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Intermission Story (9) – A Special Woman

Last December the world lost a very special person, Florence Ebersole Smith Finch, (101).

Florence Ebersole Smith Finch, USCGR 

Coast Guard SPAR decorated for combat operations during World War II

By William H. Thiesen, Ph.D.
U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Historian


Of the thousands of women who have served with honor in the United States Coast Guard, one stands out for her bravery and devotion to duty. Florence Smith Finch, the daughter of a U.S. Army veteran and Filipino mother, was born on the island of Luzon, north of Manila, in Santiago City. She married navy PT boat crewman Charles E. Smith while working for an army intelligence unit located in Manila. In 1942, after the Japanese invaded the Philippines, her young husband died trying to re-supply American and Filipino troops trapped by the enemy on Corregidor Island and the Bataan Peninsula.

After the Japanese occupied Manila, Finch avoided internment by claiming her Philippine citizenship. She received a note from her imprisoned army intelligence boss regarding shortages of food and medicine in the POW camps. Finch began assisting with locating and providing smuggled supplies to American POWs and helping provide fuel to Filipino guerrillas. In October 1944, the Japanese arrested Finch, beating, torturing and interrogating her during her initial confinement. Through it all, she never revealed information regarding her underground operations or fellow resisters.

When American forces liberated her prison camp in February 1945, Finch weighed only eighty pounds. She boarded a Coast Guard-manned transport returning to the United States and moved to her late father’s hometown of Buffalo, New York. In July 1945, she enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard, eager to continue the struggle against an enemy that had killed her husband. Finch served through the end of the war and was among the first Pacific-Island American women to don a Coast Guard uniform.

After the war, she met U.S. Army veteran Robert Finch. They married and moved to Ithaca, New York, where she lived the remainder of her life. Of the thousands of SPARs serving in World War II, she was the first to be honored with the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon. In November 1947, she received the U.S. Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian medal awarded to Americans who aided in the war effort. In 1995, the Coast Guard honored her service by naming a facility for her at Coast Guard Base Honolulu.

Ms. Finch crossed the bar on 8 December 2016.

  • Read her written answers to questions submitted to her regarding her remarkable life and career, first as a resistance fighter in the Philippines and then as a SPAR
  • Ms. Finch (c) with her extended family.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Peter Aczel – brn: HUN/ Quakertown, NY; US Army Air Corps

Alfred Biegert Jr. – San Antonio, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Photo Lab technician

Arthur Gosselin Jr. – Springfield, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Douglas Hardy – New Plymouth, NZ; RNZ Army # 64450, Sgt.

Stanley Krumholz – Far Rockaway, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT-190 Jack’O’Diamonds

Gerald Larson – Red Oak, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Robert Murray Jr. – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

Donald Perdue – Vancouver, CAN; RC Army, Korea, Queen’s Own Rifles

Hank von der Heyde Jr. – Jacksonville, FL; USMC, WWII (Ret.)

Baxter Webb – Hapeville, GA; US Army, Lt., Tank Platoon/4th Division

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Intermission Story (4) – A Japanese Ace

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

“In the ocean of the military, reflective of all distinguished pilots, an honored Buddhist person.”  So translates the name awarded to Japanese pilot Hiroyoshi Nishizawa following his death in 1944.  In life, however, he earned himself a very different title.

The Devil of Rabaul, they called him, and not without good reason.

Rabaul 1943

Rabaul 1943

Skilled pilots on both sides fought terrifying aerial battles, carried out daring raids against the enemy and engaged with combatants in the air, on the land and on the sea. Yet even amongst the many outstanding Japanese aces, there was no one quite like Nishizawa.

The outrageous aerobatics, performed in the early summer of 1942, could easily have cost him his life. Instead, the soldiers on the ground held their fire, and by the time Nishizawa returned to his own base, a letter had already arrived congratulating him on his maneuvers – and inviting him back for the “all-out welcome” he deserved.  The Devil of Rabaul chose to decline that particular invitation, of course.

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

In fact, even amongst his own comrades he seemed like a figure out of legend. Nishizawa was known as a strange and solitary character, for he seemed ever more content with the status of an outsider as his celebrated status increased. Tall, thin and strikingly pale, Nishizawa was far from forthcoming, and even once his name became synonymous with acts of courage and valor, he kept to himself.

Even in death, elements of mystery still cling to the man who seemed to stray so close to myth. Nishizawa had already been present at some of the key battles fought in that geographical theatre of the war, and October 1944 found him escorting the first of Japan’s major kamikaze attacks against the Allies. He himself was only present to back up the five bombers, but as the attack unfolded, something extraordinary occurred.

The young pilot watched his comrades hurtling to certain death, their planes ripping into the US warships below. Led by Lieutenant Yukio Seki, the explosions caused by four of the five planes triggered chain reactions throughout the vessels. In the sky overhead, Nishizawa was also engaged in combat, successfully bringing down two F6F Hellcats and raising the total number of his confirmed kills to 88. It was a clear victory for the Japanese fighters, but even as he fought, Nishizawa had a striking vision.

Nishizawa in his Mitsubishi Zero A6M3, 1943

Nishizawa in his Mitsubishi Zero A6M3, 1943

While the carnage unfolded before his eyes, he saw another event take place –his own death. Though accounts vary as to the exact nature of the fate he envisioned for himself, he returned from the mission without a shadow of a doubt in his mind. To the Devil of Rabaul, it seemed his end was close at hand.

Once again, he held true to his courageous nature. While another man might have tried to run from his fate, the Devil of Rabaul wasted no time in facing his destiny head on. The very next day, with his premonition still at the forefront of his mind, he himself requested a position on the next suicide squad kamikaze mission. If he had to die, Hiroyoshi Nishizawa was going to do it in style.

Of course, his request was refused.  By denying his wish, Nishizawa’s superiors sealed the fate of their finest pilot.

He was assigned to a different mission in the end, and the following morning set out as a passenger on a transport aircraft, setting off from Mabalacat. The weather was fine, with clear skies and low winds – the region had always been known for its gentler climate.

High in the clear October skies over Mindoro Island, two planes appeared in the distance. They were far behind, but rapidly closing the distance. The US fighters, a pair of F6F Hellcats, were now in hot pursuit, though even they had no idea just who they were bearing down upon.

As the three planes flew above the town of Calapan, American pilot Lt. Harold P. Newell sent the lumbering transport plane before him down in flames.

At the age of 24, just days after he predicted his own end, the Devil of Rabaul was dead.

In his short career, the Japanese Ace of Aces had earned the respect of his enemies and his comrades alike. He had become a nationally recognised symbol of bravery, patriotism and fearlessness in the face of death. Hiroyoshi Nishizawa walks to this day a unique line between a man and a myth, with a story rivalled by few others in its mysterious and evocative nature.

Like all the great figures of legend, the legacy of the man now known as Bukai-in Kohan Giko Kyoshi lives on, even after death. In the ocean of the military, Nishizawa is remembered as an honored Buddhist person, the Devil of Rabaul and the Ace of Aces.

By Malcolm Higgins (@Mhiggins95)

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – from the Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Helen Dellinger – Lincoln County, NC; Civil Air Patrol, WWII

William Emnott – Oshkosh, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Edward Fanning – Englewood, FL; Merchant Marines, WWII

Jack Heyn – W.Des Moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 3rd Bombardment Group/5th Air Force, photographer

Francis Higgiins – Salem MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Jack Kronenberger – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Ora “O.P.” Miller – Anderson, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Air Transport Unit, pilot

Irena Nowakowska – Warsaw, POL; Polish Underground Army (Armia Krajowa), WWII

Richard Powell – OH; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Leslie Scace – London, ENG; Royal Navy, WWII

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Japanese View from the IJN Musashi

Yamato and Musashi (artist unknown)

Yamato and Musashi (artist unknown)

This was originally published in “Sensō: The Japanese Remember the Pacific War”, edited by Frank Gibney.  Story by: Satō Kiichi, from Yokosuka, Japan.

The Last of Battleship Musashi

“Third attack,” came the warning.  The damage from the second attack had been terrible.  Lying on the deck were several wounded men receiving emergency treatment.  I was taking a brief break.  My two subordinates were on their way to the infirmary.  Just at that moment, a torpedo approached with a sinister hissing sound.  Shouting “Go on up!” I rushed to the upper deck.  I couldn’t see the two who had gone to the infirmary.

IJN Musashi (artist unknown)

IJN Musashi (artist unknown)

I had to get those two.  I looked down the hatch.  There was already close to a meter of water flooding the ship.  The infirmary was left isolated.  Neither my voice nor my concern could reach that far.  Was it too late?  My feeling of grief ran ahead of me.  Then I recalled that the exhaust vent ran through the pharmacy.  I frantically threw a rope from the deck down into the exhaust pipe.  But there was no response.  Still I continued to call out desperately.

I regained a bit of my composure.  I was crouching in the safety zone under the main gun turret.  The battle gained in ferocity.  I wondered what had happened to my two men.  To think that a single hatch would be the difference between life and death.  We had spent our days together as crew members on the battleship Musashi.  Looking back, I still agonize about their going to the infirmary.

IJN Musashi

IJN Musashi

After the fourth and fifth concentrated air attacks, the Musashi, once called unsinkable, finally sank into the Sibuyan Sea.  Its bow tilted.  Columns of water and flames spewed up into the sky.  I heard voices of my comrades singing “Umi Yukaba” [“Across the Sea”]* and other war songs amid the waves.  Even now I see clearly onto my eyelids the faces of my two subordinates.  I hear my war buddies singing as their heads bob in the waves.

* “Across the Sea” was the anthem of the Japanese Navy.  The verse went:

Across the sea, water-drenched corpses;

Across the mountains, grass-covered corpses.

We shall die by the side of our lord,

We shall not look back.

Two years ago….

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Abe – Appleton, WI; US Navy, WWII

Kenneth Bourke – AUS; RA Navy, WWII, HMAS Warramunga

Robert Futoran – Pompano, FL; US Navy, WWII, Lt., USS Black

Leslie Gibson – Dallas, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO,, LST-1040

Kenneth Ketron – Elsmere, KY; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Dallas Milton – Venice, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Robert Nelson Sr. – New London, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO

Frank Panzzie – East Meadow, NY; US Army, WWII

Teddy Sheean – Tasmania, AUS; RA Navy, WWII, HMAS Armidale, KIA

Lawrence Snowden – Charlottesville, VA; USMC, WWIII, Korea & Vietnam, LtGeneral (Ret.)

Click on images to enlarge.

Personal Note – My apologies for a late-in-the-day post and delayed viewing of your sites as I have been under the weather.

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Japanese View of the Leyte Naval Battle

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The following was published in “Senso: The Japanese Remember the Pacific War.”

Don’t Shoot at a Sinking Enemy

As a 25-year old seaman about a destroyer, I participated in the sea battle off Leyte.  In the midst of the battle, our destroyer was pursuing a fleeing aircraft carrier through squalls and curtains of smoke.  Suddenly a single enemy destroyer headed directly for us.  Attacked by the concentrated fire from our destroyer squadron, it rapidly went up in flames.  As we neared the enemy ship to see its last moment, it listed to one side, with flames rising everywhere.  It was about to sink.  Men were floating on the water’s surface or sinking beneath it, while half-naked crew members jammed themselves into lifeboats and rowed away, escaping.

We were close enough to see their unkempt beards and the tattoos on their arms.  One of our machine-gunners impulsively pulled his trigger.  He must have been overflowing with feelings of animosity toward the enemy.  But he was checked by a loud voice from the bridge saying, “Don’t shoot at escaping men!  Stop shooting, stop!”  So he inflicted no injury on the enemy.

I read an article written after the War’s end that the captain, who survived*, (a descendant of the Cherokee tribe) had tears in his eyes when he recalled the scene. “A Japanese destroyer that passed by did not shoot.  What is more, I cannot forget the officers on the Gigantic warship who saluted us in seeming condolence for the loss of our ship.”  What flashed through my mind was the story of Commodore Uemura, who rescued the crew of the sinking Yurik during the Russo-Japanese War.  Seppū was the name of his destroyer – known as the luckiest warship in the world.

This was written by Okuno Tadashi, who became a business owner in Ōmuta, Japan after the war.

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Edward E. Evans

Edward E. Evans

Commander Ernest Edwin Evans was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma on August 13, 1908.  He was three quarters Cherokee Indian.

During the Battle of Leyte Gulf on October 25, 1944 Commander Evans and the USS Johnston were assigned to Task Unit 77.4.3 AKA Taffy III with 2 other destroyers (Hoel and Heermann), 4 destroyer escorts (Butler, Dennis, Raymond, Roberts) and 6  escort carries (Fanshaw Bay, Saint Lo, Kalinin Bay, White Plains, Kitkun Bay, Gambier Bay).  Here, at the Battle Off Samar, they fought the vastly superior Imperial Japanese Navy Centre Force which consisted of 4 battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers.

At 9:45 AM Commander Evans ordered his crew to abandon ship.  The USS Johnston sank at 10:10 AM, receiving a hand salute from the skipper of a Japanese destroyer.

* The article Mr. Tadashi read must have been written by another crew member, as Cmdr. Evans was seen abandoning ship, but was never found.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Personal note – 

I would appreciate hearing if you are interested in more stories from the Japanese side of the war.  I refrained from adding a second story here from a crew member of the Musashi to keep the post at a decent size.

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Military Humor – from the Readers Digest ‘Humor in Uniform –

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“I’m the commander of data security.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Allis – Clearwater, FL; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lou Bucelli Sr. – Bridgeport, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Scoter

George Clifford-Marsh – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Army # 629433, WWII, Cpl.th-jpg1

James Fuehrmeyer – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Thomas Gibson – Nashville, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Stuart Hansen Jr. – Kettering, OH; US Army, Vietnam

Robert Jones – Syracuse, NY; US Navy, WWII

William ‘Bud’ Liebenow – Fredericksburg, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO & ETO. Captain, PT-199

Howard Porter – Kalamazoo, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO, medic

Joseph Wapner – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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A Soul Lost in a Faraway Jungle – Part 2

Our good friend Koji Kanemoto gives us a view from both sides of the war.

Masako and Spam Musubi

It is believed I occupy a potentially unique position when it comes to looking at history as it pertains to the Pacific Theater in World War II.  I am American first and foremost and have studied WWII history out of curiosity.  As expressed in the description of my blog, my viewpoint is from “one war, two countries, one family”.  However, one potential uniqueness is that I am able to read a bit of Japanese; you may be amazed to read what is written about WWII from the Japanese viewpoint of history. As such, I believe each battle will have in the background two broad, driving and dissimilar viewpoints: one from America and one from Japan.  The attack on Pearl Harbor is one example. But that is but the surface on war’s history – a high altitude view.  One that can be easily manipulated politically. But being on the ground dealing…

View original post 1,246 more words

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.

Click on images to enlarge.

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

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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/

Click on images to enlarge.

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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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