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Memorial Day + “You Are Not Forgotten” book review

 

From Arlington to remote prairie shrines to foreign fields, America provides a resting place for her fallen.  Now, on this poignant 25th day of May, we revive the memory of those heroes, though we should honor them every day.  Long after the agony of Bunker Hill, Heartbreak Ridge, Normandy, the Chosin Reservoir, the Tet Offensive and Bagdad, the dead lie in peace.  They and their comrades have left us names the world should never forget.  Make certain they did not die in vain.

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“You Are Not Forgotten”

Two men, their lives separated by over 60 years, became forever intertwined.

“You Are Not Forgotten” shows the inspiration and commitment of the American military.   For this nonfiction story, it goes from the Pacific in WWII to a memory and experience of Iraq.

A USMC,  F4U Corsair pilot, Major Marion ‘Ryan’ McCown, is lost during a battle over New Guinea and the jungle swallows all trace of him on 20 January 1944.

Over 60 years later, U.S. Army Major George Eyster V, despite coming from a long ancestry of military officers, became disillusioned after serving in Iraq.  Instead of ending his career, he joined the JPAC (Joint Pow/MIA Accounting Command), a division whose sole purpose is to leave no man behind.   With the author, Bryan Bender, at the helm, he brings these two lives together with researched firsthand information.

Read how facts and clues are pieced together to locate those that have fallen and that we so wish to remember and honor today.

This book was gifted to me from Judy Guion of the Greatest Generation Lessons, who found this book not only fascinating, but educational.  Thank you very much, Judy.

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GP Cox’s Veterans

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Farewell Salutes – 

Iona Anderson – Garber, IA; Womens USMC, WWII, Sgt.

Trevarius Bowman – Spartansburg, SC; US National Guard, Afghanistan, 1st Lt., 228th Tactical Signal Brigade

Peter Clark Jr. – Menasha, WI, USMC, WWII

Henry Hoffman III – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, Japan Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Charles Jackson – Thackerville, OK; US Coast Guard, (Ret.28 y.)

Moyne Linscott – Sumner, MO; US Army Air Corps, Japan Occupation, 1127 Airborne Engineers/11th Airborne Division

WWII Memorial poem at Arlington Cemetery

John Myers – Toledo, OH; US Coast Guard, WWII / US Army, Korea, mine sweeper

William Opalka – Chicago, IL; US Merchant Marines, WWII

Terrance Plank – Santa Cruz, CA; US Army, Vietnam, medic, 3/506/101st Airborne Division, Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Gene Vance – Garner, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO / US Army, Vietnam, 11th Airborne Div. & 10th Special Forces Group, Sgt. Major (Ret.) / FAA

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courtesy of fellow blogger, Patty B.

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“Doubly So When Wars Increase”

The Chaplain Kit

Living, working and playing among the Service Members they minister to, chaplains usually have insight into the struggles and feelings of those Service Members. They help them try to navigate their troubles successfully through many means, based on their strengths and talents. Some use poetry, as did Chaplain Henry W. Habel, who by March 1945, had been an Army Chaplain for three years.

Chaplain Habel was from Buffalo, New York and graduated from Acadia University in Nova Scotia before pastoring churches in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada through the Baptist Church of the Northern Convention.

The following poem, written by Chaplain Habel, was found in a worship bulletin from 6 May 1945, from the 13th General Hospital Chapel in New Guinea where Chaplain (Major) D.O. Luginbill and Chaplain (Captain) L.V. Walters were the chaplains.

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Our Worship

Oft men feel they’re “in a spot”,

Wondering how to bear their…

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Australian Troops: Wewak,New Guinea

Painting of Aussies in New Guinea, artist unknown

I hope many of you remember the battles that were started for liberating New Guinea back at the original stage of the Pacific War – at this point – they were still going on.

The operations were characterized by prolonged small-scale patrolling with small-scale company attacks. Progress was slowed by the difficulties of transporting supplies overland or by barge and the flash flooding of a number of the rivers the Australians had to cross. In one incident, seven men from the 2/3rd Battalion drowned in the swollen waters of the Danmap River which had risen suddenly after a torrential downpour. After Dogreto Bay was occupied, the supply problems eased somewhat.

Wewak, New Guinea map

On 16 March 1945, the airfields at But and Dagua on the coast were occupied, although fighting continued further inland from there over the course of the following fortnight. On 25 March, Lieutenant Albert Chowne, a platoon commander from the Australian 2/2nd Battalion led an attack on a Japanese position that was holding up the advance on Wewak. For his actions he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

Albert Chowne

In the Torricelli Mountains the 17th Brigade continued its advance against stubborn Japanese defense. Nevertheless, by 23 April 1945 they had secured Maprik. The fall of Maprik allowed the Australians to begin constructing an airfield 8 miles (13 km) away at Hayfield, and this was completed on 14 May allowing reinforcements and supplies to be flown in.

Elsewhere the 19th Brigade had begun its assault on Wewak in early May. HMAS Hobart, Arunta, Warramunga, Swan and HMS Newfoundland (of the British Pacific Fleet) as well as the RAAF bombarded the Wewak defenses. On 11 May, a landing at Dove Bay by Farida Force was undertaken to encircle Wewak and prevent the escape of its garrison. Wewak fell on the same day, as the 19th Brigade occupied its airfield.

HMAS Warramunga

The fighting around Wewak airfield continued until 15 May, however, when men from the 2/4th Battalion, with armoured support, attacked Japanese positions overlooking the airstrip. It was during this attack that Private Edward Kenna carried out the deeds that led to him being awarded the Victoria Cross.

Edward Kenna

Following this, the remaining Japanese in the area withdrew into the Prince Alexander Mountains to the south of Wewak. To counter this, the 16th Brigade was dispatched to follow them up, and push them towards the 17th Brigade which advanced towards the east towards Maprik.

Australian 2/3 Battalion at memorial for fallen comrades, New Guinea 1945

These operations continued until 11 August, by which time the 16th Brigade had reached Numoikum, about 23 kilometres (14 mi) from Wewak, while the 17th Brigade had captured Kairivu, 24 kilometres (15 mi) from Wewak. At this stage, word was received that the Japanese government had begun discussing terms for a possible surrender and so offensive operations were brought to a halt.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

‘Psst. It’s okay in here, but don’t go around calling $690 billion ‘chump change.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Philip Barbary – Murray Valley, AUS; Australian Army # 45018, Vietnam, 104 Signal Squadron

Robert Costello – Newcastle, AUS; Australian Army, Vietnam

Robert Forstburg – Upper Darby, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 101st Airborne Division

Ralph Regis Giles – Lowell, MA; US Army, Korea, KIA

Gordon Herrick – Rochester, NY; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Glen McGraw – Centerville, IN; US Army, WWII

Eric Rapps – ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO, 8th Army

Doris Sherman (101) – Como, AUS; Royal Navy, WWII, ETO & PTO, Chief Petty Officer, nurse

Betty Tallarico – Dorothy, WV; Civilian, US Navy draftsman

Geoffrey ‘Boy’ Wellum – Cornwall, ENG; RAF, WWII, ETO, 65th Squadron, Distinguished Flying Cross

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August 1944 (2)

Left: RM1c George Ray Tweed Right: Sergeant Soichi Yokoi

(Left) RM1c George Ray Tweed, (Right) Sergeant Soichi Yokoi

10 → 16 August – on Guam, when the resistance finally collapsed, only isolated pockets of Japanese soldiers would remain.  It was estimated that approximately 7,500 were at large.  Mopping up would go into 1945 to flush the enemy out.  The last enemy soldier finally surrendered 24 January 1972, Sgt. Soichi Yokoi.

A Japanese female nurse named, Shizuko was the sole survivor of the “Valley of Death.”  Wounded from her attempt at suicide, she was being taken care of by a US officer who told her not to move, he said, “We believe in humanity even in war.”  She didn’t believe him.  She said, “Everybody knows the Americans are devils, they tear prisoners apart with tanks.”  She added that she feared Americans, “…especially the black ones.”  The officer started laughing and told the nurse, “It was the Negroes that saved you!”

On Noemfoor Island, pointing to the enemy withdrawal.

On Noemfoor Island, pointing to the enemy withdrawal.

17-20 August – off New Guinea, the resistance on Biak and Noemfoor Islands was crushed as 2,000 paratroopers of the 503rd jumped and the land forces of the 158th RCT overtook the airfields.  Operation Cyclone was a success.

22-24 August – activity around the Philippines picked up with US torpedoes taking 3 Japanese frigates.  The USS Haddo was busy and even was able to claim the sinking of the IJN destroyer Asakaze.  On the 24th, the enemy retaliated by sinking the USS Harder off the Luzon coast with depth charges.

27 August – In northern Burma, the Chindits were evacuated after months of exhausting operations.  The last Chindit to leave was on this date.  The 10th and 14th air forces in the CBI continued bombing all points of opportunity in Burma and China, while the 7th Air Force off of Saipan continued to hit Iwo Jima.

T/5 Robert Kingston, Maj. Robert E. Pennington, Lt. E. Boyd (seated) and T/5 Joseph H. Hill operating on Chinese soldier on Salween Front.

T/5 Robert Kingston, Maj. Robert E. Pennington, Lt. E. Boyd (seated) and T/5 Joseph H. Hill operating on Chinese soldier on Salween Front. (photo from CBI Roundup)

In a radio broadcast by Pres. Roosevelt, he made clear the final decision that troops would be attacking the Philippine Islands and not Formosa.  Now the Japanese were also aware.  It was seen by White House observers that FDR had timed the invasion to make headlines for the end of his re-election campaign.

Operation Vogelkop

Operation Vogelkop

The 6th Infantry Division was slated to spearhead the operation in the Sansapor, W. Papua landing.  The 31st Infantry Div. was sent to Maffin Bay.  From mid-July till the end of August, the area was aggressively patrolled.  The landing used information from the 5th Air Force terrain experts and hydrographic equipment.

With the capture of the Marianas, Nimitz’s forces would head to the West Caroline Islands.  This operation encompassed nearly 800 vessels.

We must also give note of the PT boat service given on the coasts of New Guinea, harassing enemy barge traffic and preventing the enemy from putting reinforcements ashore.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Cary – Viking, AB, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

John Cloe – Anchorage, AK; US Army, Vietnam (Ret. 29 yrs.), WWII Alaska historian

Anthony Etrio – Fairfield, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div., Purple Heart

Gettysburg

Gettysburg

Angus ‘Jay’ Jameson – Carrollton, GA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Bernard Ginn Que Jee – New Orleans, LA; US Army, Korea, Cpl.

Joseph Hillman Jr. – Rock Run, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII / US AF, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret.)

Edward Lewis – Green River, WY; US Army, WWII

Gabriel Sanchez – Lincoln, NM; US Army, WWII, ETO

Joel D. Sollender – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW, 87th Inf. Div., Purple Heart

Henry Valdivia Jr. – Phoenix, AZ; US Navy, WWII

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Eye Witness Account – Driniumor River

New Guinea natives evacuate wounded Allies across the Driniumor River near Afua.

New Guinea natives evacuate wounded Allies across the Driniumor River near Afua.

By: James D. West, 124th Reg/31st Infantry Division @ Indiana Military, org

After about three weeks of nightly Jap attacks along the Driniumor the situation eased somewhat. The 124th plus one battalion from the 169th was ordered to cross the River and go after the Japs that remained in the area. This group had the code name “Ted Force” after Col. Edward Starr, Commanding Officer of the 124th as well as C.O. of this endeavor. Much has been written about this “Ted Force” but I’ll just touch on it briefly. These four battalions moved in different directions while eventually meeting at a given point. They had to move by use of a compass as maps were not of much use in the jungle. About all you could recognize was the ocean, the river, the mountains and perhaps a stream. It was very slow going, as they had to hack their way through the dense jungle growth with machetes.

 

This was an extremely difficult endeavor in enemy held territory which lasted from 31 July 1944 to 10 August 1944. It was difficult not only because of enemy soldiers but also from the rough marshy jungle terrain. Torrential rains came every day making footing almost impossible at times, with soldiers slipping and falling everywhere. Under such extreme conditions there was still an enemy out there fighting at every occasion that seemed to offer him an advantage.

Sketch by: William Garbo Sr., Dog Platoon, July 1944

Sketch by: William Garbo Sr., Dog Platoon, July 1944

Unfortunately this is war and we had casualties and being so deep in the jungle it’s impossible to get them out at that time. Our litter cases had to be carried along and under these extreme conditions this was not an easy matter. Not having enough litters, some were improvised by using two saplings, with a poncho stretched between them. With such adverse conditions it was extremely tiring on men to carry litters. They would have to trade off and rest awhile which often made it a job for ten men to carry one litter case.

 

The dead were buried along the trail and when the battle situation permitted details were sent in to bring the bodies out. I often had to send trucks out for the purpose of hauling these bodies. Naturally the odor was unpleasant and the truck drivers hated this detail, even though all they had to do was drive the truck. In spite of such difficult conditions the mission was a success with the destruction of the Japs from the ocean to the mountains while others fled back toward their base at Wewak.

 

Along the Driniumor River was a totally different environment than these soldiers were accustomed to and this took almost all of their energy just to exist. Yet in spite of this hostile environment, enemy soldiers, dense jungle, torrential rains, terrible heat of the day, cold wet nights, diseases and jungle rot, our foot soldiers prevailed. Being in transportation, I did not have to endure the trials of the foot soldier but the conditions made it a terrible experience for anyone who was there.

 

As we think about our conditions and the 440 (87 from the 124th) American Soldiers killed in action in this battle; the conditions for the Japanese soldiers were much worse. With little food, hardly any medicine, plus a shortage of arms and ammunition and no hope of any more supplies. The 124th’s first contact with the Japs along the Driniumor River found these soldiers in good physical condition with many being much larger in stature than the typical Japanese man. As time passed the shortage of food and medicine began to take its toll and their physical condition deteriorated rapidly. I have seen estimates that they suffered anywhere from 10,000 to 18,000 killed here at Aitape. Don’t know if this includes those who died from disease and starvation but I suspect that it doesn’t. I read in one publication that in all of New Guinea 148,000 Japanese soldiers perished in these jungles. It is my opinion that most of these died of starvation and disease. Many fell dead while attempting to move through the harsh jungle to some hopeless perception of a better condition for them in western New Guinea. In any event the end result of this battle along the Driniumor river here at Aitape was the destruction of the Japanese 18th Army as an effective fighting force.

 

As we began to prepare for the invasion of Morotai the 43rd Division relieved the troops on the line. Then a few weeks later Australian troops took over and sporadic fighting continued, with casualties on both sides, until the Japanese surrender at the War’s end.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Allan E. Brown – Takoma Park, DC; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt. 1st Class, 1st Special Troops Batt./1st Cavalry Div.

John Glenn – Cambridge, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Korea, Colonel, pilot, Astronaut, Senator11986973_1183822258300441_3544440820007753006_n-jpgfrom-falling-with-hale

Andrew ‘Holly’ Hollingsworth – SC; US Navy (Ret. 20 years)

Michael Kinneary, Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, Korea

Parker Mosley Jr. – Humble, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 1th Airborne Division

Janice Olson – Victor Valley, CA; VV College Foundation President, instrumental in locating lost B-17’s of WWII, PTO

Peter Pergunas – Ballina, AUS; RA Navy

Steve Reese – Bartlesville, OK; USMC, Vietnam

William Schaefer – Chicago, IL; US Navy

William Wyatt – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Navy # 2056, WWII & Korea

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July 1944 (2)

Soldiers near Aitape, New Guinea, July 1944

Soldiers near Aitape, New Guinea, July 1944

1o-11 July – on the night of 10th/11th July the trapped Japanese 18th Army attempted to break through US lines.  In what became known as the Battle of Driniumor River they attacked in a solid mass of around 10,000 men in a suicidal frontal assault. This was an attempt to ensure that some men would successfully break through – which they did – but it was achieved at appalling cost.

The Japanese were now aware of how strongly defended the US positions were. US machine gunners cut down hundreds of the Japanese, with some reports of so many bodies piled up in front of US positions that that they blocked the field of fire and men had to go forward to clear them away.    MGeneral H. W. Blakeley recorded:

 

“Shortly before midnight, after a short artillery preparation, which came as a surprise because no enemy artillery had been identified within range of the Driniumor, [10,000] enemy infantry in screaming waves began charging across the river against Companies E and G 128TH Infantry, in the south part of the sector of the 2D Battalion, 128TH Infantry

“The attack in the Company G sector was stopped, but another attack which hit Company E shortly after the first assault was more successful largely because of the physical impossibility of holding a position in the dark against an attacking force believed to have a ten to one superiority over the defenders. By dawn the Japanese held a good-sized area of wooded high ground to the left rear of Company G.”

 

11 July – Franklin Roosevelt announced his intention to run for an unprecedented fourth term in office as President of the United States.

On New Guinea, the Babo airfield was hit along with supply dumps at Kokas.  Manowari, Waren and Moemi were also bombed.  Halmahera Island received destruction of various enemy installations.

Aitape area

Aitape area

13-14 July – the land/sea war in and around New Guinea continued as warships bombarded Aitape to support the Australian and US troops advancing up the northern coastline.  Heavy fighting and a Japanese attack, under Gen. Adachi, at the Wewak River had slowed their progress.  The Allied troops launched a double enveloping counteroffensive that divided Adachi’s men into two groups, which soon rendered them useless.  Nevertheless, combat would continue for 4 more weeks.

 

In the CBI arena, the 10th Air Force was bombing and strafing the Myitkyina area to support their ground troops, while bridges were bombed at five other areas.  The 14th Air Force in China caused massive damaged at the Pailochi and 2 other air fields along with compounds, river shipping, troop concentrations and railroad yards.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Martin Alexander – Columbia, FL; US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret.) pilot

Arthur Brown Jr. – Spokane, WA; US Navy, WWIItributesarmy

Ray Cochran – Melbourne, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Arturo Franco – Dallas, OR; US Army, Kosovo & Afghanistan, 82nd Airborne Division

Leon Glowicki – Bay City, MI; US Army, Korea, 7th Division, Engineers

Theodore Larson – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

John McGinn – Portsmouth, NH; US Army, HQ Co/88th Infantry Division

George Roberts – Birkenhead, ENG; Fleet Air Arm, WWII

Albert G. Smith – AUS; RA Army, WWII, PTO, Z Force

George Thompson – Albury, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, B-24 co-pilot

Peter Vukovich Sr. – Hammond, IN; US Navy, WWII, ETO

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What’s in a Name?

From the researchers who not only know and understand the fighting in the southwest Pacific area, but the men involved!

Please read in honor of Sr. Chief Petty Officer Scott Dayton – Woodbridge, VA; US Navy, Iraq & Syria, Bronze Star, KIA on Thanksgiving

IHRA

From Ken’s Men to the Air Apaches, units of Fifth Air Force had thought of a wide variety of nicknames for themselves. This week, we thought we’d cover the origins of the sobriquets for the 312th, 22nd, 43rd, 38th and 345th Bomb Groups.

The Roarin’ 20’s: The 312th Bomb Group gave themselves this nickname in late March or early April 1944. For the most part, their insignia of a lion jumping through the zero in 20’s wasn’t added as nose art. The men usually used their group logo for signage and patches.

Ken’s Men: Over their years of service during WWII, the 43rd Bomb Group looked up to three men in particular: Gen. George C. Kenney, Brig. Gen. Kenneth Walker and Maj. Kenneth McCullar. Walker and McCullar were killed in action, but the stories of their leadership stuck with the Group for the rest of their war. To honor…

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New Guinea ~ situation while Smitty was there

New Guinea, WWII

New Guinea, WWII

Smitty always made mention of how hard the soldiers before him had to struggle.  He noticed that no matter how hard people or nature tried to disguise their surroundings, the scars of war were everywhere.  In New Guinea, my father had a clear view of the battle remnants of General Robert Eichelberger’s Australian and American troops from when they fought on a similar terrain and in battles as fiercely intense as Guadalcanal – on each island the territories had to be taken inch by inch.

Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, Chief of Allied Air Forces, in the southwest Pacific sent his complaints to the War Dept.  and Gen. “Hap” Arnold, head of the U.S. Army Air Forces to explain just that in 1942:

General Kenney

General Kenney

“… The Japanese is still being underrated.  There is no question of our being able to defeat him, but the time, effort, blood and money required to do the job may run to proportions beyond all conception, particularly if the devil is allowed to develop the resources he is now holding.

“Look at us in Buna.  There are hundreds of Buna ahead for us.  The Japanese there has been in a hopeless position for months.  He has been outnumbered heavily throughout the show.  His garrison has been whittled down to a handful by bombing and strafing.  He has no air support and his own Navy has not been able to get passed our air blockade to help him.  He has seen lots of Japs sunk off shore a few miles away.  He has been short on rations and has had to conserve his ammunition, as his replenishment from submarines and small boats working down from Lae at night and once by parachute from airplanes has been precarious, to say the least.  The Emperor told them to hold, and believe me, they have held!  As to their morale — they still yell out to our troops, “What’s the matter, Yanks?  Are you yellow?  Why don’t you come in and fight?”  A few snipers, asked to surrender after being surrounded, called back, “If you bastards think you are good enough, come and get us!”

“…I’m afraid that a lot of people, who think this Jap is a “pushover” as soon as Germany falls, are due for a rude awakening.  We will have to call on all our patriotism, stamina, guts and maybe some crusading spirit or religious fervor thrown in to beat him.  No amateur team will take this boy out.  We have got to turn professional.  Another thing: there are no quiet sectors in which troops get started off gradually, as in the last war.  There are no breathers on this schedule.  You take on Notre Dame every time you play!”

According to Gen. Kenney’s reports, the last 2 weeks of June saw the last of the enemy air force, at least as far as New Guinea was concerned, and ports for re-supplying their troops were being repeatedly hit.  Babo, Manokwari and Sorong saw 10,000 tons of shipping go to the the bottom in these series of attacks.  By the end of the month, airdromes were mere burned out shells of buildings and cratered runways.

Here is where the specialized training for the 11th A/B began and the War Dept. also saw the need for improved weapons for this “new type of war.”   Under the direction of Colonel William Borden this effort resulted in: 105-mm and 155-mm mortars, flamethrowers, ground rockets, colored smoke grenades and the skidpans for towing heavy artillery in muddy terrains.

General Eichelberger

But – still at this point – only about 15% of the Allied resources were going to the Pacific.

(These two photographs are courtesy of the World War II Database. ww2db.com)

damaged Zero planes near Lae, New Guinea

damaged Zero planes near Lae, New Guinea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Military Humor –

 

"Ya might haveta catch a boat.  One of them kids you chased off the field was the pilot."

“Ya might hafta catch a boat. One of them kids you chased off the field was the pilot.”

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Farewell Salutes –

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Fort Rosecrans Cemetery, San Diego, CA

John Chrenka – Berwyn, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Silver Star

Dominic DeSorbo – Hartford, CT; US Navy, WWII, 6th Fleet, USS Lake Champlain

Kenneth Ernst – New Orleans, LA; US Navy, Korea

Ike Farrar – Bedford County, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, C-46 pilot

Richard Jennings – Flint, MI; US Navy, WWII

Dick Leabo – Walcott, IA, US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, ‘Flying Tigers’

Charles McCready – Montreal, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, pilot

Charles Mitchell – Richmond, CA & Ontario, CAN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div., Pvt. /US Air Force (Ret. 30 yrs), Chaplin, Col.

Harold Rothbard – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 tail gunner

Donald Wachter – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII, 7th Infantry Division

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Smitty and the 11th Airborne Division

The origin of the nickname, “Angels” for the 11th Airborne has always been up for debate.  At Dobodura, New Guinea, while unloading the supplies off the ships that were constantly pulling into port, it became well-known that the troopers of the 11th A/B were a bit more light-fingered than the other units.  The distribution of the food and war materiel was severely unbalanced, with the bulk of it going to the troopers.  It was definitely at this time that they acquired the title of “Swing and his 8,000 Thieves.”  My father and many other troopers believe that the title remained with them up until the release of the internees at Los Baños prison on Luzon, when a nun looked up and said that the parachutists looked like “angels sent to save us.”

One other theory I found, while still on New Guinea, a senior officers questioned General Swing about the uneven delivery of supplies.  Swing , with a rather tongue-in-cheek attitude, replied that it could not possibly be due to his “angels.”

And yet, there is another idea on the subject.  The troopers, with their antics, were often in trouble.  After a rather rough weekend, a senior officer asked just how many of the 11th airborne’s “little angels” were in the stockade.  The reply, of course,  was, “none of my angels are.”

No matter what the reason or nickname, this undermanned and under-equipped division trudged on.

Dobodura, New Guinea, 11th A/B

Dobodura, New Guinea, 11th A/B

You may notice in Smitty’s letters that he will not mention his rigorous training or even combat in his later ones.  I am unaware as to whether it was concern for his mother’s feelings or censorship restrictions.  As a child I asked if I would ever catch him in one of the old news reels and he said that he surely doubted it.  He made a point to avoid any photographers in the event his mother caught sight of the pictures of him in combat.  No matter how hard things had become, he found something else to talk about, but he did have a tongue-in-cheek humor that could both amuse someone even while he was complaining.

At this point in time, the jungle war training had live firing and everything was becoming a bit clearer, a bit more realistic.

Major Burgess left the units temporarily to set up a jump school.  This would give the glidermen and Burgess himself an opportunity to qualify as paratroopers.  The parachutists began their glider training at Soputa airstrip that was no longer in regular use.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Okay - so now we go to Plan-B.....

Okay – so now we go to Plan-B…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Max Bolton – Taranaki, NZ; RNZ Navy # N455266, WWII031%20fallen%20soldiers%20memorial%20old%20north%20church

Carl E. Clark – Columbus, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th A/B Div. & Korea, Sgt., 187th RCT

Elizabeth Dow Crawford (101) – Tomahawk, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

James Elwood – Wichita, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Richard Gamlen – San Francisco, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, MSgt.

Peter Kizer – Princeton, IL; US Air Force

Albert Movitz – Brooklyn, NY; US Navy, WWII

Peter Raymond – Norristown, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Herbert Stone – Pine Bluff, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Lee Travelstead – Holland, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 101st & 82nd A/B, Silver Star

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Smitty ~ Letter VII ~ New Guinea

Smitty reclining in fron, on the far right, with the HQ Company/187th Regiment/11th Airborne

Smitty reclining in front row, on the far right, with the HQ Company/187th Regiment/11th Airborne

For a period of five months the 11th Airborne Division would receive jungle warfare and intensified combat unit ground training in the primitive land of jungles and mountains and thatched huts and the native population fondly called, Fuzzy Wuzzies.  The Papua brigades and Allied forces, that fought in what constituted the Cartwheel Operations before the troopers arrived, made this landing possible.

The Dobodura area that the 11th A/B would make their home was inherited from the 5th Air Force.  The first order of business was for the 408th Quartermaster trucks to deliver the pyramidal tents.

Pvt. Arthur Ristinen of Menagha, Minn., and Pfc. John Weinzinger of Phillips, Wisconsin, 186th Inf. Reg., 41st Inf. Div., relax in front of Warisota Plantation sawmill run by men of the 186th. Sawmill was used to obtain lumber for bridge construction on the new Oro Bay Dobodura road, New Guinea. (5 May 43) Signal Corps Photo: GHQ SWPA SC 43 5816 (T/4 Harold Newman)

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Letter VII                                                           Land                                                                                          6/8/44          

Dear Mom,    

Well, here we are on the island of New Guinea.  From what we can see if it so far, I know we’ll never go hungry as the coconut trees are as thick as a swarm of bees.

We started for our area in trucks after all the rumors said we’d walk and we “Oh!” and Ah’d” all throughout the trip.  Not wanting to show the natives here how smart we are, the driver proceeded on his own when lo and behold — where were we?  I don’t know, no one knows, so right away we all knew that wherever we were — that wasn’t where we were supposed to be. 

Now, of course, we weren’t to blame, as after all, this is a strange and new place to us and they didn’t give us a Socony road map or a compass reading, so no matter — drive on — come what may.  Of course, some large and strange appearing trees which grew in the road had different ideas and no matter how hard we hit them, they consistently set us back.  How they ever managed to find a road to grow in is beyond me, but then they were here before us.  Naturally, after the way they treated our truck, we gave them a wide berth, eventually leaving the road al together.

When after what seemed like hours, we finally found our area, much to the delight of the lower hind part of our anatomy.  Then, our shoulders and backs had to haul our bags around until we found our tents.  This was done very systematically: someone had the idea of first asking the captain just where we belonged and he proceeded to take us there.  We could see at once that this place was no place for us and got right down to thinking up goldbricking alibis.

Work here is the main word we soon found out, and might I add we are all still trying to duck, but it seems that as soon as one finds a spot in the woods, oops I mean jungle, the tree-chopper-downers come along and there you are not only up to your neck in work, but also find out that now your haven is so exposed as to make it useless again as a hideout.

You might wonder what all this labor is about and also expect to find out in this chapter or letter, but no, it shall never be.  I’m saving that for the next installment, which I’m sure you will be breathlessly awaiting.  Regards to all.

Love, Your son,  Everett

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes –

Robert Blagrove – NZ; RNZ Army # 64946, WWII, 24th Battalion, POW

Ernest Fowler – El Dorado, KS; USMC, WWII, PTO

The Big Picture...

The Big Picture…

Faustino Gonzalez – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Paul Lemire – Sturgeon Falls, CAN; RC Air Force, Alouettes’ tail gunner

Warren Nelson – Lakota, SD; USMC, WWII, PTO, E/2/8th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Brian Rix – Cottingham, UK; RAF, WWII, ETO

Ivan Smith – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Coast Guard

Adam Thomas – Tacoma Park, MD; US Army, Afghanistan, SSgt., B/2/10th Special Forces Group, A/B, KIA

Martin ‘Skip’ Urso – Knoxville, TN; USMC; Vietnam, Bronze Star

Edward Zalewski – Jersey City, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO

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