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Philippine Remembrance

 

Dioscoro Valenzuela

Contributed by: fellow blogger Elmer @ Malate in honor of his uncle.

Dioscoro G. Valenzuela was a sergeant in the Philippine Commonwealth Army when World War II erupted.

He escaped the infamous 1942 Bataan Death March — just as they were being rounded up along the road by Japanese soldiers — by fleeing with two other comrades through the mountains of Mount Natib, across Manila bay on a banca, and finally to his hometown in Bulacan under cover by an old couple in Calanate, Malolos town.

Many soldiers decided to escape on that fateful day seeing how the Japanese treated their comrades. The sick or injured were beaten up and killed.

Dioscoro Valenzuela

Eulogy in honor of DP Dioscoro G. Valenzuela:

“The Fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942 and the Island of Corregidor on May 6 of the same year was the beginning of the Japanese occupation in the Philippines.

The Japanese, while making real efforts to conciliate the Filipino people simultaneously enraged them with heatings, torture, public beheadings and humiliating orders to bow to the Japanese as they passed.

On this atmosphere of escalating anger and resentment of the Filipino people, dozens of GRLA ORGNS sprang up in the country to harass the Japanese soldiers.

At this point in time, Vet DP Dioscoro Gallardo Valenzuela, an advocate of the principle “The Defense of the State is the Prime Duty of Every Citizen”, unhesitatingly joined the underground movement of the GRLA Organizations in Bulacan.

For this extra-ordinary and loyalty to the service, DP Dioscoro G. Valenzuela earned himself the following awards and decorations:

Philippine Defense Medal with Ribbon;
Liberation Medal with Ribbon;
Presidential Citation Badge;
and lately he was accorded Certificate of Recognition by Cong. Romeo Acop-Committee CHM on National Defense and Security, during the Parade Review in Honor of the Veterans at the ROTC Hunters Parade Ground on April 5, 2017.

Overall DP Valenzuela was always a very good friend, very religious God Fearing Man, cheerful and friendly to everyone, strict and disciplinarian but a good role model. He is one of the oldest members of the Federation.”

Veterans Federation of the Philippines

Click on images to enlarge.

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Political Cartoons of 1944 – 1945 – 

NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED!!

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Barbara (Pierce) Bush – NYC, NY; Second & First Lady of the United States

Finley Davis – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, Korea, MSgt., POW, KIA

Ronald Lee Ermey – Emphoria, KS; USMC, Vietnam, “Gunny” (beloved actor)

Juan Guerrero – Kennedy, TX; US Army, WWII

John Hasselbrink – Granada Hills, CA; US Navy, submarine service, USS Illinois

Alexander Latimer – Fort Saskatchewan, CAN; RC Army, WWII, Winnipeg Rifles

Bernard Newport – Hamilton, NZ; RNZ Navy # 8095, WWII, Sub-Lt., MTB-505

Carl Ragle – Talmms, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, G/511/ 11th Airborne Division

Matthew Sarrett – Oceanside, NY; US Coast Guard

Joseph Turner – Pitman, NJ;US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO,  HQ/ 188/ 11th Airborne Division

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Eye Witness Account – Iwo Jima & Guam

Seaman Sal Marino

Seaman Sal Murino

The pages, unearthed 70 years after their origin, are stark in simplicity and detail: One young man, one typewriter, together aboard the U.S.S. Doyen.

“Hello everyone!” reads a handwritten greeting on the top of page one, followed by a single-spaced report complete with wisecracks and World War II talk direct from young Sal Murino to his family.

The long, yellowing letter from the U.S. Navy man offers a first-person recitation of the fighting from Dec. 1944-March 1945 as the devastating war finally enters its final year..

Click on images to read the letter.

page 1

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“We stayed at Iwo Jima for about 15 days,” wrote Murino, a round-faced young man in his 20s, whose sometimes fractured syntax still paints a vivid picture of the carnage in the Pacific Theater.

“To hear one combat fatigue(d) Marine put it who was smoking an endless chain of cigarettes — said, ‘Those bastards had us surrounded and throwing everything at us.’ Incidentally, this Marine wanted to go back and fight as he did not want to leave his buddies.”

The letters were in the custody of Murino’s niece, Marie, who across the decades tended carefully to the pages that preserved an unseen slice of history.  Marie’s husband Jim, a regular reader of the Daily News, convinced her to share the letter seven decades after it reached her Brooklyn mailbox.

The missive was mailed to the entire Italiano family, living on DeGraw St. in South Brooklyn. Marie’s mother had three sisters and four brothers — Sal, Johnny and Tony were all fighting overseas.

“Iwo Jima … The Marines had a helluva time,” Sal wrote in one passage. “Jap resistance was very strong. This island was well fortified. … Our planes were zooming over them dropping their eggs and meanwhile from the sea our ships were shelling these same caves.”

USS Doyen

Yet progress against the tenacious Japanese fighters was slow despite the firepower — and came at a price.

His description of the war’s cost: “The task of removing the wounded was another hard job … These same wounded men not so long ago came walking up the gangplank with their rifles and equipment and now, some were able to walk by themselves and the others had to be assisted not only minus their rifles and equipment but a few with (out) their arms and limbs.”

He laid out the scene on the island of Guam, another hub of intense fighting.

“During our invasion last June it was without a question of doubt a place of ‘agony and hell’ (a partial payback for the sneaky attack on Pearl Harbor),” the sailor writes. “We saw many caves in the mountains — some as large as the tunnel of love you would find at amusement places.”

But months later, the only signs of battle were “remnants of Jap tanks, large guns still remained alongside the beaches. The natives were happy to see the Americans return.

“The majority of them wore American clothes and girls were painted with lipstick,” he wrote. “Mingling with them was entirely out, due to the old baloney of ‘military secrets.’”

But things soon heated up. He described a Japanese air attack on their ship where “the red emblem of the Rising Sun looked 25 times larger than under ordinary circumstances.”  Three U.S. fighters then appeared in close pursuit of the Japanese plane.“About 1,000 yards away they bagged it and it came down in a burst of fire and smoke and into the water,” he recounted. “Cheers and laughter could be heard throughout the ship.”The letter closed as it opened, with a handwritten comment from the author.“P.S. Have heard from Tony and Johnny,” their brother relayed. “Both are fine. I too am in Tip-Top shape — no kidding … Say hello to the kids for me.”

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Military Humor –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Taylor Conrad – Baton Rouge, LA; USMC, LCpl., 465th Squadron/3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, KIA

Arnold Harrison – Detroit, MI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc, Co. B/1/2/2nd Marine Div., KIA (Betio)

Richard Holley – Dayton, OH; USMC, GSgt., 465th Squadron/3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, KIA

John Kiefer – Fairport, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Charles Lazarus – WA; US Army, WWII, cryptographer

Zell Miller – Young Harris, GA; USMC, U.S. Senator & Governor

Samuel Phillips – Pinehurst, NC; USMC, 1st Lt., 465th Squadron/ 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, KIA

E.R. Reece – Klondike, OK; US Army, WWII & Korea, 24th Infantry Division

Samuel Schultz – Huntingdon Valley, PA; USMC, Captain, 465th Squadron/ 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, KIA

James Vincent – No. Sioux Falls, SD; US Army, WWII / Korea, Sgt.

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Japanese Soldier’s Remembrance – Iwo Jima – part two

Mt. Suribachi

As Takahashi Toshiharu watches the US tanks he continues his story:

No matter how long you wait, the tank will not come up to 10 meters. He is afraid of the march of my army. At another 90 meters I’m staring at it.  I was telling myself that if I made it as close as 90 meters, I could reach it.

While waiting for another 90 meters to advance, one Japanese soldier crawled and approached the first tank.  I approached the tank I decided to attack.  The shell flew and the tank blew and began to burn.  Sgt. Yatter and I shouted.

M4 Sherman on the edge of Motoyama airfield, Iwo Jima, 2/1945

I had woken the enemy.  The enemy was burned out with a flamethrower. The flame is dark with black smoke. I could not see even an inch ahead.  Because the first tank was done, the enemy must have been angry. The second tank is headed for us and shoots with a cannon, and dashing with a machine gun, awesome.

There are strange things and miracles in the world.  It is a miracle that I am now writing such things at the time like this.  It is surprising. The enemy does not advance, it burns near and shoots. Eight of us could not move.  If it comes, we will be shot or burned.  I can not do anything. There is nothing left to do but wait for tanks to come near. Wait for it.

This time. The earthquake tremor occurred with a large acoustic sound like a collapse of heaven and earth. I can not see even an inch with black smoke. We also tremble as the body jumps.  I wonder what happened, I think it is an earthquake or a volcano explosion.  Buries alive.

Cpl. Oliver Leone throws smoke grenade into cave on Iwo Jima

I ran away like a typhoon.  We can not do it.  The Marines who came with the tanks throw grenades in all the entrances and exits of my army positions and crush them. We got buried alive deep under the ground.

Eight people who were supposed to die by charging the tanks were deeply buried under the ground. There is no air, food and water. It becomes a mummy as it is. There is no way to live.  I decided to dig the earth with a bayonet while others carry it backwards. We worked desperately in the dark.  I do not know how many hours it has passed, but I made a hole about the size of a human head. The air worry ceased.

I did not understand what was going on outside.  There is no guarantee of life if we go out.  I poked my head out, it was night.  Tracer bullets are climbing high, bright and dark.  There are a lot of gasoline cans at the exit of the hole. So I decided to extend the hole and exit.  Sergeant Yano stated that we failed in a fight.  For the time being we will return to the North Border. Report failure and wait for the next command.

While the bullets are climbing, three men crawl going  to the coast. It is not found by enemies. When I went 100 meters, I went high.  Instantly I heard the sound of a machine gun.  It was in an ambush. When looking down in the hole of the shell, Corporal Yoshioka, Senior Iwasaki, First Kimura soldiers killed.

We lost four people and went north further 100 meters under command of Sergeant Yano. There is a convenient place to get to the sea. It is about 2 meters high here and you have to jump down.  Sergeant Yano went and was hit by machine gun fire.  The enemy was everywhere.  It is not easy to go through the enemy.  Two officers were crushed. I have to take the command this time. There are three people, I, Yokoyama upperman and forest soldiers left.  It is good that Sgt. Yano died. Tears fall down, war must stop.

Gen. Kubayashi and his staff on Iwo Jima

Yokoyama upper rank soldier and is much younger than me.  The remaining three will go again . Go down and walk down, crawling and crawling. After a while there was a convenient place to jump off.  Be careful.   Yokoyama stood up.  He was hit and said that it hurts.  It was done.   He was shot from the chest to his back. It is disappointing.

Eight people escaped have now become one person alone. There is no hope of living. Everyone died.  I decided to prepare for the death.  The sky in the east became bright.  It is useless if the dawn breaks, I am in the middle of the enemy and I am also shot.

to be continued…

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Japanese Military Humor – from the Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album “Zero Fighter 1940 – 1945”

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Stanley Brauser – OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Weather Dept., Major

Robert ‘Jack’ Darnielle – Sokane, WA; US Army, Korea, Tank Co./15/3rd Division

Jonathan Dunbar – Austin, TX; US Army, Syria, MSgt., Special Operations, KIA

Elmer ‘Garvis’ Garrett – Kilmichael, MS; US Army, Korea & Vietnam (Ret. 25 y.)

Robert Johnson – Porcupine, SD; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Danny Kraemer – Fort Smith, AR; US Army, WWII, PTO, Amphibian Division

Frederick Mayo – Portland, ME; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 380 Air Service Group

Matt Tonroe – Manchester, UK; British Parachute Reg./3rd. Battalion, Syria, Sgt., KIA

Ervin Vosta – Licoln, NE; US Army, WWII & Korea, TSgt.

Walter Walden – Springfield, OR; USMC, Cpl.

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Current News – Iwo Jima Remembrance

Hershel “Woody” Williams, Medal of Honor, Iwo Jima

HONOLULU — Seventy-three years ago on the island of Iwo Jima, Hershel “Woody” Williams randomly chose several fellow Marines to give him rifle cover as he made a one-man charge with his flamethrower against a network of Japanese pillboxes.

He spent four hours unleashing flames into the pillboxes that had stymied advance for days, racing back to the Marine Corps lines to refuel the flamethrower, and then running again into battle — all while covered by only four riflemen.

Hershel Williams

Williams was ultimately awarded the Medal of Honor on Feb. 23, 1945, for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty,” as the official citation describes it. He “daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire” coming out of reinforced concrete pillboxes, on which bazooka and mortar rounds had no effect.

At one point, Williams mounted a pillbox, stuck the flamethrower’s nozzle through an air vent and killed the enemy within it.  Two of the Marines covering Williams died that day, but he never knew their names, and never knew where their remains rested until just a few months ago.

On Saturday, Williams, with the Medal of Honor hanging around his neck, stood over the Hawaii grave of Charles Fischer, one of those “guardian angels” who helped him survive that day and is buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, nicknamed the Punchbowl.  He saluted the Marine, who died a private first class that day, and then slowly bent down and placed a purple lei upon his headstone.

Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, then and now

“I have always said I’m just the caretaker of it,” Williams said later of the Medal of Honor. “It belongs to them. They sacrificed for it. I didn’t.”
Twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded to men who fought on Iwo Jima; Williams is the last still alive.
Williams was in Hawaii to dedicate a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe. The monument was initiated by Williams through the organization he founded, the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation. This is the foundation’s 33rd monument to be dedicated; they recognize the sacrifices made by families who have lost loved ones in the service of their country.

Punchbowl Cemetery, Honolulu, HI

After the Saturday morning dedication, the 94-year-old Williams visited the Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu, where the remains of hundreds of servicemembers who died during World War II are interred.  Patrick O’Leary, a foundation board member whom Williams has dubbed his “research guru,” sleuthed the identity of Fischer by poring through hundreds of military documents concerning the Iwo Jima campaign waged in February and March 1945.

Using five witness statements that had been given in the course of recommending Williams for the Medal of Honor, O’Leary was able to reliably pinpoint the company the riflemen were in and found that only a corporal and private first class had been killed that day.  “It just has to be them,” O’Leary said. “Nothing else fits.”

Hershel Williams

Last fall he tracked down Fischer’s gravesite in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The other Marine is buried in Long Island, N.Y.
Williams also visited for the first time the grave of Vernon Waters, a fellow Marine and close friend who died on Iwo Jima.
They had become very close in the lead up to the Iwo Jima campaign, fostering a feeling of devotion in Williams so strong that he ultimately risked court-martial.
While on the island of Guam, Waters and Williams had made a pact that should either of them be killed, the other would return their rings to family members.
William’s girlfriend had given him a ring with a “wee, tiny, little ruby” in it before he left for the Marine Corps.

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Personal Request –

Please visit Katrina’s site for honoring our veterans.  My father has been honored there and now a dear old friend.  Thank you.

Sgt Walter “Wally” Morgan Bryant

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eark Albert – McAlester, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, HQ/457th Arty/11th Airborne Division

Edward Cox – Tampa, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea

A soldier from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, the guardians of Arlington National Cemetery, waits amid the gravestones during funeral services for Army Spc. Sean R. Cutsforth, of Radford, Va., a member of the 101st Airborne who was killed in Afghanistan in December, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Frank Fazekas Sr. – Trenton, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Lt., P-47 pilot, KIA

Betty Flowers – Bristol, ENG; British Woman’s Air Force WAAF, WWII

William Morris – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII, Corpsman

Jack Mullins – Sydney, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII

Stanley Serafin – Surprise, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-29 technician

Jesse Traywick – Ft. Benning, GA; US Army WWII, PTO, Gen. Wainwright’s aide, POW

Donald Wesley Troy – Midland, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO & CBI, P-40 & P-47 pilot / Korea, P-51, Distinguished Flying Cross

John Zucco – Boston, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, USS Alaska

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A Corpsman’s story on Iwo Jima

Many have seen a picture or the monument that depicts the raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi, but not many have heard what happened after that first, non-staged flag was raised amid Japanese territory.

Lt.Col. Chaney Johnson and Capt. Dave Severance gave the small flag to 1stLt. Harold Schrier and ordered him to take a 40-man assault patrol to the summit, secure the crater and raise the flag, as an earlier patrol had reached the summit without being fired upon.

Iwo Jima wounded w/ corpsmen

Schrier’s patrol included a radioman, 2 teams of stretcher-bearers and SSgt. Lou Lowery of Leatherneck Magazine bringing up the rear, photographing every step of the way.  Marines below watched as the patrol moved forward in a difficult climb, slowly moving up the side of the mountain, sometimes crawling on hands and knees.  Upon reaching the rim, they crawled over the edge, one man at a time.

Fanning out in the rim with minor enemy activity in the cave openings, a long piece of pipe was soon found and taken taken to a spot chosen by Lt. Shrier.  The flag was attached to the pole and Lowery snapped the picture of the first flag raising at 10:10 A.M. on 23 February 1945.

Original flag picture signed by SSgt. Lou Lowery, Leatherneck Mag.

The 6 men present as the flag pole was planted were: Sgt. ‘Boots’ Thomas; Sgt. Henry Hansen; Cpl. Charles Lindberg (Raider); Lt. Harold Shrier (Raider), Pfc James Michaels and Pvt. Louis Charlo.  As it came into view, the tired and dirt Marines below cheered loudly and a chorus of bells, whistles and foghorns emanated from the ships in the harbor.

At the same time, all hell broke loose in the crater as the Japanese saw the flag flying.  Enraged by the sight of the flag, grenades came flying and shots rang out from the caves with one shot just missing Lowery, who tumbled almost 50 feet down the side of the mountain before grabbing a bush to save himself and his camera.

A Japanese officer, carrying a sword then charged the group.  The other members of the patrol quickly killed him and charged the caves firing machine guns and flames throwers while tossing demolition charges to seal them off.  When the area was secured, the platoon started back down the mountain  only to meet another group coming up.

Mt. Surabichi climb

Col. Johnson had the thought that someone would want the flag as a souvenir and ordered a larger flag to be found.  It was retrieved from LST-779 and given to 2nd battalion Runner Pfc Rene Gagnon to take to the top.  And so – the more famous picture was taken by Photographer Joseph Rosenthal of the Associated Press.

Story is from “REAL BLOOD!  REAL GUTS!: U.S. Marine Raiders and their CORPSMEN in World War II” by James Gleason.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

As many of you have certainly heard already, the wreck of the USS Juneau has recently been located.  I’m sure the name must sound very familiar to you – the ship that carried down the five Sullivan brothers.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/article/explorers-discover-the-wreck-of-the-uss-juneau/ar-BBKwToF

 

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Human Interest Story –

Chesty XIV meets Chesty XV at Barracks Washington

Chesty XV, USMC mascot

https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2018/03/19/meet-chesty-xv-the-new-marine-corps-mascot/

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jean Bowen – Ottawa, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Irene Cason – Mosinee, WI; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Bill Dingwall – Woodstock, GA; US Army, WWII

Alan Falk – New Bedford, MA; US Army, Captain

Lewis Gilbert – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, Air Force film crew

Clifford Hunt – Anchorage, AK; US Army, Korea, Medical Corps, Psychologist

Charles Jackson – Parrish, FL; 187th RCT, Vietnam, Sgt. Major, Bronze Star

Florence ‘Shutsy’ Reynolds – Connellsville, PA; US Army Air Corps WASP, WWII, pilot

James Studebaker – Lucerne, MO; US Army, WWII & Korea

Phillip Wendell – Sioux City, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT boats

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First Hand Account – Iwo Jima

 

The 31st Naval Construction Battalion on Iwo Jima

This account was submitted by: John Ratomski

A Seabee on Iwo Jima: They Also Served Who Drove Cranes and Cats -62nd SeaBee Battalion

BY:  JACK CORNWELL

 

ON D+2 WE WERE JUST OFF THE SOUTH END OF THE ISLAND, in a Landing Ship, Tank. At about 5 p.m. we were told to report to our equipment. We started our engines, the LST opened its bow doors, and the ramp dropped. We were at Red Beach. A Caterpillar bulldozer went first, to build a dirt ramp. Once that was ready we moved out—trucks, more Cats, and my Northwest 25 crane. The noise was continuous. Wreckage was everywhere. It was getting dark when I got to shore, close to Mount Suribachi.  There was a 30-degree slope up from the beach; I barely made it to the top of that volcanic sand.

My partner Red and I were to share a foxhole. Trying to move that sand was like digging flour. I took the first watch and let Red sleep. When it was his turn, he woke me up every time he heard land crabs. Finally I gave him my bolo knife and told him that only after he had shot the carbine and stuck the enemy with the bolo could he wake me.

Seabees unloading cargo on Iwo Jima’s Red Beach

We were issued D rations, bars about two-and-a-half by five-and-a-half inches that looked like chocolate but were grainy, not sweet. Three bars was one day’s supply. Navy guys on the ship had gotten into the canned goods we had stowed on the crane, but they hadn’t fooled with the five-gallon can of water we had hidden in the boom. We were thankful to have that, since we were allowed only two canteens of water a day.

On D+3 we woke at dawn but couldn’t leave our foxholes until we had clearance from security. Finally we got up, relieved ourselves—no toilet—and saw men from our battalion. Cats went to clear the beaches. Dump trucks were hauling supplies. After we hung the crane with a clam bucket—the Marines needed a water point dug across the island for distributing fresh and desalinated water—Red and I split up.

I started for the beach in the crane. A Northwest 25 was a big, slow thing on treads with a rotating cab and long boom; even with its big diesel engine it only did about two miles an hour. It was going to be a while before I could dig that water point. All around me were Marines trying to get somewhere. Right in the middle of the road some of them had dug a hole and were setting up a 105mm howitzer that they pointed at Japs a hundred yards away on some rocks. After they shot five rounds that killed everyone on the rocks they moved the gun and I filled in the hole and went down to the beach. Far enough up from the sea to avoid the tides, I dug five holes, each 20 feet in diameter, down to the water table. Other Seabees and Marines set up evaporators, pumps, and storage tanks for the water point.

SeaBees constructing the Iwo Jima command post.

I was told to go to the battalion’s new bivouac, below the old Japanese airfield nearest Suribachi. I left my machine there at the strip. At the bivouac two guys from my company and I remodeled a shell crater for our quarters. I stole a tarp to cover it. For sanitary facilities we had slit trenches we squatted over.

Around D+5, my company commander, Lieutenant Pond—I don’t think I ever knew his first name; we generally called him “Mister Pond”—told me my mother had died. There was no way he would be able to get me home to bury her. We couldn’t even move wounded men off the island. I wanted to send money for the funeral, but the paymaster was out on the ship. Lieutenant Pond loaned me $100 and took care of sending it home. He was an outstanding officer. I didn’t mind calling him “Mister.”

This piece of art was created by the Navy Seabee Waldon T. Rich, a few days after the Battle of Iwo Jima to pay tribute to the flag raising on top of Mt Suribachi.

I needed to work on the airfield, so the mechanics changed my rig over from a bucket to a shovel. I put in 9 or 10 hours a day extending the original airstrip to make it big enough to accommodate B-29s. Marines were fighting for the very piece of ground where we were trying to enlarge the strip. We had to watch out for sniper fire and mortar fire and live ammunition and mines. One evening after I finished my shift the first B-29 landed.

ON D+6 THE MAIN BODY OF THE 62ND CAME ASHORE. By D+7 the cooks and bakers had the cook tent erected and we got our first hot meal with baked bread. Marines didn’t have chow lines, just K rations, so whenever they had a chance they got into the Seabee chow line. We got water for showers from underground. It smelled like rotten eggs but it was hot enough. We made the pipes out of shell casings. The showers were out in the open with no covering. Slit trenches got upgraded to four- and six-holers.

Finding Japanese booby traps

After working about 10 days I was sent to Airfield 2, half a mile north, to help extend that strip. I had to walk the crane with the shovel on it uphill past a B-29 in a gully with other abandoned equipment. I noticed a bottle of sake and had gotten down to fetch it when a passing Marine said, “I wouldn’t handle that if I were you.” His face was bloody from hundreds of tiny holes made by a grenade. He explained that it was a booby trap and showed me the wires inside the bottle. I gently put the bottle down. He was waiting to be treated nearby at an evacuation center that was also identifying the dead. They had men going through pockets and checking dog tags and clothing and then stacking the bodies four or five high at an old Japanese revetment. It was awful gruesome.

There was a 105mm howitzer behind our bivouac. The Japanese tried to knock it out with eight-inch guns. The first shell hit about 20 feet from me and killed two of my buddies. The Japs were also using giant mortar shells that tumbled end over end in the air, making a frightening screaming noise. But they usually landed in the water. We figured they were launched from a trough, like Fourth of July skyrockets.

One day a Marine crawled up into my crane’s cab. He pointed to three guys about 100 yards away and said one was a lieutenant colonel who wanted to talk to me. I hurried over. The colonel asked how far down I could dig. Twenty-six feet, I told him.

“That ought to do it,” he said. “Can you move the rig?”

When I said yes the colonel told me I was temporarily relieved of my duties. His sergeant drove me about three-quarters of a mile to a rise called Hill 382. At the foot of the hill he showed me a flat area covered with dead Japs, big mines, and shell casings, then he drove me back to my machine. It took an hour to fuel the crane and return to the work site.

Marine flamethrower on Iwo Jima

The sergeant was waiting there with 40 Marines who spread out on either side of me. The sergeant had me move the crane forward to a cave, which the colonel told me to dig out. I dug all day. We found supplies and living quarters, but no people. That evening the Marines dug foxholes; they were on the fighting line. One drove me to my bivouac. The next morning, when we realized we wouldn’t find anything more, the Marines burned out the cave with flamethrowers. Then they sealed it. I found out later we had been looking for the Japanese commander of the island. Hill 382 became known as Meat Grinder Hill.

For 20 days I dug out caves. At some we pulled out dead Japs and rifles, pistols, and ammunition. I sold souvenirs, mostly to air force fighter personnel. One day I found a bail of tube socks. From then on I never washed socks. Every morning I would put on a new pair. I took a gun rack off a wrecked jeep and mounted it on the nose of the crane cab, which seemed a better place to keep my gun than the floor of the rig. The front windows of the cab were hinged so I could get hold of my weapon in a hurry.

For the continuation of this story and other first hand accounts about the SeaBees contributed by John Ratomski, they appear in the comments at this post – Click Here!

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – SeaBee Style – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

This week the U.S. Air Force lost 10 Great Men

Andrew Becker – Novi, MI; US Air Force, 318th Special Operations Squadron, Captain, pilot, KIA

Dashan J. Biggs – Port Jefferson Station, NY; US Air Force, Iraq, SSgt., KIA

Missing Man formation

Kenneth Dalga – Union, KY; US Air Force, 318th Special Operations Squadron Combat Systems, Captain, KIA

Frederick Dellecker – Ormond Beach, FL; US Air Force, 318th Special Operations Squadron, 1stLt., pilot, KIA

Carl P. Enis – Tallahassee, FL; US Air Force, Iraq, SSgt., KIA

Andreas B. O’Keefe – Center Moriches, NY; US Air Force, Iraq, Captain, KIA

William R. Posch – Indiatlantic, FL; US Air Force, Iraq, MSgt., KIA

Christopher J. Ruguso – Commack, NY; US Air Force, Iraq, MSgt., KIA

Mark K. Weber – Colorado Springs, CO; US Air Force, Iraq, Captain, KIA

Christopher T. Zanetis – Long Island City, NY; Iraq, Captain, KIA

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Iwo Jima

From: “Japanese Destroyer Captain” by IJN Capt. Tameichi Hara____

After heavy preliminary bombardment, the Americans began the invasion of Iwo Jima…  Not a single Japanese warship was sent to oppose this enemy landing, only 700 miles from the homeland.  Meanwhile the bombing of Japanese cities by B-29 Superforts from Marianas bases continued with increasing intensity.

Nothing I write could possibly give you the feeling of this operation – so please watch this documentary that gives both American and Japanese thoughts on this 19 February 1945! 

I realize this is rather long, so if you have limited time, I suggest watching the first few minutes – still – it is very impressive!

 

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Military Humor –

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Murray Barton – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Rayner Broadbent – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Navy # 8573, WWII, submarine service

Ralph Casale – Chelmsford, NH; USMC, WWII, frogman

Donald Gilbert – Greenville, OH; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

John Herberg – Eau Claire, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, pilot (Ret. 30 y.)

Ernell Hermanson – Albuquerque, NM; US Army, WWII

John McShane – Boston, MA; US Army, 187th RCT, infantryman

William Shank – US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 8th Air Force

Kenneth Taylor – Montreal, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, Signalman, HMCS Inch Arran

Ralph Wasserman – St. Paul, MN, US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman

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Current News from: “Stars and Stripes”

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — The flag is in surprisingly good shape for its age.

Made at least 100 years ago, the red, white and blue have only slightly faded. The 48 stars remain neatly in place. The edges are slightly frayed, and a few small moth holes dot the banner.  But there is no more important family treasure for Patty Kelly Stevens and her relatives.  This American flag has been a reward, a sign of hope and a reminder of love and loss.

Now, for the first time in a century, the flag has left the family. On Friday, Stevens – now 93 years old – and dozens of family members made the trek from Oklahoma to North Carolina to donate the flag to the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville.

The flag – once presented to the family by Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood – has survived fire, war and time itself. And now, it will be forever preserved.  “It’s not just a U.S. flag…,” said Jim Bartlinski, director of the museum. “The story behind it is incredible.  We have an obligation to care for that flag until the end of time.”

During World War II, Stevens’ mother, Selma Croft, hid the flag under threat of death as the family was held prisoner for three years in the Philippines.

Airborne & Special Forces Museum

The flag – which briefly flew over the Los Baños Internment Camp – became a symbol of hope for the prisoners there in the weeks before a daring raid to rescue them.  And in the decades since, it has honored the caskets of several family members – including veterans and survivors of Los Baños.

“The flag means so much to me,” Stevens said. “To all of us… to my family.”

The flag’s story begins long before the war.

Alfred J. Croft, Stevens’ father, was a self-taught pilot who served in World War I and had come to the Philippines in 1918 to help train Filipino flyers. There, he met Selma, who came to the islands as a nurse in 1919.  The two married and lived in China and then Hawaii – where Stevens was born – before returning to Manila.

At a carnival in the early 1920s, Alfred Croft rescued the flag from a fire that had engulfed the event. Wood, then governor-general of the Philippines, was so impressed that he awarded the flag to Croft.

They lived an easy life in the Philippines, Stevens said.  But that changed on Dec. 8, 1941, a day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Selma Croft was awakened at 5:30 a.m. that day with news of the attack. Her husband was working in Hawaii at the time.

Stevens and her younger brother, William, were sent home from school early. And on that same day, the Japanese began bombing the island.   “We were not prepared for war,” Stevens recalled. The troops in the Philippines had World War I-era equipment. And they took heavy casualties as Japanese forces overran the islands.

On Jan. 6, 1942, the war reached the family’s doorstep. Stevens was 17, months from graduating high school and moving to California.

But Japanese soldiers ordered her to put her life on hold. They demanded that the family pack enough food and clothing for three days.

“The three days lasted three years and two months,” Stevens said.

Unbeknownst to Stevens, her mother packed the family’s American flag with her things. For three years, Selma Croft would keep the flag hidden – probably by hiding it in a mattress, Stevens reckons.

Stevens, speaking to a group of family and veterans at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, related how her family was held first at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. There were 6,000 prisoners on the campus.

As Santo Tomas grew more crowded, the Japanese sent prisoners to build another camp on the island of Luzon – a camp that would become known as the Los Baños Internment Camp.

Stevens’ story

Stevens said her brother – then 14 years old – was sent to help build the camp. He would never be the same, she said.

Meanwhile, Stevens and her mother stayed at Santo Tomas. As the war waged on, conditions became worse.  “They had a saying,” Stevens said. “‘When victorious, we can be generous.'”

As food rations shrank and abuse rose, Stevens said prisoners realized that American troops must be getting close.  After nearly three years in prison, Stevens said she and her mother were taken to Los Baños.

“We thought it was going to be better,” she said. “It wasn’t.”  At Los Baños, the prisoners were surrounded by jungle.  “We could look across the fence and see bananas on the trees,” Stevens said. “But we couldn’t get there.”

On Jan. 7, 1945, the prisoners received an unexpected surprise. As the inhabitants of the camp awoke, they realized that their captors had unexpectedly left them unattended.  The soldiers had been called away to a battle in Manila, Stevens said. Prisoners ran about the camp shouting “We’re free! We’re free!”

Amid the celebration, Selma Croft took her flag out of hiding and offered it to be raised over the prison camp.

“I had no idea she had it,” Stevens said. “We sang the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and ‘God Save the Queen.’ ”
Some of the stronger men left the camp to get food from a nearby village. Others broke into the Japanese food stores.

But even with no guards, most of the 2,000 prisoners – both civilians and troops – were unable to leave.  “We were afraid. We had no place to go,” Stevens said. “We couldn’t get away.”

When Japanese guards returned a week later, they repeatedly asked about the flag.  For three days, the guards searched prisoners’ barracks trying to find it.

Stevens recalled eating pigweed and brush. “Anything just to stay alive,” she said.  Prisoners could see Allied planes overhead, but they worried that any rescue would come too late.

“They had already dug the ditches for the bodies,” Stevens said.

On the early morning of Feb. 23, 1945, help fell from the sky – angels in parachutes.

As Filipino guerillas attacked from the ground, U.S. troops with the 11th Airborne Division came from the sky.

“It was the happiest day of my life,” Stevens said. “To see those paratroopers come.”

With bullets flying, the family hid under their beds. But the Allied forces quickly overran the Japanese guards.

Stevens said her freedom came with the sound of footsteps as one of the soldiers entered the barracks.

“Are you a Marine?,” she asked.

“Hell no. I’m not a Marine. I’m a paratrooper,” the man responded.

Iron Mike

Stevens said she can never repay the paratroopers who rescued her and others. That’s why it’s perfect to pass the flag to the Airborne & Special Operations Museum.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the airborne,” she said.

The donation – officially made on the 73rd anniversary of the Los Baños Raid – will be displayed through the weekend in the museum lobby, Bartlinski said.

Then officials will begin the needed steps to conserve the flag before putting it back on display in time for Flag Day in June. It will remain on display through July 4 and will eventually have a permanent home in the museum’s main exhibit hall.

Paul Kelly, Stevens’ son, said his family was willing to risk their lives to keep the flag. And he’s now encouraged that the museum will ensure it lasts forever.

“It’s not perfect,” he said of the 100-year-old flag. “But hell, what is?”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Adams – Connersville, IN; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Derald Bickford – Lincoln, NE; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division (Ret.)

Herbert Chancey Jr. – Chattanooga, TN; US Army, Vietnam, A Co/22 Regimen, Ranger

Leslie Colgrove – Fort Sumner, NM; US Army, 173rd Airborne Division, Lt. Col. (Ret. 22 y.)

Lewis Gilbert – Hackney, London, ENG; Royal Air Force, WWII, film unit

“Duke” Hipp – Nyssa, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, Purple Heart

Lawrence Lodewick – Alexandria, VA; US Army, West Point grad, 82nd Airborne Division, Bronze Star, Col. (Ret. 22 y.)

Leroy Murray – Springfield, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CMSgt. (Ret.)

Eugene Roy – Dorens, KY; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Howard Weger – Strawberry Point, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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Los Banos (2)

New Bilibid Prison

Heading out from New Bilibid Prison, the group also turned south down Highway 1 and eventually turned off at Mamatid, along the western shore of Laguna de Bay and about five miles above the San Juan River. Here, the entire convoy went into bivouac under a canopy of trees. Major Burgess finally informed the men about the upcoming mission, specifying the role of each company, the engineers, and the two gun crews.

Dry riverbed route to Los Banos

That afternoon the convoy of 54 amphibious tractors of the 672nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Joseph W. Gibbs, moved out. The amtracs had been sitting at the Manila racetrack for a couple of weeks before making the trek southward through the streets.  After traveling along Highway 1 to Muntinlupa, the convoy turned east and crawled into the waters of Laguna de Bay. Traveling southward until just after dusk, Colonel Gibbs led his amtracs ashore near Mamatid to join Major Burgess’s waiting paratroopers, engineers, and artillerymen.

Finally, in the late afternoon, the reinforced Company B paratroopers moved out of New Bilibid Prison. Before the men left, the plan was revealed to them.  Word had come in from Filipino guerrillas that the Japanese were going to execute all the prisoners on the morning of February 23rd.”

Skau and his recon platoon and about 80 Philippine guerrillas moved over to San Antonio, a small shoreline barrio located about one mile east of the village of Los Baños. Leaving a few recon men behind to mark the beach with white phosphorous grenades, the rest of the band headed inland.  “Traveling overland through rice paddies, taking circuitous routes in order to skirt by the various enemy listening posts and outposts, it took us 10 hours to arrive at our objective [i.e. the internment camp],” wrote Terry Santos, the lead scout of the recon platoon.

Filipino guerrillas depicted in art

“Just as we crested the bank of Boot Creek [on the south side of the prison pen],” wrote Terry Santos, “enemy fire erupted at 3 minutes before 0700. This alerted the Japanese gunners in the pillboxes.”

Terry Santos, lead scout, 11th Recon

Charging the positions, two of the four recon men in Santos’s squad were wounded, and one of the 12 Philippine guerrillas with them was hit before two pillboxes were silenced. “Then suddenly a third, unreported machine gun opened fire on us,” Santos remembered. “We spotted this machine gun on a knoll near a large tree overlooking our exposed position. We kept it under fire until B Company troopers reinforced us.”

Nipa-style barracks for the internees.

Up above, the pilots spotted the intended drop zone, a small field to the west of the compound. “As we crossed the edge of the drop zone,” co-pilot Parker stated, “Major Don Anderson ordered the jump.

Picture by Jerry Sam w/ his secret camera.

The Japanese at Mayondon Point, an outcropping just west of San Antonio, fired upon the noisy, incoming horde of amtracs but scored no hits. As soon as the first wave of LVT-4s hit shore, one of Major Burgess’s paratrooper platoons scrambled out of the vehicles and set up a defensive perimeter around the beach. At the same time, the two 75mm pack howitzers were offloaded and went into action, firing at a Japanese position on a hill to the west. The empty amtracs and those in the succeeding waves then started down the road to Los Baños, 21/2 miles away.

To be continued…

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Merrill Bibens – Springfield, VT; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Ward Choate – Timber Pines, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII

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

Marvin Edwards – Jacksonville, FL; OSS, ETO

Louis ‘Honey’ Guidroz – Westwego, LA; US Army, WWII

Malcolm Hayles – Monroeville, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 79th Fighter Squadron, pilot

Allen Koster – Rocky River, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Korea, Annapolis grad., destroyer escorts & Intrepid

Frank Mann – Juneau, AK; US Army, WWII, Lt.Colonel

Charles Pappas – Worthington, MN; US Army, WWII, PTO

Marvin Reynolds – Shell Rock, IA; US Army, WWII

Elsie Thomson – Perth, AUS; AW Army Service, WWII

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Current News – Bataan Mile Markers

Bataan mile marker, before and after.

CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines – Jungle moss and roadwork are threatening historical markers along the Bataan Death March trail in the Philippines, says an American who’s waging a lonely battle to preserve them.

Bob Hudson’s father, Tech. Sgt. Richard Hudson, was among tens of thousands of troops forced to march nearly 70 miles from the Bataan Peninsula to Japanese prisoner-of-war camps after the surrender of U.S. and Filipino forces on April 9, 1942. Thousands perished during the trek, which included intense heat and harsh treatment from the guards.

Bataan Death March

The government of former Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos installed the first markers — made of metal — along the path in the 1960s, Hudson told a group of veterans last month in Angeles City, Philippines. In 2000, the Filipino-American Memorial Endowment, or FAME — an organization seeking to preserve the nation’s war memorials — replaced them with 139 white concrete markers.

Bob & Rosalie Hudson

Those markers are sturdier than the old ones, some of which were stolen as souvenirs or sold for scrap metal. But the inexorable growth of the surrounding jungle and the tropical heat and humidity are taking a toll on them.

“These markers require a lot of maintenance,” Hudson said.  Since 2012, he and his wife, Rosalie, have spent many weekends along the Death March trail pulling weeds and cleaning and repainting the markers, which quickly get covered in mold and moss.

Rosalie Hudson working.

Hudson said he started the work to honor his late father, who on his death bed asked his son to track down a daughter he left behind in the Philippines during the war.

The elder Hudson — who survived the death march, a voyage to Japan in a “hell ship,” forced labor in a mine and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki — returned to the Philippines to look for his fiancé after the war. He found out that she had been raped and murdered by Japanese troops, and that their daughter had been adopted.

The younger Hudson moved to the Philippines in 2012 and tracked down the children of his half-sister, Leonida Hudson Cortes. Though he learned that she died in 1999, his work on the Death March markers continues.

A local power company is helping maintain 11 markers at the start of the trail, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Angeles City is looking after the final seven. Hudson said that leaves 1

“I’m almost 70 years old,” he said. “It is getting to be a difficult project for me.”

Recent damage to some of the markers by road workers hasn’t made it easier, he said.

FAME provides the couple with paint and the VFW recently donated some money to help fund the project. Those who want to help can find more information at: http://filipino-americanmemorials.org/donate/

Article is from Stars and Stripes magazine.

Click on images to enlarge.

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More Current News – you up for the challenge?

A Special Request (2018 Navy SEAL Swim/Ruck Challenge)
This summer, 6 June 2018 to be specific and during part of the annual D-Day remembrance festivities a very unique and special event will take place:  The 2018 Navy SEAL Swim/Ruck Challenge.  A friend of the Sons of Liberty Museum and the Army Air Corps Library and Museum and an active duty SEAL, will take part in this event and along with 24 other participants will swim in the English Channel, climb cliffs on Omaha Beach and Ruck to St. Lo. this event supports our friends of the Navy SEAL Museum and Trident House in Fort Pierce, FL.  Read More & Support This Event

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Military Humor –

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bryce Blakely Jr. – Orleans, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, gunner, 828/485/15th AF

John Cunningham – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Thomas Evans – Buffalo, NY; US Navy, WWII, APO, radioman

Gunnar Frey Jr. – Des Moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 12th Air Force

Cop Howard – Whangamata, NZ; NZ Army # 230124, WWII

Marion Jenkins – Portland, ME; US Coast Guard, WWII

Alex Littlefield – Daytona Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, pilot

James ‘Bill’ Majors – Fort Payne, AL; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Guillermo Green-Sanchez – Coamo, PR; US Army, WWII, Korea, Sgt.FC

Stanley Stegnerski – Gastomia, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII. ETO, 2nd Lt., P-51 pilot, KIA

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