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Mount Macolod, LUZON

Mt. Macolod, Luzon

US Army still fighting Yamashita’s formidable soldiers…

When General Swing, Commander of the 11th Airborne Division, moved into the stripped-down Manila Hotel Annex, General Krueger began to visit him every other day. His competitive nature tried to get Swing to back-off from pushing into Manila first by saying, “don’t stick your neck out,” but Swing replied, “It’s been sticking out a mile since we landed.”

Mount Macolod was not some minor hill to be taken, this was a major battle for the 11th Airborne. It stands almost 3,107 feet, nearly vertical. On two sides, after a 1,200 foot drop, it has three ridges descending gradually. The north to south nose was known as Brownie Ridge, the east as Bashore and the third, a heavily wooded area that connected Mt. Macolod with Bukel Hill.

Brownie Ridge was the most heavily fortified section encompassing those infamous caves and tunnels previously built by enslaved Filipinos. G-2 (Intelligence), informed the soldiers that they would be up against the Japanese 17th Infantry Regiment and the 115th Fishing Battalion (Suicide Boat Unit), under the command of Colonel Masatoshi Fujishige (Fuji Force).

Mount Macolod, Luzon

For the attack, the 187th, the 760th & 756th Field Artillery Battalions, the 472nd, the 675th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, the 44th Tank Battalion and Company B of the 127th Airborne Engineers were used. (To help avoid what could become very confusing here, I will concentrate on the 187th.) They were equipped with 155mm howitzers, 105mm howitzers, sawed-off 105mm howitzers, Sherman tanks, chemical mortars and flame-throwers. Air attacks were brought in to assist. An entire squadron of P-47s made numerous runs with bombs and then proceeded to strafe the enemy sectors.

F and G Companies of the 187th began house-to-house fighting, but were met by massive machine-gun fire. The enemy was dug in too far underground. Napalm strikes were brought in which enabled the 1st of the 187th to go around to the north of Dita and the 2nd held its position near the town. This was 27 March 1945.

Both units made a frontal assault into the Macolod area the following day. The flamethrowers were used on the enemy bunkers and E and G Companies made it to the top of the crest. Their M-1 fire took out snipers and more advancement was made, but the Japanese returned with mortar fire and a withdrawal was necessary. The enemy came at them throughout the night and following morning with banzai attacks. This was a fierce and bloody battle, especially for men who have never been sent into reserve for rest.

machine-gun pillbox, Hill 843

The small islands that XI Corps had to secure were Caballo, a mile south of Corregidor; Carabao, hugging the Ternate shore; and El Fraile, about midway between the other two. The Japanese on those islands posed no threat to Allied shipping–their ordnance was too light–but, like other bypassed Japanese garrisons, they had to be taken sometime. Although the islands had little or no military significance, the operations to secure them offer interesting examples of military ingenuity and unorthodox tactics.

Some of the 11th A/B troopers were put into a new light. There were no airdrops and no amphibious landings. They used native outrigger canoes to land themselves on Saipang Island where the enemy was using machine-gun fire on the troopers. It was mandatory that machinery to be eliminated. Therefore, at dawn, the canoes moved out. The paratroopers behaved like natives, but fought like soldiers and the small island outpost was cleared of Japanese.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert M. Adams – Elk Grove, CA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

James D. Chandler – Jenkins, KY; US Army, Vietnam, West Point graduate ’54, Colonel (Ret. 22 y.)

Courtesy of Dan Antion

Larry Duncan – Wilmington, NC; USMC, WWII, PTO

Alexander MacDonell – Victoria, CAN; Royal Canadian Artillery, WWII, RC Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, Lt. Col. (Ret.)

John McKeon Jr. – Philadelphia, PA; US Navy, Commander

Floyd A. Miner – Lowell, MA; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

William C. Phelps Jr. – Winslow, AZ; US Air Force, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Senior MSgt.

Omni Putikka – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Dwight S. Ramsay – Fordyce, AR; US Army

Francis Vinci – Middletown, CT; Cadet Nurses Corps, WWII

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Stories from Los Banos

Jerry Sams, Los Banos taken with a hidden camera

Oddly, people were allowed to volunteer for a transfer to Los Baños, which my parents did.  On April 7, 1944, our family was among 530 internees loaded into trucks for the trip South.  At first it was much better.  There was a kindly camp commandant, Lt. Col. Kimura, with one leg, who we kids called “Peg Leg”.  We got better food and he gave candy to the children.  And we could live together as a family. But unfortunately, that didn’t last long as the cruel, evil and sadistic Lieutenant Sadaaki Konishi was installed as the Camp Supply Officer. [source: “My Life as a Child Internee”, Robert A. Wheeler]

Strangely, the rescue of the 500 Santo Tomas internees on February 3rd would not be announced on the Voice of Freedom until the end of the month, leaving the Los Baños camp completely unaware of their fellow internees’ freedom.

In retribution, the Japs became even meaner. We were down to one official meal. Instead of husked rice, we were given a small portion of palay (unhusked rice) that would normally be fed to the pigs. As much as we tried to roll or pound it, the shell remained. If you didn’t hit it hard enough, the husk wouldn’t quite break and it was inedible. If you hit it too hard, you smashed the rice kernel. Conditions were desperate. People were dying so fast that the gravediggers, men who were themselves in miserable condition, could hardly keep up. [source: “My Life as a Child Internee”, Robert A. Wheeler]

S. Davis Winship

Yesterday morning, after nights and days of listening to sounds of the battle of Luzon, far and near, we awoke to the beautiful sunrise typical of late Feb. and out of the north came 18 transport planes, ours, and to our amazement, out of the planes poured parachutists; the most beautiful sight ever seen by my gray eyes.  Simultaneously firing started all over Camp.  Ridiculous as it may sound, I was indulging in my usual morning shave, a practice I have stuck to whether soap was available or not.  And I kept right on as if nothing was happening.  It was not bravery, nonchalance, coolness, or anything of the kind.  Bullets were tearing thru the bamboo walls and open windows of our barracks, – and I finished shaving, washed up, cleaned my tools and put them away.  About then the first of our troops, American and Filipino irregulars appeared, and we were ordered to prepare for immediate evacuation.  And then occurred one of the most astounding feats of military history.  2200 unprepared civilians were grabbed bodily from the midst of a hostile force, in strongly held territory, with not over a dozen wounded, military and civilian, in 3 hours time, and removed from danger. [source: Letter by S.Davis Winship, courtesy of David Record]

“My husband’s aunt was about 5 years when her family were taken as prisoners at Los Baños. Her parents were missionaries and they fled to the forest to hide. They did survive for a time hidden in what they called the “forest farm.” Soon they had to surrender as they were afraid of being killed if found. They were there for 3 years and their whole family managed to survive. Thank you for writing about this rescue. I get tears in my eyes every time I read about the rescue. It was one of military’s proudest moments!”  Blogger, Kat Lupe

Sister Beata

“Hi, thanks so much for a thorough report on this much forgotten, yet most successful rescue ever! My aunt, Sister Mary Beata Mackie, a Maryknoll missionary in the Philippines was among those rescued. She and all the other sisters returned to their Motherhouse in Ossining, New York, thank God. And Sr. Beata then went back for many many years to continue their good work with the wonderful Filipino people.

“You can read an article I wrote about my aunt, Sr. Mary Beata Mackie, and the other Maryknoll Sisters rescue. I also interviewed Sgt. John Fulton for this article. He was on the History Channel’s special about the amazing and daring operation.”  Christine Synder

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/remembering_a_world_war_ii_death_trap_and_a_miraculous_rescue

Fr. William R. McCarthy

Father McCarthy was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission in the Philippine Islands. During his first year, he worked in the Catholic Action program in Cebu City. He also served as a non-commissioned chaplain at a U.S. Army post, “Our meals became progressively worse.  During our last month of imprisonment, the struggle forced us to eat weeds, flowers, vines, salamanders, grubs and slugs.  Deaths mounted to two a day in January 1945.”

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Current News – 

Remember that 14 June 2022 is the U.S. Army’s 247th Birthday, as well as Flag Day!!! 

U.S. Army 2022

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Thomas Bryan – McKeesport, PA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Col. (Ret. 25 y.), Bronze Star, Silver Star

Nathan Carlson – Winnebago, IL; USMC, Corporal, Tiltrotor Squadron 364/MA Group 39/ 3rd Aircraft Wing

Leroy Davis – Rockford, IL; US Air Force, Vietnam, Top Gun, Lt. Col. (Ret. 20 y.)

Clifton Doucet Jr. – New Orleans, LA; US Navy, WWII, USS Philippine Sea. radarman

Donald Gebhardt Sr. – Forks Twpk, PS; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Robert E. Hutcheson – Lawrence, MA; US Army, 1/188/11th Airborne Division

Nicolas Losapio – Rockingham, NH; USMC, Captain, MV-22B pilot, Tiltrotor Sq. 364/ MA Group 39/3rd Aircraft Wing

John T. Malestein – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Seth D. Rasmuson – Johnson, WY; USMC, Corporal, Tiltrotor Sq. 364/MA Group 39/3rd Aircraft Wing

Jon Sax – Placer, CA; USMC, Captain, MV-22B pilot, Tiltrotor Sq 364/MA Group 39/3rd Aircraft Wing

Evan Strickland – Valencia, NM; USMC, Lance Cpl., Tiltrotor Sq 364/MA Group39/ 3rd Aircraft Wing

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Los Banos part – 1

Los Banos University

“I doubt that any airborne unit in the world will ever be able to rival the Los Baños prison raid.  It is the textbook airborne operation for all ages and all armies.”

____ General Colin Powell, US Army, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 25 February 1993

 

G-2 Henry Muller was required to collect any and all intelligence that he could, from anywhere he could find it – that was his job.  A grower from Mindanao who had recently traveled south from Manila told him how awful the prisoners of Los Baños were doing.  This was the first Muller had heard of the camp.  It turned out Gen. Swing, commander of the 11th Airborne Division also had not been told about it.  They presumed that being it was outside the area of their orders from MacArthur to be the reason of this lack of info.  But Muller could not forget what the grower had said, “They are in pitiful shape.  They’re dying.”  He had to find out all he could about that camp.

map, Los Banos

23 February 1945 demonstrated the result of teamwork between General Swing and his troops, the Filipino guerrillas and the intelligence supplied by an escapee of the internment camp of Los Baños, Peter Miles. The man’s photographic memory gave a detailed layout of the prison and the exact sites of the guards and armaments. Mr. Miles had memorized the strict regimental daily routines of the Japanese and the specific times when the guards changed shifts and had their exercise periods, which would put them a safe distance away from their weapons.

Dry riverbed route to Los Banos

Los Banos camp was originally the University of the Philippines Agricultural School. It was situated forty miles southeast of Manila and on this date in history was 26 miles behind enemy lines. This operation needed a multi-pronged attack using each principle of war to the maximum.  Above photo shows actual path taken to sneak to the camp.)

The guerrillas provided intel and also guided Lt. Skau’s reconnaissance platoon into position under the cover of darkness. The army did help supply them with radios, ammunition and food, but the loosely organized groups also later stole the 11th’s supplies, calling it a justified gift.

By this time, Everett “Smitty” Smith was an NCO and when I’d asked him many years ago if he was part of the Los Baños Raid, he said, “No, I was occupied somewhere else.  I didn’t have any contact with them until after they were brought out.” As best as I can find in my research, he was busy with the rest of the 187th near the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion that was commanded by Captain Flanagan. (The captain would later become Lt. General E.M. Flanagan, author of many WWII historical books, including, “The Los Baños Raid: The 11th Airborne Jumps at Dawn“) Although Smitty wasn’t at this dramatic feat of the 11th Airborne Division, It is an operation that anyone associated with the division remains proud of to this day.

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Military Humor – 

Sounds like the 11th A/B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

David Bailey Jr. (100) – Sacramento, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Unice E. Baker – Jesup, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188/11th Airborne Division

Ty Casey – brn: SK; USMC

Jean Daily – Dallas, TX; US Army WAC; WWII, 45th Air Squadron, nurse

Jack Hoover – Mt. Calm, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, 36th Infantry Division

Lydia Maile (102) – Worchester, MA; Civilian, WWII, munitions production

Emmy Lou Papagni (100) – Fresno, CA; Womens USMC, WWII

Arthur Rivkin – Minneapolis, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 co-pilot, 8th Air Force

William Slane Sr. – Schenectady, NY; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

John W. Welch – LaCrosse, WI; US Army, HQ Co/11th Airborne Division

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Luzon February 1945 (1)

Entering Manila

The 6th and 8th Armies on Luzon were repeatedly in close and brutal combat with the Japanese.  By dawn on 4 February the paratroopers ran into increasingly heavy and harassing fire from Japanese riflemen and machine gunners. At the Paranaque River, just south of the Manila city limits, the battalion halted at a badly damaged bridge only to be battered by Japanese artillery fire from Nichols Field. The 11th Airborne Division had reached the main Japanese defenses south of the capital and could go no further.

The U.S. on Luzon

Regarding Manila as indefensible, General Yamashita had originally ordered the commander of Shimbu Group, General Yokoyama Shizuo, to destroy all bridges and other vital installations and evacuate the city as soon as strong American forces made their appearance. However, Rear Adm. Iwabachi Sanji, the naval commander for the Manila area, vowed to resist the Americans and countermanded the order. Determined to support the admiral as best he could, Yokoyama contributed three Army battalions to Iwabachi’s 16,000-man Manila Naval Defense Force and prepared for battle. The sailors knew little about infantry tactics or street fighting, but they were well armed and entrenched throughout the capital. Iwabachi resolved to fight to the last man.

The battle for Manila had barely begun. Almost at once the 1st Cavalry Division in the north and the 11th Airborne Division in the south reported stiffening Japanese resistance to further advances into the city. As one airborne company commander remarked in mock seriousness, “Tell Halsey to stop looking for the Jap Fleet; it’s dying on Nichols Field.”

6 February 1945: “The view of Manila last night was a terrible thing as the whole part of one side of the city seemed to be on fire.  Smoke and flames were going way up in the air….Dombrowski spent the night at the airstrip and said even there, 50 miles away, he could see the flames of Manila…”  General R. Eichelberger

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Current News –

From: Fellow Blogger – Brizzy Mays Books & Bruschetta___

“You may not be aware GP that the east coast of Australia has suffered major flooding over the last six weeks with lives lost and much property destroyed. A supply vessel, the USS Frank Cable, arrived in Brisbane just at the tail end and when the sailors disembarked for their first day of shore leave, 100 of your countrymen and women volunteered their time to help our Mud Army with the clean up – removing debris from houses, chopping down fallen trees, loading trucks with rubbish that floated down swollen rivers etc. It was a wonderful thing, much appreciated, and I hope you guys over there heard about the spirit of co-operation and friendship between our countries. Respect”

USS Frank Cable

[THE U.S. ARTICLE i LOCATED ON THE SUBJECT_____]

USS Frank Cable recently arrived in Brisbane, and some of the ship’s company stepped ashore to help Australian Defense Force personnel deployed on Operation Flood Assist with clean-up tasks.  The ship, attached to the US Seventh Fleet and based in Guam, is visiting Brisbane as part of its current deployment.

The visit has been coordinated with the support of the relevant state governments and Australian Border Force.  Commanding Officer Frank Cable, Captain Albert Alarcon, said he was proud his crew was able to lend assistance.

“Our ship is very honored to be given the opportunity to support the local Brisbane community,” Captain Alarcon said.  “The crew has a very high level of volunteerism and interest in public support, so when offered the opportunity to help out, it resonated across the deck fleet.”

Australia’s longstanding alliance with the US is the nation’s most important defense relationship.  It stands as a pillar of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific and it is a testament to shared values and a commitment to an open, secure, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

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Military Humor –

‘THIS IS A HELLUVA JOB FER A SOJER”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hersh Aramaki – Price, UT; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co C/442nd RCT, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Barney R. Cox – NY & TX; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, GySgt. (Ret.)

Helen Gallagher – Boston, MA; Civilian, WWII, South Boston Army Base

Jack Higgins (Henry Patterson) – Newcastle, ENG; British Army, Royal Horse Guards/Household Cavalry  /  author: “The Eagle Has Landed”

Wilbur R. House – Augusta, KS; US Navy, WWII, Sr. Chief Operations Specialist

Richard B. Johnson – Pueblo, CO; US Navy, WWII, Vietnam, submarine service (Ret. 25 y.)

Arlie Kendrick – CAN; Civilian, WWII, Port Credit Munitions Plant

Etta Moore (101) – St. Louis, MO; Civilian, WWII, aircraft construction

Harry E, Nichols – Sioux City, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Navy Storekeeper # 3213806, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Walter R. Pentico – Lexington, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3723404, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Herbert Stiles – Manchester, NH; US Navy, WWII, ETO, minesweeper

Francis Tippet (100) – Toronto, CAN; RC Navy WRENS, WWII

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Luzon

Lt.General E.M. Flanagan

“The advance had been so swift that the Japs who had the steel-trussed span mined were caught on the far side of it. They attempted to get to their detonator but our fire from the west bank of the Palico killed six and forced the rest to withdraw toward Tagaytay Ridge. Capture of the bridge allowed us to keep moving ahead. Its destruction would have seriously delayed us since our engineers did not have the equipment to replace it. Bypassing would have been difficult because the Palico River flows in a deep, steep-sided canyon, as do most of the Luzon Rivers.”___ Gen. E.M. Flanagan

The 6th and 8th Armies on Luzon were repeatedly in close and brutal combat with the Japanese.  By dawn on 4 February the paratroopers ran into increasingly heavy and harassing fire from Japanese riflemen and machine gunners. At the Paranaque River, just south of the Manila city limits, the battalion halted at a badly damaged bridge only to be battered by Japanese artillery fire from Nichols Field. The 11th Airborne Division had reached the main Japanese defenses south of the capital and could go no further.

US Army, Luzon

Regarding Manila as indefensible, General Yamashita had originally ordered the commander of Shimbu Group, General Yokoyama Shizuo, to destroy all bridges and other vital installations and evacuate the city as soon as strong American forces made their appearance. However, Rear Adm. Iwabachi Sanji, the naval commander for the Manila area, vowed to resist the Americans and countermanded the order. Determined to support the admiral as best he could, Yokoyama contributed three Army battalions to Iwabachi’s 16,000-man Manila Naval Defense Force and prepared for battle. The sailors knew little about infantry tactics or street fighting, but they were well armed and entrenched throughout the capital. Iwabachi resolved to fight to the last man.

Nichols Field, Luzon, February 1945

On 4 February 1945, General MacArthur announced the imminent recapture of the capital while his staff planned a victory parade. But the battle for Manila had barely begun. Almost at once the 1st Cavalry Division in the north and the 11th Airborne Division in the south reported stiffening Japanese resistance to further advances into the city. As one airborne company commander remarked in mock seriousness, “Tell Halsey to stop looking for the Jap Fleet; it’s dying on Nichols Field.” All thoughts of a parade had to be put aside.

The final attack on the outer Japanese defenses came from the 11th Airborne Division, under the XIV Corps control since 10 February. The division had been halted at Nichols Field on the fourth and since then had been battling firmly entrenched Japanese naval troops, backed up by heavy fire from concealed artillery. Only on 11 February did the airfield finally fall to the paratroopers, but the acquisition allowed the 11th Airborne Division to complete the American encirclement of Manila on the night of the twelfth.

As February opened, the 7th Allied Air Force continually bombed Iwo Jima, Marcus Island and Corregidor, while the 5th Allied Air Force not only targeted Corregidor as well, but Cavite, Cebu City, enemy positions on Mindanao and Borneo.

Luzon and the 11th Airborne

References: “Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne Division by Gen. EM Flanagan Jr.; US Army History: Luzon; Pacific Wrecks & US Navy records; “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo” and “Dear Miss Em” by Gen. Robert Eichelberger.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frederick H. Alvet – Catharpin, VA; USMC, WWII, Purple Heart  /  US Army, Korea

Sanford K. Bowen – Ashland County, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc. # 35308473, I Co/3/157/45th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Reipertswiller, FRA)

Luxembourg-American Cemetery

Frank Cota – Archdale, NC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT/11th Airborne, (Ret. 24 y.)

Elizabeth Elliott, Toronto, CAN; Women’s Royal Air Force, WWII

Patrick Francis – Brooklyn, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., Silver Star, Purple Heart

George Gilbert – Indianapolis, IN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fire Controlman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Leslie C. Hallock – Duncan, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co B/188th/11th Airborne Division

Gerald R. Helms – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt. # 36306478, Co E/325 GIR/82nd Airborne Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Katerbosch, NETH)

Wilbur F. Newton – Mound City, MO; US Navy WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 3760544, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Robert Novotney – Kadoka, SD; US Navy, WWII, APO & PTO, fireman, USS Bearss (DD-654)

Winfield W. Scott Jr. – Colorado Springs, CO; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, pilot, West Point grad ’50, West Point superintendent, Lt. General (Ret. 40 y.)

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Entering Luzon | 31 January 1945

Notice arrow for the 11th A/B at the bottom. Click to enlarge.

I have to continue here on January 31, 1945, as this is where the actions of Smitty and the 11th Airborne Division become quite confusing. While the 221st medical is attached to the 187th, the 187th itself is split and send in alternate directions. Up until now, the division has been maintained fairly well in secret from the Japanese, but it is here that Gen. Eichelberger not only wants to allow the enemy knowledge of their existence, he wants to (in his words) pull a “monumental bluff” and splash the landing across the newspapers.

The men hit the beach with only their necessities on their backs; their personal items would not be seen for two months. The Eichelberger/Swing strategy began at dawn with the convoy’s arrival at the shore. 0700 hours – eighteen A-20’s and nine P-38s strafed the beaches.
0715 hours – the navy began to shell the landing area with rockets from the LCIs and shells from the destroyers.
0815 – cease fire, beach party lands
0822 – no opposition from enemy reported; first wave of 8 LCVPs lands, men head toward Nasugbu only 1500 yards away.
0945 – the 188th was through Wawa, Nasugbu and the airstrip.
1030 – the 187th begins landing and immediately joined up with the others to head up to Tagatay Ridge. One unit of the 187th remains to defend Nasugbu, one battery of the 674th assists. The 102d AAA AW Battalion and the 152d AA-AT Battalion set up antiaircraft defense on the beach.
1300 – the beach was clear – Eichelberger and Swing head down Highway 17

“We were very fortunate in capturing a bunch of bridges on Highway 17 before the Japs had a chance to blow them up.  I saw a number of big packages of explosives which they never set off.” __ Gen. Eichelberger

Palico Bridge

1400 – Gen. Swing notified Admiral Fechteler that all the men were ashore and he would resume command. Little did the 11th know that for a few brief hours, they were under the command of a naval admiral!
1430 – all key elements were 8 miles from the beach and at the Palico Bridge. It was saved just as a squad of Japanese were about to blow the steel and wood structure.
1600 – the 188th set up a CP in the Palico barracks.
All companies continued to moved forward. Artillery, rifle and machine gun fire erupted shortly afterward.

Japanese artillery, Nasugbu, Luzon

The monumental bluff was created by: a flying boatload of correspondents that blasted the news that the “Eighth Army had landed on Luzon,” and Eichelberger ordered Swing to have the 187th and 188th move as quickly as possible, fire as much artillery and weapons and create as much dust as possible. All vehicles raced down the dirt roads, guns blazing and air strikes thrown in made the division appear to not only be of immense size, but that they also had an armored unit with them.

They would now be coming up on the infamous Genko Line; a stretch of blockhouses and pillboxes that contained guns from Japanese warships, 20mm, 6 inch, etc. The enemy had dug massive octopus traps called takotsubo. All this needed to be destroyed before liberation of Manila and elimination of the 20,000 soldiers waiting for them within the city limits. For this action, the 11th would be granted the Presidential Unit Citation.

The 187th went down the steep southern slope of Tagatay and progressed to the north shore of Lake Taal where they were ordered to take Tanauan. The 127th Engineers carved out a road on the vertical cliffs for them.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Vaughan Albrecht – Grant City, MI, US Women’s Army Air Corps

Wilfred Anderson (104) – N. Vancouver, CAN; British Columbia Dragoons, WWII

Pearl F. Barrow – Wichita, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt. # 37731632, Co F/12/4th Infantry Division, Bromze Star, KIA (Hürtgen, GER)

Gerald Blevins (100) – Pueblo West, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO

Lillian Campbell – Roseville, MI; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Frank DeVita – Brooklyn, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, ETO, USS Samuel Chase (APA-26)

Hampton Folse Jr. – Raceland, LA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Laffey (DD-724)

Albert S. Frost – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Army # 442456, WWII

Donald Guay – Hartford, CT; US Army, medic, 101st Airborne Division

Joseph Talarchek – Wilkes-Barre, PA; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, SSgt.

Leroy W. “Swede” Svendsen Jr. – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, aerial gunner / US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, fighter pilot / Pentagon, MGeneral (Ret. 34 y.)

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11th Airborne lands on Luzon

American Eighth Army soldiers debark from LCI(L)s [Landing Craft Infantry, Large] in Luzon. “File number: 259015.

Navy lands Eighth Army on West coast of Luzon–Troops of the U.S. 8th Army under command of Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger, pour off Navy LCI’s (landing craft infantry) and wade ashore between San Narciso and San Antonio on the west coast of Luzon on January 29, 1945, in a brilliant move calculated to cut off Bataan Peninsula and to capture the naval base at Olongapo. Tactical surprise was achieved to such a dress that not a man, ship or plane was lost in the landing.” 29 January 1945.

Long before the American invasion began, General Yamashita divided his Luzon forces into three groups, each centered around a remote geographical region. The largest of these groups and under the direct command of Yamashita was Shobu Group, located in northern Luzon with about 152,000 troops.

Divisions of enemy troops on Luzon

A much smaller force, Kembu Group, with approximately 30,000 troops, occupied the Clark Air Field complex as well as the Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor. The third major force, Shimbu Group, consisted of some 80,000 soldiers occupying the southern sections of Luzon, an area that included the island’s long Bicol Peninsula as well as the mountains immediately east of Manila. Most Shimbu units were in the latter area and controlled the vital reservoirs that provided most of the capital area’s water supply.

On 31 January, X-ray Day, two regiments of the 11th Airborne Division, under the command of Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Swing, landed unopposed. The paratroopers seized a nearby bridge before the surprised Japanese defenders had a chance to demolish it, and then the paratroopers turned toward Manila.

LST landing Jan. 1945

Originally the 11th Airborne Division, one of Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger’s Eighth Army units, had been slated to contain Japanese troops throughout southwestern Luzon. But acting on MacArthur’s orders, Eichelberger pushed the division north.

Once they were on land, they started down Highway 17 toward Tagatay.  That journey consisted of approximately 30 miles of valleys, flat terrain of rice and cane fields, mountains and careful traversing along the crests of ridges.

The distance between Tagatay and Manila was about 37 miles, taking them passed Nichols Field before reaching Manila proper.  This was the main supply area for the Japanese troops and the city’s port was a crucial stop-off for the enemy on other islands.

Reference: “Rakkasans” & “The Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne” by: Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.; YouTube.com; U.S. Army; Hyperwar.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Adan – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Colonel (Ret.)

Oliver K. Burger – San Pedro, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Petty Officer 1st Class # 2952575, USS Oklahoma, KIA, (Pearl Harbor)

Bob Cardenas (102) – San Diego, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-29 pilot, BGeneral (Ret. 34 y.)

Over the horizon

Paul D. Church – Millington, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 Navigator, 2nd Lt.

Jerry N. Hoblit –  Conroe, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, 3 Silver Stars, 3 DFC’s, Air Force Cross, West Point grad., Colonel (Ret. 28 y.)

Bernard Junge  – Holgate, OH; US Navy, submarine service, USS Odax

Casimir P. Lobacz – Kenosha, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt.# 36228207, Co E/11/5th Infantry Division, Bronze Star KIA (Fort Driant, FRA)

Newell F. Mills Jr. – Pinellas City, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-51D pilot #0-827247, 354 FS/355 FG, DFC, KIA (Bremen, GER)

Henry Muller (104) – Philadelphia, PA; US Army Air Corps, PTO, G-2 11th Airborne Division Intelligence / US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne, BGeneral, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart

William White (106) – Long Beach, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Major, Purple Heart / Korea (Ret. 30 y.)

Michael Zezulak Sr. – Lombard, IL; US Army, medic, 82nd Airborne Division

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13 March – K-9 VETERANS DAY

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Lt. General Joseph May Swing

General Joseph Swing

It is only fitting that I introduce the man who lead the 11th Airborne Division before we continue on to Luzon.  Many called him “Uncle Joe”, but on the back of this photograph, Smitty wrote “My General.”

“A hero is a man noted for his feats of courage or nobility of purpose—especially one who has risked his life; a person prominent in some field, period, or cause by reason of his special achievements or contributions; a person of distinguished valor or fortitude; and a central personage taking an admirable part in any remarkable action or event; hence, a person regarded as a model.”

Joseph May Swing was born on 28 February 1894 in Jersey City and went to the public schools there, graduating in 1911 and entered West Point Military Academy directly.  He graduated 38th in the class of the star-studded class of 1915, famously known as “The Class the Stars Fell On.”

The 5-star generals were Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley.  The four-star (“full”) Generals in the class of 1915 were James Van Fleet and Joseph T. McNarney. The three-star (Lieutenant Generals) Generals were Henry Aurand, Hubert R. Harmon, Stafford LeRoy Irwin, Thomas B. Larkin, John W. Leonard, George E. Stratemeyer, and Joseph M. Swing. This view was taken facing south around noon on May 3, 1915.

In 1916 Lt. Swing was part of the punitive expedition to Mexico against Francisco Villa under the leadership of General John J. Pershing. In 1917, shortly after the US entered the war in Europe, Major Swing joined the artillery of the 1st Division in France. When he returned to the US in 1918, he became an aide-de-camp to the Army’s Chief of Staff, General Peyton C. March. On 8 July 1918, he married Josephine Mary March, the daughter of Gen. March. Later that year, he joined the 19th Field Artillery at Fort Myer, Virginia, and in 1921 sailed for Hawaii to command the 1st Battalion of the 11th Field Artillery at Schofield Barracks.

In 1925, he returned to the States and assumed command of the 9th Field Artillery at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.  He graduated with honors from the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, and in 1927 he graduated from the Command and Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. For the next four years, he was on duty in the Office of the Chief of Field Artillery in Washington, DC, and in 1933 he became chief of its war plans section. In 1935, he graduated from the Army War College in Washington and then joined the 6th Field Artillery at Fort Hoyle, Maryland.

Next, he went to Fort Sam Houston where he was the chief of staff of the 2d Division from 1938 to 1940. Later, he commanded the 82d Horse Artillery Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Bliss, Texas and then commanded its division artillery. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1941 and at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, organized the division artillery of the 82d Division, a move which was to project him into the brand new field of “airborne.”  In Camp Claiborne, General Omar Bradley was the 82d Division commander. General Ridgway was the assistant division commander, and Colonel Maxwell D. Taylor was the chief of staff.

In February of 1943, as a newly promoted major general, Swing was assigned the task of activating the 11th Airborne Division at Camp Mackall, North Carolina, the Army’s third airborne division. Thus began for General Swing a tenure of service which was unique then and still remains a record: division commander of one division for five years, during which he activated the division, trained it, and commanded it in combat and during its subsequent occupation of Japan. During this period, General Swing and the 11th Airborne Division became synonymous; the man was the division and the division was the man.

General Swing made his mark on the Army and on the thousands of men who passed through the 11th Airborne Division in a way which those of us who were fortunate enough to serve with and have known him will never forget. His subordinates and superiors have described General Swing with numerous adjectives: forceful, energetic, courageous, self-disciplined, purposeful, farsighted, innovative, just, sentimental, short-tempered, forgiving, sincere, considerate, demanding—and with it all, handsome, erect, prematurely gray, with a lean, tanned face from which steely-blue eyes focused with incredible sharpness either to find a mistake or an accomplishment of a subordinate. General Swing fitted all of those descriptive adjectives to one degree or another; illustrations to exemplify each trait abound, particularly in the lore of the 11th Airborne Division. And as the years go by and as the men of the 11th gather at reunions, the stories about the “old man” increase and take on a sharper and more pungent flavor.

Gen. Swing

There is no doubt that General Swing was demanding in training, insisting on excellence, and setting and requiring the highest of standards for the 11th Airborne Division so that when it entered combat, after months of grueling training in Camp MacKall, Camp Polk, and New Guinea, the division was ready to take on the Japanese in the mud and rain across the uncharted central mountains of Leyte. Early in its combat career, it was ready to thwart a Japanese parachute attack on the division command post and nearby San Pablo airfield at Burauen, Leyte.

General Swing demonstrated his courage and vitality on that occasion by personally leading a Civil War-like attack across the airstrip with engineers, supply troops, and a glider field artillery battalion armed with carbines and rifles against the dug-in Japanese paratroopers who had had the audacity to attack the 11th Airborne from the air. In short order, the Japanese paratroopers, the elite Katori Shimpei of the Japanese forces, were routed, and the San Pablo airfield was back in the hands of the 11th Airborne Division.

_____ Condensed from a biographical article written by Edward Michael Flanagan, Jr., Lt.General, Retired

also, “The Gettysburg Daily, Wikipedia and Smitty’s scrapbook.

You will be hearing often of General Swing as we continue on.  You might even get to admire him almost as much as Smitty did.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

How tanks are described.

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Ahern – Setauket, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII / US Air Force, Korea, 1st LT.

Nick Baldino – OR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS California

Frederick T. Barrett – Arlington, VA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Bronze Star, Colonel (Ret. 33 y.)

Cloyd “Joe” Conroy – Shelton, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBees

John B. Etheridge – Meadville, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Henry L. Kipler – Diamondhead, MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO / US Air Force, Korea

Walter “P.K.” Knudsen – Bronson, IA; US Army, WWII

Harry C. Nivens (100) – Pineville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, I Co/101st Airborne Division

Steven Ovian – Whitinsville, MA; US Navy, WWII, Korea

Eugene P. Shauvin – Spokane, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt., C-47 Skytrain pilot # 0-756333, 95th Sq./440 Transport Carrier Group, KIA (Retie, BEL)

James Simmons – Hanover, NH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Cpl., 11th Airborne Division

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New Orders for the 11th Airborne

Lt. Gen. Joseph May Swing

21 January 1945 – Gen. Swing announced to his 11th Airborne Division that he was ordering up a review as they were transferring to the 8th Army and the reviewing officer would be none other than Gen. Robert Eichelberger.  Swing had received Field Order Number 17 which gave him the order to prepare for Luzon.

Luzon was the most populated, most highly developed and the most historical island in the archipelago.  It was a land of wild boars, birds, snakes, reptiles, feral dogs, tons of insects and an enemy hiding within the cogon grass at every turn. (the plant had coarse spikes with “silky” hairs that made your skin feel as those hundreds of critters crawled beneath it.)  There was always a threat of dengue fever, that is contracted from a mosquito and if left untreated resulted in bleeding and death, and we can’t forget malaria.

The 6th Army, under Gen. Krueger, was already in the midst of all this trying to reach Manila.  MacArthur had told Eichelberger how upset he was at their slow progress to get to the capital and added, “speed up your ‘palsey-walsey,’ Krueger doesn’t radiate courage.”  Ergo – a rivalry was born and a race between the 6th and 8th Armies would exist – the problem was – the 11th A/B had been given more than one priority as their mission.

Generals Swing and Eichelberger making plans for the 11th Airborne

As X-Day approached, the pace of activity increased dramatically.  The division’s supply loading plan put the responsibility on the unit commanders.  The G-4, Roy Stout, set up a special section to load the 11th and all ran efficiently despite not knowing what vessels the Navy would be sending.  But on 25 January, most of the supply ships were completely loaded within 24 hours.


The LCI’s (Landing Craft Infantry), arrived at 0700 hours on 27 January and a convoy of almost 100 ships pulled out to sea that afternoon, under the command of Adm. Fechteler, and headed south through Mindanao Sea and then swung north.  The LCI’s were crowded and there were no cooking facilities, the men ate “10-in-1” rations rather than having the customary steak and eggs before a landing.

Adm. Flechteler

Most of the sailing days were spent in map study, planning and orientation.  All the troopers would be so well briefed on the terrain from aerial photographs and mock-up reliefs that their landing somehow felt like déjà-vu.  Excess baggage was not carried – only what the men could carry on their backs.  Personal baggage would not be seen for 2 months.

General Eichelberger wrote his wife, Miss Emmalina, of the beauty in watching the large naval convoy and he marveled at their expertise.  He noted the Navy’s ability to keep their sense of humor, despite the seriousness of their voyage.  Before landing on 31 January, he heard over the loud speaker system, “Sick call _ all sick, lame and lazy report to sick bay.”  He also commented that Gen. Swing was grand to deal with.

Eichelberger would write in his book, “Now the stage was set for what I regard as one of the most thrilling exploits for the Pacific War – the 11th Airborne’s dash for Manila”

References: “Our Road to Tokyo”, by Gen. Robert Eichelberger; “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division,” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.; “Rakkasans” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan and “Dear Miss Em”, by Gen. Robert Eichelberger

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

June Boykin – Philadelphia, PA; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

James E. Carl (101) – Tulsa, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO,P-51 pilot, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

Sea Captain

Kenneth Dower – New Haven, CT; US Navy, WWII / USMC, Korea

Myles W. Esmay, Utica, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI, 1st Lt. # 0-491925, Co B/236th Engineer Combat Battalion (Merrill’s Marauders), KIA (Myitkyina, BUR)

William Jordon – Waynesville, NC; USMC, WWII / US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

Calvin Keaton – Ironton, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

Dennis F. Melton – Waverly, TN; US Air Force, Nigeria, SSgt., 768th Expeditionary AB Squadron/Nigerian AB 101

Harry C. Nivens (100) – Pinesville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 101st Airborne Division, Purple Heart

Claude White – Dyersburg, TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Chief Water Tender # 2948177, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Ian Woodrow – brn. IRE; British Merchant Marines, WWII

William M. Zoellick – Cook County, IL; US Army, Korea, Pfc # 26368528, Co B/1/9/2nd Infantry Division, POW, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

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HMAS Australia

HMAS Australia

A  ship with quite a colorful World War II history was the HMAS Australia, fondly known as “The Aussie”. The Aussie fought for almost the entire duration of the war. A county class cruiser commissioned in 1928 she was the second ship to bear the name of her country.

With the outbreak of WWII,  Aussie sailed for the Atlantic to begin her long wartime career that she was to fight on all fronts and against all enemies.  In September, 1940, she was in Operation Menace off Dakar, French West Africa.  Bombers of the Luftwaffe tried in vain to sink her whilst she was berthed alongside in Liverpool during the period when the city suffered its worst blitz. During her war service Aussie went everywhere.

In December 1941, when Japan entered the war with the Allies, Aussie became the flagship or Rear Admiral Crace, followed by Admiral Crutchley and then Commodore Collins.  In January 1942 the cruiser assisted in escorting the first US troops to Australia. Operating in the Coral Sea it pursued and attacked the Japanese from Guadalcanal to Hollandia, surviving everything its enemies could throw at her, until…

Aussie damage

HMAS Australia was needed badly by the R.A.N for she was the last surviving seaworthy member of the country’s heavy cruiser fleet the rest having been sunk and Hobart badly damaged. So she was quickly returned to active service.

She headed straight back to Philippine waters and on the afternoon of 5th January 1945 at Lingayen Gulf,  The Kamikazes targeted her again.  Her new Captain Armstrong flung the ship about wildly, but another bomb laden aircraft slammed into to her. The casualties were high – 25 men killed and 30 seriously wounded, most were badly needed guns crews.

Despite extensive damage she joined HMAS Shropshire and other US units to aid in the bombardment of San Fernando and Poro Point.  A new wave of Kamikazes then attacked, a Aichi ‘Val’ Dive Bomber surviving the murderous fire thrown up by all ships collided headlong into her upper deck exploding in an enormous fireball.  Several guns crews died instantly and a severe shock wave shuddered throughout the ship. This hit accounted for another 14 dead and 26 seriously wounded. by now Aussie’s AA defenses were all but eliminated.

Aussie damage

At dawn on 8th January, the allied fleet resumed its bombardment and the Kamikazes renewed their suicidal attacks.  Aussie was the last ship in the line and was once again singled out.   The Aussie’s gunners throwing up withering fire at a Mitsubishi “Dinah” Bomber until at last shooting it down, but not before it released its bomb which exploded close to the waterline, punching a large hole in the hull.

Taking a dangerous list to port another ‘Dinah’ roared in.  Those guns still in operation tore the bomber to bits and it showered down aviation fuel upon the sailors whilst its massive engine smashed through the bulkhead of the Captain’s Day Cabin. Within seconds another ‘Dinah’ roared in, the Aussie gunners frantically trying to shoot it down, succeeding, within just 15 metres, the propeller blades embedding themselves in a life-raft.  The aircraft skidded into the hull ripping another large hole and damaging yet another fuel tank, whilst two mess decks were completely destroyed. Aussie by now was in bad shape, her speed reduced to fifteen knots to avoid causing more damage,  still hung in and managed to continue the fight with what was left of her.

funnel damage

The following day the Japs decided to finish the Flagship off knowing she was almost dead in the water. As another plane raced in heading for her bridge its pilot misjudged his attack line and slammed into the yardarm slewing the aircraft around so as to miss the bridge area and taking out the top of the foremost funnel. Sliced off cleanly it crashed to the deck. There were no casualties from this hit but it spelled the end for Aussie. Two boilers had to be shut down because of insufficient updraft.  Aussie’s war had come to an end.

Information from the Royal Australian Navy Gun Plot; Australian Navy and Joey’s Walkabout

The Australian Navy link includes some fantastic photographs!

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

“That meal was delicious, what went wrong with it?”

“Let’s go in here – they probably remember me from last night!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth L. Bridger – Stevens County, WA; US Army, Korea, Pvt. E-2 # 19354338, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Kevin J. Carroll – East Meadow, NY; USMC, Vietnam, Pfc., 3/1/Marine Aircraft Group 12, KIA (Quang Tin, SV)

William B. Coleman – Mobile, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc. # 34803721, Co F/134/35th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Grèmecey, FRA)

Roy C. Delauter – Washington County, MD; US Army, Korea, Sgt. # 13277149, Co D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Kathleen (Gohl) Gilchrist – Royal Oak, MI, US Navy WAVE, WWII

Carson R. Holman – Newport, PA; US Army, Colonel(Ret. 30 y.), West Point graduate, 82nd Airborne Division

Errol Lagasse (100) – Panama City, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, Chief Petty Officer

David F. Lutes – Sarasota, FL; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Thomas McGee (102) – Bethesda, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Tuskegee pilot, 409 missions in 3 wars  (remains a record), Colonel (Ret. 30 y.)

Bill Morrison – Birmingham, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc., Co G/2/110/ 28th Infantry Division, KIA (Hürtgen Forest, GER)

Adolph Olenik – Gary, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt. # 15103844, B-24  “Kate Smith” gunner, 98th Heavy/345th Bomb Squadron, KIA (Ploesti, ROM)

Charles F. Perdue – Salisbury, MD; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Shipfitter 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

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