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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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First Hand Account – Iwo Jima

 

The 31st Naval Construction Battalion on Iwo Jima

This account was submitted by: John Ratomski

A Seabee on Iwo Jima: They Also Served Who Drove Cranes and Cats -62nd SeaBee Battalion

BY:  JACK CORNWELL

 

ON D+2 WE WERE JUST OFF THE SOUTH END OF THE ISLAND, in a Landing Ship, Tank. At about 5 p.m. we were told to report to our equipment. We started our engines, the LST opened its bow doors, and the ramp dropped. We were at Red Beach. A Caterpillar bulldozer went first, to build a dirt ramp. Once that was ready we moved out—trucks, more Cats, and my Northwest 25 crane. The noise was continuous. Wreckage was everywhere. It was getting dark when I got to shore, close to Mount Suribachi.  There was a 30-degree slope up from the beach; I barely made it to the top of that volcanic sand.

My partner Red and I were to share a foxhole. Trying to move that sand was like digging flour. I took the first watch and let Red sleep. When it was his turn, he woke me up every time he heard land crabs. Finally I gave him my bolo knife and told him that only after he had shot the carbine and stuck the enemy with the bolo could he wake me.

Seabees unloading cargo on Iwo Jima’s Red Beach

We were issued D rations, bars about two-and-a-half by five-and-a-half inches that looked like chocolate but were grainy, not sweet. Three bars was one day’s supply. Navy guys on the ship had gotten into the canned goods we had stowed on the crane, but they hadn’t fooled with the five-gallon can of water we had hidden in the boom. We were thankful to have that, since we were allowed only two canteens of water a day.

On D+3 we woke at dawn but couldn’t leave our foxholes until we had clearance from security. Finally we got up, relieved ourselves—no toilet—and saw men from our battalion. Cats went to clear the beaches. Dump trucks were hauling supplies. After we hung the crane with a clam bucket—the Marines needed a water point dug across the island for distributing fresh and desalinated water—Red and I split up.

I started for the beach in the crane. A Northwest 25 was a big, slow thing on treads with a rotating cab and long boom; even with its big diesel engine it only did about two miles an hour. It was going to be a while before I could dig that water point. All around me were Marines trying to get somewhere. Right in the middle of the road some of them had dug a hole and were setting up a 105mm howitzer that they pointed at Japs a hundred yards away on some rocks. After they shot five rounds that killed everyone on the rocks they moved the gun and I filled in the hole and went down to the beach. Far enough up from the sea to avoid the tides, I dug five holes, each 20 feet in diameter, down to the water table. Other Seabees and Marines set up evaporators, pumps, and storage tanks for the water point.

SeaBees constructing the Iwo Jima command post.

I was told to go to the battalion’s new bivouac, below the old Japanese airfield nearest Suribachi. I left my machine there at the strip. At the bivouac two guys from my company and I remodeled a shell crater for our quarters. I stole a tarp to cover it. For sanitary facilities we had slit trenches we squatted over.

Around D+5, my company commander, Lieutenant Pond—I don’t think I ever knew his first name; we generally called him “Mister Pond”—told me my mother had died. There was no way he would be able to get me home to bury her. We couldn’t even move wounded men off the island. I wanted to send money for the funeral, but the paymaster was out on the ship. Lieutenant Pond loaned me $100 and took care of sending it home. He was an outstanding officer. I didn’t mind calling him “Mister.”

This piece of art was created by the Navy Seabee Waldon T. Rich, a few days after the Battle of Iwo Jima to pay tribute to the flag raising on top of Mt Suribachi.

I needed to work on the airfield, so the mechanics changed my rig over from a bucket to a shovel. I put in 9 or 10 hours a day extending the original airstrip to make it big enough to accommodate B-29s. Marines were fighting for the very piece of ground where we were trying to enlarge the strip. We had to watch out for sniper fire and mortar fire and live ammunition and mines. One evening after I finished my shift the first B-29 landed.

ON D+6 THE MAIN BODY OF THE 62ND CAME ASHORE. By D+7 the cooks and bakers had the cook tent erected and we got our first hot meal with baked bread. Marines didn’t have chow lines, just K rations, so whenever they had a chance they got into the Seabee chow line. We got water for showers from underground. It smelled like rotten eggs but it was hot enough. We made the pipes out of shell casings. The showers were out in the open with no covering. Slit trenches got upgraded to four- and six-holers.

Finding Japanese booby traps

After working about 10 days I was sent to Airfield 2, half a mile north, to help extend that strip. I had to walk the crane with the shovel on it uphill past a B-29 in a gully with other abandoned equipment. I noticed a bottle of sake and had gotten down to fetch it when a passing Marine said, “I wouldn’t handle that if I were you.” His face was bloody from hundreds of tiny holes made by a grenade. He explained that it was a booby trap and showed me the wires inside the bottle. I gently put the bottle down. He was waiting to be treated nearby at an evacuation center that was also identifying the dead. They had men going through pockets and checking dog tags and clothing and then stacking the bodies four or five high at an old Japanese revetment. It was awful gruesome.

There was a 105mm howitzer behind our bivouac. The Japanese tried to knock it out with eight-inch guns. The first shell hit about 20 feet from me and killed two of my buddies. The Japs were also using giant mortar shells that tumbled end over end in the air, making a frightening screaming noise. But they usually landed in the water. We figured they were launched from a trough, like Fourth of July skyrockets.

One day a Marine crawled up into my crane’s cab. He pointed to three guys about 100 yards away and said one was a lieutenant colonel who wanted to talk to me. I hurried over. The colonel asked how far down I could dig. Twenty-six feet, I told him.

“That ought to do it,” he said. “Can you move the rig?”

When I said yes the colonel told me I was temporarily relieved of my duties. His sergeant drove me about three-quarters of a mile to a rise called Hill 382. At the foot of the hill he showed me a flat area covered with dead Japs, big mines, and shell casings, then he drove me back to my machine. It took an hour to fuel the crane and return to the work site.

Marine flamethrower on Iwo Jima

The sergeant was waiting there with 40 Marines who spread out on either side of me. The sergeant had me move the crane forward to a cave, which the colonel told me to dig out. I dug all day. We found supplies and living quarters, but no people. That evening the Marines dug foxholes; they were on the fighting line. One drove me to my bivouac. The next morning, when we realized we wouldn’t find anything more, the Marines burned out the cave with flamethrowers. Then they sealed it. I found out later we had been looking for the Japanese commander of the island. Hill 382 became known as Meat Grinder Hill.

For 20 days I dug out caves. At some we pulled out dead Japs and rifles, pistols, and ammunition. I sold souvenirs, mostly to air force fighter personnel. One day I found a bail of tube socks. From then on I never washed socks. Every morning I would put on a new pair. I took a gun rack off a wrecked jeep and mounted it on the nose of the crane cab, which seemed a better place to keep my gun than the floor of the rig. The front windows of the cab were hinged so I could get hold of my weapon in a hurry.

For the continuation of this story and other first hand accounts about the SeaBees contributed by John Ratomski, they appear in the comments at this post – Click Here!

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – SeaBee Style – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

This week the U.S. Air Force lost 10 Great Men

Andrew Becker – Novi, MI; US Air Force, 318th Special Operations Squadron, Captain, pilot, KIA

Dashan J. Biggs – Port Jefferson Station, NY; US Air Force, Iraq, SSgt., KIA

Missing Man formation

Kenneth Dalga – Union, KY; US Air Force, 318th Special Operations Squadron Combat Systems, Captain, KIA

Frederick Dellecker – Ormond Beach, FL; US Air Force, 318th Special Operations Squadron, 1stLt., pilot, KIA

Carl P. Enis – Tallahassee, FL; US Air Force, Iraq, SSgt., KIA

Andreas B. O’Keefe – Center Moriches, NY; US Air Force, Iraq, Captain, KIA

William R. Posch – Indiatlantic, FL; US Air Force, Iraq, MSgt., KIA

Christopher J. Ruguso – Commack, NY; US Air Force, Iraq, MSgt., KIA

Mark K. Weber – Colorado Springs, CO; US Air Force, Iraq, Captain, KIA

Christopher T. Zanetis – Long Island City, NY; Iraq, Captain, KIA

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The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier – Iwo Jima 15-19 February

 

Bombs from US Army 7th Air Force drop on Iwo Jima

The Battle of Iwo Jima was more than just another strategic island fight in the US military’s struggle with Imperial Japan during WWII. It was a key stepping stone for the planned invasion of Japan. It was a battle with heavy losses, great heroism, and eventual controversy.

By the start of 1945, the American military were planning an invasion of Japan, intended to take that country out of the war. In preparation, they began bombing campaigns against the Japanese mainland, softening it up ready for the attack. Everyone knew that it would be a brutal struggle – the Japanese were fighting tenaciously for every inch of ground, and would be even more determined in defending their homeland. But with the Manhattan Project still a closely guarded secret, to most people it looked like the only way to win the war.

Taking off from the Mariana Islands, B-29 Superfortresses took 3000 mile round trips to bomb Japan. It was a long journey, tough on the pilots, planes and fuel supplies. Flying so far from base, the Superfortresses lacked fighter protection, making them vulnerable to Japanese defenders.

Iwo Jima, regarded by the Japanese as an unsinkable aircraft carrier, lay only 760 miles from Japan. The Japanese were using its fighter base and radar to take out the American bombers. Capturing it would be a double victory for the Americans – taking out those defenses, and putting their own fighters close enough to support US bombers on raids over Japan.

USS New York firing 356mm guns on Iwo Jima, 16 Feb. 1945

Five miles long and two-and-a-half miles wide at its broadest, Iwo Jima was the best-defended spot in Japan’s Pacific empire. Its tough defenses were manned by 21,000 soldiers led by Lt.General Kuribayashi Tadamichi.  Delays in launching the invasion gave General Kuribayashi time to reinforce the defenses, despite bomber attacks.

Air strikes, rockets, napalm and the shells of naval guns pounded the defensive positions. Some bunkers and caves were destroyed, but the Japanese remained well dug in and determined. They had been preparing for this moment for nearly a year. They would not be easily broken.

On the night of 18 February 1945, Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, overall commander of the invasion, arrived at Iwo Jima along with Task Force 58, a vast carrier fleet.

As 19 February began, landing craft headed toward the beaches under a clear, bright sky. There would be no helpful gloom or fog to help the marines and soldiers hide from enemy guns.

The first troops, mostly marines  hit land at one minute to nine, welcomed by desultory fire from rifles and mortars, as you saw in the video.  Crossing the beaches, they hit fifteen-foot slopes of ash that had been spewed out by the island’s volcanic mountains. This soft black mass was tough to cross, forcing men to abandon equipment to continue their advance. It was impossible to dig foxholes in ash, the upside being that it absorbed some enemy shrapnel.

1st Battalion/23rd Marines burrow in on Yellow Beach

The slow rate of fire from the enemy made the Americans think they would face little opposition from a broken Japanese force, but  Kuribayashi had held back his men’s fire for an hour while the beaches became rammed full of troops and equipment – Then he unleashed the full fury of guns, mortars and artillery.

Under intense fire, the Americans pushed hard to get off the beaches and reach their objectives. Transport vehicles became bogged down in the ash, forcing men to slog through it on foot.

Japanese bunker on Iwo Jima

The Japanese held out in bunkers connected by a tunnel network. The Americans would clear out a bunker with grenades and flamethrowers then move on, only for the Japanese to reoccupy the bunker by underground routes and fire on them from behind.

By the end of 19 February, the 28th Marine Regiment had crossed the island at its narrowest point, where it was only half a mile across, cutting off the Japanese at Mount Suribachi. One of the two airfields had also been taken.

References: Hyperwar; WW2today; War Histor online

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Clyde Barth – McAlisterville, PA; US Army, WWII / USMC, Korea

Linda Campbell – Portland, OR; US Air Force (Ret.), Lt.Colonel

Michael Ferriolo – Corona, NY; US Army, Medical Corps

William Hartley – Macon, GA; US Army, Medical Corps, Captain

George Lagasse – Manchester, NH; US Navy, WWII, USS Essex

Basil Nickerson – Ketchikan, AK; US Navy, WWII, USS Broome

Ono ‘Peggy’ Olson – Ferryville, WI; US Navy WAVES, WWII, 12th Regiment

Billy Sheppard – Alamogordo, NM; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Hudson

Johnny Weidkamp – Bellingham, WA; US Merchant Marine, WWII

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

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Iwo Jima

From: “Japanese Destroyer Captain” by IJN Capt. Tameichi Hara____

After heavy preliminary bombardment, the Americans began the invasion of Iwo Jima…  Not a single Japanese warship was sent to oppose this enemy landing, only 700 miles from the homeland.  Meanwhile the bombing of Japanese cities by B-29 Superforts from Marianas bases continued with increasing intensity.

Nothing I write could possibly give you the feeling of this operation – so please watch this documentary that gives both American and Japanese thoughts on this 19 February 1945! 

I realize this is rather long, so if you have limited time, I suggest watching the first few minutes – still – it is very impressive!

 

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Military Humor –

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Murray Barton – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Rayner Broadbent – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Navy # 8573, WWII, submarine service

Ralph Casale – Chelmsford, NH; USMC, WWII, frogman

Donald Gilbert – Greenville, OH; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

John Herberg – Eau Claire, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, pilot (Ret. 30 y.)

Ernell Hermanson – Albuquerque, NM; US Army, WWII

John McShane – Boston, MA; US Army, 187th RCT, infantryman

William Shank – US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 8th Air Force

Kenneth Taylor – Montreal, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, Signalman, HMCS Inch Arran

Ralph Wasserman – St. Paul, MN, US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman

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Japanese weaponry

Firing a ‘knee’ mortar.

When it came to weapons production, the Imperial Japanese Army’s requirements often came in second to the needs of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Army was an infantry-heavy organization that lacked much in the way of the modern heavy weaponry other armies enjoyed. 

To help compensate for the lack of heavy weapons, the Imperial Japanese Army worked hard to develop large numbers of what were probably the best light infantrymen in the world at the time. Their creed stressed relentless offensive action seeking a quick decision and emphasizing spiritual factors including zealous dedication and fighting spirit. Night attacks were a true specialty, and their weaponry reflected their light and fast doctrine.

To offset their frequent lack of artillery, the Japanese augmented their firepower through the extensive use of mortars, the best and most cost-effective substitute for industry-intensive heavier artillery.  Technically, Japanese light “knee” mortars at first merely bridged the gap between hand grenades and true mortars and were more properly referred to as grenade dischargers.

The Model 89 was by far the most prolific of the grenade dischargers and the weapon most commonly encountered by Allied Marines and soldiers throughout the various theaters of the Pacific War. Technically known as the Hachikyu Shiki Jutekidanto, or 89 Model Heavy Grenade Discharger, the new weapon featured a wide variety of improvements over the old Type 10 and had almost universally replaced the former weapon by 1941. To the frontline Japanese infantryman, the Type 89 was most often referred to as the Juteki.

To fire, the gunner removed the fuse’s safety pin and dropped the bomb tail first down the muzzle of the knee mortar. A pull on the leather lanyard attached to the trigger then fired the weapon. The firing pin struck a percussion cap primer that fired the propelling charge, which also caused a copper driving band on the charge body to push out and engage the rifling of the barrel. The force of discharge also set back and armed the fuse in the nose projectile and re-cocked the mainspring inside the mortar.  This was usually done at a 45-degree angle.

Despite these relatively crude controls, a soldier could quickly and easily be trained to fire the Type 89 knee mortar with impressive accuracy. While it could be fired by one man, a knee mortar with a three-man crew could maintain an effective rate of fire of 25 rounds per minute.

 Lt. Col. Merritt “Red Mike” Edson, leader of the famous Marine Raiders, critically evaluated the knee mortar and insisted American forces badly needed an equivalent. He listed the following reasons:

“1. It is a one man load.

2. A man can carry ten rounds on his person besides his weapon.

3. It has a high rate of fire.

4. It gives to the platoon commander a weapon of this type which is immediately available to him.

5. This mortar uses the Jap all-purpose hand grenade….”

A Marine Corps legend, then-Lt. Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller seconded Edson’s opinion. “I consider it imperative that the Army and Marines be equipped with knee mortars and only carry one type grenade.”

Army Sergeant C.W. Arrowood completely agreed: “The Jap knee mortar gives us hell. They come in fast, thick, and accurate. Can’t we have one?”

M79 40mm grenade launcher

The answer to Sergeant Arrowood’s question was a resounding No. United States forces soldiered on with the little loved rifle grenade until the advent of the M79 40mm grenade launcher during the early stages of the Vietnam War.

References: Warfare History Network;

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

You can always count on your scoped grenade launching silenced pistol bipod w/ attached katana handle crowbar!

Because no Zombie Apocalypse survival kit is truly complete w/out a grenade launcher & a few bandoleers of HE rounds.

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Cecil Akigg (100) – Calgary, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO, radar technician

Nicholas Baxter – Harrisburg, PA; US Army, Co. M/187th/11th Airborne Division

Benjamin Bold – Rotorua, NZ; NZ Army # 267128, WWII, Pvt., J Force

Jean Doyle – Tyngsboro, MA; US Army Air Corps WAC, WWII, 1st Lt.

Luther Gordon – San Diego, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart, Silver Star

Melton ‘Dale’ Hair – Tulsa, OK; US Navy, WWII

Herschell Johnson – Dothan, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 8th Armored Division

John Kelly Jr. – Billings, MT; US Navy, WWII

Richard Pettijohn – Naples, FL; US Army, WWII, ATO, radio operator

Gordon Sherwood – Yarmouth, ME; US Army, Korea

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Veterans Day – 2017 – Thank You

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National Veterans Day Ceremony

The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces.

National Veterans and Military Families Month – November 2017

For 98 years, Americans have remembered those who served our country in uniform on 11 November – first as Armistice Day, and then, since 1954 as Veterans Day. In this 99th year of commemoration, the Department of Veterans Affairs is broadening that tradition of observance and appreciation to include both Veterans and Military Families for the entire month of November.

Veterans and Family Month Calendar 2017

Veterans Month Calendar 2017. Decorative only

For more information on Veterans Month acitivtes in your area – check out the calendar below or visit your local VA facility.

 

 

Remembrance Day around the world!

Remembrance Day (sometimes known informally as Poppy Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Following a tradition inaugurated by King George V in 1919,[1] the day is also marked by war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth countries. Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November in most countries to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”, in accordance with the armistice signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente between 5:12 and 5:20 that morning. (“At the 11th hour” refers to the passing of the 11th hour, or 11:00 am.) 

Information here today is from the US Veteran’s Administration and Wikipedia.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Albert Cheese – Hampstead, NC; USMC, 1st Sgt. (Ret. 20 y.)

Stephen Cribben – Rawlins, WY; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt., 10th Special Forces Group, KIA

Norman Dyke – Warwickshire, ENG; RAF, WWII

Adrien Einertson – Camas, WA; US Navy, WWII

Jack Gustafson – Athabasca, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO

Edward Keane – Warwick, RI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Louis Manci – Scranton, PA; US Army, Korea, 187th ‘Rakkasans’

Charles O’Neill Jr. – Cleveland, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Trudden – Broad Channel, NY; US Air Force, Korea

Tony Victor – Huntsville, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 gunner/radioman

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