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What would become known as – The Bomb

Pres. Harry S. Truman

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

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

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

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

509th Composite Group, WWII

The other members of the 509th Bomber Group, not included in the mission, knew something was brewing, but they also were unaware of the exact plans. Hence, an anonymous writer was inspired:

Into the air the secret rose,
Where they’re going, nobody knows.
Tomorrow they’ll return again,
But we’ll never know where they’ve been.
Don’t ask about results or such,
Unless you want to get in Dutch.
But take it from one who is sure of the score,
The 509th is winning the war.

 

The crew of the ‘Enola Gay’ even received a humorous menu as they entered the mess hall for breakfast:

Look! Real eggs (How do you want them?)
Rolled oats (Why?)
Milk (No fishing)
Sausage (We think it’s pork)
Apple butter (Looks like axle grease)
Butter (Yep, it’s out again)
Coffee (Saniflush)
Bread (Someone get a toaster)

509th Composite Group, reunion

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Peter Bundy – Edgartown, MA; US Air Force, Vietnam, Captain, C-130 pilot

Michael Clamp – UK / US; US Army

Salvador Finazzo – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, Korea / FL National Guard, Col., Medical Corps

Ray Harris – Nevada, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, B-29 navigator

William Krupicka – Stamford, CT; US Navy, WWII, USS Stephen Potter

Robert LeMaire – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO,B-24 navigator/gunner

Mike Mauer – Kansas City, MO; USMC, WWII, PTO / US Army, Korea

Sidney Oxenham – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, CBI, 436th Squadron

Joyce Senne – Rochester, NY; US Navy WAVE, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., nurse

Jack Wattley – Cleveland, OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Moffett and Melvin

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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 – 11th Airborne (continued)

11th Airborne w/ 81mm mortar on Luzon

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

Lipa Airfield, Luzon

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

Bold headlines exploded in the Australian newspapers: U.S. Paratroopers Land In Northern Luzon – “After the 11th A/B Division made their air-borne landing near Aparri on June 23rd., using their gliders for the first time, carrying howitzers, jeeps and mobile equipment. Each trooper jumped with 100 pounds of gear strapped to his body.”

In the 26 June 1945 issue of The Army News – “On Saturday, from 600 feet into paddy fields, the 11th Airborne dropped near the port of Aparri in a surprise move against the Japanese forces in northern Luzon. They used their gliders for the first time in the southwest Pacific…”

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

According to the US Government’s booklet on Luzon,

On 30 June 1945 Krueger’s Sixth Army was relieved by the Eighth Army, whose task was to mop up scattered Japanese positions.  [There we go with that “moping up” terminology again.]

Technically, the battle for Luzon was still not over when Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945. On the northern part of the island Shobu Group remained the center of attention for the better part of three U.S. Army divisions. Altogether, almost 115,000 Japanese remained at large on Luzon and on some of the southern islands.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

The remains of 2 Civil War soldiers will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/06/20/bones-of-civil-war-dead-found-on-a-battlefield-tell-their-horror-stories/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7609f97aa01f

AND….

WWII firearms and swords were found under a Tokyo elementary school….

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/06/national/1400-guns-1200-swords-world-war-ii-found-buried-tokyo-elementary-school/#.W2tEg9VKiM8

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bochek – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Daniel Cremin – Sydney, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, ETO, KIA

Joseph Garron – Brooklyn, NY; USMC

Terrell J. Fuller – Toccoa, GA; US Army, Korea, Cpl., D/1/38/2nd Infantry Division, KIA

John Kain – GloucesterCity, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

William A, Larkins – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, Korea, Sgt., A/503 Field Artillery/2nd Infantry Division, KIA

John Magnon – New Orleans, LA; US Navy, WWII

Robert L. Martin – IA & IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Tuskegee pilot

Edward Ranslow – Melville, MA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Francis Sapp – Weston, FL; US Army

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May > June for Smitty and the 11th Airborne

117th Engineer Battalion, Luzon

The 11th Airborne continued their patrols, mopping up details and training at Lipa, Luzon, P.I.  General Swing had another jump school built that created 1,000 newly qualified paratroopers out of their latest replacements.

The new glider school concentrated on the “snatch pickup” method, whereby a CG-4A Glider on the ground with a towrope and a C-47 with a hook. As the plane goes overhead at an altitude of 15 feet, it snatches up the glider and brings it to 120 mph in a matter of a few seconds. (The noise from the plane, shock and whiplash must have been overwhelming.)

With May drawing to a close and the Japanese Army being pushed to the northeast, the 11th Airborne knew something was brewing, but then Smitty got a surprise.

Brisbane 1945

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

Townsville, Queensland, WWII

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

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

“Happy Landing, Joan”

In another part of the war….

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

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

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – U.S. Coast Guard – 228 years old this 4 August 2018

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charles Burnett – Lexington, KY; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Duane Caitlin – Waverly, NY; US Coast Guard

Walter Geer – New Oxford, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Thomas Horn – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Alfred Johnson Jr. – Washington D.C.; US Coast Guard, WWII

Roy Meyer – Tucson, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 449th Bombardment Group, B-24 waist-gunner

Edward Patapanian – Boston, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Brady Spillane – Great Falls, MT; US Army, 82 Airborne Division

William Thomure – Columbus, OH; US Coast Guard, WWII

James Watt – Whangamata, NZ; RNZ Army # 811867, WWII, PTO, 22nd/9th Brigade

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11th Airborne Division – May 1945 (2)

187th HQ Company, from 11th Airborne Yearbook 1943

After the fall of Mount Macolod, the one remaining Japanese stronghold in the 11th A/B’s area of operation on Luzon was Mount Malepunyo, a welter of conical hills covered with tangled rainforest and bamboo thickets surrounded by slopes and interlaced with sharp ridges.  There were no roads within the 30-square-mile area of the mountain.

Gen. Griswold felt that Malepunyo was such a formidable Japanese bastion that he planned to give Gen. Swing the 1st Cavalry to use along with Swing’s 11th A/B.  But – just before the operation was to take place, Griswold would only attach the 8th Calvary Regiment .

The 187th Regiment of the 11th A/B, shorthanded and weary after fighting for Mt. Macolod, was sent to Tiaong, to prevent enemy escape on the east.  This would put them around the north shore of Lake Taal.  The 188th was moved to Alaminos on the south and kept the 8th Calvary at the “Grand Canyon” at the northeast and the 511th on their right flank.

Gen. Farrell gathered 7 battalions of artillery and spread them out around the foot of the mountain.  When the operation went into affect, fighter-bombers pounded the Japanese strongholds.  The American paratroopers could actually see the enemy race underground and to their positions when they hear the aircraft overhead.

Major Davy Carnahan of the 187th said, “We had ambushes up and down the river for a distance of about 10 miles, endeavoring to cover every possible crossing.  In those ambushes we accounted for some 4 hundred Japanese captured or killed.

About 2400 hrs. one night, movement across the bridges was noticed.  …  The surprise was complete and deadly, some 100 enemy being killed and wounded, including some high-ranking officers.  The strange looking objects seen on the bridge turned out to be sedan chairs that all the Japanese officers were being carried in.”  [The troopers would later discover that Gen. Fujishige’s auto had broken down back in March.  But the general was not being carried, he walked out leading 200 men and was not captured here.]

Carrying out the wounded, 11th Airborne Div.

At the end of May, the 187th was sent to Manila to relieve the 20th infantry.  The city was in dire straits.  Vast areas had been destroyed, industry was non-existent, they had very little in the way of utilities, there was no police force and dance halls were springing up on every corner.

Smitty was not here, but as part of Gen. Swing’s service staff, he would have been with his general.  Plans were heavily into talks about the invasion of Japan.

According to the 11th A/B’s G-4 officer, Major John Conable, “We were to be the lead division of XVIII Airborne Corps under Gen. Ridgeway.  Our division and the 13th Airborne Division were to parachute onto the peninsula forming the east side of Tokyo Bay and establish a beachhead for a couple of armored divisions…. I can remember poring over aerial photographs of the area, trying to find some decent jump fields.  We didn’t find any.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Bond Jr. – Bradford, PA; US Navy, WWII

Richard Brunk – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division, Chaplain

Stanley Chambers – Ipswich, ENG; Royal Air Force, WWII / British Navy, pilot (Ret. 44 y.)

Peter Firmin – Harwich, ENG; British Navy, (artist)

James Furcinito – Syracuse, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Joe Gondarilla – Oxnard, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Kenneth Herrell – Manchester, TN; US Army

Clarence Mayotte – Webster, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 5th Armored Division

Ronald Spetalnick – Far Rockaway, NY; US Air Force, SSgt., Flight Instructor

Arnold Tolbert – Williston, SC; US Air Force

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11th Airborne Division, May 1945

Japanese Army areas of responsibility, WWII

Shobu Group had lost one of the three legs of its defensive triangle, but the battle on northern Luzon was far from over. Until the end of the war, Sixth Army forces continued to push Gen. Yamashita’s men farther into the mountains, taking heavy casualties in the process. The 32d Division, which had also seen heavy fighting on Leyte, was worn down to almost nothing, but the defenders suffered even heavier battle casualties as well as losses to starvation and disease.  By the end of the war, the Japanese were still holding out in the rugged Asin Valley of the Sierra Madre in north-central Luzon, enduring the drenching summer monsoons.

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

Lipa, Luzon ruins, WWII

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

7 May 1945, the war in Europe was over, the famous V-E Day, and the men of the 11th Airborne were very happy for their counterparts in the ETO, but they knew the Japanese would remain solid and faithful in their convictions. The fighting in the Pacific would continue, it was a matter of honor. My father, Smitty, had told me of the hatred the G.I.s felt for the enemy and granted, he wasn’t overjoyed at the prospect of getting shot at, but he said he had to have respect for their patriotism and tenacity. (Yamato damashii – Japanese spirit and Bushido – the way of the warrior.)  Now, the troopers began to wonder if they would receive ample reinforcements. Rumors began to fly.

Gen. Yamashita Tomoyuki

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

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

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Pete Acuff – Olvey, AR; US Army, WWII,  driver

Stewart Barnett – AUS; D COY 4 RARNZ Battalion, Pvt. # 5715206, Vietnam, KIA

Clifford Doer – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO & Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Harlan Ellison – Cleveland, OH; US Army / (sci-fi author)

David Franklin – Lake Worth, FL; USMC

Larry Hickman – Winston-Salem, NC; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Robert Keown – Decatur, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 2nd LT., P-38 pilot, KIA

Brian Monks – Hampton, NZ; INZ Regiment, Vietnam, Colonel # 35187

Lawrence Sweet – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

George VanArsdale – Hugo, CO; US Navy, WWII

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Okinawa Kamikaze story

This is an odd story that involves a flight instructor, his family, and a single-minded request. The whole thing was so strange, in fact, that the Japanese government censored it at the time.

Hajime Fujii was born on August 30, 1915, in Ibaraki Prefecture as the oldest of seven children. He joined the army and proved to be such a skilled machine gunner that they sent him to China.

Hajime Fujii

The Chinese weren’t too happy about that, which is why Fujii got hit by a mortar shell that wounded his left hand. Sent to the hospital, he was tended to by Fukuko – a beautiful field nurse from Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture.

It was love at first sight. Back then, arranged marriages were the norm, but the two were having none of it. So they returned to Japan, got married, and had two adorable daughters – Kazuko and Chieko.

Instead of sending him back to China, the Army kept Fujii in Japan and sent him to the Army Air Corps Academy where he graduated in 1943. Becoming a company commander with the Kumagaya Army Aviation School in Kaitama, Fujii was tasked with teaching his students character and mental discipline.

This included inculcating them with a deep sense of loyalty and patriotism and the value of crashing one’s plane into enemy ships and camps. According to his few surviving students, he frequently told them that he would die with them if he could.

But he couldn’t. The mortar shell didn’t take out his left hand, but it left him unable to grip a plane’s control stick. So the more he expressed his desire to die with his students (many of whom went on to do just that), the more the whole thing bothered him.

Kamikaze pilot

Japan didn’t enter WWII with any intention of creating kamikaze pilots and sending them on suicide missions. But it had expected a quick victory.  By 1944, Japan knew it was in serious trouble. Many of its veterans were gone, and many of those sent out never made it back. Desperate, the Army created Special Attack Force Units called tokkōtai or shimbu-tai – suicide squads made up of the Army and Navy.

Fujii’s favorite motto was: “words and deeds should be consistent.” So after months of telling his students to kill themselves by crashing into the enemy, he wanted to do the same by joining the kamikaze.  Unfortunately for him, he was a victim of his own success. Popular with his students and staff, and having proven his worth in China, the Army refused his request. They also cited the fact that he was a family man, while most of those they sent on one-way missions were single.

Kamikaze

Fukuko also pleaded with him to stay out of the war. He had two young daughters, after all. If he died, what would happen to them?  But as more and more of his students left on suicide missions never to return, Fujii couldn’t shake off the idea that he was betraying his wards. He felt like a hypocrite, which is why he again appealed to the Army to let him die. They refused his second request.

So now Fukuko was trapped. If Fujii stayed in Japan, she’d have her husband, while her daughters would have a father. But he would forever be haunted by his self-perceived betrayal of his students and his country.  He would become a ghost (“dim spirit” in Japanese), only half alive. At best, he’d just fade away. At worst, he’d eventually blame his wife and children for his dishonor.

So on the morning of December 14, 1944, while her husband was away at Kumagaya, Fukuko dressed herself up in her finest kimono. She did the same with three-year-old Kazuko and one-year-old Chieko. Finally, she wrote her husband a letter, urging him to do his duty to the country and not to worry about his family. They’d wait for him.


Then she wrapped Chieko up in a cloth backpack and strapped the baby to her back. Taking Kazuko by the hand, she walked toward the Arakawa River near the school where her husband taught. Taking a rope, she tied Kazuko’s wrist to her own and jumped into the freezing waters.

The police found the bodies later that morning, and Fujii was brought to the spot as they were being laid out. The following evening, he painted a letter to his oldest daughter, begging her to take care of her mother and younger sister till he could join them.

Then he performed yubitsume (cut off his pinky finger). With his own blood, he painted his third appeal to the Army.
On February 8, 1945, Fujii became the commander of the 45th Shinbu Squadron – which he named Kaishin (cheerful spirit). Just before dawn on May 28, the nine planes headed to Okinawa, each carrying a pilot and gunner. To their delight, they came upon the USS Drexler and USS Lowry.

USS Drexler

Two slammed into the Drexler, sinking her within minutes and taking out 158 of its crew. Fuji was in one of them. He was reunited with his family.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Helen Boling – KS & CO; US Army nurse, WWII

Donald Goodbrand – W.Palm Beach, FL; USMC

Wayne ‘Bubba’ Harland – Washington, DC; USMC, Korea & Vietnam

Richard ‘Old Man’ Harrison – Danville, VA; US Navy, Petty Officer 1st Class, USS Chowanoc (Ret. 20 y.) /  “Pawn Stars”

Charlene Kvapil – Middletown, OH; civilian employee US Navy Bureau of Ships, WWII

Stanley Maizey – Cornubia, AUS; Australian Army

Robert Sykes – Rochester, NY; US Navy, WWII / Korea, Chief Engineer, USS Ingraham

Newton Sloat – Concho, OK; US Army, 503rd/11th Airborne Division

Leo ‘Fox’ Stewart – Menagha, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Jane Tomala – Toronto, CAN; RC Navy WREN, WWII

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Kamikaze Action Report – sample from May 1945

Treasures from the USS Evans

The USS Evans and Hadley departed from the Hagushi anchorage at Yomitan, Okinawa on the afternoon of 10 May 1945, under orders of CTG 51.5, and arrived on Radar Picket Station #15 about 1500.  Other ships in support on that station were LSM 193, LCS 82, LCS 83 and LCS 84.  The latter four ships were disposed in a diamond formation 1000 yards on a side, their course reversed about every half hour by signal, speed maintained at 10 knots.  Hadley and Evans were in column in that order, speed 15 knots, distance 1500 yards, circling the support formation at a distance of about one mile.  Hadley was Fighter Director Ship and controlled a small Combat Air Patrol. Evans was Fire Support Ship.  At 1934 hours that evening a Japanese “Kate” was shot down by this ship.

From 0151 until 0340, 11 May 1945, remained at General Quarters as there were enemy aircraft in immediate vicinity, probably on reconnaissance missions. Early in the morning of the 11th, a general warning was received from Commander Fifth Fleet to expect heavy air raids during the day.

Enemy aircraft were again in the area from 0640 to 0654, after which we were in the clear until commencement of the action which this report covers.

At 0835 with Evans closing Hadley from 3500 yards on his starboard quarter, Evans and Hadley both opened fire with 5″ on an enemy aircraft (type undetermined) closing on Hadley’s starboard beam.  Hits were observed and the plane was splashed dead ahead of Evans.

At 0839 a “Zeke” approached from high on starboard quarter in steep dive, taken under fire by Evans’ 5″ battery at 7000 yards, by 40MM at 3500 yards, and shot down in flames at 2500 yards.  At 0841 a “Zeke” approached from high on starboard quarter in steep suicide dive and was shot down by 40MM and 20MM fire, hitting the water 800 yards on starboard beam.

At 0845 a “Tony” approached on Evans port bow in a shallow dive at high speed and was taken under fire by main battery at 5000 yards.  Hits were observed and plane splashed close aboard Hadley on her port quarter.

aircraft identifier

Less than two minutes later a “Tony” approached from high and deep on port quarter in a very steep dive, was taken under fire by 40MM and 20MM and set on fire.  It dropped a bomb close aboard on starboard bow, and was shot down by 5″ battery at 1500 yards off the starboard bow going away.  At 0849 an “Oscar” approached from port quarter in shallow dive at high speed.  Taken under fire by 5″ battery at 6000 yards and 40MM battery at 4000 yards, it crashed in flames 1000 yards off port quarter of Evans.  Less than a minute later, without ceasing fire, and with 5″ guns in automatic, the director was slowed forward from port quarter to port beam and approaching “Jill” was taken under fire at 10,000 yards. This “Jill” was shot down at 7,000 yards.

“Zeke”

At 0851 a “Kate” was observed closing Evans rapidly on a bearing of 330° relative, and taken under fire at 5000 yards by main battery. The enemy plane, although hit and burning severely, continued to close until at about 200 yards nearly broad on port bow it launched a torpedo. Hard left rudder was applied, with the ship making about 10 knots, and fortunately the torpedo crossed just ahead of bow less than 25 yards. The “Kate”, already on fire, was shot down going away 2000 yards off starboard bow by 5″ fire.

At 0854 a “Tony” approaching from Evans port bow was taken under fire by Hadley and Evans’ main batteries at 7000 yards, with hits observed from both ships.  Plane was shot down an equal distance from Hadley and Evans at 3500 yards (an assist with Hadley).

0856 observed “Val” coming in from high and deep on port quarter. It was taken under fire by main battery at 6000 yards, by machine guns at 4000 yards. Numerous hits were scored and the enemy plane set on fire. Although he attempted to suicide, it appeared the plane was out of control as it crossed over ship and crashed in water 2000 yards off starboard bow.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Henry Arnold – Huntsville, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS New Orleans / US Army, Lt.Col. (Ret.)

Robert ‘Don’ Bass – Tampa, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, radioman 3rd Class

John DeLang Jr. – Boston, MA; US Army, WWII

Robert Foster – Denmark, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO

Leonard Gamble – Waikato, NZ; RNZCI # 652525, WWII

Wasil Glushko – Simpson, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 navigator

Frank Johnston – Lowell, MA; US Army Air Corps, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Stanley McChristian Sr. (100) – Miami, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 co-pilot, 454th/15th Air Force

Shirley Richardson – Moose Jaw, CAN; RC Air Force Women’s Corps, WWII

Glen Snoddy – Shelbyville, TN; US Army, WWII, (Fuzz Tone engineer)

 

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Remember the 15

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B-25 raid on Formosa by the 498th’s ‘Jaunty Jo’ # 192 over Byoritsu Oil Refinery; it crashed seconds later. (Maurice J. Eppstein, John C. Hanna Collections) courtesy of IHRA

So much happened at once in the Pacific all at the same time, we get help here from the International Historical Research Associates!!

IHRA

May 18, 1945 was an all too eventful day for the 65th Bomb Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group. Seven of its B-24s were sent to make up a third of a 21-plane raid with the 403rd and 64th Squadrons on Tainan Airdrome, located on Formosa (now Taiwan). Antiaircraft fire was heavy and accurate, and coming from both Tainan and the nearby Okayama Airdrome. Aircrews noticed two strange types of antiaircraft bursts. One looked like a gasoline fire bursting in midair, the other appeared to be a stream of fire trailed by smoke.

As the crews made their runs, 1/Lt. James J. Franklin’s B-24 took a direct hit and exploded. All ten members of the crew as well as an observer were killed. To the right of Franklin was 1/Lt. Rudolph J. Cherkauer in B-24 #373, which felt the brunt of the explosion and ended up leaving Tainan with two hundred new…

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