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Letter XIII Latrines

High class facilities in the Philippines, 1944

Back in the states, people were still dancing to the tunes of The Dorsey Brothers, Count Basie and Artie Shaw.  They listened to the songs of Doris Day, the Andrew Sisters, Lena Horne and Rosemary Clooney.  But, some others weren’t so lucky, in the army there was always latrine duty, as depicted in the following letter from Smitty.

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Letter XIII                               Latrines                        Wednesday 9/5/44

Dear Mom,

Many are the times you have heard me refer to the latrines.  Never before had I any conception or realized the amount of genius and mathematical figuring that was necessary for the building of one of these casual looking comfort stations.

Yesterday I had the dubious honor of being selected, with four other disgruntled G.I.s, to labor on a detail whose sole aim and mission was the digging and building of a latrine.  It seems that in order to get a latrine built correctly there also has to be present a lieutenant and a hard to please sergeant.  Their presence is essential due to the fact that if they weren’t around, it would never get built, no less started and to supervise the completion and finesse details of the finer points necessary for sanitation and the comfort of the men.  You can most generally find these two worthy in some far off spot, away from all the work.

slit trench

To begin with, a place is chosen suitable for a latrine, generally about a half mile from the nearest inhabitant and well hidden in the brush and woods.  This is done for the very simple reason that it affords the stricken G.I. a chance to brush up on his long forgotten tracking and compass reading lessons, also the hike involved tends to make up for the many he has missed.

You wait then while the Lt., in a very business-like manner, marks out the length and width desired.  When finished, he gives you a short speech on the importance of the detail and the time limit allotted, ending with: “Good digging fellows.  I know you can do it, as you are the picked men!”

You pick up your shovels and picks and gloomily get to work.  First, the picks are put into play loosening up the stubborn ground.  Then, the shovels get to work removing the loose dirt, making sure to pile it evenly around the hole.  This procedure is followed until finally you have now a hole six feet long by five feet in width with a depth ranging anywheres from six to eight feet.  Try as you may to dig less than six feet, the sergeant always has a ruler handy which he guards with his life.  One would think that a latrine hole that size would last forever, but as I found out, in the army — they don’t.

conventional pit latrine

Next step is to lower into this hole oil drums whose both ends have been removed.  This end cutting process is something foreign to us as they had another detail doing that the day before.  I understand though that it is a highly skilled job in that keeping the ax blades from chipping is quite a problem.  These drums, once lowered and set side by side, draws to a close the crude laborious end of the job.

Boards, saws, hammers and nails now appear along with some overbearing would-be carpenters.  They proceed to build a coffin-like box which looks more like anything else but a box.  This affair, when finished, is fitted over the hole, covering completely the hole and part of the piles of loose dirt spread around the outer fringe.  This type of latrine box is called the settee type.  It is very comfortable to sit on if rough boarding isn’t employed.  When the box is completed to the satisfaction and sitting height comfort of all present, holes are then cut in the top.  These holes are oval in shape, but of different width and shapes.  The rear end of a G.I.’s anatomy, I’ve found, has many varied shapes and sizes.

The next thing to put in an appearance is the latrine blind and screen.  This is very simple, although at times men have leaned back into it and got tangled up in the canvas, bringing it where the blind should be.  While the blind is being put up on a long pipe, funnel-shaped at one end comes up and demands a lot of detailed attention.  The height of this pipe, when set, is a trial and tribulation to all and never satisfies all who use it.  This funneled affair is intended for what all funnels are.  The directing of a stream of water.

The Lt. and sergeant now come out of hiding, inspect it and proclaim it a job well done and worthy of their time and supervision, strutting off gaily chatting, leaving us to find our way alone, unguided and without a compass, back to our tents.  We, in the building of this latrine were fortunate in that we only had to erect it once and it was the correct position.  Generally, you dig three or four only to find out that it is out of line somehow with the next latrine a mile away.

Army pail field latrine

Generals, colonels and majors all visit while you are at work.  Their presence is also needed for the fact that when they are around, you stand at attention and in that way get a moment’s rest.  The captain generally comes out to see how you are doing and always tells you to hurry it up as the boys back in camp are prancing around like young colts and doing weird dance steps all the while hoping that they can hold out until its completion.

When once finished and back in camp, you are kept busy giving the boys directions as to where it is and then have to listen to them gripe about the distance away from their tent the blame thing is.  It is, I have found out, a thankless detail and one I intend missing the next time there is one to be built.  There are of course different types of latrines as the illustrations show, but most of those are for troops on the move.  Now, why they should say, ‘troops on the move’ I do not know, for certainly no matter whether in the latrines or on the way to it, you are most certainly moving.

Before any G.I. finds the latrine, the flies are already there.  No latrine is a latrine until after a family or two moves in.  They too are necessary in that without them as an annoying element, some men would never leave, others would fall asleep, while others would use it as an indefinite hiding place from some hike or detail.  Latrines are also necessary for rumors.  Until a good latrine is built, rumors around the camp lay dormant.  Many new and strange acquaintances are made and the souls of many a man have been saved while sitting in this sanctuary place of appeasement.

No place in the army gets the care and attention of a latrine.  Orderlies are assigned daily to see to its cleanliness.  Medical inspections are twice a week, while on Saturdays it has to stand a general inspection.  It is the haven of good-fellowship, conversations and a relief to all men in the end.

Hoping I have portrayed for you the army’s version of a rest station, I’ll close, as the flies in here are very annoying and the fellow standing and waiting for me to leave is going into a rage and walking up and down all the while eyeing me up and down as if to kill.

Ending this in a hasty departure and on the run, I am always, 

Your son, Everett

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Military Humor –  Smitty’s artwork !   “When the WACs Take Over ? “

“Too much beer last night, Miss Pringle?”

“Damn these G.I. latrines”

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Farewell Salutes –   In honor of the recently lost 13, Kabul, Afghanistan

The Marines were part of the 2nd Battalion/1st Marines, SSgt. Ryan C. Knauss of Corryton, TN was with the 82nd A/B Division

David Espinoza – Rio Bravo, TX; USMC, Lance Cpl.

Nicole L. Gee – Sacramento, CA; USMC, Sgt.

Darin Taylor Hoover – Salt Lake City, UT; USMC, SSgt.

Hunter Lopez – Indio, CA; USMC, Cpl.

Rylee McCollum – Jackson, WY; USMC, Lance Cpl.

Dylan R. Merola – Rancho Cucamonga, CA; USMC, Lance Cpl.

Karem Nikoui – Norco, CA; USMC, Lance Cpl.

Daegan William-Tyeler Page – Omaha, NE; USMC, Cpl.

Johanny Rosariopichardo – Lawrence, MA; USMC, Sgt.

Humberto A. Sanchez – Logansport, IN; USMC, Lance Cpl.

Jared Schmitz – St. Louis, MO; USMC, Lance Cpl.

Maxton Soviak – Berlin Heights, OH; US Navy, Corpsman (assigned to the 1st Marines)

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Letter VI – Land Ho! On the Port Side

Dobodura, 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 Airborne Division 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, this would become the first step for many a G.I. on foreign soil.  Once they actually hit 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.

July 1944. Sherfy, Johnson, Madam Queen, Roberts, Bachor, Wichmann, Amos, Andy, Hester, Baby Rastus”. By this time, Port Moresby was a secure back area of the Pacific theater.

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, commander of the 11th A/B, had contracted malaria and was hospitalized when his men shipped 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”, they would be in reserve for the New Guinea action though.  Swing managed to be in Dobodura in time to meet his men as they disembarked.

Dobodura, New Guinea

 

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   so don’t worry any on that account.  I know how you worry about things like that so thought it best that you know.    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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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eldred ‘Mickey’ Alexander – Center, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO, 10th Armored Division

Stephen W. Babjar (100) – Albany, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, machinist’s mate, PT-27/Ron 1

Malcom J. Barber – All 3 brothers – New London, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Leroy K.  Barber    –   All 3 brothers were firemen, USS Oklahoma

Randolph H.  Barber – All 3 brother were KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Raymond C. Blanton – Richmond, VA; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt., Co. C/1/60/9th Infantry Division, KIA (Hüftgen Forest, GER)

Robert Douglas – Lynn, MA; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

Forrest T. Frost (101) – Sanger, CA; US navy, WWII, PTO, Chief Engineer, USS YOG-76

Sam Lombardo – (101) – brn: ITL; US Army, WWII, ETO,  /  Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

Donald Rowley (101) – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 41192, WWII

Diana Seamans – New London, NH; US Navy WAVES, WWII, communications/code breaker

William B. Wagner – Dixon, IL; US Army, 505/11th Airborne Division

Jack K. Wood – Wichita Falls, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., Distinguished Service Cross, 344/98/9th Air Force, B-24 navigator, KIA (Ploiest, ROM)

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The Neptune Society – Letter IV “Still At Sea In A Quandary” – GP Interview

Pacific Ocean, rough seas off New Zealand

When Smitty and the other troopers passed the equator, as per naval tradition, the ship’s crew donned their apparel of King Neptune and his court in preparation of handing the “Pollywogs” (the soldiers) their certificates of crossing.  The Royal Barber tried to cut the hair of the crew-cut troopers and the Royal Executioner paddled a backside with an oar if the receiving line moved too closely to a snail’s pace. (which one can imagine was every G.I. derriere that went by!) Smitty was one to really enjoy this sort of tomfoolery — even if it was with the navy!  The water damage you see to Smitty’s certificate (pictured below) is one of the reasons I began to make a facsimile of his scrapbook onto the computer.  I have re-typed the contents of the certificate to show the humor involved — despite a war.

IT Read….

To All Sailors, Marines, Whatever Ye Maybe: Greetings: and to all Mermaids, Whales, Sea Serpents, Porpoises, Sharks, Eels, Dolphins, Skates, Suckers, Crabs, Lobsters and all other Living Things of the Sea: Know ye, that on this June 15 ’44 in Latitude 00000 and Longitude Cape Mendacia there appeared within Our Royal Domain the bound Southwestward for the Equator, the South Sea Islands, New Zealand and Australian ports.

BE IT REMEMBERED That the said Vessel and Officers and Crew thereof have been inspected and passed on by Ourselves and Royal Staff: AND BE IT KNOWN By all ye Sailors, Marines, Landlubbers, Soldiers and all others who may be honored by his presence, that Pollywog Everett A. Smith 32816491  Having been found worthy to be numbered as one of our Trusty Shellbacks he has been duly initiated into the SOLEMN MYSTERIES OF THE ANCIENT ORDER OF THE DEEP  Be It Further Understood:  That by Virtue of the power invested in me I do hereby command all my subjects to show honor and respect to him wherever he may be.  Disobey the Order under Penalty of Royal Displeasure. (bottom left) Given under our band and seal this Davey Jones, His Majesty’s Scribe – (bottom right)  Neptunus Rex, His Servant – the signature appears to be Gregory Cullen

equator crossing certificate

Smitty’s Letter IV

Letter IV                                                                                    Still at sea in a quandary

Dear Mom,  Well, here I am again as promised.  Yesterday we had a little something different to sea besides the sea.  Notice that I’m getting so that I can only spell  the sea when I mean to write see.  Early in the morning we had the pleasure of seeing another ship and must say it sure made one feel good.  Why it should though I can’t say unless it is the thought that someone else is having it just as tough.  Guess there is some truth in the saying, “Misery loves company.”  We also had the pleasure of watching some islands in the far off distance.  I won’t try to describe them to you, as that would be too much to expect to pass. (Censorship)  You will kindly take notice that I used the words “pleasant” and “pleasure,” if I keep that up you might get the idea this is getting to be that kind of voyage.  Some amusing things do happen though, such as the boys sleeping out on the deck getting caught in the rain or some clumsy ox slipping and sliding his way along the boat.  By the way, I forgot to tell you that we get the regular news everyday in a printed form resembling a newspaper.  Also music by record sounds tinny, but anything out here is good.

You can readily see I haven’t much ambition for writing today, which reminds me    Matter of fact, the way I feel right now, I don’t care much whether I do or not.  Well, that is all for today’s report on nothing, so with all my love, I am your ever obedient son,  Everett

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Smitty and his mother in artwork courtesy of, Priorhouse.wordpress.com/

From GP – Yvette, from Priorhouse, was kind enough to ask me for an interview for Memorial Day.  I was flabbergasted and honored!

I do hope you will go on over and take a peek, I would greatly appreciate it!  Priorhouse

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Burkle Carmichael – Ocala, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO,POW Stalag IV-B

Alex Coran – brn: ITL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Carl M. Ellis – Hope, AK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Myles W. Esmay – Utica, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI, !st Lt., Co B/236th Engineer Battalion w/ Merrill’s Marauders, KIA (Myitkyina, Burma)

Gavin MacLeod – Pleasantville, NY; US Air Force  /  Actor

Theresa Morris – Fairfield, CT; Civilian, WWII, Remington munitions inspector

Brian T. O’Connor – Rahway, NY; US Army, Vietnam, 5th Special Forces

Ralph Palmer (100) – Florence, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 450/15th Air Force, B-24 bombardier, DFC

Jennings “Bill” Rich – Bainbridge, GA; US Navy, WWII, Korea + Vietnam, USS Boxer, Pickaway + Hornet, MChief Petty Officer (Ret. 20 y.)

Clarence A. Robinson Jr. – Vienna, VA; USMC, Korea, Sgt. / Vietnam, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart (Ret. 20 y.)

Matsuo “Jack” Tominaga – Shelley, ID; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT

John D. VanPatten – Ft. Wayne, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Lester E. “Tosie” Wawner (101) – Clifton Forge, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO + ETO, Machinist 1st Class, USS Morris / US Coast Guard (Ret.)

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Camp Stoneman conclusion

POE Camp Stoneman

This photograph above was removed from a New York newspaper.  The sign above the entry states: “Through these portals pass the best damn soldiers in the World.”  The clipping beside it indicates shipping out dates.   The 11th A/B departed May 5, 1944.   Smitty said that this cruise would be the most boring part of his service, although he did become quite adept at playing cards during this time.

Smitty was unable to tell his mother that he and the 11th A/B would be shipping out the following day – destination and mission unknown.  The men cruised from Suisan Bay into San Pablo Bay, into San Francisco Bay and under the Oakland Bridge to Oakland Mole where the Red Cross passed out coffee and donuts while they boarded the transport ships.  So … back under the Oakland Bridge, thru San Francisco Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge to the open Pacific.

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Letter II                                                                                                                                                                                      Thursday 5/4/44

Dear Mom,

     There really isn’t much to write about as I’ve told you most everything on the phone.  By the way, when you receive your bill for the month let me know just how much these calls cost.

I heard from *Harley yesterday and it seems that he wants something to do and they just won’t give him anything.  They have now made him landscape sergeant and I can just see him pulling weeds and taking care of flowers.  If he should ever get his load on, he’ll nip out the flowers and let the weeds alone.  I haven’t written to Woods yet, but give me time.  I’ll get around to it before long.

We have to police up the area now, so will leave you for a while.  Be back before long. — Hello again.  We no sooner pick up the old cigarette butts and paper than some jerk behind you drops one so that cleaning up is getting to be a problem.  Policing up is what is known as body bending exercise, head down, backsides pointing to the sky.

Well mom, that is all there is for now so take care of yourself and give my regards to all. 

All my love, Everett

*  Harley was a friend from back home in Broad Channel, now in the Army.

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Current News – 

I hope all have been showing their thanks during Military Appreciation Month this year and will have a safe and commemorative Memorial Day on 31 May 2021…. and everyday!

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hugh R. Alexander – USA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt. Commander, USS Oklahoma, Silver Star, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Jack Barnes – Haskell, OK; US Navy, WWII, Vietnam, Senior Chief (Ret. 23 y.)

Arlington Cemetery

Leonard H. Crump – Indianapolis, IN; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Edward Geary – Tampa, FL; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Henry L. Helms – Colleran, AL; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

John Knapp – Ottawa, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, ETO

Douglas Lowell – Pagosa Springs, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO, 97th Infantry Division, Bronze Star

Billy McDonell – CA & TX; US Army, Vietnam, 3/506/101st Airborne Division

Rosie – Annapolis, MD; US Coast Guard, Petty Officer 1st Class, Annapolis Station canine mascot,( her watch is over)

Gene Podulka – Glenview, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, weather forecaster

Robert Tatje – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Combat Engineers

Richard Zeeff – Grand Rapids, MI; US Navy, WWII, aviation

 

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11th Airborne graduates Camp MacKall

1943 Camp MacKall, 11th Airborne yearbook

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

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

Headquarters, 11 A/B Division

Headquarters Company, 11th A/B Division

Military Police Platoon, 11 A/B Division

408th A/B Quartermaster Company

511th A/B Signal Company

711th A/B Ordnance Maintenance Company

221st A/B Medical Company

127th A/B Engineer Battalion

152nd A/B Antiaircraft Battalion

HQ & HQ Battery, 11th A/B Artillery

457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion

674th Glider Field Artillery Battalion

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

675th Glider Field Artillery Battalion

187th Glider Infantry Regiment

188th Glider Infantry Regiment

511th Parachute Infantry Regiment

__________________________

Total = 8,321 men

 

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Military Training Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

Nathan Burke – Lubbock, TX; US Navy, Airman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Army Airborne and the start to Camp MacKall

Airborne, Camp MacKall

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

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

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

Camp MacKall postcard

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

glider jumping

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

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

WACO glider in take off from Camp MacKall field.

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

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

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

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

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Military Humor –

‘I dropped out of Parachute School.’

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Everett (Smitty) Smith

young Everett and Mother, Anna

Everett Smith was born Dec. 12, 1914 and grew up with the gentle waves of Jamaica Bay on an island one mile long and barely four blocks wide.  This was the tight-knit community of Broad Channel, New York.  He resided with his mother, Anna at peaceful 207 East 9th Road and spent his days between school, working and helping to care for his grandmother.

Aerial view of Broad Channel

 

Smitty’s, Broad Channel, NY

Everett’s nickname had always been “Smitty” and so, the name of his fishing station came to be.  In 1939, at 24 years of age, he married a woman named Catherine and she joined the Smith household.

News of Hitler and his rise to power filtered into the newspapers and radio, but Anna still had the memories of WWI and their financial struggles in what would be become known as the Great Depression made the problems of Europe so far away.

Grassy Point, Broad Channel, where Smitty often tended bar.

The majority of the U.S. population held the ideal of isolationism in high regard and the Smith household agreed wholeheartedly.  Everett was baffled by FDR’s election as his past political and personal records indicated both amoral and often criminal behavior.  The president began to stretch his powers to the limit to assist his friend, Winston Churchill, while U.S. citizens were straining to survive.

On Oct. 30, 1940, Roosevelt spouted in Boston, “I give you one more assurance.  I have said it before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent to any foreign wars.”  My father did not believe FDR then and as we look back — he was right.

Draft card
You’re in the Army now!

Everett received his draft notice in Sept. 1942.  He would be sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey where he volunteered for the paratroopers.  He would immediately then be sent to Camp MacKall, North Carolina for the start of his vigorous training.  Smitty became part of one of the most unique army units of its day, the HQ Co./187th/ 11th Airborne Division.

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

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Chris Andreadakis – Youngstown, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO

Paul Brown (100) – Saginaw, MI; US navy, WWII

Arlington Cemetery

Thomas ‘Millar’ Bryce (101) – Saskatchewan, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, navigator

Robert “Cookie” Cook  (100) – Rochester, NY; US Army, WWII

Aaron M. Fish – USA; US Navy, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5, Petty Officer 3rd Class

Dick Hall (100) – Murray, NE; US Army, WWII, ETO, 94th Chemical Mortars/3rd Army Tank Battalion, Lt.

E. Allan Logel (100) – Mapelwood, NJ; US Army, WWII, PTO, Captain, Strategic planning

Donald Myers – Cambria, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO & Korea

Ken P. Smith – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 2/187/11th Airborne Division

Martha Watts – Charleston, NC; US Army WAC, WWII

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Smitty in December 1945 w/ the Sword Story

Christmas card

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.”

Smitty in Japan, at far right

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.

Gen. Swing accepts Japanese sword at Atsugi Airfield

Major General Joseph Swing

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 man’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

Postcards received from a Cavite, P.I. woman

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.

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.)

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Daniel Aiello – NYC, NY; US Army / Actor

Vernon Bartley – brn: Meerut, India/ENG; Punjab Army, WWII, CBI

John Cameron – Waipukurau, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII, minesweeper

Frank Crane – Toledo, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Joseph Haratani – Florin, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT

Clarence Katwyk – Salt Lake City, UT; US Merchant Marines / US Army, WWII, PTO

Dominic Moschetti – Victor, CO; US Army, WWII, TSgt., 354th Infantry

Raymond Plassmann – CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 navigator

Arthur Schaefer – Tucson, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Lt., B-17 navigator

Orland Webb – Harrodsburg, KY; US Army, WWII

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11th Airborne Division’s End of WWII – part (2)

11th Airborne’s flag atop Atsugi hanger

General Swing, Commander of the 11th A/B, brought with him on the plane a large American flag and a banner painted, “CP 11th Airborne Division” to be fastened onto the roof of airplane hangar. He was dressed in battle fatigues and “11th A/B” was stenciled on his helmet. He carried a .38 pistol and a bandoleer of .38 caliber shells draped across his chest. (As ready for combat in Japan as he was on Leyte and Luzon.) A Japanese officer approached him as he departed the plane. The officer saluted and introduced himself as Lieut-General Arisuye, the officer in control of the Atsugi sector. He then asked the general what his current orders would be and Gen. Swing lost no time in telling him.

Gen. Swing (l) & Gen. Eichelberger (r) with Japanese detail

American POWs had been left unguarded at their prisons just days before. Two hours after Gen. Swing’s arrival, two POWs walked into the CP. (command post). They had taken a train from the prison to Tokyo. No Japanese soldiers or civilians approached them along the way.

Later that day, Colonel Yamamoto presented himself as the chief liaison officer; both he and his aide were still wearing their swords. Gen. Swing ordered them to remove their weapons. Yamamoto arrogantly protested and insisted on explaining that the sword was his symbol of authority. Swing repeated his order, but with a more firm and commanding tone of voice and the two Japanese men complied immediately.

Yokohama

The 11th A/B then proceeded on to Yokohama where the Allied Headquarters was to be established. The fifth largest city of Japan was now little more than a shantytown after the persistent Allied bombings. In fact, most of the towns and cities resembled the crumbled remains seen in Europe. Yokohama and Tokyo would become sites for the Allied Military Tribunal trials for the Japanese war criminals, similar to those held in Nuremberg for the Germans.

The trucks waiting for the men at Atsugi airfield to be used as transportation between Tokyo and Yokohama mostly ran on charcoal and wood. Only a few vehicles still operated on gasoline. They were consistently breaking down and the fire engine that led General MacArthur’s motorcade was said to look like a Toonerville Trolley.

Toonerville Trolley

Below, the photograph from the New York “Daily News” show the 11th A/B in front of the New Grand Hotel and on the right, one of the many vehicles that constantly broke down. The date written on the picture is the issue  my grandmother cut them from the paper, not the dates the pictures were taken.

11th Airborne guarding MacArthur’s hotel CP

General Swing wanted to view his newly arriving troops farther down the runway from where he was, when he spotted a Japanese general exiting his car. Seconds later, ‘Jumpin’ Joe’ hopped into the backseat. The interpreter translated from the driver to Swing that the limo was reserved for the Chief of Staff of the Imperial Army. Swing roared in returned, “Goddamn it, we won the war. Drive me down the strip.” Once in front of his troops, Swing exited the car and the Japanese captain said, “Well sir, Generals are alike in all armies.”

The 11th Airborne band set up for the arrival of General Douglas MacArthur at 1400 hours. When the general’s plane the ‘Bataan’ landed, the five-star general paused at the door wearing his pleated khakis, his shirt unbuttoned at the neck and the garrison hat with the gold encrusted visor crown. (In other words – his typical attire). There were no ribbons clipped to his shirt, but the customary corncob pipe hung from his lips at an angle. He then descended, shook hands with Gen. Eichelberger and quietly said, “Bob, from Melbourne to Tokyo is a long way, but this seems to be the end of the road.  This is the payoff.”

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Fleming Begaye Sr. – Chinle, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker

James Bramble – Los Alamos, NM; US Army, WWII, Manhattan Project

Bernard Dargols – FRA & NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Melvin Gibbs – Sylva, NC; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret. 21 y.)

Estella Jensen – Arlington, WA; Civilian, WWII, Boeing machinist & welder

Frank Manchel – San Diego, CA; US Army, Sgt., WWII

Bob Maxwell – Bend, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts, 2 Silver Stars, Medal of Honor

Edd Penner – Springfield, MO; US Army, WWII

Carmine Stellaci – Morristown, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/188/11th Airborne Division

Spencer Wilkerson – Lancaster, PA; US Army, WWII, 28th/2nd Cabalry

Smitty’s Guard Duty – Letter XVI – conclusion

In the event that you missed the previous post, Cpl. Smith serving in the 11th Airborne during WWII, was attempting to visualize his first experience at standing guard duty in a combat zone to his mother in a letter.

At one point, the situation appears critical and the next – a comedy of errors.  Nevertheless, this half of the letter describes his four-hour rest period and the following two hours of standing guard.  Hope you stick around to see how he does.

*****          *****          *****

Guard Duty (con’t)

As soon as your relief man comes along, you strut back to your tent feeling as proud as all hell knowing that you are a conqueror of the night and a tried and true veteran of the guard.  You are supposed to get four hours of rest or sleep before going on for your second shift, but for some reason or another the time just flits away and just as you close your eyes in deep slumber — in walks the sergeant of the guard and out you go sleepily rubbing your eyes wondering how in the devil you are ever going to keep awake for the next two hours.

As you sit on the stump of a tree surveying what you have just four hours ago mentally overcame, you begin to think of home.  Now, thinking of home is alright in the daytime with a load of griping G.I.s around, but at night on a lonesome post, it is strictly out.  Not only do you think of things you shouldn’t, but soon you are feeling sad and more lonely than ever knowing that no one cares and that the whole world is against you.  Not only is this bad for you, it doesn’t even help to pass the time.

 You turn your thoughts elsewhere trying next to figure out what the cooks will try to feed you tomorrow.  Here again is a very poor time-passing thought as you know damn well they’ll feed you bully-beef in its most gruesome form.  Soon your eyes feel heavy again and seem like they’re going to close and you wonder if it would be okay to light up a cigarette. 

 Here again the book says what to do, but heck, as I said before, the guy who wrote it isn’t out here, so what does he know?  You daringly light one up, trying desperately to shield the light and take a big, deep drag.  I found that it isn’t the inhaling of the cigarette that keeps you awake, but the ever constant threat of being caught in the act.  You look at your watch and find to your dismay that you still have an hour and forty-five minutes left to go.

Damn but the time sure does drag along.  Wonder why it doesn’t speed up and pass on just as it does when you are off.  Oh!  Well, sit down again and hum a tune or two, maybe that will help.  Gosh, sure wish someone would come along to talk.  Ho-hum, lets see now.  What will I do tomorrow on my time off?  This last thought is sure to pass away in 15 to 20 minutes, but why it should, I don’t know.  You know damn well that no matter what you may plan for tomorrow’s off-time, it will only be discarded and you will spend that time in bed asleep. 

 Light up another cigarette, sweat it out, swear a little at the dragging time, hum another tune, think more about home, think of you and the army, swear good and plenty and after that thought — look at your watch.

Hey — what goes on here? — that damn relief is over a half-minute late — who does he think he is anyway?  Swear.  Brother how you are swearing and cursing now.  Oh!  Oh!  There’s a light coming your way — the relief.  “Oh boy, sleep ahead.”

“So long bud, the whole damn post is yours.  Take it easy, it ain’t too bad.  Goodnite.”  —  And so ends your first night of guard duty as you wearily drag yourself to your bunk too damn tired to even undress.

Hey Mom, hope you enjoyed this as much as some of the others here did.  Meant to send this off before now, but you know me.

Love,  Everett

 

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Military Humor – 

WWI soldiers had their brand of humor too for guard duty.

Soldiers and Officers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, build snow men during their break to stand guard.

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bond – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, 187th RCT, Colonel (Ret.)

Cornelius Cunningham – Bronx, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt. 27th Division

Teddy Drapper Sr. – Chinle, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, 5th Marine Div.

Stuart Haw Jr. – St. Louis, MO; US Army, 11th Airborne Div., Military Police

Charles Quarles – Hockessin, DE; US Navy, WWII, electronic tech’s mate

Edward Rowny (100) – Baltimore, MD; US Army, WWII, ETO/Korea & Vietnam, West Point grad., Lt.General (Ret.), Presidential adviser

Nola ‘Paddy’ Scott – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 621, WWII

Wilburn Timmons – Jonesboro, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Douglas Voyzey – AUS; RA Army # 2137680, Vietnam, KIA

George B Willis Sr. – Leupp, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, 2nd Marine Division

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