request was denied both times by the officer in charge, Squadron Leader Paul Green, the commander of No. 16 Squadron, due to the threat posed by Japanese coastal and antiaircraft guns.

RNZAF doing maintenance after a Rabaul mission

When the Ventura arrived, it was accompanied by another 12 Corsairs, whose task was to strafe the Rabaul waterfront while the Ventura dropped the rafts. Everything went as planned, but Keefe failed or was unable to reach the rafts. The rescue was then aborted, and all aircraft were directed to return to base.

Approximately halfway back to Green Island, the Corsairs encountered a tropical storm front stretching across the horizon and down to sea level. Due to limited navigation aids, the aircraft were required to maintain a tight formation as the storm and darkness reduced visibility. The pilots could only see the navigation lights of the other aircraft in their flight.

Five of the Corsairs crashed into the sea, one crashed at Green Island as it was making its landing approach, and a seventh simply disappeared. The lost pilots included Flight Lieutenant B.S. Hay, Flight Officer A.N. Saward, Flight Sergeant I.J. Munro, and Flight Sergeant J.S. McArthur from No. 14 Squadron and Flight Lieutenant T.R.F. Johnson, Flight Officer G. Randell, and Flight Sergeant R.W. Albrecht from No. 16 Squadron.

RNZAF on Espiritu Santo

After the war, it was reported by Japanese troops captured at Rabaul that Keefe had managed to swim ashore. With a wounded arm, he was taken prisoner and died a few days later.

From September 3, 1939, to August 15, 1945, a total of 3,687 RNZAF personnel died in service, the majority with RAF Bomber Command flying in Britain and over Europe. The RNZAF had grown from a small prewar force to over 41,000 men and women (WAAFs) by 1945, including just over 10,000 serving with the RAF in Europe and Africa; 24 RNZAF squadrons saw service in the Pacific. On VJ Day, the RNZAF had more than 7,000 of its personnel stationed throughout the Solomons and Bismarcks.

The Kiwi airmen had not only fought proudly against their Japanese foes, but also carved out a place for themselves among their much larger Allies—Britain, Australia, and the United States—as they wrote their names into the history of the Pacific air war.

Click on images to enlarge.

Information from: ‘WWII Magazine’ and ‘Too Young To Die’ by Bryan Cox. Another excellent resource you might wish to look into “Kiwi Air Power” by Matthew Wright.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Earl Baugh – Searcy, AR; US Navy, WWII, SeaBees

Avadon Chaves – Modesto, CA; US Army, Iraq, Spc., 1/6/2nd Brig. Combat Team

Raymond Debenham – Kalapol, NZ; RNZ Navy # 14075

RNZAF Airtrainers perform farewell flight

David Fail – Manawatu, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 412665, WWII

Bruce McCandless – Boston, MA; US Navy, Cuba, pilot / NASA, astronaut

Peter O’Donnell – Auckland, NZ ; RNZ Air Force # M83478

Bryan Raos – Te Kauwhata, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 459204, Flight Lt.

Robert Scott – Linwood, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 414822, WWII

John Sweeney – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 452589, WWII

Jerry Yellin – Newark, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 78th Fighter Squadron, P-51 pilot

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10-16th January 1945 – Navy

Movements of Task Force-38

Except for submarines, Task Force-38 was the first appreciable presence of U.S. forces in the South China Sea.  The ‘Great Fleet’ under VAdm. John McCain consisted of 8 carriers, 4 light-carriers, 19 other capital (war) ships, 56 screening vessels and various logical support ships.  Their mission, Operation Gratitude, was to disrupt the Japanese Navy and interrupt the vital support lanes from Singapore and Indochina.

TF-38 spent 2 days avoiding detection from the enemy and staying clear of the typhoon brewing over the island of Mindanao.  On the 12th, they arrived 65 miles off Can Ranh Bay in French Indochina (Vietnam).  Halsey’s intelligence proved false as to the activity in the area, so alternative plans were put into action.

USS Essex pilots: Hartsock, Parker, Finn and Libbey, Jan. 1945. US Navy photo

Waves of US aircraft scoured the Indochinese coast from Qui Nhon to Saigon.  Clusters of merchant ship and escort vessels were attacked, as were concentrations found in Saigon Harbor on the Mekong River.  Convoy HI-86, north of Qui Nhon, consisted of 10 merchant ships and 6 escorts and drew attention that was an average for the day.

2 freighters and i tanker sunk by Ticonderoga aircraft, Saigon

The full strikes of 30-40 planes each from the carriers Hancock, Hornet (Essex-class), Ticonderoga, Essex, Langley, Lexington (Essex-class), and Independence.  The result was that only 3 smaller enemy escorts remained afloat, the rest were either sunk, left beached or burning.

USS Sullivans & Astoria fuel up from the Taluga 62. Halsey’s flagship New Jersey in the background.

The absence of air opposition allowed all this damage to be accomplished.  At the end of that single day, a total of 41 ships throughout the region were sunk, 31 damaged and 112 aircraft were destroyed on the ground.  In addition to all this, docks, oil storage tanks, and airfields were heavily damaged.

USS Astoria guad-40mm hun crew

The results of this day drastically reduced the Japanese ability to ship goods along this route and Japan would feel the effects for a long time to come.  Robert Sherrod, a Time Magazine correspondent, flew as an observer in one of the Essex aircraft, summed up the day by saying, “By any accounting, 12 January 1945 must be regarded as one of the greatest days of the U.S. Navy.”

With the typhoon now moving westward, TF-38 moved across the South China Sea and northward.  After they refueled, they were in position to strike Formosa again on the 15th.  These strikes were successful, but not as dramatic as the previous ones and they proceeded to backtrack westward again.

Japanese convoy off French Indochina, 12 Jan. ’45

On the 16th, they launched strikes against Hong Kong and the island of Hainan.  The Formosa, Hong Kong and Hainan missions encountered a better organized anti-aircraft fire than Indochina, but it did not hold back the attack.  During these 2 days, another 14 Japanese ships (mostly warships) were sunk and 10 more were damaged.

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Navy Humor

TF-38 avoided the typhoon, but still experienced very rough seas.  On 13 January 1945, they created their own humor!! 

USMC Captain Gerard Armitage was washed overboard from the USS Astoria‘s port beam; Herman Schnipper took the photograph. Joe Aman drew the cartoons for the USS Astoria ‘Morning Press News’.

As you can see below – Capt. Armitage was rescued from the sea, but the seamen on board were not satisfied to simply do that for the Marine.  When he got back on board ship the men serenaded him with their own version of a popular song….

The Captain of the Marines went over the rail, parlez vous

It happened in a terrific gale, parlez vous

He slipped on the deck and slid on his tail

You’ll never teach a Marine to sail

Inky-dinky parlez vous.

                                               _____ J.Fred Lind

Once dry and having a meal in the mess, Capt. Armitage was awarded the “Extinguished Service Cross” –  It just happened to be his 24th Birthday!!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Gary Asles – Long Beach, CA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

John Balog – Wichita, KS; US navy, WWII, PTO, Yeoman, USS Anthony, gunner

111024-N-WD757-029
SAN DIEGO (Oct. 24, 2011) Ceremonial honor guard during the funeral for retired Vice Adm. Paul F. McCarthy. McCarthy passed away on October 5, 2011. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Carlos M. Vazquez II/Released)

Charles Cooper – Dover, DE; US Navy, WWII, Captain, USS Hornet, Washington & San Diego

Harry Doerfler – Amarillo, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, 424/106th Infantry Division

Jay Ewing – AR; US Army, WWII, PTO, ambulance driver

Joseph Hanoon – Philadelphia, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Enterprise

Merv Martin – Paeroa, NZ; RNZ Navy # 13636, Korea

Frank Nolte – Albuquerque, NM; US Army, Korea, Co.K/187th RCT

Marvin Peters – Longmont, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 gunner

John Turek Sr. – brn. POL/Newington, CT; US Army, WWII, Cpl., mechanic

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General Joseph May Swing – Intermission Story (30)

Major General Joseph Swing

As the intermission period closes, it is only fitting that I introduce the man who lead the 11th Airborne Division.  Many called him “Uncle Joe”, but on the back of this photograph, Smitty wrote “My General.”

“A hero is a man noted for his feats of courage or nobility of purpose—especially one who has risked his life; a person prominent in some field, period, or cause by reason of his special achievements or contributions; a person of distinguished valor or fortitude; and a central personage taking an admirable part in any remarkable action or event; hence, a person regarded as a model.”

Joseph May Swing was born on 28 February 1894 in Jersey City and went to the public schools there, graduating in 1911 and entered West Point Military Academy directly.  He graduated 38th in the class of the star-studded class of 1915, famously known as “The Class the Stars Fell On.”

The 5-star generals were Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley.  The four-star (“full”) Generals in the class of 1915 were James Van Fleet and Joseph T. McNarney. The three-star (Lieutenant Generals) Generals were Henry Aurand, Hubert R. Harmon, Stafford LeRoy Irwin, Thomas B. Larkin, John W. Leonard, George E. Stratemeyer, and Joseph M. Swing. This view was taken facing south around noon on May 3, 1915.

In 1916 Lieutenant Swing was part of the punitive expedition to Mexico against Francisco Villa under the leadership of General John J. Pershing. In 1917, shortly after the US entered the war in Europe, Major Swing joined the artillery of the 1st Division in France. When he returned to the US in 1918, he became an aide-de-camp to the Army’s Chief of Staff, General Peyton C. March. On 8 July 1918, he married Josephine Mary March, the daughter of General March. Later that year, he joined the 19th Field Artillery at Fort Myer, Virginia, and in 1921 sailed for Hawaii to command the 1st Battalion of the 11th Field Artillery at Schofield Barracks.

In 1925, he returned to the States and assumed command of the 9th Field Artillery at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.  He graduated with honors from the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, and in 1927 he graduated from the Command and Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. For the next four years, he was on duty in the Office of the Chief of Field Artillery in Washington, DC, and in 1933 he became chief of its war plans section. In 1935, he graduated from the Army War College in Washington and then joined the 6th Field Artillery at Fort Hoyle, Maryland.

Next, he went to Fort Sam Houston where he was the chief of staff of the 2d Division from 1938 to 1940. Later, he commanded the 82d Horse Artillery Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Bliss, Texas and then commanded its division artillery. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1941 and at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, organized the division artillery of the 82d Division, a move which was to project him into the brand new field of “airborne.”  In Camp Claiborne, General Omar Bradley was the 82d Division commander. General Ridgway was the assistant division commander, and Colonel Maxwell D. Taylor was the chief of staff.

General Joseph M. Swing

In February of 1943, as a newly promoted major general, General Swing was assigned the task of activating the 11th Airborne Division at Camp Mackall, North Carolina, the Army’s third airborne division. Thus began for General Swing a tenure of service which was unique then and still remains a record: division commander of one division for five years, during which he activated the division, trained it, and commanded it in combat and during its subsequent occupation of Japan. During this period, General Swing and the 11th Airborne Division became synonymous; the man was the division and the division was the man.

General Swing made his mark on the Army and on the thousands of men who passed through the 11th Airborne Division in a way which those of us who were fortunate enough to serve with and have known him will never forget. His subordinates and superiors have described General Swing with numerous adjectives: forceful, energetic, courageous, self-disciplined, purposeful, farsighted, innovative, just, sentimental, short-tempered, forgiving, sincere, considerate, demanding—and with it all, handsome, erect, prematurely gray, with a lean, tanned face from which steely-blue eyes focused with incredible sharpness either to find a mistake or an accomplishment of a subordinate. General Swing fitted all of those descriptive adjectives to one degree or another; illustrations to exemplify each trait abound, particularly in the lore of the 11th Airborne Division. And as the years go by and as the men of the 11th gather at reunions, the stories about the “old man” increase and take on a sharper and more pungent flavor.

Leyte, Gen. Swing and staff on Mt.Manarawat

There is no doubt that General Swing was demanding in training, insisting on excellence, and setting and requiring the highest of standards for the 11th Airborne Division so that when it entered combat, after months of grueling training in Camp MacKall, Camp Polk, and New Guinea, the division was ready to take on the Japanese in the mud and rain across the uncharted central mountains of Leyte. Early in its combat career, it was ready to thwart a Japanese parachute attack on the division command post and nearby San Pablo airfield at Burauen, Leyte.

General Swing demonstrated his courage and vitality on that occasion by personally leading a Civil War-like attack across the airstrip with engineers, supply troops, and a glider field artillery battalion armed with carbines and rifles against the dug-in Japanese paratroopers who had had the audacity to attack the 11th Airborne from the air. In short order, the Japanese paratroopers, the elite Katori Shimpei of the Japanese forces, were routed, and the San Pablo airfield was back in the hands of the 11th Airborne Division.

_____ Condensed from a biographical article written by Edward Michael Flanagan, Jr., Lt.General, Retired

also, “The Gettysburg Daily, Wikipedia and Smitty’s scrapbook.

And this is where we left off the day by day and monthly island-hopping offense of the Pacific War.  You will be hearing often of General Swing, you might even get to admire him almost as much as Smitty did.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

‘I think it’s about time McFergle retired — he remembers the Lusitania.’

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Ball – Sterling, AK; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lloyd Crouse – Columbus, OH; US Army, WWII, PTO, 251st Sta. Hospital, combat medic

Charles Dye – Flint, MI; US Army, WWII

Frank Forlini – Yonkers, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division. Purple Heart

Richard Gordon – Seattle, WA; US Navy, test pilot / NASA astronaut, Gemini 11, Apollo 12 & Apollo 18

Bill Jo Hart – Fort Worth, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Flight Instructor

Alfred Jeske – Seymour, WI; US Army, WWII

Bill Mesker – Wichita, KS; US Navy, WWII

Myra Mitchell – Upalco, UT; USMC, Women’s Corps, WWII

Sterling Wood – Omaha, NE; US Army, Colonel (Ret. 30 y.), 143rd Transportation Command

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Drones are not a new idea – Intermission Story (28)

The Reaper Global Hawk RQ-4

Unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly known as drones, are most often associated with airstrikes in modern warfare, but their history goes much further back than that. While drones came into the spotlight during the early years of the 21st century the idea of a remotely-operated flying machine was developed much earlier. A forerunner of what we consider today to be an unmanned aerial vehicle was an Austrian balloon used during the siege of Venice in 1849.

During WWI many eccentric weapons were developed on all sides of the conflict. One was the pilotless aircraft that operated with the help of Archibald Low’s revolutionary radio controlled techniques.  The Ruston Proctor Aerial Target represented the cutting edge of drone technology in 1916. Low, nicknamed “the father of radio guidance systems,” was happy for the project to be developed further and used in kamikaze-style ramming strikes against Zeppelins.

The Kettering Bug

Another project led the way for further research of UAVs.  The Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, also known as the “Flying Bomb,” or the “Aerial Torpedo,”  went from Britain to the USA in 1917, resulting in an upgraded American version named the Kettering Bug.  Although it was considered to be a large success, the war ended before it could be utilized.

Cruise missiles, which perform under similar principles as unmanned aerial vehicles, are single use weapons. Drones are carriers and users of armament, or other equipment, depending on their given role.

After WWI there was a lot of interest in producing and improving remote-controlled flying weapons. The US Army took the initiative in further exploring such concepts.

RAE Larynx on destroyer HMS Stronghold, July 1927

After the war, three Standard E-1 biplanes were converted into UAVs. While the Americans were laying the groundwork for drones, the British Royal Navy conducted tests of aerial torpedo designs such as the RAE Larynx. In 1927 and 1929 the Larynx was launched from warships under autopilot.

DH-82 Queen Bee

Pilotless aircraft were also made as aerial targets. Among the projects used for target practice was the “DH.82B Queen Bee”. It derived from the De Havilland Tiger Moth biplane trainer which was adapted to new radio technology.  She was the first returnable and reusable.

The name “Queen Bee” is considered to have introduced the term “drone” into general use. During the 1930s the term specifically referred to radio-controlled aerial targets. Once World War II broke out, it started to represent any remotely-controlled pilotless aerial vehicle.

Reginald Denny Hobby Shop

Reginald Denny went from England to the United States in 1919, intending to become an actor in Hollywood, but he also pursued another dream. Together with his partners, he opened Reginald Denny Industries and a shop that specialized in model planes, called the Reginald Denny Hobby Shops.

OQ-2A Radioplane

The business evolved into the Radioplane Company, and Denny offered his target drones to the military. He believed the drones would be very useful, especially for training anti-aircraft crews. Denny and his company produced 15,000 target drones for the US army just before and during WWII. His most famous model was called Radioplane OQ-2.

Curtis N2C-2 target drone 1938/39

Around the same time, during the late 1930s, the US Navy developed the Curtiss N2C-2. This unmanned aerial vehicle was remotely controlled from another aircraft, which made the design revolutionary. The US Army Air Force (USAAF) also adopted this concept and started improving it. The primary use of the technology was still as target practice for AA gunmen. However, as America was preparing for war, the UAV experiments were being redirected for combat use.

In 1940 the TDN-1 assault drone was capable of carrying a 1,000-pound bomb and was deemed fit for service. It was easy to produce and passed on tests. However, the drone was too hard to control, and as complications were expected once it entered combat conditions it never saw action.

During Operation Aphrodite in 1944, some modified B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator heavy bombers were used as enormous aerial torpedoes, but they also failed to see wider service. They proved to be ineffective. One of the reasons why the concept was abandoned was the death of Joseph Kennedy Jr, brother of the future president, who died alongside his crewmember during one of the raids as part of Operation Aphrodite.

Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy

TOP SECRET [DECLASSIFIED]:: ATTEMPTED FIRST APHRODITE ATTACK TWELVE AUGUST WITH ROBOT TAKING OFF FROM FERSFIELD AT ONE EIGHT ZERO FIVE HOURS PD ROBOT EXPLODED IN THE AIR AT APPROXIMATELY TWO THOUSAND FEET EIGHT MILES SOUTHEAST OF HALESWORTH AT ONE EIGHT TWO ZERO HOURS PD WILFORD J. WILLY CMA SR GRADE LIEUTENANT AND JOSEPH P. KENNEDY SR GRADE LIEUTENANT CMA BOTH USNR CMA WERE KILLED PD COMMANDER SMITH CMA IN COMMAND OF THIS UNIT CMA IS MAKING FULL REPORT TO US NAVAL OPERATIONS PD A MORE DETAILED REPORT WILL BE FORWARDED TO YOU WHEN INTERROGATION IS COMPLETED :: TOP SECRET [DECLASSIFIED]

The development of pulsejet engines enabled the Germans to produce the fearsome V-1 Flying Bomb which at the time represented the pinnacle of guided missile systems. The Americans also introduced the pulsejet engine during the war, but once again only to produce target drones like the Katydid TD2D/KDD/KDH. The real boom in the UAV industry was yet to come, during the troublesome years of the Cold War.

Sources of information:Fly Historic Wings; Reuters; Nova; War History online; and Ctie.monash.edu.au “The Pioneers”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Juan Alvardo – Pawnee, TX; US Army, WWII

Harold Biebel – Belleville, IL; US Navy, WWII, USS Frybarger

Arthur Fain – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Trinidad Gameroz – Lincoln, NM; US Navy, WWII, ETO

John McNulty – Vancouver, CAN; RC Air Force, helicopter pilot

Donald Percy – Adams, NY; US Navy, radioman

George Purves – W. AUS; RAF; WWII, / RA Air Force, Mid-East & Vietnam

Norman Silveira – Alvarado, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 2/187th/11th Airborne Divison

William Walker – Hawkes Bay, NZ; RNZ Navy # DJX569685, WWII, ETO

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Current News from GP Cox

Personal Note  Pacific Paratrooper and GP Cox will be offline while the computer is in for maintenance.  Hopefully I will be able to pop in now and again on a friend’s laptop, but during my absence, I wish you all (even those abroad) a fun and safe (and spooky) Halloween.

Did I scare you?

In the meantime, I leave you this very interesting video and hope you find it interesting and informative.  Thank you all for having always been here for me !!

 

The 5th Air Force, under Gen. George Kenney, in New Guinea 1942-1944

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