Blog Archives

PTO & CBI reactions to V-E Day

US Army 77th Division hears the news on Okinawa

Victory in Europe was welcome news to Allied troops in the Pacific and the China-Burma-India theaters of war. They greeted it with thanksgiving but there was little celebration. As a London Times special correspondent in Burma wrote, “The war is over. Let us get on with the war.” Now that Europe would no longer be receiving the bulk of troops and materiel, officers and enlisted personnel in the war against Japan hoped they would be given more men and equipment quickly, in order to end their war sooner.

Meanwhile, fighting continued in New Guinea, the Philippines, Okinawa, the CBI and elsewhere. Kamikazes still made suicide dives to sink Allied ships. The lights may have gone on over Europe and America, but a funeral pall still darkened the Pacific and Asia.

SMITTY _ New Guinea 10/24/44

Smitty, my father, when asked how he had felt, merely shrugged. “I was happy for my fellow soldiers over there, but we had work to do, so we didn’t think about it very long.”

From The May 7, 1945 Edition of Stars and Stripes

OKINAWA, May 6 (ANS)—The reported death of Adolf Hitler and the word of surrender of the German armies in Italy was good news to soldiers, sailors and marines here but there was no celebrating.Most of the fighting men figured it wouldn’t mean a thing to them “until we can see some help coming and see a chance of ending the war out here.”

They termed Hitler’s death “good riddance” and said it was a good thing he went that way because there probably would have been lots of bickering around if we had taken him alive.”

Gen. Daniel I. Sultan

Gen. Dan I. Sultan, commander of the India-Burma Theater, on V-E Day, paid tribute to the fighting men who won the European war in a short statement to the troops of the India-Burma Theater broadcast over the American Army radio stations in the Theater. The text of Gen. Sultan’s statement:
“Today in Europe, German military might has been broken. After almost six years, organized hostilities have ceased. The great work of reconstruction of the shattered continent can now begin.
“We recognize the tremendous achievements of the Allied Armies in Europe who won this victory, for we too have been fighting. We know the cost of driving back a tenacious enemy – we know the necessity for close co-operation of all branches of our forces, the close union with our allies in the common cause. We know the heartbreaking conditions of combat under adverse weather and over difficult terrain – the back-breaking work of construction and supply in support of combat operations. So, as fighting men, we pay tribute to the fighting men in Europe.
“Their victory is in part our victory. We have done with less man and supplies, so that they might have more. Their victory brings our victory nearer. The men who broke the German ground defenses in the west, who destroyed her essential industries from the air, can now turn their attention to the war with Japan. The industrial strength of the United States, until now producing for the war both in Europe and in Asia, can turn its full productive force to the Far East.
“This is the day of Germany’s defeat and Europe’s liberation, but we must not forget that there is still a tough battle to be fought before the Japs are licked. Every one of us knows his part in that fight; and if every one of us will do his part to the utmost, Japan’s defeat and the liberation of Asia will come surely and swiftly.”

The Pacific War

 

The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia greeted V-E Day with the question, “Since when has it been customary to celebrate victory halfway through a contest?” The war with Japan had been the great threat to Australia itself, and the country’s sons were still fighting and dying in that war. Accordingly, the mood was more somber than in Europe. On May 9, some 100,000 people attended a service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

For the most part New Zealanders observed V-E Day on May 9, although there was some spontaneous dancing in the streets. Preparations had been underway for weeks, in part to keep celebrations from getting out of control. Events included speeches, thanksgiving services, and the singing of the national anthems of New Zealand, America and the Soviet Union. A People’s Victory March in Christchurch drew 25,000.

In the U.S., many communities attempted to subdue celebrations, wanting to give the occasion the solemnity they felt it deserved and reminding Americans that, as Truman said, “Our victory is only half over.” Across the country, however, joyous celebrations broke out. Thousands gathered in New York’s Times Square. New Orleans took on the appearance of Mardi Gras, with people dancing in the streets. Church bells rang out the glorious news in small towns and major cities.

In the Soviet Union, Stalin himself seemed less than enthusiastic. His deputy Nikita Khrushchev telephoned to congratulate the Soviet leader on his victory, and Stalin reportedly snapped at him, “Why are you bothering me? I am working.” The USSR’s official victory parade took place in a downpour over a month later, on June 24.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

‘Bring back rationing!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Harold Bishop – Sacramento, CA; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Christopher A. Celiz – Summerville, SC; US Army, Afghanistan (7th deployment), Sgt. 1st Class, KIA

Dallas ‘Chris’ Christenson – Pensecola, FL, US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret.)

John Hart – Keesville, NY; US Army / US Navy

Melvin Hilscher – Kulm, ND; US Army, WWII

James McLean – AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, Flight Sgt., 83rd Squadron

George Meyer – Bristol, CT; US Navy, WWII, Medical Corps

Ruskin Reddoch – Troy, AL; USMC, WWII, 1st Lt., Silver Star, Purple Heart

Elliot Seidman – Delray Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman

Maria Swafford – Boydton, VA; Civilian, US Map Service, D.C., WWII

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Col. Hiromishi Yahara on Okinawa

Lines of defense on Okinawa. Top Japanese officers were in the bottom line of bunkers.

Colonel Hiromishi Yahara was third in command of the Japanese defenses on Okinawa. Read all about his story below.

It was Colonel Hiromishi Yahara who designed and implemented the jiykusen, or the yard-by-yard battle of attrition that cost the American forces so many casualties in the three-month battle, and he was the highest ranking officer to survive the battle and make it back to Tokyo. Before the overall commander on the island, Lt. Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima, committed ritual suicide in the battle’s final days, he instructed Yahara to escape to Tokyo to make a final report to the emperor.

Yahara was captured by the Americans, which bothered him immensely—to be captured or to surrender was considered a disgrace to one’s family—but eventually he did return to Japan.  In 1973, Yahara still felt strongly that the garrison at Okinawa, as well as the people of Okinawa themselves, had been betrayed by Imperial Headquarters in Tokyo.  Because he faced personal attacks for surviving the battle, Yahara decided to write a book to set the record straight.


The result is a fascinating and unique look at the last, decisive battle of the Pacific War, written by a surviving member of the defeated Japanese command on Okinawa.  Yahara was a gifted and meticulous strategist, highly respected by his peers. Because he had spent two years in the United States as an exchange officer prior to World War II, he knew his enemy better than did his superiors at Okinawa, Ushijima and Maj. Gen. Isamu Cho.

Yahara makes a startling revelation in the book regarding the events surrounding the American landing on Okinawa on April 1, 1945.  According to Yahara, the plans drawn up in Tokyo called for Japanese air power to play the decisive role in the battle for Okinawa prior to the actual landing.  Japanese planes flying from the mainland along with aircraft launched by the Japanese Combined Fleet—conventional fighters and kamikaze suicide attackers—were supposed to strike the U.S. Fifth Fleet offshore prior to the landing and annihilate the American landing forces while they were still in their ships.  The 32nd Imperial Army entrenched on Okinawa was to play a minor role, mopping up the survivors of the American landing forces as they struggled ashore.

Giretsu Commandos on Okinawa

To Yahara, the failure to launch the promised air attack on April 1 sealed the fate of the island’s garrison—it never had a chance for victory. Hundreds of thousands of Okinawan citizens had been betrayed as well, Yahara believed, sacrificed to the whims of the Japanese high command.

Although his love for his country never wavered, Yahara was unique among his peers.  He fully recognized the flaws in traditional Japanese military thinking—the Bushido code, or way of the warrior—and he was disgusted as he watched his superiors repeat the errors of previous eras.  The Imperial Army had a “blood and guts” mentality; it had been undefeated since winning the Sino-Japanese War in 1895.  To the Japanese militarists’ way of thinking, the combination of Japanese spirit and the willingness to die for the emperor would overcome any material advantage enjoyed by an enemy.

Japanese bunker

Yahara was convinced that the initial Japanese strategy for Okinawa—depending on air power—would fail.  Japan’s air forces were seriously degraded by early 1945, and it had lost many experienced pilots. American aircraft were now technically superior, and Japan’s Navy was down to just a few surviving carriers.  Yahara believed that the only chance for his country’s survival lay in the proper use of its remaining ground forces.

After the promised air assault did not materialize, he went ahead with his planned defenses on the ground.  He would fight for time, making the invaders pay dearly for every inch of ground, to allow Japan to prepare its defenses on the main islands for the Allied invasion that was sure to come.  Yahara’s tactics on Okinawa would utilize the island’s terrain, which was perfectly suited for defense, to wage an ugly war of attrition. His soldiers would go underground in caves and concrete bunkers to survive air, artillery, and naval gunfire, and then battle American ground forces for every inch of island real estate. His intricate, multi-layered defensive positions and the tenacity of the 110,000-man 32nd Army combined to prolong the battle for three long and exceedingly bloody months.

Col. Hiromishi Yahara

In his book, Yahara admits that he despised both the self-delusion practiced by his superiors and the false propaganda foisted upon the Okinawan people, who were told that capture by American troops would result in rape, torture, and death, to which suicide was preferable.

Condensed from an article by John Walker.

Click on images to enlarge.

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 Military Humor – BOOT CAMP 

‘Sign me up for swing shift basic training! I don’t think I could handle early morning hours.’

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bathurst – Madison, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Frank Conger – Poughkeepsie, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Bennington

Missing Man formation

Warren Foss – St. Louis, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO

James Gavette – Bradford, PA; US Army, WWII

Samuel Tom Holiday – Kayeta, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, Purple Heart

Norman Jackson – Watertown, NY; US merchant Marine, WWII

Francis McCormack – Rutland, VT; USMC

Irving Press – Windsor, CT; US Army, WWII

Raymond Rzepecki Sr. – Central Falls, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Pfc, B-24 tail gunner, 370th

Omar Shaffer – Linden, VA; US Navy, WWII, gunner

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SeaBees on Okinawa, April 1945

SeaBees of WWII

This eye witness account was contributed by John Ratomski.

 

AHEAD OF OKINAWA’S FRONT LINES WENT A FIVE MAN SEABEE SURVEYING TEAM TO LAY OUT THE SITE FOR A NEW AIRFIELD.  CCM DOYLE L. CROWELL AND HIS MEN WORKING IN “NO MANS LAND” FOR TWO DAYS – SOMETIMES MORE THAN A HALF-MILE IN FRONT OF THE FIGHTING. THE MARINES DIDN’T CATCH UP WITH THE SURVEYORS UNTIL THE THIRD DAY.

April 1, 1945 – Easter Sunday arrived with a calm sea and a clear blue sky. The sun was two hours above the horizon. The serene South China Sea was fogged with the ghostly gray mist of the smudge pots. Behind the curtain of smoke, landing barges circled restlessly, waiting.  In the distance boomed the heavy naval guns. At 0830 the barges flashed across the line to the beach. The battle for “Bloody Okinawa” was on.

This was the moment we had sweated out for thirty days aboard ship. Thirty days of playing cards and checkers and reading books, magazines and the news reports; thirty days of boredom and anxiety.

USS Joseph T. Dickman, WWII

Aboard the USS Dickman we tried vainly to see what was going on. The wall of smoke obliterated everything outside a radius of two hundred yards. Scuttlebutt spread widely through the ship: The Japs are shelling! Someone had seen several unaccountable splashes near the next ship in line. On our bit of the U.S.A., isolated from the world and the news and in the midst of significant historical events, we depended on the latest developments from the coxswains passing by in landing barges. No one hit on the fourth wave. The sixth wave went in standing up! Our bird’s eye view of the battle was minute indeed.

D-Day for Seabees was April 2nd, and the first groups of the 71st Naval Construction Battalion stepped ashore at Blue Beach to the first nearly civilized country they had seen in eighteen months. There, not six yards from the beach, was part of a real house with the wreckage of some natives possessions strewn about.

Yontan Airfield, aerial view from the 25th Photo Recon Sq./5th Air Force

From Blue Beach we marched five miles, carrying the equipage necessary to existence (a mere 60 to 100 pounds) on our backs, to a former Japanese airfield, Yontan, and prepared to bivouac. Within a few hundred yards of the camp were a number of Nip planes in all states of disrepair.

April 6th. No bombs were dropped in the camp vicinity, but old hands neatly hit holes dug for that purpose. Later in the day planes made a strafing run on the camp, setting fire to and completely destroying the Frank type Nip plane which was parked near the camp. The first casualty due to enemy action occurred, a slight shoulder wound caused by falling flak. The most severe cases were those individuals unfortunate enough to have been carrying open cans at the time of the raid.

On April 8th, grading started on Route 1 from Yamada to Onna, the main road which led north on the China Sea side of the island. This stretch of road formed the backbone of the battalion’s job on Okinawa. The next day the first part of the battalion moved to a more suitable position north, following the Marines of the 3rd Corps and keeping the roads open.

SeaBees on Okinawa

The month of April brought cold weather miseries to the men. Eighteen months in the torrid heat of the South Pacific had weakened the resistance of the men to the mild cold of Okinawa. Cloudy, rainy days and cold nights brought on the worst colds and grippe in two years. Nights were spent with all available clothing wrapped around the body, and baths from buckets and helmets were no longer cool and refreshing as they had been in the tropics, but ordeals to be endured only when the odor became overpowering.

Also in April came terrific hailstorms of steel to those remaining encamped beside Yontan.  Shore installations and ships in the harbor threw up such a tremendous barrage in each raid that the harbor vicinity was prey to the never ending rain of metal.  On 16 April mortar shells aimed at Yontan landed around the camp area.  During the previous night the first and only death due to enemy action occurred. There were air raids too numerous to count, but usually the planes merely passed over on their way to more important targets. On several occasions bombs were dropped nearby, but they were just close enough to make a few more Christians.

SeaBees at work, Okinawa

By April 29th the battalion road responsibility extended from Yamada to Nago, a distance of more than 20 miles. Throughout the entire distance the road was widened sufficiently to accommodate the northward drive of the 3rd Corps. A Piper Cub strip at Onna was begun on April 16th.  By April 20th enough of the strip had been completed to enable the first plane to land.  At the village of Kise, a concrete bridge had been badly damaged by combat action and was repaired by cribbing along the broken span and back filling with rubble. Many of the bridges on Route 1 were damaged, seemingly beyond repair. Each bridge was repaired by crib and back fill or with shoring. These bridges were the only ones on the island made passable by using salvage material and drift wood.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Adams Jr. – So. Windham, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Aviation Engineer

John Beverly – Stone, KY; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Sr. Chief Radioman (Ret. 22y.)

Bob Dorough – AR; US Army, WWII, band, (Schoolhouse Rock)

Larry Harvey – Portland, OR; US Army, (Burning Man founder)

Douglas Jackson – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1261st Combat Engineers Battalion

Kathleen Leach – Tauranga, NZ; WAAF # W2039, WWII, L.Cpl.

James Martin – Brookline, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, jumpmaster

Bill Nichols – OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO & CBI

Dennis Odom – St. Louis, IL; US Army, Vietnam

Joseph Varone – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, Bronze Star & 2 Purple Hearts

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1 April 1945 – Okinawa

Okinawa invasion map

Codenamed Operation Iceberg, this was a major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by U. S. Marine and Army forces against the Imperial Japanese Army.

The United States created the Tenth Army, a cross-branch force consisting of the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th infantry divisions of the US Army with the 1st, 2nd, and 6th divisions of the Marine Corps, to fight on the island. The Tenth was unique in that it had its own tactical air force (joint Army-Marine command), and was also supported by combined naval and amphibious forces.

On this day in 1945, after suffering the loss of 116 planes and damage to three aircraft carriers, 50,000 U.S. combat troops of the 10th Army, under the command of Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner Jr., land on the southwest coast of the Japanese island of Okinawa, 350 miles south of Kyushu, the southern main island of Japan.

Marine & Navy aircraft destroyed all enemy aircraft on land. Shown here is Yontan Airfield

Determined to seize Okinawa as a base of operations for the army ground and air forces for a later assault on mainland Japan, more than 1,300 ships converged on the island, finally putting ashore 50,000 combat troops on April 1. The Americans quickly seized two airfields and advanced inland to cut the island’s waist. They battled nearly 120,000 Japanese army, militia, and labor troops under the command of Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima.

See some of the action in this 4 minute video………

The naval campaign against Okinawa began in late March 1945, as the carriers of the BPF began striking Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands. To the east of Okinawa, Mitscher’s carrier provided cover from kamikazes approaching from Kyushu. Japanese air attacks proved light the first several days of the campaign but increased on April 6 when a force of 400 aircraft attempted to attack the fleet.

The high point of the naval campaign came on April 7 when the Japanese launched Operation Ten-Go.  It was during this operation that they attempted to drive their battleship Yamato through the Allied fleet with the goal of beaching it on Okinawa for use a shore battery.

Initial U.S. landings began on March 26 when elements of the 77th Infantry Division captured the Kerama Islands to the west of Okinawa. On March 31, Marines occupied Keise Shima. Only eight miles from Okinawa, the Marines quickly emplaced artillery on these islets to support future operations. The main assault moved forward against the Hagushi beaches on the west coast of Okinawa on April 1. This was supported by a feint against the Minatoga beaches on the southeast coast by the 2nd Marine Division. Coming ashore, Geiger and Hodge’s men quickly swept across the south-central part of the island capturing the Kadena and Yomitan airfields (Map).

US Army 77th Infantry soldiers trudge thru the mud & flooding on Okinawa

Having encountered light resistance, Buckner ordered the 6th Marine Division to begin clearing the northern part of the island. Proceeding up the Ishikawa Isthmus, they battled through rough terrain before encountering the main Japanese defenses on the Motobu Peninsula.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News –

The remains of five Australians who were murdered by the Japanese in World War II appear to have been discovered on the island of Nauru.  The five men were working as civilians on the island in 1943, not soldiers, so there is, unfortunately, no money available to repatriate them.

Frederick Royden Chalmers volunteered to remain on the island along with four other men in order to help the islanders deal with the Japanese invasion they knew was coming.  Chalmers was 62 years old when he was killed. The other four men were Bernard Quin, 48, Wilfred Shugg, 39, William Doyle, 47, and Frederick Harmer, 44. They were captured by the invading forces and eventually dragged onto the beach where they were killed on March 25, 1943.

The family of Chalmers wants his body returned to Australia. The Unrecovered War Casualties Unit of the Australian Army Defense Force and the Department of Foreign Affairs both claim to be unauthorized to bring the remains of the men back home.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Stevie Barnett – Matthews, MO; US Navy, Vietnam,Chief Petty Officer (Ret.)

Ira ‘Pete’ Chesley – North Platte, NE; US Army, WWII, ETO, 9th Armored Division

Thomas Eager – Watertown, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Princeton

Bob Funderburke – Rock Hill, SC; US Army, Korea, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

Jessie Gale – Tetonia, ID; US Navy, WWII, ATO

Michael Littrell Sr. – Louisville, KY; USMC, Vietnam

William Patterson – Santa Barbara, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Col. (Ret.), 42 Ordnance Div.

Lloyd Robertson – Cralk, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

John Siler – Banner, OK; Merchant Marine, WWII

Francis Weniger – Plankinton, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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Special Issue – MAY – Military Appreciation Month

May, marked officially as Military Appreciation Month, is a special month for both those in and out of the military.

Not only do we pause on Memorial Day to remember the sacrifice and service of those who gave all, but the month also holds several other military anniversaries and events, including Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Armed Forces day.

 

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Walter Black – Marion, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, navigator

George Casseb – San Antonio, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI / Korea, meteorologist, Captain

Charles Crittenden – Seattle, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Francis Fleck – Louisville, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 547th Fighter Squadron, Bronze Star

Richard Lowe – Northglenn, CO; US Army, WWII, CBI

Putnam McDowell – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, P-38 pilot, photo recon

Robert Mumford – York, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT 288, torpedoman

William Punnell – Flandreau, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt., Hellcat pilot, USS Wasp, KIA (Palau)

Ora Sharninghouse – Findlay, OH; US Navy, WWII, Aviation Ordnance, Avenger pilot, USS Intrepid, KIA (Palau)

Robert Welch – Byron, MI; US Army Air Corps, 187th/11th Airborne Division

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Japanese Soldier’s Remembrance of Iwo Jima – conclusion

“Iwo Jima” by: Mark Maritato

Takahashi Toshiharu’s story continues….

I ran towards the sea.  The day got brighter.  When I jumped down, the enemy shot.  I felt as if I burnt a burned hot chopstick in my chest and I could not breathe.  There are plenty of US soldiers, but I was alive.  Blood flows a lot. Both shirts and pants were stained with blood.  I tried to stop blood even a little, but it didn’t work.

The enemy brought a flamethrower to the mouth of the hole.  The fire did not reach me. It was where I had been before.  The bullet was through, but it hurts because my body swells when I breathe.  It is a suffering to die.

I will die soon.  There is no doctor or medicine.  There is no food or water, death is near.  There was nothing I could do.  My eyes dazzle, I’m bleeding a lot. My body is cold.  I gave up, I knew that it was useless.  I visualized Japanese soldiers coming from the back of the cave.  I asked for water, but I only got tears of sorrow.  I rolled on the ground in pain.  The wound has come to suppuration. (infected).  The left hand stopped moving.

SE Asia map w/ Iwo Jima highlighted

The US military is blowing up the entrance to the cave.  A number of places have also blown up today.  It is a strategy to make Japanese soldiers buried in holes.   I do not have any food and I can not move to escape, I will die here, but I would rather die outside.  Now it is dark and I see a human approach.  If he is an enemy, it will lead to death.  My hand moved, but there is no gun.

It was a Japanese soldier.   I went down to the man.  There was a grenade noise.  A gunshot also happened.  I guess he met his enemy.  The area is covered with cannon-fire, but I can’t tell the direction.  The cliff which I’m on is as high as 30 meters is hit and shattered.   With  a slope of about 45 degrees and it becomes rough soil and stone.  I am going downhill.

Iwo JIma

I fell to the sandy beach.  The wound in my back breaks and the pus flows out.   Since no one is here, I can not even be treated.  Still I got up and walked down the sandy beach to the water.  I want to drink, but it is sea water.  Drums were flowing in the vicinity. I thought that it might be the drinking water of the US military, so I tried to hit it with a stone, but it will not open.

I have no guns, only one grenade for suicide but I can not use it.  I ran back in my original direction.  Footprints remain because they are sand.  I follow the enemy footprints. The scratch on the back is broken and it is becoming a null null. The left hand does not move perfectly.  I came where I fell before and try to climb the slope.  The left hand does not move at all.  I lost consciousness on my way.

Japanese POW

I slept in the hole without eating for 4 days.   I had been chased by the enemy, but collapsed among other dead Japanese and the enemy could not tell the difference.  I will die here today.  I think that it is March 18th. My birth is 18th March 18th in Meiji. Today is March 18th in Showa 20.  There is no better way than natural suicide, natural death, shooting out of the hole and being shot dead, or committing suicide with a grenade for suicide.  It is only clear that there is no life.

A US military airplane flew over me.  I want to see my wife, children, mother and brother but I can not even move.  I might as well be a soldier who went to the enemy’s camp and died.  Let’s do so.  All the fellow soldiers are dead.

The US Army soldier swings his head sideways and instructs by hand for me to sit down.  The tall, blue-eyed soldier keeps his gun at me.   The soldier gave me his water bottle.  I drank the water like a drunk.   Now I’m ready to be killed, but they tell me to follow them.

1945, wounded Japanese soldier cared for by U.S. Marines.

I arrived at the curtain where the military doctor was.  The surgeon told me to eat by motioning with his hands.   I understood it.  It was boiled soybeans from a can.  I ate it all.  The military doctor put white medicine on the wound.  I wondered if he was killing me, but a jeep came.  It had a drawer that they put me on and we left.

I arrived at a field hospital and was taken out from the drawer and the military doctor told me, ” I will give something to eat”, I thought this was true.   I thought that I came to the world after death.  I have heard that there are many US soldiers of Nisei so I asked. Iwo Jima occupied March 17th.  They say Japan has lost a useless war.  I do not know why I am alive, when I should have been killed by the US military.  Being a POW is a painful thing.

This is a condensed version of  Imperial Japanese Army Corps of Engineers Corporal, Takahashi Toshiharu’s diary.  To view the entire story, the link is at the top of Part One, posted on Monday.  The Cpl. was sent to Gum Island for 10 days and boarded a hospital ship to Hawaii.  When the war ended, he was returned to Japan.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album “Zero Fighter 1940-1945”

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lino Agosti – Anchorage, AK; US Army Air Corps, WWII,  HQ/152 Artillery/ 11th Airborne Division

Bob Brown – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-26 pilot

Sam Gilman – brn: CAN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 26 y.)

James Henderson – Sydney, AUS; Korean War

Ed Kennedy – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; USMC, Korea, one of the “Chosin Few”

Roy Malmassari – Issaquah, WA; US Army, Korea

John Naples – Falmouth, ME; US Army, WWII

John Otten – Sioux Falls, SD; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Paul Smith – Clanton, AL; USMC, WWII, PTO

George Welsh – North Platte, NE; US Army, WWII, Chaplain

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Japanese Soldier’s Remembrance – Iwo Jima – part two

Mt. Suribachi

As Takahashi Toshiharu watches the US tanks he continues his story:

No matter how long you wait, the tank will not come up to 10 meters. He is afraid of the march of my army. At another 90 meters I’m staring at it.  I was telling myself that if I made it as close as 90 meters, I could reach it.

While waiting for another 90 meters to advance, one Japanese soldier crawled and approached the first tank.  I approached the tank I decided to attack.  The shell flew and the tank blew and began to burn.  Sgt. Yatter and I shouted.

M4 Sherman on the edge of Motoyama airfield, Iwo Jima, 2/1945

I had woken the enemy.  The enemy was burned out with a flamethrower. The flame is dark with black smoke. I could not see even an inch ahead.  Because the first tank was done, the enemy must have been angry. The second tank is headed for us and shoots with a cannon, and dashing with a machine gun, awesome.

There are strange things and miracles in the world.  It is a miracle that I am now writing such things at the time like this.  It is surprising. The enemy does not advance, it burns near and shoots. Eight of us could not move.  If it comes, we will be shot or burned.  I can not do anything. There is nothing left to do but wait for tanks to come near. Wait for it.

This time. The earthquake tremor occurred with a large acoustic sound like a collapse of heaven and earth. I can not see even an inch with black smoke. We also tremble as the body jumps.  I wonder what happened, I think it is an earthquake or a volcano explosion.  Buries alive.

Cpl. Oliver Leone throws smoke grenade into cave on Iwo Jima

I ran away like a typhoon.  We can not do it.  The Marines who came with the tanks throw grenades in all the entrances and exits of my army positions and crush them. We got buried alive deep under the ground.

Eight people who were supposed to die by charging the tanks were deeply buried under the ground. There is no air, food and water. It becomes a mummy as it is. There is no way to live.  I decided to dig the earth with a bayonet while others carry it backwards. We worked desperately in the dark.  I do not know how many hours it has passed, but I made a hole about the size of a human head. The air worry ceased.

I did not understand what was going on outside.  There is no guarantee of life if we go out.  I poked my head out, it was night.  Tracer bullets are climbing high, bright and dark.  There are a lot of gasoline cans at the exit of the hole. So I decided to extend the hole and exit.  Sergeant Yano stated that we failed in a fight.  For the time being we will return to the North Border. Report failure and wait for the next command.

While the bullets are climbing, three men crawl going  to the coast. It is not found by enemies. When I went 100 meters, I went high.  Instantly I heard the sound of a machine gun.  It was in an ambush. When looking down in the hole of the shell, Corporal Yoshioka, Senior Iwasaki, First Kimura soldiers killed.

We lost four people and went north further 100 meters under command of Sergeant Yano. There is a convenient place to get to the sea. It is about 2 meters high here and you have to jump down.  Sergeant Yano went and was hit by machine gun fire.  The enemy was everywhere.  It is not easy to go through the enemy.  Two officers were crushed. I have to take the command this time. There are three people, I, Yokoyama upperman and forest soldiers left.  It is good that Sgt. Yano died. Tears fall down, war must stop.

Gen. Kubayashi and his staff on Iwo Jima

Yokoyama upper rank soldier and is much younger than me.  The remaining three will go again . Go down and walk down, crawling and crawling. After a while there was a convenient place to jump off.  Be careful.   Yokoyama stood up.  He was hit and said that it hurts.  It was done.   He was shot from the chest to his back. It is disappointing.

Eight people escaped have now become one person alone. There is no hope of living. Everyone died.  I decided to prepare for the death.  The sky in the east became bright.  It is useless if the dawn breaks, I am in the middle of the enemy and I am also shot.

to be continued…

Click on images to enlarge.

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Japanese Military Humor – from the Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album “Zero Fighter 1940 – 1945”

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Stanley Brauser – OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Weather Dept., Major

Robert ‘Jack’ Darnielle – Sokane, WA; US Army, Korea, Tank Co./15/3rd Division

Jonathan Dunbar – Austin, TX; US Army, Syria, MSgt., Special Operations, KIA

Elmer ‘Garvis’ Garrett – Kilmichael, MS; US Army, Korea & Vietnam (Ret. 25 y.)

Robert Johnson – Porcupine, SD; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Danny Kraemer – Fort Smith, AR; US Army, WWII, PTO, Amphibian Division

Frederick Mayo – Portland, ME; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 380 Air Service Group

Matt Tonroe – Manchester, UK; British Parachute Reg./3rd. Battalion, Syria, Sgt., KIA

Ervin Vosta – Licoln, NE; US Army, WWII & Korea, TSgt.

Walter Walden – Springfield, OR; USMC, Cpl.

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Current News – Iwo Jima Remembrance

Hershel “Woody” Williams, Medal of Honor, Iwo Jima

HONOLULU — Seventy-three years ago on the island of Iwo Jima, Hershel “Woody” Williams randomly chose several fellow Marines to give him rifle cover as he made a one-man charge with his flamethrower against a network of Japanese pillboxes.

He spent four hours unleashing flames into the pillboxes that had stymied advance for days, racing back to the Marine Corps lines to refuel the flamethrower, and then running again into battle — all while covered by only four riflemen.

Hershel Williams

Williams was ultimately awarded the Medal of Honor on Feb. 23, 1945, for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty,” as the official citation describes it. He “daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire” coming out of reinforced concrete pillboxes, on which bazooka and mortar rounds had no effect.

At one point, Williams mounted a pillbox, stuck the flamethrower’s nozzle through an air vent and killed the enemy within it.  Two of the Marines covering Williams died that day, but he never knew their names, and never knew where their remains rested until just a few months ago.

On Saturday, Williams, with the Medal of Honor hanging around his neck, stood over the Hawaii grave of Charles Fischer, one of those “guardian angels” who helped him survive that day and is buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, nicknamed the Punchbowl.  He saluted the Marine, who died a private first class that day, and then slowly bent down and placed a purple lei upon his headstone.

Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, then and now

“I have always said I’m just the caretaker of it,” Williams said later of the Medal of Honor. “It belongs to them. They sacrificed for it. I didn’t.”
Twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded to men who fought on Iwo Jima; Williams is the last still alive.
Williams was in Hawaii to dedicate a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe. The monument was initiated by Williams through the organization he founded, the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation. This is the foundation’s 33rd monument to be dedicated; they recognize the sacrifices made by families who have lost loved ones in the service of their country.

Punchbowl Cemetery, Honolulu, HI

After the Saturday morning dedication, the 94-year-old Williams visited the Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu, where the remains of hundreds of servicemembers who died during World War II are interred.  Patrick O’Leary, a foundation board member whom Williams has dubbed his “research guru,” sleuthed the identity of Fischer by poring through hundreds of military documents concerning the Iwo Jima campaign waged in February and March 1945.

Using five witness statements that had been given in the course of recommending Williams for the Medal of Honor, O’Leary was able to reliably pinpoint the company the riflemen were in and found that only a corporal and private first class had been killed that day.  “It just has to be them,” O’Leary said. “Nothing else fits.”

Hershel Williams

Last fall he tracked down Fischer’s gravesite in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The other Marine is buried in Long Island, N.Y.
Williams also visited for the first time the grave of Vernon Waters, a fellow Marine and close friend who died on Iwo Jima.
They had become very close in the lead up to the Iwo Jima campaign, fostering a feeling of devotion in Williams so strong that he ultimately risked court-martial.
While on the island of Guam, Waters and Williams had made a pact that should either of them be killed, the other would return their rings to family members.
William’s girlfriend had given him a ring with a “wee, tiny, little ruby” in it before he left for the Marine Corps.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Personal Request –

Please visit Katrina’s site for honoring our veterans.  My father has been honored there and now a dear old friend.  Thank you.

Sgt Walter “Wally” Morgan Bryant

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eark Albert – McAlester, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, HQ/457th Arty/11th Airborne Division

Edward Cox – Tampa, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea

A soldier from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, the guardians of Arlington National Cemetery, waits amid the gravestones during funeral services for Army Spc. Sean R. Cutsforth, of Radford, Va., a member of the 101st Airborne who was killed in Afghanistan in December, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Frank Fazekas Sr. – Trenton, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Lt., P-47 pilot, KIA

Betty Flowers – Bristol, ENG; British Woman’s Air Force WAAF, WWII

William Morris – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII, Corpsman

Jack Mullins – Sydney, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII

Stanley Serafin – Surprise, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-29 technician

Jesse Traywick – Ft. Benning, GA; US Army WWII, PTO, Gen. Wainwright’s aide, POW

Donald Wesley Troy – Midland, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO & CBI, P-40 & P-47 pilot / Korea, P-51, Distinguished Flying Cross

John Zucco – Boston, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, USS Alaska

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Iwo Jima Remembered…

 

William Leahy, USMC

“As it appeared on Locust Valley Leader, March 4, 2015. Patty Brexel of the LV Leader sent this to me,” Rosalinda Morgan, contributor.

William Leahy, at 17, enlisted in the U.S.M.C. in December, 1943. At that age, he needed parental permission to join. Eventually his mother relented and signed the form. Less than one year later the young Marine fought in what is considered the bloodiest battle the Corps has engaged in to date. In the following , Leahy vividly recalls some memories of the 36 days he spent on Iwo Jima.
In his words:

There was a war going on and I wanted to fight for our country. After boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. much to my disappointment, I was assigned to guard duty in Maryland. One day I noticed a Fleet Marine Force sign-up sheet on a bulletin board at the camp. I immediately signed my name to it. An old Marine, with previous service, a “retread” were the only Marines available for guard duty except me. He told me, “To forget it, the notice had been there forever, and no one was ever called up.”

I proved that old Marine wrong. After some advanced training at Camp Lejeune, NC, I eventually arrived in Guam in October, 1944. I was assigned to the 3rd Pioneers of the 3rd Marine Division. We shipped out and headed for an eight-square mile volcanic island called Iwo Jima, about 750 miles south of Japan. It was heavily fortified with about 22,000 Japanese soldiers and it was said to be impregnable.

We were there on the first day of the invasion, February 19, 1945. For the first 10 hours everything seemed to be going well. We were still on our transport ship, but we could hear everything that was going on through the P.A. system. Then a Kamikaze raid badly damaged one of the carriers in the fleet and forced us to head out to sea. We were just a sitting duck in the harbor.

The next day, they let down the cargo nets on our ship and down we scramble onto our landing craft. No mean task that was. Three times that day, we climbed up and down the cargo net because the artillery and wreckage made it impossible to make a beach assault.

My company, Fox company, 2nd Battalion, 21st Marines, about 240 men or so, finally hit the beach the next day. There were American bodies everywhere. I don’t think I saw a dead enemy soldier for about a week. They were all underground, dug into caves.

We were getting hit hard. We were taking a pounding. They were giving everything they had. We dug into foxholes as fast as we could. But the holes kept filling in, because the whole island was made up of very fine volcanic ash. Marines were getting hit all around me.

Then we advanced up the island, alternating between forward and reserve units. But even if you were in the reserve you could be assigned to stretcher duty, bringing in the wounded and the dead from the front lines, which in many ways was worse. A buddy of mine, Charles Thomas Lochre, from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, went out on stretcher day and I never saw him again. We lived and fought side-by-side and then he was dead. I saw the flag go up. The famous one on top of Mt. Suribachi. That hill was captured a few days after the invasion. A lot of people think that was at the end of the invasion. But we had many more rough battles ahead of us. Actually, the worst action was in the northern part of the island. That’s where the Japanese headquarters and their General were located.

Sherman tank w/ rocket launcher attachment

There were two things all the ground troops hated, tanks and rocket launchers.  And I don’t mean the Japanese tanks and rocket launchers. As soon as our tanks came in or the artillery started deploying the rocket launchers, the Japanese would zero in on us. The guys in the tanks were all zippered in but the guys on the ground really caught it.

I guess they fed us all-right, mostly cold K-rations. Once in a while, they’d manage to bring in big vacuum bottles of hot coffee up to the front if the action calmed down. Most think of the Pacific as hot and balmy. But actually it was pretty chilly, especially when it rained. Once during those 36 days, I actually got to have a hot shower. After about four weeks we were pretty “skuzzy”. Our uniforms were covered with blood from carrying out the dead and wounded. They took my dirty clothes and threw them away and gave me new ones.

Our favorite defense weapon was a bulldozer. We put some metal up around by the operator and he would raise the blade and forge ahead into the enemy lines. The Japs were all underground. They had a very intricate network of tunnels. One day my buddy, Ralphie Lane from Brooklyn, and I were clearing a cave. I don’t know how it happened but that time he went in first. I heard a scream, saw gun flash and I fired at it. I guess I hit the Jap. We pulled my buddy out and blew the cave. There were probably more of them in there. I just don’t know for sure. But Ralphie was dead, shot in the head.

They also had something called a spider trap. The enemy would buy steel, like our 55-gallon drums, in the ground, get inside, and camouflage the top, wait for a patrol to pass by and then pop out and shoot us. Well the bulldozer worked out real fine in those situations. On one sweep we captured a Japanese soldier who was in a spider trap. His legs were sticking up out of the ground. When we pulled him out he indicated that his leg was injured and he couldn’t walk, so we put him in a shelter shelf and took him back to the CP. On the way to the rear, numerous Marines wanted to shoot and kill the injured Japanese soldier. I had to fend them off on several occasions. Saving him proved worthwhile, because it turned out that the next day they gave him a radio and sent him behind the Japanese lines in an effort to get the Japanese General to surrender.

That’s about the only time you’d capture a Jap. They never gave up. I admired them. They were tenacious fighter. I didn’t hate them. They were the other team and they lost. And they lost big. Out of the estimated 22,000 Japanese soldiers on the island, we only captured 216. Some 3000 Japanese soldiers were hiding in the caves, and eventually surrendered or committed suicide. The ones that surrendered were surprised by the American’s kindness in offering cigarettes, and water. We took a very heavy hit. Of the 60,000 Marines who took part in the invasion, 6,831 were killed and 19,000 were wounded. I was one of the rarities of that battle. I was never wounded.

When the island was pretty secure, we turned it over to the Army on April 1st.
We went back to Guam to train for a planned November 1st invasion of Japan. If the Japanese fought so hard for a tiny island like Iwo Jima, what would they fight like for their own homeland? I had decided at that point that I would never make it home. Then the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan finally surrendered, on September 2, 1945. The dropping of the atomic bomb proved to be a good decision as it saved hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides.

I came home on my 20th birthday, April 22, 1946. Being in the Marine Corps was the defining point of my life. But, looking back now, it seems like a vignette from a distant past. Sort of like when I read about the Civil Was as a child and imagined what it would be like to fight in a war. I sometimes wonder if I was really there.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Acevedo – San Bernadino, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Medic, POW

Jack Barnes – Tampa, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Charles Crump – Emmett, ID; US Army, WWII, POW camp guard

William Derrenberger – Loudonville, OH; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

John Harvey – Barnum, WV; US Navy, WWII & Korea, (Ret. 20 y.)

Herbert Leake – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Warwick Mentiplay – Malvern, AUS; RA Navy, WWII, HMAS Quiberon

Frederick Stokes – Rock City, CAN; WWII, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion

Millie Dunn Veasey – Raleigh, NC; US Army WAC, WWII, 6888 Central Postal Battalion

William Wheat – Montross, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, HQ Co./187th/11th Airborne Division

 

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A Corpsman’s story on Iwo Jima

Many have seen a picture or the monument that depicts the raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi, but not many have heard what happened after that first, non-staged flag was raised amid Japanese territory.

Lt.Col. Chaney Johnson and Capt. Dave Severance gave the small flag to 1stLt. Harold Schrier and ordered him to take a 40-man assault patrol to the summit, secure the crater and raise the flag, as an earlier patrol had reached the summit without being fired upon.

Iwo Jima wounded w/ corpsmen

Schrier’s patrol included a radioman, 2 teams of stretcher-bearers and SSgt. Lou Lowery of Leatherneck Magazine bringing up the rear, photographing every step of the way.  Marines below watched as the patrol moved forward in a difficult climb, slowly moving up the side of the mountain, sometimes crawling on hands and knees.  Upon reaching the rim, they crawled over the edge, one man at a time.

Fanning out in the rim with minor enemy activity in the cave openings, a long piece of pipe was soon found and taken taken to a spot chosen by Lt. Shrier.  The flag was attached to the pole and Lowery snapped the picture of the first flag raising at 10:10 A.M. on 23 February 1945.

Original flag picture signed by SSgt. Lou Lowery, Leatherneck Mag.

The 6 men present as the flag pole was planted were: Sgt. ‘Boots’ Thomas; Sgt. Henry Hansen; Cpl. Charles Lindberg (Raider); Lt. Harold Shrier (Raider), Pfc James Michaels and Pvt. Louis Charlo.  As it came into view, the tired and dirt Marines below cheered loudly and a chorus of bells, whistles and foghorns emanated from the ships in the harbor.

At the same time, all hell broke loose in the crater as the Japanese saw the flag flying.  Enraged by the sight of the flag, grenades came flying and shots rang out from the caves with one shot just missing Lowery, who tumbled almost 50 feet down the side of the mountain before grabbing a bush to save himself and his camera.

A Japanese officer, carrying a sword then charged the group.  The other members of the patrol quickly killed him and charged the caves firing machine guns and flames throwers while tossing demolition charges to seal them off.  When the area was secured, the platoon started back down the mountain  only to meet another group coming up.

Mt. Surabichi climb

Col. Johnson had the thought that someone would want the flag as a souvenir and ordered a larger flag to be found.  It was retrieved from LST-779 and given to 2nd battalion Runner Pfc Rene Gagnon to take to the top.  And so – the more famous picture was taken by Photographer Joseph Rosenthal of the Associated Press.

Story is from “REAL BLOOD!  REAL GUTS!: U.S. Marine Raiders and their CORPSMEN in World War II” by James Gleason.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

As many of you have certainly heard already, the wreck of the USS Juneau has recently been located.  I’m sure the name must sound very familiar to you – the ship that carried down the five Sullivan brothers.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/article/explorers-discover-the-wreck-of-the-uss-juneau/ar-BBKwToF

 

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Human Interest Story –

Chesty XIV meets Chesty XV at Barracks Washington

Chesty XV, USMC mascot

https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2018/03/19/meet-chesty-xv-the-new-marine-corps-mascot/

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jean Bowen – Ottawa, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Irene Cason – Mosinee, WI; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Bill Dingwall – Woodstock, GA; US Army, WWII

Alan Falk – New Bedford, MA; US Army, Captain

Lewis Gilbert – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, Air Force film crew

Clifford Hunt – Anchorage, AK; US Army, Korea, Medical Corps, Psychologist

Charles Jackson – Parrish, FL; 187th RCT, Vietnam, Sgt. Major, Bronze Star

Florence ‘Shutsy’ Reynolds – Connellsville, PA; US Army Air Corps WASP, WWII, pilot

James Studebaker – Lucerne, MO; US Army, WWII & Korea

Phillip Wendell – Sioux City, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT boats

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