Blog Archives

Ted Crosby – An Ace in a Day

n a dramatic painting by Roy Grinnell, Lieutenant (j.g.) Willis Hardy, a member of Crosby’s VF-17 Squadron from the carrier USS Hornet, flames a Japanese kamikaze plane that was on its way to attack the American naval task force off Okinawa, April 6, 1945. The Hellcat’s distinctive “white checkerboard” markings show it belongs to the USS Hornet (CV12).

As Ted Crosby watched, Yamato’s giant, 18-inch guns hit the water, their enormous weight probably helping the battleship capsize. Suddenly, Yamato’s No. 1 magazine exploded, sending up a huge coil of smoke and flame that could be seen for over 100 miles. It was a strange foretaste of the atomic mushroom clouds that would envelope Hiroshima and Nagasaki a few months later.

Watching from above, Crosby had no feeling of elation. “I was thinking of the Japanese crew,” he said in a 2011 interview. “Three thousand lives lost.”  As a former fighter pilot and Navy man, he could appreciate what it meant to go down fighting with his comrades.

During his World War II career, Ted Crosby served aboard two Essex-class carriers, Bunker Hill (CV 17) and Hornet (CV 12). There were 24 Essex-class carriers built during the war, and they soon became the backbone of America’s naval offensive in the Pacific. The efforts of pilots like Crosby not only turned defeat into victory, but also changed the course of naval warfare forever.

***************************************************

Ensign John T. Crosby, shortly after being commissioned in May 1943.

An autumn raid on Rabaul was a major effort involving several American carriers. It was also Ted Crosby’s first taste of battle. The raid of November 11, 1943, involved dogfights on a massive scale. It was an aerial free-for-all, with the new F6F Hellcat generally gaining the upper hand over the vaunted Mitsubishi A6M Zero or “Zeke.”

On November 26, 1943, Ted got his first kill—a piece of a Mitsubishi G4M Betty bomber.  A steady stream of .50-caliber slugs sprayed from Ted’s six machine guns peppered and shattered the Betty’s tail and rear-gun position. Other Hellcats chimed in, joining Crosby’s symphony of destruction until the stricken bomber crashed. When he got back to Bunker Hill, he claimed the Betty, but it was determined that the other pilots had a share in its downing. As a result, Crosby’s official score stood at one-quarter of a Japanese bomber.

In dogfights and strafing runs, Ted had only one rule: “Don’t be in any one spot for more than 10 seconds! When I looked in my rear view mirror, I’d often see flak bursts where my plane had just been.”

In January 1945, Ted joined a newly reformed VF-17 aboard the USS Hornet. The new VF-17 appropriated the old formation’s skull and crossbones logo, but this time the men would be exclusively flying Hellcats, not Corsairs. The commander of the new VF-17 was Lt. Cmdr. Marshall U. “Marsh” Beebe.

On April 16, 1945, Ted Crosby became an ace in a day, shooting down five Japanese planes on a single mission. The Marines had landed on Okinawa on April 1 and, as time went on, the battle for the island intensified. Swarms of kamikazes flew out of Kyushu on suicide missions, crashing into any Allied ship they could find in the area. Ted and his fellow aviators called them “kami-krazies.” They seemed to conform to the wartime stereotype of fanatics who would rather commit suicide than surrender.

Crosby began April 16 on a target combat air patrol with Lt. Cmdr. Beebe. Crosby’s division (four Hellcats) was led by Lieutenant Milliard “Fuzz” Wooley; Ensigns J. Garrett and W.L. Osborn completed the quartet. As  VF-17’s war diary put it, “Wooley’s division ‘tallyhoed’ [engaged] 12 Jacks and Zekes at 24,000 feet and started working them over.”

Actually, there were two groups of Japanese planes, a dozen or so at around 24,000 feet and a second group that was flying about 9,000 feet lower. Their main target was a destroyer, possibly a Fletcher-class vessel, that was cruising north of Okinawa. Ted could not recall the name of the ship, but its call sign was “Whiskey Base.”

The fighter director aboard the destroyer was happy to see Hellcats above him but dismayed when it appeared that they were leaving. “The fighter director said, ‘I see what you guys are doing––don’t leave us!’ Wooley replied, ‘Don’t worry. We’ll be back. We want to meet these guys halfway before they can get to you!’”

In the process, Wooley and Crosby became separated from the other pilots. Squadron Commander Beebe called them, asking for their position. Crosby said, “Fuzz” replied, ‘Never mind, skipper, we got them [the Japanese] cornered!’”

The first plane Crosby encountered was a Mitsubishi J2M “Jack” fighter that was coming head on. Crosby and his adversary were seemingly on a collision course, like two medieval knights jousting in a tournament.

“Well, I met that Japanese plane head on with my six .50-caliber guns, and the impact of the bullets blew him apart. Part of his engine and propeller, with the prop still turning, flew right over my head. I picked out another [Japanese plane], executed a turn, and went right after him.”

The second was a Zeke, a kamikaze, not a fighter, so Ted proceeded with caution. “We all realized you had to watch out what you did because the kamikazes were loaded with TNT to do us maximum damage. When you hit one, they would really explode! Once they exploded, you’d find yourself flying through lots of garbage and debris.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After he downed the Zeke, Crosby attempted to find his division leader only to notice tracer bullets zipping past his Hellcat. Ironically, Ted had found his leader, but not in the way he wanted! The bullets were from Wooley who, in the excitement, had mistaken Crosby for the enemy. Realizing his error, Wooley sheepishly radioed Ted, “Did I get you, Ted?”

“Noooo.…” Ted replied, “but let’s settle down and get more of these guys!”

Wooley readily complied, going after another Japanese plane, but found he was out of ammunition. Ironically, his last few bursts had been expended when he mistakenly fired on Ted. Wooley dove down, making himself a decoy by luring enemy planes into Crosby’s guns. The ruse was successful, enabling Ted to down two more Japanese planes.

They decided to call it a day, but as they started back to the carrier Crosby spotted kamikaze heading toward the same destroyer they had helped protect earlier. Ted gave chase, tattooing the Japanese plane with a spray of .50-caliber lead. He broke off his attack because they were nearing the destroyer, and he knew that the ship’s radar could not distinguish friend from foe.

Sure enough, the destroyer opened fire, and the kamikaze, already disabled by Ted’s guns, angled down and crashed onto a nearby island. Thus, Ted Crosby became an ace in day, credited with three Jacks, a Zeke, and a Val dive bomber.  His skill and valor that day won him the coveted Navy Cross.

Ted says he did not feel too good about downing those kamikazes at first. He realized that most of the suicide pilots had little training and were for the most part sitting ducks to experienced Navy airmen. However, Ted felt better “when I was told the extent of the damage they did on ships, and by shooting them down I was saving American lives.”

Crosby also had a close call on a photo-recon mission near Shokaku, after American carrier planes had attacked Japanese shipping in the area. “I had my plot board out and I’m putting down the time of day, the slant of the sun, and all that had to do with photography. Suddenly, I saw stuff [bullets] bouncing off my wing. I look back, and there’s this guy on my tail—probably a George.  Only time I ever had a guy on my tail.”

After one pass the George broke off the attack and seemed to head back to his base. Crosby was not inclined to follow him. At the moment he was alone, and following an enemy plane over enemy territory did not seem like a wise thing to do. After he got back to Hornet, Ted found an unexploded 30mm shell in his cockpit armor, mute testimony to his luck and the fact that American aircraft designs protected their pilots.

Ted Crosby remained in the Navy after the war and retired with the rank of commander.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

################################################################################################################

Military Humor –

“Ya might hafta catch a boat. One of those kids ya just chased off th’ field wuz the pilot”

The new “Learn-as-you-Go” pilot training method.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

################################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Ed Bearrs – Billings, MT; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl., 3rd Marine Raider Battalion & 7/1st Marine Division, Purple Heart  /  Historian

John Bero Jr. – Buffalo, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Patrick Chess – Yakima, WA; US Navy, WWII shipfitter 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma. KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Gabriel J. Eggud – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., pilot, 110/71 Reconnaissance Group, KIA (New Guinea)

Ellis Fryer – Dearborn, MI; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Donald Lesmeister – Harvey, ND; US Navy, Korea, USS Wiltsie

Jack McPherson – Casper, WY; US Army, WWII, Chief Warrant Officer/ Korea & Vietnam/ NSA (Ret.)

June Pearce – Waukon, IA; Civilian, B-17 riveter

Charles Perkins – Quincy, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Donald Schimmels (100) – Kewaunee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

################################################################################################################################################################################################################################

Army Corps of Engineers in Japan after WWII

Osaka, Japan, 1945, canvas tanks of water purification station run by the 323rd Engineers/98th Division

Under the terms of surrender that ended World War II, Japan fell under Allied occupation. U.S. Army engineers faced a daunting challenge in constructing facilities for the occupation forces and rebuilding the vanquished nation’s infrastructure. The immediate postwar standard of living in Japan had sunk to subsistence levels and U.S. Army Air Force bombing raids destroyed much of the nation’s industrial base. Roadways originally were designed for light vehicle traffic and frequently were unsurfaced, and railroads often were of differing gauges. Unskilled labor was plentiful but craftsmen were scarce. Sewage systems were nonexistent. To complicate matters, at the occupation’s outset, Japanese construction firms were not considered financially sound nor did they operate with bonding or insurance.

Under the Far East Command—the ruling authority in occupied Japan—the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers created an engineer district equivalent, the Army Construction Agency, Japan, to accomplish all project work, with project review performed by the Army Forces Pacific theater engineer. However, the engineering support for the occupation was the responsibility of engineers from the U.S. Eighth Army, the Sixth Army Engineers out of Kyushu, and elements of the 5th Air Force Engineers. Additionally, to overcome a shortage of engineer troops, indigenous labor gangs were organized.

872nd Airborne Engineers repair Atsugi Airdome runway.

The intact Japanese civil government bore the financial responsibility for infrastructure reconstruction, including military programs. American area commanders funded projects by levying requisitions known as procurement demands on local Japanese administrations. After some abuses arose, the commanders lost their ability to make such requisitions. Instead all requirements were processed through General Headquarters. Eventually, the Japanese government, using Termination of War funds, was able to procure its own construction contractors. All were Japanese companies either created or expanded in response to the building requirements.

The centerpiece of the U.S. reconstruction effort in Japan was the base-building program to construct facilities supporting the occupation forces that at the same time would have joint-use applications. While in the early part of the occupation the U.S. military engaged in or supervised the Japanese in humanitarian and related civilian activities, the bulk of the engineering projects it performed involved converting existing facilities for the Eighth Army and other military units. Housing, hospitals, airfields, and administrative and operational structures were provided for American garrison divisions by rehabilitating former Imperial Army military camps. Many Japanese housing units were converted to house Americans and their dependents.

Quonset hut originally barracks for the 736th Engineers reused as office space for the 598th Engineer base, 1947

Other than some prefabricated buildings and petroleum tanks, building materials came from the local economy. In all, 15,000 dependent housing units were built or converted. Furthermore, former Japanese military ports and industrial plants became not only U.S. Army depots and logistics staging areas but also dual-use facilities. Repair and utilities support to all installations was funneled through regional post engineers, under whom utilities detachments and technicians resided. Because of the lack of civilian-operated heavy earth-moving equipment, engineer units performed all earthworks. By 1950, Army engineers had carried out total construction valued at more than $400 million.

With the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, a new and extensive construction support program had a direct effect on Japan’s rehabilitation. Procurement totaled nearly $1 billion annually by 1953 and involved contracts with 3,000 Japanese firms. By the end of 1951 the Japanese were able to negotiate an end to Allied occupation.

598th Engineers Supply Div. at Yokohama base, 1948

The peace treaty that went into effect in 1952 allowed for a mutual defense pact under which U.S. forces remained in Japan. This agreement began the permanent base construction that has continued with the establishment of the Far East District in 1957 and the Japan Engineer District in 1972. The work of Army engineers, although begun in the wake of a war with such terrible devastation, in large measure contributed to the rise of a former enemy as both an advanced, democratic nation and a stable bulwark for American interests in the wider region. This effort lives on in the continued cooperation among uniformed and civilian employees of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, its contractors, other U.S. agencies abroad, local nationals, and the host government.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

############################################################################################################

Happy 73rd Birthday –  U.S. Air Force

################################################################################################################

Military Humor –

Army Engineers

################################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas Berry – Kilgore, TX; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Master Electrician

Robert L. Davisson – Savanna, IL; US Air Force, Korea, Sgt., radio operator

Charles Hill – Madison, TN; US Army, Co. C/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Albert Jenkins – Billings, MT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, aircraft mechanic

Jason K. Phan – Anaheim, CA; US Air Force, Kuwait, Senior Airman, 386th Expeditionary Security Force

Richard Fox – Racine, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, P-47 pilot, 368/396/9th Air Force

Robert Libby – Hiram, ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Palmer Mart – Elkhart, IN; US Navy,WWII, radioman

Terry R. Santos – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Recon/11th Airborne Division

Arthur Smith (100) – Kendaia, NY; US Army, WWII, ATO, Corps of Engineers

################################################################################################################

################################################################################################################

Olivia de Havilland and the 11th Airborne

Olivia de Havilland in her 11th Airborne jacket

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

Olivia de Havilland pin-up

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

Olivia de Havilland at Hollywood Canteen, 1943

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

Olivia de Havilland visits the injured in Alaska

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

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

Olivia de Havilland in Kodiak, 1943

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

Click on images to enlarge.

################################################################################################################

Military Humor – ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

################################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

################################################################################################################

National Airborne Day 16 August 2020 80 years

The history of United States Airborne Forces did not begin on the training fields of Fort Benning, Georgia, as some believe. In fact, the origin of Airborne Forces in the U.S. military began with a familiar name to American military history, Brigadier General William L. “Billy” Mitchell (1879-1936).

As well as being considered the spiritual father of the United States Air Force, which he advocated for fiercely during his tenure in the military, BG Mitchell was the first to imagine airborne tactics and sought the creation of U.S. Airborne Forces.

Billy Mitchell

It is not recorded exactly when he organized a demonstration of Airborne Infantry for U.S., Russian and German observers. However, according to records at Ft. Benning, Georgia, it is confirmed that BG Mitchell held the demonstration “shortly after World War I” at Kelly Field, in San Antonio, Texas. During the demonstration, six soldiers parachuted from a Martin Bomber. After landing safely, the soldiers assembled their weapons and were ready for action in less than three minutes after they exited the aircraft.

Reprinted and broadcast countless times, High Flight is regarded as one of the world’s great war poems and the greatest anthem of aviation. It is the official poem of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. First year cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy are required to memorize it. Extracts have been quoted in a variety of occasions. The most famous example occurred on Jan. 28, 1986, when President Ronald Reagan, speaking of the Challenger, Space Shuttle disaster, closed his address with the sentence: “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’”

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air . . .

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark nor even eagle flew –

And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

– Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

 

AIRBORNE ALL THE WAY !

These men with silver wings

Troopers from the sky above

In whom devotion springs

What spirit so unites them?

In brotherhood they say

Their answer loud and clear.

“Airborne All the WAY!”

These are the men of danger

As in open door they stand

With static line above them

And ripcord in their hand.

While earthbound they are falling

A silent prayer they say

“Lord be with us forever,

Airborne All the Way.”

One day they’ll make their final jump

Saint Mike will tap them out

The good Lord will be waiting

He knows what they’re about

And answering in unison

He’ll hear the troopers say

“We’re glad to be aboard, Sir,

Airborne All the Way!”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

################################################################################################################

Military, Airborne Humor – 

Para-Toast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

################################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Abney – Richmond, IN; US Army, Vietnam, 173rd Airborne Division, Purple Heart

Lynn Adams – Pocatello, ID; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

James Cook – OH; US Army Air Corps, Japan Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

William Farrell – Augusta, GA; US Army, WWII & Korea, 504/82nd Airborne Division, US Army War College grad, Capt. (Ret. 20 y.)

Trevor Goldyn – USA; USMC, Bahrain, Sgt., 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade

Albert Hayden – Capr Giradeau County, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Hershel Hegwoods – Forest, MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 11th Airborne Division, Purple Heart

John Latham (100) – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 mechanic, TSgt. (Ret.)

Debrah Lepley – Coshocton, OH; US Army, 101st Airborne Division

Allan Stoll – Bossier City, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

################################################################################################################################################################################################################################

Current News – 75th Anniversary of the end!

The 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II Commemoration, which includes events in Washington, D.C., and Honolulu, Hawaii, will continue with adjustments and safety precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to organizers.

The events in Hawaii – which will include aerial parades and a dinner – will begin Aug. 29 and end Sept. 2, the anniversary of the official end of World War II. A ceremony will be held on the USS Missouri, the ship on which the official surrender documents were signed in 1945.

B-29 bomber “Fifi”

“Commemoration events are in place to pay tribute and thank our veterans of World War II, the Greatest Generation, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States,” Mike Carr, president and CEO of the Battleship Missouri Memorial, said in a press release. “We have worked very hard to ensure this important anniversary would not go unnoticed and look forward to recognizing those who fought for our ultimate freedom.”

World War II veterans attending events in Hawaii or Washington, D.C., will have a “travel bubble.” For Hawaii, that means a 14-day quarantine once arriving in the state, which is now required for all people entering Hawaii. For Washington, D.C., Block said there are ongoing conversations with veterans and their families about who will attend and how that will happen.

B-25 Mitchell bomber “Old Glory” being lifted aboard the USS Essex for trip to Hawaii.

“We have had some [flyover] pilots come forward and say, ‘Well, if [the veterans] want to go I’ll bring them in my private aircraft.’ So they wouldn’t be flying commercially, and some of them live close enough where they could drive,” Block said.

“It’s such an honor. It’s just a really, really epic thing to be part of,” Block said. “And I know everybody really, really wanted to do it this year, particularly.”

The B-17 Flying Fortress, the P-47 Thunderbolt and the B-29 Superfortress are among the about 60 airplanes scheduled to take part in the September flyover. The aircraft will fly in various formations, which represent the war’s major battles. The aircraft are expected to be over the Lincoln Memorial at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 25.

###############################################################################################################

Major Bill White, USMC, 105.

Oldest Living Marine Veteran, Major Bill White, celebrates his 105 birthday with a drive-by parade in Inglewood, CA

His name will be familiar to many, as he received tens of thousands of Valentines cards from many of you!!

################################################################################################################

Purple Heart Day –  7 August

Purple Heart

Veteran and military organizations hold remembrance meetings for fallen heroes and special events to thank soldiers, veterans, and Purple Heart recipients on this day. Many people fly the American flags at their homes and businesses as a way to show their solidarity with the troops.

The Purple Heart Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, recommends donating time and money to the foundation or to other organizations working with Purple Heart recipients and their families on this day. They also encourage people to listen to soldiers and veterans and learn more about their life stories and their military service.

##########################################################################################################

Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

################################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph T. Allbaugh – Folsom, CA; US Army, Afghanistan, 1st Lt., 2/44/108th ADA Brigade, KIA (Kandahar)

Marion Beall Jr. – Bronson, TX; US Navy, WWII, Corpsman w/ 1st Marine Division

HONOR

Modesto “Mike” Chemotti (106) – Solvay, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Fred DePonte – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO, 128th AAA Gun Battery, weapons specialist, Purple Heart

John Fruzyna – Northlake, IL; US Army, Korea, HQ Co./187th RCT

Thomas Hatfield Jr. – Lutcher, LA; US Coast Guard, WWII, Seaman 2nd Class

Kathleen Hunter – Thunder Bay, CAN; RC Army, WWII, nurse

Alexander Klass – Willamina, OR; US Army, Operation Joint Guardian, Pfc., 2/162/41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, KIA (Kosovo)

Davis Sanders – Burlington, WA; US Navy, WWII, aviation metalsmith

George Viney – Lawton, OK; US Army, WWII, PTO, 2 Silver Stars, Bronze Star, Colonel (Ret. 32 y.)

################################################################################################################################################################################################################################

Sports in the WWII Military

1926 Army/Navy game ticket, Nimitz Museum

The relationship between sports and the American armed forces reached a climax during WWII The military broadened its athletic regimen, established during  WWI, and thereby reproduced a patriotic sporting culture that soldiers had known as civilians. The armed services provided equipment, training, and personnel rather than rely on private agencies, as had been done in WWI.  The entry of numerous prominent athletes into military service represented a public relations boon for the Department of War and cemented a bond between professional sports, athletes, and patriotism.

American football was glorified as everything masculine and befitting the U.S. military experience. As organized sports became even more closely linked with fitness, morale, and patriotism, both within the ranks and on the home front, football became a fixture on military bases at home and abroad. Football was the favored sport among the military brass, as Generals George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and Omar Bradley all thought that football produced the best soldiers. Army and Navy were the two leading collegiate football powers during the war (Army was unbeaten from 1944 to 1946) and their games were broadcast over Armed Forces Radio.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For the 11th Airborne Division, Gen. Swing ordered a Japanese auditorium to be transformed into the 11th Airborne Coliseum. The complex was large enough to hold a theater that would seat 2,500, four basketball courts, a poolroom with 100 tables, a boxing arena that held 4,000 spectators, six bowling alleys and a training room.

In the fall of 1945, an Olympian was held in Tokyo for all the troops stationed in Japan and Korea. Football became the highlighted game. The 11th A/B Division coach, Lt. Eugene Bruce brought them to winning the Japan-Korea championship. They then went on to take the Hawaiian All-Stars in Mejii Stadium with a score of 18-0. This meant that the 11th Airborne Division held the All-Pacific Championship. The troopers went on to win in so many other sports that by the time the finals were held for the boxing tournament at Sendai, the headlines read in the Stars and Stripes sports section:
Ho-Hum, It’s the Angels Again”

Fellow blogger, Carl D’Agostino at “i know i made you smile”, sent me his father’s pictures and information.  Arthur D’Agostino had been with the 8th Armored Division.  They were stationed at Camp Campbell, KY until 1943, when they were moved to Camp Polk, LA to prepare for combat.  The division was sent to the European Theater on 5 December 1943, but Mr. D’Agostino was in recovery from surgery and was spared the journey.  Tank Sergeant D’Agostino became a middleweight boxing instructor and gave exhibitions around the camps.  Carl’s blog can be found HERE.  I know he’ll make you laugh!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

################################################################################################

4 August 1790 – 2020   U.S. Coast Guard Birthday – th (8)

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/us-coast-guard-225th-birthday/

#########################################################################################################

Military  – 

################################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Frank L. Athon – Cincinnati, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc. # 486357, Co. A/6/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Tarawa)

Raymond Battersby – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, coxswain, USS Adair

Traditions of Honor & Respect

Herman Cain – Memphis, TN; Civilian, US Navy ballistics analyst / media contributor, President candidate

Clarence Gilbert – Oklahoma City, OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, POW / Korea

Lucille Herbert (100) – Manchester, NH; US Army WAC, WWII, 2nd Lt., nurse

Joe Kernan – South Bend, IN; US Navy, Vietnam, USS Kitty Hawk, pilot, POW, 2 Purple Hearts / mayor, governor

Conrad Robinson – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Operation Joint Guardian, SSgt., medical specialist, 155/26/44th Medical Brigade, KIA (Kosovo)

Vinson Rose – Menifae County, KY; US Army, Vietnam, Sgt. Major (Ret. 22 y.), 82nd & 101st Airborne, 1964 Soldier of the Year, 4 Bronze Stars

Catherine Smalligan – Detroit, MI; Civilian, US Navy Recruiting Office (Kalamazoo)

Floyd Warren – North Bloomfield, OH; US Army, WWII, Lt. Col., Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Those lost to us during the Camp Pendleton training exercise…..

— Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 19, of Corona, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.

— Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wis., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.

— U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, Calif., a hospital corpsman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Ore., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

__ Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 20, New Braunfels, TX; USMC, rifleman with Bravo Co./ BLT

— Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Ore., a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

— Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4.

################################################################################################################################################################################################################################

 

 

 

 

 

187th Rakkasans – part (4)

Rakkasans for life!

In March 2010, the 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), Vermont National Guard, joined Task Force Rakkasan units in Paktya province as a battle space owning unit in AO Rakkasan. Task Force Avalanche conducted 65 major named operations, over 4,300 combat patrols and 9 air assault operations, including Task Force Rakkasan’s largest combined air assault operation of the deployment in support of Operation Champion Stone.

During OEF X-XI, Soldiers earned or were nominated for 132 Army Commendation Medals (Valor). 44 Soldiers were decorated with the Bronze Star Medal (Valor). Additionally, two Soldiers were decorated with the Silver Star Medal. Nearly 1,600 individual Task Force Soldiers earned combat badges for participating in direct combat against the enemy for the first time. Almost 1,100 Combat Infantryman Badges (CIB), over 1,300 Combat Action Badges (CAB), and 117 Combat Medical Badges (CMB). As a testament to the sacrifice, troopers from Task Force Rakkasan made in service to the nation, 229 Soldiers earned Purple Hearts for battle injuries. 17 Task Force Rakkasan Soldiers paid the ultimate price.

 

Units
Headquarters and Headquarters Company “Samurai Rakkasans”
1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment “Leader Rakkasans”
2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment “White Currahee Rakkasans”
3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment “Iron Rakkasans”
1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment “War Rakkasans”
21st Brigade Engineer Battalion “Rak Solid Rakkasans”
626th Brigade Support Battalion “Assurgam Rakkasans”

Col. John Cogbill, MGen. Brian Winski & Col. Brandon Teague, Fort Campbel. Changing of command._ Avery Seeger photo

In August 2019, the Rakkasans received a new commander, Col. John Cogbill, who has commanded the unit for two years, will pass the brigade colors to Col. Brandon Teague.

“For the past two years, it has been an honor and privilege to serve as commander of this outstanding organization,” said Cogbill. “This brigade has a unique mission, with Soldiers currently training for unknown missions anywhere in the world. Initially it was for a U.S. Central Command mission, later, focused readiness, with focus in East Asia, transitioning to a Regionally Aligned Forces focus in support of Africa Command. During my tenure, we were the most ready brigade in the Army, and as such, would have been one of the first to be called. I’m proud of this team and all they’ve done, and all they will do in the future.”

Colonel Brandon Teague

“It is my distinct honor to take command of this historic organization,” said Teague. “I look forward to continuing to build upon the strong legacy of this brigade and preparing our Soldiers for our next rendezvous with destiny.”

A last minute item I discovered from the Rakkasans – Awards received for their field culinary creativity!!

https://www.army.mil/article/237559/top_dog_training_field_feeding_equipment_integral_part_of_rakkasan_contest

It is because of the heroic service of these brave airborne soldiers that the colors of the Regiment fly proudly, fifteen Citations for Valorous and Meritorious service and twenty three Battle Campaign Streamers. No other Airborne Regiment can equal that record and the Rakkasans stand proudly at, and have earned, “the right of the line”, amongst their sister Airborne Regiments, ever mindful of their Regimental motto.

”Ne Desit Virtus” — “Let Valor Not Fail”!

They have not —– and shall not

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

To be continued by forthcoming generations, we hope…

Click on images to enlarge.

################################################################################################################

Current News – We can all make a difference!  American Legion

https://alaforveterans.wordpress.com/2020/07/27/virginia-junior-provides-handwritten-thank-you-cards-for-servicemembers/

################################################################################################################

Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

################################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Alfred Altmiller – Lipscomb County, TX; US Navy, WWII

Carl Davis Jr. – Sidney, OH; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. (Ret. 20 y.)

Charles Evers – Jackson, MS; US Army, WWII / mayor

George M. Fisher Sr. (100) – Bedford, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Co. B/44th Tank Battalion / Korea, (Ret. 21 y.)

Jack Halpin – Washington D.C.; US Navy, WWII, PTO / CIA (Ret.)

William Jenkins – Conway Springs, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, gunner’s mate, USS Corregidor

Lillian Meidinger – Huntsville, AL; Civilian, Civil Air Patrol, WWII, pilot

Jack Park – Flint, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO

Sidney Schlain – Hartford, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO

Marjorie Watson (101) – Taradale, NZ; Red Cross, WWII, PTO & ETO, Nurse # 820748

################################################################################################################################################################################################################################

187th Rakkasans – part (3)

By the Persian Gulf War in 1990, the 101st Airborne, along with the Rakkasans of the 3rd Brigade had converted from airborne to air assault troops. During that 100 days of ground combat, the 1/187 Infantry conducted an air assault 155 miles behind enemy lines to Objective Weber capturing over 400 Iraqi soldiers on February 25, 1991. (48 years to the day after they were formed).  The operation into the Euphrates River valley cut off the retreating enemy out of Kuwait. The Rakkasans had advanced further than any other Allied unit, proven the viability of the air assault on the modern battlefield, and did so without a single soldier killed in action.

As part of the Global War on Terror (GWT), the Rakkasans deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in December 2001. As such, the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne became the first Army brigade to deploy in the ongoing war on terror. The Rakkasans fought against the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, which included Operation Anaconda in March 2002.

Rakkasans in the Gulf War

Seven months after their return from Afghanistan, the 3rd Brigade deployed to Kuwait for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF1). On March 20, 2003 the Rakkasans led the 101st Airborne Division into Iraq, establishing Forward Area Refueling Points (FARPs) to support deep attacks into Iraq. They seized the city of Hillah and participated in the liberation of Saddam Hussein International Airport before going on to occupy portions of Baghdad. The BDE then moved to western Ninewah province along the Syrian border for the remainder of the deployment, establishing fledgling governance and reconstruction projects for the betterment of the local population, while continuing operations against insurgents.

The 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division returned to Fort Campbell in early 2004 and was reorganized under Army Transformation as the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT). The 3BCT then began a train up for returning to Iraq. They deployed in September 2005 for OIF rotation 05-07. During this year-long deployment the Rakkasans fought the growing Sunni insurgency in Salah Ad Din Province, which included Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.

The Rakkasans deployed again to Iraq for OIF 07-09 as part of the Iraq Surge in September 2007. This rotation took the 3BCT to southwest and southern Baghdad between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. This time the brigade was deployed for 15 months and conducted operations against both Sunni and Shia insurgents.

The Rakkasans returned home in November 2008. After their fourth refit and re-training period since 9/11, the 3d Brigade Combat Team deployed again in January 2010. This time they went to Afghanistan in support of OEF 10-11 as part of Regional Command-East near the Afghan-Pakistan border. The Rakkasans were home in early 2011, but redeployed to Afghanistan again in September 2012. They came home to Fort Campbell in May 2013 and are again preparing for their next deployment.

The banner under the distinctive unit insignia of the 187th Infantry Regiment (Airborne) bears the Latin words Ne Desit Virtus, meaning “Let Valor Not Fail.” The soldiers of the 187 Infantry from every era have certainly upheld their motto.

To be continued………

Click on images to enlarge.

###############################################################################################################

Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

###############################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

George C. Allen – Morgantown, WV; US Army, WWII, ETO, 7th Army

James Boak – Kosk-onong, MO; USMC, WWII

2020 POW/MIA poster unveiled

Glen E. Collins – Tucson, AZ; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Heavy Mortar Co/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Hugh Dischinger Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, fighter pilot

John E. Gillen – Champaign, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., Co D/1/6/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Tarawa)

Mejhor Morta – Pensacola, FL; US Army, Pvt., mechanic, 1/5/2/1st Cavalry Division

Regis Philbin – NYC, NY; US Navy, supply officer / TV personality

John Haig Robinson – TeAwamutu, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII, HMNZS Achilles

Roy Shibata – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, / Civilian, US Army

Charles Wood – Redwood City, CA; US Army, WWII, SSgt., HQ Battery/899th Field Artillery Battalion / actor

################################################################################################################################################################################################################################

187th Rakkasans – part (2)

HQ Co./187th Reg. from the 1943 Yearbook

The 11th Airborne Division, along with the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment, was returned to the United States in 1949. The 11th Airborne Division was stationed at Camp Campbell, Kentucky. Along with the 82nd Airborne Division, the 11th was part of the strategic reserve of the American Armed Forces. In February and March of 1950, the Rakkasans took part in Operation Swarmer, the largest peacetime airborne maneuvers ever to be conducted. Their performance in these maneuvers was instrumental in being re-designated an Airborne Regimental Combat Team on August 27, 1950. The 187 Airborne RCT returned to Japan to serve as General MacArthur’s airborne forces during the Korean War. While attached to the 1st Marine Division, the 187 RCT followed up on the success of the Inchon Landing, clearing the Kimpo Peninsula between the Han River and the Yellow Sea.

Paratroopers of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, seated in the cargo compartment of 314th Troop Carrier Group C-119 “Flying Boxcar,” “sweat out” the flight to the dropzone at Munsan-ni, Korea, in March, 1951, ca. 03/1951.
Credit: National Archives

On October 20, 1950 the 187 Regimental Combat Team made combat jumps near the towns of Sukchon and Sunchon in North Korea in the attempt to cut off fleeing communist forces. The Rakkasans fought named engagements at Suan, Wonju, Kaesong, and Inje. In Operation Tomahawk the 187th Airborne made the second combat parachute jump of the Korean War at Munsan-ni on March 23, 1951. The regiment returned to Japan to serve as the strategic reserve in June 1951. In May 1952, the Rakkasans were ordered to quell a North Korean and Chinese Communist prisoner of war (POW) uprising on the Japanese island of Koje-do. The 187 was inserted to the line on two other occasions, in October 1952 and June 1953, as a stop gap against Chinese offensives at Wonton-ni and Kumwha.

187th jumps on Munsan, Korea

During their time in the Korean War, the Rakkasans were awarded a Presidential Unit Citation and two Korean Presidential Citations, as well as earning five more Battle Streamers for their flag. Three soldiers from the 187th were awarded the Medal of Honor: Lester Hammond, Jr., Rodolfo Hernandez, and Richard Wilson. Their success in Korea re-energized the belief in using paratroopers as a strategic response. Soon after, the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina was reactivated.

During the early 1960’s, the Rakkasans were part of a series of transfers and re-designations to help experiment with new division formations for the Cold War. This included being part of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test). By 1964, the 3/187th Airborne was the only battalion of the regiment on active duty. They were assigned to the 3rd Brigade of the newly reactivated 101st Airborne Division. The 3rd Brigade, which included the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 506th Airborne, deployed to Vietnam in December 1967.

Tribute to 3/187th , Vietnam

The Rakkasans spent the next four years in Vietnam, fighting in twelve major engagements. They earned two Valorous Unit Awards and two Presidential Unit Citations for the battles at Trang Bang and Dong Ap Bia Mountain. The latter is better known as “Hamburger Hill.” Another Rakkasan, Captain Paul W. Bucha, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions near Phuoc Vinh in March of 1968. The 101st Airborne, along with the 3/187, returned to Fort Campbell in 1972.

To be continued……

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

################################################################################################################

Military Humor –

Airborne, 2nd Point of Performance – Check Canopy

Airborne, 3rd Point of Performance – Lookout during descent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

###############################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Billy Brooks – Cherokee County, AL; US Army, Corps of Engineers, SSgt. (Ret. 30 y.)

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

Douglas Ferguson – Weyburn, CAN; RAF/RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, navigator

Arthur Graydon – Illawar, AUS; Australian Army, WWII

Harry Gustafson – Brockton, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS YMS-193/Korea USS Columbus/Vietnam USS America, Sr. Chief Petty Officer (Ret. 27 y.)

Alva R. Krogman – Worland, WY; US Air Force, Vietnam, 1st Lt., pilot, 504/7th Air Force, Air Force Academy grad. ’64, KIA (Laos)

Paul McCormack – Covington, LA; US Army, Co. A/503/11th Airborne Division

George Pinto – E.Hartford, CT; US Navy, WWII, USS Lyman K. Swenson

John “Art” Romig – Ubly, MI; USMC, WWII, PTO

Vernnette Stodtmeister – Sioux Falls, SD; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

################################################################################################################################################################################################################################

The 187th ‘Rakkasans’ – part (1)

11th Airborne Division, 1943 Yearbook

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

Major General Joseph Swing

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

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

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

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

courtesy of the U.S. Army Signal Corps

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

Camp Stoneman, “Through these portals…..”

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

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

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

Gen. Swing’s flag atop Atsugi Airfield hanger

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

To be continued…….

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

################################################################################################################

Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

################################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

################################################################################################################################################################################################################################

%d bloggers like this: