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Intermission Story (3) – Cpl. Delmer R. Beam & PTSD

Cpl. Delmer Beam

Taken from the book, “Soldiers Stories: A Collection of WWII Memoirs” with permission by Myra Miller; written by Marshall Miller.

War Stories don’t always end when the shooting stops and soldiers return to civilian life.  The family of former Army Corporal Delmer Beam can tell you all about he horrors of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Cpl. Beam;s separation papers list him as a “Combat Infantryman” in the Army’s 6th Division, 1st Infantry Regiment, C Company.  His WWII experiences started in 1939, as a 17-year old, at Fort Jackson near Columbia, South Carolina and stretched into August 1945, after several years of bitter fighting in the South Pacific against Japanese forces at New Guinea and the Philippines.

Delmer’s wife, Gladys, told her children, Lonnie, Roger and Lana, that the father they came to know after the war was nothing like the “joyful, fun guy” who gave 6½ years of his life – and numerous difficult years beyond – to the cause of freedom.

Gladys said the war destroyed her husband, both mentally and physically.  In the mid-1960’s, Lana said he submitted to shock treatments at Mount Vernon Hospital to calm down his combat issues.  The children couldn’t understand why they weren’t allowed to shoot fireworks on the 4th of July.

Delmer and Gladys Beam

The few stories Beam told about his experiences were tough to hear. Like the one where soldiers were ordered to shoot thirty rounds of ammunition every morning into the surrounding trees to protect the camp from Japanese snipers, who would climb high to get maximum angles on their targets.  Once, Beam recalled, several soldiers were killed by a sniper, even after the morning strafing.  After an exhaustive search, the sniper finally was located hiding in a water canvas bag hanging from a tree.  He had crawled in, poked a small hole in the canvas and shot his victims with a pistol.

Soldier’s Stories

Japanese marksmen and fierce fighting weren’t the only obstacles thrown in Beam’s path.  Malaria was a difficult burden and an attack from scrub typhus mites nearly killed him.  Delmer told his family he got so sick from the mites that he was presumed dead while lying on a stretcher on a bench.  Someone saw him move however and he was transferred to a hospital ship.

His son Roger, chronicled his memories of his Dad’s experience :

As a young boy, I was always enamored with army war stories.  I would ask him about the war many times.  Only on a very few occasions would he talk about it.  It is strange how I can remember some of the stories he told me when I can’t remember what i did yesterday….

He said he saw GI’s almost kill each other over a piece of chicken wire.  The reason is that they would stretch the wire over their fox holes so the Japanese hand grenades would hit the wire and bounce back before it exploded.  It rained every day in the jungle and was very hot and humid…

He told me about his best friend, a young 19-year old from Hope, Arkansas.   While they were being attacked one day by Japanese, my Dad kept telling him to stop sticking his head up over the embankment they were behind, but the young man kept doing it until he got hit in the head and died in my dad’s arms.  This has always made a picturesque impression on me…

I know he was haunted the rest of his life about what he went through, just like so many others.  He was a good dad and even got better the older he got… Dad never met a stranger, he would talk to anyone.

Leather map case

Despite his health issues, Delmer spent his post-war years in Dixon, Missouri, and worked at Fort Leonard Wood as a fire inspector.  He died in 1991 at age 70.  His daughter had these words to remember her Dad:  I guess the most uplifting thing about my dad was… he really believed that he survived when others died because God wasn’t done with him yet.

From Beam’s grandson, Roger Beam Jr., :

My grandpa Delmar told me this story several times as a small boy.  I think he always got a kick out of it and was probably one of his “better” memories of the war.

He told me of the time his squad was out one evening climbing around the sides of trees collecting peppers that they used to flavor basically all their food.  They had rifles slung and arms full of peppers.  As they came around a tree, to their shock and surprise they ran into a squad of Japanese soldiers doing the exact same thing!  He said the resulting chaos was both terrifying and hilarious, as both groups scrambled away.  Not a shot was fired and they saved their peppers!

In the midst of such a horrible time for my grandfather, it does make smile a bit remembering how he smiled when telling this story.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current PTSD Assistance –

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/38624/new-va-online-tool-helps-veterans-learn-compare-effective-ptsd-treatments/

https://www.va.gov/VLER/vler-health-exchange-registration-guide.asp?utm_source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=vler-promo2017-vawide

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/38287/veterans-conquer-depression-equine-therapy/

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/38060/va-announces-new-strategic-partnerships-advance-solutions-tbi-ptsd/

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Military / Home Front Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Armstrong – NYC, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, LCI

Gustave Breaux – Notleyville, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO / Vietnam, CMSgt. (Ret. 28 yrs.)

Joseph Dixon – Ochlocknee, GA; US Navy, WWII

Parker ‘Bill’ Fredericks – Midvale, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO / Korea, Lt.Col. (Ret. 26 yrs.)

Roy James – Sylvarina, MS; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Jarrosak – W.Rutland, VT; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Darcy Larking – Taranaki, NZ; RNZ Army # 624362, Pvt.

Robert Shoemaker – Killeen, TX; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, West Point Class of ’46, General (Ret.)

Hans Traber – Unterseen, SWITZ; Swiss Army, WWII

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Intermission (2) – Home Front – The Blitz Kids of Palm Beach, FL

The Elliot Children

Three young siblings sit at a fountain.  Two girls in matching dresses and white, floppy bonnets; a lad in a schoolboy’s jacket and shorts.  Their smiles are subdued.  The children are long-term guests at the compound of one of Palm Beach’s more famed denizens, Charles Merrill.

Across the sea, their mother pines for her son and two daughters.  But she knows they are safer in America than they would be in England.  Night after night, the full fury of the Nazi war machine bombs their homeland.  “This photo shows Alistair, Anne and Jean Eliot one Sunday at a church in Palm Beach called Bethesda,” poet and writer Alistair Eliot, now 84, recalled. [Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.  Anne on the left; Jean in the middle.]

Charles Merrill

Their emergency host being Charles Merrill, founder of the world’s largest brokerage firm.   Alistair knows little about his family’s connections to the Merrills.  “I am unaware as to how or why these three were chosen, but I met them during the summer months when they accompanied my grandfather to Southampton, NY,” said Merrill Lynch Magowan.

What brought these children to Palm Beach, Florida was the Blitz.

Even before the raids started, British parents started thinking about getting their children out.  The Elliots first planned to move theirs to Australia, Canada or South Africa.  Starting in June 1940, a board that coordinated children’s passage was swamped with applications.

Late in the evening of 17 September 1940, the City of Benares  was 4 days out from Liverpool when a torpedo slammed into it.  The attacked killed 131 of the 200 crewmembers, 131 of the 197 of the passenger – including 70 of the 90 children – this would end the government program.

The British National Archives shows that privately sponsored programs continued and that’s how the Elliots got to the U.S.  In late November 1940, Mrs. Elliot and her 3 children crossed the Atlantic, bad weather and German U-boats and all.  Mrs. Elliot returned to England after she gave the children their Christmas presents.   Alistair said that other ships in their convoy were sunk, “We were attacked at night and I saw ships burning and heard the destroyers whooping rushing past us like Marine ambulances.”

In Palm Beach, the 3 were among many who saw the war come right to them.  In their case, for the second time.  “I saw ships burning on the horizon, in the Gulf Stream, as we were swimming – one time we got covered with oil that had floated in from a sunk tanker,” he said.

Alistair Elliot

Charles Merrill’s biographer, Langdon Hammer, said, Charles Merrill was moved by the heroism of the British… and was eager to do something for the war effort.  He welcomed the Elliot siblings as foster children, seeing not only to their safety, but to their upbringing and education.  He even hired them a governess, and a  British nurse named Jessie Love.”

Charles Merrill died at 70 on 7 October 1956, he would not be remembered for his generous hosting of the children, but as for creating a brokerage empire.  He is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in W.Palm Beach, Florida.  Alistair Elliot wrote to honor his mother, “My mother was a heroine in her own unspoken way.  It had to be done, and she did it, was all she had to say.”

Charles Edward Merrill, 1885-1956

Condensed from an article by Eliot Kleinberg, Palm Beach Post, staff writer, but it can also be located in Stars and Stripes.

Click on images to enlarge and read captions.

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Home Front Humor – 

“THE NEIGHBORS SAY SHE SOUNDS TOO MUCH LIKE AN AIR-RAID SIREN”

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Dean Armstrong – Hutchinson, KS; US Navy, WWII, CBI, Lt., pilot

Charles Bell III – Mt. Pleasant, SC; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division, West Point Class of 1950

Daniel Doyle – Sarasota, FL; US Army, Afghanistan, Major

Norman Fraser – North York, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Don Hill – Troy, MI; US Army, WWII

Grant Iverson – Washington, UT; US Navy, WWII

Ray James – Sylvarina, MS; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc, F/2/8th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Philip LaForce – Oxford, MA; US Army, WWII, SSgt., POW, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Archie Newell – Lemmon, SD; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pvt., 2nd Tank Battalion, KIA (Tarawa)

Calvin Wilhite Jr. – Memphis, TN; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

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11th Airborne Division – end of 1944

 

Gen. Swing and his staff during a briefing on Leyte.

My father swore that this incident occurred, but on which island, I can not say. Although Smitty already felt great respect for his commander, General Swing, he developed even more after witnessing this event: “A bunch of us were hunkered down due to the resistance we suddenly encountered. Everyone dove for cover and tried to figure out where the bullets were coming from except one guy still standing and looking around. (The general did not have his insignia on his uniform.) One G.I. yelled out, ‘Get down you f–kin’ jerk! You want your head blown off?’ I looked over and saw it was the old man himself and thought jeez is that soldier ever going to get reamed when we get back. But, the general got down.  I asked him later that evening why he let the soldier off without a word, and answered that the kid was right!”

General Joseph Swing
[On the back of this photo. Smitty wrote, “My General”]

There are other stories about Swing that are quite similar, including one where, rather than getting down, he actually walked over to the palm tree where the sniper was firing from and pointed him out as the U.S. sharpshooters dropped him.
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Leyte, 1944

From the moment the 11th Airborne landed on Leyte, the fighting was heavy, but they made excellent process across the island. Suzuki’s Thirty-Fifth Army became desperate, especially after the fall of Ormoc, which cut off his troops from their naval supply.  Smitty’s division would soon be put back in reserve as they rest up for Luzon.
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11th A/B on Leyte, 1944

While on Leyte, the 11th A/B was attached to General Krueger’s Sixth Army. A superior reference guide to the movements of this unit can be found in the various books by, Lt. General E.M. Flanagan, Jr. (Ret.). The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division gives detailed accounts by the author, who himself was the commander of the 11th Division’s B Battery of the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion. And – a very nice man I might add. I was privileged to have two phone conversations with the general.

Lt. General E.M. Flanagan, Jr.

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By the end of December, the enemy had suffered 113,221 casualties and lost 2,748 planes.  The American loss was reported at 11,217.  This time also marked the point when Japanese General Yamashita sustained perhaps the greatest defeat in his country’s history.  Ninety percent of enemy troops on Leyte were killed or committed suicide.

From Saipan, Allied B-29s were beginning to make their bombing runs over mainland Japan.

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

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Personal Note –  About Intermission Stories – We will continue with following the chronologically and have more stories about Smitty after what I call the Intermission Stories that are filled in between the end of one year and the start of the next.  They are eye-witness accounts, data, stories that have been missed in 1944 or are leading up to 1945.  We have so many new followers, I felt it needed some explanation.  There will also be home front episodes.

I hope you all find something you’re interested in, maybe a chuckle or two or even a tear.  Please feel free to contribute any story you know about from veterans you’ve known or had a discussion with – or even your own story.  Also, remember the Farewell Salutes are for anyone to contribute to, the veteran need not be recently deceased.  Simply put their information in the comment section and I will put them on the following post.  Have a wonderful weekend everybody!!

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Military Humor – 

BUDGET CUTS

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Farewell Salutes –

Sylvan Alcabes – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII

E. Lee Bowman – Broadway, VA; US Navy, WWII

Daniel Doyle – Sarasota, FL; US Army, Major

Thomas Fahey Jr. – Boston, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Margarito Gomez – KS; US Army, WWII, CBI, Corps of Engineers, Bronze Star

Henry Hickman – Palmerston, North, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 403004, WWII, Flt. Sgt.

William Hoks – Lola, WI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Douglas Lane – Chatham, CAN; RC Army, WWII, 17th Field Reg/3rd Forward Observer Unit

Lawrence Smith – Poughkeepsie, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, Yeoman

Leroy Zeedyk – Kankakee, IL; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, LST-169

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U.S. Army’s 242nd Birthday / Flag Day

THE U.S. ARMY

AMERICA’S FIRST NATIONAL INSTITUTION

U.S. Army uniforms through the years

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FLAG DAY 

Today is Flag Day, an annual observance of the Second Continental Congress’ official adoption of the stars and stripes in 1777. At the time, they “resolved that the flag of the 13 United States” be represented by 13 alternating red and white stripes and the union by 13 white stars in a blue field, “representing a new constellation.” Now, more than 200 years later and with an updated design, the flag is an American icon.  Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is the only state to recognize it as a legal holiday.

U.S. Army Sergeant Joey Odoms’ audition to sing the National Anthem from Afghanistan. On  10 November 2016, he performed in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Dillion Baldridge – Youngsville, NC; US Army, Afghanistan, 101st Airborne Division, Cpl., KIA

William Bays- Barstow, CA; US Army, Afghanistan, 101st Airborne Division, Sgt., KIA

Eric Houck – Baltimore, MD; US Army, Afghanistan, 101st Airborne Division, Sgt., KIA

R. Patrick McGinley – Plainville, CT; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Robert ‘Allen’ O’Berry – Kissimmee, FL; US Army, Sgt. (Ret. 20 yrs.)

Marcella Remery – W.Palm Beach, FL; US Army WAC

Harold Roland Jr. – Atlanta, GA; US Army, Korea, 82nd Airborne Division

Richard Stackhouse – Indianapolis, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Lt., B-24 bombardier

Robert Wilke Sr. – Owens Cross Roads, AL; US Army, Vietnam, Lt.Colonel, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Samuel Wilson – Rice, VA; WWII & Vietnam, ‘Merrill’s Marauders, Lt. General (Ret. 37 yrs.), Silver Star (2), Bronze Star (2)

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Gen. Kenney on the End of 1944

90st Bombardment Group; 5th Air Force; 319th, B-24s

General Kenney, Commander of the Fifth Air Force reported:

“Just before dark on 26 December, a Navy Reconnaissance plane sighted a Jap naval force of 1 heavy cruiser, 1 light cruiser and 6 destroyers about 85 miles NW of Mindoro {Philippines], headed toward San Jose.  We had available on out 2 strips there, 12 B-25s from the 71s Recon Squadron, the 58th Fighter Group (P-47s), the 8th Fighter Group (P-38s and the 110 Tactical Recon Squadron (P-40s).

“Every airplane that could fly took off on the attack, which continued until after midnight.  The Japs kept on coming and the planes kept shuttling back and forth, emptying their bomb racks and ammunition belts and returning for more.  In addition to the difficulty of locating and attacking the Nip vessels in the dark, the enemy made the job still harder by bombing our airdromes at intervals through the night.

Gen. MacArthur & Gen. Kenney

“In order to see what they were bombing and strafing, some of our pilots actually turned their landing lights on the Jap naval vessels.  With neither time nor information for briefings during the operation, it was every man for himself and probably the wildest scramble the Nip or ourselves had ever been in.

“Ar 11:00 P.M. the enemy fleet started shelling our fields and kept it up for an hour.  Fires broke out in our gasoline dumps, airplanes were hit, the runways pitted, but the kids still kept up their attack.  The P-47s couldn’t get at their bomb dump because of the fire, so they simply loaded up with ammunition and strafed the decks of every ship in the Jap force.  They said it was “like flying over a blast furnace, with all those guns firing at us.”

“Shortly after midnight. the Jap fleet turned around and headed north. They had been hurt.  A destroyer had been sunk and a cruiser and 2 destroyers heavily damaged.

“The attack had saved our shipping at San Jose from destruction, but it had cost us something too.  Twenty-five fighter pilots and B-25 crew members missing.  We had lost 2 B-25s and 29 fighter aircraft.  During the next few days we picked up 16 of the kids who were still floating around the China Sea in their life rafts.  I got Gen. MacArthur to approve a citation for each of the units that took part in the show.

Lt. Phyllis Hocking, 36 Evac Hospital, Palo, Leyte at Church of Transfiguration

On the 30th, Lt.Col. Howard S. Ellmore, a likable, happy-go-lucky, little blond boy from Shreveport, LA, leading the 417th Attack Group, the “Sky Lancers” caught a Jap convoy in Lingayen Gulf, off Vigan on the west coast of Luzon.  In a whirlwind low-level attack, a destroyer, a destroyer escort, 2 large freighters and one smaller were sunk.

“It was a fitting climax to 1944, which had been an advance from Finschaven to Mindoro, a distance of 2400 miles, equal to that from Washington to San Francisco.  During that time, my kids had sunk a half million tons of Jap shipping and destroyed 3000 Jap aircraft.  Our losses of aircraft in combat during the year were 818.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hazel Bogaard – Sioux Falls, SD; US Army WAC, WWII, CBI, 142nd General Hospital ship, 2nd Lt.

John S. Czyscon – NY Mills, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 711th Ordnance Co./188th parachute Reg./11th Airborne Div.

A soldier’s death

Norman Fraser Sr. – No. York, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Raymond Hall – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4213081, WWII, PTO

Virgil Motsinger – Eugene, OR; US Navy, WWII, USS Anzio (CVE-57)

Jack O’Neill – OR & CA; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Robert E. Oxford – Concord, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, “The Hump”, 1st Lt., KIA

Bobby Stubbs – Sedalia, MO; Korea & Vietnam, Captain (Ret.)

Adam West – Walla Walla, WA; US Army, American Forces Network, (beloved actor)

Vincent Vann Higginbotham Sr. – Springer, OK; US Merchant Marine, WWII

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December 1944 (3) – 11th Airborne Div.

007 (800x598)

Pfc John Chiesa, E Company/188th Regiment/11th Airborne and Privates Davis and Duncan were on the point going up, what would become known as, Purple Heart Hill on 26 December 1944.  Chiesa recalled:

“We just got to the top of this hill when all hell broke loose.  The Japs opened up with their wood peckers and rifles.  Duncan got hit in the rump and he went tumbling down the hill.  I hit the ground and prayed.  Finally, Davis and i jumped up and went diving over the ridge.  We could not see the Japs because they hide pretty good in the jungle.  They were firing and we were trying to fire back, but we could not see them to know where to shoot at.

“Finally, our Platoon leader, Sgt. Kelly, got up on one knee and started to point to show us where to shoot.  About that time, the Japs got him and he was dead.  He was one hell of a soldier, believe me.

“Me, Pvt. Hodges and three other guys in our company went up to the side of the hill and we laid there waiting for someone to tell us what our next move was.  While we waited, I got hungry so i turned around facing down the hill and got out one of my K rations.  I was opening up the can when 20 feet from me this Jap jumped out of the bushes.  He looked at me and I looked at him.  I think he was as surprised as I was.

“I had an M1 rifle laying across my lap.  Everything was done automatically. (Our training came in handy.)  I grabbed the rifle, turned and pulled the trigger.  He was doing the same thing, but I was luckier.  I hit him smack in his Adam’s apple.  I can still see the surprised look on his face…  The thing that will always be on my mind is that if I didn’t stop to eat, those Japs woulda killed all 5 of us.

Colonel Robert “Shorty” Soule, a Major General during Korean War

“When we came back down the hill, Col. Soule came to me and asked what I would do to get those Japs and take the hill.  I thought he was joking.  Here is a colonel, and a damned good one, asking his pfc how to take a hill.

“I told him, ‘Just bomb the hell out of them, blow the hill up.’  We went up the hill the next morning, and after a good bombardment, we took the hill.”

The “good bombardment” had come from A Battery of the 457th.  Capt. Bobo Holloway of the 188th moved within 25 yards of the Japanese position and directed the firing of the artillery, and some 105mm howitzer and 155mm guns.

On 27 December, when they stormed Purple Heart Hill, they encountered hand-to-hand combat, then proceeded to occupy the old enemy holes as the Japanese evicted them.  Those of the enemy that escaped and headed north, ran into part of Col. Pearsons’ 187th Regiment.  The bloody battle for Purple Heart Hill had lasted for almost 5 weeks.

Japanese WWII “woodpecker”

Information is from “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan (Ret.)

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frederick Crosby – San Diego, CA; US Navy, Vietnam, pilot, Lt.Comdr., KIA

Norman Fraser – North York, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Henry Glenn Jr. – Largo, FL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Temple Hill – Marshville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 top turret gunner

Freddie Knight – Panama City, FL; US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam,Night Fighter (Ret. 27 years)

Tommy Manns – Abilene, TX; US Navy, WWII, radioman, USS Telfair

Remington Peters – CO; US Navy SEAL, 2 deployments, SWO 1st Class

Thomas Sherman – Chagrin Falls, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Joseph Valderrama – brn: SPN/NJ; US Coast Guard, WWII, ETO, USS Faunce & Breckenridge

Frances Weill – Donora, PA; civilian, WWII, torpedo construction

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Memorial Day 2017

MEMORIAL DAY.

WHO DO YOU SAY THANK YOU TO?

Should you care to see Memorial Day posts from past years ____

Michael’s Tree – planted by Lavinia & Rick Ross in honor of my son, Michael USMC.

2016

2015(1) and 2015 (2)

2014

2013

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Farewell Salutes –

Jacob Baboian – Watertown, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Thomas Coughlin – Portland, OR; US Army, WWII, Corps of Engineers

Lamar Day – Salt Lake City, UT; US Navy, WWWII, PTO, USS John Pope

Edward Flora – Mishawaka, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, A/674th Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Earle Garlinger – Roswell, NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, (Ret. 21 years)

Harold Kline – Charlotte, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 737th/454/15th Air Force

James O’Leary – Manchester, NH; USMC, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Cuban Missile Crisis

Michael Sadlo – Hollywood, FL; USMC, Pfc

Everett Smith – Broad Channel, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/187th/11th Airborne Division

Vartan Torosian – Pleasant Hill, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188th/11th Airborne Division

Albert Washington Jr. – Midland, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO

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Gen. Robert Eichelberg’s Leyte

Col. Aubrey Newman depicted in Leyte 1944, “Follow Me” H. Charles McBarron

“Eighth Army took over Leyte on Christmas Day.  There were 8 divisions fighting there when I assumed command.  When the 32nd Div. and 1st Cavalry broke through on a narrow front, GHQ described the Leyte campaign as officially closed and future operations as “mopping-up.”

“Actually, the Japanese Army was still intact.  I was told there were only 6,000 Japanese left on the island.  This estimate was in serious error.  Soon, Japanese began streaming across the Ormoc Valley, well equipped and apparently well-fed.  It took several months of the roughest kind of combat to defeat this army.  Between Christmas Day and the end of the campaign, we killed more than 27,000 Japanese.

“Many others, evacuated safely by bancas (small boats), and reappeared to fight the 8th Army on other islands.  I called these singularly alive veteran troops the Ghosts of Leyte.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur with Maj. General Joseph Swing, Lt. Gen. Richard Sutherland, and Gen. Robert Eichelberger. (US National Archives)

“I am a great admirer of Gen. MacArthur as a military strategist…  But I must admit that after 6 years serving under him, I never understood the public relations policy that either he or his assistants established.  It seems to me ill advised to announce victories when a first phase had been accomplished…

“Too often, as at Buna, Sanananda, as on Leyte, Mindanao and Luzon, the struggle was to go on for a long time.Often these announcements produce bitterness among combat troops, and with good cause.  The phrase “mopping-up” had no particular appeal for a haggard, muddy sergeant of the Americal Division whose platoon had just been wiped out in western Leyte…  Or to the historian of the 11th Airborne, who wrote:

‘Through mud and rain, over treacherous rain-swollen gorges, through jungle growth, over slippery, narrow, root-tangled, steep foot trails, the Angels pushed wet to clear the Leyte mountain range…  It was bitter, exhausting, rugged fighting – physically the most terrible we were ever to know.’

457th Field Artillery/11th Airborne Div., Leyte

The combat infantryman deserved the best and usually fared the poorest in the matter of sugar plums, luxuries and mail from home.  The home folks in America were vastly generous, but transport to the front could not always carry out their good intentions.  Ammunition and rations came first.  This – the G.I. could understand… But, it was disconcerting to find out he had only been “mopping -up”.

“If there is another war, I recommend that the military and the correspondents and everyone else concerned, drop the phrase “mopping-up” from their vocabularies.  It is NOT a good enough phrase to die for.”

This informational quote is from “Our Jungle Road to Tokyo” by General Robert Eichelberger.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Carrington – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Norman Fraser – No. York, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Virgil Hess – South Bend, IN; USMC, WWII, PTO

Thomas Kinsman – Renton, WA; US Army, Vietnam, B/3/60/9th Infantry Div., Medal of Honor

Roger ‘Whitey’ Lebon – Pana, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Anne Morrissy Merick – NYC, NY; civilian war correspondent, Vietnam

Roger Moore – London, ENG; Royal Army Service Corps # 372394, Captain, (beloved actor)

Amos Smith – Houma, LA; US Army, WWII

Richard Tuff – Salem, OR; US Navy, WWII, USS Enterprise

Joseph Valderrama – brn: SPN/NJ; US Coast Guard, WWII, ETO, USS Faunce & Breckenridge

Wayne Wills – Hampton, VA; US Coast Guard, WWII

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December on Leyte

11th Airborne member with carabao and herder

In the hills west of Burauen, Gen. Swing ordered Col. Harry Wilson into the hills.   According to Chief Warrant Officer Nelson, “We moved off light, each man carrying his own weapon, with ammo and 2 day’s K rations.  In our wake moved Lt. Eli Berheim’s supply train; its rolling stock a herd of sluggish, patient carabao loaded with heavy weapons, spare ammo and the heavier signal equipment.  Such was the life in the ‘modernized war.'”

Eli Bernheim had more than his share of trouble with the carabao and resupplying the 2nd Battalion/187th Regiment/11th Airborne Division.

“I had the problem of getting adequate ammo resupply to the battalion area through the incredible mud.   Col. Wilson has issued me a substantial amount of pesos.  I bought a number of carabao and a couple of young Filipino herders.  We built some heavy bamboo sleds and dragged the ammo to the battalion area…

“I became somewhat notorious as the chief of the carabao pack train.  There were some humorous incidents.  We didn’t know that males and females had to be separated.  Unfortunately, we had one females who went into heat and the males started fighting and goring, resulting in some severe wounds.

457th Field Artillery Battalion

“The Filipinos kept yelling “creosote, creosote” which we didn’t understand until it became apparent that this was the prescribed treatment for gore wounds.  We had no creosote, but there was the usual supply of the World War II delight – Dubbin, and for once it was useful.

“I won’t go into the details on the horrors of the march through the mountains, I can recall more than one night spent in a hole with water up to my chin or in places where you couldn’t dig a hole and tried to sleep on the mud covered by a poncho.

“Eventually, we could take the carabao no further.  We lost 2 heavy machine-gun cradles when a carabao fell off a ridge.  We finally turned the animals lose and the herders tried to backtrack,  I don’t know what ever happened to them.”

While Lt. Bernheim had his hands full supplying the 2nd/187th, the 1st Battalion had been patrolling deep into the area behind Bito Beach going after and successfully eliminating a number of the Japanese who had survived their transport crashings.  The battalion moved by amtracs to occupy the east end of San Pablo airstrip.

A battery of the 457th/11th Airborne was preparing to make a jump on Manarawat.  Normally 12 C-47’s were required for the firing battery to make the jump, but Colonel Nick Stadherr only had one.  To spare the battery from making a trek across the mountains, the pilot chose an area 500′ x 150′ for the drop zone (DZ).  With cliffs on all sides, the 11th Airborne historian wrote:

“…tremendously proficient jump-mastering by Col. Stadherr, who personally jumped each planeload, landed all equipment and men in 13 plane trips, directly in the center of the field… No injuries were sustained, even though the men jumped from 300′.  From that day on, A Battery provided 360° support to all the infantry fighting in the area.

This information is from, The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division, by Lt.General E.M. Flanagan (Ret.).   Gen. Flanagan was the commander of B Battery/457th Parachute Field Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Army – Practical Joke.

‘Every war game scenario I’ve run has you picking up the check.’

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ray Aders – Lelcester, NC; US Army, WWII, ETO, Graves Registration

Michael Beard – Sussex, ENG; British Navy, WWII, HMS Vengence, radioman

Lois Dinnadge – NZ; NZWAAC # 809017, WWII

Elroy Hempstead – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Sgt.

Elmer Kessel – Independence, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Jack LaFleur – Island Heights, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO & Korea

Albin Lozowski – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Adolph ‘Len’ Scott – Dryden, MN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Belleau Wood. aviation machinist mate

Kenneth Trickett – San Bernadino, CA; US Navy, WWII, USS Price, fire control

Joseph Zasa – Mountain Brook, AL; US Army, WWII, PTO, Corps of Engineers

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December 1944 (2)

Avenger on the deck of the USS Anzio, Typhoon Cobra, December 1944

16 December – Douglas MacArthur was promoted to Five-Star General.  It seemed that General MacArthur’s promotion to General of the Army would require assistance from many sides.  It posed a problem in the respect that there was no such object as a five-star insignia in existence in the Pacific.  A clever Filipino silversmith created one from a miscellaneous collection of Dutch, Australian and Filipino coins.

USS Langley (CVL-27), Typhoon Cobra

17 December – Typhoon Cobra hit the Philippine Islands.  TF-38 was caught off-guard and the destroyers, USS Hull, Mongham and Spence were sunk and 22 other vessels received damage.  While 150 aircraft were blown off the decks of the carriers, more than 750 sailors drowned.

19 December – Adm. Nimitz was made Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Fleet and Pacific Areas, thereby promoting him to Fleet Admiral of the US Navy, a 5-Star Admiral.

USS Bryant

21→22 December – an American destroyer, the USS Bryant was damaged by the Japanese kamikaze pilots off Mindoro, P.I.  The Bryant had seen the plane approaching and while maneuvering to avoid collision, the kamikaze basically just clipped her and exploded beneath the waves.

22→29 December – Japanese Gen. Yamashita radioed Gen. Suzuki’s headquarters in Cebu City: “RE-DEPLY YOUR TROOPS TO FIGHT EXTENDED HOLDING ACTIONS IN AREAS OF YOUR CHOICE.  SELECT AREAS SUCH AS BACALOD ON NEGROS WHICH ARE HIGHLY SUITABLE FOR SELF-SUSTAINING ACTION.  THIS MESSAGE RELIEVES YOU OF YOUR ASSIGNED MISSION.”

Gen. Yamashita

This message would not reach Suzuki for 3 days, by which time his troops were being surprised by Gen. Bruce’s men.  The enemy fled to San Isidro and Palompon was taken by the 77th Division unopposed on Christmas Day.  Suzuki and about 10,000 of his troops concentrated at Mount Canquipot, whose eastern and western slopes made the sector a natural fortress.  They could hear Christmas carols coming from the G.I.’s.  Stragglers arrived from the Japanese 1st Division and 68th Brigade, but lost 100 men a day due to starvation.

29 December – Suzuki received a mess age from Gen. Fukue stating that the 102nd Division were leaving in boats for Cebu.  When Suzuki ordered them to remain in place – his message was ignored.  Approximately 743 men, all that remained of the prize Gem Division would evacuate by 12 January 1945.  Gen. Eichelberger’s 8th Army closed in on Suzuki and Mount Canquipot.

25 December – Yamashita informed Suzuki that he considered Leyte a lost cause and this date was originally designated as the end of organized resistance on Leyte, but the troops that remained assigned to the “mopping-up” of the island [7th Division] would beg to differ.

26 December – a Japanese naval force bombarded US installations on Mindoro and the Americans sank the IJN destroyer Kiyoshimo, (清霜, “Clear Frost”).

click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – for those finally returning home…

Homer Abney – Dallas, TX; US Army, Korea, Sgt., KIA

Robert Barnett – Austin, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, Captain, pilot, KIA

Murray Cargile – Robertsonville, NC; US Navy, Pearl Harbor, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Louis Damewood – Carroll County, MD; US Army, Korea, Cpl.,HQ/3/38/2nd Div., KIA

Joseph Durakovich – Gary, IN; US Army, Korea, MSgt., KIA

William Kennedy – Titonka, IA; US Navy, Pearl Harbor, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

James Mainhart – Butler, PA; US Army, Korea, Cpl., KIA

George Perreault – Burlington, VT; US Army, Korea, Cpl., KIA

William Ryan – Hoboken, NJ; USMC, Vietnam, 1st Lt., KIA

James Whitehurst – Dotham, AL; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., KIA (Tarawa)

Those that still remain missing – 

from WWII – 73,060

Korea – 7,751

Vietnam – 1,611

Iraq – 6

At the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

A military ceremony was held for unclaimed cremains of five Veterans from Potter County (Amarillo), Texas. The Veterans are:

Michael Topp
Michael Papencheck
Ronald Stevenson
Laird Orton Jr.
Jerry Harris

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