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11th Airborne and the end of WWII / part one

Jeeps on Okinawa

Okinawa, as one of the islands being “beefed-up” with supplies, men and materiel, quickly became significantly congested; it is only 877 square miles, but soon they would be minus the 11th Airborne Division.  MacArthur had decided the 11th would be the first to land in Japan, with the 187th Regiment leading off.

General Swing was not certain how the enemy would take to him and the 187th regiment landing in Japan as the first conquerors in 2000 years, so the men were ordered to be combat ready. Besides staying in shape, they spent many an hour listing to numerous lectures on the Japanese culture.

15 August, Washington D.C. received Japan’s acceptance of the terms of surrender. Similar to the Western Electric advertisement pictured, phones and telegraphs buzzed around the world with the news that WWII was over, but reactions varied. Among the men on Okinawa, there was jubilation mixed in with ‘let’s wait and see.”

In Japan, most felt relieved, but others committed suicide to fulfill their duty.  Russian troops continued to push into Manchuria to get as far into the area as possible before the Allies could stop them.

Troops in Europe were elated to hear that they were no longer being transferred to the Pacific and South America began to see the arrival of Nazi escapees and the United States went wild with gratitude.

Gen. Joseph May Swing
(on the reverse side of this photo, Smitty wrote, “My General.”)

During the initial meeting, the Japanese were instructed to have 400 trucks and 100 sedans at Atsugi Airfield in readiness to receive the 11th Airborne. This caused much concern with the dignitaries. Atsugi had been a training base for kamikaze pilots and many of them were refusing to surrender. There were also 300,000 well-trained troops on the Kanto Plain of Tokyo, so MacArthur moved the landing for the 11th A/B to the 28th of August; five days later than originally planned.

There was much discussion as to whether or not the 11th Airborne would fly into Japan or parachute down. Troopers tried jumping from the B-24s on the island, but it proved to be an awkward plane for that purpose. To carry the men to Japan and then return was impossible for the C-46, therefore C-54s were brought in from around the world and crammed onto the island.

11th Airborne Recon Battalion Honor Guard, USS Missouri 9/2/45

GHQ ordered General Swing to form an honor guard company for General MacArthur. Captain Glen Carter of the 187th regiment became the company commander. Every man was required to be 5′ 11″ or taller.

18-20 August, the Soviet army overran the Kwantung Army in central Manchuria, taking three cities in three days. They continued south in the quickest campaign of Soviet history, killing 80,000 Japanese.

28 August was to be the intended date for U.S. arrival in Japan, but two typhoons put a snafu on the trooper’s strategies. My father recalled, during their prolonged stay on the island, meeting some of the 509th Bomber Group. They did not wish to be known in Japan as those that dropped the A-bomb.  What they had witnessed through their goggles seemed to be a nightmare straight out of “Buck Rogers. The airmen requested an 11th A/B patch to sew over their own before entering Japan.  Smitty said he gave away a lot of patches;  he felt they were just men who carried out their orders.

Asugi Airfield, 1945

The Emperor was wary of any fanatical emotions that might still be lingering within the kamikaze pilots. Therefore, he sent his brother, Prince Takamatsu, with a team to dismantle the propellers from their planes to prevent any “heroics” from occurring before MacArthur’s plane, the Bataan, was scheduled to land. The previously all-powerful Japanese Army had had such control over the country for so long that these precautions had to be fulfilled to ensure a peaceful occupation. This was all carried out while the Emperor still believed he would be executed as a war criminal.

28 August 1945, Japanese officers signed the surrender documents in Rangoon to finalize Japan’s defeat in Burma. On islands throughout the Pacific, enemy troops surrendered in droves to American and British authorities in the following days. Most of the men were malnourished and ill.

THE JAPANESE SURRENDER IN BURMA, 1945 (SE 4821) Brigadier E F E Armstrong of British 12th Army staff signs the surrender document at Rangoon on behalf of the Allies. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205208318

30 August, due to the latest typhoon, the first plane carrying the 11th A/B does not leave Okinawa until this date. Colonel John Lackey lifted off Kadena Airfield at 0100 hours with General Swing on board. The 187th regiment, upon arriving at Atsugi Airfield (just outside Tokyo), after their seven hour flight, immediately surrounded the area and the Emperor’s Summer Palace to form a perimeter. The 3d battalion of the 188th regiment, the honor guard and the band showed up to prepare for MacArthur’s arrival.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leo W. Arsenault – Exeter, NH; US Army, Vietnam, CSgt., Major (Ret. 22 y.), Bronze Star

Ray E. Ball – Newnan, GA; Korea & Vietnam, LTC (Ret. 23 Y.)

Claire Behlings – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 33rd Infantry & 11th Airborne Division

John M. Carroll – NY, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, TSgt.,328 BS/93BG/9th Air Force, B-24 radio operator, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

Wayne L. Dyer – Hobart, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt., B-17 navigator, 390BG/8th Air Force, KIA ( Leipzig, GER )

Joseph H. Gunnoe – Charleston, WV; US Army, WWII, ETO, Cpl., G Co/112/28th Infantry Division, KIA (Vossenack, GER)

Reynaldo Nerio Sr. – San Marcos, TX; US Army Air Corps, 82nd Airborne Division

Evelyn Orzel – Chicago, IL; Civilian, WWII, ammo production

William Scott – Passaic, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt. # 0-796608, B-24 navigator, 68BS/44BG/8th Air Force, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

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Making a Jump on Aparri, Luzon

Jump on Aparri

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

Aparri jump

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

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

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

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

Aparri, North Luzon

Gen. Joseph M. Swing

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

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Military Humor – 

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

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Farewell Salutes –

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

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

Aleutians, 1943

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Getting ready for the next mission – Aparri

Luzon

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

LTC Henry Burgess

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

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

C-47 Skytrain ‘Gooney Bird’

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

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Military Humor –

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

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

For Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This is here… Just because…

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Getting Leave on Australia!

Brisbane 1945

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

Townsville, Queensland

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

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

Joan

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

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

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

Farewell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Rene Antil – Fitchburg, MA; US Navy, WWII

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Tarkane – Valparaiso, IN; US Army, WWII

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Pacific Theater items

Lipa Railway Station, May 1945

showing damage, looking south from Lipa Cathedral

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

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

Joe E. Brown passing out mail call on Luzon


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

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

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

Japanese balloon bomb

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

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mount Malepunyo

Mt. Malepunyo, Japanese defenses CLICK ON TO ENLARGE.

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

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

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

Gen. Masatoshi Fujshige

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

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

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gerald Grimes – Canton, OH; US Army, WWII

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mount Macolod part 2

The reduction of Mount Macolod

2 April, the 187th attacked and cleared the area to the base of the mountain, but were unable to hold the ridges. One pocket of the enemy were dug in between the two southern ridges and small Japanese patrols were strewn along the highway near Talisay, indicating to Colonel Pearson that the enemy held that sector. His feelings were confirmed when his command post was hit with Japanese 155mm artillery shells. The quick reactions of the 674th Glider Field Artillery Battalion to counterattack saved the 2d 187th.

Shelling Mt. Macolod

Captured Japanese artillery, Mt. Macolod

8 April, General MacArthur released a communiqué to state that because of the 11th Airborne’s actions, “…all organized enemy resistance in the southern part of the island was destroyed and liberation was at hand.” As usual, his assessment of the situation was premature, but it was just the type of enthusiasm that endeared him to the Filipino people. His optimism gave them the strength to persevere through some gruesome events; such as when the 2d moved through Sulac, the men found one hundred Filipinos brutally massacred and discarded in a ravine.

7-17 April, the battles around Macolod continued making this one of the bloodiest battles the 187th ever fought. The regiment received massive downpours of artillery, but when the troopers discovered that the guns were all grouped together, they were eradicated. The 187th was exhausted by this point and diminished even further by casualties and wounded, but rest was not on the schedule.

18 April, Col. Pearson brought in tanks and 155mm howitzers to coordinate with the 187th and their fighting would continue for two more days. The 11th Airborne had pushed the Japanese back to Malepunyo. On the 19th, any cave found near the 1st battalion was sealed. Those hideouts discovered near Cuenca Ravine had gasoline drums rolled into them and were ignited by grenades. This not only killed a number of enemy soldiers, but also eliminated the vegetation that would normally provide cover and possible infiltration routes by the enemy. When the battle for Macolod was over on the 20th, the regiment had 13 casualties and 11 wounded.

12 April 1945, while sitting for a portrait, the President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, collapsed and died. The unsuccessful haberdasher, Harry S. Truman, would take over the reins of the country.

telegram of FDR’s death

Click on images to enlarge and read.

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Current News – 

The USS Samuel B. Jackson, has been found 4 miles beneath the Philippine Sea.

The USS Samuel B. Roberts sank during a battle off the Philippines’ central island of Samar on Oct. 25, 1944.  The vessel had engaged the Japanese fleet as U.S. forces worked to liberate the Philippines, which was then a U.S. territory, from occupation. The skirmish was the final engagement of the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Eighty-nine of its 224 crew members were killed, according to the newspaper.

“This site is a hallowed war grave,” retired Rear Adm. Sam Cox, head of the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington.

The Sammy B was hit by a Japanese battleship and sank, along with the USS Johnston

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Military Humor – 

How Willie and Joe bore up under the elements… “Now that you mention it, it does sound like the patter of rain on a tin roof”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jack Avis – Westfield, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO

William L. Ball – Keene, NH; US Army, WWII

Chester J. Bochenek – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-29 bombardier

Frank Celentano – Simsbury, CT; US Army, WWII, Silver Star

Richard “Bud” Gill – Smithfield, VA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Daniel Krauss – Albrightsville, PA; US Army, 503rd Regiment (Airborne)

Felix Marcello – N. Versailles, PA; US Army, Korea, Co D/187th RCT

Edward N. Patterson Sr. – MO; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Jeffrey A. Peters – Newark, OH; US Army, Sgt., 101st Airborne Division

Ray Shadden – Nacogdoches, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187/11th Airborne Division

Mount Macolod, LUZON

Mt. Macolod, Luzon

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, Luzon

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.

machine-gun pillbox, Hill 843

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 – 

Robert M. Adams – Elk Grove, CA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

James D. Chandler – Jenkins, KY; US Army, Vietnam, West Point graduate ’54, Colonel (Ret. 22 y.)

Courtesy of Dan Antion

Larry Duncan – Wilmington, NC; USMC, WWII, PTO

Alexander MacDonell – Victoria, CAN; Royal Canadian Artillery, WWII, RC Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, Lt. Col. (Ret.)

John McKeon Jr. – Philadelphia, PA; US Navy, Commander

Floyd A. Miner – Lowell, MA; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

William C. Phelps Jr. – Winslow, AZ; US Air Force, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Senior MSgt.

Omni Putikka – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Dwight S. Ramsay – Fordyce, AR; US Army

Francis Vinci – Middletown, CT; Cadet Nurses Corps, WWII

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Manila (cont’d) February 1945

 

The importance of Manila cannot be stressed enough. The natural harbor has served as a strategically situated port for commerce and trade for centuries. Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay are connected by the Pasig River.

As the 11th Airborne  was switched back to the 6th Army, General Swing received orders to destroy all forces in Southern Luzon, specifically at Macolod and Lipa, along with clearing Route 19. The division had not received many replacements so they were even smaller in size than before; the 158th Regimental Combat Team was attached to partially compensate. The Manila-Batangas highway ran north to south and was essential to secure the port of Batangas for future landings.

Japanese in Manila

On top of all this, Swing was ordered to destroy enemy forces in Ternate. (Southern shore of Manila Bay) None of his men had the privilege of being in reserve, but the general had the utmost confidence in his men to succeed. His plan – Put the 187th on the right, going through the neck between Lake Taal and Laguna de Bay. The 158th on two other routes and the 1st of the 188th to Ternate.

Japanese gun in Manila from a super battleship.

22 February 1945, the Cairns Post reported that the 11th Airborne had been seen south-east of Laguna de Bay and surrounded an enemy unit at Mabato Point and compressed them into an area of 1200×800 yards. From there, they traveled through Alabang to Muntinupa where the Japanese were attempting to evacuate their troops. The 11th was relaying back reports of finding natives hacked to death by bayonet or burned alive by the enemy.

Lake Taal, from Smitty’s scrapbook

The 187th, with the675th Glider Field Artillery Battalion attached bivouacked near Mount Sungay and sent out daily patrols to the east. G-2 (Intelligence) knew the Japanese Fuji Force was out there and needed to picture the enemy locations. While the troopers fought ground battles, the engineers were carving out the mountain. The sheer cliff was almost vertical, but the roads being built was imperative.

Assistance with this article came from Rakkasans by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; the VFW; 2eyeswatching.com (pix only); The Angels: History of the 11th Airborne Division by Gen. Flanagan; Pacific War On-line encyclopedia, WW2 Database and my grandmother for keeping Smitty’s scrapbook – all I wish to thank for their diligence in recording history.

Yesterday, Saturday, 15 May 2022, was Armed Forces Day here in the U.S.  I hope you continue to thank a veteran every chance you get!

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bluford Jr. (103) – Richmond, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 pilot

John L. “Gunny” Canley – Bend, OR; USMC; Vietnam, Sgt. Major (Ret.). Medal of Honor

Courtesy of Tofino Photography

Leonard Cecere – Retsof, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, Flight Engineer

Creedin Cornman – Carlisle, PA; US Army, WWII, 584th Antiaircraft Battalion

Ryan DeKorte – Lubbock, TX; US Navy, Electronics Tech 1st Class, USS Jason Dunham  /   Naval Special Warfare Unit

Augustine Delgadillo – Seligman, AZ; US Army, WWII, ETO& PTO

Edmund Liebl – Madison, WI; US Navy Air Corps, WWII  /  US Army, Medical Corps

Rudolph Macey – Tarrytown, NY; US Navy, WWII  /  FCC (Ret.)

Glenn E. Miller – MT. Palatine, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO & Occupation

Seth Plant – St. Augustine, FL; US Army, SSgt., 3/509th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Fred Ward – San Diego, CA; US Air Force  /  Beloved actor

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