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B-25 raid on Formosa

So much happened at once in the Pacific all at the same time, we get help here from the International Historical Research Associates!!

IHRA

May 18, 1945 was an all too eventful day for the 65th Bomb Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group. Seven of its B-24s were sent to make up a third of a 21-plane raid with the 403rd and 64th Squadrons on Tainan Airdrome, located on Formosa (now Taiwan). Antiaircraft fire was heavy and accurate, and coming from both Tainan and the nearby Okayama Airdrome. Aircrews noticed two strange types of antiaircraft bursts. One looked like a gasoline fire bursting in midair, the other appeared to be a stream of fire trailed by smoke.

As the crews made their runs, 1/Lt. James J. Franklin’s B-24 took a direct hit and exploded. All ten members of the crew as well as an observer were killed. To the right of Franklin was 1/Lt. Rudolph J. Cherkauer in B-24 #373, which felt the brunt of the explosion and ended up leaving Tainan with two hundred new…

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Home Front – Missouri POW’s

The main camps supported a number of branch camps, which were used to put POWs where their labor could be best utilized.

As author David Fiedler explained in his book “The Enemy Among Us: POWs in Missouri During World War II,” the state was once home to more than 15,000 German and Italian prisoners of war (POW).

Many of the camps where they were held have faded into distant memory as little evidence remains of their existence; however, one local resident has a relic from a former POW camp that provides an enduring connection to the service of a departed relative.

“Established at Weingarten, a sleepy little town on State Highway 32 between Ste. Genevieve and Farmington, Missouri, (Camp Weingarten) had no pre-war existence,” wrote Fiedler. The author further explained, “The camp was enlarged to the point that some 5,800 POWs could be held there, and approximately 380 buildings of all types would be constructed on an expanded 950-acre site.”

Camp Weingarten quickly grew into a sprawling facility to house Italian POWs brought to the United States and, explained Jefferson City resident Carolyn McDowell, was the site where one of her uncles spent his entire period of service with the U.S. Army in World War II.

Working POWs earned 80 cents a day and could buy beer at the canteens.

“My mother’s brother, Dwight Hafford Taylor, was raised in the community of Alton in southern Missouri,” said McDowell. “His hometown really wasn’t all that far from Camp Weingarten,” she added.

Although her uncle passed away in 1970, records accessed through the National Archives and Records Administration indicate he was drafted into the U.S. Army and entered service at Jefferson Barracks on November 10, 1942.  After completing his initial training, he was designated as infantry and became a clerk with the 201st Infantry Regiment.

Shortly after Taylor received assignment to Camp Weingarten, Italian prisoners of war began to arrive at the camp in May 1943. Despite the challenges of overseeing the internment of former enemy soldiers, the camp experienced few security incidents and conditions remained rather cordial, in part due to the sustenance given the prisoners.

There were four main base camps, each holding between 2,000 and 5,000 POWs.

It was noted that many of the Italians were “semi-emaciated” when arriving in the United States because of a poor diet. The Chicago Tribune reported on October 23, 1943, that the prisoners at Camp Weingarten soon “put on weight” by eating a “daily menu … superior to that of the average civilian.”

Pfc. Taylor and his fellow soldiers, most of whom were assigned to military police companies, maintained a busy schedule of guarding the prisoners held in the camp, but also received opportunities to take leave from their duties and visit their loved ones back home.

“During one of my uncle’s visits back to Alton, he asked his mother for an aluminum pie pan,” said McDowell. “He then took it back to camp with him and that’s when he gave it to one of the Italian POWs.”

Cigarette case cover

When returning to camp, one of the POWs with whom Taylor had established a friendship was given the pie pan and used it to demonstrate his abilities as an artist and a craftsman by fashioning it into a cigarette case. The case not only had a specially crafted latching mechanism, but was also etched with an emblem of an eagle on the cover with barracks buildings and a guard tower from the camp inscribed upon the inside.

“My uncle then gave the cigarette case as a gift to my father, who was living in Jefferson City at the time and working as superintendent of the tobacco factory inside the Missouri State Penitentiary,” stated McDowell. “It is a beautifully crafted cigarette case, but the irony of it all is that my father never smoked,” she jokingly added.

Inside of the case.

As McDowell went on to explain, her uncle remained at Camp Weingarten until his discharge from the U.S. Army in December 1944. The following October, the former POW camp was closed and many of the buildings were dismantled, shipped and reassembled as housing for student veterans at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

In the years after the war, McDowell said, her mother kept the cigarette case tucked away in a chest of drawers but since both of her parents have passed, she now believes the historical item should be on display in a museum.

Italian POWs

Little remains of the once sprawling POW camp located approximately 90 miles south of St. Louis, with the exception of a stone fireplace that was part of the Officer’s Club.  McDowell notes the cigarette case is not only a beautiful piece that serves as a link to the past, but represents a story to be shared of the state’s rich military legacy.

“I will someday donate the cigarette case to a museum for preservation and display, and I believe my brother, Harold McDowell, would agree. However, I want to ensure it is recognized for the treasure that it is and it is not simply thrown away,” said McDowell. “That’s why I want to tell the story of its creation … its history, so that its association to Camp Weingarten is never forgotten.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Wishing all in New Zealand a memorable Maori New Year!

 

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bealle – Tuscaloosa, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-47 pilot

Percival Blows (100) – Summerset Karaka, NZ; RNZ Army #20590, WWII, 21st Battalion

David Chappell – Pueblo, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea

Murray Fromson – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Korea, Stars and Stripes journalist

Robert Greer – Stanford, KY; US Army, 11th A/B & 82nd A/B Divisions

Melvin Korman – Providence, RI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

L.G. ‘Butch’ Lemons – Phoenix, AZ; USMC, WWII, SSgt.

Donald McIntyre – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Army # 388853, WWII, Maj. (Ret.), 7th Rajput Reg, So. Lancaster Reg.,Royal West African Frontier Force Intelligence Corps

John Strouf – Altoona, IA; US Army, WWII

Byron Wrenn – St. Helens, OR; US Navy, WWII & Korea

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Crazy for PBY Catalina Flying Boats

U.S. Army Birthday & Flag Day 2018

243RD Army Birthday

Headquarters Department of the Army is celebrating the Army’s 243rd birthday during the week of 10-16 June 2018 with numerous ceremonies and events. Highlighted celebrations are Army Day with the Nationals on 10 June; Twilight Tattoo hosted by the Sergeant Major of the Army on 13 June; a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on 14 June; the Pentagon Army Birthday Celebration also on 14 June; and culminating with the Army Birthday Ball on 16 June 2018.

 

 

Today is also Flag Day, an annual observance of the Second Continental Congress’ official adoption of the stars and stripes in 1777. At the time, they “resolved that the flag of the 13 United States” be represented by 13 alternating red and white stripes and the union by 13 white stars in a blue field, “representing a new constellation.” Now, more than 200 years later and with an updated design, the flag is an American icon.  Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is the only state to recognize it as a legal holiday.

As national treasures go, it was a bargain: $405.90 was paid to Mary Pickersgill of Baltimore, who fashioned it from red, blue and undyed wool, plus cotton for the 15 stars to fly at the fortress guarding the city’s harbor. An enormous flag, 30 by 42 feet, it was intended as a bold statement to the British warships that were certain to come.  And, when in September 1814, the young United States turned back the invaders in a spectacular battle witnessed by Francis Scott Key, he put his joy into a verse published first as “Defense of Fort M’Henry,” and then, set to the tune of a British drinking song – immortalized as “The Star Spangled Banner.”

 

STOP IN AND HEAR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM !!

 

 

If you live outside the U.S., and you also live free – display your flag as proudly as I do mine and enjoy your day!!

 

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Military Humor –

 

‘And this one’s for humor in the line of duty.’

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Farewell Salutes –

Alexander Conrad – Chandler, AZ ; US Army, Somalia, SSgt. 1/3rd Special Ops Forces Group, KIA

James Furcinito – Syracuse, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Paul Gilman – Belen, NM; USMC, WWII, M/3/8th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Leonard Grossman – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII

Delbert Hawkins – Augusta, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Jack Kill – Yorktown, VA; US Army, WWII

Emil Lake – Great Falls, MT; US Army, Vietnam

Herbert ‘Mac’ McDaniel – Malvern, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Capt., / Korea, Lt. Col.

Gordon Schofield – Montreal, CAN/FL; US Air Force

Edward Thomas – Minneapolis, MN; US Army, “Bird Dog” pilot

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IJN Yamato

IJN Yamato

By early 1945, Japan’s strategic situation was grim. Japanese conquests in the Pacific had been steadily rolled back since the Allied landings on Guadalcanal in August 1942. The Philippines, Solomons, Gilberts and Carolines had all been lost and the enemy was now literally at the gates. Okinawa, the largest island in the Ryukyu island chain was the last bastion before the Home Islands itself. The island was just 160 miles from the mainland city of Kagoshima, coincidentally the birthplace of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

 From: Kyle Mizokami

In early 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy made a difficult decision: it would sacrifice the largest, most powerful battleships ever built to protect Okinawa, the gateway to Japan’s Home Islands. The decision sealed the fate of the battleship Yamato and its crew, but ironically did nothing to actually protect the island from Allied invasion.

Yamato under construction

The battleship Yamato was among the largest and most powerful battleships of all time. Yamato has reached nearly mythical status, a perfect example of Japan’s fascination with doomed, futile heroics. Built in 1937 at the Kure Naval Arsenal near Hiroshima, it was constructed in secrecy to avoid alarming the United States. Japan had recently withdrawn from the Washington Naval Treaty, which limited battleship tonnages, and was free to build them as large as it wanted.

Unfortunately for Yamato and its crew, it was obsolete by the time it was launched in 1941. The ability of fast aircraft carriers to engage enemy ships at the range of their embarked dive and torpedo bombers meant a carrier could attack a battleship at ranges of two hundred miles or more, long before it entered the range of a battleship’s guns. Battleships were “out-sticked,” to use a modern term.

At 0800 hours on April 7, scout planes from Admiral Mitscher’s Fast Carrier Force, or Task Force 58, located IJN Yamato, still only halfway to Okinawa. Mitscher launched a massive strike force of 280 fighters, bombers and torpedo planes, and the fight was on.

IJN Yamato

For two hours, the Surface Special Attack Force was subjected to a merciless aerial bombardment. The air wings of 11 fleet carriers joined in the attack—so many planes were in the air above Yamato that the fear of midair collision was real. The naval aviators were in such a hurry to score the first hit on the allegedly unsinkable ship plans for a coordinated attack collapsed into a free-for-all. Yamato took two hits during this attack, two bombs and one torpedo, and air attacks claimed two escorting destroyers.

A second aerial armada consisting of one hundred aircraft pressed the attack. As the Yamato started to go down, U.S. naval aviators changed tactics. Noticing the ship was listing badly, one squadron changed its torpedo running depth from ten feet—where it would collide with the main armor belt—to twenty feet, where it would detonate against the exposed lower hull. Aboard Yamato, the listing eventually grew to more than twenty degrees, and the captain made the difficult decision to flood the starboard outer engine room, drowning three hundred men at their stations, in an attempt to trim out the ship.

Yamato in battle, artist unknown

Yamato had taken ten torpedoes and seven bomb hits, and was hurting badly. Despite counterflooding, the ship continued to list, and once it reached thirty five degrees the order was given to abandon ship. The captain and many of the bridge crew tied themselves to their stations and went down with their ship, while the rest attempted to escape.

At 14:23, it happened. Yamato’s forward internal magazines detonated in a spectacular fireball. It was like a tactical nuclear weapon going off. Later, a navigation officer on one of Japan’s surviving destroyers calculated that the “pillar of fire reached a height of 2,000 meters, that the mushroom-shaped cloud rose to a height of 6,000 meters.” The flash from the explosion that was Yamato’s death knell was seen as far away as Kagoshima on the Japanese mainland. The explosion also reportedly destroyed several American airplanes observing the sinking.

Yamato at the end, artist unknown

When it was all over, the Surface Special Attack Force had been almost completely destroyed. Yamato, the cruiser Yahagi and three destroyers were sunk. Several other escorts had been seriously damaged. Gone with the great battleship were 2,498 of its 2,700-person crew.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Beasley – Athens, OH; US Navy, corpsman

Ainslie Boyd – Marlborough, NZ; RNZ Navy # 7544, WWII & Vietnam, K Force

Francis Drake Jr. – Springfield, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, KIA (Tarawa)

David Douglas Duncan (102) – Kansas City, MO; US Army, WWII, PTO, combat photographer / Civilian, Korea & Vietnam Wars, Life Mag. photographer

Donald Freeman – Mobile, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Howie Judd – Rensselaer, NY; CIA (Ret.)

Harvel Moore –  Chatham, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO, KIA (Tarawa)

James Robinson – Leavenworth, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Mustin

Dee (Berglin) Robinson – Fairmount, ND; VA hospital nurse, WWII

Robert Southall – Cleveland, OH; US Army, WWII

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HAVING TROUBLE DEALING WITH MONDAY?

HAVE A GREAT DAY, FOLKS!!

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CBI Theater – April 1945

400,000 PAY TRIBUTE TO DEPARTED LEADER IN SIMPLE LAST RITES

Roundup Staff Articles from 19 and 26 April 1945 issues


The body of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 31st President of the United States, was lowered to its final resting place in the soil of his Hyde Park, N.Y., home this week as 140,000,000 Americans from Washington to New Delhi paid tribute to their leader.
The last rites at the White House and at Hyde Park were of extreme simplicity to follow through to the end the Lincoln-esque democracy that has characterized the 12 year and 80 day duty of President Roosevelt as head of the Republic of the United States.
A special train brought the body from Warm Springs, Ga., where he died of cerebral hemorrhage last week, to Washington, D.C., thence on to his native State of New York.
As the President’s casket was carried into the White House the Marine Band played Lead, Kindly Light.

General Stratemeyer

HUMOROUS TIMES IN WAR!

Cpl. Joan Reidinger was a “little scared,” she admits, when Maj. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, Eastern Air Command commanding general, invited her to tea recently.
It seems that Joan had written a poem entitled The Army Goes to Tea for Yank, and although the verses went on to “rib” the brass for their take-off on the British customs in India, Stratemeyer liked the poem; hence the invitation. Here is The Army Goes to Tea:

I should like to see the captain,” said the colonel to the WAC,
“I’m sorry, sir, he isn’t here, but he will soon be back.”
“But come, we’re going on a flight; the plane, it leaves at three.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” the WAC replied, “the captain’s out to tea.”
The telephone it jingled, and the WAC with voice of cheer
Said, “Colonel Doodle’s office, but the colonel isn’t here.”
“This is General Snipe,” the answer came, “so tell me, where is he?”
“I’m sorry, sir,” the WAC replied, “the colonel’s gone to tea.”
“I’ve got to get an order through,” the irate major said.
“If we don’t get some rations soon, my men will be all dead!
Please take me to Lt. Snoot, I know my point he’ll see.”
“I’m sorry, sir, Lt. Snoot has just stepped out to tea.”
And so it goes across the world, wherever tea they serve,
This strange civilian custom that the officers observe.
But if you’re just a poor G.I., you’re frowned upon, you see,
If you should try, at four o’clock, to stop your work for tea!

 

Handling snakes, Army style

AIR SERVICE COMMAND BASE, INDIA – The guide books say, “If a snake crawls onto your body, freeze in your tracks! The snake will not harm you and will soon go away.”
Cpl. Pleasant C. Templeton, photo lab wallah of an Air Service Group, had the unpleasant opportunity to test this theory while on guard duty one recent night.
Stooping over to avert the icy wind and blinding rain of the winter monsoon, Templeton felt a “sizeable” snake creep up into his lap. Remembering the advice, he remained perfectly still while the reptile playfully investigated such curiosities as his luminous-dial wrist watch and shiny overcoat buttons.
Friend snake apparently had read the same guide book and behaved accordingly. Fifteen minutes later, he wriggled off into the grass. Templeton still can’t comb his hair down. – Cpl. RAY LOWERY.

 

Partial view of the P-61 Pierre Lagace made for me.

10TH AIR FORCE USING P-61 PLANE IN THEATER 

HQ., 10TH AIR FORCE, BURMA – Presence of the P-61 Black Widow in the India-Burma Theater has been officially announced by the 10th Air Force.
During the past months, this deadly night fighter, operating under a blanket of security restrictions, has practically wiped out all nocturnal Jap raiders from Burma skies. Today, for lack of its particular type of target, the Black Widow has been transformed into a fighter-bomber, blasting retreating enemy forces with 500-pound bombs.
With its twin engines and twin tails, the Black Widow resembles the P-38 Lightning although much heavier and carrying a three-man crew – pilot, observer and crew chief. Its climbing power, tremendous speed and special radio detection equipment enables the P-61 to achieve great tactical surprise on enemy aircraft.
The 10th Air Force’s Black Widow squadron is commanded by Lt. Col. James S. Michael, veteran of North Africa and Italy campaigns. His operations officer is Maj. Thomas N. Wilson.
Capt. Walter A. Storck, who, at 38, is probably one of the oldest active fighter pilots in the service, is flight leader of the Black Widows. In the past 16 years, Storck has accumulated more than 6,000 hours in the air, flying everything from an L-5 liaison plane to the newest jet-propelled aircraft.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – CBI style – 

“AND JUST WHERE IS THAT GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL I WAS SUPPOSE TO GET?”

“THIS IS THE OUTFIT I BOUGHT TO GO ON A DATE WITH AN ENLISTED MAN.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leonard Applebaum – Bronx, NY; Merchant Marines / US Army

Robert G. Buchert (100) – Cincinnatti, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Sgt. Major, 152nd AAA/11th Airborne Division

Frank C. Carlucci III – Scranton, PA; Defense Secretary to Pres. Ronald Reagan

William Clark – Canberra, AUS; RA Air Force, 692 Squadron

William Flowers – Topeka, KS; US Navy, WWII

Walter Kane – Ware, MA; US Army, WWII

Fred Love – Delray Beach, FL; US Army, Medical Corps

John McIntyre – NZ; New Zealand Army # 477617, Vietnam

Carolyn Losee Spears – Westfield, NJ; US Navy WAVES, WWII, Chief Petty Officer

Harold Wilkerson – Clinton, IA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1277 Engineers, Bronze Star

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187th/11th Airborne Division – Luzon, April 1945

This excerpt is from “The 11th Airborne Brick” by: Marvin Miller

[Filipino scouts had just killed 2 Makapili ( enemy sympathizers), and parts of the 187th/11th Airborne were near.]

The men in the company walked right by the bodies of the two slain men, the captain refused to even look in that direction as if he didn’t have the slightest idea of what just went on.  He would never tell a soul of what happened there that day.

A hard, driving rain began to fall on what Wayne thought was a Tuesday and 3 days later, it was still raining.  He kept his little New Testament Bible and his latest letter from Roxie dry by using a rubber bag he had taken off a dead enemy soldier.

Luzon, 1945

On that Saturday, the sun was shining brightly as they prepared to continue their trek through the muddy jungle trail.  They moved out within the hour and had made a couple of miles by noon.  The heat was stifling and the humidity made it unbearable.  It was difficult to breathe.

In an instant, a land mine and some snipers took the Filipino scouts out.  Shots were being fired from all directions as the troops found themselves in the crossfire of an ambush that had been carefully planned by the Japanese.  The rest of the company hit the ground in the thick vegetation for cover.

As usual, Fikes was shouting out orders to his men on how to fight the enemy, but the gunfire was too loud for him to be heard.  Besides, nobody ever listened to him anyway and he knew that in situations like this, it was every man for himself.  It was simply kill or be killed.  He grabbed a hand grenade, pulled the pin and quickly lopped it into the direction where he heard a Jap machine-gun.

The grenade exploded bu the machine-gun fire continued.  He tried again and missed.  When he jumped up the third time, the machine-gunner was waiting for him….

Plante got to his knees and then stood up shooting his flamethrower into one direction and then another.  He dove for cover after the third blast, waited a minute or two and then did it again.  He repeated this process over and over again for what seemed to be hours…

soldiers in the tall grass of Luzon

Wayne and Branson were firing their weapons too at every chance they had.  In fact, they had fired so many times that Wayne’s BAR malfunctioned.  He left his position close by his best buddies and crawled through the tall grass in search of another weapon.  He found an M1 just a few yards away where Pfc Hanson was laying dead.

The firefight seemed to be lasting for an eternity…  Both sides were running low on ammunition.  The Japanese were so low that they were now ready for  the second phase of their attack, the banzai charge.  They stood up, those without ammunition used the bayonets on their rifles or used their sabers.

Philippines, 1945

There were 53 in the banzai charge.  Over half were shot dead before they reached the Americans, but what few did reach the soldiers were either killed in hand-to-hand combat or shot.  It was over in less than a minute.

Branson was field promoted that day and took over Fikes’ platoon.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – SNAFU in “Outpost”

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth Anderson – Red Wing, MN; US Army, Korea

James Blevins – Ash County, NC; US Army, WWII, ETO, mechanic

Daniel Diana – Brooklyn, NY; US Navy, Lt.Comdr.

David Garcia – St. Louis, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, (MLB Mgr.)

Michael Healy – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 4th Rangers w/ 187th RCT / US Army Special Forces, MGeneral (Ret. 36 y.)

Gorge Keagy – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Coast Guard, gunner’s mate, USCG cutter Vigilant

Thomas Nix – Boulder, CO; US Navy, WWII, USS Lexington

Frank Osmer – Hudson, NH; US navy, WWII, gunner’s mate, USS Astoria

Virgil Smith – Haines City, FL; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Chuck Stevens Jr. – Van Houten, NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, (MLB 1st baseman)

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USS Laffey & the American Flag

Bill Kelly keeps a photograph in his room at the Claremont Center nursing home where he lives. The picture is of him in a football uniform on Thanksgiving Day, 1942 at Manasquan High School where he was an outstanding football. He says that the very day after the picture was taken, he went to New York and enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17.

A few years later, Kelly was photographed holding the tattered remnants of a flag. The flag is the US flag that flew over the USS Laffey during the Battle of Okinawa. It is tattered because of the damage received from the kamikaze attacks, some of the worst in history, that took place on April 16, 1945.

Kelly says that the Japanese “knocked the hell out of it,” but the ship stayed afloat.

Now 94-years-old, Kelly sits in a wheelchair, but his mind is still sharp. While some details of that fateful day have faded from his memory, his bravery has been chronicled by historians. Last month, he received a flag that had flown over the US Capitol from US Representative Chris Smith.

Kelly with Rep. Smith.

“Bill Kelly’s brave, selfless and outstanding service to this nation aboard the U.S.S. Laffey stands as a shining example of the best our country has to offer,” Smith stated

Kelly worked as a signalman, with expertise in Morse code, on the starboard side of the ship.

Ship historian Sonny Walker said that a Japanese plane flew into the mast and knocked down the American flag. Kelly went out and retrieved the flag from the main deck and headed back to the signal room with it.

On the way back, he found a sailor with his leg missing. It turned out to be Kelly’s good friend, Fred Burgess. He was leaning against a gun mount on his good leg with blood pouring out his missing leg. He cried for Kelly to help him, so Kelly and some other men rushed Burgess to the sick bay.

Once there, Burgess asked Kelly for the flag and Kelly gave it to him. He died, still clutching the flag, before a doctor had a chance to see him.

The Laffey was attacked by 22 Japanese planes that day. She was struck by six planes and four 400-pound bombs. Kelly narrowly missed being crushed by a falling 2-ton antenna. Another blast tossed him fifteen feet in the air.

A shipmate hung a new flag on the deck – “so the Japanese knew who they were fighting,” Kelly remembered, 32 men were killed on the Laffey that day and 71 were wounded. Kelly is amazed that anyone was able to walk away from that attack.

After the war, Kelly worked as a milkman and started a cleaning service while raising five children. He never spoke of the war. His daughter, Margie Moore, only learned of his bravery five or six years ago.

Today, there are just four surviving crewmen from the Laffey. The ship, known as “the ship that would not die,” is a floating museum off the coast of South Carolina.

Kelly was just 20 years old when the attack occurred but he remembers it like yesterday. His room holds mementos of that day: the tattered second flag raised by the shipmate, a photo of the Laffey badly damaged after the attack, his medals which include the Purple Heart.

Laffey after the attacks.

And now the folded congressional flag. When asked about what this flag meant to him, he was humble. “I take this for my shipmates, not me,” he said.

The USS Laffey was present at the D-Day invasions of Normandy where she fired on shore defense locations with her two five-inch gun turrets. She was then moved to the Pacific to help with the attacks on the Japanese where she provided support for the US troops in the Battle of Okinawa, which is when the kamikaze attacks took place.

Patriot’s Point, Laffey and Yorktown

After the war, the ship was repaired and went on to serve in the Korean War and the Cold War before being turned into a museum. It rests at Patriot’s Point, South Carolina next to the aircraft carrier Yorktown and the submarine Clamagore.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

“ALL RIGHT, SAILOR! LET’S GET THAT HAT SQUARED AWAY!!”

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Clifford Black Sr. – Commerce, GA; US Army, WWII, Korea, Bronze Star

Kern Lum Chew – Courtland, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

William Donnellan – Massapequa, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Tony Duva – Lake Worth, FL; US Army, WWII

William Harth Jr. – Columbia, SC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt., 329th Bomber Squadron/93rd Bombardment Group, KIA

Fred “Dipper 19” Kovaleski – NYC, NY; Cold War, CIA

Randall Mosher – Bolivar, MO; US Army, Vietnam

Jimmy Simoneaux – LA; US Navy, WWII, USS Spearfish & Snook

Ray Smith – RI; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Arthur Wells – Paw Paw, IL; US Army, Vietnam, Col. (Ret.), 1st Armored Div., 11th Airborne Div., 24th Div.,& 1st Div. District Adviser, West Point grad, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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U.S. MEMORIAL DAY

“Taps”   Please take a moment for them before you begin your holiday.

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“Hymn To The Fallen”       Support the troops.

Not every country holds Memorial Day on this date, many are in November when we hold our Veteran’s Day, and I’m certain you have your own ceremonies to display gratitude to your troops.  Shake the hand of a veteran today!

Memorial for Fallen Soldier

 

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Military Family Remembrance –  

courtesy of fellow blogger, Patty B.

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Walter Backman – Aurora, IL; US Navy, WWII, Radioman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Alan Bean – Fort Worth, TX; US Navy, NASA, astronaut

John C. England – Colorado Springs, CO; US Navy, WWII, Ensign, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Paul Etchepare Jr. – LaGrange, IL; US Army, Vietnam, 2nd LT.

Paul A. Nash – Carlisle, IN; US Navy, WWII, Fire Controlman, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Charles R. Ogle – Mountain View, MO; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Richard Prior – Reese, MI, US Army, 11th Airborne Division, Medical Unit

Philip Roth – Newark, NJ; US Army (author)

Dominick Santoro – East Meadow, NY; US Army, WWII

Lowell Valley – Ontonagon, MI; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

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Fort Drum, Luzon, P.I.

Fort Drum, Luzon, P.I.

As the Okinawa battles continued to rage, a completely new type of operation was progressing in Manila Bay, Luzon.

The ruined concrete fort in Manila Bay is Fort Drum. Formerly called Island, it is quite literally the world’s only unsinkable battleship. Certainly deserving of a rightful place in the list of tourist spots, it has a story that is worth re-telling.

When the United States annexed the Philippines in 1898, its defense automatically became their responsibility. In order to defend their latest colony against any future invaders, the US fortified four islands at the mouth of Manila Bay during the period of 1909-1913. These four islands – Corregidor, Caballo, Carabao and El Frail went on to become Fort Mills, Fort Hughes, Fort Frank, and Fort Drum, respectively.

To construct Fort Drum, the US Army Corps of Engineers had to cut the small, rocky island of El Fraile. Taking the rock as the foundation, they erected a concrete fortification that was in the shape of a battleship. Said ”battleship” was 240 feet long, 160 feet wide, and 40 feet above the water line, with walls 30-40 feet thick and a deck 20 feet deep. It had four levels inside that were connected by an axial tunnel that ran across the island and 11 guns.

When the Usaffe got destroyed in Bataan on 25 January 1942, the Japanese began to prepare to shell the island forts. Under the leadership of Maj. Toshinori Kondo, the Japanese began shelling the islands 5 Feb. Their objective to destroy Fort Drum, however, did not materialize, as it remained intact despite being hit over a hundred times.

By 3rd February 1945, a flying column had reached Manila led to a month-long battle to liberate Manila from the Japanese. Despite the ongoing battle, however, the Americans began to clear the fortified islands of Japanese to open Manila Bay for shipping, with Fort Drum being the last island to get liberated.

Retaking Ft. Drum

The Americans devised special tactics to liberate Fort Drum.  On 13 April, a Landing Ship Medium (LSM) and a Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) was sent to pull up alongside Fort Drum.  The LSM had a specially built ramp on top of it, using which it discharged two platoons of soldiers: while the first platoon consisted of crack snipers to cover every opening where Japanese soldiers may appear, the second comprised engineers assigned to plant demolition charges.

The sniper opened up again and a bullet cut through the fatigue jacket of SGT Mack Thomson of Springfield, MO, the colonel’s driver and radio operator. Thomson had been standing amidships unaware that he was a target.  The bullet made seven holes, passing through the outside of the jacket, the baggy pocket and a sleeve.  Thomson wasn’t even scratched.  Another sniper bullet grazed the back of CPL Vincent Glennon’s right hand.  Glennon, an aid man from Gary, IN, had dropped behind a ventilator for protection at the first sniper shot.  The bullet went through the light, thin metal of the ventilator and creased his hand, drawing no more blood than a pin scratch.

Fort Drum

A sailor, Steve Bukovics, a PA native, had worse luck. A Jap shot split the fittings that connected the three air hoses to the gyroscopic sight of his 20mm gun and several pieces of the scattered wreckage were embedded in his throat.  Army and Navy medics teamed up to give him an immediate transfusion and to dress his wounds.  He, Glennon and Thomson were the only casualties.

Once the charges were in position, the LCM poured 3,000 gallons of oil into one of the vents and dumped explosives into the other. Both the LSM and LCM were moved to a safe distance after the fuses were lit.  With the charges detonated, a series of explosions followed that finally blew Fort Drum’s manhole that was 1 ton in weight and 1 meter in diameter 50 meters up into the air. Finally gaining access to the fort on 18th April, the Americans went on to discover 65 dead.

Ft. Drum, bearing her battle scars.

As of today, Fort Drum continues to stand as an old ruin right at the mouth of Manila Bay.  Although no longer in action, it still holds its reputation as being unsinkable.

Unfortunately, though, in spite of all the history, Fort Drum, along with the nearby Fort Frank are still neglected as tourist spots.

 Article condensed from a stories in War History online and Yank Magazine;
Click on images to enlarge.
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Military Humor –

Bill Mauldin cartoon

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Farewell Salutes –

Raymond Barker – Delavan, WI; USMC, WWII, Cpl., KIA (Tarawa)

Richard Bohan – Brooklyn, NY; USMC, Vietnam

Jack Childs – Minneapolis, MN; US Army, Korea, Vietnam, Major (Ret.)

Joanne Gillespie Goldsmith – Chester, PA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Allen Higgins – AZ; US Army, WWII, ATO, intelligence

Leopoldo Muniz – Milagro, NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Burgess “Buck” Rand Jr. – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Air Force, Vietnam

James Stoner – Cape Girardeau, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO

George Truebe – Decatur, IL; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Wayland Wadley – Cedar Key, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS West Virginia

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