Blog Archives

Manila (cont’d) February 1945

 

The importance of Manila cannot be stressed enough. The natural harbor has served as a strategically situated port for commerce and trade for centuries. Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay are connected by the Pasig River.

As the 11th Airborne  was switched back to the 6th Army, General Swing received orders to destroy all forces in Southern Luzon, specifically at Macolod and Lipa, along with clearing Route 19. The division had not received many replacements so they were even smaller in size than before; the 158th Regimental Combat Team was attached to partially compensate. The Manila-Batangas highway ran north to south and was essential to secure the port of Batangas for future landings.

Japanese in Manila

On top of all this, Swing was ordered to destroy enemy forces in Ternate. (Southern shore of Manila Bay) None of his men had the privilege of being in reserve, but the general had the utmost confidence in his men to succeed. His plan – Put the 187th on the right, going through the neck between Lake Taal and Laguna de Bay. The 158th on two other routes and the 1st of the 188th to Ternate.

Japanese gun in Manila from a super battleship.

22 February 1945, the Cairns Post reported that the 11th Airborne had been seen south-east of Laguna de Bay and surrounded an enemy unit at Mabato Point and compressed them into an area of 1200×800 yards. From there, they traveled through Alabang to Muntinupa where the Japanese were attempting to evacuate their troops. The 11th was relaying back reports of finding natives hacked to death by bayonet or burned alive by the enemy.

Lake Taal, from Smitty’s scrapbook

The 187th, with the675th Glider Field Artillery Battalion attached bivouacked near Mount Sungay and sent out daily patrols to the east. G-2 (Intelligence) knew the Japanese Fuji Force was out there and needed to picture the enemy locations. While the troopers fought ground battles, the engineers were carving out the mountain. The sheer cliff was almost vertical, but the roads being built was imperative.

Assistance with this article came from Rakkasans by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; the VFW; 2eyeswatching.com (pix only); The Angels: History of the 11th Airborne Division by Gen. Flanagan; Pacific War On-line encyclopedia, WW2 Database and my grandmother for keeping Smitty’s scrapbook – all I wish to thank for their diligence in recording history.

Yesterday, Saturday, 15 May 2022, was Armed Forces Day here in the U.S.  I hope you continue to thank a veteran every chance you get!

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bluford Jr. (103) – Richmond, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 pilot

John L. “Gunny” Canley – Bend, OR; USMC; Vietnam, Sgt. Major (Ret.). Medal of Honor

Courtesy of Tofino Photography

Leonard Cecere – Retsof, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, Flight Engineer

Creedin Cornman – Carlisle, PA; US Army, WWII, 584th Antiaircraft Battalion

Ryan DeKorte – Lubbock, TX; US Navy, Electronics Tech 1st Class, USS Jason Dunham  /   Naval Special Warfare Unit

Augustine Delgadillo – Seligman, AZ; US Army, WWII, ETO& PTO

Edmund Liebl – Madison, WI; US Navy Air Corps, WWII  /  US Army, Medical Corps

Rudolph Macey – Tarrytown, NY; US Navy, WWII  /  FCC (Ret.)

Glenn E. Miller – MT. Palatine, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO & Occupation

Seth Plant – St. Augustine, FL; US Army, SSgt., 3/509th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Fred Ward – San Diego, CA; US Air Force  /  Beloved actor

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Manila | February 1945

Flamethrower

While advancing, the 11th Airborne encountered heavy barrages from machine guns, mortars, artillery and grenades streaming from tunnels and caves above the highway.  After the enemy was eradicated, the command post dug in on the side of the road.  In the middle of the night, they were attacked.  Headquarters Company used flame throwers and rifle fire to fend them off.

My father, Smitty, would wrinkle his nose at the mere sight of a flame thrower on TV.  He said, “Once you smell burning flesh, it stays with you.  There’s nothing worse.  Every time I see one of those things flare up, even in a movie, I can smell the fuel and flesh all over again.”

The importance of Manila cannot be stressed enough. The natural harbor has served as a strategically situated port for commerce and trade for centuries. Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay are connected by the Pasig River.

Pasig River, before the war

Following the initial American breakthrough on the fourth, fighting raged throughout the city for almost a month. The battle quickly came down to a series of bitter street-to-street and house-to-house struggles. In an attempt to protect the city and its civilians, MacArthur placed stringent restrictions on U.S. artillery and air support. But massive devastation to the urban area could not be avoided. In the north, General Griswold continued to push elements of the XIV Corps south from Santo Tomas University toward the Pasig River.

Late on the afternoon of 4 February he ordered the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, to seize Quezon Bridge, the only crossing over the Pasig that the Japanese had not destroyed. As the squadron approached the bridge, enemy heavy machine guns opened up from a formidable roadblock thrown up across Quezon Boulevard. The Japanese had pounded steel stakes into the pavement, sown the area with mines, and lined up old truck bodies across the road. Unable to advance farther, the cavalry withdrew after nightfall. As the Americans pulled back, the Japanese blew up the bridge.

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Current News – The Legacy continues – 

The 11th Airborne will exist once again!!

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/05/05/army-creating-second-paratrooper-division-service-forges-new-identity-arctic-troops.html?ESRC=eb_220506.nl

5 May 2022

Military.com | By Steve Beynon

Soldiers stationed in Alaska will soon ditch the 25th Infantry Division’s “Tropic Lightning” patch and be re-designated the 11th Airborne Division,

The two existing airborne combat units are the 82nd Airborne Division and  the 101st Airborne, which is airborne in name only; it’s actually an air assault division.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Russell Adams – San Francisco, CA; US Merchant Marines, WWII

Willy J. Cancel – TN; USMC  /  KIA (Ukraine)

Aubrey B. Dale – Lilburn, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Jack W. Harrell – MacClesfield, NC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Luis Herrera – Marion, NC; US Army, Spec., 82nd Airborne Division

Jack E. Lilley – Waldworth, OH; US Army, Korea, Pfc. # 15414336, Truck Driver, HQ Co/34/24th Infantry Division, KIA (Taejon, SK)

Riley D. Mixon – Greenville, SC; US Navy, Vietnam, Desert Shield & Desert Storm, Admiral (Ret. 36 y.) / Exc. Director & Vice Chairman to establishing the USS Midway Museum

Laverne A. Nigg – Browns Valley, MN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3167440, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Lee R. Peterson – Edmore, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Radioman, USS Estes

William F. Teaff – Akron, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, radioman # 35586750, POW, KIA (Stalag Luft VI)

Chauncey (William) Sharp – Osborn, OH; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co C/1/27/25th Infantry Division, KIA (Hwanggon, SK)

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So… Have a great day!

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Luzon | February 1945 (3)

PAYING HOMAGE TO THOSE WHO WENT BEFORE
Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team Rakkasans, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) stand in formation to honor the 187th Infantry Regiment during an Activation Ceremony Feb. 20 at Fort Campbell, Ky. The ceremony celebrated the regiment’s 70th Anniversary since its activation in 1943 by honoring its long and valorous combat history and all of the fallen Rakkasans, whose names are inscribed on the pylons that stand in front of them. (U.S. Army photo taken by Sgt. Alan Graziano, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)

General Swing now had a supply trail stretching 70 miles and he began to fine tune the missions of some of the units. Colonel Hildebrand and the 187th were sent to Nasugubu and patrol the main supply route. Hildebrand was also put charge of thousands of guerrilla fighters, not an easy job in itself. All in all, he and his regiment had been given a very large task. They were staring into the jaws of the noted Genko Line.

The plan on 15 February for the 2d battalion of the 187th and the 188th was plain and simple: push forward and keep going – then meet up with the 511th at the Carabao Gate and still keep pushing. First they cleared the 6 foot high railroad tracks, then a dry riverbed and started to go up the barren rise. All this time there was no enemy resistance and not one sound whatsoever. The Leyte veterans knew something was wrong, they could feel their skin crawl and suddenly they discovered the ruse.

Banzai charge

The Japanese soldiers and their machine guns had been buried in the riverbed and were now behind the G.I.s. A hoard of the enemy came at them screaming despite the gunfire, BARs (browning Automatic Rifles) and hand weapons that killed and wounded them as they charged. But, they continued to come in waves and reached the 1st platoon.

The second platoon caught up to them and destroyed some of the Japanese machine guns. In the total chaos, the enemy ran to their pillboxes to regroup. When two more companies arrived on the scene, the Japanese outfit was trapped. A strange explosion underground knocked some of the troopers to the ground. The enemy, rather than surrender, had blown their hideout thinking they would kill the G.I.s above them, but it was not a sufficient charge to accomplish this. They had only murdered themselves.

The 674th and 675th Glider Field Artillery Battalions had been firing endlessly with the aid of the cooks, clerk, drivers and gun men and took shifts. Banzai attacks were common on these positions, so perimeters had to be kept firm. Gen. Swing’s plan was to keep squeezing the enemy into a tight group and then block their escape routes.

Japanese suicide crash boat

At one point, Gen. Eichelberger went back to the USS Spencer, but a peaceful night sleep was not to be. “There were a number of attacks by explosive-laden Japanese suicide crash boats. Just after daylight, a little worn, I went on deck and watched a curious cat-an-dog encounter between an American destroyer and a suicide boat. The destroyer was trying to sink the Japanese craft with 5” guns and pursued it.

“Whenever the enemy wheeled and made a direct run at the destroyer, the ship zigzagged and took to its heels…. It seemed like a crazy version of you-chase-me and I’ll-chase-you… After about 50 rounds of firing, a shell from the destroyer found its target. The boat did not sink – it disintegrated.”

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE,

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Addison E. Baker – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot, Lt. Colonel # )-280827, HQ Sq/93rd Bomber Group, Silver Star, Medal of Honor, KIA (Ploesti, ROM)

Joseph E. Bernot – Washington D.C.; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Battery A/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Veteran’s Memorial, by: Dan Antion

Boyd Guttery – Atlanta, GA; US Army, Japanese Occupation

William Harn – Faribault, MN; US Merchant Marine, WWII, WWII

William C. Kitchen – Sandy, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO,  511 Signal/11th Airborne Division

Joseph Loriaux – Kansas City, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, Lt., Tank unit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Etta Moore (101) – St. Louis, MO; Civilian, WWII, Aircraft construction

Agnes “Pat” Paist – Allentown, PA; US Army WAC, PTO, nurse, Bronze Star

Thomas Pessel – Hopewell, NJ; USMC, WWII

Katherine Robinson (100) – Essex Fells, NJ; US Navy WAVE, WWII

George Sage – Shell Lake, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

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Luzon | February 1945 (2)

Japanese in Manila

The final attack on the outer Japanese defenses came from the 11th Airborne Division.  The division had been halted at Nichols Field on the 4th and since then had been battling firmly entrenched Japanese naval troops, backed up by heavy fire from concealed artillery. Only on 11 February did the airfield finally fall to the paratroopers, and the acquisition allowed the 11th Airborne Division to complete the American encirclement of Manila on the night of the twelfth.

As February opened, the 7th Allied Air Force continually bombed Iwo Jima, Marcus Island and Corregidor, while the 5th Allied Air Force not only targeted Corregidor, but Cavite, Cebu City, and enemy positions on Mindanao and Borneo.

Col. Robert Soule

The 11th A/B continued on to Tagaytay Ridge where they would come upon more of the enemy. Colonel Soule directed the artillery of the 674th and the 675th while the final assault was made by the infantry. The troopers went uphill through the Mount Cariliao-Mount Batulao defile. This was Shorty Ridge; the eastern area that needed to be free of Japanese before the 511th made their jump. (The regiment had to be capable of meeting up with the rest of the division within twenty-four hours of their landing.) The forward Command Group of the Headquarters Company went through a mile of enemy territory to destroy the resistance on the ridge and make that first contact.

A mere two hours later, the Command Group followed along the fire-swept road and set up the division command post on the ridge. The Reconnaissance Group, right behind them, did not rest, but continued on toward Manila. The Command Group then folded in behind and set up another command post while under heavy fire.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Author’s Note – 

I am having trouble with my wordpress notifications.  They do not always give me a link to return to your site anymore.  I’m doing the best I can to not only get this glitch repaired, but find a way back to each site.

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25 April   |   ANZAC Day

MAY WE ALL REMEMBER ON ANZAC DAY

Let’s all wish our Australian neighbors and friends a memorable ANZAC Day.

For those unaware of its meaning…

“Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”.

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Current News –

Crocodile in Key West

In South Florida, surprise visitors can crawl on their bellies.  And wear out their welcome.

Naval Air Station Key West had to remove a stubborn crocodile from its airfield on Boca Chica Key so planes could take off and land. The croc was photographed basking in the spring sunshine with a Super Hornet fighter jet in the background.

Navy officials knew what to do. The air station, at mile marker 8, off the Overseas Highway, is located within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.  She had been tagged about  years ago, but now has a new tag.

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Military Humor – 

Quite a tee off position!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hemming Anderson (104) – Tauranga, NZ; 2nd Expeditionary Force, WWII # 32089

Ian Cosgrove (100) – Winton, NZ; RNZ Army Medical Corps, WWII

Bob R. Hayes (100) – Mt. Vernon, NY; US Army, WWII

Aubie Kreusel – Gansville, LA; Civilian, WWII, Consolidated Vultee Aircraft (B-24 production)

Bernard Lampinen – Ashby, MA; US Navy, WWII

Harold Mann – Columbus, GA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1255th Engineer Battalion

Jack E. Matson – Rock Island County, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, SSgt. # 36431461, 382/96th Infantry Division, KIA

George Nelson – Wheatland, WY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt., radioman, 8th Air Force

Hans Petersen – Shelby, DEN; Danish Resistance, WWII

William Ragsdale – TN; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl. # 433627, HQ Co/1/24/ 4th Marine Division, KIA (Saipan)

Hillary Soileau – Bunkle, LA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pvt. # 34233291, Co F/2/27/25th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (“Galloping Horse Hills”, GUAD)

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Luzon February 1945 (1)

Entering Manila

The 6th and 8th Armies on Luzon were repeatedly in close and brutal combat with the Japanese.  By dawn on 4 February the paratroopers ran into increasingly heavy and harassing fire from Japanese riflemen and machine gunners. At the Paranaque River, just south of the Manila city limits, the battalion halted at a badly damaged bridge only to be battered by Japanese artillery fire from Nichols Field. The 11th Airborne Division had reached the main Japanese defenses south of the capital and could go no further.

The U.S. on Luzon

Regarding Manila as indefensible, General Yamashita had originally ordered the commander of Shimbu Group, General Yokoyama Shizuo, to destroy all bridges and other vital installations and evacuate the city as soon as strong American forces made their appearance. However, Rear Adm. Iwabachi Sanji, the naval commander for the Manila area, vowed to resist the Americans and countermanded the order. Determined to support the admiral as best he could, Yokoyama contributed three Army battalions to Iwabachi’s 16,000-man Manila Naval Defense Force and prepared for battle. The sailors knew little about infantry tactics or street fighting, but they were well armed and entrenched throughout the capital. Iwabachi resolved to fight to the last man.

The battle for Manila had barely begun. Almost at once the 1st Cavalry Division in the north and the 11th Airborne Division in the south reported stiffening Japanese resistance to further advances into the city. As one airborne company commander remarked in mock seriousness, “Tell Halsey to stop looking for the Jap Fleet; it’s dying on Nichols Field.”

6 February 1945: “The view of Manila last night was a terrible thing as the whole part of one side of the city seemed to be on fire.  Smoke and flames were going way up in the air….Dombrowski spent the night at the airstrip and said even there, 50 miles away, he could see the flames of Manila…”  General R. Eichelberger

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Current News –

From: Fellow Blogger – Brizzy Mays Books & Bruschetta___

“You may not be aware GP that the east coast of Australia has suffered major flooding over the last six weeks with lives lost and much property destroyed. A supply vessel, the USS Frank Cable, arrived in Brisbane just at the tail end and when the sailors disembarked for their first day of shore leave, 100 of your countrymen and women volunteered their time to help our Mud Army with the clean up – removing debris from houses, chopping down fallen trees, loading trucks with rubbish that floated down swollen rivers etc. It was a wonderful thing, much appreciated, and I hope you guys over there heard about the spirit of co-operation and friendship between our countries. Respect”

USS Frank Cable

[THE U.S. ARTICLE i LOCATED ON THE SUBJECT_____]

USS Frank Cable recently arrived in Brisbane, and some of the ship’s company stepped ashore to help Australian Defense Force personnel deployed on Operation Flood Assist with clean-up tasks.  The ship, attached to the US Seventh Fleet and based in Guam, is visiting Brisbane as part of its current deployment.

The visit has been coordinated with the support of the relevant state governments and Australian Border Force.  Commanding Officer Frank Cable, Captain Albert Alarcon, said he was proud his crew was able to lend assistance.

“Our ship is very honored to be given the opportunity to support the local Brisbane community,” Captain Alarcon said.  “The crew has a very high level of volunteerism and interest in public support, so when offered the opportunity to help out, it resonated across the deck fleet.”

Australia’s longstanding alliance with the US is the nation’s most important defense relationship.  It stands as a pillar of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific and it is a testament to shared values and a commitment to an open, secure, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

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Military Humor –

‘THIS IS A HELLUVA JOB FER A SOJER”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hersh Aramaki – Price, UT; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co C/442nd RCT, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Barney R. Cox – NY & TX; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, GySgt. (Ret.)

Helen Gallagher – Boston, MA; Civilian, WWII, South Boston Army Base

Jack Higgins (Henry Patterson) – Newcastle, ENG; British Army, Royal Horse Guards/Household Cavalry  /  author: “The Eagle Has Landed”

Wilbur R. House – Augusta, KS; US Navy, WWII, Sr. Chief Operations Specialist

Richard B. Johnson – Pueblo, CO; US Navy, WWII, Vietnam, submarine service (Ret. 25 y.)

Arlie Kendrick – CAN; Civilian, WWII, Port Credit Munitions Plant

Etta Moore (101) – St. Louis, MO; Civilian, WWII, aircraft construction

Harry E, Nichols – Sioux City, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Navy Storekeeper # 3213806, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Walter R. Pentico – Lexington, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3723404, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Herbert Stiles – Manchester, NH; US Navy, WWII, ETO, minesweeper

Francis Tippet (100) – Toronto, CAN; RC Navy WRENS, WWII

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Book Review | “IN THE MOUTH OF THE LION” by J. Guenther

J. Guenther

I was privileged to receive this novel brilliantly authored by J. Guenther.  This book transports you back to the days many of your relatives lived through – to the European Theater of WWII – the war that changed the world.

You will find easy reading and rest assured, no previous military or secret service experience or knowledge is required.  This work has been tirelessly researched by the author and it shows.  You’ll find characters you recognize, and should you not be familiar with their history, there are short bios in the rear of the story.

Allen Dulles: being in charge of the OSS, (predecessor of the CIA), at the Bern, Switzerland office.

Mary Bancroft: employee of the OSS and girlfriend to Dulles, after reading one of the agency’s handbooks, felt qualified to set off into the excitement and danger  of being a spy.  In my opinion, she was perhaps an exaggerated example of how that generation went above and beyond for the sake of trying to correct what was horribly wrong with the world.

Dr. Carl Jung

Just imagine driving eminent psychologist, Carl Jung, into Germany to meet with and psychoanalyze Adolph Hitler himself!!

Just when you feel the suspense is over, more questions arise to intrigue you – you stay riveted, turning page after page,  as even more familiar names come on the scene in this well-paced adventure.

I’ll say no more of the story for fear of divulging too much – and it’s up to you, but I couldn’t help but have an Ah-Hah moment at the very end.

I should add, that at the very end of the book is also a psychological explanation of Hitler’s “voice”, of which I found very interesting.

I recommend this book to all.

“IN THE MOUTH OF THE LION”, by: J. Guenther

To reach J. Guenther or simply purchase a copy of “IN THE MOUTH OF THE LION”, or any of his other books _____HERE @ WordPress or @ Amazon HERE

OR:  Here at Goodreads

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Current News – 

The Navy has announced the names of the cruisers that it wants to decommission as part of the latest budget proposal, as well as confirming that all the Freedom-class littoral combat ships — including one that is less than two years old — are headed for scrap.

USS Bunker Hill (CS-52)

A Navy spokesman confirmed that the five cruisers slated for the cut are: USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), USS Mobile Bay (CG-53), USS San Jacinto (CG-56), USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) and USS Vicksburg (CG-69).

The Navy also confirmed that all of its Freedom-class littoral combat ships — the USS Fort Worth (LCS-3), USS Milwaukee (LCS-5), USS Detroit (LCS-7), USS Little Rock (LCS-9), USS Sioux City (LCS-11), USS Wichita (LCS-13), USS Billings (LCS-15), USS Indianapolis (LCS 17) and USS St. Louis (LCS-19).

11 of the ships slated for decommissioning are less than 10 years old and singled out the USS St. Louis as being less than two years old and two of the 24 ships as “currently in modernization.”

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Emile Alito Jr. – New Orleans, LA; US Navy, WWII, USS Mt. McKinley, radioman

Rockwood T. Benjamin – New Haven, CT; US Coast Guard, WWII  /  US Army, Korea, Sgt.

OUR FLAG
Courtesy of: Dan Antion

La Vern Buist – Mendon, UT; US Army, WWII, PTO, 1879th Aviation Engineer Battalion

Michael W. Caldwell – Quincey, IL; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division, Silver Star

Aubrey Churhman – KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, C-46 & 47 pilot

Joseph F. Coda (103) – Lodi, NJ; US Army, WWII, Bronze Star

Norman C. Glenn – Garden City, SC; USMC, WWII

George Kittel – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Verl E. Luzena (100) – Bradford, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Signal Corps, cameraman

Nehemiah Persoff – brn: ISR; US Army, WWII, Special Services (Entertainment unit)  / Beloved actor

Elvin L. Phillips – Salt Lake City, UT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt. # 19011888, B-24 gunner, 66th BS/44h BG/8th Air Force, KIA (Bucharest, ROM)

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Luzon

Lt.General E.M. Flanagan

“The advance had been so swift that the Japs who had the steel-trussed span mined were caught on the far side of it. They attempted to get to their detonator but our fire from the west bank of the Palico killed six and forced the rest to withdraw toward Tagaytay Ridge. Capture of the bridge allowed us to keep moving ahead. Its destruction would have seriously delayed us since our engineers did not have the equipment to replace it. Bypassing would have been difficult because the Palico River flows in a deep, steep-sided canyon, as do most of the Luzon Rivers.”___ Gen. E.M. Flanagan

The 6th and 8th Armies on Luzon were repeatedly in close and brutal combat with the Japanese.  By dawn on 4 February the paratroopers ran into increasingly heavy and harassing fire from Japanese riflemen and machine gunners. At the Paranaque River, just south of the Manila city limits, the battalion halted at a badly damaged bridge only to be battered by Japanese artillery fire from Nichols Field. The 11th Airborne Division had reached the main Japanese defenses south of the capital and could go no further.

US Army, Luzon

Regarding Manila as indefensible, General Yamashita had originally ordered the commander of Shimbu Group, General Yokoyama Shizuo, to destroy all bridges and other vital installations and evacuate the city as soon as strong American forces made their appearance. However, Rear Adm. Iwabachi Sanji, the naval commander for the Manila area, vowed to resist the Americans and countermanded the order. Determined to support the admiral as best he could, Yokoyama contributed three Army battalions to Iwabachi’s 16,000-man Manila Naval Defense Force and prepared for battle. The sailors knew little about infantry tactics or street fighting, but they were well armed and entrenched throughout the capital. Iwabachi resolved to fight to the last man.

Nichols Field, Luzon, February 1945

On 4 February 1945, General MacArthur announced the imminent recapture of the capital while his staff planned a victory parade. But the battle for Manila had barely begun. Almost at once the 1st Cavalry Division in the north and the 11th Airborne Division in the south reported stiffening Japanese resistance to further advances into the city. As one airborne company commander remarked in mock seriousness, “Tell Halsey to stop looking for the Jap Fleet; it’s dying on Nichols Field.” All thoughts of a parade had to be put aside.

The final attack on the outer Japanese defenses came from the 11th Airborne Division, under the XIV Corps control since 10 February. The division had been halted at Nichols Field on the fourth and since then had been battling firmly entrenched Japanese naval troops, backed up by heavy fire from concealed artillery. Only on 11 February did the airfield finally fall to the paratroopers, but the acquisition allowed the 11th Airborne Division to complete the American encirclement of Manila on the night of the twelfth.

As February opened, the 7th Allied Air Force continually bombed Iwo Jima, Marcus Island and Corregidor, while the 5th Allied Air Force not only targeted Corregidor as well, but Cavite, Cebu City, enemy positions on Mindanao and Borneo.

Luzon and the 11th Airborne

References: “Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne Division by Gen. EM Flanagan Jr.; US Army History: Luzon; Pacific Wrecks & US Navy records; “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo” and “Dear Miss Em” by Gen. Robert Eichelberger.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frederick H. Alvet – Catharpin, VA; USMC, WWII, Purple Heart  /  US Army, Korea

Sanford K. Bowen – Ashland County, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc. # 35308473, I Co/3/157/45th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Reipertswiller, FRA)

Luxembourg-American Cemetery

Frank Cota – Archdale, NC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT/11th Airborne, (Ret. 24 y.)

Elizabeth Elliott, Toronto, CAN; Women’s Royal Air Force, WWII

Patrick Francis – Brooklyn, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., Silver Star, Purple Heart

George Gilbert – Indianapolis, IN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fire Controlman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Leslie C. Hallock – Duncan, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co B/188th/11th Airborne Division

Gerald R. Helms – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt. # 36306478, Co E/325 GIR/82nd Airborne Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Katerbosch, NETH)

Wilbur F. Newton – Mound City, MO; US Navy WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 3760544, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Robert Novotney – Kadoka, SD; US Navy, WWII, APO & PTO, fireman, USS Bearss (DD-654)

Winfield W. Scott Jr. – Colorado Springs, CO; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, pilot, West Point grad ’50, West Point superintendent, Lt. General (Ret. 40 y.)

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Entering Luzon | 31 January 1945

Notice arrow for the 11th A/B at the bottom. Click to enlarge.

I have to continue here on January 31, 1945, as this is where the actions of Smitty and the 11th Airborne Division become quite confusing. While the 221st medical is attached to the 187th, the 187th itself is split and send in alternate directions. Up until now, the division has been maintained fairly well in secret from the Japanese, but it is here that Gen. Eichelberger not only wants to allow the enemy knowledge of their existence, he wants to (in his words) pull a “monumental bluff” and splash the landing across the newspapers.

The men hit the beach with only their necessities on their backs; their personal items would not be seen for two months. The Eichelberger/Swing strategy began at dawn with the convoy’s arrival at the shore. 0700 hours – eighteen A-20’s and nine P-38s strafed the beaches.
0715 hours – the navy began to shell the landing area with rockets from the LCIs and shells from the destroyers.
0815 – cease fire, beach party lands
0822 – no opposition from enemy reported; first wave of 8 LCVPs lands, men head toward Nasugbu only 1500 yards away.
0945 – the 188th was through Wawa, Nasugbu and the airstrip.
1030 – the 187th begins landing and immediately joined up with the others to head up to Tagatay Ridge. One unit of the 187th remains to defend Nasugbu, one battery of the 674th assists. The 102d AAA AW Battalion and the 152d AA-AT Battalion set up antiaircraft defense on the beach.
1300 – the beach was clear – Eichelberger and Swing head down Highway 17

“We were very fortunate in capturing a bunch of bridges on Highway 17 before the Japs had a chance to blow them up.  I saw a number of big packages of explosives which they never set off.” __ Gen. Eichelberger

Palico Bridge

1400 – Gen. Swing notified Admiral Fechteler that all the men were ashore and he would resume command. Little did the 11th know that for a few brief hours, they were under the command of a naval admiral!
1430 – all key elements were 8 miles from the beach and at the Palico Bridge. It was saved just as a squad of Japanese were about to blow the steel and wood structure.
1600 – the 188th set up a CP in the Palico barracks.
All companies continued to moved forward. Artillery, rifle and machine gun fire erupted shortly afterward.

Japanese artillery, Nasugbu, Luzon

The monumental bluff was created by: a flying boatload of correspondents that blasted the news that the “Eighth Army had landed on Luzon,” and Eichelberger ordered Swing to have the 187th and 188th move as quickly as possible, fire as much artillery and weapons and create as much dust as possible. All vehicles raced down the dirt roads, guns blazing and air strikes thrown in made the division appear to not only be of immense size, but that they also had an armored unit with them.

They would now be coming up on the infamous Genko Line; a stretch of blockhouses and pillboxes that contained guns from Japanese warships, 20mm, 6 inch, etc. The enemy had dug massive octopus traps called takotsubo. All this needed to be destroyed before liberation of Manila and elimination of the 20,000 soldiers waiting for them within the city limits. For this action, the 11th would be granted the Presidential Unit Citation.

The 187th went down the steep southern slope of Tagatay and progressed to the north shore of Lake Taal where they were ordered to take Tanauan. The 127th Engineers carved out a road on the vertical cliffs for them.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Vaughan Albrecht – Grant City, MI, US Women’s Army Air Corps

Wilfred Anderson (104) – N. Vancouver, CAN; British Columbia Dragoons, WWII

Pearl F. Barrow – Wichita, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt. # 37731632, Co F/12/4th Infantry Division, Bromze Star, KIA (Hürtgen, GER)

Gerald Blevins (100) – Pueblo West, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO

Lillian Campbell – Roseville, MI; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Frank DeVita – Brooklyn, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, ETO, USS Samuel Chase (APA-26)

Hampton Folse Jr. – Raceland, LA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Laffey (DD-724)

Albert S. Frost – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Army # 442456, WWII

Donald Guay – Hartford, CT; US Army, medic, 101st Airborne Division

Joseph Talarchek – Wilkes-Barre, PA; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, SSgt.

Leroy W. “Swede” Svendsen Jr. – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, aerial gunner / US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, fighter pilot / Pentagon, MGeneral (Ret. 34 y.)

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11th Airborne lands on Luzon

American Eighth Army soldiers debark from LCI(L)s [Landing Craft Infantry, Large] in Luzon. “File number: 259015.

Navy lands Eighth Army on West coast of Luzon–Troops of the U.S. 8th Army under command of Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger, pour off Navy LCI’s (landing craft infantry) and wade ashore between San Narciso and San Antonio on the west coast of Luzon on January 29, 1945, in a brilliant move calculated to cut off Bataan Peninsula and to capture the naval base at Olongapo. Tactical surprise was achieved to such a dress that not a man, ship or plane was lost in the landing.” 29 January 1945.

Long before the American invasion began, General Yamashita divided his Luzon forces into three groups, each centered around a remote geographical region. The largest of these groups and under the direct command of Yamashita was Shobu Group, located in northern Luzon with about 152,000 troops.

Divisions of enemy troops on Luzon

A much smaller force, Kembu Group, with approximately 30,000 troops, occupied the Clark Air Field complex as well as the Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor. The third major force, Shimbu Group, consisted of some 80,000 soldiers occupying the southern sections of Luzon, an area that included the island’s long Bicol Peninsula as well as the mountains immediately east of Manila. Most Shimbu units were in the latter area and controlled the vital reservoirs that provided most of the capital area’s water supply.

On 31 January, X-ray Day, two regiments of the 11th Airborne Division, under the command of Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Swing, landed unopposed. The paratroopers seized a nearby bridge before the surprised Japanese defenders had a chance to demolish it, and then the paratroopers turned toward Manila.

LST landing Jan. 1945

Originally the 11th Airborne Division, one of Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger’s Eighth Army units, had been slated to contain Japanese troops throughout southwestern Luzon. But acting on MacArthur’s orders, Eichelberger pushed the division north.

Once they were on land, they started down Highway 17 toward Tagatay.  That journey consisted of approximately 30 miles of valleys, flat terrain of rice and cane fields, mountains and careful traversing along the crests of ridges.

The distance between Tagatay and Manila was about 37 miles, taking them passed Nichols Field before reaching Manila proper.  This was the main supply area for the Japanese troops and the city’s port was a crucial stop-off for the enemy on other islands.

Reference: “Rakkasans” & “The Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne” by: Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.; YouTube.com; U.S. Army; Hyperwar.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Adan – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Colonel (Ret.)

Oliver K. Burger – San Pedro, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Petty Officer 1st Class # 2952575, USS Oklahoma, KIA, (Pearl Harbor)

Bob Cardenas (102) – San Diego, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-29 pilot, BGeneral (Ret. 34 y.)

Over the horizon

Paul D. Church – Millington, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 Navigator, 2nd Lt.

Jerry N. Hoblit –  Conroe, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, 3 Silver Stars, 3 DFC’s, Air Force Cross, West Point grad., Colonel (Ret. 28 y.)

Bernard Junge  – Holgate, OH; US Navy, submarine service, USS Odax

Casimir P. Lobacz – Kenosha, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt.# 36228207, Co E/11/5th Infantry Division, Bronze Star KIA (Fort Driant, FRA)

Newell F. Mills Jr. – Pinellas City, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-51D pilot #0-827247, 354 FS/355 FG, DFC, KIA (Bremen, GER)

Henry Muller (104) – Philadelphia, PA; US Army Air Corps, PTO, G-2 11th Airborne Division Intelligence / US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne, BGeneral, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart

William White (106) – Long Beach, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Major, Purple Heart / Korea (Ret. 30 y.)

Michael Zezulak Sr. – Lombard, IL; US Army, medic, 82nd Airborne Division

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13 March – K-9 VETERANS DAY

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Lt. General Joseph May Swing

General Joseph Swing

It is only fitting that I introduce the man who lead the 11th Airborne Division before we continue on to Luzon.  Many called him “Uncle Joe”, but on the back of this photograph, Smitty wrote “My General.”

“A hero is a man noted for his feats of courage or nobility of purpose—especially one who has risked his life; a person prominent in some field, period, or cause by reason of his special achievements or contributions; a person of distinguished valor or fortitude; and a central personage taking an admirable part in any remarkable action or event; hence, a person regarded as a model.”

Joseph May Swing was born on 28 February 1894 in Jersey City and went to the public schools there, graduating in 1911 and entered West Point Military Academy directly.  He graduated 38th in the class of the star-studded class of 1915, famously known as “The Class the Stars Fell On.”

The 5-star generals were Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley.  The four-star (“full”) Generals in the class of 1915 were James Van Fleet and Joseph T. McNarney. The three-star (Lieutenant Generals) Generals were Henry Aurand, Hubert R. Harmon, Stafford LeRoy Irwin, Thomas B. Larkin, John W. Leonard, George E. Stratemeyer, and Joseph M. Swing. This view was taken facing south around noon on May 3, 1915.

In 1916 Lt. Swing was part of the punitive expedition to Mexico against Francisco Villa under the leadership of General John J. Pershing. In 1917, shortly after the US entered the war in Europe, Major Swing joined the artillery of the 1st Division in France. When he returned to the US in 1918, he became an aide-de-camp to the Army’s Chief of Staff, General Peyton C. March. On 8 July 1918, he married Josephine Mary March, the daughter of Gen. March. Later that year, he joined the 19th Field Artillery at Fort Myer, Virginia, and in 1921 sailed for Hawaii to command the 1st Battalion of the 11th Field Artillery at Schofield Barracks.

In 1925, he returned to the States and assumed command of the 9th Field Artillery at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.  He graduated with honors from the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, and in 1927 he graduated from the Command and Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. For the next four years, he was on duty in the Office of the Chief of Field Artillery in Washington, DC, and in 1933 he became chief of its war plans section. In 1935, he graduated from the Army War College in Washington and then joined the 6th Field Artillery at Fort Hoyle, Maryland.

Next, he went to Fort Sam Houston where he was the chief of staff of the 2d Division from 1938 to 1940. Later, he commanded the 82d Horse Artillery Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Bliss, Texas and then commanded its division artillery. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1941 and at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, organized the division artillery of the 82d Division, a move which was to project him into the brand new field of “airborne.”  In Camp Claiborne, General Omar Bradley was the 82d Division commander. General Ridgway was the assistant division commander, and Colonel Maxwell D. Taylor was the chief of staff.

In February of 1943, as a newly promoted major general, Swing was assigned the task of activating the 11th Airborne Division at Camp Mackall, North Carolina, the Army’s third airborne division. Thus began for General Swing a tenure of service which was unique then and still remains a record: division commander of one division for five years, during which he activated the division, trained it, and commanded it in combat and during its subsequent occupation of Japan. During this period, General Swing and the 11th Airborne Division became synonymous; the man was the division and the division was the man.

General Swing made his mark on the Army and on the thousands of men who passed through the 11th Airborne Division in a way which those of us who were fortunate enough to serve with and have known him will never forget. His subordinates and superiors have described General Swing with numerous adjectives: forceful, energetic, courageous, self-disciplined, purposeful, farsighted, innovative, just, sentimental, short-tempered, forgiving, sincere, considerate, demanding—and with it all, handsome, erect, prematurely gray, with a lean, tanned face from which steely-blue eyes focused with incredible sharpness either to find a mistake or an accomplishment of a subordinate. General Swing fitted all of those descriptive adjectives to one degree or another; illustrations to exemplify each trait abound, particularly in the lore of the 11th Airborne Division. And as the years go by and as the men of the 11th gather at reunions, the stories about the “old man” increase and take on a sharper and more pungent flavor.

Gen. Swing

There is no doubt that General Swing was demanding in training, insisting on excellence, and setting and requiring the highest of standards for the 11th Airborne Division so that when it entered combat, after months of grueling training in Camp MacKall, Camp Polk, and New Guinea, the division was ready to take on the Japanese in the mud and rain across the uncharted central mountains of Leyte. Early in its combat career, it was ready to thwart a Japanese parachute attack on the division command post and nearby San Pablo airfield at Burauen, Leyte.

General Swing demonstrated his courage and vitality on that occasion by personally leading a Civil War-like attack across the airstrip with engineers, supply troops, and a glider field artillery battalion armed with carbines and rifles against the dug-in Japanese paratroopers who had had the audacity to attack the 11th Airborne from the air. In short order, the Japanese paratroopers, the elite Katori Shimpei of the Japanese forces, were routed, and the San Pablo airfield was back in the hands of the 11th Airborne Division.

_____ Condensed from a biographical article written by Edward Michael Flanagan, Jr., Lt.General, Retired

also, “The Gettysburg Daily, Wikipedia and Smitty’s scrapbook.

You will be hearing often of General Swing as we continue on.  You might even get to admire him almost as much as Smitty did.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

How tanks are described.

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Ahern – Setauket, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII / US Air Force, Korea, 1st LT.

Nick Baldino – OR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS California

Frederick T. Barrett – Arlington, VA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Bronze Star, Colonel (Ret. 33 y.)

Cloyd “Joe” Conroy – Shelton, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBees

John B. Etheridge – Meadville, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Henry L. Kipler – Diamondhead, MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO / US Air Force, Korea

Walter “P.K.” Knudsen – Bronson, IA; US Army, WWII

Harry C. Nivens (100) – Pineville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, I Co/101st Airborne Division

Steven Ovian – Whitinsville, MA; US Navy, WWII, Korea

Eugene P. Shauvin – Spokane, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt., C-47 Skytrain pilot # 0-756333, 95th Sq./440 Transport Carrier Group, KIA (Retie, BEL)

James Simmons – Hanover, NH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Cpl., 11th Airborne Division

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