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9 January 1945 – Lingayen, Luzon Landings

Operational Map for Lingayen landing.

With Mindoro secured, American forces were now just south of Luzon. While MacArthur’s intention was to make his main landing assault at Lingayen in northern Luzon, elaborate attempts at deception were made in the south.

Mac had his aircraft unceasingly make reconnaissance flights and bombing missions in southern Luzon. Transport aircraft made many paradrops with dummies, while minesweepers cleared Balagan, Batangas, and Tayabas Bays. Filipino resistance fighters in southern Luzon, too, were called to conduct major sabotage operations. All the effort was to provide a false notion that the American landing was to take place in southern Luzon instead of Lingayen.

landing beaches, Lingayen Gulf

General Tomoyuki Yamashita, commander of the Japanese ground forces in the Philippine Islands, must have been made slightly unsure, for he did not move his headquarters to northern Luzon until after the landing had already taken place at Lingayen.  The U.S. Sixth Army was waiting to start their Luzon campaign.

The opening amphibious operation at Luzon, unopposed by the Japanese except for air attacks, landed more men than the first wave of the Normandy landing, and 175,000 were ashore within the first few days, securing a beachhead twenty miles wide.  At 09:30 hours, the 6th and 43rd divisions of the XIV Corps went in, between Lingayen and Damortis.

As at Leyte, the LST’s were grounded some distance from shore, but this time they had their pontoon causeways, which splashed down around 1100. Also, at Lingayen Gulf there was a more liberal use of LVT’s, invaluable in the terrain behind the beaches—a region of rice paddies, fish ponds, and swamps, through which meandered many streams and several good-sized rivers.

Vice Admiral Shigeru Fukudome noted after the war that he “had no advance information of [American] movement against Lingayen until the fleet actually departed.” Even by then, the Japanese believed the landing would be attempted around Manila Bay, and they “were taken by surprise when Americans appeared in Lingayen and started landing there.”

Nevertheless, Yamashita knew well that the vast coastlines of Luzon meant defenses established closed to the shores would be useless; instead, most of his men were fortified well inland, leaving only small units closer to the shore to delay the advance of American units.

Also on this date, 28  aircraft from USS Ticonderoga attacked their secondary target Heito Airfield in southern Taiwan (the primary target, Toyohara Arfield was covered in clouds), damaging the facilities.  USS Yorktown (Essex-class) launched attacks on Taiwan as well, in direct support of the Lingayen landings on Luzon and US Navy Task Force 38 attacked airfields on the Japanese-held Chinese island.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Herbert Beck – SD; US Army, ETO, Pfc, POW

Katherine Despit – Bayou Blue, LA; USW Air Force, WWII (Ret. 20 y.)

David Feageans – Gretna, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, pilot

John Hillerman – Denison, TX; US Air Force, Sgt., SAC maintenance, (beloved actor)

Neil King – Winnipeg, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Charles Malt – Pittsburgh, PA; US Navy, Vietnam

Stanley Oakes – Vancouver, CAN; RC Army, WWII, engineer

Overland Park – Rockhurst, KS; US Army, 187th RCT

James Simon – Conrad, MT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot, 351/8th AF

Arthur Wyckoff – Traverse City, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

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1944 ending / 1945 opening

New Guinea and the Philippine Islands

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Shortly before the invasion of Leyte began, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed MacArthur to invade Luzon on December 20, 1944, thus settling the argument as to whether Luzon or Formosa should be the next object of attack. It was not expected that Luzon would be easily reclaimed, but it was believed that the conquest of Formosa would be much more difficult and might require as many as nine divisions, more than were then available in the Pacific area.

While construction of airfields on the muddy terrain of Leyte moved slowly forward, and while the fleet recovered from the Battle of Leyte Gulf, MacArthur decided to occupy the island of Mindoro, directly south of Luzon, for the construction of additional airfields.

The attack on Mindoro began on December 15 and the invasion of Luzon was rescheduled for January 9, 1945. Both invasions were undertaken by the U.S. 6th Army under Lieut. Gen. Walter Krueger, supported by the 3rd and 7th fleets, and by the Army air forces in the area.

After the preliminary air attacks on Luzon at the turn of the year, the 3rd Fleet moved into the South China Sea to hit Formosa, Hong Kong and Chinese coastal points.

Barrage rockets during the invasion of Mindoro, Philippines, in December 1944. Launched in salvoes …

UPI/Bettmann Newsphotos

The U.S. troops encountered little opposition on the ground at Mindoro but they were subjected to heavy air attacks both en route and after landing. The Japanese had now begun to use kamikaze attacks on a regular basis and, although many such suicide planes were shot down, many others reached their targets. Before the end of the year new airfields on Mindoro were ready to handle planes supporting the larger invasion of Luzon.

On the way from Leyte Gulf to the landing site at Lingayen Gulf on the west coast of Luzon, the invasion armada suffered damage from repeated kamikaze attacks. One pilot plunged his plane onto the bridge of the battleship New Mexico, killing more than 30 persons, including the captain of the ship.

Yamashita Tomoyuki, 1945

The troops of the I Corps and the XIV Corps would go ashore at Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945, and be met with little resistance because the Japanese had not expected a landing at that point. The Japanese commander in charge of defending the island was Gen. Yamashita Tomoyuki, the conqueror of Singapore and Bataan, who commanded the Japanese 14th Area Army.

Realizing that the diversion of forces to Leyte and the inability of the Japanese High Command to send reinforcements to Luzon gave him little hope of defeating the 6th Army, Yamashita decided upon static defense aimed at pinning down Allied troops on Luzon for as long as possible. He established three principal defensive sectors: one in the mountains west of Clark Field in the Central Plains; a second in mountainous terrain east of Manila; and the third and strongest in the mountains of northwestern Luzon, centering initially on Baguio.   Manila was also strongly defended, though Yamashita at one time apparently had some thought of abandoning the city.

A Japanese kamikaze pilot aiming his plane at a U.S. warship in the Lingayen Gulf, off the coast of …

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph

Mindanao, second largest island in the Philippines, had been MacArthur’s first target before the change in plans made in September 1944, but as events turned out it was the last island to be retaken.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ronald Borm – Dayton, OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Wintle

Rhoderick Brown – Edmonton, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO

Samuel Ervin – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII

William ‘Jack’ Griffis – VillaRica, GA; US Navy, WWII, Destroyer Escort DE-702

Pauline Jensen – Huey, PA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Richard Kramer – E.St. Louis, IL; US Navy, Lt.Commander (Ret.), Purple Heart

James Norton – Boulder, CO; US Navy, WWII

John ‘Pappy’ Polythress – Rincon, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-23 radioman

Raymond Rechlin – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Nolan Stevenson – Brown’s Bay, NZ; RNZ Navy # 435119, 3891; WWII

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Filipina Heroine

Magdalena Leones

Magdalena Leones

The Silver Star is the third-highest honor for gallantry in the U.S. Armed Forces. Previous recipients include Audie Murphy, Chuck Yeager, and Norman Schwartzkopf. But few people have heard of Magdalena Leones – she was a Filipino woman that served as a guerrilla soldier under U.S. command in World War II.

Leones was in her 20s when she joined the Philippine-American military effort. She is part of a small group of women – and is the only Filipino woman – to receive the award for her heroism. She died on June 16th in Richmond, California at 96-years old.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recognized her on June 28. “We are diminished by the passing of Corporal Magdalena Leones, Silver Star Filipina World War II veteran — the only Asian to receive this honor,” Supervisor Jane Kim said. “Corporal Leones has paved the way for many women that are breaking barriers in every arena. I look forward to her story and the story of the 250,000 Filipino World War II veterans being told for all to remember.”

Leones was part of why General Douglas MacArthur was able to return. Leones was able to gather the parts needed to make a radio that allowed communications with MacArthur, which in turn led to the invasions at Leyte and the re-taking of the Philippines.

Cpl. Magdalena Leones

Cpl. Magdalena Leones

The Army awarded the Silver Cross to Leones on October 22, 1945.

“For gallantry in action at Luzon, Philippine Islands, from 27 February to 26 September 1944,” the citation reads. “During the period cited, Corporal Leones repeatedly risked her life to carry important intelligence data, vital radio parts and medical supplies through heavily garrisoned enemy-held territory.”

“Although she knew that detection by the enemy would result in torture and execution, Corporal Leones fearlessly continued her perilous missions between guerrilla forces throughout Luzon with notable success. Through her intrepidity and skill as a special agent, Corporal Leones contributed materially to the early liberation of the Philippines.”

Lt. Gen. O.W. Griswold, commanding officer, U.S. Army, signed the citation. San Francisco’s Civic Center has had the citation and a replica medal on display in their Filipino Veterans Education Center since last January.

Rudy Asercion is a Vietnam veteran and the leader of American Legion Bataan Post 600 in San Francisco. He said that Leones’ heroism was not widely known, even in the Filipino community. “She was very private and deeply religious who never talked about her exploits,” Asercion told NBC News. “No one knew anything about her. We didn’t hear about the Silver Star until we commemorated the Leyte Landing and MacArthur’s return in 2004. Then I vetted and researched her and found out the truth. She’s a Filipina, an Asian woman. A Silver Star holder. The only one.”

Magdalena (Far right) with Leones family, 1960's

Magdalena (Far right) with Leones family, 1960’s

Leones moved to the States in the late 1960s.  She worked for the telephone company.  Family members mourned Leones in a small, private funeral.

Libingan ng mga Bayani

“Even with the Silver Star, there were no top brass, no admirals, or generals, to remember her. It’s very sad,” Asercion said. “No obit in the mainstream papers about her heroism either. Nothing.”   She will be buried in Libingan ng mga Bayani, the place where the Philippines buries its heroes.

“The biggest issue to me, is she was not recognized by anybody, in the Philippines or the U.S.,” Asercion said, still troubled by her lack of recognition. “She’s elite, a one of a kind hero.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Ian Boxall – Bellevue, AUS; RC Army, Vietnam

Alfred Cabral – Walpole, MA; US Navy, WWII

Arthur Gordon – Rochester, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Cabot

William Herbert – Cherry Hill, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, Signal Corps

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

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

Harold Madson – Eastpointe, MI; US Army, WWII & Korea, 1st Lt.

Darby Silvernail – Huntsville, AL; US Army, Afghanistan, Medical Corps

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

Edward Yamasaki – Honolulu, HI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT (author)

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October 1944 (5)

 

20 October – the X and XXIV Corps of the 6th Army, under General Krueger, made their amphibious landing on a 25-mile (40 km) stretch of coastline between Dulag and Tacloban on the eastern side of Leyte.

At o945, the 1st Cavalry went ashore on White Beach, the 24th Infantry Division went on their left at Red Beach and the 96th Infantry Division landed further south on Orange and Blue Beaches.  They all moved inland for about a mile, hitting stiffer resistance as they went.

The 7th Infantry Division at Violet and Yellow Beaches had the lightest opposition, but Dulag was taken by the following day.  MacArthur described the view he witnessed from the flag bridge of the USS Nashville:

Gen. MacArthur surveys the beachhead ay Leyte.

Landings are explosive once the shooting begins and now thousands of guns were throwing their shells with a roar that was incessant and deafening.  Rocker vapor trails criss-crossed the sky and black, ugly ominous pillars of smoke began to rise.  High overhead, swarms of airplanes darted into the maelstrom.  And across what would have ordinarily been a glinting, untroubled blue sea, the black dots of the landing craft churned towards the beaches.

From my vantage point, I had a clear view of everything that took place.  Troops were going ashore at Red Beach near Palo, at San Jose on White Beach and at the southern tip of Leyte on tiny Pansom Island…

MacArthur became impatient and ordered a landing craft to carry him and President Osmeña to Red Beach for a dramatically staged arrival back to the Philippines.  But the boatload of VIP’s and press were caught in a traffic jam of vessels making an effort to the same makeshift pier.  The harassed beachmaster directed the VIP’s away and said, “Let ’em walk!” This more and likely is the reason for his surly expression in the famous photograph, despite him trying later to create a better one.

Mac went into the 24th’s area and sat on a log with Osmeña and a Signal Officer gave the general a microphone.  The “Voice of Freedom” was back on the air and Mac gave his speech, “People of the Philippines, I have returned…”  His aides noticed that the speech left him shaken and visibly moved.

By evening, a 17-mile beachfront was taken with only light casualties, but a serious enemy counter-attack came with Japanese torpedoes bombers that scored a hit on the USS Honolulu.  Approximately 22,000 enemy troops were dug into their positions in the hills behind Tacloban.

The X Corps had unfavorable conditions in terrain and sporadic mortar and artillery fire which caused them to take 5 days to complete unloading.  This however did not prevent them from the establishment of their beachhead.

MacArthur’s summary:

“The enemy’s anticipation of attack in Mindanao caused him to be caught unawares in Leyte and the beachheads of the Tacloban area…  The naval forces consisted of the 7th US Fleet, the Australian Squadron and supporting elements of the 3rd US Fleet.  Air support was given by naval carrier forces, the Far East Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force.  The enemy’s forces include the 14th Army Group under Field Marshall Count Terauchi, of which 7 divisions have been identified – 16th, 26th, 30th, 100th, 102nd, 103rd and the 105th.”

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Military Humor – 

“Cause no one’s going to notice a branch covered moving tank…”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Harry Adams Sr. – New Cumberland, PA; US Army, WWII

Robert Clark – Westmoreland, NH; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

Cleo Douglas – Berwyn, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Doris Graham – Blanchard, MI; US Navy WAVE, WWII, Unit 32 nurse

Virgile Green – Paron, AK; US Army, WWII, PTO

Raymond McCormick – E.Greenwich, RI; US Navy, WWII, USS Wisconsin, Alabama & South Dakota

Naomi Oliver – Wanganui, NZ; Women’s Nurse Corps # 816540, WWII

George Psiropoulos – Fon du Lac, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Infantry Div., Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Frank Southern – Dipton, UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, 272 Squadron navigator, POW

Lester Tenney – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, tank commander, Bataan POW

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April 1943 (2)

US troops in Alaska, 1943

US troops in Alaska, 1943

13 April – 78 US aircraft of the 11th Air Force made 11 separate attacks at the Japanese airfield and military barracks at the Main Camp and strafed the beach on Kiska, Alaska.  Heavy AA fire downed 2 P-38s and one B-25

In New Guinea, the 5th Air Force’s heavy and medium bombers carried out widespread but unsuccessful attacks on individual enemy vessels. Japanese aircraft carried out a heavy attack on the Milne Bay area, severely damaging 1 vessel, beaching 1 vessel, and hitting 2 others, but doing very little damage to USAAF facilities in the area. The AA defenses and the 40+ P-40’s and P-38’s that intercepted the enemy strike claimed 14 airplanes shot down. Dick Bong became a Double Ace when he got his 10th kill, a Betty.

Port Moresby station hospital, 1943 LEAD Technologies Inc

Port Moresby station hospital, 1943
LEAD Technologies Inc

MacArthur and Halsey met for the first time.  Mac’s reaction, “I liked him [Halsey] from the moment we met.”  Halsey would later write, “Five minutes after I reported, I felt as if we were lifelong friends.  We had our arguments, but they always ended pleasantly.”  Three days later, they completed the blueprint for Operation Cartwheel.15 April – the Eleventh Air Force flew reconnaissance over Kiska, Attu, Semichis, and Agattu spoted no new enemy activities. Two bomber missions from Adak and eleven fighter missions from Amchitka, composed of 23 B-24’s, 20 B-25’s, 25 P-38’s, and 44 P-40’s, hit Kiska; 1 F-5A took photos while 85 tons of bombs are dropped. Fires resulted on North Head and Little Kiska. One B-24 is shot down in flames and four bombers receive battle damage.

Bomber crew on Adak - note pin-up girl collection courtesy of "Life"

Bomber crew on Adak – note pin-up girl collection
courtesy of “Life”

16 April – Alaska –   Seven B-24’s  bombed and scored 8 direct hits on the runway and gun emplacements at Attu. One B-24 and 2 F-5A’s needed to abort due to weather. [flying over the Aleutians was often near impossible]. Four B-25’s, thirty-one P-38’s, and fourteen P-40’s hit Kiska nine times, bombing installations and strafing gun emplacements and 3 parked airplanes.

17 April – Burma –  the 10th Air Force’s 7 B-25’s bombed the Myitnge bridge and scored 4 damaging hits. Ten others hit the Myitnge railroad works. Sixteen P-40’s damaged the bridge at Kamaing, attacked the town of Nanyaseik, and scored hits on the north approach to the bridge at Namti. Six B-24’s damage the south approach to the Pazundaung railroad bridge.

map_tarawa_atoll

20-21 April – US aircraft attacked the enemy base at Nauru.  The Japanese retaliated the next day by bombing US positions on the Ellice Islands.  In Washington, FDR declared that all war criminals will be tried after an Allied victory.

23-31 April – US bombers of the 7th Air Force attacked the Japanese airfield on Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands.  By the end of the month, the Japanese forces in the Aleutians were cut off from Japan and US invasion forces were sailing from San Francisco; 11,000 of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division and 29 ships.  This included the Idaho, Pennsylvania and Nevada.  The submarines Narwhal and Nautilus would lead them in on 4 May.

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Military Humor – Aleutian style – 

Painfull Schwin Dentist - Enter on Full Flaps

Painfull Schwin Dentist – Enter on Full Flaps

TREE - only one on Attu.

TREE – only one on Attu.

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Macon ‘Bud’ Ballantine – Jacksonville, Fl; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Intrepid

Kenneth Handford – Ballarat, AUS; RA Air Force # 145108, 39th Operational Base Unit, aircraftsman

Craig Karrer – Egg Harbor, NJ; US Navy, Korea, USS Antietam

Aleutians, 1943

Aleutians, 1943

Malcolm Mathias – Blue Mound, IL; US Army, WWII, 10th Mountain Division

Cresencio Romero – Santa Ana, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 675th Artillery Reg.

Harold Ross – Stephenson, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO

Stanley Szwed – Port Read, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 711th Ordnance Reg.

Donald Tabers – Mayfield, KY; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Kenneth Tate – Austin, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/511th Reg.

Herbert Winfiele – Houston, TX; US Army, Korea, Lt.

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January 1942 (1)

Japanese light tanks and armored vehicles attack British Positions, Jan. '42

Japanese light tanks and armored vehicles attack British Positions, Jan. ’42

The “Oriental Blitzkrieg” did not end with the New Year’s arrival.  As the Allies attempted to reorganize, the Japanese tactics would continue for six more months.

2 January, some units of the Japanese 14th Army occupied Manila while the 48th Division pushed against the Porac Line of US defenders that were spread across the entrance of the Bataan Peninsula.  Much to Gen. Homma’s dismay, his well-trained men were being sent to Java and would replaced by the 65th “Summer Brigade” from Formosa.  Cavite naval base was taken and Brunei Bay at Borneo was occupied.

enemy tank knocked out by British antitank gunners. Jan. '42

enemy tank knocked out by the 13th Battery/ Australian 4th Anti-Tank Regiment. Jan. ’42

3 January, Allied forces in southeast Asia were put under a joint command named ABDACOM (American-British-Dutch-Australian Command).  British General Sir Archibald Wavell acted as Supreme Commander with the headquarters on Java.  This attempt at a joint structure proved to be difficult due to international rivalries, code differences and teams trying to work together with no prior experience.  In China, Chiang Kai-shek was made the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces of that nation.

the "Malahang Wreck" with Australian troops approaching.

the “Malahang Wreck” with Australian troops approaching.

4-19 January, the Indian 11th Division, British and Commonwealth forces were continually pushed back on Malaya.  The capital, Kuala Lumpur, was occupied on the 12th by the Japanese 25th Army.  On the 17th, 15 tanks burst through the lines as the enemy dropped paratroopers along the coast.   The 5th and 8th divisions’ positions pushed to within 100 miles (160 km) from Singapore on the 19th.

original crew of the USS Pollack

original crew of the USS Pollack

5-9 January, the submarine, the USS Pollack, commanded by Stanley Moseley, damaged the cargo ship, Heijo Maru; 2 days later, she sank the cargo ship, Unkai Maru No. 1 and on the 9th, she sank the freighter Telan Maru in Japanese waters.  /  Off Papua, New Guinea, the 49th Fighter Group damaged a Japanese 4,103 ton cargo ship that was then steered to the beach near Malahang.  On the 8th, she was destroyed.

9 January, Japanese Gen. Nara caused high casualties to is own troops when he ordered his over-aged Summer Brigade against the Abucay Line on Luzon.  MacArthur called on D.C. again for a “sea thrust” to be sent from Australia.  The US Chief of Naval Operations told FDR that they did not have enough ships for such an operation.  The president sent a New Year’s message to the Filipinos: “I can assure you that every possible vessel is bearing down…the strength that will eventually crush the enemy…”  Approximately 80,000 US and Filipino troops gallantly defended their positions until 23 January when I & II Corps were pushed 30 miles (48 km) south.

BATAAN

BATAAN

The moral of the American troops was waning quickly due to round-the-clock fighting, taunts from the enemy loud speakers, hunger, low supplies of medicine and lack of sleep.  Resentment was expressed for the refusal of Allied support, the Filipinos and MacArthur, who remained on Corregidor Island, in the endless verses of one of the most corrosive military dirges of WWII:

We’re the Battling Bastards of Bataan
No mama, no papa, no Uncle Sam,
No aunts, no uncles, no nephews, no nieces
No rifles, no plans or artillery pieces,
and nobody gives a damn!

But – despite disease and lack of support, the American and Filipino troops continued to fight on.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Bill Mauldin

Bill Mauldin

SLANG2

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Farewell Salutes – 

"Wounded Warrior" painting by U.S. Marine Michael Fay

“Wounded Warrior” painting by U.S. Marine Michael Fay

John Aziz – Toronto, CAN; RC Army; WWII

Wes Banks – St. Petersburg, FL; US Air Force, Vietnam

James Hurt – Pittsburg, KS; US Army, Capt. (Ret.), Vietnam, 189th Helicopter Comp., Bronze Star

Frank Knowlton – Kerhonkson, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Henry Irwin – Wichland, WA; US Army, Korea, Purple Heart

John Moss – Whangarei, NZ; RNZ Air Force # Y78337, Warrant Officer

Jordon Spears (21) – Memphis, IN; USMC. Corporal, ISIS Campaign

Robert Walton Jr. – Lake Worth, FL; US Navy, WWII, 1st Beach Battalion, ETO

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General Douglas MacArthur

Douglas MacArthur, West  Point, 1903

Douglas MacArthur, West Point, 1903

Acheson warned Truman of the home front unrest that might result from MacArthur’s dismissal and General Marshall felt the general should be brought home for “consultation,” but after pressure, he withdrew his suggestion.

In reply to the rumors of his dismissal, MacArthur sent a defiant letter to Gen. Bradley. Representative Martin read this letter on the floor of the House. Truman, fearing the political upheaval of firing MacArthur, stated he would leave the decision up to the military.

Manila, 1945

Manila, 1945

When Truman was told that if the general ever got wind of his definite dismissal, he might resign. The president became furious, “The son of a bitch isn’t going to resign on me. I want him fired!” To precede any actions of MacArthur, Truman then made an official statement – a broadcast on the radio, 10 April 1951 at 1:00 am.

11 & 13 April, while the newspapers were preoccupied with stories on MacArthur, the Joint Chiefs of Staff secretly approved the general’s plan to “send a message” to Beijing. The operation, off the coast of China, in the Taiwan Strait, was to show force and obtain photographs; 20 warships and 140 planes would participate.

MacArthur's desk - as he left it.

MacArthur’s desk – as he left it.

Secretary of the Army, Pace, received a call at the Command Post of the 5th RCT/24th Division, “You will advise General Matthew Ridgeway that he is now the supreme commander of the Pacific… You will proceed to Tokyo where you will assist Gen. Ridgeway… in assuming his command.” Pace had the messenger repeat his orders a second time due to their importance.

MacArthur kept a stiff upper lip and said upon receiving the news to Ambassador William Sibald, “Publicly humiliated after 52 years of service in the Army.” When Ridgeway arrived in Tokyo on 12 April, MacArthur said, “If it had been up to me to pick my successor, I would have chosen you.”

MacArthur addressing 50,000 at Soldier's Field, Chicago, April 1951

MacArthur addressing 50,000 at Soldier’s Field, Chicago, April 1951

The home front Gallup Poll had MacArthur’s popularity at 69% in sympathy with the general. Truman, upon arriving at the Washington Senator’s baseball game was booed. In Ponca City, OK, a dummy of the president was burned in effigy. PFC William Hayward related that despite the shortages they had in the 674th Tactical Control Squadron, none of their liabilities were due to MacArthur. He said from commanding officers on down, the air crews were irate about his being sacked. In other units, the troops merely shrugged; the change in the higher command did nothing to alter their situations.

While most major newspapers supported Truman, the “Chicago Tribune” suggested that the president could be impeached for ordering troop to the Korean front without a declaration of war. The famous Walter Winchell called the dismissal the “greatest scandal in American history.” Equally famous, author James Mitchner, was on the critical side with his views.

Japanese school children were given a holiday and throngs of genuinely sorrowful Japanese gathered along the route from the American embassy to the airport on 16 April as MacArthur went to board the “Bataan.” Over a loud-speaker, in Japanese for those unable to see the procession, sounded, “Good-bye, General MacArthur.” Banners were hung that read, Sayonara, we Love You, We Are Grateful to the General and With Sincere Regret. As the MacArthur party went up the plan’s ramp, the Army band played, “Auld Lang Syne.”

MacArthur's parade, NYC 20 April 1951

MacArthur’s parade, NYC 20 April 1951

MacArthur returned to the United States to a hero’s welcome that included a ticker tape parade in Manhattan, attracting 7 million spectators. But, the talk of running the general as a Republican presidential candidate faded away.

MacArthur's farewell speech to Congress

MacArthur’s farewell speech to Congress

19 April 1951, Gen. Douglas MacArthur addressed a joint meeting of Congress where he repeated his statement, “In war, there can be no substitute for victory.” And in conclusion: “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away. And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away – an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Goodbye.”

*********** General Douglas MacArthur (26 January 1880 – 5 April 1964)***********

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Farewell Salutes –

Hugh Harvey – Childs, MD; US Coast Guard, WWII

James Bloom – NY & W. Palm Bch., FL; US Army, WWII

Gilbert Butts – W.Palm Bch., FL; US Army (Ret.) Sgt.

Gerald Smith – Dallas, TX; US Navy, Captain (Ret.) Korea

Harold Hayward – White Plains, NY; 761st Tank Battalion, WWII

Albert Dubuc – Springfield, MA & Lake Worth, FL; US Air Force, MSgt, PTO

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Click images to enlarge.

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Personal note – Please relay all correspondence thru the blogs. Anything sent to my personal e-mail goes directly to spam and is discarded. I value all of you and want to hear what you have to say, so please add it here. (If you wish, I will delete the message after it is read.) Thank you for your cooperation.

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Korean War (18)

Operation Ripper - Tanks of the 25th Div. cross the Han River, March '51

Operation Ripper – Tanks of the 25th Div. cross the Han River, March ’51

17 March 1951, Operation Ripper had started to meet its objectives. Ridgeway was handling the problems of bad weather and rough terrain by using Korean porters, with A-frames strapped to their backs, to assist the troops with the equipment. Large enemy forces appeared to be drawing north. MacArthur flew in wanting a jeep tour of the 1st Marine Division, making it his 12th visit to the country and the day before Hill 399 had been taken.

When Marshall returned to the Dai Ichi HQ in Tokyo, he received a complaint from Washington that they had not been informed of Operation Ripper; this time MacArthur was innocent, he did order Ridgeway not to cross the 38th parallel. With the UN in plans for negotiations, Gen. Marshall, Acheson and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 19 March, drafted a proposal to rein in MacArthur and sent it to a vacationing Truman in Key West, FL. 21 March (in Japan), MacArthur responded that his existing orders gave him whatever authority he needed.

Operation Ripper

Operation Ripper

With a top-secret message NOT to cross the 38th, Ridgeway changed the operation’s name to Tomahawk on 23 March and made a drop at Munsan, north of Seoul and astride of the parallel. Ridgeway and his pilot, Lynch, took off to watch the paratroopers and saw that the planes had released them too early. While under fire, Lynch landed and told the men they were 10 miles off their target DZ (drop zone). He then led a squad out, silenced the enemy machine-gun and returned with 4 prisoners. The troopers turned the plane around so that he and the general could take off again and meet MacArthur at Kimpo airfield.

 MacArthur

MacArthur

MacArthur stayed at Kimpo a short time, but when he returned to Japan, he released a communique that thwarted efforts for easy peace talks. It was still 23 March when Robert Lovett, undersecretary of defense was made aware of the message by the Pentagon. He was at Dean Acheson’s home at the time, along with Dean Rusk and Soviet expert Alexis Johnson. The 4 men decided to wake Truman and demand MacArthur’s removal. “Newsweek” published a story stating that the general was in violation of orders from Washington and that he should stay out of foreign policy.

3 April, as I and IX Corps were about to start Operation Dauntless, MacArthur made, what he did not know, would be his final visit to Korea. Ridgeway met him at K-18 air base near Kangnung on the east coast and they went by jeep to Yangyang; recently occupied just above the 38th. He made his inspection and then returned once again to Japan. General Peng informed Beijing that he felt the meeting of the 2 generals must mean a frontal attack in the east coordinated with an amphibious operation on Wonsan and Tongchon.

General Peng, 1951

General Peng, 1951

6 April, Bradley brought a recommendation to Truman to authorize MacArthur on a preemptive nuclear strike if the Chinese decided to push south of the 38th. The Bomb, Truman said, might be used beyond Korea’s borders, but he would reserve the decision until the National Security Council’s special committee on atomic energy held their meeting. AEC Chairman, Gordon Dean, then gave Gen. Vandenberg authorization to transfer 9 nuclear cores.

Residents return to Seoul

Residents return to Seoul

7 April, the 99th Medium Bomber Wing picked up the bombs for delivery to Guam, not Okinawa as originally requested. The president had Paul Nitze draw up orders for MacArthur’s dismissal, it began bluntly, “You will turn over your command at once to Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgeway. You are authorized to have such orders as are necessary to complete desired travel to such place as you may select…” But, this was not yet signed.

On this same day, Judge Irving Kaufman made his famous decision on the fate of the otherwise notorious Rosenbergs. They were sentenced to die in the electric chair for treason.

9 April, The US I and IX Corps and the ROK I Corps, on the east coast fought their way to Line Kansas; this was the onset of Operation Rugged. From 11-14 April, the Fast Carrier Task Force (TF-77) began air operations in the Straits of Formosa. They were outside the 3 mile limit of mainland China to photograph possible targets on land.

Click on images to enlarge.

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F-86 Sabre

F-86 Sabre

16 February 1951 – 27 July 1953, Wonsan was reduced to rubble by the longest siege in American Naval history. (I will include here, in future posts, only a handful of the individual battles fought during that period, the naval records for this is quite extensive.) Hugnam and Sagjim endured similar fates. In the air was the US F-86 Sabres, British Fleet Air Arm aircraft; the Australians and South Africans also supplied a fighter squadron each, to add to the existing UN force.

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Farewell Salutes –

Phillip Nowak – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII

Howard Woltman – Westchester, IL; US Navy, WWII

Melvin Shapiro – Lauderhill, FL; US Navy WWII

Joseph Garbacz – Alexandria, VA; US Army Air Corps, Colonel Corps of Engineers (Ret.), WWII & Korea

Hugh Harvey – Childs, MD; US Coast Guard, WWII

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Korean War (17)

K Co., 35th RCT, 25th Div. fire at CCF w/ a M1919A4, 30 caliber air-cooler light machine gun during Operation Ripper.

K Co., 35th RCT, 25th Div. fire at CCF w/ a M1919A4, 30 caliber air-cooler light machine gun during Operation Ripper.

The battered men of the 38th Regiment of the 2nd Division, the Dutch battalion and the 187th RCT were ordered to “make the strongest possible stand to blunt the CCF.” This amounted to approximately 8,000 men. As expected on 13 February 1951, the enemy attacked along with their usual whistles, horns and bugles blaring. Hills numbered 339,340,341 and 342 were the east to west ridge-lines needed to be taken. Here, the fighting became so intense and continuous that it remains difficult to follow the progress over the rugged terrain and individual unit combat. Casualties mounted on both sides, but their position was held. Hill after hill and ridge after ridge, they grabbed whoever was still able to fight and went through Hills 240, 255 and 738. (Hills were numbered according to their height.)

CCF XIII Army attack on Hoengsong - ROK 8th Div. destroyed

CCF XIII Army attack on Hoengsong – ROK 8th Div. destroyed

18 February, the Chinese realized they were fighting a lost cause and pulled back. Ridgeway was notified and set up Operation Killer to launch a counterattack. Two days later, with a visit from MacArthur, they went over this plan that included recrossing the Han River. Later on, MacArthur would claim (with Almond’s confirmation) that this operation was his own by stating, “I ordered Ridgeway to start north again.” No such order had been given as far as the records show. Since censorship had been in force since December 1950, Ridgeway tried diplomatically to stymie MacArthur’s theatrics and grandstanding with the press. He complained that MacArthur’s long-standing habit of visiting when a major offensive was about to be enforced was most assuredly going to be picked up by the enemy.

By 28 February, all enemy resistance south of the Han River was eliminated. The 187th RCT Rakkasans were once again sent back to Taegu to reorganize.

1-12 March, the U.N. line was about halfway between the 37th and 38th parallels and this did not sit well with Ridgeway. The 1st Marine Division captured Hoengsong. 5 March, COMNAVFE (the commander of the Navy, Far East), stated his intelligence reports were showing a build-up of CCF and small boats in port opposite Formosa. The junk might be used for an amphibious attempt on Formosa. Operation Ripper, devised 2 weeks before with MacArthur’s approval, was to trap and eliminate the enemy. It was intended to split the Chinese and the North Koreans. This was put into action on the 7th with about 150,000 men on the offensive. By the 11th, the US IX Corps had reached their Line for Phase One.

14-19 March, Seoul was once again in Allied hands; being that it was deserted and laid in rubble, no great victory was declared. For these 5 days, the USS Missouri fired on Kyojo Wan, Songjin, Chaho and Wonsan. The ship was credited with 8 railroad bridges and 7 highway bridges.

Even Peng told Mao that no one would win the war. He reported back that with 227,000 American troops backing the 250,000 ROK troops and 21,000 from Britain, Australia, Turkey, the Philippines, Thailand, Canada, New Zealand, Greece, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, would be too many to eliminate.

enemy POWs

enemy POWs

IX and X Corps neared Chunchon; this was the 3rd Phase line and the Marines were met with heavy fighting. On 20 March, the JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff) informed MacArthur that the UN was ready to begin negotiations with Red China. The front had reached north far enough where the talks might produce a cease-fire line. MacArthur blamed Washington for not going in for a total victory; such Cold War rules alluded the general. Even the 150,000 POWs captured since Inchon were more of a hindrance than a bargaining chip. The logistics problems were enormous, but not the only ones. The militants, ordered by Mao to surrender, disrupted the camps with uprisings, drug trafficking, murder, prostitution and communication with the enemy forces out in the field. On the 23rd, MacArthur gave Ridgeway authorization to cross the 38th. This was done without JCS approval.

General Sams

A large spreading of a “plague-like disease” in the enemy bases would start accusations by the pro-Communist reporters that the Americans were waging germ warfare. BGeneral Crawford F. Sams, later to be named Surgeon General of the Army, took on a dangerous mission in the Wonsan sector. In this area, Sams examined strickened Chinese soldiers and found the disease to be hemorrhagic smallpox. The origin of which is known to be Manchuria.

Mosquito hunt

Mosquito hunt

When asked about UN troops crossing the 38th, Truman blundered, “That is a tactical matter for the field commander. A commander-in-chief 7,000 miles away does not interfere with field operations. We are working to free the Republic of Korea…” Upon hearing this in Tokyo, MacArthur grumbled about a “one-sided gag.” He said that officials in Washington can say what they want, but he needed approval for anything more significant than a morning report.

Click images to enlarge.

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Current News –

Picture released by Chinese of Allied POWs

Picture released by Chinese of Allied POWs

A “Korea Remembered 1950-1953” ceremony was given for Darrell Krenz and hundreds of other Korean War veterans in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this past Tuesday. Krenz, was a bazooka operator, sniper and POW; a member of the 24th Infantry Division.

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Farewell Salutes –korean67

Fred Alfele – Atlantis, FL; US Navy, oral surgeon

Bartley Fugler – Arlington, VA & Naples, FL; US Navy, pilot, WWII

George Kuhter – Chicago area; US Navy, WWII

Judge Clarence Lipnick – Chicago, IL; US Army WWII, D-Day

Raymond Vernier – Detroit, MI & Lake Worth, FL; US Army, medic, Korea

G.T. “Tom” Simpson – Greenville, SC; civilian employee, contractor WWII,; built bases in VA, SC & GA

Leonard Witt, Jr. – Marysville, WA; US Army, WWII

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Resources: Korean War on line; “Rakkasans” & “The Angels” by Gen. EM Flanagan; history.navy.mil;”MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; “The Korean War” by Maurice Isserman; “Korean War” by Stephen Badsy; “Warfare of the 20th Century” by Christopher Chant

Korean War (15)

Ridgeway in Korea

Ridgeway in Korea

Lt. General Mathew Bunker Ridgeway was chosen to replace the late Gen. Walton Walker. He arrived in Tokyo in the early evening of 26 December 1950, where he was given his orders to maintain a line of defense as far north in Korea as he could while keeping a hold on Seoul. MacArthur informed him that morale in the 8th Army was poor and he must supply the discipline they needed because of the methods of the CCF attacking at night and in mass. (American intelligence still had not identified General Peng Dehuai as the enemy’s major military influence.) MacArthur knew his wish to unite Korea under Syngman Rhee was not going to happen, but he still expected to hold the south.

Ridgeway had arrived in Tokyo anticipating to discount MacArthur, but by the end of the meeting, he gave his full support. When the 2 generals discussed the possibility of attack, MacArthur answered, “The 8th Army is yours, Matt. Do what you think is best.”

map13_full

Ridgeway had left the U.S. in such a hurry that he only had his WWII uniforms, civilian gloves and a cotton cap to unpack at his new HQ in Taegu, Korea. He said, I nearly froze there in the few days…” Upon flying to Seoul, he appearance was different; he wore his trademark grenade fastened to the right shoulder strap of his airborne trooper gear, a first-aid kit to the left strap and a .45 pistol at his web belt. This would start his nickname, “Old Iron Tits,” but when he said he wanted to go to the front, the men gave him the title, “Wrong Way Ridgeway.”

He began to move his dispirited men around and shoring up his front lines and retraining of the 8th Army began. This was done to prepare for the Chinese New Year offensive he saw building up, but Washington thought differently. Just as MacArthur was forced to deal with the “Europe First” attitude in WWII, resources were once again being diverted to Eisenhower and NATO in the divided but peaceful Europe. Mao’s message to Peng read, “The so-called 38th parallel is an old impression in people’s minds and will no longer exist after this new campaign…”

 

pic6

1951

On New Year’s morning, Gen. Ridgeway saw ROK soldiers streaming south.  They had abandoned, lost or black marketed all their weapons.  He jumped from his jeep, and with the assistance of American MPs, he managed to stop them and take control.  For the first 5 days of January, FEAF (Far East Air Force) fighter-bombers flew about 500 sorties a day, but were proving ineffective.  Peng’s “Third Phase” offensive seemed unhampered and Ridgeway knew he would be unable to maintain control of Seoul.  A witness to this day described it as, “like floodwater down a mountain.”

U.S. military leaders have a meeting - Ridgeway in center, MacArthur on right

U.S. military leaders have a meeting – Ridgeway in center, MacArthur on right

 

On 3 January, at the Battle of Wonju, the 674th Airborne Field Artillery Battalion was scattered over a large area and each gun was firing.  Sgt.First Class Maria said, “…there was heavy traffic of all kinds on the road…headed south… In one 20 minute period, my gun fired 80 rounds of high explosives, burning the paint off the tube in the process.”

4 January, Ridgeway wrote in his diary, “…the ice was 4″ or 5″ thick…men in rubber boats fought ice floes away from the pontoons with scenes reminiscent of George Washington crossing the Delaware…Beyond the Han [River] were nearly 100,000 fighting men.”

Gen. Peng refused to believe that MacArthur would remove all troops from Korea.  His CCF ammunition and food was running low, so he planned to pause at the 37th parallel to reorganize and wait for better weather.  When his intel reports came on 8 January that the American retreat had stopped, he feared it was nothing more than a ruse to trap him in the south.

On the 8th, MacArthur advised the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the Chinese potential would render the Korean peninsula untenable.  Ridgeway received a document that indicated major elements of the 8th Army were to retreat to Pusan by 15 April — Ridgeway wrote “Disapproved” across the page.  Washington was looking for negotiations, but the JCS wanted confirmation of the situation; they sent the Army and Air Force Chiefs to observe first-hand.  The generals found the 8th Army to be in good shape and using the CCF lull in operations to organize offensive plans.

13 January, the 187th RCT (Regimental Combat Team), under X Corps, were sent to defend Punju Pass; they were forced to fight their way to the ridges overlooking it.  The enemy, with their reversible jackets were difficult to pick out, but the bombing was proving to be successful and the napalm cleared pathways for the 187th to move.  At 2100 hours, the Chinese started their massive attack, but none would even come close to the guns.  The following morning, the Rakkasans (187th) found enemy bodies everywhere; some in piles 10 deep.

 

The 56 year old Ridgeway, former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in WWII, was turning the war around.  One way he restored EUSAK (Eighth U.S. Army, Korea) morale was using the old method of insisting on a continuous front and letting the technology do the work; he called this “The Meatgrinder” of American artillery and air power.  The new matérial coming into Korea was hitting the lightly armed enemy hard, who had been accustomed to infiltration tactics rather than head-on confrontations.  Gen. Peng informed Mao that Korea could no longer be conquered by force.

 

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Farewell Salutes –

CPL Thomas Edwards, NYC, Co. A, 8th Cav Reg, 1st Cav Div is fed by PFC Cornelius Bosma, Ontario,CA 8063 MASH I Corps

CPL Thomas Edwards, NYC, Co. A, 8th Cav Reg, 1st Cav Div is fed by PFC Cornelius Bosma, Ontario,CA 8063 MASH I Corps

Caroline Mansur – Prince George County, VA & Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Navy LT. JG, WWII

William Barnes – Washington, DC; US Army, WWII PTO, Purple Heart

Harry Christian – Bowie, MD; US Navy, WWII PTO, gunners mate

Morgan Shinton – Lansford,PA & Boynton Bch., FL; USMC, S/Sgt, Korea, Good Conduct, Korean Service medals & UN Ribbon

John J. Clasby, Sr. – USMC Captain (pilot) Vietnam, Distinguished Flying Cross, (The actual helicopter flown by Clasby is at the Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport)

Richard M. Dragland – Alberta, Canada & Seattle, WA; US Army, Sgt., Vietnam, passed away while attending the reunion of the 53rd Signal Battalion.

Click on images to enlarge.
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Resources: “Rakkasans” & “The Angels” by Gen. EM Flanagan; Korean War on line.com;”MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; Korean War.org; history.army.mil

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