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Ted Crosby – An Ace in a Day

n a dramatic painting by Roy Grinnell, Lieutenant (j.g.) Willis Hardy, a member of Crosby’s VF-17 Squadron from the carrier USS Hornet, flames a Japanese kamikaze plane that was on its way to attack the American naval task force off Okinawa, April 6, 1945. The Hellcat’s distinctive “white checkerboard” markings show it belongs to the USS Hornet (CV12).

As Ted Crosby watched, Yamato’s giant, 18-inch guns hit the water, their enormous weight probably helping the battleship capsize. Suddenly, Yamato’s No. 1 magazine exploded, sending up a huge coil of smoke and flame that could be seen for over 100 miles. It was a strange foretaste of the atomic mushroom clouds that would envelope Hiroshima and Nagasaki a few months later.

Watching from above, Crosby had no feeling of elation. “I was thinking of the Japanese crew,” he said in a 2011 interview. “Three thousand lives lost.”  As a former fighter pilot and Navy man, he could appreciate what it meant to go down fighting with his comrades.

During his World War II career, Ted Crosby served aboard two Essex-class carriers, Bunker Hill (CV 17) and Hornet (CV 12). There were 24 Essex-class carriers built during the war, and they soon became the backbone of America’s naval offensive in the Pacific. The efforts of pilots like Crosby not only turned defeat into victory, but also changed the course of naval warfare forever.

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Ensign John T. Crosby, shortly after being commissioned in May 1943.

An autumn raid on Rabaul was a major effort involving several American carriers. It was also Ted Crosby’s first taste of battle. The raid of November 11, 1943, involved dogfights on a massive scale. It was an aerial free-for-all, with the new F6F Hellcat generally gaining the upper hand over the vaunted Mitsubishi A6M Zero or “Zeke.”

On November 26, 1943, Ted got his first kill—a piece of a Mitsubishi G4M Betty bomber.  A steady stream of .50-caliber slugs sprayed from Ted’s six machine guns peppered and shattered the Betty’s tail and rear-gun position. Other Hellcats chimed in, joining Crosby’s symphony of destruction until the stricken bomber crashed. When he got back to Bunker Hill, he claimed the Betty, but it was determined that the other pilots had a share in its downing. As a result, Crosby’s official score stood at one-quarter of a Japanese bomber.

In dogfights and strafing runs, Ted had only one rule: “Don’t be in any one spot for more than 10 seconds! When I looked in my rear view mirror, I’d often see flak bursts where my plane had just been.”

In January 1945, Ted joined a newly reformed VF-17 aboard the USS Hornet. The new VF-17 appropriated the old formation’s skull and crossbones logo, but this time the men would be exclusively flying Hellcats, not Corsairs. The commander of the new VF-17 was Lt. Cmdr. Marshall U. “Marsh” Beebe.

On April 16, 1945, Ted Crosby became an ace in a day, shooting down five Japanese planes on a single mission. The Marines had landed on Okinawa on April 1 and, as time went on, the battle for the island intensified. Swarms of kamikazes flew out of Kyushu on suicide missions, crashing into any Allied ship they could find in the area. Ted and his fellow aviators called them “kami-krazies.” They seemed to conform to the wartime stereotype of fanatics who would rather commit suicide than surrender.

Crosby began April 16 on a target combat air patrol with Lt. Cmdr. Beebe. Crosby’s division (four Hellcats) was led by Lieutenant Milliard “Fuzz” Wooley; Ensigns J. Garrett and W.L. Osborn completed the quartet. As  VF-17’s war diary put it, “Wooley’s division ‘tallyhoed’ [engaged] 12 Jacks and Zekes at 24,000 feet and started working them over.”

Actually, there were two groups of Japanese planes, a dozen or so at around 24,000 feet and a second group that was flying about 9,000 feet lower. Their main target was a destroyer, possibly a Fletcher-class vessel, that was cruising north of Okinawa. Ted could not recall the name of the ship, but its call sign was “Whiskey Base.”

The fighter director aboard the destroyer was happy to see Hellcats above him but dismayed when it appeared that they were leaving. “The fighter director said, ‘I see what you guys are doing––don’t leave us!’ Wooley replied, ‘Don’t worry. We’ll be back. We want to meet these guys halfway before they can get to you!’”

In the process, Wooley and Crosby became separated from the other pilots. Squadron Commander Beebe called them, asking for their position. Crosby said, “Fuzz” replied, ‘Never mind, skipper, we got them [the Japanese] cornered!’”

The first plane Crosby encountered was a Mitsubishi J2M “Jack” fighter that was coming head on. Crosby and his adversary were seemingly on a collision course, like two medieval knights jousting in a tournament.

“Well, I met that Japanese plane head on with my six .50-caliber guns, and the impact of the bullets blew him apart. Part of his engine and propeller, with the prop still turning, flew right over my head. I picked out another [Japanese plane], executed a turn, and went right after him.”

The second was a Zeke, a kamikaze, not a fighter, so Ted proceeded with caution. “We all realized you had to watch out what you did because the kamikazes were loaded with TNT to do us maximum damage. When you hit one, they would really explode! Once they exploded, you’d find yourself flying through lots of garbage and debris.”

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After he downed the Zeke, Crosby attempted to find his division leader only to notice tracer bullets zipping past his Hellcat. Ironically, Ted had found his leader, but not in the way he wanted! The bullets were from Wooley who, in the excitement, had mistaken Crosby for the enemy. Realizing his error, Wooley sheepishly radioed Ted, “Did I get you, Ted?”

“Noooo.…” Ted replied, “but let’s settle down and get more of these guys!”

Wooley readily complied, going after another Japanese plane, but found he was out of ammunition. Ironically, his last few bursts had been expended when he mistakenly fired on Ted. Wooley dove down, making himself a decoy by luring enemy planes into Crosby’s guns. The ruse was successful, enabling Ted to down two more Japanese planes.

They decided to call it a day, but as they started back to the carrier Crosby spotted kamikaze heading toward the same destroyer they had helped protect earlier. Ted gave chase, tattooing the Japanese plane with a spray of .50-caliber lead. He broke off his attack because they were nearing the destroyer, and he knew that the ship’s radar could not distinguish friend from foe.

Sure enough, the destroyer opened fire, and the kamikaze, already disabled by Ted’s guns, angled down and crashed onto a nearby island. Thus, Ted Crosby became an ace in day, credited with three Jacks, a Zeke, and a Val dive bomber.  His skill and valor that day won him the coveted Navy Cross.

Ted says he did not feel too good about downing those kamikazes at first. He realized that most of the suicide pilots had little training and were for the most part sitting ducks to experienced Navy airmen. However, Ted felt better “when I was told the extent of the damage they did on ships, and by shooting them down I was saving American lives.”

Crosby also had a close call on a photo-recon mission near Shokaku, after American carrier planes had attacked Japanese shipping in the area. “I had my plot board out and I’m putting down the time of day, the slant of the sun, and all that had to do with photography. Suddenly, I saw stuff [bullets] bouncing off my wing. I look back, and there’s this guy on my tail—probably a George.  Only time I ever had a guy on my tail.”

After one pass the George broke off the attack and seemed to head back to his base. Crosby was not inclined to follow him. At the moment he was alone, and following an enemy plane over enemy territory did not seem like a wise thing to do. After he got back to Hornet, Ted found an unexploded 30mm shell in his cockpit armor, mute testimony to his luck and the fact that American aircraft designs protected their pilots.

Ted Crosby remained in the Navy after the war and retired with the rank of commander.

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Military Humor –

“Ya might hafta catch a boat. One of those kids ya just chased off th’ field wuz the pilot”

The new “Learn-as-you-Go” pilot training method.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ed Bearrs – Billings, MT; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl., 3rd Marine Raider Battalion & 7/1st Marine Division, Purple Heart  /  Historian

John Bero Jr. – Buffalo, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Patrick Chess – Yakima, WA; US Navy, WWII shipfitter 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma. KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Gabriel J. Eggud – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., pilot, 110/71 Reconnaissance Group, KIA (New Guinea)

Ellis Fryer – Dearborn, MI; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Donald Lesmeister – Harvey, ND; US Navy, Korea, USS Wiltsie

Jack McPherson – Casper, WY; US Army, WWII, Chief Warrant Officer/ Korea & Vietnam/ NSA (Ret.)

June Pearce – Waukon, IA; Civilian, B-17 riveter

Charles Perkins – Quincy, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Donald Schimmels (100) – Kewaunee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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Poem – “The Conversion”

From the C.B.I. Theater of operation Roundup newsletter came this poem of wisdom.  Just something to keep in mind – no matter what theater of operations OR which war the veteran emerges from….

THE CONVERSION

When bugles sound their final notes
And bombs explode no more
And we return to what we did
Before we went to war
The sudden shift of status
On the ladder of success
Will make some worthy gentlemen
Feel like an awful mess.

Just think of some poor captain
Minus all his silver bars
Standing up behind some counter
Selling peanuts and cigars
And think of all the majors
When their oak leaf’s far behind
And the uniforms they’re wearing
is the Western Union kind.

 

Shed a tear for some poor colonel
if he doesn’t feel himself
Jerking sodas isn’t easy
When the eagle’s on the shelf
‘Tis a bitter pill to swallow
‘Tis a matter for despair
Being messengers and clerks again
A mighty cross to bear.

So be kind to working people
That you meet where ‘er you go
For the guy who’s washing dishes
May have been your old CO.

Published 6 October 1944

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Daniel Barnett – Goodlettsville, TN; US Army, Korea, RHQ/187th RCT

“You Are Not Forgotten”

George W. Biggs – Nogales, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII. Tuskegee airman / Korea & Vietnam, B-47 & B-52 pilot / US Customs Service

Harold L. Dick – Tipton, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Gunner’s mate 2nd Class, USS Colorado, KIA (Tinian)

Lloyd Gruse – Baltimore, MD; US Navy, WWII  /  US Army, Korea & Vietnam

Virdean (Davis) Lucas – Newton, KS; Civilian, USO, WWII

Ramon Maldonado (103) – Carriere, MS; US Army, WWII

Isaac Parker (17) – AK; US Navy, WWII, Mess Attendant, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Steve Stibbens – Dallas, TX; USMC, Vietnam, Gunnery Sgt. (Ret. 20 y.), Bronze Star, Stars & Stripes journalist

Andrew Vinchesi – Malden, MA; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Lloyd Wade – Westminster, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

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USS West Virginia – Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay

USS West Virginia, pre-WWII

Her wounds had been grievous that morning in 1941, when Japanese torpedo bombers  swept low over the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor and unleashed their deadly cargoes at the easy targets moored along Battleship Row.  The surface might of the U.S. Pacific Fleet was virtually helpless against the onslaught, and those ships moored outboard received the brunt of the devastating attack.

Oklahoma capsized and West Virginia took 7 torpedoes into her port side, gouging huge holes in her hull.  Two modified artillery shells, configured as

USS West Virginia (BB-48)

aerial bombs, struck aft.  The ship’s captain, Mervyn Bennion, was cut down by a steel fragment but remained in command, perishing with courage and later receiving a posthumous Medal of Honor.  Dorie Miller, a cook, manned a machine-gun and received the Navy Cross for heroism.

Alert counterflooding kept West Virginia from capsizing and the heavily damaged battleship settled to the bottom of Pearl Harbor upright and on an even keel.  A total of 106 West Virginia sailors were killed that fateful morning.

USS West Virgina @ Pearl Harbor. USCG boat in front saving sailors

At first glance, it appeared that the battleship might be a total loss.  However, salvage and recovery efforts were quickly begun.  West Virginia was refloated and pumped dry.  The bodies of sailors entombed on the ship for days were recovered.  The torpedo holes were patched, and the Colorado- class ship, first launched in November 1921, sailed for Puget Sound Navy Yard, in Bremerton, WA, for a substantial rebuild.

December 7th memories.

After 2 years of modernization,  USS West Virginia was ready for combat duty.  In October, she joined the shore bombardment group off of Leyte, P.I.  Here, her main 16-inch guns barked at the Japanese.  She gained another measure of revenge in the night Battle of Surigao Strait.  Along with the Mississippi, and other Pearl Harbor veterans Tennessee, Maryland, California and Pennsylvania they pounded an enemy surface squadron.

USS West Virginia, sinking at Pearl Harbor

West Virginia, affectionately known to her crew as, “Big Weevie”, later provided fire support for the amphibious landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, remaining to lend heavy artillery as the operations progressed.  She was struck by a Kamikaze plane off Okinawa that killed 4 sailors, but she remained on station until her mission was completed.

When the news of the Japanese surrender reached her crew, the USS West Virginia was ordered to sail for Tokyo Bay.  She arrived on 31 August, and her contingent of Marines went shore.

West Virginia was the largest ship of the U.S. Navy present at both Pearl Harbor and the  2 September surrender ceremonies.  The only other U.S. warship that were at both events was the light cruiser USS Detroit.

USS West Virginia, 1944

After lending 5 musicians from her band to play during the surrender proceedings, she only had one more task to complete: transporting 25,554 fighting men from Pearl Harbor to San Diego, CA, during Operation Magic Carpet, the mammoth undertaking to bring American personnel home from the Pacific.

West Virginia in Hawaii preparing for home, Oct. 1945

She was decommissioned in 1947, and put in the Pacific Reserve Fleet until 1959.  After a storied career spanning 4 decades, she was towed to New York harbor to be broken up for scrap.

The West Virginia’s bell sits in the state museum at Charleston, her wheel and binnacle are at the Hampton Roads Museum, her mast at West Virginia University and an antiaircraft gun in a park at Parkersburg.

WWII History Network.

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Military Humor – Navy Style – 

THE VIEW IS PRETTIEST FROM THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN.

WHY C.O.’S DON’T GET MUCH SLEEP!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Anthon – Cincinnati, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc, Co. A/1/6/2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, KIA (Tarawa)

Warren G.H. DeVault – TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt., Co. F/2/12/4th Infantry Division, KIA (Hürtgen, GER

HONOR

Roland Fafard – Worchester, MA; US Navy, WWII, SeaBee

Bernie Lieder – Greenwood Township, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO  /  MN Representative

Douglas ‘Knute’ Nelson – Haynesville, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Marvin Pretzer – Bay City, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Donald Rusk – Clarks Hill, IN; US Army, Korea, Sgt.

Norma Schrader – Bridgeport, CT; US Army WAC, WWII

Donald Stouli – Robbinsdal, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot, 303 Bomb Group  /  US Air Force, Korea

Julian C. Wills (100) – Flingsville, KY; US Army, WWII, MSgt.

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Sea Bees in Japan after the WWII

Signal Tower at Misarazu Air Station, built by the 136th NCB, 15 Oct. 1945

On V-J Day, thirteen Naval Construction Battalions (NCB), three Special Naval Construction Battalions (stevedores), and one Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) awaited assignment to Japan, where they were to aid naval forces at Hiroshima, Kabayana, Yokosuka, Omura, Nagasaki, Sasebo, and Kure. Their tasks included constructing, repairing, and maintaining Naval and Marine Corps bases throughout Japan to support US armed forces in occupying the country.

On 15 August 1945, Seabees with the 136th NCB embarked in 12 LSM’s at Guam headed for Iwo Jima and onto Yokosuka, Japan. They arrived at the badly damaged Yokosuka navy yard on 30 August 1945, where they established their camp at the Japanese navigation school. In preparation for the arrival of additional forces, the Seabees repaired housing, electric and telephone systems, and roads at the naval base; graded fields and remodeled buildings for the fleet recreation area; repaired housing and surfaced an airstrip at Kisarazu airfield.

Meanwhile, the 602nd CBMU arrived at Yokosuka to maintain runways and roads at the Marine Corps air base. They constructed a 2000-man galley, restored barracks and facilities for personnel, constructed a chapel and recreation facilities, completed a sawmill, public works shops, a cold-storage plant, and a chlorination plant for water treatment, and installed hot water showers in all barracks.

Galleys & mess hall built by 136th NCB for the Naval HQ, 14 Nov. 1945

During the month of September, the 41st Regiment, consisting of the 9th, 28th, 62nd, and 90th NCB, and the 28th Special Battalion, joined the 136th NCB at Yokosuka. Among the major projects included repairing and maintaining the naval base at Kisarazu naval air station, which included overhauling the gasoline system and providing housing facilities for air station personnel and repairing and maintaining the airstrip. They also repaired buildings and erected Quonset huts for housing and messing facilities for port director activities at both Yokosuka and Tokyo, and loaded gravel from the Atsugi River for use in repairing roads and runways.

Sasebo on the island of Kyushu, not far from Nagasaki, was the other big center of Seabees activity in Japan. For some time, the 7th Naval Construction Regiment, consisting of 4 NCBs and the 31st   Special, were working simultaneously at Sasebo to construct the naval base, clear the dock area in the navy yard and provide space for roadways and facilitating the unloading of ships. This required removal of large quantities of scrap metal, heavy marine equipment, and other debris. The Seabees used a Japanese floating crane and Japanese barges, together with some Japanese laborers, were used on the task.

Port camp for 31st NCB at Sasebo, Japan, Jan. 1946

In addition to repairing and maintaining the Marine Corps camp at Ainoura, the 116th NCB rehabilitated and constructed 5 miles of road from Ainoura to Sasebo, together with an alternate 5-mile stretch and operated two quarries to support road work construction. The Seabees also constructed a Quonset hut camp to house 400 men at the former aircraft factory at Sasebo. Seabees with the 72nd NCB constructed a 2000-man camp, two 200-bed hospitals, and recreational facilities in Sasebo to support naval forces.

Naval forces camp at Omora, Japan, built by 31st NCB, Jan. 1946

Upon its arrival in Japan, the 31st NCB had been sent to Omura, about 28 miles from Sasebo. At Omura, the battalion was given a former Japanese hangar for temporary barracks, messing, and work space, and assigned a former Japanese garrison force compound for permanent barracks and work space. The area was deliberately destroyed in an attempt to inconvenience occupation troops; all the latrines were in disreputable condition, lighting fixtures had been torn out, and the general litter and debris throughout the area was so extensive that a 40-man cleaning crew worked for more than a fortnight removing debris and trash.

One of the most unique duties the Seabees undertook in Japan after the war ended was working on the Bureau of Yards and Docks Technical Mission to Japan to survey damage wrought by the atomic bombs and other aerial bombing attacks. This group consisted of structural engineers and Seabees sent to Japan to survey the damage inflicted by atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as damage caused by high explosive and incendiary bombs.

31st NCB with Japanese aircraft set for destruction.

Unknowingly, these men exposed themselves to radiation and many died young of cancer, leukemia, and unknown illnesses all in an effort to assist the US in understanding the devastation atomic bombs leveled on a major city and industrial areas, and how to build facilities in the future to withstand atomic warfare.

By mid-1946, all Seabee units stationed in Japan were disestablished and the men were discharged from active duty. The Seabees were part of the demobilization plan, and by June 1946 their number had fallen from a peak strength of more than 250,000 men to approximately 20,000. The Seabees that served in Japan, during this time, played a key role in the construction of bases, roads, facilities, and infrastructure necessary to assist Japan in rebuilding their economy and country in the post-war years.

From the SeaBee Museum.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Scott Bumpers – TN; Tennessee National Guard, MSgt., 118th Wing/118th Intel Surveillance & Recon Group

Clayton Eldridge – Williamsville, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Dayton

11th Airborne Memorial

Betty Gill – Madison, WI; US Woman’s Marine Corps, WWII

Shelli Huether – TN; Tennessee National Guard, Lt. Colonel, 118/118th Intel Surveillance & Recon Group

Russell McCauley (101) – Altoona, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Casey A. Popenoe – USA; US Army, Iraq, Chief Warrant Officer 3, 2/8/1/25th Infantry Division

William Rouch – Bangor, PA; US Army  / WWII historian

Robert Salgado – Palm Springs, CA; US Army, WWII, 82nd Airborne Division

David Smith Jr. – East Walpole, MA; US Navy, WWII

Jessica Wright – TN; Tennessee National Guard, Captain, 118/118th Intel Surveillance & Recon Group

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Conscientious Objector and the Medal of Honor

Desmond Doss

The President of the United States, in the name of Congress, awarded more than 3,400 Medals of Honor to the Nation’s bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard personnel, since the decoration’s creation in 1861!

This article was compiled from a variety of resources to honor one such person…

Desmond T. Doss:

Desmond T. Doss was born on February 7, 1919 in Lynchburg, Virginia, USA as Desmond Thomas Doss. He was married to Frances Duman and Dorothy Schutte. He died on March 23, 2006 in Piedmont, Alabama, USA.

Doss receives Medal of Honor from Pres. Truman

Rank & Unit: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division
Place & Date: Near Urasoe Mura, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, 29 April-21 May 1945

He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion, 77th Infantry Division assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high. As the troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machine gun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them 1 by 1 to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On 2 May, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards of enemy forces in a cave’s mouth, where he dressed his comrades’ wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety.

On 5 May, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire.

On 21 May, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers’ return, he was again struck, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station.

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While serving with his platoon in 1944 on Guam and the Philippines, he was awarded two Bronze Stars with a “V” device,  for exceptional valor in aiding wounded soldiers under fire. During the Battle of Okinawa, he saved the lives of 50–100 wounded infantrymen atop the area known by the 96th Division as the Maeda Escarpment or Hacksaw Ridge.   Doss was wounded four times in Okinawa and was evacuated on May 21, 1945, aboard the USS Mercy.   Doss suffered a left arm fracture from a sniper’s bullet and at one point had seventeen pieces of shrapnel embedded in his body. 

His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.  The movie, “Hacksaw Ridge” was made to honor this man and his actions.

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Current News – Honoring 9/11

9/11 Tribute

My past posts to give tribute to those affected by 9/11 …

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2016/09/10/911-patriot-and-national-service-day/

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/benghazi-9112012/

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/patriot-day-9112001/

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2014/09/11/national-service-patriot-day-911/

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/patriot-national-service-remembrance-day-911/

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Myrwin ‘Red’ Anderson – Madison, IN; US Navy, WWII

Gladys Blum – Philadelphia, PA; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

Joseph S. Forzley – Lemont, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 5th Air Force

Charles Herrmann – Cincinnati, OH; USMC, WWII

Joseph Kurata – Acampo, CA; US Army, Japanese Occupation & Korea, Counter Intelligence Corps, Col. (Ret. 32 y.)

Ian McKnight – NC; US Navy, USS Nimitz, 5th Fleet, Information Tech 2nd Class, MIA (Arabian Gulf)

Kathryn Phillips – Columbus, GA; Civilian, US Red Cross, WWII

Amy Ponech – Lethbridge, CAN; WRC Air Force, WWII

Philip Savage Jr. – Buffalo, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 505/82nd Airborne Division

Michael Wadeck – Bradenton, FL; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam (Ret. 27 y.)

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American, John Birch, First Casualty of the Cold War

John Birch in China

 

On August 25, 1945, John Birch, an American missionary to China before the war and a captain in the Army during the war, is killed by Chinese communists days after the surrender of Japan, for no apparent reason.

When 22-year-old Birch, graduate of Mercer University and a Baptist seminary in Macon, Georgia, arrived in Shanghai in Japanese-occupied China in 1940, he’d come to be a missionary to the Chinese people and began by learning the world’s most difficult language in record time—no surprise to his family back in Georgia who always saw Birch as the smartest guy in any room.

The Chinese recognized his charitable heart as he preached the love of Christ, a message many had never heard except from the lips of an interpreter. And preach he did, as he covered much of occupied and unoccupied China—dodging Japanese patrols, dressing in native clothes, eating the same food, and taking the same risks as the people he quickly came to love.

Gen. Chennault honors John Birch

From missionary to guide to spy…

As financial support from the World Fundamental Baptist Missionary Fellowship dried up, Birch realized he’d have to find some other source of income. He was sitting in a restaurant in Zhejiang province, eating the cheapest fare on the menu, when a man approached. “Are you American?”

Birch nodded. “Follow me,” the man said and led him to a sampan (flat-bottomed boat) on a nearby river where he could hear English being spoken inside. Birch called out, “Are there Americans in there?”

“Jesus Christ!” came a voice from inside. “No Jap could have that southern drawl.”

Birch answered, “Jesus Christ is a very good name, but I’m not he.” He stepped inside the sampan and looked directly into the eyes of Colonel James Doolittle. After bombing Tokyo, Doolittle and his men had bailed out over what they erroneously thought was free China. They needed help.

As things turned out, it became a question of who helped whom the most. Birch and many Chinese citizens risked their lives guiding Doolittle and his raiders to the safety of Chungking and Chiang Kai-shek; while Doolittle, impressed with Birch’s intelligence and knowing that the young man wanted to join the army, preferably as a chaplain, plugged him through military channels.

And so Birch became a second lieutenant in the famed Flying Tigers, commanded by General Claire Chennault, but not as a chaplain. Because of his command of the Chinese language, thorough knowledge of the countryside, mastery of disguise, mutual love for the Chinese nationals he worked with, and genius for gathering intelligence, Birch became … a spy.

But he had one request of Chennault—“Whenever I can, without neglecting my duties, can I preach?” General Chennault assented. Years later, the war over and Birch dead, this rough military man would remark with tears in his eyes, “John Birch was like the son I never had.”

In a last letter home to his mother who had asked him if he’d be getting a furlough, Birch answered that he would love to, but could not leave until the last Japanese had left. And indeed he stayed past Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945. On August 25 Birch, along with some American, Chinese, and Korean comrades, went on one last mission in a small town near Xuzhou. There Chinese Communists shot and killed Birch when he refused to surrender his revolver. After his death both the American and Chinese governments awarded him military honors.

This article is from Christian History magazine #121 Faith in the Foxholes.

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Military Humor –

“Honest, it’s real food, only it’s in camouflage.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Henry Baker (102) – Brooksville, FL; US Navy, WWII, Chief Petty Officer

Corlton L. Chee – Pinehill, NM; Pvt., 2/12/1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, tank crewman

Paul DiCiero Cincinnati, OH; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Johnny Kai – Honolulu, HI; US Army, 11th Airborne Div.  /  Vietnam, Major (Ret.), 5th Special Forces

John Langran – Columbo, Ceylon; Royal Navy, WWII, Lt. Commander (Ret.)

Warren O’Sullivan – Narberth, PA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, West Point grad, Corps of Engineers

John Pfeffer – Lebanon, IL; USMC, WWII

Albert Roe – Detroit, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 11th Airborne Division

Tom Seaver – Fresno, CA; USMC  /  MLB pitcher

Eugene, Smith – Norwood, MA; US Army Air Corps, 505/ 82nd Airborne Division

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Follow up story for the Battle of Savo Island

Eric Geddes and his crew

With thanks to Pierre Lagacé for finding this information.  [Should anyone require research on WWII, especially the ETO, this is the man to know!]

Battle of Savo Island in art

 

 

https://richardharmervfn101.wordpress.com/2020/08/10/bloody-savo-revisited-sole-survivor-fights-to-clear-wwii-shadow/

Battle of Savo Island

Sole survivor fights to clear WWII shadow

For the follow-up video….

https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/sole-survivor-fights-to-clear-wwii-shadow/4468200

Eric Geddes WINS!!!

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-27/raaf-veteran-wins-fight-to-clear-crews-name/5844958

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Arnold – Des Plaines, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO

Shirley Hugh Barker (104) – Beloit, WI; US Army, WWII, 82nd Airborne Division

Raymond Dietrich – Muscatine, IA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Ira Edmondson – Texarkana, AR; US Army, WWII, 42nd “Rainbow Division”

Jack Frisch – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army, German Occupation, 547th Ordnance / NFL running back

Philip A, Goddard – Morrisville, VT; US Army, Medical Unit/82nd Airborne Division, doctor

Carl Humpfer Jr. – St. John, IN; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea

Kenneth Kokrine – Tanana, AK; US Army, Vietnam, radioman

Charles Mirachi – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Enterprise / Civilian, US Navy

Ronald Perry – New Haven, CT; US Army, Vietnam, 1st Calvary, Col. (Ret.), Silver Star, 2-DFC’s, 3 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart

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The Wreck of the IJN Chokai

IJN Chokai, 1942 -by: Paul Wright

Chokai was the last of the four-strong Takao class of heavy cruisers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy in the late 1920s. Imperial Japanese designers worked for several years under the restrictions of the Washington Naval Treaty to make warships that were superior in quality to their American and British opponents, but the tonnage limitations imposed by the treaty made designs that would satisfy the General Staff almost impossible.

In WWII,  Chokai participated in several of the early operations in Southeast Asia, including convoy escort, assisting in the Hunt for Force Z, and the destruction of ABDA forces.

In March 1942, the IJN made a raid into the Indian Ocean with impressive results. The British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, the heavy cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire, and the destroyers Tenedos and Vampire were all sunk. Additionally, several ports were raided on the island of Ceylon and the Indian mainland, and more than 25 merchant vessels were sunk for the loss of around 25 Japanese aircraft.

After a short refit at Yokosuka, Chokai was assigned to the occupation force for the Midway Invasion operation, with the intention of providing support to the Special Naval Landing Forces while they assaulted the atoll. However, the destruction of the Kido Butai and the resulting loss of Japanese air cover on June 4th resulted in the failure of the operation, and Chokai returned to Japan.

IJN heavy cruiser Chokai at Ruk 20 Nov. 1942, Yamato in background

On the night of August 9th, Chokai acted as the flagship for Vice Admiral Mikawa as the 6th Cruiser Division went into the Battle of Savo Island, a mostly one-sided beating of the Allied naval forces in the waters off the island.  Four Allied heavy cruisers were sunk (CanberraAstoriaVincennes, and Quincy) by the combined weight of gunfire and torpedoes from the Japanese force, and another survived with heavy damage. Despite the surprise of the attack, two Japanese cruisers were damaged by return fire, including ChokaiQuincy and Astoria succeeded at hitting Chokai’s Number I turret, disabling it and killing 34 of the crew inside. Repairs are made at Rabaul over the next several days.

For the rest of 1942, Chokai participated in bombardments of Henderson Field and escorted Tokyo express convoys to the island. For several more months most of Chokai’s time was spent escorting convoys, and in some minor refits that added newer radar and more AA guns.  In June 1944, she was part of the Mobile Force at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, a colossally one-sided battle that saw the loss of three Japanese aircraft carriers, three more carriers damaged, damage to several surface combatants, and the loss of more than 700 aircraft. Chokai emerged unscathed from the battle.

 

October 1944 would see the end of Chokai. In an effort to halt the American landing on the island of Leyte, the IJN put together a massive operation to divert the main striking power of the US navy away from the island, so that their battleships and cruisers could attack the vulnerable transport ships in the gulf.

IJN Center Force departing Brunei Bay, Borneo, for P.I. 22 Oct. 1944 w/ Yamato & Musashi

The Center Force under Admiral Takeo Kurita comprised four battleships (including Yamato and Musashi, the largest battleships ever built), ten heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and fifteen destroyers. Despite two devastating attacks on the 23rd and 24th by American submarines and aircraft (which sank two of her sister ships and critically damaged another), Chokai made it into the gulf for what would have been the main event.

During the Battle off Samar on October 25th, the Center Force totally failed to utilize its advantage in survivability and firepower and was turned back by the boldness and audacity of the Americans in the small task forces that were supporting the marines on the island. For the loss of an escort carrier, two destroyers, a destroyer escort, several aircraft, and damage to several other warships, the Japanese lost three more heavy cruisers and another three were seriously damaged.

At 0558 the Center Force opened fire on Taffy 3, by 0850 Chokai started to take 5” shellfire from the guns on the escort carriers and destroyer escort Roberts. It is probable that several of them were from USS White Plains (CVE-66).  Less than ten minutes later, reports indicate a large explosion, long believed to be from Chokai’s torpedoes detonating from a near hit by a 5” shell. Her engines and rudder were disabled, and she fell out of formation. At 0905, a flight of four TBM Avengers from Kitkun Bay scored a hit with a 500 pound bomb on the stern, and they reported billowing smoke.

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Towards the end of the hour, the heavy cruiser Tone reports that Chokai is dead in the water. Kurita orders the destroyer Fujinami to escort the stricken cruiser away a few minutes after 1000, and the destroyer takes off the survivors. At last, at 2148 hours Fujunami reports that she had scuttled Chokai with torpedoes.

But even after their ship was sunk, Chokai’s crew weren’t safe. On October 27th, while diverting to pick up more survivors from another lost Japanese ship, aircraft from USS Essex attacked Fujinami in the afternoon. Fujunami was sunk with all hands, including all of the survivors from Chokai.

On May 5th, 2019, the R/V Petrel located Chokai at a depth of 16,970 feet (5,173 meters), and on May 30th they conducted an ROV survey of the wreck.  Chokai is resting upright, her bow broke off in front of the Number I turret and is resting about 980 feet (300 meters) away, an aircraft catapult also broke away, and the rear deck has fallen in.

Aside from that, most of the ship is in one piece.

 

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Military Humor – Navy Chief style – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leon Ahlquist – Scarborough, ME; US Navy, WWII, USS Antietam

Daniel H. Bergolc – Euclid, OH; US Army, Iraq & Afghanistan, Captain, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts

Jack Childress – Ridgeland, MS; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st marine Division, 3 purple Hearts

Robert Dishmond – Science Hill, KY; US Army, Korea, 101st Airborne & 3rd Infantry Division

Charles Gwinn – Silverdale, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/674 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Norris Halstead – Notomine, WV; US Navy, WWII

Fred Kerhoff – Lena, IL; US Army, WWII

Laverne Mertz – Walnut, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Oliver Williams Jr. – New Orleans, LA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Hutchins

Thomas Francis Wills – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII, ETO & PTO, radioman 1st Class, USS Upshur Inshore Patrol/10th ND/Navy 116; USS Chickadee, Monitor & Dyess

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Current News – 75th Anniversary of the end!

The 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II Commemoration, which includes events in Washington, D.C., and Honolulu, Hawaii, will continue with adjustments and safety precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to organizers.

The events in Hawaii – which will include aerial parades and a dinner – will begin Aug. 29 and end Sept. 2, the anniversary of the official end of World War II. A ceremony will be held on the USS Missouri, the ship on which the official surrender documents were signed in 1945.

B-29 bomber “Fifi”

“Commemoration events are in place to pay tribute and thank our veterans of World War II, the Greatest Generation, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States,” Mike Carr, president and CEO of the Battleship Missouri Memorial, said in a press release. “We have worked very hard to ensure this important anniversary would not go unnoticed and look forward to recognizing those who fought for our ultimate freedom.”

World War II veterans attending events in Hawaii or Washington, D.C., will have a “travel bubble.” For Hawaii, that means a 14-day quarantine once arriving in the state, which is now required for all people entering Hawaii. For Washington, D.C., Block said there are ongoing conversations with veterans and their families about who will attend and how that will happen.

B-25 Mitchell bomber “Old Glory” being lifted aboard the USS Essex for trip to Hawaii.

“We have had some [flyover] pilots come forward and say, ‘Well, if [the veterans] want to go I’ll bring them in my private aircraft.’ So they wouldn’t be flying commercially, and some of them live close enough where they could drive,” Block said.

“It’s such an honor. It’s just a really, really epic thing to be part of,” Block said. “And I know everybody really, really wanted to do it this year, particularly.”

The B-17 Flying Fortress, the P-47 Thunderbolt and the B-29 Superfortress are among the about 60 airplanes scheduled to take part in the September flyover. The aircraft will fly in various formations, which represent the war’s major battles. The aircraft are expected to be over the Lincoln Memorial at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 25.

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Major Bill White, USMC, 105.

Oldest Living Marine Veteran, Major Bill White, celebrates his 105 birthday with a drive-by parade in Inglewood, CA

His name will be familiar to many, as he received tens of thousands of Valentines cards from many of you!!

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Purple Heart Day –  7 August

Purple Heart

Veteran and military organizations hold remembrance meetings for fallen heroes and special events to thank soldiers, veterans, and Purple Heart recipients on this day. Many people fly the American flags at their homes and businesses as a way to show their solidarity with the troops.

The Purple Heart Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, recommends donating time and money to the foundation or to other organizations working with Purple Heart recipients and their families on this day. They also encourage people to listen to soldiers and veterans and learn more about their life stories and their military service.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph T. Allbaugh – Folsom, CA; US Army, Afghanistan, 1st Lt., 2/44/108th ADA Brigade, KIA (Kandahar)

Marion Beall Jr. – Bronson, TX; US Navy, WWII, Corpsman w/ 1st Marine Division

HONOR

Modesto “Mike” Chemotti (106) – Solvay, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Fred DePonte – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO, 128th AAA Gun Battery, weapons specialist, Purple Heart

John Fruzyna – Northlake, IL; US Army, Korea, HQ Co./187th RCT

Thomas Hatfield Jr. – Lutcher, LA; US Coast Guard, WWII, Seaman 2nd Class

Kathleen Hunter – Thunder Bay, CAN; RC Army, WWII, nurse

Alexander Klass – Willamina, OR; US Army, Operation Joint Guardian, Pfc., 2/162/41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, KIA (Kosovo)

Davis Sanders – Burlington, WA; US Navy, WWII, aviation metalsmith

George Viney – Lawton, OK; US Army, WWII, PTO, 2 Silver Stars, Bronze Star, Colonel (Ret. 32 y.)

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187th Rakkasans – part (2)

HQ Co./187th Reg. from the 1943 Yearbook

The 11th Airborne Division, along with the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment, was returned to the United States in 1949. The 11th Airborne Division was stationed at Camp Campbell, Kentucky. Along with the 82nd Airborne Division, the 11th was part of the strategic reserve of the American Armed Forces. In February and March of 1950, the Rakkasans took part in Operation Swarmer, the largest peacetime airborne maneuvers ever to be conducted. Their performance in these maneuvers was instrumental in being re-designated an Airborne Regimental Combat Team on August 27, 1950. The 187 Airborne RCT returned to Japan to serve as General MacArthur’s airborne forces during the Korean War. While attached to the 1st Marine Division, the 187 RCT followed up on the success of the Inchon Landing, clearing the Kimpo Peninsula between the Han River and the Yellow Sea.

Paratroopers of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, seated in the cargo compartment of 314th Troop Carrier Group C-119 “Flying Boxcar,” “sweat out” the flight to the dropzone at Munsan-ni, Korea, in March, 1951, ca. 03/1951.
Credit: National Archives

On October 20, 1950 the 187 Regimental Combat Team made combat jumps near the towns of Sukchon and Sunchon in North Korea in the attempt to cut off fleeing communist forces. The Rakkasans fought named engagements at Suan, Wonju, Kaesong, and Inje. In Operation Tomahawk the 187th Airborne made the second combat parachute jump of the Korean War at Munsan-ni on March 23, 1951. The regiment returned to Japan to serve as the strategic reserve in June 1951. In May 1952, the Rakkasans were ordered to quell a North Korean and Chinese Communist prisoner of war (POW) uprising on the Japanese island of Koje-do. The 187 was inserted to the line on two other occasions, in October 1952 and June 1953, as a stop gap against Chinese offensives at Wonton-ni and Kumwha.

187th jumps on Munsan, Korea

During their time in the Korean War, the Rakkasans were awarded a Presidential Unit Citation and two Korean Presidential Citations, as well as earning five more Battle Streamers for their flag. Three soldiers from the 187th were awarded the Medal of Honor: Lester Hammond, Jr., Rodolfo Hernandez, and Richard Wilson. Their success in Korea re-energized the belief in using paratroopers as a strategic response. Soon after, the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina was reactivated.

During the early 1960’s, the Rakkasans were part of a series of transfers and re-designations to help experiment with new division formations for the Cold War. This included being part of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test). By 1964, the 3/187th Airborne was the only battalion of the regiment on active duty. They were assigned to the 3rd Brigade of the newly reactivated 101st Airborne Division. The 3rd Brigade, which included the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 506th Airborne, deployed to Vietnam in December 1967.

Tribute to 3/187th , Vietnam

The Rakkasans spent the next four years in Vietnam, fighting in twelve major engagements. They earned two Valorous Unit Awards and two Presidential Unit Citations for the battles at Trang Bang and Dong Ap Bia Mountain. The latter is better known as “Hamburger Hill.” Another Rakkasan, Captain Paul W. Bucha, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions near Phuoc Vinh in March of 1968. The 101st Airborne, along with the 3/187, returned to Fort Campbell in 1972.

To be continued……

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Military Humor –

Airborne, 2nd Point of Performance – Check Canopy

Airborne, 3rd Point of Performance – Lookout during descent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Billy Brooks – Cherokee County, AL; US Army, Corps of Engineers, SSgt. (Ret. 30 y.)

Thomas R. Cross (101) – WY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 517th PIR, Colonel (Ret.)

Douglas Ferguson – Weyburn, CAN; RAF/RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, navigator

Arthur Graydon – Illawar, AUS; Australian Army, WWII

Harry Gustafson – Brockton, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS YMS-193/Korea USS Columbus/Vietnam USS America, Sr. Chief Petty Officer (Ret. 27 y.)

Alva R. Krogman – Worland, WY; US Air Force, Vietnam, 1st Lt., pilot, 504/7th Air Force, Air Force Academy grad. ’64, KIA (Laos)

Paul McCormack – Covington, LA; US Army, Co. A/503/11th Airborne Division

George Pinto – E.Hartford, CT; US Navy, WWII, USS Lyman K. Swenson

John “Art” Romig – Ubly, MI; USMC, WWII, PTO

Vernnette Stodtmeister – Sioux Falls, SD; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

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