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Letter XI “?? Problems?? / National 81st Airborne Day

Problem solved

The 11th Airborne Division, still in New Guinea  and continuing to specialize their training – little do they know that they are coming closer and closer to their time for combat.  Their commander, General Swing, awaits the word from General MacArthur.

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Letter XII                                                       ?? Problems ??                                           0800 Sunday 9/3/44

Dear Mom,  We will start off first with “Webster’s” definition of the word — problem.  “A question for solution, and a proposition to be demonstrated.”  This is all very true, only in the army, although it is demonstrated, it never turns out in a satisfactory solution.

For some unknown reason, the hint of a problem soon-to-be gets around long before it is ever officially announced.  When once you hear about it, you begin to wonder just how you will get out of going and wonder if going on sick call will help.  The best thing is to try to get on some detail, but generally, the details floating around loose at that time are of such a nature that going on the problem is much easier.

No one likes or cares for problems including the officers and non-coms, except maybe a few who are bucking and hope to show their leader that they have tactical and sure-fire P.F.C. abilities.

My bag is packed!

No matter how easy or simple the problem, you always have to carry around a load of unnecessary equipment.  On the day set forth for the problem they put up a list of the stuff you are to take with you.  After an hour or two spent trying to get everything into the pack, just big enough to hold a pair of socks, a tent, poles, rain gear, poncho, insect repellent and your toilet articles, you are pretty well tired out and lie down for a few minutes rest.  You no sooner do that than the sergeant will come around with a revised list of equipment and again you unpack and re-pack.  This goes on through the day until finally in utter despair you pick up your duffel bag and carry that on your back.

Finally the whistle blows.  You hurriedly put on your pack, pick up your rifle and dash to fall in the formation forming outside.  After standing there for 30 or 40 minutes, you realize that all your rushing was in vain and that you have a chance to untangle yourself from the pack harness and straighten it out.  You no sooner start to do this than the order comes to pull out and get going.

While marching out, it suddenly dawns on you that a quick visit to the latrine would have helped, but is now impossible to get to.  After walking for two hours, your pack feels like a ton and your five-pound rifle now weighs twenty.  The heat is slowly getting you down and you begin to wonder, is it all worth it?  Soon the Lt. comes prancing alongside of you and walking just as easy as falling off a log.  He says a few words to you, such as, “Close it up.” “Keep in line” or “How you doing fella?” as he passes by.  You wonder how the devil he can keep it up, until you take a good look at his pack.  Many are the times when I wondered what would happen if I stuck a pin in it.  Wonderful things these basketball bladders.

When finally you arrive at the next to last stop, the Lt. calls his men around him and proceeds to try and tell them what this problem is about and what we are supposed to do.  We are all too tired to listen in the first place and in the second place — don’t give a damn.  All this time you watch the Lt. and soon you realize that he didn’t much care for the problem and is probably just as annoyed as you.

When you finally hit the place where the problem is, confusion takes over and the problem is started.  Orders are given and not carried out, cause generally the G.I. has been told before to do something else, so that by the time order is restored, all is in a worse shape than before.  The Lt. takes out a map to try and locate himself and is only to find that the map he has is the one relating to last week’s problem.  No matter, from then on, where the C.P. and assembly area were to be, now, wherever you are at that particular moment will become the C.P. and assembly area.  If the rest of the company was fortunate enough to locate the right place — the hell with them — let them find us.

You are then assigned to different spots and told to dig in.  Now, digging in calls for some thought.  If you just dig a slit trench, it doesn’t call for much work, but you can always be seen and so you can’t sleep.  But, if you dig a larger hole, called a foxhole, you can safely sleep away the night and also — the problem.  Myself?  I go for the foxhole on the slit trench side as it affords me the opportunity of sleeping in a horizontal position.

slit trench

Soon the whistle blows announcing the end of the problem.  You awaken to find that it is the next day and that once again you slept through the whole mess.  Questions are asked as to who or what side won, did the enemy get through and a thousand and one others.  Before leaving the place, you now have to shovel the dirt back into your hole, as leaving blank open holes around are dangerous to life and limb.  When that is completed, you put your backpack back on and trudge your weary way back.

Upon arriving back in camp, critiques are held and then you find out what you were supposed to have learnt while you were out there.  I have always been of the opinion that if critiques were held before going out, it would save us all a lot of trouble and also make going on the problem — unnecessary.  Once back in your tent, you unpack and think that now you will lie down and have a little nap, only to find out that the detail you tried to get on in order to miss the problem has materialized and that you are to get up and get on it.  Oh, weary bones, will they never have any rest?

Don’t give up, for after all, the war can’t last forever.  One thing you can always count on though, problems are the pride and joy of the army and will continue on being as long as there is an army.

Hope I’ve confused you as much as we are.  I’ll leave you as that damn detail has come up and so I’ll have to carry my weary body out and hope I last out the day.

Confused as all hell,    Everett

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

YOU GOTTA PROBLEM?

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Current News – 16 August 2021 – NATIONAL 81ST AIRBORNE DAY

To check out my post for the Airborne last year

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2020/08/16/national-airborne-day-16-august-2020-80-years/

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Farewell Salutes – 

Noel Adams – Arvada, CO; US Navy, WWII, motor machinist, USS Osterhaus

Russel Baade – USA; USMC, WWII & Korea, flight instructor, Lt. Colonel

Smoke Angel, for returning KIA

Nando A. Cavalieri – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Captain # 0-769257, 324/91/ 8th Air Force, Bombardier, KIA (Döberitz, GER)

Stu Hedley – W.Palm Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS West Virginia

Pascual LeDoux – Las Vegas, NM; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Mobjack, PT-boat Tender

Henry D. Mitchell – Washington County, AK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt. # 0-763294, 48/14/15th Air Force, pilot, KIA (Waldegg, AUS)

Frederick Ott – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

Emmet W. Schwartz – New Philadelphia, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt. # 35837608, 121/8th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (LUX)

Dave Severance (102) – Milwaukee, WI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Silver Star  /  Korea, pilot, Colonel (Ret. 30 y.)

Charles R. Taylor – Carnegie, OK; USMC; WWII, PTO, Pfc. # 284217, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Lloyd C. Wade – Westminster, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co C/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Glen F. White – Emporia, KA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., Co A/1/6/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Betio, Tarawa Atoll)

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JUNGLE JUICE Letter X

K-P Duty

In Dobodura, New Guinea, the 457th began to notice severe shortages in their sugar supply.  As it turned out, there was a major boot-legging operation in progress.  With the absence of alcohol, the men felt necessity would be the mother of invention, but they were caught with their stills in production.  The makeshift liquor companies were immediately put out of business.

My father had other ideas.  The following letter was one I never tired of reading; it always gives me a chuckle or two.  My father’s ingenuity was unfailing.  He used to tell me, “If you think hard enough, there’s a solution to every problem.”  After years of having tended bar, this was going to  be right up Smitty’s alley.

Letter # 10 has been previously published by “Whistling Shade” magazine in 2007.  I submitted it during their war story inquiry.  And also, in The Miller Family’s “Soldiers’ Stories vol. 1”

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Letter X                                                          “Jungle Juice”                                                                                    Monday 7/17/44

Dear Mom, 

The title of this letter, at first glance, will no doubt puzzle you, but I suspect at the end you will know more than you do now.  Before going any farther with this, allow me to explain the whys and wherefores of its origin and purpose.

The Army has been telling us, for some time now, that any day (they mean year), they are going to issue us hot, dry soldiers some beer.  They haven’t told us the percentages yet, but never fear, it will be 3.2.  In the meantime, we’re here in New Guinea patiently awaiting the day.  We know, because our eyes and nostrils do not lie, that there is good whiskey slyly floating about.  Try as we may to lay hold of some, as yet, none have succeeded. 

There is an old saying, told to me by a much older and wiser veteran of this man’s army that goes: “Take something away from a soldier and he will, in time, make or find a better substitute.”  Hence and forever after – Jungle Juice.

To begin the making of this liquor substitute, one must first overcome a few minor details in order to secure the necessary equipment and ingredients.  First:  You may try to cultivate the friendship of the mess sergeant.  This is easily accomplished if one is well endowed with currency.  Second:  You may try getting on guard duty and taking a chance of getting the job of protecting the mess hall. (The odds against this working out is ten to one against you.)  This is the hard way of acquiring the friendship of the mess sergeant and we will continue.  With your new buddy’s help, you now have in your proud and cherished possession a quantity of raisins, dried prunes or apricots and some sugar.  (Very rarely will one come up with any yeast, so we will forget it.)

Now, we need something to put all this stuff into.  To make matters worse, it cannot be metal and it must be waterproof.  A nail barrel will do the trick, if we soak it in water, thereby allowing the wood to swell.  You could go to the supply sergeant and get a saw, hammer, nails and boards, but in taking this route, you risk your supplier discovering your idea and you will have to pay him off with the promise that, when finished, he will receive a share.  Not only is this undesirable, but now you will have to sit out in the hot sun and build a cask.  My first suggestion of a nail barrel will not only save you labor, but also add an extra drink of this wonderful alcoholic beverage.

Now, we are ready to begin.  Into the empty cask, put your fruit and sugar, making certain to add water.  With your hands, (clean ones are advisable) stir everything around while crushing some of the fruit with your fists.  This is what’s called the “rapid juice extraction process.”  When finished, cover the cask with a clean piece of linen long enough to drape over the side.  Here, you can also use a G.I. handkerchief or undershirt.  (This is just a sanitary precaution and it in no way affects the product.)

Now, dig yourself a hole (under your bunk preferably) large enough to receive the cask and conceal it.  This is a necessary precaution as the manufacture of Jungle Juice is frowned upon by the Army and especially you C.O. or Inspection Officer.  The finding of such might cause embarrassment.  This way it will only be found if someone should trip you C.O. and he inadvertently falls face down on the spot.

All you have to do at this point is use some self-control and patiently wait out the next two or three weeks as the fruit, sugar and water do their stuff.  We all know from experience that you will only sit out two weeks, so let’s get on with the last step.  Surely you have kept busy locating empty bottles and cleaning them, so dig up the cask.

To accomplish the final phase, it is wise to get your mattress cover and put it over a clean, steel helmet.  You will find that the Army had supplied you with a damn good filter.  The whole parts stay on top and the liquid freely pours through, without blemish to the helmet.  Pour the juice into the bottles and seal with candle wax, making them air tight.  Here is the most difficult step because by this time, not only your curiosity, but your craving for a taste is so high — you’re almost completely out of control.  But, you must put your contraband away for one more week.

As the expected day approaches, I want to warn you to be on the lookout for newly acquired friends who start calling on you, regardless of the fact that they never came near you before.  Yes, you are suddenly becoming the most popular guy in camp.  When the hour approaches, marked as the time of reckoning, I would advise you to make up your mind that you are not going to finish it all in one sitting.  Actually, this precaution is really unnecessary, as the Jungle Juice will decide that for you.

I won’t describe the taste.  For some it is bitter and others say sweet.  No two batches are alike and in fact the Juice has no opposition.  Even its most adamant foes agree that for variety, the Juice has no equal.

This recipe is given free of charge.

I hope to hear your hiccupping in your next letter soon. 

Your brewmeister son & never to be dry again,     Everett

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General Swing decided, after the stills were destroyed, to bring ice cream machines and set up sports competitions.  Teams were made up for volleyball, softball and tackle football.  This proved not only to lift their spirits, but the activities kept them in top physical shape.

[ It always amazed me that such a letter as “Jungle Juice” made it through the censors without Smitty ever getting into trouble.  His little operation was never discovered. ]

click on images to enlarge.

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HAPPY  271st  BIRTHDAY TO THE U.S. COAST GUARD on 4 August 2021!!!

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Military Humor – 

someone was drunk when they thought this one up!!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Henry Bock – Saco, ME; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Stella Charron – Meriden, CT; US Army WAC; WWII

Dan Antion’s flag

Warren Durling – Kingston, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Watton Air Base

Fred Farris – Hillsboro, TX; USMC; WWII, PTO, Sgt.,  Co I/3/2/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Betio, Tarawa Atoll)

Lawrence “Benny” Goodman (100) – W.  London, ENG; RAF 617th Squadron, pilot

Harold W. Lindsey – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3822258, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Edward L. Queen – Baltimore, MD; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee, MGySgt.

Thomas J. Redgate – Brighton, MA; US Army, Korea, 1st Lt., Batt A/48/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Eugene M. Skaggs – Anstead, WV; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Signalman, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Dale “Snort” Snodgrass – USA; US Navy, Captain, pilot ‘Top Gun’

Micah Walker – USA; US Army, Medical SSgt., 10th Special Forces Green Berets

Art VanDresser – Independence, KS; US Navy, WWII & Korea

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Letter IX – “A Day’s Venture”

Dobodura, New Guinea

At this point in time, the jungle war training had live firing and everything was becoming a bit clearer, a bit more realistic.

Major Burgess left the units temporarily to set up a jump school.  This would give the glidermen and Burgess himself an opportunity to qualify as paratroopers.  The parachutists began their glider training at Soputa airstrip that was no longer in regular use.

waters off Lae, New Guinea

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Letter IX                                               “A Day’s Venture”                                                                      Monday   6/26/44                                        

Dear Mom,

Yesterday, being Sunday, a day of rest, I decided to ride around this place and see something.  I made up my mine though that this sightseeing tour of mine, this time, would be done as a civilian completely forgetting I’m in the army.  You have to do this in order to see the place in its true light, otherwise if you don’t all you can see is hardship and work.  With my mind cleared of Khaki, I set forth in a jeep with a buddy of mine; who I dare say couldn’t see the sense of our venture.

As we drove along in the still quiet, the thought kept coming to me of the enormous job the boys before us had to confront and overcome.  Here and there along the way you could see some old emplacement or deserted village.  These villages were really something to see with their straw-thatched roofs and open sided houses.  We wouldn’t call them shed, but that is just what they looked like.

One can readily understand why the authors of those travelogues really go all out when describing these islands.  You forget the heat as cooling breezes blow over you from the coast and the shade of the giant coconut trees gradually engulf you.

We passed one spot close to the coast that suddenly shook us with the horrible realization of our place and mission.  It wasn’t large or spread out, but all was peaceful and quiet though men were gaily chatting and swimming nearby.  We entered by an archway on which was inscribed, “Japanese Cemetery.”  We passed now upon some of the little white markers all neatly lined up and lettered.  Although they were once an active enemy, one could not help but see the shame and waste of war.

We looked around the beach for a while, then decided to go in for a swim.  The water here is amazingly warm and clear.  You could never believe it unless you could see it as I have.  How crystal clear and immune of blemish this water here is.  Why, to peer down 25 feet and see bottom is really an easy thing to do.  The bottom is sand, sand at its finest and whitest literally covered with shells of every shape and color with here and there a grotesque piece of coral.  You can really pick out the coral as it shows up a faint green while the shells throw all colors of the rainbow up at you until your eyes are completely dazzled by the many-colored lights.

By this time, the sun was well on its way toward the horizon and dusk rapidly approaching.  Here and there a faint star twinkled until suddenly the sky was almost completely covered with thousands.  The moon finally appeared in all its bright glory and reflected itself a hundred times over on the waves before us.  The end of the day had come and with it also my venture into a world never to be forgotten.  This day will long be remembered and stored with the rest of my most treasured memories.

Good night!  And may God bless you,  Everett

PS>  I shall write to Joe Dumb as soon as I send this letter on its way.  Be good and take care of yourself.

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Current News –        Mission 55

Say hello to Mr. Joe Butkus, a proud veteran of the 84th Engineer Construction Battalion who is having a birthday REAL SOON!

For the Mr.  Butkus story, visit equips !!

Cards to be sent to:  Joe Butkus  c/o Mary Ellen Hart  1868 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT  06824

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charles E. Burns – Miami, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Pete Conley – Chapmanville, WV; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Arthur W. Countryman – Plainfield, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, TSgt. # 20602751, Co F/12/4th Infantry Div., Bronze Star, KIA (Hürtgen, GER)

Tony Elliott – brn: UK; Royal Navy, WWII, CBI  &  Korea

George M. Gooch – Laclede, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Electrician’s Mate, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Robert J. Harr – Dallas City, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Irene Heyman – Brooklyn, NY; Civilian, WWII, Defense blueprints and Red Cross “Gray Lady”

Andrew J. Ladner – MS; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pvt. # 34133073, 126/32nd Infantry Div., Bronze Star, KIA (Huggin Road Blockade, NG)

Francis Morrill Jr. – Salem, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO  /  USMC, Korea

Earl D. Rediske – Prosser, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co A/55/11th Airborne Division

Marian Robert (102) – Vancouver, CAN, RC Women’s Air Force, WWII

Leonard F. Smith – Albany, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Metalsmith 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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A TOUCH OF BEAUTY

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11th Airborne Division – June 1944 – Lt. Gen. G.C. Kenney

Crashed Zero, Lae, New Guinea

Smitty always made mention of how hard the soldiers before him had to struggle.  He noticed that no matter how hard people or nature tried to disguise their surroundings, the scars of war were everywhere.  In New Guinea, my father had a clear view of the battle remnants of General Robert Eichelberger’s Australian and American troops from when they fought on a similar terrain and in battles as fiercely intense as Guadalcanal – on each island the territories had to be taken inch by inch.  (Many veterans know of what I speak.)

Japanese equipment

Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, Chief of Allied Air Forces, in the southwest Pacific sent his complaints to the War Dept.  and Gen. “Hap” Arnold, head of the U.S. Army Air Forces to explain just that in 1942:

“… The Japanese is still being underrated.  There is no question of our being able to defeat him, but the time, effort, blood and money required to do the job may run to proportions beyond all conception, particularly if the devil is allowed to develop the resources he is now holding.

Gen. George C. Kenney

“Look at us in Buna.  There are hundreds of Buna ahead for us.  The Japanese there has been in a hopeless position for months.  He has been outnumbered heavily throughout the show.  His garrison has been whittled down to a handful by bombing and strafing.  He has no air support and his own Navy has not been able to get passed our air blockade to help him.  He has seen lots of Japs sunk off shore a few miles away.  He has been short on rations and has had to conserve his ammunition, as his replenishment from submarines and small boats working down from Lae at night and once by parachute from airplanes has been precarious, to say the least.  The Emperor told them to hold, and believe me, they have held!  As to their morale — they still yell out to our troops, “What’s the matter, Yanks?  Are you yellow?  Why don’t you come in and fight?”  A few snipers, asked to surrender after being surrounded, called back, “If you bastards think you are good enough, come and get us!”

“…I’m afraid that a lot of people, who think this Jap is a “pushover” as soon as Germany falls, are due for a rude awakening.  We will have to call on all our patriotism, stamina, guts and maybe some crusading spirit or religious fervor thrown in to beat him.  No amateur team will take this boy out.  We have got to turn professional.  Another thing: there are no quiet sectors in which troops get started off gradually, as in the last war.  There are no breathers on this schedule.  You take on Notre Dame every time you play!”

Gen. Eichelberger

It was after this one month later after this report that the specialized training for the 11th A/B began and the War Dept. also saw the need for improved weapons for this “new type of war.”   Under the direction of Colonel William Borden this effort resulted in: 105-mm and 155-mm mortars, flamethrowers, ground rockets, colored smoke grenades and the skidpans for towing heavy artillery in muddy terrains.

But – still at this point – only about 15% of the Allied resources were going to the Pacific.

 

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Military Humor – 

“Sorry sir, but the lads won’t go over the top if the ladder hasn’t been health and safety tested.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Abraham Bashara – Lawrence, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Ralph C. Battles – Boaz, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor

Gary Cohen – Tuscaloosa, AL; Civilian, Veteran’s Dept. Psychologist, (Florida condo collapse)

Louis N. Crosby – Orangeburg, SC; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co A/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Warren G.H. DeVault – Rhea, TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt. # 34493012, Co F/2/12/4th Infantry Div, Bronze Star, KIA (Hürtgen, GER)

Dielon Harwood – Guion, TX; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret.)

William MacDonald – Quincy, MA; US Army, WWII, Signal Corps

Frank Nicholls, NZ; RNZ Army # 436280, WWII

Ward Russo – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Essex, mechanic

Edwin Sedran – Far Rockaway, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Elaine Smith – Syracuse, NY; US Coast Guard SPARS, WWII

Glen F. White – MO; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc. # 371100, Co A/1/6/2nd Marine Division, Silver Star,  KIA (Betio, Tarawa Atoll)

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What should the caption be?

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Letter VIII G.I. Labor

Smitty near Lae, New Guinea in front of his tent

You may notice in Smitty’s letters that he does not mention his rigorous training or even combat in his later ones.   As a child I asked if I would ever catch him in one of the old news reels and he said that he surely doubted it.  He made a point to avoid any photographers in the event his mother caught sight of the pictures of him in combat.  No matter how hard things had become, he found something else to talk about, but he did have a tongue-in-cheek humor that could amuse someone even while he was complaining.

the Pyramidal tent

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Letter VIII                                G.I. Labor                                         6/17/44

Dear Mom,

Work!  Work!  And more work.  After a week here, we still can’t figure when it is all going to end.  We put tents up, then take them down.  That is our biggest problem — tents.

The War Department in Washington has its offices in a large air-conditioned building costing hundreds of thousands of the taxpayer’s money.  In this building, they have all the inventing geniuses of the land.  All they do is design equipment and little what-nots for us.  After that, it is submitted to the boards of Strategy, Health, Welfare, etc.

Now, some poor weak underfed inventor designed in a moment of frenzy and excitement, the Pyramidal Tent number M.6606.  It passed everything and every board with flying colors — until finally — we got hold of it.  We put them up with the loss of tons of perspiration and energy, only to find out later that someone, someplace around here didn’t like the way they looked.  That job of putting the tents up was simple and much too easy.  They sent down a set of blue prints that reminded me of the Empire State Building with the Holland Tunnel thrown in.

Well, next day, bright and early we arose wearily to find that we were to be split up into different sections such as log cutters, tent putter-uppers, log setters and log finders.  We, the pole setter-uppers, sat down and pondered over the blue prints.  We had to raise the center pole 16 inches, while on the four corners erect eight-foot poles.  Then, connecting these  poles at the top of 16-foot logs.

Sounds very easy, but for some reason or other, the trees grew in the jungle across a stream which all in all made log cutting and finding an exasperating business.  Undaunted though, the men went in laden down with axes, saws and prismatic and soon logs were being cut — also fingers, arms and legs.  It wasn’t long before we had the amount of lumber necessary to start work on the first domicile, house or tent.  We were all set and ready, four men were holding up the corner poles and one man steadied the center pole.  The whistle blows for us to fall in and be counted.  We fall in, the corners fall out and the blame tent fell down.  Oh Well!!  What the heck, tomorrow’s another day and after all, the boys that belonged in that tent can sleep out.

This routine kept up for days until finally all our tents were erected and set.  “Looks good,” we all said and good it was, but not to some of the higher-ups who again decided the tents were now too high and would we please, under threat of court-martial, lower the 4 corner posts to 5 feet.  (Oh death, where is thy sting?)  Upon completing this last detail, they then decided the tents should all be moved and then lined up on a new line.  This has been going on for so long that each morning we have to stop, think and hold ourselves in check, for a few times we caught men automatically tearing down tents or putting up poles where there wasn’t anything to put up.

“The heat!” they said, and then gave us half a day off, only to try to squeeze it out of us the next afternoon.  Well, maybe they can get blood out of a stone.

“Well, that’s all for that in this letter as I don’t want to tire you out completely listening to some of our other minor details that are stuck in here and there, such as digging latrine holes, building officer’s tents and officer knickknacks, polishing up, which we are experts at, K.P. duty, inspections, washing clothes and at night making little things for ourselves such as tables, desks, clothes racks, rings out of coins, wristwatch bands and loads of other do-dads.  I guess though the hardest thing is trying all day not to do all this work and go on the gold-bricking standard.  That last line would be understood by any buck private or G.I. as absolute fact and truth.

Wearily I end this letter and sleepily say regards to all. 

With love and kisses,  Everett

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Current News – 

equipsblog has notified us of a WWII & Korean War veteran, Ed Hyatt, who will be turning 100 soon!  Please visit over there and get Mr. Hyatt’s story and the address where to send a card.  Let’s give Ed an outstanding birthday!!

The Mission 54 story and address

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert W. Bronner – Reading, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO

John C. Burney Jr. – Little Falls, NY; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, airborne, West Point graduate ’46, BGeneral (Ret.)

Viggo Christensen Jr. – Schenectady, NY; US Army, 886th Medical/11th Airborne Division

Ralph A. Derrington – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Marshall Elliott – Lander, WY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Aviation Gunner’s Mate

Richard L. Henderson – Lansing, NY; US Army, Korea, Cpl., HQ/57th Field Artillery/7th Infantry Div., KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Charles Holtzman Jr. (101) – US Army, WWII, POW

William Medford – Ripley, TN; US Army, WWII, Cpl.

Montgomery Meigs – Holderness, NH; US Army, Vietnam, West Point graduate ’67,General (Ret.) / Europe Comdr.

Edward Miller – Evansville, WI; US Air Force, Korea, Airman 2nd Class, KIA (Alaska)

George L. Paradis – Yelm, WA; US Navy, WWII, Pharmacist’s Mate, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Anel B. Shay – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 345/98/9th Air Force, 2nd Lt., B-24 bombardier, Operation Tidal Wave, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

William H. Stephens – Delta, AL; US Army, Korea & Vietnam (Ret. 26 y.)

Donald A. Stott – Monticello, IA; US Navy, WWII, # 3214004, PTO, Seaman 1st Class,, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Reid Waltman – Lyndhurst, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 758 BS/459th Bombardment Group, Navigator

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Letter VII Land

native hut in New Guinea

For a period of five months the 11th Airborne Division would receive jungle warfare and intensified combat unit ground training in the primitive land of jungles and mountains and thatched huts and the native population fondly called, Fuzzy Wuzzies.  The Papua brigades and Allied forces, that fought in what constituted the Cartwheel Operations before the troopers arrived, made this landing possible.

The Dobodura area that the 11th A/B would make their home was inherited from the 5th Air Force.  The first order of business was for the 408th Quartermaster trucks to deliver the pyramidal tents.

Smitty near Lae, New Guinea

 

 

Letter VII                                                          Land               6/8/44

 

  Dear Mom,    

Well, here we are on the island of New Guinea.  From what we can see if it so far, I know we’ll never go hungry as the coconut trees are as thick as a swarm of bees.

We started for our area in trucks after all the rumors said we’d walk and we “Oh!” and Ah’d” all throughout the trip.  Not wanting to show the natives here how smart we are, the driver proceeded on his own when lo and behold — where were we?  I don’t know, no one knows, so right away we all knew that wherever we were — that wasn’t where we were supposed to be. 

Now, of course, we weren’t to blame, as after all, this is a strange and new place to us and they didn’t give us a Socony road map or a compass reading, so no matter — drive on — come what may.  Of course, some large and strange appearing trees which grew in the road had different ideas and no matter how hard we hit them, they consistently set us back.  How they ever managed to find a road to grow in is beyond me, but then they were here before us.  Naturally, after the way they treated our truck, we gave them a wide berth, eventually leaving the road al together.

When after what seemed like hours, we finally found our area, much to the delight of the lower hind part of our anatomy.  Then, our shoulders and backs had to haul our bags around until we found our tents.  This was done very systematically: someone had the idea of first asking the captain just where we belonged and he proceeded to take us there.  We could see at once that this place was no place for us and got right down to thinking up goldbricking alibis.

Work here is the main word we soon found out, and might I add we are all still trying to duck, but it seems that as soon as one finds a spot in the woods, oops I mean jungle, the tree-chopper-downers come along and there you are not only up to your neck in work, but also find out that now your haven is so exposed as to make it useless again as a hideout.

You might wonder what all this labor is about and also expect to find out in this chapter or letter, but no, it shall never be.  I’m saving that for the next installment, which I’m sure you will be breathlessly awaiting. 

 Regards to all.

Love, Your son,  Everett

Quartermaster Corps collar disc

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Barno – Nesquehoning, PA; US Navy, WWII  /  USMC, Korea, Sgt.

Wesley J. Brown – Helena, MT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Arthur W. Countryman – Plainfield, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, TSgt., Co. F/12/4th Infantry Division Bronze Star, KIA (Hürtgen Forest, GER)

Robert F. England – MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, “Hump” pilot  /  Korea, 1st Lt.

Kenneth G. Hart (100) – Stanwood, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Floyd D. Helton – Somerset, KY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, Fireman, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Donald Johnson (100) – Lake Orion, MI; US Navy, WWII, USS Takanis Bay (CVE-89)

Henry J. Kolasinski – Clayton, DE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

Charles E. Lee – McLennan County, TX; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/34/24th Infantry Division, Field Lineman, KIA (Taejon, SK)

Thelma Miller – Akron, OH; Civilian, WWII, Goodyear Aircraft Corp., F4U construction

Robert Read (101) – London, ENG; Royal Navy, submarine service / Korea, Lt. Comdr.

Merle Smith Jr. – New London, CT; US Coast Guard, Vietnam, Cutter Comdr., Coast Guard Academy graduate Class of ’66

John J. Trumbley – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co. H/137th Infantry, Sgt.

Stanley Wilusz – Holyoke, MA; US Merchant Marines, WWII  /  US Army, Korea, Sgt.

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My week went well……

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Letter V / Army Birthday & Flag Day 2021

Passing the time aboard ship

Dear Letter V                                                                                             Yep!  Still at sea

Mom,  I was seriously thinking of tearing this letter up, as I couldn’t for the life of me locate an airmail stamp aboard ship.  I kept at it though until finally fortune smiled down on me and success was mine.  I have been pretty lucky so far at my card playing activities and should it hold out until we reach some civilized port, why I’ll be ahead and you will be pleasantly surprised when you receive my check for like amount.  We can cable home money from abroad so might just as well take your advice — surprised? — and send it home for that day when we shall all return.

We have a large map of the world hanging up on the wall, which supplies us with as much amusement trying to figure out just where we are.  According to figures, dates, times and patience, we should be hitting a port sometime real soon.  In fact there is a rumor being whispered about that we will hit one tomorrow.  Now this rumor comes from good authority seeing that it came from a fellow whose first sergeant is a second cousin to the uncle of the father of the first mate whose brother is third cook on this boat.  Now, can’t you see why we are so glumly overjoyed?  All kidding aside though, we should be nearing one soon.

We saw a movie last night down in the mess hall.  It was quite an old picture, but luckily for me, I hadn’t seen it before, so therefore I spent my most enjoyable hour so far on this trip.  The officers on this trip haven’t been having it quite as tough as us, but rough enough.  In order to pass away their time they have taken up the game of badminton with a zeal and I must say have really kept at it until now this regiment can boast it has not only badminton players, but experts as well.  By the way, I have also learned how to play the old card game of Cribbage.  Ever hear tell of it before?  Well mom, that is all for today, so once again I’ll sign off, but before I do, give my regards to all and I’ll write again soon. 

Love and kisses, Everett

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Current News –  14 June 2021

Flag Day

U.S. Army Birthday

U.S. Army 246th Birthday

AND

U.S. 246th  FLAG DAY

A previous post for these two special days!  Click Here!

OR  HERE!

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Military Humor –

Now I can’t stress the importance here!!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lloyd Alumbaugh – Jasper, MI; US Army, Korea, Sgt., Ambulance Co./7th Medical/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Dalton Beals – Pennsville, NJ; USMC, Pfc., Co. E/ Parris Island

John Dale – Ellijay, GA; USMC, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. (Ret.)

Kenneth R. Foreman – Brown County, OH; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. A/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Warren C. Gillette – Klamath Falls, OR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Mary Herda – brn: SCOT; Civilian, WWII, Boeing aileron production

Dorothy Jones – Tacoma, WA; Civilian, WWII, Fort Lewis Army Base Hospital

Jacqueline Jacquet Melvin – Lake Geneva, WI; US Navy WAVE, WWII, PTO,  Lt., Flight nurse

Robert Risch – Brookings, SD, US Navy, WWII

Norbert Schatz (100) – Boonville, IN; US Army, WWII, cook

John J. Sitarz – Weirton, WV; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc., Co. L/3/110/28th Infantry Division, KIA (Hürtgen Forest, GER)

Thomas G. Wade – Burke, VA; US Army, Vietnam, Lt. Comdr. (Ret. 23 y.), 101st Airborne Division, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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11th Airborne graduates Camp MacKall

1943 Camp MacKall, 11th Airborne yearbook

Smitty had acquired additional postcards to show the people back home what Camp MacKall looked like.  They were in the scrapbook his mother put together and was saved for all these years….

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General Order No. 1 listed the original organic units of the 11th Airborne Division, as they moved on with their training, as follows:

Headquarters, 11 A/B Division

Headquarters Company, 11th A/B Division

Military Police Platoon, 11 A/B Division

408th A/B Quartermaster Company

511th A/B Signal Company

711th A/B Ordnance Maintenance Company

221st A/B Medical Company

127th A/B Engineer Battalion

152nd A/B Antiaircraft Battalion

HQ & HQ Battery, 11th A/B Artillery

457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion

674th Glider Field Artillery Battalion

E. Smith, back row, 5th from the right – HQ Co/187th Regiment

675th Glider Field Artillery Battalion

187th Glider Infantry Regiment

188th Glider Infantry Regiment

511th Parachute Infantry Regiment

__________________________

Total = 8,321 men

 

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Military Training Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ollie Baird – Malin, OR; Civilian, WWII, B-17 production

Nathan Burke – Lubbock, TX; US Navy, Airman

Stanislaw F. Drwall – WV; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, Pattern Maker 1st Class, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

James Hawkins – Decatur, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO

Jeffrey Wester “Pug” Lee – Hamilton County, FL; US Army, WWII, PTO, 243rd Port Company Transportation

Dennis Merriman – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Bruce Meyers – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, USS Bunker Hill  /  invented the dune buggy

Frank Occhiuto – Longmont, CO; US Navy, WWII & Korea, radioman, USS Lowry

Joan Parks – Ypsilanti, MI; Civilian, WWII, Willow Run bomber production

Ramon L. Smith – Knox County, TN; US Army, Korea, Pfc. # 14270116, 50th AntiAircraft Battalion, KIA (No. Korea)

Nicholas J. Valentine – Cassville, WI; US Army, Korea, Sgt. 1st Class, Batt B/57 Field Artillery/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

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Camp MacKall, Smitty and the Knollwood Maneuvers

WACO glider in take off from Camp MacKall field.

WACO glider at Camp MacKall – reverse side reads: “Hello Mom, Finally got some cards that can let you see what these gliders we ride around in look like. This picture was taken on our camp field. I have a few more that I’ll send to you. Regards to all. Hope to be home this Wednesday.” Everett

Station Hospital, Camp MacKall, NC

The type of construction used for the barracks at Camp MacKall and the above hospital is called a “theatre of operations.”  Built on pilings and constructed of green sawed pine boards which is then covered with type 4 black tar paper.  The wood was cut from trees on the camp property using 7 sawmills running 24/7.  When the boards dried out, the 2 pot-bellied stoves were incapable of keeping the men warm.  Smitty spent some time at that hospital when the army discovered he did not perspire.  The medication took 3 weeks to kick in and then he was back to marching.

Knollwood Maneuvers

The Knollwood Maneuver would not only be the deciding factor for the 11th Airborne, but also for future paratrooper divisions as a whole.  5 December 1943, Army Ground Forces test team deployed a composite combat team from the 17th A/B, plus a battalion from Col. Duke McEntee’s 541st Parachute Infantry Regiment to be situated at Knollwood Airport and other critical points to act as the ‘enemy.’

Viewer to this operation included: Under Secretary of War, Robert Patterson; General McNair; General Ridgeway (82nd A/B); BGen. Lee Donovan; Airborne Command and several teams of high-ranking inspectors from the War Dept., Army Ground Forces and Army Air Forces.

Camp MacKall, 1943, triangular runway

On midnight of Dec. 6, 1943, 200 C-47 Dakota transports carried the troopers and towed the 234 gliders from five separate airfields to begin the operation.  The lift-offs were timed so that each plane would join the column in its proper place.  The aircraft became a vee-of-vees, nine ships wide as the formations grew larger.  They made a rendezvous on the Atlantic coastline and took a 200 mile circular route before aiming toward the inland drop zones; most of the men would jump during evening’s darkness at 1200′.  Almost all the troopers and gliders hit the proper DZ (drop Zones) and LZs (landing zone).  However, the division chief of staff and his glider load landed in a road on the Fort Bragg artillery range.

Weather conditions were not conducive for jumping as the rain became sleet, but still, 85% were successful.  There were 2 casualties and 48 injuries.  The 11th Airborne “captured” and “held” the Aberdeen and Knollwood Airports from the defending forces.  The exercise came to an end on Dec. 12 – Smitty’s 29th birthday.  The War Dept., after reviewing the reports, replied to Gen. Swing that they had been wrong and the training for such a specialized unit should proceed. (As it would turn out, their training had only just begun. )

For a complete and detailed look at the Knollwood Maneuvers, a friend of mine, Eugene Piasecki, U.S. Army Historian,has his data online now…

https://arsof-history.org/articles/v4n1_knollwood_page_1.html

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News from home: Smitty’s friend, George Dunlop rescued two Navy pilots after their training plane crashed into Jamaica Bay.  The company of soldiers that were stationed on Broad Channel became an actual camp and decided to call it — Camp Smith!  War bond drives were going on as well as the dimming of the street lamps.

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Military Humor –

Learning on the job.

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Arthur R. D’Agostino – Staten Island, NY; US Army, WWII, TSgt., 8th Armored Division / post that includes Mr. D’Agostino will be published at a later date

Gordon M. Hill – CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, pilot, 416th Squadron

Courtesy of Dan Antion

Burtell M. Jefferson – Washington D.C.; US Army, WWII, PTO / Police Chief

Herbert C. Jensen – Farmington, UT; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Henry LaBonte – Brockton, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Eugene Richard Skotch – East Meadow, NY; US Army, Vietnam, Pfc., KIA (Gia Dinh Province)

Walter A. Smead – Saratoga County, NY; US Army, Korea, Cpl. Battery A/57th Field Artillery/7th Infantry Div., KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Everett R. Stewart – Anderson, CA; US Navy, WWII, Petty Officer 2nd Cl., USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Joseph E. Tinkham Jr. – South Gardiner, ME; US Army, Vietnam, !st Calvery Division, Adj. Gen. of Maine National Guard, MGeneral (Ret. 37 y.)

Bertram G. Voorhees – Pasadena, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

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The Army Airborne and the start to Camp MacKall

Airborne, Camp MacKall

The original idea for an American airborne came from Gen. Billy Mitchell in 1918.  His  commander, Gen. Pershing agreed, but once the WWI Armistice was signed, the plan was terminated.  In the late 1920’s, Germany began training parachute units and in the 1930’s, they led the world in gliders.  Russia created the Air Landing Corps in 1935.  Japan started in 1940 with German instructors.  The U.S. did not take note until Germany was successful on Crete in 1941.

Smitty, 187th RCT/11th Airborne Division, Camp MacKall 1943

The American tradition was born when 48 men jumped at Ft. Benning on Aug. 16, 1940, where  Private Eberhard, promised to yell to his buddies below, was the first to shout out “Geronimo”.  General William Lee is considered the “Father of the Airborne.”  My father, Everett Smith or “Smitty” (as you’ll get to know him),  did not care for heights or jumping, so I asked him – “Why volunteer?”  He shrugged and said, “They pay you more in the paratroopers.”  Smitty had a dry sense of humor which you will see more of in the letters he wrote to his mother in future posts.  He did however accept his boot camp, sharp shooting, glider & parachute training as a way  of learning new things he would otherwise have never experienced. [One of his statements driven into me – ” Like any job, always try your best.”]  Since he was 27 and much older than other recruits, he was often referred to by the nickname of “Pops.”

Camp MacKall postcard

The 11th Airborne Division was formed on Feb. 25, 1943 and their conditioning was so severe that most of the men felt combat would be a breeze.  They were the first A/B division formed from scratch, so instead of following the manuals – they were writing their own.  The camp was under construction 24/7 and they took classes sitting in folding chairs and easels were used for map reading, first-aid, weapons, foxholes, rules of land warfare, communications, field fortifications, and so on.  Between May and June one battalion at a time went to Fort Benning for jump school.

glider jumping

When the time came for Stage A of jump school, it was scratched since the men were already as fit as possible.  Stage B, was learning to tumble, equipment knowledge, sliding down a 30′ cable and packing a parachute.  In Stage C, they used a 250-foot tower, forerunner to the one at Coney Island, to simulate a jump.  Stage D, they earned their jump wings and boots.  In June, the units began training in every circumstance that might arise in combat.

The gliders used were WACO CG 4A, boxlike contraptions with wings.  The skeleton was small gauge steel covered with canvas; a wingspan of 84 feet, length of 49 feet and carried 3,700 pounds = two pilots and 13 fully loaded soldiers or a jeep and 6 men. The casualty list developing these appeared endless to the men.  Smitty could not listen to “Taps” without tearing up, even in his later years.

WACO glider in take off from Camp MacKall field.

21 June, the division entered the unit training program.  During July, all units went on 10-day bivouacs and to Fort Bragg.  Glider formal training occurred at Maxton Air Base.

In July, in Sicily, Operation Husky went terribly awry, due to the weather conditions –  3,800 paratroopers were separated from their gliders and each other.  The casualty rate was exorbitant.  This created serious doubts about the practicality of a division size airborne.  Proof would rest on the shoulders of the 11th and their commander, Gen. Joseph May Swing.  A demonstration called the “Pea Patch Show” was displayed for Sec. of War, Stimson.  He gave Swing a positive review, but it did not convince Gen. Marshall or McNair.  The fate of the Airborne Command rested on the upcoming Knollwood Maneuvers.

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Smitty’s hometown of Broad Channel sent out a free issue of their newspaper, “The Banner”, to every hometown soldier and this became another source of back front info, along with news from his mother and friends:

News that Smitty got from home at this point:  Broad Channel was getting their own air raid siren.  (Broad Channel is one-mile long and about 4-blocks wide).  His neighbors, the Hausmans, heard from their POW son in the Philippines.  And – his divorce papers were final, Smitty was single again.

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Military Humor –

‘I dropped out of Parachute School.’

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Ashby – Sun City, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Carl Bradley – USA; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Leo Brown – Lima, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, USS Colorado,3rd Marine Division

Benjamin Goldfarb – Toronto, CAN; US Army, WWII, PTO, Surgical tech, 54th General Hospital, Philippines

Daniel C. Helix – Concord, CA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, MGeneral, Purple Heart / Mayor

Denis H. Hiskett – USA; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Robert L. Moore – Queens, NY; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, Gunnery Sgt.

Thomas O’Keefe – Washington D.C.; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT  /  CIA

George Semonik Jr. – Sewickley, PA; US Army, Chief Warrant Officer, 82nd Airborne Division (Ret. 20 y.)

Shelby Treadway – Manchester, KY; US Navy, WWII, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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