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For D-Day, Two survivors sing a WWII foxhole song …

Bill and Babe

Bill and Babe

Two of the real life Band of Brothers, best friends Wild Bill Guarnere and Babe Heffron, sing “Mares Eat Oats.”  {My own mother sang this so often, it was impossible NOT to learn the song!]

William J. Guarnere (April 28th 1923 – March 8th 2014) and Edward James “Babe” Heffron (May 16th 1923 – December 1st 2013) were United States Army soldiers who fought in World War II with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

Easy Company, D-Day

Easy Company, D-Day

Guarnere was portrayed in the 2001 HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Frank John Hughes, and Heffron was portrayed by Robin Laing.

“Mairzy Doats” is a novelty song composed in 1943, by Milton Drake, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston. It was first played on radio station WOR, New York, by Al Trace and his Silly Symphonists. The song made the pop charts several times, with a version by the Merry Macs reaching No. 1 in March 1944. The song was also a number one sheet music seller, with sales of over 450,000 within the first three weeks of release.

Easy Company's route.

Easy Company’s route.

The song’s refrain, as written on the sheet music, seems meaningless:

“Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wooden shoe!”

However, the lyrics of the bridge provide a clue:

“If the words sound queer and funny to your ear, a little bit jumbled and jivey,
Sing ‘Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy’”.

This hint allows the ear to translate the final line as “[a] kid’ll eat ivy, too, wouldn’t you?”

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Other D-Day posts of Pacific Paratrooper:

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/d-day/

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/june-6-d-day-in-art-2/

First Hand Accounts of ‘The Longest Day’ 

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/intermission-stories-20/

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/intermission-stories-21/

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/intermission-stories-21/

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/intermission-stories-23/

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/intermission-stories-24/

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/intermission-stories-25/

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Christine Armstrong – Twentynine Palms, CA; US Army, 1st Cavalry Div., Spec., Texas flood

Brandon Banner – Milton, FL; US Army, 1st Cavalry, Pfc., Texas floodMemorial Day Image

Howard Brisbane – New Orleans, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pharmacist’s mate, 8th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Joseph Stanley Cikan – Brookfield, IL; US Air Force, MSgt.

Miguel Colonvasquez – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, Iraq, Afghanistan, 1st Cavalry, SSgt. Texas flood

Isaac Deleon – San Angelo, TX; US Army, 1st Cavalry, Pvt., Texas flood

Zachery Fuller – Palmetto, FL; US Army, 1st Cavalry, Pfc., Texas flood

Eddy Gates – Dunn, NC; US Army, 1st Cavalry, Pvt., Texas flood

Tysheena James – Jersey City, NJ; US Army, 1st Cavalry, Pvt., Texas flood

Jeff Kuss – Durango, CO; USMC, Afghanistan, Blue Angels, Captain, pilot

Mary Elizabeth Palmer – Little Rock, AK; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Mitchel Winey – Valparaiso, IN; US Army West Point Cadet, 1st Regiment, Texas flood

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D-Day

D-Day from Dixon

Announcement
(By The Associated Press)

A dramatic 10-second interval preceded the official announcement today that the invasion had begun.

Over a trans-Atlantic radio-telephone hookup direct from supreme headquarters, allied expeditionary force, to all major press services, and broadcasting networks in the United States came the voice of Col. R. Ernest Dupuy, Gen. Eisenhower’s public relations officer.

“This is supreme headquarters, allied expeditionary force,” Dupuy said. “The text of communique No. 1 will be released to the press and radio of the United States in 10 seconds.”

Then the seconds were counted off — one, two, three . . . and finally ten.

“Under the command of General Eisenhower,” slowly read Col. Dupuy, “allied naval forces supported by strong air forces began landing allied armies this morning on the northern coast of France.”

Thus, officially, the world was told the news which it had been awaiting for months.

Dupuy began reading in Britain at exactly 7:32 a.m., Greenwich Meridian time (2:32 Central War Time.)

D-Day memorial, Beford, VA

D-Day memorial, Beford, VA

Chronology
(By The Associated Press)

12:37 a.m. (Eastern War Time) German news agency Transocean broadcasts that allied invasion has begun.

1:00 a.m. German DNB agency broadcasts Le Havre being bombarded violently and German naval craft fighting allied landing craft off coast.

1:56 a.m. Calais radio says “This is D-Day.”

2:31 a.m. Spokesman from Gen. Eisenhower in broadcast from London warns people of European invasion coast that “a new phase of the allied air offensive has begun” and orders them to move 22 miles inland.

3:29 a.m. Berlin radio says “first center of gravity is Caen”, big city at base of Normandy peninsula.

3:32 a.m. supreme headquarters, allied expeditionary force, announces that allied armies began landing on northern coast of France.

3:40 a.m. Shaef announces Gen. Sir Barnard L. Montgomery is in command of assault army comprising American, British, Canadians.

Ground force landing corridors, D-Day

Ground force landing corridors, D-Day

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1stLt. Adrian J. Salvas, US Signal Corps, One of the many....

1stLt. Adrian J. Salvas, US Signal Corps,
One of the many….

Note of interest while you read D-Day stories –

 Five hundred 35-millimeter cameras were mounted on the fronts of ships and tanks rigged to operate without manual supervision and another 50 were were placed in the first wave of landing craft.  Dozens of American cameramen and almost 200 still photographers were assigned throughout the invasion.  Many of these men found themselves under enemy fire while they were manning their cameras.

Many of the cameras were destroyed or the film proved too grainy to be of any use, but 72 hours after D-Day started, most of the retrievable film from the US Field Unit, the Signal Corps, Coast Guard, the Canadian Army and British, were sent to London.  Most of the color film was reverted to black and white for newsreels.

Let us remember these men too, as we look at the pictures this weekend that the cameramen made possible!

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Political Cartoons for D-Day – 

He knew it was coming....

He knew it was coming…

Poised for attack!!

Poised for attack!!

Farewell Salutes – 

Smith Boyer – Weatherly, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Chief Petty Officer (Ret. 20 yrs)

The D-Day invasion of France during World War II was a monumental point in history.  The effort, for Americans, came with a heavy price – about 2,500 soldiers were killed (and approximately 3,000 Allied troops lost their lives).

The American Cemetery in France – The D-Day invasion of France during World War II was a monumental point in history. The effort, for Americans, came with a heavy price – about 2,500 soldiers were killed (and approximately 3,000 Allied troops lost their lives).

James Cozad – Glenview, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Higgins boat driver

Harold Higgins – Omaha, NE; US Navy, WWII

Sam Lee – WPalm, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 6th Infantry Reg/1st Armored Div., Bronze Star

Bobby Moon – Dickson, TN; US Army Air Corps, PTO, HQS/127th Engineers

Charles Nugent – Lake Worth, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Reginald Quirt (100) – Lindsay, CAN, RC Army, WWII

Robert Renz – Sterling, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot/Korea & Vietnam, Major (Ret.)

Norman Robson – Watkins Glen, NY & FL; US Army, WWII, PTO, Corps of Engineers

Brice Schilling – Reedsville, PA; US Army Air Corps, PTO, Artillery, 11th A/B

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Intermission Stories (25)

Martin Painkin

Martin Painkin

Martin Painkin

The U.S. Army Ranger

Martin Painkin was born in the Bronx, New York and joined the National Guard in the fall of 1940 – he was 15 years old.  Nearly four years later, he landed in the middle of a massive invasion.  “It was a slaughter.  It really was,” said Martin.

As a 19-year-old Private First Class with the 2nd Ranger Battalion, Painkin landed at Pointe du Hoc, the cliff promontory between Utah and Omaha Beaches, at 0711 hours – 41 minutes after H-Hour on the Longest Day.  The Germans welcomed the Rangers to Normandy with concentrated rifle, artillery and rocket fire.  For many of the men, the assault was over before it began.

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“As soon as we hit the beach and they dropped the ramp, bam!  They were dead,” said Painkin.  “All around you there were burning ships and a lot of guys floating face down.  Dead.  Kaput.”  The Rangers that made it to shore alive and uninjured flattened themselves on the beach.  “You lay in the sand and you were too scared to move.  In front of you , you would see little dots in the sand, and those were machine-gun bullets.”

By noon, the survivors scaled the 100-foot cliffs before them and their commander transmitted a message, “Have reached the Pointe du Hoc.  Completed. Need ammunition and reinforcements.   Heavy losses.” (No reinforcements were available.)

Rangers demonstrate the D-Day climb at Pointe du Hoc

Rangers demonstrate the D-Day climb at Pointe du Hoc

“The lucky ones, we made it,” Martin added.  “Whenever we ran into something tough   , they’d say, ‘Send in the Rangers!’  We were not supermen, as they thought we were.  We were maybe just a little better trained.”

For various actions throughout 1944, Martin Painkin was awarded more than a dozen medals for valor: Silver Star, Bronze Star, British Military Medal of Valor, Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart, and Croix de Guerre to name a few.  (“Boy, oh boy, I must have been some idiot,” Martin said.)

Painkin’s wife, Barbara, also at the interview, began to read from her husband’s Silver Star citation:

On numerous occasions he purposely exposed himself to well-aimed enemy fire in order to determine the enemy positions.  After locating these positions, he boldly attacked and demolished them.  He continued for three days to act with utter disregard for his own safety as he hunted and destroyed numerous snipers and machine-gunners.”

“You know something?” Painkin said.  “That shows we were idiots.  I mean, who the hell would do that?  A lot of these things we did without even thinking.  I tell you one thing – I wouldn’t do it again.”

Bill Mauldin's version

Bill Mauldin’s version

Martine Painkin gave this interview to Staci Sturrock, of the Palm Beach Post, from his wheelchair where he now lives at the VA Community Center, Riviera Beach, Florida.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current veteran news – 

The attributes we so love in the Greatest Generation continue in many of our people today.  One such example is the stamina and endurance of Sgt. Cory Remsburg, 75th Ranger Regiment.  While on his 10th deployment, was paces behind a fellow soldier as he stepped on a mine.  Cory was transported, while in a coma, but still alive.  After 5 years, various VA hospitals, numerous doctors and operations, countless hours of rehap and the efforts of an army of caregivers – including his father, stepmother and service dog, Leo – Sgt. Cory Remsburg managed to stand in front of the U.S. Congress and give a thumbs-up!

 Army Ranger 1st Class Sgt. Remsburg

Army Ranger 1st Class Sgt. Remsburg

Notice the sign above the mirror

Notice the sign above the mirror

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Farewell Salutes – 

Carl Booker – Richardson, TX; US Army, Sgt., WWIIlest-we-forget

James Caesar – Mill Creek, WA; US Army, Lt.Colonel (Ret.), Vietnam 2 tours

Gerald Dederick Jr. – Hackensack, NJ & Gulf Stream, FL; US Navy, WWII, Medical corps, USS Dover & land hospitals

Norman Eldeer – Calgary, Can.; Canadian & UN forces, Major 35 years

Joe Moore – Brookfield, MO; US Army (Ret. 21 years), WWII & Korea

Donald Prindiville – Lombard, IL; US Army, WWII

Athol White – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4215809, WWII

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Intermission Stories (24)

Charlie Meyer (left) and his brother Robert (right), both US airmen.

Charlie Meyer (left) and his brother Robert (right), both US airmen.

Charlie Meyer

Bombardier, US Army Air Corps

Charlie Meyer, of Hoboken, New Jersey, became a B-17 bombardier  for the 388th Bomber Group and made 34 mission flights over France and Germany in 1944 – this included D-Day.

The B-17 crew received strict orders before departing Knettishall, England, in the predawn darkness of that famous day: “No aborts on this mission.”  Bombardier Meyer’s target – the beaches of Normandy.  His timing?  Just before the Allied troops went ashore.

Perched on the nose cone of a B-17, Meyer typically enjoyed the best view the Flying Fortress had to offer.  “Beautiful. Up, down, sideways and all around,” he said in his interview with Staci Sturrock.  But as his plane crossed the English Channel early that morning, “you couldn’t see a damn thing because of the cloud coverage.”

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Their second time out, the B-17s bombed farther inland.  “This time, the clouds had cleared, giving us a panoramic view of this awesome undertaking.  A bridge of ships across the Channel.”

Although he wasn’t able to clearly see the troops on the beaches of Normandy – “They were ants on the ground” – it wasn’t hard for Charlie to imagine what they endured.  “It must have been hell.  I wonder how those guys lived through D-Day.  I don’t know if I would have made it on the ground, truthfully.”

But World War II was a true team effort, unlike any military conflict since.  “Our war was a lot different because 100 % of the people were in it.  Everybody was involved.  Most of us who lived it all these years lived it quietly.  “I’m not a her.  Somebody said, ‘Do it,’ and we did it.”  Meyer ended up flying 34 missions.

Charlie Meyer is 95 years old now, resides in Greenacres, Florida and, as you can see – he can still fit in his uniform!

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Click on images to enlarge.

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Personal note –

I would like to know your opinion of my inserting more humor into the posts to ease the constant tension of war (similar to what the soldiers themselves did at the time.)  Should it be a small joke, picture, postcard or cartoon per each post or a post by itself – say, after every 5 or 6 posts?  Should the humor be above or below the Farewell Salutes?  Will this be making the posts far too long and you’ll get bored from all the reading?  You do  have a say in how you read this site – so voice your opinion!!

Being as this post was about the Army Air Corps – one of these might have been used ___________

91ac6afb26f5b93c085ab3c3781992c4

The new "Learn-as-you-Go" pilot training method.

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

We’ll be back into WWII after July 4th and if I don’t hear from you – – Well, do you REALLY want to leave me to my own resources? (Actually, I will be getting some assistance from Chris @ his site.)

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edward Adrian – Lake Stevens, WA; US Navy, WWII, USS Long Island7388b_To-Honor-Ones-Country-Wreath

Michelle Bates – Royal Palm Beach, FL; US Air Force, 8 years

Thomas Bigley – Washington DC; US Navy, ViceAdmiral (Ret. 38 yrs.), submarine & surface vessels

Marvin Etter – Chambersburg, PA; USMC, WWII & Korea

James Honey – Arkansas; US Army, Korea

Robert Montgomery – Dargaville, NZ; Regimental # 625875, WWII

Frank Petrone – Stonington, RI; US Army, Korea, 2 Bronze Stars

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Intermission Stories (23)

John Edmunds, RCN

John Edmunds, RCN

John Edmunds

The Canadian Seaman

On D-Day, John Edmunds, from Burlington, Ontario, 19 years old, was in the Royal Canadian Navy assigned as a helmsman on an escort ship leading cargo vessels to Normandy.  Aboard the HMCS Drumheller, he was headed for Juno Beach.

Seaman Edmunds stood at the helm of his ship as his captain barked down orders from the bridge, “Port, two degrees!”  John sailed the Flower-class corvette vessel in circles around a convoy of 15 cargo ships for the length of their three-hour voyage across the English Channel.  And then – he looked toward the approaching shore.  The reality of what laid ahead of the Allies came into view, “We looked out across the English Channel and whole horizon was ships, thousands of ships.”

HMCS Drumheller

HMCS Drumheller

Men lined the deck with binoculars, searching the seas for German submarines.  Edmunds had already seen the U-boats sink 12 of the 60 ships the Drumheller had helped across the Atlantic in the first days of the war; men screaming for help in the open water. (“You heard the yelling and the screaming, but we couldn’t stop,” Edmunds recalled.)

Quickly there was a sound, unforgettable, advancing like a wave; a heartbeat of cannon fire like two tractor-trailers continually colliding head-on in the distance.  Allied destroyers, their warring sides turned toward the French shore, strafed the hills beyond the beaches for German concrete bunkers.  The Germans answered in a roaring rhythm as the Allied troops landed on the shores in bloody waves.

John Edmunds, (center), during the war years

John Edmunds, (center), during the war years

Edmunds had never heard or seen anything like it.  “When the tide came out, there were bodies floating everywhere.  Unbelievable.”  Cannon fire burst overhead as the Drumheller made way for the 15 cargo vessels to sail near shore, perilously close to scraping bottom.  He watched the Liberty ships line up bow-to-stern, parallel to the shore to form a breakwater, an artificial harbor where troop-carrying ships could land and unload their tanks, men and supplies.

Then, these ships would scuttle themselves into a permanent position; some of them remain there rusting off the shores of Normandy to this day.  The Drumheller was ordered to escort supply ships throughout the invasion.  The crew slept in 4-hour shifts, ready to drop depth charges off the back to blast any German subs.  They did not set foot on land for 42 days.  “You sort of went stir crazy,” Edmund said.

HMCS Drumheller, pix taken by Charles Sadler, RCNVR, 1st Class Stoker, while serving on the HMCS Columbia.

HMCS Drumheller, pix taken by Charles Sadler, RCNVR, 1st Class Stoker, while serving on the HMCS Columbia.

John Edmunds is now 89 years old, retired and living in West Palm Beach, Florida.  His memories were given to Carlos Frias of The Palm Beach Post for print.

For further information on the HMCS Drumheller. 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Dale Anderson – Toledo, OH; US Army Air Force, Col. (Ret.), WWII, ETO

From, Anna,  Maiden On The Midway

From, Anna, Maiden On The Midway

F.William Bauers Jr. – Washington DC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot – 68 missions

Leslie Graves – Groton, NY; US Navy, Lt. JG; pilot instructor, WWII

Marshall Johnson – Woburn, MA; US Army, Korea

Hugh McKinnon – New Zealand; RNZ Army # 462352

Joseph Melarango – Cleveland, OH; US Navy, WWII

Raymond Palumbo – Hillside, IL; US Army, Korea

Thomas Seigle – Knoxville, TN & Sarasota, FL; US Navy, Pilot, Vietnam

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Intermission Stories (22)

19 year old sailor, Sol Kaslow

19 year old sailor, Sol Kaslow

Sol Kaslow

PT Boat Quartermaster

On D-Day, Sol Kaslow was a 19 year-old from Philadelphia serving on PT 508, dubbed the “Mairzey Doats” (after the popular 1943 song) as a quartermaster.  Hours before their most important mission began, the 13 men aboard Pt 508 bowed their heads and talked to God.  “It was not a crew that normally prayed.  We just didn’t do it,” said Kaslow.  “But at the time, prayer seemed appropriate.”

The small, but fast vessels of the US Navy’s Mosquito Fleet shouldered a mighty D-Day mission.  Prior to the invasion, the highly maneuverable, mahogany-hulled boats protected slow-moving minesweepers as they cleared a broad sea lane from British naval bases to the French coast.

The crew of PT 508

The crew of PT 508

Once D-Day commenced, the PTs performed water rescues, transported personnel and maintained a picket line to guard the western flank of Utah Beach’s convoy unloading area.  “We all knew if this was successful, it would change the whole scheme of things.  And we knew of the dangers involved.”

On the morning of  8 June, death pulled alongside PT 508.  Northwest of Utah Beach, a series of German mines – one! – two! – three! – dealt fatal blows to the escort destroyer USS Rich.  Kaslow said, “Absolutely split in half.”  His commanding officer would later write: “The explosion was terrific, and men were tossed injured and screaming into the water…  The whole ocean trembled and our boat jumped high in the air.”

PT 508 rushed in to aid the disabled destroyer, plucking survivors from its detached stern section, while other PT boats saved sailors from the rest of the smoking wreckage.  The blasts killed roughly 90 men – almost half of those aboard and injured another 73.

Kaslow and his WWII sailor hat.

Kaslow and his WWII sailor hat.

Fortunately, the crew of PT 508 pulled through D-Day, and the weeks that followed on the picket line, unharmed.  Kaslow marked the invasion’s 55th anniversary with a trip to Normandy.  He was taken back by the sensations and perceptions that his memory churned up.  “I was struck by the smell.  It was the dead bodies, and the ammunition had a certain odor.  And that stayed in my mind.  You think you would forget that after 55 years, but you don’t.”

Sol Kaslow, now 89, resides in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and gave this story to the Palm Beach Post for their special D-Day section.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charles Alpers – Hopewell Junction, NY; US Army, WWII

Robert Cruickshank – Calgary, Alberta, Can; RC Navy (19 yrs.), Lt., HMCS Micmac, Skeena & Mew Waterford 

Rodolpho Hernandez – Fayetteville, NC; US Army, G Co./187th RCT, Korea

Lois Mowen – Springfield, OH; US Air Force, cryptologisteaglesnelling

Donald Morrison – San Antonio, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam

Edward O’Neill – Papatoetoe, NZ; RNZ Army# 462352

Clyde Parkis – Vero Beach, FL; US Navy

Edward Ptak – BellaVista, AR; US Army, Sgt., Korea & Vietnam

William Stone III – Reston, VA; US Army, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 28 yrs.), Korea & Vietnam

James Walker – Albany, NZ; RNZ Navy # 14224

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Intermission Stories (21)

!8 yer old, Walter Gumula

!8 yer old, Walter Gumula

Walter Gumula

D-Day Frogman

Walter Gumula was a state champion swimmer from Hammond, Indiana and became an 18 year old frogman among the first waves to land on Omaha Beach.  He recounted his experience as:

Their mission was a secret, so Walter and his 6-man crew boarded a British freighter, wearing Army green instead of Navy blue.  The idea was to fool the Nazis into thinking they were regular troops instead of frogmen, the highly-trained underwater demolition experts known today as Navy SEALS.  Their orders were to blow up the fearsome German fortifications on Omaha beach.  But as soon as they boarded the landing craft, the plan went horribly wrong.

“When we got close to the beach, a shell hit the front door and went through the boat.  It went right through a bunch of guys in my unit.  One guy lost an arm and another lost his eyes.  They were all wounded including our ensign.  Anyone who stood up in the boat got hit because machine-gun fire was coming through the open door.  Bullets were flying in.  The boat was drifting.  As soon as it turned away from the beach, those who could, went over the side.”

For months they had trained together closely in Fort Pierce, FL, expecting to assault Pacific beaches.  Now, only Gumula was left on a cold and bloody French beach.  “When I got to the beach, I was all alone, ” he said.  With his crew gone, along with his mission, Walter followed 8 Army engineers up a rope ladder to the top of a cliff where they were trying to take out a German position.

Walter Gumula, today

Walter Gumula, today

They gave him a Browning automatic rifle and told him to lay down covering fire as they crept toward an underground Nazi observation post with knapsacks of plastic explosives, which they threw into the hole.  The blast severed German communication lines to inland artillery.  Gumula asked to stay with the engineers, but the sergeant sent him back to the beach.  “I was young and dumb and didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing.”

Walter began crawling, aiming for a spot where the bluff ended at the beach.  When he dared to raise his head, he was astonished at the scene below.  “I couldn’t believe what I was looking at.  There were literally thousands of boats out there, three lines of ships coming across from England.  One battleship was blasting right over the cliff I was on.  Those shots were coming right over my head.  They sounded like a fast train coming by, making a weird noise.

But the boats were piled up, unable to land.  The troops already on the rocky beach were trapped between withering German fire and a rising tide.  “They were starting to pull back.  I thought they were going to leave us.  The worst barrages were coming from the large gun emplacement pillbox close to the beach.”

equipment for the WWII frogman

equipment for the WWII frogman

Suddenly he watched a destroyer with 5″ guns pull in so perilously close to shore he expected it to run aground.  At point blank range, the ship’s guns blasted apart the German pill box.  Immediately, troops started heading inland across that stretch of beach.  “He saved the whole thing,” Walter remarked.

As the ship turned to head for deeper water, German guns opened up, pounding the Allied armada with massive 14″ and 16″ shells.  Gumula watched the ship get hit 3 times.  “It broke in half and sank immediately.  I actually saw that”

By the time Gumula found the officer in charge of his stretch of beach, shrapnel was raining down like hail on the living and the dead.  “There were literally thousands of bodies,” Walter said as he recalled the events of 70 years ago and related them to reporter, Barbara Marshall, Palm Beach Post.  Mr. Gumula now resides in Port Salerno, FL.

“You never forget it, the look on someone’s face when they die right in front of your eyes.” ______ Walter Gumula, frogman

U.S. Navy SEAL Museum, Fort Pierce, FL

U.S. Navy SEAL Museum, Fort Pierce, FL

 

Click on images to view full-size.

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Farewell Salute – 

Eugene Allen – Harlington, TX; USMC, Cpl., Korea

Kenneth Bradley – Bellville, AR; US Air Force

Allan Berry – Birkdale, NZ; RNZVR, SubLt., WWII

Angelo DiMascio Sr. – Cranston, RI; US Army, WWII, 82nd Airborne

Rosemary Gannon – Highland Falls, NY; civilian employee at West Point 1942 thru 1987

Walter “Cap” Haworth Jr. – Pocatello, ID; US Air Force, Captain (Ret. 20 years), 3 tours Vietnam

Gordon Kendall – Toronto, Can; RC Air Force, WWII

Robert Kranich (100) – Winchester, VA; US Army, Colonel (Ret.), WWII

Jesse Schaudies – Raliegh, SC; US Army, Corps of Engineers, WWII, PTO

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Intermission Stories (20)

2. Robert Rader

Cpl. Robert Rader

Easy Company/506th PIR/101st A/B

Robert Rader was mentioned in the book, “Band of Brothers,” by Stephen Ambrose, but was not part of the HBO miniseries produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.  This story was condensed from the book, “A Company of Heroes: by Marcus Brotherton.

It was Rader’s idea to volunteer for the 101st Airborne, along with his hometown friends, Don Hoobler and William Howell, and the buddies were sent off to Camp Toccoa.  The three young men together with their Appalachian accents inspired them to call themselves “The Three Hillbillies.”

On the plane to Normandy, a shell went through the plane and between Rader and Johnny Martin, so close they could feel the burn.  Later, the troopers discovered that their plane had been hit 250 times.   Once on the ground, their first encounter with the enemy was with Russian and Polish troops fighting for the Germans.   As they advanced, their next engagement turned out to be a group of Hitler Youth who screamed, “I will die for the Führer,” as they attacked the men.  Seeing those young faces lie dead in the dirt made a serious impact on Rader.

Burr Smith (L) & Bob Rader (R) , 1982 just prior to Smith's passing.

Burr Smith (L) & Bob Rader (R) , 1982 just prior to Smith’s passing.

The next big jump was Market-Garden in Holland on Sunday, 17 September 1944.  They had 79 constant days of combat.  Rader was hit in the elbow as another soldier cleaned his gun, but with the enemy everywhere, sending the wounded back was impossible.  They bandaged Robert’s arm and he went back to the front line.  Soon afterward, Rader was in the midst of a bayonet charge.

 In Bastogne, Rader’s eyelids froze open twice.  His extremities were so cold he couldn’t feel them.  During this battle, the trooper took a bullet to the hip, but he was so cold, he never felt it.  The shell was located during a CAT scan in 1987!

The 101st went onward to Hitler’s Nest and then Austria, as those of you who read the book are aware.  Robert Rader from the company of heroes went on to become a school teacher.  He had sworn to himself, the day he saw the dead Hitler Youth Group, that he would devote his life to helping children and he carried out his promise.  His hometown buddies did not come back with him.

Robert Rader had left the Army Air Corps as a Staff Sergeant.  As he kept in touch with his war buddies, he signed his letters, “Robert F. Rader, here.  Be good. Be careful. Sleep warm.”

SSgt. Robert F. Rader passed away 7 April 1997.

“In thinking back on the days of Easy Company, I am treasuring my remark to a grandson who asked, “Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’  No, I answered, but I served with a company of heroes.”
_______Major Richard Winters
Easy Company Commander

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“Band of Brothers” correction –

Sgt. Albert Blithe

Sgt. Albert Blithe

The book “A Company of Heroes” rectifies two mistakes made about Albert Blithe:  (1) – Blithe was depicted as shot in the neck & (2) – that he never recovered from his wounds and later died in 1948.  The truth, as attested by Blithe’s wife and son – he was wounded in the right shoulder and lived to jump with the 82nd Airborne in the ’50s.  After many attempts to contact Hanks and Spielberg, they eventually managed to have the correction made.

An example of persistence in research as done by Mr. Brotherson.

Click on any image to enlarge.

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WWII current news – 

The rising sea levels are being blamed for having washed, what is believed to be, the remains of 26 Japanese soldiers from WWII on Santo Island in the Marshall Island group.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joan Prudence Boyd – Devonport, NZ; RNZANC # 827640, WWII

Andrew Hanish – Boise, ID; USMC, (Ret. 24 years), Vietnam

Bronze Star

Bronze Star

Joe Hart – Pea Ridge, AR; US Army Air Corps, Colonel, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot

Eugene Montandon – Danbury, WI; US Army, Sgt.

Johnny Newell – Hewett, OH; US Army, Korea

Jack Oliver Sr. – Topeka, KS; US Army Air Corps (10 yrs.) WWII; US Air Force (16 yrs.)

Curtis Peterson – Copperas Cove, TX; US Army, MSgt., Bronze Star

Howard Pulleyblank – Ottawa, Can.; RC Navy, WWII, ETO, HMCS Rimouski

Janus Sweat – Columbia, SC; US Army, Korea

James Tapp – Fort Collins, CO; US Air Force, Colonel (Ret.), WWII, PTO, fighter pilot, 78th Fighter Squadron, P-51D, Bronze Star

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MIDWAY/D-DAY

"The Battle of Midway" painting by: Howard David Johnson

“The Battle of Midway” painting by: Howard David Johnson

MIDWAY

72 years ago, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto devised a plan to draw out the remaining ships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet.  To accomplish this, he planned to invade the island of Midway, 1,300 miles NW of Hawaii.  He would then have a base to attack the American islands.  The Battle of Midway marked the turning point of WWII in the Pacific – 4 to 7 May 1942.

Midway first hand accounts can be READ HERE!

Japanese ships

Japanese ships

Ground attack

Ground attack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midway map.

Midway map.

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D-Day

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

70 years ago, by sea and air, they descended on to a 50-mile stretch of German-fortified French coastline, 6 June 1944.  General Dwight D. Eisenhower would say to the men ______ “Soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!  You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.  The eyes of the world are upon you.  The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”

Gallivanta sent us a link with information and photos by John Ford which can be found in the COMMENTS.   Click onto her Gravatar image to find her own site of Silk Ann Threads.   More additional information is continuing in the Comment section – so please read them as well.

Naval bombardments on D-Day

Naval bombardments on D-Day

 

Ground force landing corridors, D-Day

Ground force landing corridors, D-Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D-Day landing scene

D-Day landing scene

Painting of D-Day beach, artist unknown.

Painting of D-Day beach, artist unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Footnotes about D-Day

The last time an invading army crossed the English Channel: 1688
The nickname for the million-plus wooden poles planted by the Nazis to thwart an invasion: Rommel’s Asparagus
The code name of the plan to deceive the Germans about where the invasion would take place: Operation Fortitude
The candy supplied in the emergency rations for paratroopers was: 4 Hershey bars & one pack of charms 

 001001

 

 

Click on any image to enlarge.

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I only just learned that Chester Nez, the last surviving Navajo Code Talker, has passed away at the age of 93.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leo Archer – St.Cloud,MN; US Army, WWII, ETO

Frank Braden Jr. – (105) – Coraopolis, PA; US Army, Medical Corps, Lt. to Lt.Colonel, WWII, 8th Armored Division

Stanley Burgoon – Chipley, FL; US Navy, Vietnam-2 tours, USS Saratoga & Amphion260637844_god_bless_them_all_xlarge

John Chakalos – Windsor, CT; US Army Air Force, 11th Airborne Div., WWII

Robert Donahue – Arlington, VA; US Army, Lt. General (35 years Ret.)

Warren Freeman – Washington DC; MGeneral (Ret.), Military Police Signal Regiment

William “Pete” Hall – Beaufort, SC; US Air Force, Lt.Colonel, pilot, Vietnam

Robert Hand – Born: Yorkshire, Eng.; Sherborn, MA; Royal Navy, doctor, (14 yrs) & Canadian Navy, (15 years)

Wallace Leask -Browns Bay, NZ; RNZ Navy # 3601, WWII, telegraphist

Paul Robertson – Maitland, FL; US Air Force, air traffic controller, (21 years)

Gordon Willis – NYC, NY; US Air Force, Korea, military photographer (famed cinematographer)

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June 6, D-Day in art

A_Day_that_Changed_America_D-Day

HONOR A VETERAN — FLY YOUR FLAG

D-Day memorial, Beford, VA

D-Day memorial, Beford, VA

poster8

dhm1081

The 116th on Omaha Beach by K. Sean Sullivan

The 116th on Omaha Beach by K. Sean Sullivan

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A recent new book release, something I don’t normally do in a post, caught my eye this week…

“The Girls of Atomic City” by Denise Kiernan

An intriguing tale of women who worked under top security conditions and sworn to secrecy. Now in their 80’s and 90’s finally have their story related. Under eminent domain, the government seized 60,000 acres in East Tennessee and created a massive industrial complex that would not be located on any map. The girls in this atomic city worked to create the atomic bomb without any knowledge of the drastic effects of the plutonium radiation. This is an unknown (in some cases forgotten) chapter of American history. The women of WWII, usually portrayed as ‘Rosie the Riveter’ or military nurses can now add the names of those from the cramped encampments of Oak Ridge.

bilde

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This explains why I am always asking my readers to get as many stories down for future generations…

Farewell Salutes….

Clair Glen Andersen – Navy, Combat Communications Team, Bronze Star for combat on Guam

Robert Lee Bechtel – Army Air Corps, radio operator

Irving Ritz – Navy, USS Hilo in Pacific Theater

Charles F. Anderson II – Navy, South Pacific

Quareno “Pete” Colantonio – Army Air Corps, 3 Bronze Stars for Normandy and Central Europe

Peter P. DeLucia – Army, Battle of Normandy

Alvin L. Gitlitz – Army Air Force, radio operator

Robert J. Donoghue Sr. – Navy, USS Enterprise CV-6 and CASV #2

Parker A. Gitschier – Army

Seymour J. Eisen – Air Force, B-24 pilot, shot down over Adriatic Sea & saved 3 crewmates, Purple Heart, Soldiers Medal

John G. Talcott Jr. – Army, 1st Lieutenant in Overseas Supply Division

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Good news –

When John Dodds found a WWII bomber jacket in a thrift store, the Air Force lawyer found the original owner’s name still emblazoned on the chest: “Robert G. Arand” Within little more than a day, the now 90-year-old Arand was located. He had flown more than 40 missions in New Guinea, the Philippines and Japan during WWII. The retired major will now get his jacket back that has been lost for over 60 years.

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Resources: “The Palm Beach Post;” “The Week” magazine; http://www.army.mil/d-day/; lookingglassreview.com; KSean.com; http://www.second-world-war.com; Wikipedia

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