Blog Archives

October 1944 (1)

Causeway with 2 damaged Sherman tanks, Peleliu

Causeway with 2 damaged Sherman tanks, Peleliu

3  October – the Marines on Peleliu attacked the “Five Sister,” a coral hill with 5 sheer peaks and the Japanese defensive fire was deadly accurate.  Four days later, in an Army tank/Marine infantry operation, they made their assault in a horseshoe shaped valley after 2 ½ hours of big gun artillery fire.

The odor on the island of decaying bodies and feces, (latrines could not be dug in the coral), became extreme.  The flies were uncontrollable.  The [now-banned] pesticide of DDT was first used on Peleliu, but with very little success.

Napalm strike on Five Sister, Peleliu

Napalm strike on the Five Sisters, Peleliu

On 12 October, Captain Andy “Ack-Ack” Haldane, well-respected leader and veteran of Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester and Peleliu, was killed on Hill 140 in the Umurbrogol Pocket.  This was also the date that organized resistance on the island was declared over.

10 October – The 3rd Fleet of aircraft carriers made a major attack on the enemy naval and shore installations on the Ryukyu Islands.  Their arrival took the Japanese by surprise and destroyed 75 planes on the ground and 14 in the air; 38 ships were either sunk or damaged.  Other US Navy surface vessels conducted a 15-hour bombardment of Marcus Island.  This would give the US a forward base less than 1000 miles from the Japanese mainland.

Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands

Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands

12→15 October – after refueling, the 3rd Fleet’s 1000 carrier fighters and bombers conducted a campaign over Formosa along with 100 Superfortresses of the US Army’s 20th Air Force coming out of the Chingtu bases.  The 500 enemy aircraft of Adm. Fukudome’s Imperial Navy 6th Air Force were manned by inexperienced pilots.  On the 13th along, 124 enemy fighters were shot down during a massive dogfight and 95 more were destroyed on the ground.  As Fukudome himself described it, “Like so many eggs thrown against the stone wall of indomitable enemy formations.

More than 70 enemy cargo, oil and escort ships were sunk in the area.  The US lost 22 aircraft.  The carrier, Franklin, and the cruiser, Canberra, were hit, but the latter was towed to safety.  Due to the inexperienced Japanese pilots misinformation, Tokyo Rose announced, “All of Admiral Mitscher’s carriers have been sunk tonight – INSTANTLY!”  Japan claimed a second Pearl Harbor and a public victory holiday was proclaimed.

Arisan Maru

Arisan Maru

In October, the Japanese ‘hell ship’, Arisan Maru, departed Manila, P.I. with 1800 American prisoners on board held in her unventilated hold.  It was sunk by the USS Snook, killing 1795 POW’s.

The Japanese attempted to break the build-up of Allied forces in Manila Bay, Luzon, P.I., but the result was losing approximately 30 more aircraft to US fighters and antiaircraft fire.

October 1944 was an extremely active month and it will take at least 5 posts to just put the basics down.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – military-humor-funny-surrounded-attack-soldiers-meme

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Alamar – Scranton, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, minesweeper

Robert Brooks – Ontario, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, 143rd Air Wing, radio operations

Peleliu cemetery

Peleliu cemetery

Harold Girald – Mah-wah, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Ken Hartle (103) – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, SeaBee

Melvin Hill – Pomona, CA; Korea, 31st RCT, KIA

Harold “Hal” Moore, Jr. – Auburn, AL; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 1/7th Cavalry Reg., Lt.General, West Point Grad, DSC

Allen “Bud” Moler – Dayton, OH; USMC, PTO, KIA (Roi-Namur)

Brent Morel – Martin, TN; USMC, Iraq, 1st Marine Recon Battalion, Navy Cross, KIA

Richard Lyon – Oceanside, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO / Korea, Admiral (Ret. 41 years)

Elizabeth Zarelli Turner – Austin, TX; US Army WAC, WWII, pilot

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Japanese Prime Minister Abe in Hawaii – correction

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe having a moment of silence after the laying of the wreath

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe having a moment of silence after the laying of the wreath

Once again – correcting the media……

In May, President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Hiroshima, where the United States dropped an atomic bomb in 1945 and soon compelled Japan’s surrender, ending World War II. It was a historic moment: Obama was the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city.

Now, Abe is repaying the favor.  On Tuesday, he will accompany Obama to Pearl Harbor, the site of the Japanese attack 75 years ago that led the United States to join World War II.

But is Abe’s visit quite as historic? When it was announced in early December, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said Abe would be the first sitting Japanese leader to visit Pearl Harbor since World War II. News outlets repeated this assertion, including The Washington Post.

But quickly afterward, things began to look a little more complicated. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper soon reported that Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida had stopped in Hawaii, home to Pearl Harbor, in 1951 when flying back home from San Francisco. He made a public visit to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, which honors American war dead, and a more private visit to Pearl Harbor.

 Aug. 31, 1951, then-Japanese Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, center right, accompanied by his daughter, Kazuko, center left, is greeted by Adm. Arthur Radford, left, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Joseph R. Farrington, a delegate of the U.S. Congress for the Territory of Hawaii, during an arrival ceremony for Yoshida in Honolulu. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that Yoshida had stopped in Hawaii in 1951.

Aug. 31, 1951, then-Japanese Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, center right, accompanied by his daughter, Kazuko, is greeted by Adm. Arthur Radford ( l), commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Joseph R. Farrington, a delegate of the U.S. Congress for the Territory of Hawaii, during an arrival ceremony for Yoshida in Honolulu. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that Yoshida had stopped in Hawaii in 1951.

The Pearl Harbor visit was not noted widely by the U.S. press, but it appeared in the Japanese press.

Yoshida told a reporter from the Yomiuri Shimbun that he had been “moved” by the visit. It also turns out that the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander at the time, Adm. Arthur Radford, was present. Radford later wrote that the visit was awkward for Yoshida and that they mostly discussed his dog.

Now more developments indicate that Abe may not be the second sitting prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor, either. Last week, the Hawaii Hochi — a dual-language Japanese-English newspaper based in Hawaii — suggested that two other Japanese leaders may have visited Pearl Harbor in the 1950s.

The newspaper posted images to its Facebook account that showed two front pages from its archive. One claimed that Ichiro Hatoyama visited the harbor on Oct. 29, 1956, where he was welcomed by a 19-gun salute and a band performing Japan’s national anthem. Another headline says that Nobusuke Kishi, Abe’s grandfather, visited the harbor on June 28, 1957, where he laid a wreath at the flagpole at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

The Japanese government has now been forced to change its story. After Yoshida’s visit to Pearl Harbor was made public again, the government asserted that as the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor was not constructed until 1962, Abe will still be the first to visit the most famous monument. “He will also be the first to do so with an American president,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Sheila Smith, a senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, says she was “taken aback” by the initial mistake.

“If any organization should know its history, its MOFA,” she wrote via email, using an acronym to refer to the Japanese Foreign Ministry. “I’m also surprised that Abe himself or rather his office didn’t correct the record as he is a careful student of his grandfather’s diplomacy towards the U.S.”

Article found in Stars and Stripes magazine; by Adam Taylor | The Washington Post | Published: December 27, 2016

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News Corrections Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Bossi – Medford, MA; US Army, WWII & Korea

Attilio Cardamone – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Real DeGuire – Tecumseh, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, ETO, HMCS Hunter Haida & Algonquinplaying-taps

Pat Farwell – Skagway, AK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot

John Hayes – Elyria, OH; US Navy, WWII

Thelburn Knepp – Peoria, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 89th Infantry Division

Jack Messemer – Phoenix, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, POW / Korea, Sr. Sgt. Major (Ret. 41 years)

Sam Patane – Kirland, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQS/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Div.

Donald Patterson – Wichita, KA; US Army, Korea

Liz Smith – Lincolnshire, ENG; Women’s Royal Naval Service, WWII, CBI, (beloved actress)

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Why Japan’s Air Force failed

 

Aircraft carrier IJN Kasagi, 1945

Aircraft carrier IJN Kasagi, 1945

From an article written by Shahan Russell

According to Osamu Tagaya, Japan was doomed to lose WWII.  A writer for the Smithsonian, Tagaya’s father was an officer in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), so he should know.

Like the other Axis powers, Japan wasn’t prepared for a long war. But just as Germany became overconfident because of the Spanish Civil War, so Japan felt the same because of victories against Russia and China.

What both lacked, however, was the superior manpower, greater industrial capacities, and vast resources that the US and Britain had. The Japanese government knew this, but had gambled on a short war and had badly underestimated the Allied response to their aggression.

Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero

Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero

Tagaya takes it a step further by pointing out the tactical and political weaknesses that doomed Japan. The government didn’t control the Armed Forces, so couldn’t effectively unite them.  The result was a schism that drained the country’s limited resources and overly-extended industrial capacities.

The Army saw the Soviet Union as its enemy, while the Navy looked to the US.  So while Japan was among the first to develop combat aircraft, they were mostly designed for a land war against the Soviets, not for long range operations in the South Pacific.

Not that it stopped them from occupying parts of Southeast Asia. But it made them overconfident, which was why they were slow to develop aerial technologies. Their occupation of the Pacific was another drain since the region was under-developed – forcing them to build landing fields and communications equipment.

Though Japan had contributed to radar technology, they failed to maximize its potential. Their weakness in detecting enemy craft, combined with cramped airfields where planes parked close together, made it easier for the Allies to take more out in a single raid.

And while Japan was the first to develop aircraft carriers, their focus was on combat missions. They therefore failed to understand the strategic value of taking out supply lines, giving the Allies an edge.

Finally, they didn’t have an effective training program for pilots. As more experienced ones died out, that left inexperienced ones who were forced to do kamikaze missions.

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Military Humor – From: Kunihiko Hisa’s cartoon album “Zero Fighter 1940-1945

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imagenes_divertidas_de_la_segunda_guerra_mundial

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Farewell Salutes – 

In memorandum, today would have been Smitty’s 102nd Birthday – Everett Smith – Broad Channel, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/187/11th Airborne Division

Carson Grady Bird – Newnan, GA; US Air Force, Captain (Ret.), Afghanistan, communications

David Coates – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, Lancaster bomber navigator

Daniel Davenport – Dayton, OH; US Army, WWIIth-jpg1

Maurice Hanson – TX & FL; US Air Force, Medical Corps, Captain

Michael Irish – brn: Lancaster, ENG; R Air Force, pilot

Robert Jones – Albany, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Ronald McLennan – Wallsend, AUS; RA Army, Vietnam

Merrill D. Pack – Louisa, KY; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Frederick Schroeder – Newark, NJ; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 5/1st Cavalry, (Ret.), Purple Heart

Vivian Alda Williams – Alpharetta, GA; US Army WAAC, WWII

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The Firebombing of Tokyo – Part 2

As fighting on Saipan continued, other units of the Allied forces were busy elsewhere. Mustang Koji’s posts offer an insight from both sides.

Masako and Spam Musubi

Fifi 1 Fifi – the last flying B-29 Superfortress in the world. Taken by me flying over my house on November 13, 2010. Copyright Koji D. Kanemoto

Superfortress.

Or the “Superfort”.

That’s what we called them here in the States; nicknames for the Boeing B-29 bomber.

My aunt called them “地獄からのトンボ” or dragonfly from hell.

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Development

The development of the B-29 actually started before WWII began for the US – in 1939.  Perhaps there were some shenanigans back then but Boeing had engineered a pressurized cockpit for their B-17 Flying Fortress (from whence the nickname Superfortress hailed from) for the USAAF.  Conveniently, the USAAF put together in 1939 a call for a new bomber capable of 400 mph while carrying a 20,000 pound payload.  The B-29 was born.

frye Destroyed Frye Packing Plant. Boeing archives.

Her development was not smooth.  Indeed, it was the most advanced aircraft design of its time with…

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Japanese WWII Vet Sees Trouble on the Horizon

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Kaname Harada, 98, holding a picture of himself when he was a fighter pilot

NAGANO, Japan — Kaname Harada was once a feared samurai of the sky, shooting down 19 Allied aircraft as a pilot of Japan’s legendary Zero fighter plane during World War II. Now 98 years old and in failing health, the former ace is on what he calls his final mission: using his wartime experiences to warn Japan against ever going to war again.
This has become a timely issue in Japan, as the conservative Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has called for revising Japan’s pacifist Constitution. On a recent afternoon in this alpine city near his home, Mr. Harada was invited to address a ballroom filled with some 200 tax accountants and their business clients.
After slowly ascending the stage with the help of his daughter, he stopped to hang up hand-drawn war maps and a sepia-toned photo of himself as a young pilot in a leather flight suit glaring fearlessly into the camera.  It was the same face that now turned to look at the audience, creased by age, and somehow softer and wiser. His body was so frail that his suit hung loose like a sail, but he spoke with a loud voice of surprising vigor.
“Nothing is as terrifying as war,” he began, before spending the next 90 minutes recounting his role in battles, from Japan’s early triumph at Pearl Harbor to its disastrous reversals at Midway and Guadalcanal. “I want to tell you my experiences in war so that younger generations don’t have to go through the same horrors that I did.”

model aircraft Mr. Harada uses while he describes his experiences.

model aircraft Mr. Harada uses while he describes his experiences.

It is a warning that Mr. Harada fears his countrymen may soon no longer be able to hear. There are only a dwindling number of Japanese left who fought in the war, which in Asia began when Imperial Japan invaded northeastern China in 1931, and claimed tens of millions of lives over the following 14 years.
In an interview after his speech, Mr. Harada described himself as “the last Zero fighter,” or at least the last pilot still alive who flew during that aircraft’s glory days early in the war with the United States. He recounted how in dogfights, he flew close enough to his opponents to see the terror on their faces as he sent them crashing to their deaths.
“I am 54, and I have never heard what happened in the war,” said Takashi Katsuyama, a hair salon owner, who like many in the audience said he was not taught about the war in school. “Japan needs to hear these real-life experiences now more than ever.”
Mr. Harada’s talk was filled with vivid descriptions of an era when Imperial Japan briefly ruled the skies over the Pacific. During the Battle of Midway in 1942, he said, he shot down five United States torpedo planes in a single morning while defending the Japanese fleet. He described how he was able to throw off the aim of the American tail gunners by tilting his aircraft to make it drift almost imperceptibly to one side as he closed in for the kill.

Mr. Harada during one of his talks.

Mr. Harada during one of his talks.

He also described his defeats. He said he had to ditch his plane in the sea after Japan lost all four aircraft carriers it sent to Midway, the battle that turned the tide of the war in favor of the United States. Four months later, he was shot down over the island of Guadalcanal. He survived when his plane crashed upside down in the jungle, but his arm was so badly mangled that he never fought again. He spent the rest of the war training pilots back in Japan.
After Japan surrendered, he said, he hid from what he feared would be vengeful American occupiers. He worked for a time on a dairy farm, but found himself plagued by nightmares that made it tough to sleep. In his dreams, he said, he kept seeing the faces of the terrified American pilots he had shot down.  “I realized the war had turned me into a killer of men,” he said, “and that was not the kind of person I wanted to be.”
He said the nightmares finally ended when he found a new calling by opening a kindergarten in Nagano in 1965. He said he was able to alleviate the pangs of guilt by dedicating himself to teaching young children the value of peace. While he has now retired, he said he still visits the school every day he can to see the children’s smiling faces.

Harada in days gone by.

Kaname Harada in days gone by.

He said it took many more years before he could finally talk about the war itself. The turning point came during the Persian Gulf war in 1991, when he was appalled to overhear young Japanese describe the bombing as if it were a harmless video game. He said he resolved to speak out. – He has been talking about his war experiences ever since.
“Until I die, I will tell about what I saw,” Mr. Harada concluded his speech to the accountants’ group. “Never forgetting is the best way to protect our children and our children’s children from the horrors of war.”
From a “New York Times” article, written by, Martin Fackler, and submitted to Pacific Paratrooper by Christina @ http://bowsprite.wordpress.com/

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Farewell Salutes – 

Doyle Baker – Cherokee, OK; USMC, Vietnam, 3rd Marine Air Wing, Lt.

Jack Bryce – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 429941, WWII0083f165f66161f63454e92890403bcd

Lawrence Ericksen – Vernal, UT; US Coast Guard, WWII, Merchant seaman

Frederic Gilbert – El Paso, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Bronze Star

Riley Hammond – Lexington, SC; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, (Ret. 30 years)

Paul Ladd – Miami, FL; US Navy, Dental Corps, Capt.

David Manwarring – Covina, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 457 Ordnance/11th Airborne Div.

Mel Martin – NY; US Army, Capt., Commander of West Point Medical Corps

Dempsey Syvet – Gaspe, CAN; RC Army, WWII, CBI, Royal Rifles of Canada

Edward Tice Jr. – Allentown, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO

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Personal Note –  

I attempted to condense this post for the readers, but I just could not see where anything could be taken out.

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WWII Veteran Travels To Teach History

Jerry Yellin, WWII pilot

Jerry Yellin, WWII pilot

I discovered this article and simply felt the day after 9/11 was perfect for repeating it.

Retired Army Air Corps Capt. Jerry Yellin is a man on a mission, and that mission is to speak to young people across America about World War II and the futility of war. His life’s motto is, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” and he firmly believes that the young people of today do not appreciate the reality of war and what it was like to fight in one.

Jerry Yellin climbing into a trainer aircraft

Jerry Yellin climbing into a trainer aircraft

Yellin was an Army pilot during WWII [the 78th Fighter Squadron, “The Bushmasters”], with 19 missions over Japan to his credit, but now he is a worried man. In an interview with Channel 12 News, he said, “It’s 2016. I’m 92 years old. I’m reading the same headlines in the newspaper about race, religion, terrorism and killing people for (beliefs) that I read when I was 12 years old in 1936. It’s no different.”

He fears that young people do not understand how the fueling of hatred over differences plays into the hands of warmongers, “We’re an angry nation,” said Yellin. “We’re a divided nation: Culturally, monetarily, racially and religious-wise we’re divided.”

Yellin has a simple message that he is trying to get across to the leaders of tomorrow. No matter how naive he may sound, he simply wants people to draw closer together, “We all need three meals a day,” he said. “We all need a bed to lie down on. We all need something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to for happiness.”

Retired U.S. Army Air Corps Capt. Jerry Yellin attends the 71st Commemoration of the Battle of Iwo Jima at Iwo To, Japan, March 19, 2016. The Iwo Jima Reunion of Honor is an opportunity for Japanese and U.S. veterans and their families, dignitaries, leaders and service members from both nations to honor the battle while recognizing 71 years of peace and prosperity in the U.S. – Japanese alliance. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by MCIPAC Combat Camera Lance Cpl. Juan Esqueda / Released)

Ret. Capt. Jerry Yellin attends the 71st Commemoration of the Battle of Iwo Jima, March 19, 2016.

This aging pilot and humanitarian has already spoken to the students at the University of Washington, and he has several other speaking engagements set up. This weekend he will be at the Sioux Airshow, in the Sheehan Mack Sales & Equipment’s tent where he will be very happy to chat to you.

Hopefully, many young people will heed the important message that this veteran carries. All nations need someone to unite them instead of serving up reasons to divide the population against one another.   Yellin said, “I just want (people) to know what the 16 million (veterans) did in World War II and why we did it. There were 16 million of us, now there’s maybe 300,000 of us. Most of us can’t walk and talk, but I can, so I’m doing it.”

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“Telling them the story of World War II — why we fought, and why we can’t fight any more wars.”

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Military Humor –11133852_544721869000280_6531901680391445584_n

How else can we expect to pay for this war?

How else are we going to to pay for this war?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Richard Alkema – Belmont, MI; US Navy, WWII

Donald Blakely – Woodbury, MN; US Navy, WWII11986973_1183822258300441_3544440820007753006_n.jpgfrom, Falling with Hale

Dorothy Clapshaw – Waihi, NZ; JP # 810166, WWII, Medical ship, Oranje, ETO to PTO

Peter Collins – UK; RAF, test pilot

Arthur Marshall – No.Vancouver, CAN; WWII, ETO, Calgary Highlanders

Thomas Parkhurst – Prague, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Robert Schaeffer – Allentown, PA; US Army, WWII, MSgt. (Ret. 31 yrs.), Bronze Star

Thomas Wickline Sr. – Hillsboro, WVA; US Army, Korea

Melvin Witt – Muskegon, IL; US Army, Korea

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Saburo Sakai, WWII Japanese Ace – know who you’re up against

 As the Intermission stories come to a close, until we reach the break of 1944-1945, we take a look at one of the pilots the Allied Air Forces were up against…..

 

Saburō Sakai in the cockpit of a Mitsubishi A5M Type 95 fighter at the Hankow Airfield in China in 1939

Saburō Sakai in the cockpit of a Mitsubishi A5M Type 95 fighter at the Hankow Airfield in China in 1939

During WWII, Sub-Lieutenant Saburō Sakai served as a naval aviator with the Imperial Japanese Navy. He claimed 64 victories, one of which was made after he had been blinded in an eye and had half of his body paralyzed.

 Born in 1916, Sakai was a direct descendant of samurais. He was the third of four sons, which is exactly what Saburō means – third son. In 1933, he joined the Japanese Navy and began quickly climbing his way up the ranks.

In 1937, however, he decided to become a pilot. He did so well that he graduated first in his class, for which he received a silver watch from Emperor Hirohito. By 1938, he became a Petty Officer Second Class where he saw aerial combat during the Second Sino-Japanese war. Though wounded, he achieved his first kill in October 1939 when he shot down an Ilyushin DB-3 bomber.

In 1942, he saw action in the Dutch East Indies where he began to develop an independent streak. Japanese pilots were ordered to shoot down any planes that weren’t Japanese, regardless of whether they were military or civilian craft.

Sakai saw a Dutch Douglas DC-3 carrying civilian passengers, so he got ready to fire. Looking out at him through one of the windows, however, was a blond woman and a child which triggered a flashback. The woman looked like an American teacher who had been kind to him back in Japan, so he couldn’t shoot.

He instead flew forward and signaled the pilot to keep going. The pilot and passengers saluted him in gratitude and did just that. Returning to base, Sakai didn’t report the incident and only included it in his later memoirs.

The Pacific Theater in WWII

Sakai was part of the Tainan Kōkūtai, an air group formed in Tainan City, Taiwan (formerly Japanese territory) on 1 October 1941. Part of the 23rd Air Flotilla, it produced more flying aces than any other unit in the Japanese military, making them national heroes in Japan. The Tainan flew in Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero fighter planes which had greater speed and maneuverability than those used by the Allies, so Sakai decided to show off.

On the evening of 16 May 1942, Sakai was on the island of Lae listening to an Australian radio program broadcasting Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre,” when he got an idea. The next day, he participated in an attack on Port Moresby, but after the rest had flown off, Sakai and two others flew loops in close formation to the tune of Danse Macabre to demonstrate their aerobatic skills.

The next day, an Allied bomber flew over the Lae airfield and dropped a note. It thanked the Japanese for their aerial demonstration, invited them for a return performance, and promised them a warm reception when they did. Sakai and his friends got in serious trouble for that incident, but they didn’t’ regret it.

The Allies, however, didn’t wait for a repeat performance. In August that year, they launched Operation Watchtower, the first major offensive against the Japanese. Its aim was to secure America’s access to Australia and New Zealand, and to isolate the Japanese bases at Rabaul and New Britain.

The Japanese were eventually defeated in that battle, so the Americans took the island of Guadalcanal and its Japanese base, renaming it Henderson Field. The Japanese maintained their hold over the islands of Rabaul and New Britain, but they wanted Henderson Field back.

This resulted in almost daily air and sea battles collectively known as the Guadalcanal Campaign – one which Sakai almost didn’t survive.

The Tainan Kōkūtai in June 1942. Sakai is in the middle row, second from the right.

The Tainan Kōkūtai in June 1942. Sakai is in the middle row, second from the right

On August 7, during Operation Watchtower the Americans attacked the islands of Tulagi and Florida, taking the Japanese by surprise. Sakai and three others from the Tainan Kōkūtai shot down an F4F Wildcat while Sakai alone destroyed an SBD Dauntless dive bomber flown by Lt. Dudley Adams – but not before Adams fired a shot into Sakai’s canopy.

 Sakai wasn’t hurt and Adams managed to parachute out of his plane before he crashed. The next day, Sakai’s luck changed.

Flying over the island of Tulagi, the Tainan tried to ambush eight SBDs. Sakai dove under and aimed for the one flown by Ensign Robert C. Shaw, mistaking it for a Wildcat fighter. But Shaw’s VB-6 Dauntless was a dive bomber with a rear-mounted twin 7.62 mm machine gun.

Sakai had avoided Adam’s shot into his canopy, but not Shaw’s. The bullets blew off his canopy, one took out his right eye and paralyzed the left side of his body. His Zero plummeted to the sea below.

With his good eye blinded from all the blood, Sakai pulled out of the dive and looked for an Allied ship to crash on. But the rush of cold air cleared his head a bit and when he could finally see, he realized he had enough fuel to return to base.

It took him almost five hours to reach Rabaul, nearly crashing into a group of parked Zeros. He had to circle four times, nearly running out of fuel before he finally managed to line up on the runway properly.

Rabaul, 8 August 1942: A seriously wounded Sakai returns to Rabaul with his damaged Zero after a four-hour, 47-minute flight over 560 nmi (1,040 km; 640 mi). Sakai's skull was penetrated by a machine-gun bullet and he was blind in one eye, but insisted on making his mission report before accepting medical treatment.

Men helped him get off and were about to rush him to the field hospital, but he refused. Sakai wanted to make his report first. He did so then passed out. They sent him back to Japan on August 12 for surgery which was done without anesthesia because Japan was running low on supplies, but they couldn’t restore sight to his blind eye.

They finally discharged Sakai in January 1943 and ordered him to spend the rest of the year training pilots. He obeyed, but his samurai blood found it humiliating. With Japan clearly losing the air war, he prevailed upon his superiors to let him fly in combat again. In November 1943, Sakai was promoted to the rank of Flying Warrant Officer. In April 1944, he was transferred to Yokosuka Air Wing, which was deployed to Iwo Jima.

Sakai with his grandchildren in California in 1991

Sakai with his Grandchildren in California, 1991

Sakai with his grandchildren in California in 1991

Sakai made his final kill on 24 June 1944 when he downed an F6F Hellcat. Later he was transferred back to Japan where he took part in the Japanese air force’s last mission of the war. He attacked two reconnaissance B-32 Dominators on 18 August, which were conducting photo-reconnaissance and testing Japanese compliance with the cease-fire. He initially misidentified the planes as B-29 Superfortresses but both aircraft returned to their base at Yontan Airfield, Okinawa.

After the war, Sakai retired from the Navy. He became a Buddhist acolyte and vowed he would never again kill any living thing, not even a mosquito. He died in Tokyo on September 22nd 2000.

Source: Warhistoryonline, Wikipedia, NY Times

 

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PERSONAL NOTE –  Our fellow blogger Mustang Koji and his family are supporting a worthy program for our deployed troops, Operation GratitudePlease pay them both a visit!

Personal Request – would the reader from St. Kitts & Nevis please comment – I have a question.  Thank you.

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Military Humor –

324-pilot-going-for-help-C-WEB

pilot_humor_rev

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Farewell Salutes –

Leland Baalmann – St. Francis, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Carmon Christensen – Hartford, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, 127th Communications Sq.

"Remembering Our Fallen", courtesy of: Cora Metz @ A Fresh Start

“Remembering Our Fallen”, courtesy of: Cora Metz @ A Fresh Start

Joseph ‘Dick’ Gafney – Syracuse, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII/ US Air Force, Vietnam

Fred Hayter – Mooreville, NC; US Navy, WWII

Jane Jawcett – Oxford, ENG; British codebreaker credited w/ the sinking of the Bismark

Troy Kennedy – Bryceland, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret.)

Thomas E. Marriott – Norman, OK; US Army, HQ3/508th/11th Airborne Division

Stephanie Rader (100) – Alexandria, VA; OSS, US Army, WWII, ETO, Major (Ret.)

Melvin Rector – Barefoot Bay, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 96th Bomb Group, MSgt., radio/gunner

Thomas Spitzer – New Braunfels, TX; USMC, Afghanistan, 1st Marine Div., Sgt., KIA

Peter Wolf – Westbury, NY; US Army, Korea, paratrooper

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Intermission Story (1) – SeaBees on Bougainville

“SEABEES COVER SELVES IN BOUGAINVILLE LANDING” – First Hand Account

Landing under fire at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, Seabees first joined with Marines in defending the beaches against counter-attack, then got busy on construction of military roads feeding front lines. The fighting builders ran one of their roads 700 yards in advance of the Marines’ front lines before the Leathernecks yelled for them to hold up a while.

Sizable detachments of Seabees, who stormed ashore with Marine assault trrops in the first,second, and third waves to land on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands, distinguished themselves by the skill and valor with which they filled their combat assignments.

As the invasion forces approached the enemy beaches, the Seabees manned machine guns on Higgins boats, tank lighters and landing craft. Dare-devil builders leaped ashore from the first boats to nudge into the sand, and unloaded fuel, ammunition, rations and packs while heavy fighting broke out all about them on the beaches. Then, as the Japs were driven back into the jungle, the Seabees manned beach defenses side-by-side with the Marines.

In addition to these activities, which were beyond the normal call of duty, the volunteer group of 100 Seabee officers and men who landed with the first wave also were credited with additional acts of bravery performed with complete disregard for their personal safety.

unloading gas and oil drums on Bougainville

unloading gas and oil drums on Bougainville

Landing craft from one transport had to pass through a narrow channel between two small islands just off Bougainville. Japanese machine gun nests on the inside of both islands had been firing upon every boat that attempted to move through the channel until Seabees manning landing craft guns effectively liquidated them. The Seabee sharp-shooters also helped drive away Japanese Zeroes that attacked the mother ship.

On landing, the rugged construction men rushes supplies from landing craft to combat line. Seabees carried ammunition and water to the front and, as was learned later, kept a group of Marines from being wiped out because of lack of supplies.

One Seabee jumped aboard a crippled tractor after its Marine driver had been shot off, hauled large quantities of ammunition, and helped place 20-mm anti-aircraft guns. Another group of the aroused builders riddled enemy pillboxes while Marines moved in to remove the Japs with hand grenades. Still other Seabees moved a Marine heavy artillery battery to the front.

Without thought for their own safety, the Navy Construction men carried wounded from the front lines to the landing craft which would return the casualties to the transports for immediate evacuation. The Seabees scooped out foxholes, not only for themselves and the Marines, but for the injured who were unable to dig their own.

When one of the landing craft was hit by heavy artillery fire, a Seabee officer helped unload the wounded and badly needed supplies while other Seabees held the Japs at bay.

Piva Bomber Field, Bougainville

Piva Bomber Field, Bougainville

The medical department set up a first aid station and treated men on the front lines (which were still the beach) with morphine and bandages carried in their packs. The first night of the landing, the Seabee detachment was assigned the defense of a portion of the beach. The volunteer group continued to hold this area for the next twenty-four days.

For days after the landing, the battling builders teamed up with Marine patrols to locate and neutralize Japanese snipers infiltrating through the lines.

From the small galley they had set up on the beach, Seabee cooks served hot meals to men on the front lines a few hundred yards away.

If you are interested in reading more on the SeaBees, try their museumHERE!

Click on images to enlarge,

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Military Humor – 

by: Bill Mauldin

by: Bill Mauldin

Navy Humor - courtesy of Chris @ Muscleheaded.wordpress.com

Navy Humor – courtesy of Chris @ https:// muscleheaded.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Vincent Allen – Bridgeport, CT; US Air Force, Korea

Roderick Campbell – Ladysmith, CAN; RC Army, WWII/ RC Air Forcesalutetop

Santiago Erevia – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne, Medal of Honor

Brian Griffiths – W.AUS; RA Air Force, Korea & Vietnam

Theodore Hansen – Stuart, FL; US Navy (Ret.)

Gustave Karge – Cleveland, TN; US Navy, WWII, carrier pilot

James Maxson – Roseville, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne

Victor Ostini – brn: SWITZ; US Army, WWII

Keith Saull – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy, RAdmiral

Warren Warchus Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-29 bombardier

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September 1943 (2)

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The Australian 7th Division had already seen service in the Middle East but were thrust back into the action on New Guinea. Here they joined the US forces in the drive for the major Japanese base at Lae.

The U.S. forces had parachuted in, followed by a large part of the Australian 7th Division who were airlifted to front line airfields. The operation began badly when over a bomber crashed into one of the transport planes killing the 11 man crew and 60 men in the transport, more died amongst 90 injured men during the following days. The remainder of the shocked airborne force had to carry on with the operation.

One man who landed in the remote jungle that day was Private Richard Kelliher, a man determined to prove himself. He had been arrested earlier in the campaign for running away from the front lines. In fact his section leader had sent him back for information – but the man had been killed. Without any witnesses to his version of events, Kelliher had to face a Court Martial. He managed to convince them, but was now determined that he would ‘show them’.

Kelliher probably should not have been in the ranks at all, he suffered from very poor health before joining up, the result of Typhoid and Meningitis. In June he had been hospitalized with Malaria contracted on the campaign.

It was only a matter of days later that he got his opportunity to ‘show them’, although it seems his motivation was largely to save a friend rather than any personal heroics. A concealed machine gun post killed five of his section and wounded three more, pinning down the remainder:

I wanted to bring [wounded] Cpl Richards back, because he was my cobber, so I jumped out from the stump where I was sheltering and threw a few grenades over into the position where the Japanese were dug in. I did not kill them all, so went back, got a Bren gun and emptied the magazine in the post. That settled the Japanese. Another position opened up when I went on to get Cpl Richards, but we got a bit of covering fire and I brought him back to our lines.

Richard Kelliher, 1946

Richard Kelliher, 1946

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to:—

No. QX 20656 Private Richard Kelliher, Australian Military Forces.

During an attack by this soldier’s platoon on an enemy position at Nadzab, New Guinea, on the morning of 13th September, 1943, the platoon came under heavy fire from a concealed enemy machine-gun post, approximately 50 yards away. Five off the platoon were killed and three wounded and it was found impossible to advance without further losses.

In the face of these casualties Private Kelliher suddenly, on his own initiative, and without orders, dashed towards the post and hurled two grenades at it, killing some of the enemy but not all.

Noting this, he then returned to his section, seized a Bren gun, again dashed forward to within 30 yards of the post, and with accurate fire completely silenced it.

Returning from his already gallant action Private Kelliher next requested permission to go forward again and rescue his wounded section leader. This he successfully accomplished, though under heavy rifle fire from another position.

Private Kelliher, by these actions, acted as an inspiration to everyone in his platoon, and not only enabled the advance to continue but also saved his section leader’s life.

His most conspicuous bravery and extreme devotion to duty in the face of heavy enemy’ fire resulted in the capture of this strong enemy position.

Story retrieved from WW2 Today.

Click on images to enlarge.  I apologize that the print so small, couldn’t seem to enlarge it.

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Military Humor –article-1357224-0D3319E3000005DC-554_634x675

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Farewell Salutes –

Ernest Yazhe – Naschitti, NM; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker

For the 12 U.S. Marines still missing off Oahu, Hawaii – 

Major Shaun Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas

Captain Brian Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaU-S--Marine-Corps-Celebrates-234th-Birthday---22429167

Captain Kevin Roche, 30, St. Louis, Missouri

Captain Steven Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama

Sgt. Dillon Semolina, 24, Chaska, Minnesota

Sgt. Adam Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania

Sgt. Jeffrey Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina

Sgt. William Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama

Cpl. Matthew Drown, 23, Spring, Texas

Cpl. Thomas Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida

Cpl. Christopher Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts

Lance Cpl. Ty Hart, 21, Aumsville, Oregon

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Try to keep in your thoughts that this year is the 25th Anniversary of the Gulf War.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_War

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The 345th and Operation Postern

Additional data on the 5th Air Force activities in early September 1943____

IHRA

For a number of weeks, General Kenney had been working on a plan to take Lae out of Japanese control. Operation Postern, as it was known, was approved by Gen. MacArthur and put into effect in early September 1943. The 345th Bomb Group took part in the huge raid on Nadzab on September 5th. That morning, 48 B-25 crews from the 345th were joined by two more B-25 squadrons to soften up the area. They completed bomb runs from approximately 1000 feet and also released 20-pound fragmentation bombs. The B-25s were followed by A-20s from the 3rd Bomb Group’s 89th Bomb Squadron, which laid down a smoke screen to cover the 82 C-47s that were dropping paratroopers from the 503rd Parachute Regiment. Kenney and MacArthur observed the entire operation from above in B-17s that circled the area.

Paratroop Landing on Nadzab

As the paratroopers jumped from the C-47s, the B-25s dropped down to…

View original post 226 more words

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