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Thanksgiving – Then and Now

I wish to express my thanks to each and every one of you !!

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For those of you living where there is no official Thanksgiving Day – look around – family, friends, Freedom and life itself – all enough to give thanks for each day !

Thanksgiving during WWII…

They’re celebrating Thanksgiving on this very day,
My thoughts are at home, though I’m far away;
I can see everyone, eating dinner deluxe,
Whether it be chicken, turkey or even duck;
The fellows over here won’t whimper or moan,
They’ll look to the next one and hope to be home.
 
Truly and honestly, from way down deep,
They want you to be happy and enjoy your feast.
These holidays are remembered by one and all,
Those happy days we can always recall.
The ones in the future, will be happier, I know
When we all come back from defeating the foe.

_______Poem by an Anonymous WWII Veteran

Please remember the troops that gave you freedom and those that protect it each day !!

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… and please be considerate to those who may not be celebrating…

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Military Thanksgiving Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Shirley Baltz – Hammonton, NJ; US Navy WAVES, WWII

Sam Cartner – Asheville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 tail gunner

Edward Ferguson – Petersburg, IL; US Army, WWII, Korea

courtesy of Cora Metz poster designs.wordpress.cm/, US Army

William Gray – Kent, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, LT., 391/366th Fighter Group. KIA

Charles ‘Hap’ Holladay – Cookeville, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, meterologist

Henry Karwas – MI; USMC, WWII, PTO

William Richardson – Ivey, GA; US Army, WWII, 95th Division

Melvin Stone – Portland, ME; US Army, WWII, ETO, 187th Combat Engineers

Mel Tillis – Pahokee, FL; US Air Force

Harold Tor – Huntington Beach, CA, US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, Purple Heart

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General Joseph May Swing – Intermission Story (30)

Major General Joseph Swing

As the intermission period closes, it is only fitting that I introduce the man who lead the 11th Airborne Division.  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 Lieutenant 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 General 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.

General Joseph M. Swing

In February of 1943, as a newly promoted major general, 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.

Leyte, Gen. Swing and staff on Mt.Manarawat

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.

And this is where we left off the day by day and monthly island-hopping offense of the Pacific War.  You will be hearing often of General Swing, you might even get to admire him almost as much as Smitty did.

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Military Humor – 

‘I think it’s about time McFergle retired — he remembers the Lusitania.’

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Ball – Sterling, AK; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lloyd Crouse – Columbus, OH; US Army, WWII, PTO, 251st Sta. Hospital, combat medic

Charles Dye – Flint, MI; US Army, WWII

Frank Forlini – Yonkers, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division. Purple Heart

Richard Gordon – Seattle, WA; US Navy, test pilot / NASA astronaut, Gemini 11, Apollo 12 & Apollo 18

Bill Jo Hart – Fort Worth, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Flight Instructor

Alfred Jeske – Seymour, WI; US Army, WWII

Bill Mesker – Wichita, KS; US Navy, WWII

Myra Mitchell – Upalco, UT; USMC, Women’s Corps, WWII

Sterling Wood – Omaha, NE; US Army, Colonel (Ret. 30 y.), 143rd Transportation Command

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Drones are not a new idea – Intermission Story (28)

The Reaper Global Hawk RQ-4

Unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly known as drones, are most often associated with airstrikes in modern warfare, but their history goes much further back than that. While drones came into the spotlight during the early years of the 21st century the idea of a remotely-operated flying machine was developed much earlier. A forerunner of what we consider today to be an unmanned aerial vehicle was an Austrian balloon used during the siege of Venice in 1849.

During WWI many eccentric weapons were developed on all sides of the conflict. One was the pilotless aircraft that operated with the help of Archibald Low’s revolutionary radio controlled techniques.  The Ruston Proctor Aerial Target represented the cutting edge of drone technology in 1916. Low, nicknamed “the father of radio guidance systems,” was happy for the project to be developed further and used in kamikaze-style ramming strikes against Zeppelins.

The Kettering Bug

Another project led the way for further research of UAVs.  The Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, also known as the “Flying Bomb,” or the “Aerial Torpedo,”  went from Britain to the USA in 1917, resulting in an upgraded American version named the Kettering Bug.  Although it was considered to be a large success, the war ended before it could be utilized.

Cruise missiles, which perform under similar principles as unmanned aerial vehicles, are single use weapons. Drones are carriers and users of armament, or other equipment, depending on their given role.

After WWI there was a lot of interest in producing and improving remote-controlled flying weapons. The US Army took the initiative in further exploring such concepts.

RAE Larynx on destroyer HMS Stronghold, July 1927

After the war, three Standard E-1 biplanes were converted into UAVs. While the Americans were laying the groundwork for drones, the British Royal Navy conducted tests of aerial torpedo designs such as the RAE Larynx. In 1927 and 1929 the Larynx was launched from warships under autopilot.

DH-82 Queen Bee

Pilotless aircraft were also made as aerial targets. Among the projects used for target practice was the “DH.82B Queen Bee”. It derived from the De Havilland Tiger Moth biplane trainer which was adapted to new radio technology.  She was the first returnable and reusable.

The name “Queen Bee” is considered to have introduced the term “drone” into general use. During the 1930s the term specifically referred to radio-controlled aerial targets. Once World War II broke out, it started to represent any remotely-controlled pilotless aerial vehicle.

Reginald Denny Hobby Shop

Reginald Denny went from England to the United States in 1919, intending to become an actor in Hollywood, but he also pursued another dream. Together with his partners, he opened Reginald Denny Industries and a shop that specialized in model planes, called the Reginald Denny Hobby Shops.

OQ-2A Radioplane

The business evolved into the Radioplane Company, and Denny offered his target drones to the military. He believed the drones would be very useful, especially for training anti-aircraft crews. Denny and his company produced 15,000 target drones for the US army just before and during WWII. His most famous model was called Radioplane OQ-2.

Curtis N2C-2 target drone 1938/39

Around the same time, during the late 1930s, the US Navy developed the Curtiss N2C-2. This unmanned aerial vehicle was remotely controlled from another aircraft, which made the design revolutionary. The US Army Air Force (USAAF) also adopted this concept and started improving it. The primary use of the technology was still as target practice for AA gunmen. However, as America was preparing for war, the UAV experiments were being redirected for combat use.

In 1940 the TDN-1 assault drone was capable of carrying a 1,000-pound bomb and was deemed fit for service. It was easy to produce and passed on tests. However, the drone was too hard to control, and as complications were expected once it entered combat conditions it never saw action.

During Operation Aphrodite in 1944, some modified B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator heavy bombers were used as enormous aerial torpedoes, but they also failed to see wider service. They proved to be ineffective. One of the reasons why the concept was abandoned was the death of Joseph Kennedy Jr, brother of the future president, who died alongside his crewmember during one of the raids as part of Operation Aphrodite.

Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy

TOP SECRET [DECLASSIFIED]:: ATTEMPTED FIRST APHRODITE ATTACK TWELVE AUGUST WITH ROBOT TAKING OFF FROM FERSFIELD AT ONE EIGHT ZERO FIVE HOURS PD ROBOT EXPLODED IN THE AIR AT APPROXIMATELY TWO THOUSAND FEET EIGHT MILES SOUTHEAST OF HALESWORTH AT ONE EIGHT TWO ZERO HOURS PD WILFORD J. WILLY CMA SR GRADE LIEUTENANT AND JOSEPH P. KENNEDY SR GRADE LIEUTENANT CMA BOTH USNR CMA WERE KILLED PD COMMANDER SMITH CMA IN COMMAND OF THIS UNIT CMA IS MAKING FULL REPORT TO US NAVAL OPERATIONS PD A MORE DETAILED REPORT WILL BE FORWARDED TO YOU WHEN INTERROGATION IS COMPLETED :: TOP SECRET [DECLASSIFIED]

The development of pulsejet engines enabled the Germans to produce the fearsome V-1 Flying Bomb which at the time represented the pinnacle of guided missile systems. The Americans also introduced the pulsejet engine during the war, but once again only to produce target drones like the Katydid TD2D/KDD/KDH. The real boom in the UAV industry was yet to come, during the troublesome years of the Cold War.

Sources of information:Fly Historic Wings; Reuters; Nova; War History online; and Ctie.monash.edu.au “The Pioneers”

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Juan Alvardo – Pawnee, TX; US Army, WWII

Harold Biebel – Belleville, IL; US Navy, WWII, USS Frybarger

Arthur Fain – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Trinidad Gameroz – Lincoln, NM; US Navy, WWII, ETO

John McNulty – Vancouver, CAN; RC Air Force, helicopter pilot

Donald Percy – Adams, NY; US Navy, radioman

George Purves – W. AUS; RAF; WWII, / RA Air Force, Mid-East & Vietnam

Norman Silveira – Alvarado, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 2/187th/11th Airborne Divison

William Walker – Hawkes Bay, NZ; RNZ Navy # DJX569685, WWII, ETO

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242nd USMC Birthday Message – 2017

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10 November 2017 is the 242nd birthday of the United States Marine Corps, please listen to the message delivered from Guadalcanal by General Robert Neller, Commandant of the USMC and Sgt.Major Ronald Green as they address all Marines and Sailors around the world….

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Marine Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas Barclay – Duxbury, MA; USMC, Korea, 1st Marine Division, Silver Star

Robert Palmer Coles Jr. – Bronx, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Chief Petty Off. radioman (Ret. 30 y.)

James Conard – Lexington, SC; USMC, Vietnam, Major (Ret. 20 y.), Purple Heart

Ray Fenstemaker – Whitehall, OH; USMC, WWII & Korea

Orlis Kennicutt – Orange Park, FL, USMC, Captain (Ret.)

Nicholas Newell – Oceanside, CA; USMC, Sgt.

James Reynolds – Savannah, GA; USMC, SSgt. (Ret.)

Eric Thomas – Portland, ME; USMC & US Coast Guard

Carroll Vorgang – Jeffersonville, IN; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, Colonel (Ret. 29 y.)

Hank Williams – Princeton, WV; USMC, GySgt. (Ret.)

Kenneth Young – Tucker, AR; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

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WWII German POW returns to say Thanks – Intermission Story (27)

In an Oct. 3, 2017 photo, Günter Gräwe, a German POW held in Washington during World War II, bids farewell as he finishes touring a former barracks with Deputy Joint Base Commander Col. William Percival at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times via AP)

By HAL BERNTON, Seattle Times

SEATTLE (AP) — Gunter Grawe spent three years as a German prisoner of war in western Washington, a World War II incarceration he recalls not with rancor, but gratitude for the chance to “live and learn in America.”  Grawe always thought about returning to the state to say thank you.

In early October, the rail-thin veteran, now 91, did just that during a brief visit to this base, where guard towers and barbed-wire fences are long gone but some of the two-story wooden barracks that once housed German prisoners still stand.

He declared his capture by the Americans at the age of 18 “his luckiest day,” and reminisced about camp life that included English, French and Spanish classes organized by other POWs and a commissary stocked with chocolate, ice cream and Coca-Cola.

“I never had anything to complain about,” Grawe said. “No guard called us nasty names. I had a better life as a prisoner than my mother and sister back home in Germany.”

In a global conflict that resulted in the deaths of more than 60?million people — including 6?million Jewish Holocaust victims — Grawe was indeed fortunate to live to an old age denied so many others. Grawe was filled with patriotism as he went to serve in the German army but now denounces Adolf Hitler as “one arrogant, hypocritical dammed liar” who led his nation into disaster and shame.

Grawe’s trip to Joint Base Lewis-McChord was arranged with the help of HistoryLink.org, a Seattle-based online encyclopedia that chronicles the state’s past.   “We have a list of those who were pro-Nazi, and he was not on it,” said Duane Denfield, a historian who works as a JBLM contractor.

Grawe’s military career started in Latvia, where he went through training for what appeared to be an assignment to the Eastern Front to fight a resurgent Russian army. If Josef Stalin’s forces had captured him, he likely would have been sent to a labor camp, where harsh conditions killed many.

But then Allied forces invaded France, and the Germans scrambled to try to slow their advance toward Paris with fresh reinforcements.  Grawe was transferred to Normandy, where he served in a tank unit that was quickly overwhelmed by the U.S. and British armies.

“It was a terrible fight in Normandy — it wasn’t what we expected, and we were young and inexperienced,” Grawe said.

Grawe said he realized how well things had turned out as he was put on the ocean liner Queen Mary for the voyage to America. He had comfortable quarters and most important — ample meals — served on metal trays.  Next, he took a train ride across America to what was then Fort Lewis.  At the Army post south of Tacoma, barracks vacated by U.S. troops were turned into prison quarters for some 4,000 German POWs at five locations.

Fort Lewis (now part of the joint base) was part of a much broader POW prison-camp network of some 500 sites across the country that held 400,000 Germans. Overall, historians say these prisoners were treated well. Some Germans even referred to their camp as a “golden cage,” according to Michael Farquhar, who wrote a 1997 article about the POWs for The Washington Post.

German POW’s work on a farm.

 The POWs’ relative comfort angered some wartime Americans who had lost their loved ones to German troops. But they did have to work, providing labor at a time when the massive troop mobilization made it hard to find enough people to bring in the nation’s crops.

Grawe traveled by truck from Fort Lewis to help in apple, sugar-beet and potato harvests.  Later, he was transferred to Arizona to bring in cotton.  He recalled his farm labor as a real adventure that earned him an 80-cents-a-day salary to buy things at the commissary.

Through his years as a prisoner, Grawe says he came to love America.

But his first loyalties were to Germany. As a boy, he participated in Hitler Youth.  He joined the army as what he calls a “young idealistic soldier” who thought it “right to fight for an honest and upright fatherland” just like his father, a plumber turned soldier who died in the war in 1940.

Grawe says he first learned of the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps while a prisoner in America. He initially brushed off the news as propaganda because it was conveyed by a U.S. officer. When he wrote home to his mother and sister, they replied it was true.

In 1947, two years after Germany’s unconditional surrender, Grawe was released.  In the postwar era, as the German economy surged, Grawe prospered.  Through the decades, he returned to the U.S. several times to vacation. But only after his wife died in 2016 did he make up his mind to return to Washington state.

On Oct. 3, a brilliant fall day, Grawe arrived at JBLM. He brought his electric bike, determined to ride the final distance — a little over a mile — to the old camp site. On each side of his bike’s rear wheel hung a sign: “USA, the country and its people, you are my first and final love!”

At the blacktop by the barracks, he looked around somewhat uncertainly. He recalled a barren site. This place was full of fir trees that had grown up in the seven decades since the prisoners had gone home.

Gunter Grawe

He was greeted by the base’s deputy joint commander, Col. William Percival, who offered a handshake, and later a hug inside a building now empty and bare of furniture.

 “You remind us that . how you treat somebody defines who we are,” Percival said. “There are times, even today, when we may want to forget that.  And you let us know that’s a lesson not to be forgotten.”  Grawe then went for lunch at a base dining hall.

He piled his plate full of a noodle casserole, and sat down to eat one more ample meal served up by the U.S. Army. This time, as a free man.

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Military Humor – by: Bill Mauldin 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Michael Aiello – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII, SSgt., KIA

Robert Blakeley – Jacksonville, FL; USMC

Vincent Burns – Athol, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Richard Cavazos – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Vietnam, BGeneral

Walter Hackenberg – Middleburg, PA; US Army, Korea, POW, KIA

Duane Hackney – Flint, MI; US Air Force, Vietnam, (most decorated airman in U.S. history)

Charlie Laine – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

David McElroy – Brookline, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII, Yeoman

William Parham – Bedford, IN; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Jacob Sims – OK & Juneau, AK; US Army, Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer, KIA

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Current News from GP Cox

Personal Note  Pacific Paratrooper and GP Cox will be offline while the computer is in for maintenance.  Hopefully I will be able to pop in now and again on a friend’s laptop, but during my absence, I wish you all (even those abroad) a fun and safe (and spooky) Halloween.

Did I scare you?

In the meantime, I leave you this very interesting video and hope you find it interesting and informative.  Thank you all for having always been here for me !!

 

The 5th Air Force, under Gen. George Kenney, in New Guinea 1942-1944

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Trained as a Kamikaze – and lived – Intermission Story (26)

The airbase at Chiran, Minamikyūshū, on the Satsuma Peninsula of Kagoshima, Japan, served as the departure point for hundreds of Special Attack or kamikaze sorties launched in the final months of World War II. A peace museum dedicated to the pilots, the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots (知覧特攻平和会館 Chiran Tokkō-Heiwa-Kaikan), now marks the site.

The pilots filed into the room and were presented with a form that asked if they wanted to be kamikaze. It was multiple-choice, and there were three answers: “I passionately wish to join,” ”I wish to join,” and “I don’t wish to join.”  This was 1945.  Many were university students who had been previously exempt from service, but now Japan was running out of troops.

Hisashi Tezuka recalls that a few of his colleagues quickly wrote their replies and strutted away. But he and most of the others stayed for what felt like hours, unable to decide.

Hisashi Tezuka, trained Zero kamikaze pilot

He did not know then if anyone had dared to refuse. He learned later that the few who did were simply told to pick the right answer.  Tezuka so wanted to be honest to his feelings he crossed out the second choice and wrote his own answer: “I will join.  I did not want to say I wished it. I didn’t wish it,” he told The Associated Press at his apartment in a Tokyo suburb.

They were the kamikaze, “the divine wind,” ordered to fly their planes into certain death. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey and data kept at the library at Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo estimate that about 2,500 of them died during the war. Some history books give higher numbers. About one in every five kamikaze planes managed to hit an enemy target.

Books and movies have depicted them as crazed suicide bombers who screamed “Banzai” as they met their end.  But interviews with survivors and families by The Associated Press, as well as letters and documents, offer a different portrait — of men driven by patriotism, self-sacrifice and necessity. The world they lived in was like that multiple-choice form: It contained no real options.

First-born sons weren’t selected, to protect family heirs in feudalistic-minded Japan. Tezuka, then a student at the prestigious University of Tokyo, had six brothers and one sister and wasn’t the eldest.  He was given a five-day leave to visit his parents. He didn’t have the heart to tell them he had been tapped to be a suicide bomber.  There was one absolute about being a kamikaze, he says: “You go, and it’s over.”

He survived only because Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender on a radio broadcast, just as he was on a train headed to take off on his kamikaze attack.

 

A burly man with a quick wit, Tezuka hands a reporter a sepia-toned photo of himself as a Zero fighter, grinning in a helmet, the trademark white silk scarf at his neck.  “That’s to keep warm. It gets really cold up there,” he says.

“Do you know what a rainbow looks like when you’re flying?” he asks, his eyes aglow with childlike excitement. “It’s a perfect circle.”

Seventy years after the end of World War II, the runway that once stretched at Tsukuba is long gone. But the rows of cherry blossoms still stand.  In another corner of the Tsukuba grounds, an underground bomb shelter winds in pitch darkness through several chambers. It was designed to serve as an emergency command.  It’s a reminder of the illusory determination that gripped the imperialist forces, to keep fighting, no matter what.

In training, the pilots repeatedly zoomed perilously, heading practically straight down, to practice crashing. They had to reverse course right before hitting the ground and rise back into the sky, a tremendous G-force dragging on their bodies.

When they did it for real, they were instructed to send a final wireless message in Morse code, and keep holding that signal. In the transmission room, they knew the pilot had died when a long beep ended in silence.

Yoshiomi Yanai looks over the Last Will and Testament he wrote out before flying his kamikaze mission.

Yoshiomi Yanai, 93, survived because he could not locate his target — a rare error for a kamikaze operation. He visits the Tsukuba facility often.

“I feel so bad for all the others who died,” he says, bemoaning the fate of comrades who died so young, never having really experienced life.

Yanai still keeps what he had intended to be his last message to his parents. It’s an album that he keeps carefully wrapped in a traditional furoshiki cloth. He plastered the pages with photos of him laughing with colleagues and other happy moments. He got a pilot friend to add ink drawings of the Zero.

“Father, Mother, I’m taking off now. I will die with a smile,” Yanai wrote in big letters on the opening pages. “I was not a filial son but please forgive me. I will go first. And I will be waiting for you.”

Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, who wrote about the kamikaze in his 2008 book, “Danger’s Hour,” says the kamikaze were driven by nothing but self-sacrifice.

When he started his research, he expected to find fanaticism. He was stunned to find they were very much like Americans or young people anywhere else in the world, “who were extraordinarily patriotic but at the same time extraordinarily idealistic.”

Kennedy stressed that kamikaze have little in common with suicide bombers today. Japan was engaged in conventional war, and, above all, kamikaze had no choice, he said. Civilians were not targets.

“They were looking out for each other,” he says, in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “If he didn’t get in the plane that morning, his roommate would have to go.”

Yokosuka MXY7 Cherry Blossom suicide aircraft

Though the Zero was used in kamikaze missions, it was not designed for the task. The Ohka was. It was a glider packed with bombs and powered by tiny rockets, built to blow up. They were taken near the targets, hooked on to the bottom of planes, and then let go.  Americans called it the “Baka bomb.” Baka is the Japanese word for idiot. Because their cruise range was so limited, they were easily shot down.

Fujio Hayashi

The job of overseeing and training Ohka pilots, and ultimately sending them to certain death, fell to Fujio Hayashi, then 22.

Hayashi believes Ohka might never have happened if there had been no volunteers when the concept was first suggested.  He was one of the first two volunteers for Ohka. Dozens followed.  But he could never stop blaming himself, wondering whether his early backing helped bring it about. When he finally saw one of the flimsy gliders, he felt duped; many thought it looked like a joke.

Over the decades, Hayashi was tormented by guilt for having sent dozens of young men to their deaths “with my pencil,” as he put it, referring to how he had written the names for Ohka assignments each day. To squelch any suspicion of favoritism, he sent his favorite pilots first.

After the war, Hayashi joined the military, called the Self-Defense Forces, and attended memorials for the dead pilots. He consoled families and told everyone how gentle the men had been. They smiled right up to their deaths, he said, because they didn’t want anyone to mourn or worry.

“Every day, 365 days a year, whenever I remember those who died, tears start coming. I have to run into the bathroom and weep. While I’m there weeping, I feel they’re vibrantly alive within my heart, just the way they were long ago,” he wrote in his essay “The Suicidal Drive.”  “I think of the many men I killed with my pencil, and I apologize for having killed them in vain,” he said.

He often said he wanted his ashes to be scattered into the sea near the southern islands of Okinawa, where his men had died.  Until then, he said, his war would never be over.

He died of pancreatic cancer at age 93 on June 4. His family plans to honor his request.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – The Kunihiko Hisa Cartoon Album

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Farewell Salutes – 

Maynard Ashley – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

Charles banks Jr. – Salem, NJ; US Army, WWII, PTO

William Campbell – Hatfield, AL; US Army, WWII

Chilton Gates – Eminence, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Flight Instructor

Ann Jackson Huckaba – Rockvale, TN; USWMC, control tower

Mickey Kinneary – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, Korea

Ernest Laws – Columbus, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Logan – brn: Glasgow/Detroit, MI; US Army, Vietnam, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Joseph Schmitt – O’Fallon, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, / NASA

Michael Weber – Toronto, CAN; RC Army, WWII, LT., Corps of Signals

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1944 ending / 1945 opening

New Guinea and the Philippine Islands

CLICK ON TO ENLARGE.

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

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

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

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

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

UPI/Bettmann Newsphotos

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

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

Yamashita Tomoyuki, 1945

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

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

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

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph

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

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

Samuel Ervin – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII

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

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

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

James Norton – Boulder, CO; US Navy, WWII

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

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

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

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USS Hornet (CV-12) – A Father’s Untold War Story – Battle of Ormoc Bay (November – December 1944)

Maryann Holloway not only brings us her father’s WWII Naval story, but a well researched account of the Battle of Ormoc Bay. There are a number of photos, perhaps some you have never seen before.  I hope you find it interesting.

USS Hornet (CV-12)-A Father's Untold War Story

John T. Ryan US Navy John T. Ryan US Navy

The world is still at war and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).

A VF-11 F6F getting a wave off while another Hellcat taxies out of the way, Dec. 1944 on USS Hornet (CV-12). A VF-11 F6F getting a wave off while another Hellcat taxies out of the way, Dec. 1944 on USS Hornet (CV-12).
The famous "Murderers Row" at Ulithi lagoon, December 1944, as seen from USS Wasp (CV-18): USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), and USS Hancock (CV-19). The famous “Murderers Row” at Ulithi lagoon, December 1944, as seen from USS Wasp (CV-18): USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), and USS Hancock (CV-19).

The ship’s log did not specifically mention this; however according to Wikipedia, in the months following the Battle Leyte Gulf, Hornet attacked enemy shipping and airfields throughout the Philippines. This included participation in a raid that destroyed an entire Japanese convoy in Ormoc Bay.

The Battle of Ormoc Bay was a series of air-sea battles between Imperial Japan and the United States in the Camotes Sea in the Philippines from 11 November-21 December 1944, part of…

View original post 1,545 more words

General “Vinegar” Joe Stilwell, Sr. – Intermission Story (25)

He is probably best remembered for his military service in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II. His nickname “Vinegar Joe” was attributed to his caustic personality. Born in Palatka, Florida, then moved with his family to New York.

After high school he received an appointment to attend the US Military Academy at West Point, New York and graduated in 1904 with a commission as a second lieutenant. During World War I, he was assigned to the US 4th Corps as an intelligence officer and helped plan the St. Mihiel offensive. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his service in France.

After World War I he served three tours in China, where he became fluent in Chinese, and was the military attaché at the U.S. Legation in Beijing from 1935 to 1939.  In 1939 he returned to the US and became the assistant commander of the 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Sam Houston, Texas and from 1940 to 1941 he was assigned to organize and train the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, California.

In 1941 he was sent back to China by President Franklin Roosevelt and Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall where he performed duties as the Chief of Staff to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, and also served as the commander of the China-Burma-India Theater responsible for all Lend-Lease supplies going to China, and later was Deputy Commander of the South East Asia Command. Unfortunately, despite his status and position in China, he soon became embroiled in conflicts over U.S. Lend-Lease aid and Chinese political sectarianism.

Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell wasn’t around, so caricaturist Don Barclay, did the next best thing – captured him from a photograph. Here’s the result. Barclay is making a tour of hospitals and small units in CBI-land. CBI Roundup

When he arrived in China, he immediately began the task of reforming the Chinese Army, over the concerns of Chiang Kai-Shek that the American-led forces would become another independent force outside of his control.  The Chinese leader was far more concerned with fighting the Red Chinese Army, while also keeping a majority of the Lend-Lease benefits for himself and his cohorts.

In Burma, his initial military operation, to keep open the Burma Road between India and China and to repel Japanese incursions into Burma, failed. The operation in Burma was so disastrous that Chinese forces under his command stopped taking orders. He personally led his 117-member staff to safety in India on foot as the Allied forces capitulated to the Japanese invasion.

In India, he became well known for his no-nonsense demeanor and disregard for military pomp and ceremony. His trademarks were a battered Army campaign hat, GI shoes, and a plain service uniform with no insignia of rank, and frequently carried a .30 Springfield rifle rather than a sidearm. His derogatory remarks castigating the ineffectiveness of what he termed “Limey” forces, a viewpoint often repeated by his staff, did not sit well with British and Commonwealth commanders. However, it was well known among the troops that his disdain for the British was aimed toward those high command officers that he saw as overly stuffy and pompous.

He managed to lead Chinese divisions to retake Myitakyina and its airfield on August 4, 1944, from Japanese control, rebuilding the Ledo Road, a military highway in India that led into Burma. However, conflicts with Chiang Kai-Shek led to his ultimate removal in October 1944. He then served as Commander of Army Ground Forces, US Tenth Army Commander in the last few days of the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, and as US Sixth Army Commander.

In November 1945 he was appointed to lead a “War Department Equipment Board” in an investigation of the Army’s modernization in light of its recent experiences. Among his recommendations was the establishment of a combined arms force to conduct extended service tests of new weapons and equipment and then formulate doctrine for its use, and the abolition of specialized anti-tank units. His most notable recommendation was for a vast improvement of the Army’s defenses against all airborne threats, including ballistic missiles.

He died of stomach cancer at the age of 63 at the Presidio of San Francisco, while still on active duty. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.

Among his military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army Distinguished Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit, the Philippine Campaign Medal, the World War I Victory Medal, the China Service Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the National Order of the Legion of Honour (France), and the Combat Infantryman Badge, only one of three general officers to be given this award normally reserved for those in the rank of colonel or below. The General Joseph W. Stilwell Award for the Outstanding Overall Cadet, Senior Division, in the California Cadet Corps is named in his honor.

So much more could be written for this soldier and his standards.  You can stand down now, General.

This information was obtained from a bio written by: William Bjornstad; CBI Roundup; History on-line.

This post was done on a recommendation by 56 Packardman 56packardman.wordpress.comx

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – CBI Roundup style & Cpl. Gee Eye

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Addington – No. Canton, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII

John Beitia – Shoshone, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, radio & co-pilot

Alfred Dresner – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

William J. Ely (105) – Claysville, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Lt.Gen., Corps of Engineers (Ret. 33 y.), West Point grad 1933

Frank Gilchrist – Centersville, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII & Korea

Bud Hindsley – Union City, IN; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl.

Georgina Leland – Ossipee, NH; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Anthony Malizia – Nutley NJ; USMC, Korea

William Packard – Locust Grove, Ga; US Army, WWII

George Sims – Papakura, NZ; 2nd NZEF # 641719, Sgt., 5th Engineers

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Personal Request –    click to enlarge

I have been shown this photo and asked if I or any of my readers could give a clue as to where this WWII picture was taken.

Thank you for taking the time to look…..

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