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Japan’s Underground

Ammunition is removed from storage cave at Takatsuki Dump, Osaka.

General Swing made General Pierson commander of the 187th and 188th joint group which became known as the Miyagi Task Force. They set up their headquarters in an insurance company building in Sendai. The principle responsibility of the Miyagi Task Force was to collect and destroy all arms, munitions and armament factories. They were also charged with seeing that General MacArthur’s edicts were all carried out. Many of the military installations had underground tunnels filled with drill presses and machine tools of all types. The entire zone needed to be demilitarized and equipment destroyed. Colonel Tipton discovered a submarine base for the two-man subs and a small group of men still guarding them. They told the colonel that they just wanted to go home.

The Japanese mainland was still potentially a colossal armed camp, and there was an obvious military gamble in landing with only two and a half divisions, then confronted by fifty-nine Japanese divisions, thirty-six brigades, and forty-five-odd regiments plus naval and air forces.

In this, June 23, 2015 photo, journalists walk underground tunnels that Japan’s Imperial Navy once used as secret headquarters underneath of Hiyoshi Campus. (Eugene Hoshiko)

On a hillside overlooking a field where students play volleyball, an inconspicuous entrance leads down a slope—and seemingly back in time—to Japan’s secret Imperial Navy headquarters in the final months of World War II. Here, Japan’s navy leaders made plans for the fiercest battles from late 1944 to the war’s end in August 1945. The navy commanders went rushing to the underground command center whenever US B-29 bombers flew over. The tunnel had ventilation ducts, a battery room, food storage with ample stock of sake, and deciphering and communications departments.

Considerable stocks of war equipment were dispersed amid the tangled masses of fire blackened girders, in thousands of caches located deep in the hills, in carefully constructed tunnels and warehouses, and over miles of Japanese landscape. Along the shores near the great ports, there remained many permanent fortresses. Japan’s frantic preparations for a last ditch stand against invasion resulted in numerous hastily built coastal defenses. (Plate No. 41) The majority of these coastal defenses were manned by brigades. The larger and more permanent installations were equipped with heavy artillery and were concentrated in strategic locations such as the peninsula which forms Tokyo Bay, the northern entrance to the Inland Sea, the southern tip of Kyushu, and the coastline around Fukuoka. Almost three hundred airfields, ranging from bomber and supply strips to “Kamikaze” strips, sheltered some 6,000 Japanese combat aircraft capable of providing air cover and close support for the ground and naval forces. (Plate No. 42) Japanese arsenals, munitions factories, steel plants, aircraft factories, and ordnance depots were widely scattered throughout the country.   Japanese naval vessels consisting of carriers, battleships, destroyers, submarines, and auxiliary and maintenance craft were anchored in all of the major ports.

June 23, 2015 photo, staff members of Keio University walk underground tunnels that Japan’s Imperial Navy once used as secret headquarters underneath of Hiyoshi Campus in Yokohama. (Eugene Hoshiko)

In the Sixth Army zone during the month of November 1945, at least ten ports were in operation, and approximately 4,500 tons of ammunition were disposed of daily.

Records later indicated that actually some 2,468,665 rifles and carbines were received by the Occupation forces and later disposed of. The Japanese reported more artillery ammunition than small arms ammunition. Ammunition for the grenade launcher, often known as the “knee mortar,” was also more plentiful; some 51,000,000 rounds were reported, or an average of 1,794 rounds for each weapon.

This Japanese underground bunker consists of many rooms and was built by Korean and Chinese forced laborers during the Second World War.

a check on the police stations in Aomori, Hirosaki, and Sambongi (all towns in Aomori Prefecture) produced some 1,880 rifles, 1,881 bayonets, 18 light machine guns, 505,260 rounds of rifle and machine gun ammunition, 46,980 rounds of blank ammunition, one case of TNT, and 150 military swords. Daily G-2 and CIC reports revealed many instances of smaller caches, sometimes in school compounds.

The Matsushiro Underground Imperial Headquarters (松代大本営跡, Matsushiro Daihon’ei Ato, “Matsushiro Imperial Headquarters Site”) was a large underground bunker complex built during WWII in the town of Matsushiro which is now a suburb of Nagano, Japan.  The facility was constructed so that the central organs of government of Imperial Japan could be transferred there. In its construction, three mountains that were symbolic of the Matsushiro municipality were damaged.

Entrance to the Matsushiro Zouzan underground shelter

Approximately seven million armed men, including those in the outlying theaters, had  laid down their weapons. In the accomplishment of the extraordinarily difficult and dangerous surrender of Japan, unique in the annals of history, not a shot was necessary, not even a drop of Allied blood was shed. 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

‘I count only four parachutes. Where’s Mr. Simms?’

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Quarantine Humor –

“I’ve found the stupidity virus.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Nancy Binetti – Roselle, NJ; Civilian, WWII, Canden Shipyards

Juan M. Covarrubias – Hanford, CA; US Army, Iraq, Spc., 1/227/1st Air Calvary Division, KIA

Robert Drake (100) – Pueblo, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO

John Hilty – MD; US Army, Iraq, Sgt. 1st Class, 1/227 Aviation Regiment/ 1/1st Calvary Division, KIA

Glenn Kraft – Cumberland, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, pilot

Eldon “Pounce” Musgrave – Athens, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 crewman

Marshall Roberts – OK; Oklahoma Air National Guard, Iraq, SSgt., KIA

Vera Schapps (106) – NYC, NY; Civilian, WWII, Air Raid Warden

Bob Underwood – DeWitt, AR; US Air Force, Korea, Sgt. (Airman 1st Class), Medic / Red Cross, Baptist Minister

Jennie Zito – Thompson’s Station, TN; Civilian, WWII, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft

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Letter Home, From Tokyo – conclusion

Here is the conclusion of the letter Joe Teri wrote home as he settled in during the Occupation of Japan.  Please do not be offended by any slang that was used back in the day.  The pictures are examples, none accompanied the letter.

Our airforce has done perfect precision bombing, they only wrecked just what they wanted to, the train system is perfect, the trolley line is in good condition, but the War plants are a mass of rubbish.  The Japs have had more equipt than our eyes can believe, even our General here said, we under estimated the Japs at the time of our arrival here, by 60 percent and thats an awful lot, we had planned during the War to make an invasion here, if we had to we would have never got here it would have been suicide for every man and ship.  The land out here is all Mts and islands and in those Mts the Japs have hundreds and hundreds of dual 16 inch guns, those guns are about the most powerful guns any one can have one alone is as big as the biggest one on our ships, so you can Just imagine what 2 of them together can do, they have a channel here about 50 miles long all surrounded with islands, and the ships have to travel about 2 knots an hour in order to get by the islands.  The Japs have caves, miles long with enough equiptment to have a war for at least 10 years they even have complete factories never touched yet in the caves, it must have taken 50 years to get all this accomplished we are destroying the Jap war equipt every day.  I hear a lot of exploding all day long every day.  General Eichenberger says it will take years to destroy all the Jap war equipt and he is right as no matter where you look theres thousands of tons of equipt.  My Colenel says we haven’t discovered half of the things the Japs have yet, they have everything hidden in caves, and perfectly concealed, we have to go hunting for all there things each day. so it will take months and months to find them as the Jap civilians don’t even know where all there loaded packed caves are, every day a bunch of new ones turn up.  Can you imagine these Japs having all that.  What I have been writing is no rumor, it is the actual truth, if it wasnt for the Atomic bomb, this war would have lasted for years to come, as the U.S. has underestimated the Japs by a very long margin, that Atomic bomb is a miracle sent down from heaven.  Well enough of this war talk as the war is over now.  Tokyo is about 400 miles from here, the trains run to there, I sure hope I can get to see that city before I come home, I have been looking for souveniers, but as yet, havent found anything, the japs havent any thing at all except the War equipt and thats in the U.S. Army hands now, they don’t even have enough clothes to wear, they dress in rags, the weather here is pretty cold just now, they have a big snow fall each winter so I guess Ill see a very very lonesome White Christmas.

This club I am working and living in is a very, very beautiful Jap home, a Jap General used to live here, it is in perfect condition and a pretty new home, it has 18 rooms in it with sliding panel windows and doors, over 100 of them the whole house can be opened on all sides, it has beautiful furniture in it made very low, as the the Japs sit on the straw mats on the floor, also take their shoes off when entering any home, their is a jap phone here, still working, servants quarters and a push button bell system, that shows the no of the room at the back hallway for every room here, just like we have in our hospitals, electric system, with electric heat, all marble fire place, Gas for cooling, 2 beautiful lavortories with running water, the Japs dont use stools, they squat, a real big wash room, laundry room, an extra serving kitchen next to the dining room, thats where I built my nice little service bar, only done a little fixing up as the room is almost perfect for a service bar, we have real good U.S. radio here, fire extingishers and beautiful carvings all the sliding doors in the house are made of wood lining with paper frames they sure are delicate, have of them are ripped already, a beautiful terrace, and a real beautiful entrance with a drive way to the entrance, hard wood beautiful floors, 2 real nice hall ways, with all the rooms in between them, the lawn is beautiful it has build in little hills with real old flat big stones to sit on around them, grass, and a lot of real ancient beautiful trees even a lamp post made out of a tree in the lawn, it has wooden shutters all around the house, the house is mostly made out of wood and sand cement, it could burn up in 20 minutes, they have a real nice hot steam bath room, but no running hot water, it is all to beautiful to believe and I am living here, it is my home, while out here, isnt that swell.

Well I have to close the bar now as it is 10:30 PM, so will close this letter now, I hope you have enjoyed reading this letter, I have tried to it interesting, I could write for days, but havent the time, Im praying all 3 of you are in the best of health.  I am in good health and getting along fairly well.  All my Love and best Regards to all of you, Write soon.  Kiss Don for me.

Your Brother in Law                         G.I. Joe Teri

Im sending you 5 yen, 1 yen and 50 sen.  One yen is 16-⅓ cents 100 sens make 1 yen – 15 yen make dollar

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  Military Humor –   Reader’s Digest style – 

“No Ferguson, the military does Not have Casual Fridays!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quarantine Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Bloom – Boston, MA; US Army, WWII, Africa, Meteorologist

Christopher Curry – Terra haute, IN; US Army, Iraq, Sgt., 3/21/1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team/25th Division, KIA

Richard Hunt – Pittsburgh, PA; American Field Service, WWII, India

Robert D. Jenks – Sutherland, IA; USMC, WWII, PTO, D Co./6th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Frederick Kroesen – Phillipsburg, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO; Korea & Vietnam, General (Ret. 40 y.) / Army VChief of Staff

J. Howard Lucas – Dogwood, AL; US Navy, WWII

Matthew Morgan – East Islip, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Fiske

Austin Newman – Oneida, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Don Shula – Grand River, OH; Ohio National Guard, Korea / NFL Coach

Florence Wilhelmsen – Brooklyn, NY; Civilian, USO entertainer, WWII

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Letter Home From Tokyo – part one

We have Mrs P. to thank for this letter.  It came from her neighbor, Len G. whose uncle Joe reached Japan and wanted the family to know what it was like for him.  This letter is being re-typed exactly as it originally reads.

 

Wednesday Evening

Nov. 14, 1945 – 9PM

Kure, Japan

My Dear Carters & Son:

Received your most enjoyable letter some time ago on Oct 18, I was so very busy ever since I landed here in Japan, that I really hadn’t much time to write, I still owe about 4 letters out and hope I can get them written in the very near future, believe me.  I am on duty now, while writing this letter to you, business is very slow now, so I have a good chance in getting this letter written.  I am so sorry and ask your apoligy for not writing sooner, I’ll try to answer your next letter as soon as possible.  I’m certain I’ll have more time then.  I will write to Mother & Dad, next first chance I get.  I wrote a letter to Elaine today, shall mail both of these in the morning.  I miss her and baby so very much.  I love both of them more than anything in the world.  I miss all of you terribly.  I’m praying hard for my home coming day to come, as yet, I don’t know when I’ll ever be home as nothing has been said about discharging fathers yet.  A lot of high pointers are leaving every day, the 60 pointers will start leaving next week, I only have 21 points, so I’ll never get home by the point system, my only hope is discharging fathers.  I may be home in March or April, I hope it will be much sooner.

 

I guess Elaine has been telling you most of the news about me, so you should know, just about what I have been doing.  I sure have done a lot of traveling in a short time, since I left the States I have been at the Marshalls Islands, Carolinas Islands, Leyte, Mindonao and now here in Kure, Japan.  I also have been at Okinawa, passed by Iwo Jima, that sure has been a lot of traveling.  Don’t you think so. Japan surrendered when I was near the Carolinas, coming from the States, I was on the ocean 50 days out of 60.  I’m sure tired of ships, after I get home, I don’t care if I ever see another ship, living on those ships was terrible, we lived just like rats and were packed like sardines.  I hope my trip back home won’t be that bad  The food has been terrible all the way here, until I got the luckiest break I ever got before in this rotten army, about 3 weeks ago, my C O called me in his office and told me, he looked up my records and seen I was a bartender and manager in civilian life, so the F.A. Division is opening an officers club and be the bartender.  there are 167 officers in this club, so I told him, I will gladly take that Job, and I’ll do my utmost best, so here I am at the officers club now,  I live just like a civilian now, I live here at the club and eat at the officers mess, I eat like a king now, all I want and plenty of real fresh food, steaks, chops, eggs, butter, fresh veg. and lots of other real good food, before I came here, I have been eating C and K rations ever since I have been on land since I have left the states.  I also made 2 ratings since I came to Japan, about a month ago I made Pfc and last week I made T-5 – thats the same rating as a corpal, so I am now a corporal, it means about $18.00 a month more, not that I care for anything in this lousy army, I still want to be a plain old civilian, I was given this T-5 rating because I know the bar trade and am in charge of the Bar here at the club, another fellow also lives here with me, he is the stewart, but knows nothing about the business.  As long as I have to stay out here, I am very much satisfied with this bartender job I have.  I also have to take care of the club in the daytime and see that the 4 Japs we have working here, do a good job in cleaning up and other things we need done, I don’t have any more inspections, formations, waiting on line to eat, live in a real cold rotton barrack, Gaurd Duty and any one to order me around, on different dirty details, I am now my own boss, dress in my uniform every day and do just about anything I please, except leave the club, I live just like a civilian, and am respected by the officers and there are quite a few Colenels and high officers here, even the General gets drunk here, they all say I’m doing a swell job and always thank me, I even make tips here not much, but about $5.00 a week, that isn’t so bad considering Im in the army.

Hokkaido on R&R skiing

Notice this paper I am writing on it is Japanese Naval business paper, the writing on it says Super fine Naval paper that’s what my Jap worker told me.  The Japs are behaving very nicely and do just as we tell them to.  The women do all the work and the men do nothing, these women out here do twice as much work than the average man in the states, its unbelievable the way they work, they are about 100 yrs backward, and do everything the hard way, they even carry their babies over their backs, the way I carry my pack coming over here.  They still have a lot of ancient customs and very hard to understand, they also are plenty sneaky and smart.  This city Kure, is a, or rather was a very  big industrial War plant city, it has, bus lines, trolleys, trains, electricity, Gas, steam heat, and a lot of modern things in it, the population  one time was over 300 thousand, I dont know what it is now, Hiroshima is only 15 miles from here, I visited the outskirts of it, and all I can see is dirt and more dirt, not even a house or anything for miles & miles, thats where the Atomic bomb was dropped, boy I still cant believe my eyes that one bomb can do that much damage.  Hiroshima also was a big Industrial city with a population of over 300 thousand now it looks like the wide open spaces in Texas, no one would not believe it, if he were told that Hiroshima once had big factories and homes in it, and could see nothing but dirt there now.  Kure has also been terribly bombed, but the magnificent part of it is that all the War plants, Airplane base, Submarine base and war tings were bombed to rubbish and the homes weren’t even touched.

To be continued …..

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Military Humor –

“Of course I speak your language — I can say Both takusan and sukoshi!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quarantine Humor – 

(Frankly, I’ll miss the quarantine humor when this pandemic is all over, but for ALL our sake, I hope we whip this disease soon!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Mary (Dyer) Alligood – Winter Garden, FL; US Navy WAVES, WWII

James Beggs – Bethesda, MD; US Navy, aeronautics / NASA, Administrator

William Bolinger – LaFollette, TN; US Army, WWII, PTO, TSgt., Bronze Star

John Dewey – Galva, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 10th Mountain Division

Hugh Fricks – Seattle, WA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Lt., 6th Marines, Navy Cross, KIA (Tarawa)

Philip Kahn (100) – NYC, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-29 pilot

Howard Miller – San Mateo, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Co A/1/6th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Carlos Santos Sr. (101) – Ludlow, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Paul Stonehart – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, radar

Robert Wilson – Villa Rica, GA; US Army, WWII & Korea, Captain

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11th Airborne Medic (2)

11th A/B medics

Being as the world situation hasn’t changed much and the previous post was so well received, I decided all of you must be glad I haven’t gotten back to any sad or depressing posts on the Pacific side of the war.

So, here is another story told to us by Ray Sweet of the Medical Detachment/152nd Airborne Anti Aircraft Battalion/11th Airborne Division.

During WWII, aluminum was a fairly precious metal , so iron was used to manufacture beer containers for use overseas.  (A beer post will follow this one).

Into the dispensary one day came this small patient accompanied by her frantic mother, who spoke no English.  The little one, while playing, had found an empty beer can.  For some reason or another, she chose to insert her tongue only to find the can now firmly stuck to the end of her tongue and impossible to remove.

The medics on duty, seeing her big, brown eyes full of fear and a tear upon her tiny cheek, were beside themselves as what to do.  After a hurried conference,it was decided to call the motor pool to come with some tin snips and assist.  Upon seeing the huge automotive sheers, both mother and child became even more frightened.

Airborne Medic, even in antiaircraft units

After an hour of very careful and painstaking work on the part of the motor pool, all but a jagged, star-shaped piece of metal surrounding the tongue had been removed.  Then it was the medics’ turn to address the problem.

Using two pair of forceps, the metal ring around the tongue was slowly bent backwards and forwards.  It seemed like a thousand times before it broke and fell free, without a trace of blood.  The little one ran to her mother crying and it was over.

The ambulance driver and the big, gruff guy from the motor pool that everyone called “Sarge” were both in tears, but it was over.

There were definitely advantages to being a medic, that made up for all the bloody and boring bits!

 

This story was originally published in “The Voice of the Angels”, 11th A/B Division newspaper.

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Military Humor –

CPR exhibited by one who knows…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Corona virus – on the lighter side – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edward Bloch – Philadelphia, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Milik J. Craig – USA; US Army, Spec., 1/501st Infantry Regiment

Andy Frasieur (101) – Yoncalla, OR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Chirf Warrant Officer, Purple Heart

Titus Hagy – Harpers Ferry, WV; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Arlyn V. Mathewson – Bailey, OH; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

John Prine – Chicago, IL; US Army / singer

Lloyd Puett – Etowah, TN; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 1st Class

Cody L. Randall – Wasilla, AK; US Army, Sgt., Co. C/307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion

Donald D. Stoddard – Boulder, CO; USMC, WWII, ETO & PTO, 2nd, 6th & 8th Marines, Sgt., KIA (Tarawa)

Jason A. Thomas – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, Spec., 1st Squadron/40th Cavalry Regiment

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U.S. to compensate Guam for the Japanese Occupation

Japanese POWs play baseball in their compound, Guam 1945

Guam the small island with a big history.

The history of the twentieth century is littered with the dead. There were men and women transported to the Nazi death camps, others that suffered and died in Cambodian killing fields, yet more killed in Rwanda for being from the wrong tribe.

But behind all the attention-grabbing headline horrors are smaller, no less terrible war crimes.

On the day the Imperial Japanese Navy launched its attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, December 7th, 1941, another attack was getting underway on the US island territory of Guam in Micronesia

Landing on the beach the Japanese 144th Infantry Regiment, South Seas Detachment took on the small US military garrison taking two days to defeat the Americans.

The Japanese assault outnumbered the US ten to one in manpower and brought the might of twenty ships, including four heavy cruisers and four destroyers, to bear on the single minesweeper and two small patrol boats at the garrison port. The Americans scuttled the minesweeper and one of the patrol boats before surrendering in the Western Pacific.

The occupation of Guam lasted more than two-and-a-half years. 406 US military personnel were captured and the native Chamorros people were pressed into servitude, interned in concentration camps, suffered rape and torture.

The island was recaptured after a battle that lasted through July and August 1944 and a war reparations treaty was signed with Japan in 1951, preventing the government of Guam from suing Japan for war damages.

This did nothing to heal the sense the survivors of the war atrocities felt that they had been abandoned by the US Government.

Now, more than seventy-five years after their liberation, the Chamorros are receiving financial compensation for the crimes committed by the Japanese during the occupation.

The funds are not coming from Japan but from US Section-30 cash, a fund sent to Guam to pay for general obligations and projects.

It is a compromise following many decades of appeals and lobbying by members of Congress and residents of the island and was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2016.

Survivors will receive money on a sliding scale, $10,000 for people interned or sent on forced marches, $12,000 for personal injury or who had been forced to work for the occupiers, $15,000 for severe injury, including rape and $25,000 for relatives of those killed.

These amounts are broadly in line with claims paid out to survivors of Japanese occupations on other island territories in the region. The federal agency set a window of one year for all applications for compensation.

Antonina Palomo Cross was just seven years old when the Japanese invaded and was at a church service when the sirens filled the air.

Her family had to give up their home to the invaders and were forced to march to a concentration camp. On a forced march the family had to carry Antonina’s baby sister who had died from malnutrition.

She is now 85  and says of her compensation pay-out that she is happy to get it despite the amount not yet being confirmed.

Approximately three-thousand residents, manåmko or ‘elders’ in the Chamorros language are likely to qualify for the money although some have been hesitant about making a claim.

Chamorro performers

Judith Perez, who at seventy-six was just a babe in arms at the time, regrets that her parents never received such recognition for suffering, “It’s great to have money, but the people who are more deserving of it are the ones who really suffered physically and mentally, but they’re gone,” she said.

In 2004, a federal Guam War Claims Review Commission found the U.S. had a moral obligation to compensate Guam for war damages in part because of its 1951 peace treaty with Japan.

Commission member Benjamin Cruz said the U.S. did not want to further burden Japan with reparations as it sought to recover from the war. But the treaty effectively prevented Guam from suing Japan for damages.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – Bill Mauldon style – 

That can’t be a combat man. He’s lookin’ for a fight.”

“Let’s grab this one, Willie. He’s packed wit’ vitamins.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Coy Beluse – Hattiesburg, MS; US Navy, WWII

William Calvert Sr. – Montclair, NJ; US Army, WWII, Medical Corps

Thomas Donzal – Eugene, OR; RAF/US Army Air Corps,WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, Colonel (Ret.)

John Fruzyna – Northlake, IL; US Army, Korea, HQ Co./187th RCT

Richard Hover – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Korea, Purple Heart

Lester Jackson – Muldrow, OK; US Arm, WWII, PTO

Edward Murphy – Claymont, DE; USMC, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 2nd Marine Division, Bronze Star

Roy Ourso – White Castle, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO, 4th Marine Division / Korea

Norman C. Rosfeld Jr. – Green Tree, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-29 radioman

Jeanne Scallon – Harrisburg, PA; US Army WAC, WWII

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British Commonwealth Occupation Forces – Japan

 

Participation in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) marked the first time that Australians were involved in the military occupation of a sovereign nation which it had defeated in war. BCOF participation in the allied occupation force was announced on 31 January 1946, though planning and negotiations had been in progress since the end of the war. The main body of Australian troops arrived in Japan on 21 February.

Up to 45,000 Australians served in BCOF, including an infantry contingent of 4,700, base units consisting of 5,300, an air force wing of 2,200 and 130 from the Australian General Hospital. The Australian Navy also had a presence in the region as part of the British Pacific Fleet. For two thirds of the period of occupation the Commonwealth was represented solely by Australians and throughout its existence BCOF was always commanded by an Australian officer.

Japanese prefectures

The BCOF area of responsibility was the western prefectures of Shimani, Yamaguchi, Tottori, Okayama, Hiroshima and Shikoku Island. BCOF headquarters were located at Kure, the army was encamped at Hiro, the RAAF at Iwakuni, and the naval shore establishment at the former Japanese naval base at Kure. At the peak of its involvement the Australian component of BCOF was responsible for over 20 million Japanese citizens and 57,000 sq. kilometres of country. Adjacent to the area of Australian responsibility were prefectures occupied by the 2 New Zealand EF (Japan), the British and Indian Division (Brindiv) and, further away, the US 8th Army. 

100 Yen BCOF note

The main Australian occupation component was the 34th Infantry Brigade, which arrived in early 1946, and was made up of the 65th, 66th and 67th Battalions. The RAN ships that served were: HMAS Australia, HMAS Hobart, HMAS Shropshire and the destroyers: HMAS AruntaBataanCulgoaMurchisonShoalhavenQuadrantQuiberon. Landing Ships Infantry: ManooraWestralia and Kanimbla were used for transport. 

The Australian air force component was stationed at Bofu, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The RAAF Squadrons which served were No. 76, No. 77 and No. 82, all flying Mustangs. The air force component of BCOF was known as BCAIR. By 1950 only one Australian squadron, No 77, remained in Japan.

By early 1947, BCOF had begun to decline from its peak of over 40,000 service personnel from the UK, New Zealand, India and Australia and, by the end of 1948, BCOF was composed entirely of Australians. The force was dismantled during 1951 as responsibilities in Japan were handed over to the British Commonwealth Forces Korea. Some personnel stayed on to serve in the Korean War. Members of No 77 Squadron, for example, had their ‘going home’ celebrations interrupted by the news that they were to be sent immediately to Korea. BCOF ceased to exist on 28 April 1951 when the Japanese Peace Treaty came into effect.

BCOF

The primary objective of BCOF was to enforce the terms of the unconditional surrender that had ended the war the previous September. The task of exercising military government over Japan was the responsibility of the United States forces. BCOF was required to maintain military control and to supervise the demilitarization and disposal of the remnants of Japan’s war making capacity. To this end, Australian army and air force personnel were involved in the location and securing of military stores and installations.

BCOF medal, Australian

The Intelligence Sections of the Australian battalions were given targets to investigate by BCOF Headquarters, in the form of grid references for dumps of Japanese military equipment. Warlike materials were destroyed and other equipment was kept for use by BCOF or returned to the Japanese. The destruction or conversion to civilian use of military equipment was carried out by Japanese civilians under Australian supervision. Regular patrols and road reconnaissances were initiated and carried out in the Australian area of responsibility as part of BCOF’s general surveillance duties.

The RAN component of BCOF was responsible for patrolling the Inland Sea to prevent both smuggling and the illegal immigration of Koreans to Japan. In this task they were assisted by the RAAF whose aircraft were also involved in tracking vessels suspected of smuggling or transporting illegal immigrants. RAAF squadrons also flew surveillance patrols over each of the prefectures in the BCOF zone in order to help locate left over weapons and ordnance.

During 1947, the BCOF began to wind down its presence in Japan. However, BCOF bases provided staging posts for Commonwealth forces deployed to the Korean War from 1950 onwards. The BCOF was effectively wound-up in 1951, as control of Commonwealth forces in Japan was transferred to British Commonwealth Forces Korea.

Click on images to enlarge.

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BCOF Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kjell F. Andersen – New London, CT; Merchant Marines, WWII, ETO, / US Army, Korea

Mary Barraco – Renaix, BEL; Danish Resistance, WWII, Captain, USO, POW

Albert Bracy (104) – Durham, CAN; Queen’s Own Rifles, WWII, Hamilton Light Infantry

Leslie Edgerton – NZ; RAF/ RNZ Air Force, WWII, ETO, 75th Squadron

Lyle “Moose” Hardy – Belconnen, AUS; RA Air Force, Sgt., (Ret.)

Kenneth Johnson – Doncaster, ENG; RAF, WWII, Warrant Officer, 61st & 9th Squadrons

Alan Lepper – Taranaki, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 432823, WWII

Vera McLane – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, Photograph intelligence

James K. Thompson – Allentown, NY/Largo, FL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Esme Wirth – Leeton, AUS; Australian Womens Land Army, WWII

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First Occupation of Japan in 2000 years

It began with the landing of the 187th RCT/11th Airborne Division – the first to set foot in Japan!  And Smitty was there!   This video was located and contributed by Pierre Lagacé.

Gen. MacArthur, 1946

 

Nippon Times article on MacArthur

 

 

 

 

Unlike Germany,  Japan retained a native government throughout the occupation.  Although MacArthur’s official staff history of the occupation referred to “the Eighth Army Military Government System”, it explained that while:   “In Germany, with the collapse of the Nazi regime, all government agencies disintegrated, or had to be purged”, the Japanese retained an “integrated, responsible government and it continued to function almost intact”:

In effect, there was no “military government” in Japan in the literal sense of the word. It was simply a SCAP (Supreme Commander, Allied Powers) superstructure over already existing government machinery, designed to observe and assist the Japanese along the new democratic channels of administration.

General Horace Robertson of Australia, head of BCOF, (British Commonwealth Occupation Force) wrote:

MacArthur at no time established in Japan what could be correctly described as Military government. He continued to use the Japanese government to control the country, but teams of military personnel, afterward replaced to quite a considerable extent by civilians, were placed throughout the Japanese prefectures as a check on the extent to which the prefectures were carrying out the directives issued by MacArthur’s headquarters or the orders from the central government.

USMC “barracks”


The really important duty of the so called Military government teams was, however, the supervision of the issue throughout Japan of the large quantities of food stuffs and medical stores being poured into the country from American sources. The teams also contained so-called experts on health, education, sanitation, agriculture and the like, to help the Japanese in adopting more up to date methods sponsored by SCAP’s headquarters.

The normal duties of a military government organization, the most important of which are law and order and a legal system, were never needed in Japan since the Japanese government’s normal legal system still functioned with regard to all Japanese nationals … The so-called military government in Japan was therefore neither military nor government.

USMC had their 10-in1 meals, 1946

The Japanese government’s de facto authority was strictly limited at first, however, and senior figures in the government such as the Prime Minister effectively served at the pleasure of the occupation authorities before the first post-war elections were held. Political parties had begun to revive almost immediately after the occupation began.

Left-wing organizations, such as the Japan Socialist Party and the Japan Communist Party, quickly reestablished themselves, as did various conservative parties. The old Seiyukai and Rikken Minseitocame back as, respectively, the Liberal Party (Nihon Jiyuto) and the Japan Progressive Party (Nihon Shimpoto).

Shigeru Yoshida

The first postwar elections were held in 1946 (women were given the franchise for the first time), and the Liberal Party’s vice president, Yoshida Shigeru (1878–1967), became Prime Minister. For the 1947 elections, anti-Yoshida forces left the Liberal Party and joined forces with the Progressive Party to establish the new Japan Democratic Party (Minshuto). This divisiveness in conservative ranks gave a plurality to the Japan Socialist Party, which was allowed to form a cabinet which lasted less than a year. Thereafter, the socialist party steadily declined in its electoral successes. After a short period of Democratic Party administration, Yoshida returned in late 1948 and continued to serve as prime minister until 1954. However, because of heart failure, Yoshida was replaced by Shinto in 1955.

In 1949, MacArthur made a sweeping change in the SCAP power structure that greatly increased the power of Japan’s native rulers, and the occupation began to draw to a close. The San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed on September 8, 1951, marked the end of the Allied occupation, and when it went into effect on April 28, 1952, Japan was once again an independent state (with the exceptions of Okinawa, which remained under U.S. control until 1972, and Iwo Jima, which remained under US control until 1968). Even though some 31,000 U.S. military personnel remain in Japan today, they are there at the invitation of the Japanese government under the terms of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan(1960) and not as an occupying force.

Information documented in the Gutenberg project.

Just one year after a devastating war…..

 

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SHOUT OUT !!!

 

Help make a 104-year old veteran very happy this Valentine’s Day.  Thanks to fellow blogger, Pat, we have the scoop!!

https://equipsblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/14/reblog-104-year-old-usmc-vet-looking-for-valentines-day-cards/

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Samuel Ankney – Greensburg, PA; US Navy, WWII

Philip Blakeslee – Deland, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Signal Corps, 1st Infantry Division

Kenneth Corder – Dayton, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 674 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Richard Hawthorne – Myrtle Beach, SC; US Navy, ETO, USS Savannah

William J. McCollum – Anderson, SC; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Ian P. McLaughlin – Newport News, VA; US Army, Afghanistan, SSgt., 307/3/82nd Airborne Division, KIA

Joseph Peczkowski – South Bend, IN; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

John Pollard – Petrolia, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, Supply Sgt.

Austin Sicard Sr. – New Orleans, LA; US Army, Korea

Miguel A. Villalon – Joliet, IL; US Army, Afghanistan, Pfc, 307/3/82nd Airborne Division, KIA

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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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Current News – Japanese Librarian

TOKYO — Thousands of newspapers dating back to 1945, countless clippings of old stories and half a million priceless photographs fill a room that Norio Muroi has tended for the past 42 years.

Stars and Stripes’ library in Tokyo preserves the stories and heroics of countless service members from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars alongside records of newsworthy events on American bases in the Far East over the past 75 years.

A tailor’s son from Otawara in Tochigi prefecture, Muroi in 1977 was studying economics at Hosei University in Tokyo when he started as a Stars and Stripes copyboy, he recalled during a recent tour of the library at Hardy Barracks, the newspaper’s Pacific headquarters in the Japanese capital.

“It was rare to see American people so much in those days and to have an opportunity to talk with native speakers,” he said of his first days on the job, when he was eager to practice the English he’d learned at school.

Just steps from the nightlife hub of Roppongi, Hardy Barracks was a hive of activity. Dozens of U.S. military and civilian staff and 180 Japanese worked to publish hundreds of thousands of newspapers each day for service members on the main islands of Japan, Okinawa, Korea and other parts of the Pacific such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and Guam.

It was an era before online news or Google searches, when printed newspapers provided a vital link to home for troops stationed overseas.

“We were like tennis ball boys,” Muroi said of the copyboys, who spent mornings rushing about the newsroom carrying story drafts and messages to editors. The youngsters burned plenty of calories and looked forward to a free Coke from the sports editor at the end of each shift, he recalled.

In 1979, he started full time in the library. Known today as the Toshi Cooper Library, it holds at least 250,000 clippings that are stored in envelopes and filed so they can be searched by subject, such as notable figures, military units and campaigns.

But Muroi didn’t spend his entire career among the archives. Some of his most memorable experiences involved serving as an interpreter for journalists in the field.

In February 1982, he and the other librarians acting as temporary linguists joined reporters rushing to a fire at the Hotel New Japan that, ultimately, claimed 32 lives not far from the Sanno Hotel, a U.S. military property.

The following day, Muroi was back in the field as an interpreter after a Japan Air Lines pilot intentionally crashed a DC-8 airliner at Haneda Airport, killing 24 people, he said.

Two of the most memorable stars he met on the job were folk musician John Denver and baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio, Muroi said, proudly showing off photographs of his 1992 encounter with Joltin’ Joe. He met the Yankee legend while helping a sports reporter cover the U.S.-Japan baseball series at the now-demolished Korakuen Stadium.

The library that he’s handing off to his successor, Akiko Takamizawa, is a recently renovated, state-of-the-art facility that features constant temperature and humidity control.

It stores hundreds of large, red volumes that contain original Stars and Stripes newspapers sorted by month all the way back to 1945, and countless clippings and old photographs preserved in hundreds of white boxes on metal racks.

The library has about 500,000 photographs taken by Stars and Stripes staff or sourced from news agencies or U.S. military service branches over the years, Muroi said.

He opened a box of photographs and found black-and-white prints of images taken during the Vietnam War by Gary Cooper, an enlisted Stars and Stripes reporter who eventually married the library’s namesake, longtime librarian Toshi Cooper.

One of those photos shows a wounded soldier getting aid from a couple of buddies on the battlefield. The print, like hundreds of thousands of others in the library, is coded to allow librarians to track negatives stored at the Stars and Stripes Europe library in Kaiserslautern, Germany. The libraries are gradually digitizing those negatives for posterity.

The library isn’t just a valuable resource for working journalists. Muroi’s work also involves tracking down old stories and photographs for veterans or those whose friends or relatives have appeared in Stars and Stripes over the years.

Muroi said he’s had plenty of useful advice over the years from Toshi Cooper, who served as librarian from 1948 to 1971. Now chairwoman emeritus of the Stars and Stripes Association, which organizes reunions of former employees, Cooper described Muroi as the ideal newspaper librarian.

“He has everything it takes to be the perfect research librarian,” she said. “He is studious, calm and steady, curious, patient, selfless, a good listener, devoted and above all that, he loves Stars and Stripes.”

Preserving Stars and Stripes’ archives and other documents in the building is important, Muroi added.  “No matter how digital technology expands in the future the original is coming from here,” he said.

Muroi plans to stay in Tokyo after retirement and spend time hiking with his wife, Yoshiko. The couple’s first trip will be to a Japanese hot spring, he said.

Condensed from an article by:

robson.seth@stripes.com

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

“Stars and Stripes? Never heard of it!”

“Excuse me, you’re standing in my shaving water.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

June Chorn – Boise, ID; Civilian, jeep repair @ Gowen Field

Jack Clift (100) – Decatur, GA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Captain, 11th Airborne Division, Silver Star, Bronze Star

Daniel Fraunfelter – Falmouth, MA; US Navy, WWII, radioman

Frederick Hall – Whitefish Bay, WI; USMC, Korea & Vietnam

Claude Hensley – Asheville, NC; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

Wilford K. Hussey Jr. – Hilo, HI; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (North Korea)

Robert W. Marshall – Portsmouth, VA; US Army, Major 11th Airborne Division

Hugh Palmer – Lakewood, OH; US Army, WWII, PTO, 25th Infantry, Medical Unit

Gerald Thummel – Tipton, KS; US Navy, Korea & Vietnam, Ret. (27 y.)

George Wallace (100) – St. Paul, MN; US Navy, WWII
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Emperor Hirohito

Emperor Hirohito, on white horse, January 1940

 

Japanese public broadcast service, NHK has obtained documents showing that former Emperor Hirohito repeatedly felt sorry about World War II and tried, unsuccessfully, to express his feelings by using the word “remorse” in a 1952 speech.

The records of conversations with Hirohito spanning several years were kept by Michiji Tajima, a top Imperial Household Agency official who took office after the war.

Although it’s not surprising that Hirohito had deep regrets about the war, the documents highlight how painfully strong such emotions had been.

Journals and notebooks kept by Michiji Tajima, a former top Imperial Household Agency, are seen in Tokyo on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019.
KYODO NEWS VIA AP

The Imperial Household Agency declined to comment on the report.

As he was preparing his 1952 speech at a ceremony to commemorate Japan’s return to independence with the end of the U.S. occupation, Hirohito insisted to Tajima that he “must include the word remorse” in his speech, according to NHK.

That wish was relayed to then-Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who advised against it, NHK said.

Yoshida’s views were that people needed to look to the future and any reference sounding like an apology would give the wrong impression.

World War II, which ended with Japan’s 1945 surrender following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was fought in the name of the emperor.  The man who had wanted nothing more out of life than to be a Marine Biologist,  was considered divine.

After the war, the U.S. occupation allowed the emperor to stay on, although without any political powers but as a symbol of the state.

In this Jan. 26, 2016, file photo, Japan’s Emperor Akihito, right, and Crown Prince Naruhito, left, walk at Haneda international airport in Tokyo. Emperor Akihito, abdicated on April 30, 2019, in the first such abdication in about 200 years. The emperor will be 85. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

The documents show that Hirohito felt that, instead of surrender, he wished he had been able to end the war earlier. He also privately expressed horror at the atrocities committed by the Japanese military, according to the documents. But he also told Tajima that the military was so powerful that he couldn’t influence it.

Hirohito died of cancer in 1989 at age 87. He was succeeded by his son Akihito, who recently abdicated, passing the Chrysanthemum Throne to his son Naruhito. Both Akihito and Naruhito have publicly expressed remorse for the war.

From: Stars and Stripes magazine, YURI KAGEYAMA | Associated Press | Published: August 20, 2019

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

K. Beltz – Villas, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co./674 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Wallace Crane – Manchester, NH; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Robert Felton – Green Bay, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Lewis Gentry – Cookeville, TN; US Army, WWII, PTO, C/O cook, medic & Chaplin’s asst.

Mohammed S. Haitham – US Navy, KIA (Pensacola, FL)

George Kessel – Fargo, ND; US Army, WWII, ETO, 26th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

James Masters – Bourne, MA; US Air Force, Vietnam, SSgt., radioman, Bronze Star

Victor ‘Pat’ Tumlinson – Raymondville, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Cameron Walters – GA; US Navy, KIA (Pensacola, FL)

Joshua C. Watson – AL; US Navy, US Naval Academy graduate, KIA (Pensacola, FL)

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