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Guam

Guam

In a lot of Pacific War histories, Guam is swept aside and banished as insignificant.  How soon they forget, many might say.

In Tokyo, soundtrucks festooned with World War II colors still extol those lost in a gallant defeat. In America, elders like Louis H. Wilson Jr. and George Tweed would never forget.

Masashi Ito and Bunzo Minagawa spent young manhood into middle age in the tropical underside of an island that tourists now praise as a paradise. They were holdouts, soldiers who refused to surrender and would forage for
survival for 16 years.

Soichi Yokoi, before and after

The last known Japanese survivor, Shoichi Yokoi, held out until 1972, captured by chance as he ventured out to empty a fish trap. Yokoi had never crept out of dense cover to hear the happy shouts of Japanese tourists and honeymooners. Nor had he walked the lobby of the Hilton or the Cliffside.

Luxury hotels swarm over the beachfront and jungle growth has covered the faint traces of war, and Guam gets only a passing nod as a battlefield beside Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Okinawa and Leyte. Thirty-six years ago [now it is 76 ½ years ago]  shellfire plowed across Guam. Some 18,500 Japanese were trying to pry loose the fingerhold that many more thousands of American soldiers and Marines had fastened on beaches and cliffsides.

Many of the Americans barely had a respite between battles, having first seized Saipan to pull the keystone of the Marianas archway. Guam was almost a point-of-honor afterthought. The island was an American possession until a handful of Marines, soldiers and Guamanian militia made a no-choice surrender only three days after Japanese bombers pounded Hawaii.

The III Amphibious Corps and the 77th Infantry Division are not going in blindfolded that July 21, 1944. Eleven days before the landing, as American warships savage Guam’s coastal defenses, a tall figure sprints down a beach and plunges into the surf, swimming with desperate strength until he is within hailing distance of a destroyer.

George Tweed

George Tweed is pulled aboard and tells an astonishing story. He was one of the 288 men on the island as 5,000 Japanese surged ashore, ignoring the flea-bite firepower of a few .30 cal. machine guns as they overwhelmed the thin garrison and forced the Naval Governor, Capt. George J. McMillin, into quick submission.

Tweed and five others slipped away, hunted by Japanese who probed the underbrush with bayonets. Only Tweed survived, living on land crabs and coconuts, warily evading the patrols that shook every palm tree and banyan for him. Tweed saw his pursuers far more often than they saw him, and his sketchpad mind has taken it all down — every gun emplacement, trenchline and fortified cave. The Japanese failure to capture or kill this ragged stray will cost them dearly.

Exacting naval gunfire singles out visible and concealed coastal guns – all but a few. As the 3rd Marine Division and the 1st Marine Brigade board barges that cut paint-stroke wakes toward the western side of Guam, sharp flashes burst along the coastline. Barges turn over like crumpled buckets.

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“You never get it for free,” an older Marine mutters as the barges push ashore — the division between Adelup and Asan Points and the brigade wedging between Point Bangi and the town of Agat. Beachheads are “tightly fastened and the coastal guns erased.

There are already wolfish shouts from the jungle along the coastline. Fierce counterattacks tear into the Marine lines and one lunge rips through the brigade. It is contained after a desperate brawl with bullets, blades and even fists.

The Marines begin moving inland, slowly closing a gap between division and brigade as hey crush across Apra Harbor and Orote Peninsula, squeezing
the defenders between them. But the Japanese put no markdown price tags on anything, heaping fallen defenses with Marine dead. As the two Marine forces grasp .hands, another enemy rush pours forth — the futile bravery of 500 Japanese sailors who die in an inferno of shellfire.

Capt. Louis H. Wilson Jr. is a company commander in the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines. He thrusts ahead of the others to take high and important ground, holding it against human-avalanche counterattacks.

His Medal of Honor citation will stiffly relate that Wilson “contributed essentially” to the success of the assault, passing over the fact that he was wounded three times and fought aside agonized delirium to rally his Marines.

Capt. Louis H. Wilson Jr., USMC

Soldiers of the 77th, fed slowly into the advance, must do the deadly, mop-and-dustpan work in southern Guam as the Marine advance lunges on. The suicidal determined Japanese will tear tiny leaks and large gaps in the line, and the effort to repulse them will often get down to hand-to-hand piecework.

The advance will spider all over the island, with Guam declared secure as Marines reach the northernmost tip on Ritidian Point. Everything is back under American colors by Aug. 10.

The past will be wiped away over the years. Wreckage will be swept aside. Foundations for posh hotels will be sunk along the beachfront. Andersen AFB and Agana NAS will assure a stronger military presence than those unfortunate few of late 1941.

Strangers will be strafed by stiff expense but nothing else.

“Robinson Crusoe, USN” by: George Tweed

Tweed will write a book, “Robinson Crusoe, USN.”

Wilson will become Marine Corps Commandant.

Battle histories will little note nor long remember Guam.

But Wilson, Tweed, many Americans and a few Japanese, will always share a thin fund of private memories.

From the Archives of the Stars & Stripes,  August 10, 1980

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Military Humor – 

‘Howitzers at dawn.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Howard Buescher – Cleveland, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Andrew Caneza – New Orleans, LA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Mead Clark – Joliet, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 17th Airborne Division

George Fry – St. Paul, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Ed Guthrie (102) Omaha, NE; US Navy, WWII, electrician’s mate 2nd Class, USS Banner, last known Pearl Harbor survivor

John Harris – NY & FL; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam (Ret. 28 y.)

Glen Kloiber – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 791st AAA Battalion

Dallas Lehn – Elba, NE; US Army, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

Michael D. Miller – OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII

John Rudberg – Minneapolis, MN; US Navy, V-12 Program

Ordnance – M3 Howitzer

M3 105mm Howitzer

Should anyone wish to further research the 11th Airborne’s field artillery, the division constituted the 674th and 675th Airborne Field Artillery.

674th Airborne Field Artillery

The 105 mm Howitzer M3 was a light howitzer designed for use by airborne troops. The gun utilized the barrel of the 105 mm howitzer M2, shortened and fitted to a slightly modified split trail carriage of the 75 mm pack howitzer. The howitzer was used by the U.S. Army during WWII.  It was issued to airborne units and the cannon companies of infantry regiments.

Paratrooper Everett Smith (Smitty, far right) during training

The howitzer was designed to fire the same ammunition as the longer M2. However, it turned out that shorter barrel resulted in incomplete burning of the propelling charge. The problem could be solved by use of faster burning powder. Otherwise the design was considered acceptable and was standardized as 105 mm Howitzer M3 on Carriage M3. The carriage was soon succeeded by the M3A1, which had trails made from thicker plate. Even stronger tubular trails were designed, but never reached production.

The production started in February 1943 and continued until May 1944; an additional bunch was produced in April–June 1945.

 

Production of М3, pcs.[2]
Year 1943 1944 1945 Total
Produced, pcs. 1,965 410 205 2,580

The gun fired semi-fixed ammunition, similar to the ammunition of the M2; it used the same projectiles and the same 105 mm Cartridge Case M14, but with different propelling charge. The latter used faster burning powder to avoid incomplete burning; it consisted of a base charge and four increments, forming five charges from 1 (the smallest) to 5 (the largest).

In an emergency, gunners were authorized to fire M1 HE rounds prepared for the Howitzer M2, but only with charges from 1 to 3. M1 HE rounds for the M3 could be fired from an M2 with any charge.

HEAT M67 Shell had non-adjustable propelling charge. For blank ammunition, a shorter Cartridge Case M15 with black powder charge was used.

 

Available ammunition
Type Model Weight (round/projectile) Filler Muzzle velocity Range
HE HE M1 Shell 18.35 kg (40 lb) / 14.97 kg (33 lb) 50/50 TNT or amatol* 2.18 kg (4 lb 13 oz) 311 m/s (1,020 ft/s) 7,585 m (8,300 yd)
HEAT-T HEAT M67 Shell 16.62 kg (37 lb) / 13.25 kg (29 lb) 311 m/s (1,020 ft/s) 7,760 m (8,500 yd)
Smoke WP M60 Shell 18.97 kg (42 lb) / 15.56 kg (34 lb) White Phosphorus, 1.84 kg (4.1 lb) 311 m/s (1,020 ft/s) 7,585 m (8,300 yd)
Smoke FS M60 Shell 19.65 kg (43 lb) / Sulfur trioxide in Chlorosulfonic acid, 2.09 kg (4 lb 10 oz)
Smoke HC BE M84 Shell 18.29 kg (40 lb) / 14.91 kg (33 lb) Zinc chloride 311 m/s (1,020 ft/s) 7,585 m (8,300 yd)

* Amatol is a highly explosive material made from a mixture of TNT and ammonium nitrate.   Amatol was used extensively during WWI and WWII.

 

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Military Humor –

Light Artillery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Mildred (Andrews) Andres – Baton Rouge, LA; US Army WAC, German Occupation, Sgt.

FINAL MISSION

Patricia Delaney – Evanston, IL; US Navy WAVES, WWII, Lt. JG

Thomas A. Dennison – Lander, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

John Jarvie – Rock Springs, WY; USMC, WWII, PTO / Korea, MSgt., Engineering, (Ret. 21 y.)

Theodore Lumpkin Jr. (100) – Angeleno, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 2nd Lt., 100th Fighter Squadron, Intelligence; Lt. Col. (Ret.)

Davis Mosqueda – Boise, ID; USMC, Silent Drill Corps, LCpl.

Louis V. O’Brien – Providence, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 486/352 Fighter Group, 2nd Lt., pilot

Madge (Watkins) Redwood – Auckland, NZ; NZ Army WAAC, WWII, # 813240, 9th Coastal Regiment

Brian D. Sicknick – NJ; National Guard, Middle East, Sgt., /  US Capitol Police, 1st Responder Unit

James Wento – Lynn, MA; US Army, SSgt., 2-2 Assault Helicopter Battalion/2nd Combat Assault

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Ordnance – L-4 Grasshopper in the Pacific

The “L’series liaison aircraft in US army service were often known as “grasshoppers.” These aircraft served with artillery and outfits spotting targets and giving commanders real time information on enemy positions. They also served in Liaison Squadrons, such as the 25th Liaison Squadron which earned fame in the Pacific Theater with their “Guinea Short Lines” aircraft.

L-4 Grasshopper, Piper Cub

Primarily to serve at elimination training bases in World War II the Navy acquired 230 Piper NE-1s , basically similar to the Army L-4s with Continental 0-170 engines. Twenty NE-2s were similar.

deHavilland WWI

As war spread around the world at the beginning of the 1940s, the U.S. military, dominated by old soldiers who expected to fight the next war exactly as they fought the last one, had to be convinced that the requirements for certain weapons needed to be redefined. An example was the Army’s observation airplanes, latter-day versions of the World War I, the deHavilland DH-4.

A two place tandem cockpit, dual-control, modified J-3 civilian light plane built by Piper Aircraft Corporation, Lock Haven, PA. Military models were designated the L-4B, L-4H, L-4J. This lightweight aircraft was among the most useful tactical aircraft of WWII. Dubbed “Grasshoppers” for their ability to fly into and out of small spaces, this military adaptation of the famous Piper J-3 Cub became the center of the toughest inter service turf fights of the war. General George S. Patton, Jr. played a major role in their introduction, a fact often overlooked in light of his other major accomplishments.

The L-4 had a fabric-covered frame with wooden spar, metal-rib wings, a metal-tube fuselage, and a metal-tube empennage. Its fixed landing gear used “rubber-band” bungee cord shock absorbers and had hydraulic brakes and no flaps.

Grasshopper pilots flew dangerous missions over enemy territory without any armor.

The aircrafts flight instruments included an airspeed indicator, and altimeter, compass, and simple turn-and-bank indicator. It was equipped with a two-way radio, powered by a wind-driven generator.

All of the little L-birds land like feathers, but the L-4 is the easiest and softest to land. Put 10 knots of wind on the nose, and all of them seem to come to a halt before gently touching down.

The L-4 retained the metal ribs of the Cub, so only the spar is made of wood. The ribs, however, are trusses of T-sections formed of thin aluminum riveted and screwed together. If poorly treated, these rib trusses are easily damaged and attract corrosion in the corners.

 

A: Cables or struts braced the Piper L4 tailplanes and wings. These allowed the necessary strength to be built in without resorting to a heavy structure. Rough field operations exert a lot of stress on airframes.  B: Mounted semi-exposed, the Continental flat-four engine powered the majority of more than 5000 Piper L-4s delivered to the Army, Several J-4 Cubs owned by civilians were pressed into service.  C: Structurally. the Piper L-4 was quite simple and had a fabric-covered wooden framework. The wing had no slats or flaps, but was equipped with large, long-span ailerons, Internally the wing was braced with wire.  D: For solo flights the L4 Grasshopper pilot sat in the rear seat, which had a full set of controls but was normally used by the observer. The Grasshopper was also equipped with a map table and the radio fit varied between models.

 

In Florida, the Civil Air Patrol had a Piper Cub patrolling at a low altitude along the Palm Beach coast (as many other cities had) and on one occasion, the 55-year-old pilot swooped down for a closer look at something he felt was unusual and he was fired on – it was a German submarine. The plane received enough damage to force him to return to the airfield. This is probably the only American plane downed by enemy fire in the continental U.S. history.

While some of the men were confined to fighting up in the mountains, the division’s newspaper called the Static Line, used a piper cub plane to drop bundles of the publication down to the men.  This was the only news of the outside world that the troopers could receive.  One day, a roll of the papers was dropped with a note attached addressing it: “To the girls, with the compliments of Art Mosley and Jack Keil, Phone Glider 3.”  It was discovered later that the WAC camp received the roll meant for the 11th airborne.

21 December 1944, General Swing and Col. Quandt flew to Manarawat in cub planes.  Upon landing, the general was said to look “as muddy as a dog-faced private.”  (Swing would often be in the thick of things and this description of him was common.)  He slept that night in the camp’s only nipa hut, which ended up being destroyed the next day.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Angel Balcarcel – Canton, OH; US Navy, WWII

Arthur H. Bishop – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, Korea, 505th Airborne Infantry Regiment

Mare Island Cemetery

Jimmy Coy – Columbia, MO; US Army, 1st Gulf War, 3rd Group/Army Special Forces, Medical surgeon, Colonel (Ret. 25 y.)

Wayne DeHaven Sr. – Roseville, MN; US Army, WWII, 17th Airborne Division

Richard Fry – Hudson, OH; US Air Force  / NASA (Ret. 30 y.)

Georgina Grey – Bristol, ENG; Royal British Navy, WWII, aircraft maintenance

Jessica Mitchell – Topeka, KS; US Army, DSgt., 68E Dental Specialist

David Michaud – Denver, CO; USMC  /  Denver Police Chief

Joseph Papallo (101) – Meriden, CT; US Army, WWII

Doris (White) Ryan – Como, MS; Civilian, WWII, Memphis Army Dept.

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Honoring Merrill’s Marauders

There is a passing member of Merrill’s Marauders in the Farewell Salutes today.   This post is an attempt to honor their contributions.

James E. Richardson

“If they can walk and carry a gun,” Major General Joseph Stillwell presciently told Brigadier General Frank Merrill in 1943, “they can fight!”

After being run out of the Burmese jungle by the Japanese in May of 1942, Stillwell had, according to one war correspondent, appeared “like the wrath of God and cursing like a fallen angel.”

The general didn’t mince his words either, telling reporters that the joint expedition between a small contingent of American, British, and Chinese troops “got a hell of a beating. We got run out of Burma and it is humiliating as hell. I think we ought to find out what caused it, go back, and retake it.”

Gen. Stillwell

The following year a determined Stillwell took a major step toward getting his wish, as allied leaders, many who sought to rectify the previous campaign’s novice display of jungle fighting, mapped out a plan for a ground unit trained and equipped to engage in “long-range penetration” missions.

In what was to be the forerunner for today’s special forces units, 3,000 American men volunteered for the newly formed 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) — code name: Galahad.

Dubbed Merrill’s Marauders after their commander, the men were tasked with a “dangerous and hazardous mission” behind Japanese lines in Burma, where the fall of the country’s capital of Rangoon had severely threatened the Allied supply line to China.  The Marauders were tasked with cutting off Japanese communications and supply lines and pushing enemy forces north out of the town of Myitkyina, the only city with an all-weather airstrip in Northern Burma.

Merrill’s Marauders

Although operational for only a few months, Merrill’s Marauders gained a fierce reputation for hard fighting and tenacity as the first American infantry force to see ground action in Asia.

“Highly trained infantrymen whom we regard today as heroes, such as the Special Forces, look to Merrill’s Marauders as role models,” Eames said in a press release. “The unimaginable conditions these men successfully fought through changed the understanding of the limits of human endurance in armed conflict. The Congressional Gold Medal brings them the public recognition they deserve. We are honored to have assisted in getting it across the finish line.”

2 Aug. ’44, 75 yards from enemy positions, US Army Signal Corps, Merrill’s Marauders. named 5307th Composite Unit

Reached by email, Eames said he became involved after a colleague and fellow attorney, Scott Stone, met Marauders Bob Passanisi and Gilbert Howland in the cafeteria of the Senate Dirksen Building.

“When he found out why they were there, he immediately offered to help,” Eames said. “One of the first things he did was call us, and I agreed to get a team involved.”

For the other surviving Marauders, the acknowledgement is somewhat bittersweet.

2 of the survivors of Merrill’s Marauders

“This recognition means so much to me and the other survivors and our families,” Passanisi, Merrill’s Marauders Association’s spokesperson, said in the release. “My one regret is that only eight of us are alive to enjoy this historic honor.”  (now only 7 remain).

Passanisi was luckier than most. Traversing nearly 1,000 miles behind enemy lines, the Marauders marched over some of the most treacherous terrain in the world, combating not only a determined enemy, but fighting off myriad diseases, scorching heat, venomous snakes, and bloodsucking leeches.

The exploits of the Marauders and their daring mission to recapture the vital town and airstrip at Myitkyina made headlines throughout the United States in 1944 — but at a steep cost.

movie poster, Merrill’s Marauders

After five months of combat, 95 percent of the Marauders were dead, wounded, or deemed no longer medically fit for combat. By the time the force was deactivated in August 1944, many, including Congress, wondered whether Stillwell had sacrificed the Marauders due to poor planning and his own dreams of glory and revenge.  Still, despite the unit’s staggering losses — fighting in five major battles and over 30 other engagements — the Marauders became one of the most renowned units to come out of World War II, carrying with them a legacy of bravery and the fortitude of the human spirit.

Seventy-six years later, the recognition by Congress shines “a light on that forgotten theater in the Pacific that was so crucial in defeating the Japanese,” said Gilbert Howland, a Marauder veteran.

“We did it because our country needed us.”

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Fay (Fotini) Argy – Camden, NJ; Civilian, Bud Manufacturing, WWII, bombs

Mary ‘Lorraine’ Bromley – Rock Island, IL; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Frank DeNoia – New haven, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Canberra

Kenneth Fenton – Paraparaumu, NZ; NZ Army # 30202, WWII, ETO & PTO / Vietnam, Colonel (Ret. 32 y.)

William J. LaVigne II – USA; US Army, Afghanistan & Iraq, MSgt., HQ Co/Special Operation Command, 2 Bronze Stars

Anna McNett – Grand Rapids, MI; US Navy WAVES, WWII

Richard Nowers – Atkinson, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 507th Fighter Group, 3 Bronze Stars

Anthony Polizzi – NY; US Air Force, Captain, 15th Maintenance Group, Wing Comdr.

James E. Richardson – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII, CBI, Merrill’s Marauder

William Salley – Springfield, SC; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel (Ret.), Purple Heart

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54th Troop Carrier Wing and the 11th Airborne Division

54th TCW patch

The 54th Troop Carrier Wing was established on 26 February 1943 [one day after the 11th A/B Div. at Camp MacKall] and commenced air transport and medical air evacuation operations in support of Fifth Air Force on 26 May 1943. advancing as battle lines permitted.

The unit took part in the airborne invasion of Nadzab, New Guinea in September 1943 by dropping the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, as well as Australian engineers and heavy equipment.

The wing employed C-47’s almost exclusively, but during late 1943 and much of 1944 also used 13 converted B-17E’s for armed transport missions in enemy-held territory. The 54th supported every major advance made by the allies in the Southwest Pacific Theater operating from primitive airstrips carved from jungles and air-dropping cargo where airstrips unavailable.

In July 1944, the wing dropped 1,418 paratroopers on Noemfoor Island to aid the allied invasion forces. Then assumed the task of handling all freight and personnel moving in troop carrier aircraft in the Southwest Pacific, in addition to scheduled and unscheduled air movement of cargo and troops, and air evacuation of wounded personnel.

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In preparation for airborne operations in the Philippines, the 54th TCW conducted joint training with the 11th Airborne Division.  August and September 1944 were held in Nadzab.  Due to the demands of transport resources in building up Allied strength in Netherlands, New Guinea, the wing rotated the squadrons in Doboduru where they received refresher training in paradrops and aerial supply.  The training proved to be of great value at Tagaytay Ridge, Corregidor and in the Cagayan Valley, Luzon, when the 11th A/B need a lift for their paratroopers and gliders.

Early December 1944, the 5th Air Force HQ was attacked as well as the 44th Station Hospital.  The 187th HQ Company [Smitty was there], set up a perimeter.  They stood there through the night, rifles ready.  By morning there were 19 dead enemy soldiers.  Col. Pearson sent out patrols that located another 17 Japanese hiding out in the rice paddies..

By late 1944 and during the early months of 1945, most wing missions were flown to the Philippines.  In February 1945, the wing flew three more airborne operations, all in the Philippines, to help encircle Japanese concentrations.   For the 11th A/B Division’s jump on Aparri in north Luzon, the first plane off the ground was piloted by Col. John Lackey. Wing C-47s dropped napalm on Caraboa Island in Manila Bay in March 1945.

When hostilities ended on Luzon, the wing moved the entire 11th Airborne Division (11,300 personnel) from the Philippines to Okinawa on short notice.  It would take the 54th Troop Carrier Wing two days to transport the 11th Airborne using 351 C-46s, 151 C-47s and 99 B-24s; with their bombs removed and crammed with troopers. The planes had carted the men; 1,161,000 pounds of equipment and 120 special-purpose jeeps for communication and supply.

The 54th then began transporting occupation forces into Japan, beginning with General Swing, the 187th Regiment (and Smitty).  On the first day, 123 aircraft brought 4,200 troopers to Atsugi Airfield.  During September 1945, the wing also evacuated over 17,000 former prisoners of war from Japan to the Philippines.

General R. L. Eichelberger, at right, with Maj. Gen. J. M. Swing, Commander, 11th
Airborne Division, receives the report of Japanese officers at Atsugi airfield,
during the initial landings.

The wing served as part of the occupation forces in Japan from 25 September 1945 to about 26 January 1946, while continuing routine air transport operations and a scheduled courier service. Beginning in December 1945 and continuing into mid-1946, most of the wing’s components were reassigned to other units or inactivated, and on 15 January 1946 the wing became a component of the Far East (soon, Pacific) Air Service Command.

Moving to the Philippines, the wing gained new components and flew scheduled routes between Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and the Hawaiian Islands.  Replaced by the 403rd Troop Carrier Group on 31 May 1946 and was inactivated.

Further, more detailed information can be found in the publications by the IHRA.

This article incorporates material from the US Air Force Historical Research Agency, “The Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne Division” & “Rakassans”, both by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; Wikipedia and US Airborne Commando Operations.

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From:  GP Cox to all my readers, friends and occasional drop-ins…

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Military Humor – 

‘I count only four parachutes. Where’s Mr. Simms?’

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Farewell Salutes – 

George ‘Pete’ Buckley – Salem, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, glider pilot

DeArmond Canada (100) – US Army, WWII

Forest M. Dickson – Cheyenne, WY; US Air Force, Korea, Airman 2nd Class

Walter Ferris – Armagh, No.IRE; British Royal Engineers, WWII / Indian Army, Bombay Sappers, CBI

Joseph M. Gasper (102) – Elwood City, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 3 Bronze Stars

Frank ‘Buck-shot’ Kipp – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO, mine clearing

George Monthan – Tucson, AZ; US Navy, WWII, Comdr. VF-103, ‘Air Boss’ USS Saratoga / Joint Chief of Staff

Kenneth O’Hare – Ainsworth, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co./11th Airborne Division

Margaret (Callihan) Prince (100) – Doddridge County, WV; Civilian, WWII, Dupont/Manhattan Project

William Salley – Springfield, SC; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel (Ret.), Purple Heart

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A Christmas Tradition from the Pacific

Soldier in Japan delivers presents as ‘Father Christmas’

After 71 years, a yearly tradition continued with the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and 25th Infantry Division all joining forces on December 4 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, to wrap presents to ship to the Holy Family Home in Japan.

The 25th Infantry Division shared photos of soldiers taking part in the annual tradition, tweeting, “It’s a long standing tradition, and it just goes to show that it doesn’t matter what nation you’re from, in the bigger picture, people help people.”

4 Dec. 2020, presents for orphans, (pic by: SSgt. Thomas Calvert

On Christmas Day in 1949, the 27th Infantry Regiment “Wolfhounds” were overwhelmed by the sight of tiny, barefoot children living in the decaying Holy Family orphanage in Osaka, Japan. The soldiers accompanied a Red Cross representative to the crumbling home that was brimming with underfed children in ragged clothes.

Sgt. Hugh Francis Xavior O’Reilly was still raw from the battlefield in those cold winter months following the end of World War II, but the site of those Japanese orphans provided the soldier with a new, gentler perspective.

The following payday, O’Reilly led the Wolfhounds in collecting donations for the struggling orphanage and donated what they could on New Year’s morning.

But for the Wolfhounds, that just wasn’t enough.

Soldiers and their families wrapping presents

Over the next year, the 27th continued to collect funds for the orphaned Japanese children, and by the time Christmas 1950

Soldiers writing out cards to send to Japan

rolled around, the Wolfhounds dragged a sleigh filled with supplies and toys, along with “Father Christmas.”

Now 71 years later, the 27th is still at it.

While the coronavirus pandemic did prevent the soldiers from hand-delivering the gifts to the children at the orphanage, over 600 gifts were wrapped and shipped the roughly 4,000 miles from the soldiers’ base in Hawaii to the Holy Family home in Osaka.

MARINES ALSO DELIVER AN EARLY CHRISTMAS TO AN ORPHANAGE IN SOUTH KOREA!

A couple of children happily receive toys at Jacob’s House orphanage, Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Dec. 22, 2013. Over 300 toys were donated by U.S. military personnel stationed in South Korea.
ARMANDO R. LIMON/STARS AND STRIPES

Pacific Paratrooper has also had their own tradition during Christmas…

TO ALL THOSE THAT BELIEVE IN FREEDOM AND PEACE: MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  FROM: PACIFIC PARATROOPER!!

PLEASE… REMEMBER THOSE THAT FOUGHT FOR US IN THE PAST…

[To see the pictures that accompany the past and present – CLICK HERE!]

AND THOSE WHO CONTINUE TO PROTECT US TODAY!!!

AND FOR THOSE SPECIAL PEOPLE WHO WAIT PATIENTLY AT HOME…

 

TO ALL THOSE WHO DO NOT CELEBRATE THIS HOLIDAY … I WISH YOU THE WARMTH AND PEACEFUL CONTENTMENT THAT ARE REPRESENTED BY THIS SEASON !!!

Click on still images to enlarge.

Military Christmas Humor –

Easton, MD–Dec. 22, 2011–This is a Christmas display at the home of Tom and Alice Blair, which includes an F 104 jet, Santa and his sleigh, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, etc. staff photo/Barbara Haddock Taylor} [Sun Photographer] #9306

 

Aboard the USS Nimitz

 

Yank mag. 24 Dec. 1943

 

 

 

Farewell Salutes – 

Francis Borgstrom – Forsythe, MT; USMC, WWII, PTO

Mamie (Weber) Cook – Deerfield, MO; Civilian, WWII, B-29 riveter

Robert Dutton – Niagara Falls, NY; US Army, WWII

 

Raymond Erickson – Orton Flat, SD; US Navy,   WWII, PBY communications crewman

Alfred T. Farrar (100) – Lynchburg, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII / FAA engineer

Wesley Grace – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, mine clearing

Paul T. Ichiuji – Pacific Grove, CA; US Army, WWII, MISer (Intelligence)

James Mackey – Windsor, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, aircraft mechanic

Alfred Shehab – Cape May, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO, 102nd Calvary, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Lt. Col. (Ret. 21 y.) / NASA

Lloyd Zett – Loretta, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ATO, aircraft mechanic (Nome)

Pre-Christmas post from Star and Stripes – 75th Anniversary

In The Past

1964, a Vietnam Christmas for Bob Hope

Bob Hope brings Christmas cheer to troops in Vietnam

1964 | BIEN HOA, South Vietnam — Bob Hope brought some laughter to a place of war Christmas Eve.

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Residents of an outer island of Palau retrieve boxes from the U.S. Air Force’s 1999 Christmas drop.

Airmen prepare for annual Christmas gift drop to Pacific islanders

2005 | ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam — Airmen geared up to deliver items to Pacific islanders who can only dream of department stores.

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Santa Claus hands out presents to the men of Detachment 35, Company B, 5th Special Forces Group, in Vietnam at the end of 1968. The Air Force lent Santa six C7 Caribou cargo planes for his deliveries in Vietnam. The planes enabled him to visit some 50 isolated outposts – such as this Special Forces camp in Nahon Cho, 80 miles northeast of Saigon – from Dec. 24th until late in the afternoon Christmas day.
JAMES LINN/STARS AND STRIPES |

Eight deer traded in for 6 ‘Santabou’ in waning days of 1968

1968 | NHON CHO, Vietnam — Santa’s reindeer were constantly bogged down in mud and his sleigh broke on the bumpy, snowless airstrips. The Air Force lent Santa six C7 Caribou cargo planes for his deliveries in Vietnam.

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In The Present

Staff Sgt. Hector Frietze, right, and Senior Airman John Allum, left, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmasters, wave to the people of the Island of Angaur, Republic of Palau, during the first bundle airdrops of Operation Christmas Drop 2020, Dec. 6. OCD is the world’s longest running airdrop training mission, allowing the U.S. and its allies to deliver food, tools and clothing to the people who live on remote islands in the South-Eastern Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

SE PACIFIC – OPERATION CHRISTMAS DROP

https://guam.stripes.com/community-news/until-next-year-operation-christmas-drop-2020-comes-close?fbclid=IwAR1yVLMkclH-_KP3NI3uW0A9hFwIZXBnKT4Wqr38MVxKHx9RVjxpM_0R3zA

Deployed

Service members serve on all seven continents — there is one service member in Antarctica — and on all the seas. Military personnel serve in more than 170 countries.

Service members deployed around the world during Christmas:

  • Afghanistan: 14,000
  • Bahrain: 7,000
  • Iraq: 5,200
  • Jordan: 2,795
  • Kuwait: 13,000
  • Oman: 300
  • Qatar: 13,000
  • Saudi Arabia: 3,000
  • Syria: Unknown
  • Turkey: Unknown
  • United Arab Emirates: 5,0000

Sailors will man their ships from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico.  Navy officials maintain that roughly a third of the Navy is deployed at any one time.

Air Force missileers and airmen are in the silos, by the planes and in the command centers ensuring the nuclear system is ready if needed.

And Please remember the military families !

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Military Christmas Humor – 

Humor from deployed Marines

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bennie Adkins – Waurika, OK; US Army, Vietnam, Sgt. (Ret. 22 y.), Green Beret, Silver Star, Purple Heart

Bon Nell Bentley – Russellville, AR; Civilian, riveter / US Navy WAVE, WWII / USN nurse / Civilian, nurse w/ Veterans Admin. (Ret. 30 y.)

Pedro ‘Pete’ Coronel – Hereford, AZ; US Army, WWII, PTO, 7th Cavalry, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Lee E. James (106) – Spearman, TX; US Army, WWII, CBI, Colonel (Ret. 27 y.)

William Kinney – Toledo, OH; US Navy, WWII

Levi A. Presley – Crestview, FL; US Army, Sgt. 1st Class

Louis Pugh – Courtdale, PA; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT, 2 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart

Jesse O. Sandlin – Granby, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot, 8th AF  /  Korea, Lt. Colonel (Ret. 28 y.)

Owen Tripp – Tacoma, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Donald Urquhart – New Orleans, LA; US Army, WWII, 81st Infantry Division, Purple Heart

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Ordnance – M4 Sherman Tank in the Pacific War

M4 Sherman tank with the 24th Marines, Iwo Jima, WWII

Once again, we come upon a piece of ordnance that is more well-known in the European Theater, but did get use in the Pacific – the M4 Sherman Tank, named by the British for the American General William Tecumseh Sherman (February 8, 1820 – February 14, 1891).

The M4 Sherman pilot unit was assembled by Lima Locomotive works in February 1942 varying from the T6 mainly in the removal of the hull side doors. Total manufacturing in 3 factories, Lima, Pressed Steel, and Pacific Car & Foundry began the next month, every one of these original manufacturing models being cast hull tanks, named M4A1.

In the Pacific Theater, the Japanese fought fanatically, but were hampered by obsolete and inferior weapons of all types, the Shermans clearly outclassed enemy light tanks.

Japanese Type 97 Chi-Ha tank

The M4 Sherman in the Pacific Theater first saw combat was at Tarawa Atoll in 1943 where it fought against Japanese tanks such as the Type 97 Chi-Ha. In this area of operations, the Shermans were better than the Chi-Ha due to the Sherman’s armor was thicker and the M4 Sherman also had better firepower. The Japanese Army began develop countermeasures to take out Shermans such as the Towed 47mm Guns that were capable to penetrate certain parts of its armor at shorter distances, however, other methods were used under extreme measures such as soldiers who voluntarily used Type 99 hand-thrown Mines or Lunge Mines.

The M4Could be easily be adapted for a variety of different uses, such as: the Mark 1 flamethrower which could throw napalm 150 yards; fitted with floatation screens for amphibious landings; plows; additional firepower; steel teeth to push through hedgerows and Sherman ‘Crab’ fitted with rotating chains to detonate land mines.

While only a bit over 49,000 M4’s being produced, half of that production and the other variants were given to other Allied Nations, including Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union under the Lend Lease Program.

 

American Heritage Museum, Korean War tank

Later, in the Korean War, an astute soldier realized that 1950 was the Chinese Year of the Tiger.  Word went out for tanks crews to paint tiger faces on the front of their tanks instead of the usual camouflage.  The idea was that “superstitious” Chinese would not shoot at them for fear of ‘bad luck’ or

Tiger Tank, Korean War

the very least hesitate long enough for the tankers to get the first shot off.

The 5th Regimental Combat Team, known as the Bobcats got the most frightening and complete tiger scheme.  But once the Chinese New Year passed in March 1951, the tanks were painted over, so the results of this psychological scheme is difficult to find.

The American Heritage Museum has been restored and re-painted, by Dan Wrightington, exactly as the 5th RCT’s M4A3 appeared in combat January 1951 near Inchon.

 

Sherman in the Pacific 1943-1945

For further data on the Sherman in the Pacific, the book by Raymond Giuliani, shows the extraordinary metamorphosis of the famous American tank, its first disastrous engagement on “Bloody Atoll” Tarawa, in the island of Okinawa, the last bastion of the Rising Sun. The terrible experience of fire against an enemy, as brave as fanatical, required Americans to adapt and transform the Sherman to resist and win the war.

Resources: WWII History magazine, The Collins Foundation & the American Heritage Museum yearly report; and WWII Weapons.com

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Elwood Culp – Hazelton, PA; US Navy, WWII, PC-491, radarman

Arthur ‘Jerry’ Hamilton Jr. – UT; US Army, Japanese Occupation

Irene Ladish – Knoxville, TN; US Navy WAVES, WWII

John Le Carre (David Cornwell) – Poole, ENG; British Army, Intelligence Group, German Occupation / MI5

Jack Robinson – Fort Wright, KY; US Army, WWII

John Stevenson – Paris, TX; US Navy, WWII

Patricia Truitt – Kelso, WA; Cadet Nursing Corps, WWII

Merl Utsler – Winterset, IA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Norman Winterhoff – Asheville, OH; US Army, WWII / US Navy, Chaplin, Commander (Ret. 22 y.)

James Yeatts – Chesterfield, VA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Cpl., Forward Observer, 188th Field Artillery Battalion

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1951 Japanese Surrender

1951 Japanese surrender

A group of stranded survivors of a Japanese vessel sunk by the American military found their way to the island of Anatahan, 75 nautical miles north of Saipan.

The island’s coast line is precipitous with landing beaches on the northern and western shore and a small sandy beach on the southwest shore. Its steep slopes are furrowed by deep gorges covered by high grass.

This brooding cone jutting from the sea floor is a large, extinct volcano with two peaks and a grass covered flat field, the final resting place for a B-29 Superfortress that crashed upon returning from a bombing mission over Nagoya, Japan on January 3, 1945 killing the aircraft’s crew.

Anatahan/Mariana Islands

By 1951 the Japanese holdouts on the island refused to believe that the war was over and resisted every attempt by the Navy to remove them.

This group was first discovered in February 1945, when several Chamorro from Saipan were sent to the island to recover the bodies of the Saipan based B-29, T square 42, from the 498th Bomb Group, 875th Squadron, 73rd Wing under the command of Richard Carlson Stickney, Jr.

The Chamorro reported that there were about thirty Japanese survivors from three Japanese ships sunk in June 1944, one of which was an Okinawa woman.

aerial view of Anatahan

Pamphlets had been dropped informing the holdouts that the war was over and that they should surrender, but these requests were ignored. They lived a sparse life, eating coconuts, taro, wild sugar cane, fish and lizards. They smoked crushed, dried papaya leaves wrapped in the leaves of bananas and made an intoxicating beverage known as “tuba”, (coconut wine).

They lived in palm frond huts with woven floor matting of pandanus. Their life improved after the crash of the aircraft. They used metal from the B-29 to fashion crude implements such as pots, knives and roofing for their hut. The oxygen tanks were used to store water, clothing was made from nylon parachutes, the cords used for fishing line.

Japanese soldiers surrender at Anatahan

The springs from machine guns were fashioned into fish hooks. Several in the group also had machine guns and pistols recovered from the aircraft. Personal aggravations developed as a result of being too long in close association within a small group on a small island and also because of tuba drinking. The presence of only one woman, Kazuko Higa, caused great difficulty as well. Six of eleven deaths that occurred among the holdouts were the result of violence.

One man displayed thirteen knife wounds. Ms. Higa would, from time to time, transfer her affections between at least four of the men after each mysteriously disappeared as a result of “being swallowed by the waves while fishing.”

American seamen, Anatahan

In July 1950, Ms. Higa went to the beach when an American vessel appeared off shore and asked to be removed from the island. She was taken to Saipan aboard the Miss Susie and, upon arrival, informed authorities that the men on the island did not believe the war was over.

Meanwhile, officials of the Japanese government became interested in the situation on Anatahan and asked the Navy for information “concerning the doomed and living Robinson Crusoes who were living a primitive life on an uninhabited island”, and offered to send a ship to rescue them.

The families of the Japanese holdouts on the island of Anatahan, were contacted in Japan and requested by the U. S. Navy to write letters advising them that the war was over and that they should surrender.

Japanese say goodbye to Anatahan

In January 1951, a message from the Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture was delivered. The letters were dropped by air on June 26 and finally convinced the holdouts that they should give themselves up.

Thus, six years after the end of World War II, “Operation Removal” got underway from Saipan under the Command of James B. Johnson, USNR, aboard the Navy Tug USS Cocopa. Lt. Commander James B. Johnson and Mr. Ken Akatani, an interpreter, went ashore by rubber boat and formally accepted the last surrender of World War II on the morning of June 30, 1951 which also coincided with the last day of the Naval Administration of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

Click on images to enlarge.

From: AR Gunners.com By Pierre Kosmidis

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Military Humor –

One of Murphy’s Laws

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Farewell Salutes –

Dorothy (Carter) Ahearn – Detroit, MI; Civilian, Red Cross, WWII, ETO

Hazel Boyas – North Royalton, OH; Civilian, WWII, drill press operator

Edward Cowen Sr. – Gadsden County, FL; US Army, WWII & Korea

Robert Lents – Bridgewater, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Perch, POW, Chief torpedoman, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts

Renee (Lupton) Rattet – New Beford, MA; US Army WAC, WWII

Gary Myers – Grand Lake, CO; US Army, Vietnam, 8/1st Air Cavalry Division, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Charlie Pride – Sledge, MS; US Army  /  Country singer

Matthew A. Reluga (101) – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, rifleman/Intelligence, Silver Star, 5 Bronze Stars

Lyle Tefft – Lawrence, KS; US Navy, USS Bandera

Robert W. Young – Lewistown, MT; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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Ordnance Spitfire in the Pacific War

Australia’s highest scoring fighter pilot of WWII, Clive ‘Killer’ Caldwell, helps push his Spitfire CR-C JL394 out of camouflage, Aug. 1943

The Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Indian Air Force and the RAF also used Spitfires against Japanese forces in the Pacific theater. The first Spitfires in the Far East were two photo-reconnaissance (PR IV) aircraft which operated from airfields in India from October 1942.

Clive Caldwell

Japanese raids on Northern Australia hastened the formation in late 1942 of No. 1 Wing RAAF comprising No. 54 RAF Squadron No. 452 Squadron RAAF, and No. 457 Squadron RAAF under the command of  Clive Caldwell. The wing arrived at Darwin in February 1943, and saw constant action until September. The Mk Vc versions received by the RAAF proved unreliable and, initially at least, had a relatively high loss rate. This was due to several factors, including pilot inexperience, engine over-speed due to the loss of oil from the propeller speed reduction unit (a problem resolved by the use of a heavier grade of oil), and the practice of draining glycol coolant before shipment, resulting in internal corrosion of the Merlin engines.

Another factor in the initial high attrition rate was the relatively short endurance of the Spitfire, most of the sorties were, flown over the wide expanse of ocean between Australia, New Guinea and Timor. Even when fitted with drop tanks the Spitfires could not afford to fly too far from base without the danger of running out of fuel over water. As a result, when an incoming raid was detected, the Spitfires were forced to climb as fast as possible in an attempt to get into a favorable position.

RCAF Spitfire 411 Squadron

In the prevailing hot, humid climate this meant that the Merlin engines were often overheating even before combat was joined. The Spitfires were fitted with the Vokes tropical filters which reduced performance: in an attempt to increase performance the filters on several Spitfires were removed and replaced by the standard non-tropicalized air intake and lower engine cowlings which had been manufactured by the base workshops. The experiment proved to be a failure and the Spitfires were quickly refitted with the tropical filters.

Many of the Australian and British airmen who flew in 1 Wing were experienced combat veterans, some of whom who had flown P-40s with the Desert Air Force in North Africa, while others had flown Spitfires over Europe. They were used to being able to outmaneuver opposing fighters and were shocked to discover that the Zeros they were now flying against were able to outmaneuver the Spitfire.

Raid on Darwin (May 2, 1943)

Strength

Japanese                Australians and British

27 Zeros                33 spitfires

25 Bombers

Aircraft lost

6-10                    14

That was just one raid.. For almost two years beginning Feb 1942 the airspace over North West Australia was routinely penetrated by Japanese raids, about 70 in total.

Spitfires in Darwin

By mid-1943 the heavy losses imposed on the Japanese Navy in the Solomon Islands campaign and in New Guinea meant that the JNAF could not keep up its attacks on northern Australia. Other units equipped with the Spitfires in the SW Pacific Area included No. 79 Squadron, No. 85 Squadron RAAF, No. 458 Squadron RAF and No. 459 Squadron RAF.

In the SE Asia, the first Spitfire Vcs reached three squadrons on the India-Burma front in November 1943. Spitfire pilots met Japanese for the first time on Boxing Day, 1943. A pair of Spitfires piloted by Flying Officer Geoffrey William Andrews and Flight Sergeant Harry B. Chatfield attacked a formation of Japanese planes over Chittagong.  Andrews destroyed a fighter and a bomber, damaging a second, while Chatfield shot down another two. On the last day of 1943, Royal Australian Air Force Spitfires destroyed eleven Japanese bombers and three fighters. Churchill complimented the Australian Squadron for their “brilliant exploit”.

Pilots trudge thru the mud at the advanced airbase in Burma after sorties with the Japanese.

Spitfires ensured that the Allies gained and held air superiority during the battles of Kohima and Imphal from early to mid 1944, in which the Japanese attempt to destroy the British 14th Army and invade India was also defeated. By 1945, when the Allies launched offensives into Burma, the Japanese were unable to challenge the Allies’ air supremacy. Spitfires took part in the last major pitched battle of the war involving the Western allies – No. 607 Squadron and No. 273 Squadron flying the MKVIII armed with 500 pound bombs helped destroy a Japan breakout attempt at Sittang Bend in July and early August 1945.

This post  was the suggestion of Dan Antion.

Resources: Pacific Spitfires.com; History Exchange; Wiki; Aviation Profiles.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Atterson – Clark Range, TN; US Army, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Howard E. Cook Jr, – W. Palm Beach, FL; US Navy, pilot

Courtesy of John @ https://lvphotoblog.com/

Frank ‘Slick’ Dercher – Kansas City, KS; US Navy, WWII, USS California

Patricia Felton – Queensland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 46253, WREN, WWII

James Garrison – Johnston, IA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 24th Division, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Clyde Hymel – Garyville, LA; USMC, WWII, PO, Silver Star

Millard “Smoke” Lea – Union City, IN; US Army, Korea, 101st Airborne Division

Robert Malone – Alexandria, VA; US Army, WWII

Paul Niloff – Sherbrooke, CAN, RC Army, WWII, Medical Corps

Ralph Peavy – Liberty, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Chuck Yeager – Myra, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, mechanic / pilot / test pilot / Vietnam, BGeneral (Ret. 34 y.), Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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