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11th Airborne Division in Japan

Smitty’s, Broad Channel, NY

Atsugi Airfield, Japan

 

Just as General Douglas MacArthur said to Gen. Robert Eichelberger that it was a long road to Tokyo, so it was for Smitty. Yes, the stretch from Broad Channel to Camp MacKall and finally Atsugi Airfield was a long and arduous road, but here, the 11th Airborne Division arrives in Japan to begin the Occupation and to help start the rebuilding of a country.

Aerial view, Atsugi Airfield

With the initial arrival of the division, rarely was a female between the ages of 8 and 70 seen on the streets. The Japanese had heard their government’s propaganda for years as to the American looting and raping, so they were understandably afraid of the conquering troops. But many were confused about the peaceful attitude of the soldiers and a member of the 511th regiment was stopped one day by a Japanese officer, he asked, “Why don’t you rape, loot and burn? We would.” The trooper answered that Americans just don’t do that.

Yokohama, 1945

With the New Grand Hotel surrounded by troopers, the manager and his staff bowed to Gen. MacArthur and his party and directed them to their suites. Tired and hungry from their long flight, the Americans went to the dining room and were served steak dinners. Gen. Whitney remembered wanting to take MacArthur’s plate to make certain it hadn’t been poisoned. When he told the general his concern and intentions, MacArthur laughed and said, “No one can live forever.”

The hotel would become his headquarters and later that evening, MacArthur told his staff, “Boys, this is the greatest adventure in military history. Here we sit in the enemy’s country with only a handful of troops, looking down the throats of 19 fully armed divisions and 70 million fanatics. One false move and the Alamo would look like a Sunday school picnic.” (The fact that nothing happened, I believe, said quite a bit about Japanese integrity.)

The division Command Post was moved from the Atsugi Airfield to the Sun Oil Compound in Yokohama. This compound had about 15 American-style homes complete with furniture, dishes, silver and linens. The senior staff officers were not so fortunate. They were put up in warehouses on the docks, often without heat.

In the Philippines, the Japanese emissary General Kawabe, finished their surrender talks. Kawabe’s aide, Second Lt. Sada Otake, introduced himself to a Nisei G.I. standing guard outside. The guard, in response, said his name was Takamura. Otake said he had married a Nisei by the same name and did he had a sister named Etsuyo? The guard nodded and Otake said, “I’m her husband. Look me up in Japan.” And the brothers-in-law shook hands. (Small world or fate?)

Smitty @ Sun Oil

On the reverse side of this photo, Smitty wrote: “A picture of the General”s gang taken in the

Smitty (2nd from left) and rest of the crew

living room at Yokohama. Reading left to right – baker, first cook, Mess Sergeant, me headwaiter and on the floor, second cook. Those glasses you can see were always full. You can’t beat this Japanese beer.

Tokyo Rose – on the air

On 1 September, newsmen Harry Brundige and Clark Lee, with the help of a Japanese newsman, located Tokyo Rose with her husband in their hotel, the Imperial. Brundige offered her $2,000 for an exclusive interview for “Cosmopolitan” magazine. She agreed and together they typed out 17 pages of notes. The editor of the magazine was so astounded that Brundige had made a deal with a traitor that he rejected the story. The notes were handed over to Lee, who wrote his own version of the story for the International News Service.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Archer – Coffeyville, KS; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Ronald Best (100) – Whangarei, NZ; RNZ Army # 280763, WWII

Robert Carman – Wheeling, WV; US Army, WWII, field artillery

Andrew Hooker – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, Vietnam, helicopter crew chief

Emil Kamp – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

Raymond Lane Sr. – Ashland, VA; US Air Force, Vietnam, Tech. Sgt. (Ret. 20 y.)

Roy Markon – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 88th Division, Purple Heart

Edward Salazar – Colton, CA; US Army, Vietnam, 1st Cavalry Division

Lawrence Taylor – Stevensville, MT; US Navy,WWII, PTO, corpsman

Leo Zmuda – Somerset, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

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4th of July – 1940’s Style +

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A 1940’s CELEBRATION WRAPPED AROUND A 1776 WAR SONG

HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!!

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Even children became involved.

HARK, hark the sound of war is heard,
And we must all attend;
Take up our arms and go with speed,
Our country to defend.

Our parent state has turned our foe,
Which fills our land with pain;
Her gallant ships, manned out for war,

Come thundering o’er the main.

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There’s Charleton, Howe and Douglas too,
And many thousand more,
May cross the sea, but all in vain,
Our rights we’ll ne’er give o’er.

Our pleasant homes they do invade,
Our property devour;
And all because we won’t submit
To their despotic power.

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Then let us go against our foe,
We’d better die than yield;
We and our sons are all undone,
If Britain wins the field.

Tories may dream of future joys,
But I am bold to say,
They’ll find themselves bound fast in chains,
If Britain wins the day.

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Husbands must leave their loving wives,
And sprightly youths attend,
Leave their sweethearts and risk their lives,
Their country to defend.

May they be heroes in the field,
Have heroes’ fame in store;
We pray the Lord to be their shield,
Where thundering cannons roar.

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Island of Broad Channel, NY - Smitty's hometown.

Island of Broad Channel, NY – Smitty’s hometown.

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Land and Flag that I love

Red Skelton’s Pledge of Allegiance!!  Very Impressive!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZBTyTWOZCM

From Doc & CJ at I Married an Angel.

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The USN Topside Brass Band entertained the public in Port Louis, Mauritius with New Orleans rhythms.

From: Mike Sinnot

From: Mike Sinnot

i284284747_72578Please remember that fireworks can also spark PTSD reactions in some of the wounded troops.  Be considerate. Thank you. 

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FOURTH OF JULY HUMOR ? – 

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FAREWELL SALUTES – 

Gerald Ackley – Kane, PA; US Army, WWII, 261 Infantry/65th Division, Sgt.

Thomas Bailey – Wilmington, DE; US Army, WWII, ETO, 65th Div. Chaplain

Willis McKinney – Morganton, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, piloteagle-flag

John Norkus Sr. – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO

Robert Poulin – New Bedford, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO, 10th Armored Division

Charles Robinson – Tulsa, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Paul Sandacz – Catonsville, MD; US Army, WWII, Engineer Corps

Wayne Twito – Bloomington, MN; USMC, WWII, Korea, pilot

Serina Vine – Berkley, CA; US Navy WAVE, WWII, radio intelligence

John Wilmott – Huntington, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot/ US Coast Guard & Navy, Korea, Vietnam

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Going Home

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Gradually, the men of the 11th Airborne Division would earn their points to be shipped back home and they would allow the fresh, green G.I.’s to take their place in the occupation of Japan.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

Everett (Smitty) Smith would return to Broad Channel, New York to restart his civilian life in February 1946. He gradually got to know Lillian Barrow during his morning rides on the bus, going to his job and he would chuckle whenever he related that story. Despite my mother’s protests, he would relate that he knew why Lillian was always on the same bus with him, but she was being coy. “I was just going to work myself,” my mother argued. Smitty would reply, “Then how do you explain that your job was in the opposite direction than the bus was going? You didn’t know that I was aware of that, did you?” No matter what the reason, they were married 20 September 1947 and I showed up nearly three years later.

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With many thanks to Matt Underwood, Editor of the “Voice” 11th Airborne Association, the ribbons were identified and an explanation of Smitty’s qualifications were explained:
Yellow-orange ribbon with the red, white and blue stripe is the Asian-Pacific Campaign
The PTO ribbon on the ribbon bar shows 3 stars, while the Philippine Liberation ribbon (all red with 2 even-width white and blue stripes in the center) show 2 stars and arrowheads with a slightly non-regulation preference and flair.
What is missing, but is in his records, is the ribbon for the Occupation of Japan. Mr. Underwood explained that many did not receive these as they had been shipped home before the ribbon supply arrived at the base.

The qualification and badges say that he was a primary front line combat infantryman, but his specialist rating (the “T” in the “T-5” rank) was probably because he was rated an Expert in the 37mm Tank Destroyer cannon.

Discharge

Discharge

Smitty’s discharge papers list four campaign stars for the PTO ribbon when most of the 187th Regiment only received three. The Bronze Arrowhead was for the invasion of Luzon, specifically for the 11th Airborne’s joint airborne and amphibious assault landings at Nasugbu Beach and Tagatay Ridge; both south of Manila on 31 January and 3 February 1945 respectfully.

I can honestly say that, as far as I am aware, my father had only one regret in his life and that would be leaving the service. Although my mother would have protested adamantly, he often told me that he should have stayed in the army.

Letter from Pres. Reagan

Letter from Pres. Reagan

Everett (Smitty) Smith passed away 14 May 1988, he was 73 years old. He left behind many who cared for and respected him, but very few who knew this story.

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Smitty and his mother, Anna

Smitty and his mother, Anna

Smitty is seen here at the corner of 9th Road and Cross Bay Blvd. in Broad Channel after returning home.

Researching

Researching

And, here we are in the present, trying to piece everything together. This is not the end of Smitty’s stories… we have yet to talk about the intelligence part in the war, the spies, and still more on the enemy.

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December 1945 – The story of the sword

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This was the Christmas card sent from Japan to Broad Channel, New York in December 1945. Anna Smith had been waiting to hear this news from her son Everett (Smitty) for over three years. On the back, it reads:

“Dear Mom:
This is the best Xmas card I’ve sent to you since getting in the army. I figured this would be what you have always been waiting to see, here it goes.

“I’m finally on my way, so don’t send any more mail.
Love, Everett
“P.S. I’ll keep you posted on my various stops.”

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Even though Smitty had earned his points to go home, he was still an NCO on General Swing’s staff and was required to finish out his duties as such. After going through combat in the South Pacific, it would be in peaceful occupational Japan where Smitty’s temper would get the better of him.

Non-nonchalantly going about his business at the headquarters of Camp Schimmelpfennig, Smitty just happened to glance through the glass partition that sealed off Gen. Swing’s office. Inside was an officer holding and admiring the Japanese sword that his commander intended to keep and bring home as a souvenir. Smitty didn’t think much of it at the time; he was busy and many people commented on the weapon. so he continued down the hallway. A short while later, the entire office could hear the general demanding to know what had become of his sword. It was gone.

My father didn’t think twice, this was his general. He went into the room and told Swing what he had witnessed. Without a second thought, the two men went to the other officer’s office, but neither the man or sword was there. The officer in question showed a few moments later. When the general explained why they were waiting for him, the officer became indignant and professed his innocence (just a tad too much). My father said the air of tension in the room became thick enough to use a machete on. This was when Smitty’s temper went out of control and with one right cross – sent the officer through his own glass partition.

Of course, this action made it necessary to bust Smitty back down to private, but he didn’t care about that. He was still furious that the sword was never returned. It all could have gone worse if the general had not been there or if he did not believe Smitty’s word. Smitty said it was worth being busted just to wipe the smirky grin off the officer’s face. The officer, I believe, was a replacement and had not seen much (if any) combat, just a blow-heart. Smitty later offered his two Japanese swords to General Swing, but he refused. My father didn’t believe the general would have taken the Emperor’s own sword as a replacement. I can clearly see my father’s face contort when he thought of the thief and he would say, “That know-nothing mattress salesman from Texas!” I’m sure it was for the best that the two men never met again stateside as civilians.

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Unfortunately, a similar incident occurred to my father. As he happily began packing to go home, Smitty noticed that an expensive set of carved ivory chop sticks he had purchased somehow had disappeared. They also were never recovered. (I had often wondered if the two incidents had been related, but I suppose we’ll never know.)

Everett A. Smith - aka "Pops" or "Smitty"

Everett A. Smith – aka “Pops” or “Smitty”

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Much can be said about General Joseph May Swing that I am very surprised no one had written his biography. He stood tall and lean with prematurely white hair and arresting blue eyes. The man had an instinct for command and left an impressive and formidable impression on all he met.

Swing was born on 28 February 1894 and graduated in the star-studded West Point class of 1915. His fellow classmates included Dwight D. Eisenhower and Generals Bradley, Beukema, Ryder, Irwin, McNarney and Van Fleet. Van Fleet had relieved General Ridgeway as commander of the Eighth Army, which included the 187th RCT during the Korean War.

Gen. Swing

Gen. Swing

Smitty Was Here

Miyajima Island

Miyajima Island

Being that Smitty so enjoyed taking in the sights of 1945 Japan and it is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, this post will continue with the brochures he brought home with him. Above is the Inland Sea and Miyajima Island that is approximately 45 minutes from Hiroshima; the entire island is considered a park being that two parks are actually on the island, The Omoto and the Momijidani, both famous for their cherry blossoms in spring and coloured leaves in autumn.

The Great Torii

The Great Torii

The Great Torii (52′ tall [16 metres]) is the red religious structure within the bay is from the 16th century. The earlier one had been destroyed by a typhoon. The Itsukushima Shrine has stone lanterns that remain lighted throughout the night. Senjokaku is the hall of a thousand mats and beside the shrine is a hall filled with countless rice ladles offered by worshipers. There is a five-storied pagoda (100 feet high) for Buddha close by and in the Omoto Park is a two-storied pagoda built by “Hidari-Jingoro” an ancient famous artist.

photos from inside the Miyajima Hotel brochure

photos from inside the Miyajima Hotel brochure

The center photo showing a patio, Smitty indicated that that was where they ate. And the circle to the right, dad wrote, “Damn good fishing and crabbing here.” It seems you can’t even take the Broad Channel, NY fisherman out of the soldier.

same brochure

same brochure

At the bottom picture here, Smitty wrote, “I slept here in a room like this.” On the right-hand side of the page is written, “I managed to get behind the bar at this place.” (Can’t take the bartender out of the trooper either, I suppose.) If any reader is capable of translating any of the Japanese writing in these posts, please do so. I have wondered for many years what they meant.

Gamagori Hotel

Gamagori Hotel

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At the Gamagori Hotel, above the bottom-left photo is written, “Good Food. Chef here studied under a Frenchman. Boy was the food tasty.” The right-hand photo has, “Fishing good here.”

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On this page of the Gamagori brochure, Smitty marked on the center diagram where his general stayed. (If viewing is a problem, please click on the photo to enlarge.) The bottom-left photo is marked, “Had a room like this at this place.”

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This brochure is entirely in Japanese and therefore unable to give the reader a clue as to where it was or still is located.

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KILROY WAS HERE!

KILROY WAS HERE!

And so was “SMITTY”!!

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Updated News-

Yank magazine Sept. 1945 (notice the helmet stenciling)

Yank magazine Sept. 1945 (notice the helmet stenciling)

Some of my friends who visit often might remember this cover of Yanks magazine with William Carlisle , of the 11th A/B on the cover. Koji of http://p47koji.wordpress.com notified me that he found a William and Norma Carlisle in Chalmers, IN. I sent a note to inquire and only received a reply two days ago.

Hello! So nice of you to write, Bob would have been pleased. The picture on the cover of the Yank magazine is William Robert Carlisle, my husband. I’m sure he could have told you stories of the 11th Air Borne. I’m Mrs. Norma Carlisle, Bob’s wife. I’m sorry to tell you that Bob passed away on Dec. 12 – 1997. I miss him! Hope you and yours are enjoying the Golden Years! God Bless, Norma

I was so disappointed to discover that we had lost yet another trooper’s tales of the era and a little taken back to see that He passed on what would have been my father’s 83rd birthday. Another Farewell Salute is in order.

With many thanks to Josh, we now have a link to the war memorial that honors the 11th Airborne using Mr Carlisle’s photo as a model.
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/56306307

http://www.warmemorialhq.org/cpg/thumbnails.php?album=520

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I am pleased to announce that Judy of http://greatestgenerationlessons.wordpress.com has invited me back for another guest post next Tuesday, 14 May. I touched on the lighter side of home life during the WWII era with an article entitled “There’ll Be A Hot Time…” Come – join us!!

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From Camp MacKall to Tokyo…

11th A/B guarding the New Grand Hotel

11th A/B guarding the New Grand Hotel

Just as General Douglas MacArthur said to Gen. Robert Eichelberger that it was a long road to Tokyo, so it was for Smitty. Yes, the stretch from Broad Channel to Camp MacKall and finally Atsugi Airfield was a long and arduous road, but here, the 11th Airborne Division arrives in Japan to begin the Occupation and to help start the rebuilding of a country.

With the initial arrival of the division, rarely was a female between the ages of 8 and 70 seen on the streets. The Japanese had heard their government’s propaganda for years as to the American looting and raping, so they were understandably afraid of the conquering troops. But many were confused about the peaceful attitude of the soldiers and a member of the 511th regiment was stopped one day by a Japanese officer, he asked, “Why don’t you rape, loot and burn? We would.” The trooper answered that Americans just don’t do that.

MacArthur exiting his plane, the "Bataan"

MacArthur exiting his plane, the “Bataan”

With the New Grand Hotel surrounded by troopers, the manager and his staff bowed to Gen. MacArthur and his party and directed them to their suites. Tired and hungry from their long flight, the Americans went to the dining room and were served steak dinners. Gen. Whitney remembered wanting to take MacArthur’s plate to make certain it hadn’t been poisoned. When he told the general his concern and intentions, MacArthur laughed and said, “No one can live forever.” The hotel would become his headquarters and later that evening, MacArthur told his staff, “Boys, this is the greatest adventure in military history. Here we sit in the enemy’s country with only a handful of troops, looking down the throats of 19 fully armed divisions and 70 million fanatics. One false move and the Alamo would look like a Sunday school picnic.” (The fact that nothing happened, I believe, said quite a bit about Japanese integrity.)

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The division Command Post was moved from the Atsugi Airfield to the Sun Oil Compound in Yokohama. This compound had about 15 American-style homes complete with furniture, dishes, silver and linens. The senior staff officers were not so fortunate. They were put up in warehouses on the docks, often without heat.

Aerial view of Atsugi Airfield, 1945

Aerial view of Atsugi Airfield, 1945

In the Philippines, the Japanese emissary General Kawabe, finished their surrender talks. Kawabe’s aide, Second Lt. Sada Otake, introduced himself to a Nisei G.I. standing guard outside. The guard, in response, said his name was Takamura. Otake said he had married a Nisei by the same name and did he had a sister named Etsuyo? The guard nodded and Otake said, “I’m her husband. Look me up in Japan.” And the brothers-in-law shook hands. (Small world or fate?)

Smitty, 2nd from the right

Smitty, 2nd from the right

On the reverse side of this photo, Smitty wrote: “A picture of the General”s gang taken in the living room at Yokohama. Reading left to right – baker, first cook, Mess Sergeant, me headwaiter and on the floor, second cook. Those glasses you can see were always full. You can’t beat this Japanese beer.

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On 1 September, newsmen Harry Brundige and Clark Lee, with the help of a Japanese newsman, located Tokyo Rose with her husband in their hotel, the Imperial. Brundige offered her $2,000 for an exclusive interview for “Cosmopolitan” magazine. She agreed and together they typed out 17 pages of notes. The editor of the magazine was so astounded that Brundige had made a deal with a traitor that he rejected the story. The notes were handed over to Lee, who wrote his own version of the story for the International News Service.

Smitty 2d from the left

Smitty 2d from the left

On the reverse side of this photo, Smitty wrote: “Another picture of the gang. This was taken while in Yokohama at the Oil Co’s homes. This was really the best we ever had. Private ten-room home with all the trimmings.”

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RESOURCES: “The Rising Sun,” by John Toland; “Rakkasans” and “Angels” by E.M. Flanagan; flightknights.net and Everett’s scrapbook.

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NEXT GUEST POST – on Tuesday, April 9th at Greatest Generation Lessons – check it out and maybe drop a line to comment – good or bad, Judy and I are inquiring minds and we want to know.

Next Guest Post - "It was hard to keep the good times rollin'"

Next Guest Post – “It was hard to keep the good times rollin'”

The ’40s – Springtime & Easter

With spring comes new beginnings for Nature and my renewed best wishes for all of my readers and guests. I sincerely hope these cards and advertisements from the 1940’s bring a fond memory or two or just a smile. (For those of you in the southern hemisphere – I hope you enjoy a pleasant autumn and peaceful winter.) Thank you for your continued readership.

Texas Easter bonnets, 1942

Texas Easter bonnets, 1942

1940's Easter fashion

1940’s Easter fashion

Smitty's hometown memories

Smitty’s hometown memories

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1940's seder dinner

1940’s seder dinner

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In other areas –wwii-sidney-kotler-easter-card

Polish 2nd Corps, Quastina, Palestine, Easter 1942

Polish 2nd Corps, Quastina, Palestine, Easter 1942

Sgt. George A. Crist, 1st cook, US 8th AF/96th Bombardment Group, teaches British lads the art of Easter egg decorating.

Sgt. George A. Crist, 1st cook, US 8th AF/96th Bombardment Group, teaches British lads the art of Easter egg decorating.

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EASTER HUMOR – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Abelardo Alinaya – Born:Cavite, P.I./Oxnard, CA; US Navy (ret. 20 years), Vietnam, Bronze Star, Silver Star

Thomas Anderson – Matamata, NZ; LAC Air Force # 3021698AS YOU SLEEP

John Fuller Jr. – Wasilla, AK; USMC, WWII, PTO, Silver Star

Kerry Hunter Jr. – Pekin, IL; US Navy, Desert Shield, Desert Storm

Stanley Lloyd – Long Beach, NY; US Navy, Lt-JG, WWII

George Mosher – Port Huron, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 94th Infantry, Purple Heart

Robert Richard – Fitchburg, MA; US Army, Korea

W. LaVerne Strader – Willis, TX; US Army Air Corps WAC, WWII, [w/ 4 sisters & 4 brothers – all military WWII]

Russell Tucker – Saraland, AL; US Army (Ret.), Captain, WWII/US Air Force, Korea, pilot

David Watkins – Colorado Spring, CO; US Army, Vietnam

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Personal note – I received my Easter present yesterday, my book, “Three Came Home” by Agnes Keith, looking forward to that after I finish “For Crew and Country” by John Wukovits, which I only just started.

Also – A HAPPY SHOUT OUT  to all the Arkansas veterans!

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Tagatay Ridge, Luzon

Manila Hotel Annex, Dec. 1945
G. Mountz collection

Manila Hotel Annex, Dec. 1945
G. Mountz collection


By 1300 hours on 3 February 1945, General Swing had most of his division back together and he made the Manila Hotel Annex his CP (Command Post). The beautiful hotel seen in the picture above (10 months later) had been looted and ransacked long before the Americans got there, but it would suit their purposes. Frank Smith, a reporter for the Chicago Times reported that Gen. Eichelberger stated at the Annex, “The 11th Airborne Division is the fightingest goddamn troops I ever saw.”

Highway 17 would now begin to turn into a two lane concrete road. This seemed like a good sign for beating Gen. Krueger to Manila, but the 11th was short on trucks and the fuel to move them. Gasoline arrived on the 4th, delivered by ten C-47s. Forward scouts reported that the road was fairly safe as far as Imus and the 511th regiment moved out.

The 188th and the 1st of the 187th finished clearing out Shorty Ridge of the enemy and then they too moved toward Manila. It was here that Swing altered the missions of some of his units. General Hildebrand of the 187th was told to secure the main supply route (MSR) and was given control of the thousands of guerrillas of Batangas and Cavite provinces. Controlling and organizing the guerrillas was a difficult operation as they would remain loyal to whoever ran what section of which province. Coordinating their missions and tracking them and getting them supplies was extremely tedious in comparison to an Army unit. The guerrilla reports were not always reliable either. Eichelberger, in one, was told that Manila was burning to the ground. The general looked out his window and could see for himself that there was one small trail of smoke. Active patrols of the 187th, though shorthanded, drove the Japanese farther back into the mountains as they continued to move to an area south of the capital city.

On the 4th, the calvary, under Brig. Gen. Chase, arrived to release the 510 prisoners of Santo Tomas and Bilibid prison. Also on this date, General MacArthur released a communique that Manila was free and in our hands, BUT as was his nature, he was a bit hasty in his reports. The Sixth Army coming down from the north and the Eighth Army (which was actually the 11th A/B) approaching from the south, had much work to do ahead of them. The 187th set their sights on the airfields and the areas where the Japanese manned the AA (anti-aircraft – also known as ack-ack) guns.

the old Bilibid Prison 1945

the old Bilibid Prison 1945

U.S. POWs behind Santo Tomas

U.S. POWs behind Santo Tomas

Getting close to shore & Letter VI

Oro Bay, New Guinea

Oro Bay, New Guinea

Just as Smitty expected, their destination was quickly coming up over the horizon.  The fleeting glimpse of solid land, Milne Bay, New Guinea was only a short stopover for water (such a disappointment) and they continued their cruise north.  The 11th came upon the humming waterfront of ships manipulating to unload troops, supplies and equipment in Oro Bay.  They witnessed a paradoxal view of organized chaos.  Down the rope ladders they went to the beach taxis, DUKWs (2 ton amphibious vehicles commonly called “ducks”) and onward to the awaiting shoreline.  At latitude 8*52’60S and longitude 148*30’0E would be the first step for many a G.I. on foreign soil.  On the beach, the heat seemed to slam into the troopers and their uniforms became soaked within minutes, but they proceeded on to the Buna-Dobodura area to make their new base camp.

As written in the Australian newspaper, The Canberra Times, 1944: “New Guinea was a country out of the Stone Age that was whizzed through the centuries.  A country that had previously known only natives, grass huts and raw nature has been blitzed from all angles with every piece of equipment known to modern engineering and warfare … the skies are as busy as a beehive with bombers and fighters and transports.”

The 11th had entered the jungles amidst torrential rains, mud and heat.  On their first day, the meals were prepared in Australian chuck wagons and the idea of fresh food would be a distant memory from the past.  From here on out, everything would be canned, dehydrated or cured.  Having come from the fishing town of Broad Channel, Smitty was accustom to eating seafood and was even teased in boot camp for liking the creamed chipped beef on toast (more commonly known as -“shit-on-a-shingle”), but those days were long gone.  I remember him saying more than once, “It wasn’t that the powdered eggs tasted bad — they just didn’t have a taste.”

Although General Swing had contracted malaria and was hospitalized when his men sipped out of the U.S., he boarded a plane for Brisbane, Australia to attend a meeting with Gen. MacArthur.  Swing was briefed on the immediate plans for his command and was reminded that the 11th A/B was considered a “secret weapon.”  Swing managed to be in Dobodura in time to meet his men as they disembarked.

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Letter VI                                       Land Ho!  On the port side

Dear Mom,  Well, land is in sight so I’ll just hold off this letter awhile until I can find out for sure if this is what we have all been waiting for or just another island….  Yep and yes siree this is finally it and from what I have seen up to now it is going to prove not only an interesting place, but picturesque as well.  Don’t know yet if we can say where we are, so I won’t attempt it.

Everyone is standing along the railings with glasses while those less fortunate are straining their eyes trying to get a glimpse of our new and strange surroundings.  It is all very exciting and thrilling and must say one gets sort of feeling down deep that is hard to explain.  It might be that the sight of this long awaited place has sub-consciously awaked us to the fact that we are one heck of a long way from home.

Now that we are here in a port with a chance of possibly getting this letter mailed, I’ll close this letter and mail it as I know how anxious you must be about me and would like to hear from me as soon as possible.  I promise you though that I will continue to write my letters like this and would like you to save them all so that when I get back I will have something to read back on and maybe remember.

I did finally get around to  part of this was censored so don’t worry any on that account.  I know how you worry about things like that so thought it best that you know.  the next two lines were also censored  That is just about all there is for now, so with regards to all and hoping this letter is the answer to your nightly prayers, I’ll close with all my love and millions of hugs and kisses.

Your son,  Everett

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New Guinea 10/24/44

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PERSONAL NOTE – If any photo image is too small to see, click on that image to enlarge.  In future letters you will see the dry humor my father had.  I can’t wait to get to those.

Airborne & Camp MacKall

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