Blog Archives

Ordnance – M3 Howitzer

M3 105mm Howitzer

Should anyone wish to further research the 11th Airborne’s field artillery, the division constituted the 674th and 675th Airborne Field Artillery.

674th Airborne Field Artillery

The 105 mm Howitzer M3 was a light howitzer designed for use by airborne troops. The gun utilized the barrel of the 105 mm howitzer M2, shortened and fitted to a slightly modified split trail carriage of the 75 mm pack howitzer. The howitzer was used by the U.S. Army during WWII.  It was issued to airborne units and the cannon companies of infantry regiments.

Paratrooper Everett Smith (Smitty, far right) during training

The howitzer was designed to fire the same ammunition as the longer M2. However, it turned out that shorter barrel resulted in incomplete burning of the propelling charge. The problem could be solved by use of faster burning powder. Otherwise the design was considered acceptable and was standardized as 105 mm Howitzer M3 on Carriage M3. The carriage was soon succeeded by the M3A1, which had trails made from thicker plate. Even stronger tubular trails were designed, but never reached production.

The production started in February 1943 and continued until May 1944; an additional bunch was produced in April–June 1945.

 

Production of М3, pcs.[2]
Year 1943 1944 1945 Total
Produced, pcs. 1,965 410 205 2,580

The gun fired semi-fixed ammunition, similar to the ammunition of the M2; it used the same projectiles and the same 105 mm Cartridge Case M14, but with different propelling charge. The latter used faster burning powder to avoid incomplete burning; it consisted of a base charge and four increments, forming five charges from 1 (the smallest) to 5 (the largest).

In an emergency, gunners were authorized to fire M1 HE rounds prepared for the Howitzer M2, but only with charges from 1 to 3. M1 HE rounds for the M3 could be fired from an M2 with any charge.

HEAT M67 Shell had non-adjustable propelling charge. For blank ammunition, a shorter Cartridge Case M15 with black powder charge was used.

 

Available ammunition
Type Model Weight (round/projectile) Filler Muzzle velocity Range
HE HE M1 Shell 18.35 kg (40 lb) / 14.97 kg (33 lb) 50/50 TNT or amatol* 2.18 kg (4 lb 13 oz) 311 m/s (1,020 ft/s) 7,585 m (8,300 yd)
HEAT-T HEAT M67 Shell 16.62 kg (37 lb) / 13.25 kg (29 lb) 311 m/s (1,020 ft/s) 7,760 m (8,500 yd)
Smoke WP M60 Shell 18.97 kg (42 lb) / 15.56 kg (34 lb) White Phosphorus, 1.84 kg (4.1 lb) 311 m/s (1,020 ft/s) 7,585 m (8,300 yd)
Smoke FS M60 Shell 19.65 kg (43 lb) / Sulfur trioxide in Chlorosulfonic acid, 2.09 kg (4 lb 10 oz)
Smoke HC BE M84 Shell 18.29 kg (40 lb) / 14.91 kg (33 lb) Zinc chloride 311 m/s (1,020 ft/s) 7,585 m (8,300 yd)

* Amatol is a highly explosive material made from a mixture of TNT and ammonium nitrate.   Amatol was used extensively during WWI and WWII.

 

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Military Humor –

Light Artillery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Mildred (Andrews) Andres – Baton Rouge, LA; US Army WAC, German Occupation, Sgt.

FINAL MISSION

Patricia Delaney – Evanston, IL; US Navy WAVES, WWII, Lt. JG

Thomas A. Dennison – Lander, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

John Jarvie – Rock Springs, WY; USMC, WWII, PTO / Korea, MSgt., Engineering, (Ret. 21 y.)

Theodore Lumpkin Jr. (100) – Angeleno, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 2nd Lt., 100th Fighter Squadron, Intelligence; Lt. Col. (Ret.)

Davis Mosqueda – Boise, ID; USMC, Silent Drill Corps, LCpl.

Louis V. O’Brien – Providence, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 486/352 Fighter Group, 2nd Lt., pilot

Madge (Watkins) Redwood – Auckland, NZ; NZ Army WAAC, WWII, # 813240, 9th Coastal Regiment

Brian D. Sicknick – NJ; National Guard, Middle East, Sgt., /  US Capitol Police, 1st Responder Unit

James Wento – Lynn, MA; US Army, SSgt., 2-2 Assault Helicopter Battalion/2nd Combat Assault

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Ordnance – L-4 Grasshopper in the Pacific

The “L’series liaison aircraft in US army service were often known as “grasshoppers.” These aircraft served with artillery and outfits spotting targets and giving commanders real time information on enemy positions. They also served in Liaison Squadrons, such as the 25th Liaison Squadron which earned fame in the Pacific Theater with their “Guinea Short Lines” aircraft.

L-4 Grasshopper, Piper Cub

Primarily to serve at elimination training bases in World War II the Navy acquired 230 Piper NE-1s , basically similar to the Army L-4s with Continental 0-170 engines. Twenty NE-2s were similar.

deHavilland WWI

As war spread around the world at the beginning of the 1940s, the U.S. military, dominated by old soldiers who expected to fight the next war exactly as they fought the last one, had to be convinced that the requirements for certain weapons needed to be redefined. An example was the Army’s observation airplanes, latter-day versions of the World War I, the deHavilland DH-4.

A two place tandem cockpit, dual-control, modified J-3 civilian light plane built by Piper Aircraft Corporation, Lock Haven, PA. Military models were designated the L-4B, L-4H, L-4J. This lightweight aircraft was among the most useful tactical aircraft of WWII. Dubbed “Grasshoppers” for their ability to fly into and out of small spaces, this military adaptation of the famous Piper J-3 Cub became the center of the toughest inter service turf fights of the war. General George S. Patton, Jr. played a major role in their introduction, a fact often overlooked in light of his other major accomplishments.

The L-4 had a fabric-covered frame with wooden spar, metal-rib wings, a metal-tube fuselage, and a metal-tube empennage. Its fixed landing gear used “rubber-band” bungee cord shock absorbers and had hydraulic brakes and no flaps.

Grasshopper pilots flew dangerous missions over enemy territory without any armor.

The aircrafts flight instruments included an airspeed indicator, and altimeter, compass, and simple turn-and-bank indicator. It was equipped with a two-way radio, powered by a wind-driven generator.

All of the little L-birds land like feathers, but the L-4 is the easiest and softest to land. Put 10 knots of wind on the nose, and all of them seem to come to a halt before gently touching down.

The L-4 retained the metal ribs of the Cub, so only the spar is made of wood. The ribs, however, are trusses of T-sections formed of thin aluminum riveted and screwed together. If poorly treated, these rib trusses are easily damaged and attract corrosion in the corners.

 

A: Cables or struts braced the Piper L4 tailplanes and wings. These allowed the necessary strength to be built in without resorting to a heavy structure. Rough field operations exert a lot of stress on airframes.  B: Mounted semi-exposed, the Continental flat-four engine powered the majority of more than 5000 Piper L-4s delivered to the Army, Several J-4 Cubs owned by civilians were pressed into service.  C: Structurally. the Piper L-4 was quite simple and had a fabric-covered wooden framework. The wing had no slats or flaps, but was equipped with large, long-span ailerons, Internally the wing was braced with wire.  D: For solo flights the L4 Grasshopper pilot sat in the rear seat, which had a full set of controls but was normally used by the observer. The Grasshopper was also equipped with a map table and the radio fit varied between models.

 

In Florida, the Civil Air Patrol had a Piper Cub patrolling at a low altitude along the Palm Beach coast (as many other cities had) and on one occasion, the 55-year-old pilot swooped down for a closer look at something he felt was unusual and he was fired on – it was a German submarine. The plane received enough damage to force him to return to the airfield. This is probably the only American plane downed by enemy fire in the continental U.S. history.

While some of the men were confined to fighting up in the mountains, the division’s newspaper called the Static Line, used a piper cub plane to drop bundles of the publication down to the men.  This was the only news of the outside world that the troopers could receive.  One day, a roll of the papers was dropped with a note attached addressing it: “To the girls, with the compliments of Art Mosley and Jack Keil, Phone Glider 3.”  It was discovered later that the WAC camp received the roll meant for the 11th airborne.

21 December 1944, General Swing and Col. Quandt flew to Manarawat in cub planes.  Upon landing, the general was said to look “as muddy as a dog-faced private.”  (Swing would often be in the thick of things and this description of him was common.)  He slept that night in the camp’s only nipa hut, which ended up being destroyed the next day.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Angel Balcarcel – Canton, OH; US Navy, WWII

Arthur H. Bishop – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, Korea, 505th Airborne Infantry Regiment

Mare Island Cemetery

Jimmy Coy – Columbia, MO; US Army, 1st Gulf War, 3rd Group/Army Special Forces, Medical surgeon, Colonel (Ret. 25 y.)

Wayne DeHaven Sr. – Roseville, MN; US Army, WWII, 17th Airborne Division

Richard Fry – Hudson, OH; US Air Force  / NASA (Ret. 30 y.)

Georgina Grey – Bristol, ENG; Royal British Navy, WWII, aircraft maintenance

Jessica Mitchell – Topeka, KS; US Army, DSgt., 68E Dental Specialist

David Michaud – Denver, CO; USMC  /  Denver Police Chief

Joseph Papallo (101) – Meriden, CT; US Army, WWII

Doris (White) Ryan – Como, MS; Civilian, WWII, Memphis Army Dept.

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Honoring Merrill’s Marauders

There is a passing member of Merrill’s Marauders in the Farewell Salutes today.   This post is an attempt to honor their contributions.

James E. Richardson

“If they can walk and carry a gun,” Major General Joseph Stillwell presciently told Brigadier General Frank Merrill in 1943, “they can fight!”

After being run out of the Burmese jungle by the Japanese in May of 1942, Stillwell had, according to one war correspondent, appeared “like the wrath of God and cursing like a fallen angel.”

The general didn’t mince his words either, telling reporters that the joint expedition between a small contingent of American, British, and Chinese troops “got a hell of a beating. We got run out of Burma and it is humiliating as hell. I think we ought to find out what caused it, go back, and retake it.”

Gen. Stillwell

The following year a determined Stillwell took a major step toward getting his wish, as allied leaders, many who sought to rectify the previous campaign’s novice display of jungle fighting, mapped out a plan for a ground unit trained and equipped to engage in “long-range penetration” missions.

In what was to be the forerunner for today’s special forces units, 3,000 American men volunteered for the newly formed 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) — code name: Galahad.

Dubbed Merrill’s Marauders after their commander, the men were tasked with a “dangerous and hazardous mission” behind Japanese lines in Burma, where the fall of the country’s capital of Rangoon had severely threatened the Allied supply line to China.  The Marauders were tasked with cutting off Japanese communications and supply lines and pushing enemy forces north out of the town of Myitkyina, the only city with an all-weather airstrip in Northern Burma.

Merrill’s Marauders

Although operational for only a few months, Merrill’s Marauders gained a fierce reputation for hard fighting and tenacity as the first American infantry force to see ground action in Asia.

“Highly trained infantrymen whom we regard today as heroes, such as the Special Forces, look to Merrill’s Marauders as role models,” Eames said in a press release. “The unimaginable conditions these men successfully fought through changed the understanding of the limits of human endurance in armed conflict. The Congressional Gold Medal brings them the public recognition they deserve. We are honored to have assisted in getting it across the finish line.”

2 Aug. ’44, 75 yards from enemy positions, US Army Signal Corps, Merrill’s Marauders. named 5307th Composite Unit

Reached by email, Eames said he became involved after a colleague and fellow attorney, Scott Stone, met Marauders Bob Passanisi and Gilbert Howland in the cafeteria of the Senate Dirksen Building.

“When he found out why they were there, he immediately offered to help,” Eames said. “One of the first things he did was call us, and I agreed to get a team involved.”

For the other surviving Marauders, the acknowledgement is somewhat bittersweet.

2 of the survivors of Merrill’s Marauders

“This recognition means so much to me and the other survivors and our families,” Passanisi, Merrill’s Marauders Association’s spokesperson, said in the release. “My one regret is that only eight of us are alive to enjoy this historic honor.”  (now only 7 remain).

Passanisi was luckier than most. Traversing nearly 1,000 miles behind enemy lines, the Marauders marched over some of the most treacherous terrain in the world, combating not only a determined enemy, but fighting off myriad diseases, scorching heat, venomous snakes, and bloodsucking leeches.

The exploits of the Marauders and their daring mission to recapture the vital town and airstrip at Myitkyina made headlines throughout the United States in 1944 — but at a steep cost.

movie poster, Merrill’s Marauders

After five months of combat, 95 percent of the Marauders were dead, wounded, or deemed no longer medically fit for combat. By the time the force was deactivated in August 1944, many, including Congress, wondered whether Stillwell had sacrificed the Marauders due to poor planning and his own dreams of glory and revenge.  Still, despite the unit’s staggering losses — fighting in five major battles and over 30 other engagements — the Marauders became one of the most renowned units to come out of World War II, carrying with them a legacy of bravery and the fortitude of the human spirit.

Seventy-six years later, the recognition by Congress shines “a light on that forgotten theater in the Pacific that was so crucial in defeating the Japanese,” said Gilbert Howland, a Marauder veteran.

“We did it because our country needed us.”

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Fay (Fotini) Argy – Camden, NJ; Civilian, Bud Manufacturing, WWII, bombs

Mary ‘Lorraine’ Bromley – Rock Island, IL; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Frank DeNoia – New haven, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Canberra

Kenneth Fenton – Paraparaumu, NZ; NZ Army # 30202, WWII, ETO & PTO / Vietnam, Colonel (Ret. 32 y.)

William J. LaVigne II – USA; US Army, Afghanistan & Iraq, MSgt., HQ Co/Special Operation Command, 2 Bronze Stars

Anna McNett – Grand Rapids, MI; US Navy WAVES, WWII

Richard Nowers – Atkinson, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 507th Fighter Group, 3 Bronze Stars

Anthony Polizzi – NY; US Air Force, Captain, 15th Maintenance Group, Wing Comdr.

James E. Richardson – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII, CBI, Merrill’s Marauder

William Salley – Springfield, SC; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel (Ret.), Purple Heart

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Pre-Christmas post from Star and Stripes – 75th Anniversary

In The Past

1964, a Vietnam Christmas for Bob Hope

Bob Hope brings Christmas cheer to troops in Vietnam

1964 | BIEN HOA, South Vietnam — Bob Hope brought some laughter to a place of war Christmas Eve.

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Residents of an outer island of Palau retrieve boxes from the U.S. Air Force’s 1999 Christmas drop.

Airmen prepare for annual Christmas gift drop to Pacific islanders

2005 | ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam — Airmen geared up to deliver items to Pacific islanders who can only dream of department stores.

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Santa Claus hands out presents to the men of Detachment 35, Company B, 5th Special Forces Group, in Vietnam at the end of 1968. The Air Force lent Santa six C7 Caribou cargo planes for his deliveries in Vietnam. The planes enabled him to visit some 50 isolated outposts – such as this Special Forces camp in Nahon Cho, 80 miles northeast of Saigon – from Dec. 24th until late in the afternoon Christmas day.
JAMES LINN/STARS AND STRIPES |

Eight deer traded in for 6 ‘Santabou’ in waning days of 1968

1968 | NHON CHO, Vietnam — Santa’s reindeer were constantly bogged down in mud and his sleigh broke on the bumpy, snowless airstrips. The Air Force lent Santa six C7 Caribou cargo planes for his deliveries in Vietnam.

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In The Present

Staff Sgt. Hector Frietze, right, and Senior Airman John Allum, left, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmasters, wave to the people of the Island of Angaur, Republic of Palau, during the first bundle airdrops of Operation Christmas Drop 2020, Dec. 6. OCD is the world’s longest running airdrop training mission, allowing the U.S. and its allies to deliver food, tools and clothing to the people who live on remote islands in the South-Eastern Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

SE PACIFIC – OPERATION CHRISTMAS DROP

https://guam.stripes.com/community-news/until-next-year-operation-christmas-drop-2020-comes-close?fbclid=IwAR1yVLMkclH-_KP3NI3uW0A9hFwIZXBnKT4Wqr38MVxKHx9RVjxpM_0R3zA

Deployed

Service members serve on all seven continents — there is one service member in Antarctica — and on all the seas. Military personnel serve in more than 170 countries.

Service members deployed around the world during Christmas:

  • Afghanistan: 14,000
  • Bahrain: 7,000
  • Iraq: 5,200
  • Jordan: 2,795
  • Kuwait: 13,000
  • Oman: 300
  • Qatar: 13,000
  • Saudi Arabia: 3,000
  • Syria: Unknown
  • Turkey: Unknown
  • United Arab Emirates: 5,0000

Sailors will man their ships from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico.  Navy officials maintain that roughly a third of the Navy is deployed at any one time.

Air Force missileers and airmen are in the silos, by the planes and in the command centers ensuring the nuclear system is ready if needed.

And Please remember the military families !

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Military Christmas Humor – 

Humor from deployed Marines

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bennie Adkins – Waurika, OK; US Army, Vietnam, Sgt. (Ret. 22 y.), Green Beret, Silver Star, Purple Heart

Bon Nell Bentley – Russellville, AR; Civilian, riveter / US Navy WAVE, WWII / USN nurse / Civilian, nurse w/ Veterans Admin. (Ret. 30 y.)

Pedro ‘Pete’ Coronel – Hereford, AZ; US Army, WWII, PTO, 7th Cavalry, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Lee E. James (106) – Spearman, TX; US Army, WWII, CBI, Colonel (Ret. 27 y.)

William Kinney – Toledo, OH; US Navy, WWII

Levi A. Presley – Crestview, FL; US Army, Sgt. 1st Class

Louis Pugh – Courtdale, PA; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT, 2 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart

Jesse O. Sandlin – Granby, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot, 8th AF  /  Korea, Lt. Colonel (Ret. 28 y.)

Owen Tripp – Tacoma, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Donald Urquhart – New Orleans, LA; US Army, WWII, 81st Infantry Division, Purple Heart

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Ordnance – M4 Sherman Tank in the Pacific War

M4 Sherman tank with the 24th Marines, Iwo Jima, WWII

Once again, we come upon a piece of ordnance that is more well-known in the European Theater, but did get use in the Pacific – the M4 Sherman Tank, named by the British for the American General William Tecumseh Sherman (February 8, 1820 – February 14, 1891).

The M4 Sherman pilot unit was assembled by Lima Locomotive works in February 1942 varying from the T6 mainly in the removal of the hull side doors. Total manufacturing in 3 factories, Lima, Pressed Steel, and Pacific Car & Foundry began the next month, every one of these original manufacturing models being cast hull tanks, named M4A1.

In the Pacific Theater, the Japanese fought fanatically, but were hampered by obsolete and inferior weapons of all types, the Shermans clearly outclassed enemy light tanks.

Japanese Type 97 Chi-Ha tank

The M4 Sherman in the Pacific Theater first saw combat was at Tarawa Atoll in 1943 where it fought against Japanese tanks such as the Type 97 Chi-Ha. In this area of operations, the Shermans were better than the Chi-Ha due to the Sherman’s armor was thicker and the M4 Sherman also had better firepower. The Japanese Army began develop countermeasures to take out Shermans such as the Towed 47mm Guns that were capable to penetrate certain parts of its armor at shorter distances, however, other methods were used under extreme measures such as soldiers who voluntarily used Type 99 hand-thrown Mines or Lunge Mines.

The M4Could be easily be adapted for a variety of different uses, such as: the Mark 1 flamethrower which could throw napalm 150 yards; fitted with floatation screens for amphibious landings; plows; additional firepower; steel teeth to push through hedgerows and Sherman ‘Crab’ fitted with rotating chains to detonate land mines.

While only a bit over 49,000 M4’s being produced, half of that production and the other variants were given to other Allied Nations, including Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union under the Lend Lease Program.

 

American Heritage Museum, Korean War tank

Later, in the Korean War, an astute soldier realized that 1950 was the Chinese Year of the Tiger.  Word went out for tanks crews to paint tiger faces on the front of their tanks instead of the usual camouflage.  The idea was that “superstitious” Chinese would not shoot at them for fear of ‘bad luck’ or

Tiger Tank, Korean War

the very least hesitate long enough for the tankers to get the first shot off.

The 5th Regimental Combat Team, known as the Bobcats got the most frightening and complete tiger scheme.  But once the Chinese New Year passed in March 1951, the tanks were painted over, so the results of this psychological scheme is difficult to find.

The American Heritage Museum has been restored and re-painted, by Dan Wrightington, exactly as the 5th RCT’s M4A3 appeared in combat January 1951 near Inchon.

 

Sherman in the Pacific 1943-1945

For further data on the Sherman in the Pacific, the book by Raymond Giuliani, shows the extraordinary metamorphosis of the famous American tank, its first disastrous engagement on “Bloody Atoll” Tarawa, in the island of Okinawa, the last bastion of the Rising Sun. The terrible experience of fire against an enemy, as brave as fanatical, required Americans to adapt and transform the Sherman to resist and win the war.

Resources: WWII History magazine, The Collins Foundation & the American Heritage Museum yearly report; and WWII Weapons.com

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Elwood Culp – Hazelton, PA; US Navy, WWII, PC-491, radarman

Arthur ‘Jerry’ Hamilton Jr. – UT; US Army, Japanese Occupation

Irene Ladish – Knoxville, TN; US Navy WAVES, WWII

John Le Carre (David Cornwell) – Poole, ENG; British Army, Intelligence Group, German Occupation / MI5

Jack Robinson – Fort Wright, KY; US Army, WWII

John Stevenson – Paris, TX; US Navy, WWII

Patricia Truitt – Kelso, WA; Cadet Nursing Corps, WWII

Merl Utsler – Winterset, IA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Norman Winterhoff – Asheville, OH; US Army, WWII / US Navy, Chaplin, Commander (Ret. 22 y.)

James Yeatts – Chesterfield, VA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Cpl., Forward Observer, 188th Field Artillery Battalion

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Ordnance Mitchell B-25, the Ultimate Strafer

Running a gantlet of flak and enemy fighters on September 2, 1943, North American B-25Ds of the 405th Bomb Squadron employ tactics devised by Major Paul “Pappy” Gunn in an attack on Japanese transports in New Guinea’s Wewak Harbor. “Tokyo Sleeper” by: Jack Fellows

Pappy Gunn didn’t develop the skip-bombing technique. It was first used in battle by B-17s on October 23, 1942 (tail end of Chapter 4 in Ken’s Men, Vol. I). The B-25 was certainly better suited for the job and Pappy Gunn and Jack Fox were the ones to modify the B-25 to make it work. Major Edward Larner deserves a lot of credit for convincing his squadron’s crews that they could pull off the technique in battle after they watched his crew successfully use it on a ship during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.

Searching on the internet, one can locate more stories containing the B-25 Mitchell bomber than most any other.  During the Second World War, the high adaptability of the B-25 Mitchell Bomber–named in honor of the pioneer of U.S. military aviation, Brigadier General William L. Mitchell–paid off as it served extensively in missions including both high and low altitude bombing, tree-top level strafing, anti-shipping, supply, photo reconnaissance, and other support.

B-25 Mitchell schematic.

Production of this twin-engine medium bomber commenced in late 1939 by North American Aviation, following a requirement from the U. S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) for a high-altitude medium bomber. By the end of the war, about 9,816 Mitchells were manufactured, with several variants.

Generally, the Mitchell bomber weighed 19,850 pounds when empty, had a maximum take-off weight of 35,000 pounds, and was built to hold a crew of six comprising the pilot and co-pilot, a navigator who doubled as a bombardier, a turret gunner who also served as an engineer, and a radioman who performed duties as a waist and tail gunner.

North American Aviation factory workers mounting an engine on a B-25 bomber, Inglewood, California, United States, 1942.

It was powered by two Wright R-2600 Cyclone 14 radial engines which dissipated about 3,400 hp, and performed with a top speed of 272 mph at 13,000 feet, although it was most effective at a speed of 230 mph.

Anywhere from 12-18 12.7mm machine guns, a T13E1 cannon, and 3,000 pounds of bombs comprised its armament. It had a 1,984-lb ventral shackle and racks, capable of holding a Mark 13 Torpedo and eight 127mm rockets for ground attacks, respectively.

The B-25 performed in all the theaters of the Second World War and was mainly used by the United States Army Air Force, Royal Air Force, Soviet Air Force, and the United States Marine Corps.

North American’s plant in Kansas City, Kan., October 1942. As the first anniversary of Pearl Harbor approached, American industry was growing and flexing its muscles. Photo from the Office of War Information, Library of Congress.

Mitchell bombers participated in campaigns in the Solomon Islands, Aleutian Islands, Papua New Guinea, and New Britain, among others. Owing to the tropical nature of the environment, mid-level bombing was less efficient, and thus the B-25s were adapted to serve as low-altitude attack bombers.

During the Southwest Pacific campaigns, the B-25 enormously contributed to Allied victories as the 5th Air Force devastated the Japanese forces through skip-bombing attacks on ships and Japanese airfields.

In the China-Burma-India theater of the war, B-25s were widely used for interdiction, close air support, and battlefield isolation.

The B-25’s extraordinary capabilities as a bomber were first brought to the limelight following their performance in the Tokyo Raid of 18 April 1942, in which the hitherto impregnable home islands of Japan were attacked.

Armorer cleaning the bore of a 75mm cannon mounted in a B-25G Mitchell bomber of the 820th Bomb Squadron, Tarawa, Gilbert Islands; March-April 1944.

In a military sense, the Doolittle Raid was a failure. The small task force of which he and his crews were the centerpiece was detected while Hornet was still 150 miles short of the intended takeoff point. The B-25s were launched on a contingency plan to save the carrier– to clear the flight deck so its fighters could be positioned for launch to defend against attack.

Doolittle and the Navy had agreed to sacrifice the bombers in the event the task force was detected by the Japanese. With the task force having been spotted, the mission had been compromised and the airplanes were sent out with the crews knowing it was unlikely that they would reach China.  They did reach their targets and east wind helped to bring most of the men home.

The power of the B-25 strafers was demonstrated to the world in early March 1943, when the 3rd Attack Group delivered the knockout blow to a 14-ship Japanese convoy that was sitting just outside Lae Harbor during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. A low-level strafing and skip-bombing attack by 12 modified B-25s and a dozen A-20s left every single transport and most of their escorts either sinking or badly damaged. Naval historian Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison referred to the attack as “the most devastating attack of the war by airplanes against ships.”

From the radio operator’s position in a USMC PBJ Mitchell, Japanese POW 2Lt Minoru Wada looks for landmarks to find the Japanese 100th Infantry Division headquarters complex, 9 August 1945, Mindanao, Philippines.

Beginning with the sale of B-25s to the Dutch, North American produced thousands of Mitchell’s for other nations. Considering that the Fifth Air Force was originally headquartered in Australia, it was only natural that the Royal Australian Air Force would operate B-25s of its own. A little-known fact of World War II in the Pacific is that when the 90th Bombardment Squadron was first equipped with B-25s, there were not enough American pilots and gunners to man them. To fill the gap, several RAAF airmen volunteered to fly with American pilots. Most of the co-pilots and many of the gunners in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea were Australian.

Their sturdiness and ease of maintenance under primitive environmental conditions were characteristics that aided the durability of the B-25s during the war. By the end of the war, they had completed more than 300 missions.

This post was suggested by Dan Antion @ No Facilities.

Resources used: National Interest; Air History on line; Boeing; History.com and pacific War Encyclopedia and the IHRA.

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Current News –  7 December 2020, Pearl Harbor Day

For Pacific Paratrooper’s past posts for this date: Videos with a different view

Kimmel and Short

Pearl Harbor Remembered

WWII After WWII’s series

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Military Humor –

“I’ll get onto it in a minute. Everything is so darn steady.”
From November 14, 1942

“One thing I can’t understand about this sentry business. Can you imagine anybody answering ‘Foe’?”
From December 6, 1941

WWII humor from the Saturday Evening Post magazine.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Adams – Fairfield, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO

Orville Cox – Des Moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Alfred Dawson (103) – Bailieboro, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, radar

Stephen Gudek Sr. – Dracut, MA; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Chief Petty Officer (Ret. 20 y.)

Keith Hobson – Chico, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

John Lappin – Washington D.C.; US Army, WWII /  FBI

Betty Murray – Salisbury, MD; Civilian, WWII, military uniform seamstress

Harold F. Trapp – LaPorte, IN; US Navy, WWII, Fire Controlman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

William H. Trapp – LaPorte, IN; US Navy, WWII, Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Carl Zumbano – Venice, FL; US Navy, WWII, SeaBees

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Ordnance P-38 Lightning

P-38 in the Pacific

Perhaps Colonel Ben Kelsey, a P-38 test pilot, summed up the war bird’s legacy best of all. “(That) comfortable old cluck,” he said, “would fly like hell, fight like a wasp upstairs, and land like a butterfly.”

The P-38 was the most successful USAAF fighter in the Pacific War. It served with four separate air forces, spread out from Australia to Alaska. The most successful American Ace of the Second World War, Major Richard Bong, scored all 40 of his victories flying the P-38 Lightning over the Pacific.

P-38

The 11th Air Force was allocated the task of defending the Aleutian Islands, in the far north of the Pacific. There the extra reliability provided by the twin engines of the P-38 was essential, with missions being flown over long distances and in poor weather. The first P-38 victories of the war fell to pilots of the 11th Air Force. On 4 August 1942 two Kawanishi flying boats were claimed by Lt. Kenneth Ambrose and Lt. Stanley Long of the 54th Fighter Squadron. The Aleutian islands did not retain their importance, and by the middle of 1943 the 11th was something of a backwater.

The 7th Air Force covered the Central Pacific. Its P-38s saw little combat, but flew endless hours of patrols over waters whose importance ended with the battle of Midway. The only exception was the 531st FS, which joined the force escorting bombers attacking Truk and Iwo Jima.

Cactus Air Force w/ P-38, by Jack Fellows

The two main uses of the P-38 in the Pacific were the 5th and 13th Air Forces. The 5th Air Force had been formed in Australia during 1942, and was soon active over Papua. The 13th was activated at the start of 1943, in the South Pacific. Its first HQ was on Espiritu Santo (now part of Vanuatu), in the New Hebrides. Its early duties took its aircraft into the Solomon Islands, and most famously onto Guadalcanal. As the war developed the areas of operations of the two air forces slowly came together, until on 15 June 1944 they were combined as part of the Far East Air Forces.

The 13th Air Force contained two P-38 Fighter Groups, the 18th and the 347th. In November 1942 aircraft from the 339th FS of the 347th FG were sent to Guadalcanal. They also operated against Japanese island bases in the Solomon Islands. They came together with the 5th Air Force during the Allied advance west along Papua and New Guinea, eventually taking over responsibility for neutralizing Rabaul.

SeaBees with a P-38

The 5th Air Force was the biggest user of the P-38, with four fighter groups (8th, 35th, 49th and 475th). During 1943 and the first part of 1944 they were engaged in the campaigns in Papua and New Guinea, first helping to repel the Japanese attempts to capture Port Moresby, and then in the long counter-attack that eventually pushed the Japanese off most of the island. They also had early responsibility for the campaign to neutralize the Japanese stronghold of Rabaul.

The P-38 was the primary American fighter during the invasion of the Philippines. It was able to operate from bases too primitive for the P-51D Mustang, which was thus unable to play a significant role in the early fighting in the Philippines. It would be P-38 units that were first to move back onto the Philippines, where they played a crucial role in destroying the Japanese air force on the islands.

P-38 Lightning, by Jack Fellows

The P-38 could generally out-climb and out-dive any Japanese fighters (other than the Kawasaki Ki-61 “Tony”, which was better armed and heavier than most Japanese fighters). It could not out-turn or out-maneuver the more nimble Japanese fighters, so successful American pilots learnt not to try. A formation of P-38s flown well could cope with just about any Japanese aircraft.

The P-38 was popular amongst American pilots for other reasons. Many pilots of single-engine aircraft learned to dread flying over the sea – if the engine failed over land, at least you could bail out and walk away, even if it was into captivity, but that option was not available hundreds of miles out to sea. In contrast, in a twin-engine P-38 a single engine failure posed only a minor problem, generally only delaying its return to a friendly base.

The Lightning was involved in the single most famous fighter mission of the Second World War. On 18 April 1943 a flight of P-38s from the 339th Fighter Squadron, based on Guadalcanal, flew a long range mission to intercept an aircraft carrying Admiral Yamamoto. His itinerary on a morale boasting tour of Japanese bases had been intercepted, and the code broken four days earlier. It was decided to make an attempt to intercept his aircraft. However, in order to prevent the Japanese realizing that their codes had been broken, the intercepting units had to fly a winding 400 mile route, making it look like the attack on Yamamoto’s aircraft had been a chance encounter. Only the P-38 had the range to carry out this long range mission. Yamamoto’s aircraft was successfully found and shot down, and the Admiral killed. The long range P-38 had inflicted a telling blow on Japanese morale.

This post was suggested by Will Pennington

Resources: Lockheed Martin; History of War; “P-38 Lightning Aces of the Pacific and CBI” by John Stanaway; air wing media and vbader.com

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Tomi Curry – Gary, IN; US Army Reserves

Thomas S. Dennison – Saskatchewan, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Michael Goodboe – USA; US Navy SEAL, Middle East, Silver Star, 4 Bronze Stars / CIA paramilitary, KIA (Somalia)

Charlie Hare – Wheeling, WV; US Army, Korea, Co. F/187th RCT

Kelliann Leli – Palin, NJ; US Air Force, UAE, Captain, 60th Air Mobility Wing, Medic

Frank Macon – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

James Russell – Lake Worth, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co/187/11th Airborne Division

Clayton E. Stoess (102) – Crestwood, KY; US Navy, WWII, Lt.

Walter A. Suberg (100) – Glenview, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, pilot

W. Robert Trounson – CA; US Army / Civilian, Stars & Stripes Chief Editor (Pacific)

Ordnance P-47 Thunderbolt in the Pacific

WWII painting, P-47 Thunderbolt

The P-47 Thunderbolt was not generally welcomed in the Pacific theatre. It was seen as too clumsy to compete with the very agile Japanese fighters and it did not have the range for operations over the vast expanses of the Pacific. Worse, the P-47 was best at the high altitudes at which American bombers operated over Europe.  However, in Japan most combat occurred below 20,000 feet, where the P-47 was at its least maneuverable.

Despite these problems, General George C. Kenney, commander of the 5th Air Force in the SW Pacific, was determined to acquire as many aircraft as possible for his command.  The Lockheed P-38 Lighting was popular with American pilots in the Pacific, but not available in sufficient numbers.

The U.S. Navy escort carrier USS Barnes (ACV-20) underway in the Pacific Ocean on 1 July 1943, transporting U.S. Army Air Forces Lockheed P-38 Lightning and Republic P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft.

Fortunately for Kenney, the first Thunderbolt unit to reach him was the 348th Fighter Group,  commanded by Col. Neel Kearby.  He was very enthusiastic about the P-47, and had put some thought into the best way to take advantage of the big fighter. One of its strengths was a very high speed in the dive.   He had put some thought into the best way to take advantage of the big fighter. One of its strengths was its very high speed in the dive. Kearby decided to take advantage of that.

IMG_1747

WO Russell Precians, UAAF, with the RAF in Burma, from Trove archives Sent from Garrulous Gwendoline

Immediately after taking off,  his P-47s would climb to a high altitude.  At that height they would head towards their target, normally a Japanese base. Once close to the base they would dive into the attack. By the time they reached the target, they would be travelling at very high speed. Having made their attack, they would then use that high speed to climb back to high altitude before the Japanese could react.

Newly arrived USAAF Republic P-47 Thunderbolts lined up in a maintenance area at Agana Airfield, Guam, Marianas Islands on 28 March 1945.

These tactics would have been familiar to many British pilots of the Battle of Britain, having been used by pilots of the Messerschmitt Bf 109, who would reach high altitude over France, then swoop down on British fighters climbing to attack German bombers.  They were particularly effective in the SW Pacific.  Between August and December 1943 the 348th Fighter Group claimed over 150 victories while losing only 8 pilots. Kearby himself would become the highest scoring American P-47 Ace of the SW Pacific, with 22 confirmed kills.

Japanese Ki-43 War Thunder

The weak low level performance and limited maneuverability of the Thunderbolt was still a weakness.  Kearby himself was killed on 6 March 1944 during a fighter sweep over Wewak, when he stayed at low level to confirm a probably kill and was caught by a Ki-43.

The P-47 was never popular amongst pilots who were used to the P-38 Lighting, although many were forced to fly it in early in 1944.  The P-38 units had suffered relatively heavy losses in the fighting over Rabaul in November 1943, and P-38s were still in short supply. However, during 1944 the P-47 was slowly phased out in the SW Pacific. Suitable targets on New Guinea were in increasingly short supply. Those units that had converted from the P-38 were often able to convert back during the year. Early in 1945 even the 348th would move away from the Thunderbolt, moving onto the Merlin powered P-51D Mustang.  By the end of the war the only Thunderbolt unit remaining in the Fifth Air Force was the 58th Fighter Group, a ground attack unit.

P-47 design

In mid-1944 the 7th Air Force finally received the Thunderbolt and the Mustang. This was just in time for them to take part in the invasion of Saipan, flying onto the island in June 1944.  On Saipan the P-47 saw action in the ground attack role.

The capture of Iwo Jima and then Okinawa finally allowed the 7th’s Thunderbolts to see air to air combat. The two islands were used as bases during the increasingly heavy strategic bombing campaign over Japan.  Both Thunderbolt and Mustang units saw service in the high altitude bomber escort role at which the Thunderbolt excelled. The same period saw the arrival of the long range P-47N, which had a range of close to 2,000 miles with drop tanks.

P-47 firing its M2 machine guns during night gunnery

In terms of victories gained, the Thunderbolt’s best moment in the Central Pacific came in late May 1945. Kamikaze attacks were threatening Allied shipping around Okinawa, and so the 318th Fighter Group was allowed to fly fighter sweeps over southern Japan, with the aim of intercepting potential Kamikaze aircraft far from their targets.  In 2 sweeps, on 25 and 28 May, the Thunderbolts claimed nearly 40 victories.

The career of the P-47 Thunderbolt in the Pacific is a good example of how important it was for the pilot to adjust their tactics to their aircraft. If a Thunderbolt pilot allowed himself to be dragged into a low level dogfight then they were in serious trouble.

Mexican P-47D Thunderbolt over the Philippines.

Nicknamed as the “Jug” due to its silhouette looking like a milk jug,( some say it was named Jug, short for juggernaut )  Apart from US service, the P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft saw action as part of the British RAF, the French Air Force, Soviet Air Force and also as part of the contingent of pilots hailing from Brazil and Mexico who also participated as part of the Allied war effort.

RAF Thunderbolt Mk.II readying for a sortie over Burma. January 1945

The idea for this post came from Teagan Riordain Geneviene.

Research from: the Smithsonian Museum; Pacific Encyclopedia; History of War and War History on line.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Elizabeth Brook – Galeburg, IL; US Navy WAVES, WWII, Lt.

Ethel Calabakas — Port Arthur, CAN; RC Army, WWII

John Hill – Webster, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT-boats

Michael Kormos Jr. – Wilkes Barre, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 406th Squadron

Cleveland Lemon Jr. – Baton Rouge, LA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Charles M. Lentz – Independence, MO; US Navy, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 22 y.)

Terrance B. Salazar – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Spc., 82nd Airborne Division

James A. Scott – Aiken, SC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Frederick Trader – Oriska, ND; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 2nd Lt., bombardier/navigator

Raymond R. Veckruise – Gary, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Thanksgiving from: Pacific Paratrooper

Rakkasans of today.
187th RCT

I WISH TO EXPRESS MY THANKS FOR EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU !!!  AND MAY WE ALL BE THANKFUL FOR THOSE VETERANS WHO FIGHT FOR US !!!

US troops in Afghanistan give thanks.

Thanksgiving during WWII…

They’re celebrating Thanksgiving on this very day,

My thoughts are at home, though I’m far away;

I can see everyone, eating dinner deluxe,

Whether it be chicken, turkey or even duck;

The fellows over here won’t whimper or moan,

They’ll look to the next one and hope to be home.

 

Truly and honestly, from way down deep,

They want you to be happy and enjoy your feast.

These holidays are remembered by one and all,

Those happy days we can always recall.

The ones in the future, will be happier, I know

When we all come back from defeating the foe.

_______Poem by an Anonymous WWII Veteran

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For those of you living where there is no official Thanksgiving Day on this date – look around – family, friends, Freedom and life itself – all enough to give thanks for each day !

FROM: PACIFIC PARATROOPER – May you all have a happy and healthy Holiday Season !!

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Please be considerate to those who may not be celebrating…..

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Thanksgiving Humor – 

Army turkey

US Navy turkey?

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Farewell Salutes – 

Holland ‘Dutch’ Chinn (100) – brn: CHI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, mechanic

Denzel Clouse – Terre Haute, IN; US Army, WWII, ETO  /  Treasury Dept.

Edward Debrowski – Donora, PA; US Navy, WWII, 2nd Class Petty Officer, USS Shannon

Julia Garcia – San Francisco, CA; Civilian, WWII, welder

Harold ‘Hal’ Jackson – Davenport, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Thomas Ligotti (105) – Buffalo, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 70th Engineers

Jennings Mitchell – Athens, AL; US Merchant Marines, WWII, Academy graduate

Eugene O’Thomas – Detroit, MI; US Army, WWII, Signal Corps

William Sawyer – Bleffton, IN; US Army, WWII, ATO, Medic (Ret. 20+ y.)

Ronald Webster – Roxbury, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

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From: Pacific Paratrooper

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Del Ray Echo Hawk

”Ken’s Men Against the Empire, vol. I”

I acquired “Ken’s Men, Against the Empire, volume I” during this pandemic of ours and when I reached the story of Bootless Bay, I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I decided to share it with you all.  I thank the research of Lawrence J. Hickey and the IHRA for over 373 pages of unforgettable stories, plus a sneak preview of Volume II.  I can’t praise this organization enough.  I recommend you all try at least one of their books.

Del Ray Echo Hawk

Rescue from Bootless Bay

As men fought on the ground in New Guinea, the 5th Air Force was in the sky above them.  The B-24D, the “Ben Buzzard”, 43rd Bombardment Group/64th Bombardment Squadron, with Lt. Stephen Blount as pilot, could be heard over the radio at Seven Mile Drome as they returned in violent weather over the Owen Stanley Mts.,  and then the roar of the engines abruptly ceased…

“Ben Buzzard” 43rd Bombardment Group

Gas was leaking from a split in the trailing edge of the left wing; then one of the engines on the left wing suddenly quit and the radio operator couldn’t raise the tower, he had no idea if they were receiving his messages.

“Ben Buzzard” skipped across the water, then porpoised.  The rear part of the plane split and flipped over the nose.  Blount, not wearing his seatbelt, was catapulted through the Plexiglas windshield.

Jack Matisoff & Del Ray Echo Hawk, best friends

It was 18 October 1943 when Staff Sgt. DelRay Echo Hawk, who had been manning one of the waist guns and wounded, popped to the surface.  He then filled his lungs and dove back underwater.  He swam to the waist area of the aircraft, bent back the rear fuselage and pulled SSgt. Clayton L. Landon out of the wrecked Liberator.  Del Ray’s hands were cut and bleeding from the jagged metal, but he had saved Landon’s life.

Major Harold M. Brecht, who had just landed, hurried to his plane with another pilot and took off in search of the missing crew.  Their flight path took them directly down the length of Bootless Bay, where Blount and co-pilot, Julian Petty were yelling and waving frantically…

Crew taken in front of “Lucky Lucille”. Top 2nd from right is Jack Matisoff, 4th from Right, Echo Hawk. Signatures on back: Julian Al Petty, John R. O’Neal Jr., Coltrane C. Sherrill, Bob Lee, Bob Mason, Delray Echo Hawk, Albert Richter Jr., Jack Shainfine, Arthur Brent

Apparently unseen, the 4 surviving crewmen continued to ride the 3-foot swells.  Fortunately, within a few minutes a canoe appeared and turned in their direction.  Inside were 2 curious Australian enlisted men, who had seen the plane disappear and commandeered a native boat to investigate.

After a hurried discussion, it was decided that the men would hold onto the side of the canoe and be towed.

The Australians at the camp formed 2 long parallel lines 200 yards out in the water.  The Americans were passed from one man to another until they were safely on shore.

Landon and Echo Hawk, the most seriously injured, were laid out on the beach to await an ambulance.  They were then transported to a field hospital.

Lt. Blount would recommend Del Ray Echo Hawk, a member of the Oklahoma  Cherokee Nation, for the Silver Star for his exceptional bravery in rescuing SSgt. Landon.  Echo Hawk later received the Soldier’s Medal and the entire crew was awarded the Purple Heart.

Grave marker for Del Ray Echo Hawk

This story was condensed.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert D. Bay – Chesterfield, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO, Corps of Engineers, MGen. (Ret.)

Shirley (Cherrington) Beachum – Catawissa, PA; US Army WAC, WWII, link instructor

From: Cora Metz posters

Wilfred C. Cloutier – Guilford, VT; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Ralph Dunwoody – Aberdeen, SD; US Army, WWII, Intelligence & Recon

Dorothy D. Garippo – Roselle, IL; US Navy WAVE, WWII, nurse

Yvonne H. Jackson – Owego, NY; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Gene M. Kirby – Davenport, IA; US Army, WWII, ETO

A.J. Laughlin – New Carlisle, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Jack Moreland – Paducah, TX; US Army, WWII, 2nd Division

Raymond Sontag (101) – Creve Coeur, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt.

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