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Col. Hiromishi Yahara on Okinawa

Lines of defense on Okinawa. Top Japanese officers were in the bottom line of bunkers.

Colonel Hiromishi Yahara was third in command of the Japanese defenses on Okinawa. Read all about his story below.

It was Colonel Hiromishi Yahara who designed and implemented the jiykusen, or the yard-by-yard battle of attrition that cost the American forces so many casualties in the three-month battle, and he was the highest ranking officer to survive the battle and make it back to Tokyo. Before the overall commander on the island, Lt. Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima, committed ritual suicide in the battle’s final days, he instructed Yahara to escape to Tokyo to make a final report to the emperor.

Yahara was captured by the Americans, which bothered him immensely—to be captured or to surrender was considered a disgrace to one’s family—but eventually he did return to Japan.  In 1973, Yahara still felt strongly that the garrison at Okinawa, as well as the people of Okinawa themselves, had been betrayed by Imperial Headquarters in Tokyo.  Because he faced personal attacks for surviving the battle, Yahara decided to write a book to set the record straight.


The result is a fascinating and unique look at the last, decisive battle of the Pacific War, written by a surviving member of the defeated Japanese command on Okinawa.  Yahara was a gifted and meticulous strategist, highly respected by his peers. Because he had spent two years in the United States as an exchange officer prior to World War II, he knew his enemy better than did his superiors at Okinawa, Ushijima and Maj. Gen. Isamu Cho.

Yahara makes a startling revelation in the book regarding the events surrounding the American landing on Okinawa on April 1, 1945.  According to Yahara, the plans drawn up in Tokyo called for Japanese air power to play the decisive role in the battle for Okinawa prior to the actual landing.  Japanese planes flying from the mainland along with aircraft launched by the Japanese Combined Fleet—conventional fighters and kamikaze suicide attackers—were supposed to strike the U.S. Fifth Fleet offshore prior to the landing and annihilate the American landing forces while they were still in their ships.  The 32nd Imperial Army entrenched on Okinawa was to play a minor role, mopping up the survivors of the American landing forces as they struggled ashore.

Giretsu Commandos on Okinawa

To Yahara, the failure to launch the promised air attack on April 1 sealed the fate of the island’s garrison—it never had a chance for victory. Hundreds of thousands of Okinawan citizens had been betrayed as well, Yahara believed, sacrificed to the whims of the Japanese high command.

Although his love for his country never wavered, Yahara was unique among his peers.  He fully recognized the flaws in traditional Japanese military thinking—the Bushido code, or way of the warrior—and he was disgusted as he watched his superiors repeat the errors of previous eras.  The Imperial Army had a “blood and guts” mentality; it had been undefeated since winning the Sino-Japanese War in 1895.  To the Japanese militarists’ way of thinking, the combination of Japanese spirit and the willingness to die for the emperor would overcome any material advantage enjoyed by an enemy.

Japanese bunker

Yahara was convinced that the initial Japanese strategy for Okinawa—depending on air power—would fail.  Japan’s air forces were seriously degraded by early 1945, and it had lost many experienced pilots. American aircraft were now technically superior, and Japan’s Navy was down to just a few surviving carriers.  Yahara believed that the only chance for his country’s survival lay in the proper use of its remaining ground forces.

After the promised air assault did not materialize, he went ahead with his planned defenses on the ground.  He would fight for time, making the invaders pay dearly for every inch of ground, to allow Japan to prepare its defenses on the main islands for the Allied invasion that was sure to come.  Yahara’s tactics on Okinawa would utilize the island’s terrain, which was perfectly suited for defense, to wage an ugly war of attrition. His soldiers would go underground in caves and concrete bunkers to survive air, artillery, and naval gunfire, and then battle American ground forces for every inch of island real estate. His intricate, multi-layered defensive positions and the tenacity of the 110,000-man 32nd Army combined to prolong the battle for three long and exceedingly bloody months.

Col. Hiromishi Yahara

In his book, Yahara admits that he despised both the self-delusion practiced by his superiors and the false propaganda foisted upon the Okinawan people, who were told that capture by American troops would result in rape, torture, and death, to which suicide was preferable.

Condensed from an article by John Walker.

Click on images to enlarge.

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 Military Humor – BOOT CAMP 

‘Sign me up for swing shift basic training! I don’t think I could handle early morning hours.’

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bathurst – Madison, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Frank Conger – Poughkeepsie, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Bennington

Missing Man formation

Warren Foss – St. Louis, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO

James Gavette – Bradford, PA; US Army, WWII

Samuel Tom Holiday – Kayeta, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, Purple Heart

Norman Jackson – Watertown, NY; US merchant Marine, WWII

Francis McCormack – Rutland, VT; USMC

Irving Press – Windsor, CT; US Army, WWII

Raymond Rzepecki Sr. – Central Falls, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Pfc, B-24 tail gunner, 370th

Omar Shaffer – Linden, VA; US Navy, WWII, gunner

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CBI Theater – April 1945

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

Roundup Staff Articles from 19 and 26 April 1945 issues


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

General Stratemeyer

HUMOROUS TIMES IN WAR!

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

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

 

Handling snakes, Army style

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

 

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

10TH AIR FORCE USING P-61 PLANE IN THEATER 

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

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – CBI style – 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

William Flowers – Topeka, KS; US Navy, WWII

Walter Kane – Ware, MA; US Army, WWII

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luzon, 1945

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

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

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

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

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

soldiers in the tall grass of Luzon

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

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

Philippines, 1945

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

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

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – SNAFU in “Outpost”

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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USS Laffey & the American Flag

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

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

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

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

Kelly with Rep. Smith.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laffey after the attacks.

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

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

Patriot’s Point, Laffey and Yorktown

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

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Randall Mosher – Bolivar, MO; US Army, Vietnam

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

Ray Smith – RI; US Navy, WWII & Korea

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

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Fort Drum, Luzon, P.I.

Fort Drum, Luzon, P.I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retaking Ft. Drum

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

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

Fort Drum

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

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

Ft. Drum, bearing her battle scars.

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

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

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

Bill Mauldin cartoon

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Farewell Salutes –

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

Richard Bohan – Brooklyn, NY; USMC, Vietnam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ernie Pyle, 18 April 1945

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The only house he ever owned became, and remains, Albuquerque’s first branch library. A South Valley middle school bears his name, and his face once appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

But, today, many people would be stumped to tell you much, if anything, about Ernie Pyle, the famed newspaper columnist whose writings brought the realities of World War II home to millions of Americans.

Jerry Maschino, along with several of Pyle’s descendants, is out to change that.

“A lot of people, if you ask them, ‘Do you know Ernie Pyle?’ will answer yes,” Maschino said. “But if you ask about specifics, they usually don’t know any, other than he was a war correspondent. … But there’s a lot more to Ernie Pyle than that.”

Maschino and a trio of other board members with the 3-year-old Ernie Pyle Legacy Foundation, based in Gallatin, Tenn., were in town recently drumming up support for a national Ernie Pyle Day. They plan to kick off the effort with an Aug. 3, 2017, celebration at the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial, which sits about 2½ miles east of Pyle’s 900 Girard SE home, now the Ernie Pyle Library.

“Our mission is simple: Ensure the legacy of Ernie Pyle,” Maschino said. “We have a lot of avenues to do that. The short-term objective is to visit places and have events where we can bring a lot people together and present this idea” of having a national Ernie Pyle Day.

“We want to kick it off in Albuquerque because this was his home,” he said.

Pyle, an Indiana native, was the best-known columnist of World War II. Writing in a conversational, down-home style about the soldiers, places and events of that global conflict for the Scripps Howard newspaper chain, Pyle reached millions of readers who came to regard him as friend, confidant and teller of truth.

Pyle, a thin, balding man approaching middle age, was on the front lines in the North Africa campaign, the invasion of Sicily, the D-Day landings at Normandy and the invasion of Okinawa.

His columns — which Pyle believed never adequately conveyed the horror of war to his readers — won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1944.

“Mothers used to wait for their newspapers every day to see whether their sons might be mentioned in Pyle’s columns,” Maschino said.

But Pyle honed his reporting skills and writing style long before shipping out to war.

While attending Indiana University to study journalism, Pyle was editor of the student newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student.

He quit college in 1923, a few months before graduating, to work as a cub reporter for the LaPorte Herald, now the LaPorte Herald-Argus, in Indiana.

He left Indiana 3 1/2 months later to write for Scripps Howard’s Washington Daily News, where he became the country’s first aviation columnist, rubbing elbows with pioneers of the fledgling industry. His friend, famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart, gave him an engraved watch that he wore most of his life.

After a brief stint as an editor, Pyle persuaded his bosses to let him become a roving reporter. For the next six years he traveled throughout the country, writing columns about the people he met and the places he visited.

Ernie Pyle

During those travels, he developed an affinity for New Mexico. He and his wife, Jerry, decided to settle in Albuquerque in 1940, buying a lot and building the modest home on Girard.

Then came the war, and Pyle embedded with the troops.

When it was clear that the battle against Hitler’s Nazis in Europe was heading toward its inevitable conclusion, Pyle wrestled with the urge to leave war behind. But his bond with the GIs bearing the brunt of the war persuaded him to head to the Pacific Theater.

While in the Pacific, Pyle waged a successful war against military censorship by persuading the Navy to rescind its policy that prevented him from publishing the names and hometowns of the sailors and Navy aviators he wrote about in his columns.

**ADVANCE FOR MONDAY, FEB. 4** This photo provided by Richard Strasser shows the scene on April 20, 1945, two days after his death on Ie Shima, where correspondent Ernie Pyle was buried alongside several soldiers killed in combat on the tiny island off Okinawa _ the kind of men Pyle had written about during four years of WWII battlefield reporting. The photo shows a memorial ceremony led by Maj. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce (back to camera), commander of the Army’s 77th Infantry Division, which captured the island the next day. Ernie Pyle’s wooden coffin, with his picture and a sprig of foliage, is visible at the officer’s feet. His body was moved in 1949 to a military cemetery in Hawaii. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Richard Strasser)

Pyle was killed by a Japanese machine gunner on April 18, 1945, on the island of Iejima, then known as Ie Shima. He was accompanying units with the 77th Infantry Division during the battle for the Japanese island of Okinawa. The nation mourned him like no other casualty of the war.

Jerry Pyle, who fought her own war with alcoholism and mental illness, died seven months after Ernie.

In 1983, Ernie Pyle was awarded the Purple Heart — a rare honor for a civilian — by the 77th Army Reserve Command.

(c)2016 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)

From Stars and Stripes magazine.

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A short video of remembrance for Ernie Pyle….

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Farewell Salutes – 

Gerry Berndsen – St. Louis, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, C-47 pilot

Anne V. Coates – ENG; civilian surgical nurse for wounded veterans, (noted film editor)

Ralph Diaz – Winter Haven, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Donald Freeman – Birmingham, AL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Carlton Hudson – Larto, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW, B-24 navigator

Bob Jacobsen – San Diego, CA; US Navy, Vietnam, Lt.Comdr., pilot

Charles Marner – Oak Park, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Randolph

Joseph Nixon – Olyphant, PA; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Milton Potee – Rogers, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Harold Schworn – Delanson, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Rushmore

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Communiques from the Pacific

Okinawa, 1945, taken by: W. Eugene Smith

CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 334, APRIL 16, 1945

Supported by carrier aircraft and by naval gunfire, elements of the Twenty Fourth Army Corps landed on le Shima, an island west of Okinawa, on the morning of April 16 (East Longitude Date). Advancing inland rapidly against resistance which was initially light but later stiffened, our troops captured the enemy airfield and secured most of the area west of that point. The greater part of the enemy defense force has been driven back to defensive positions in the pinnacles southeast of the airfield.
Marines of the Third Amphibious Corps continued to attack groups of the enemy on Motobu Peninsula, Okinawa, on April 16. Marine forces continued to advance northward in the rugged terrain of the island north of the peninsula.
There was little change in the lines of the Twenty Fourth Army Corps in the southern sector of Okinawa. Naval guns and carrier planes attacked enemy positions in the south.
At the end of April 13 our forces on Okinawa had killed 9,108 of the enemy and captured 391 prisoners of war. About 85,000 civilians had come under jurisdiction of the U. S. Military Government on the island by the end of April 15. Our Military Government authorities have constructed one large camp and have taken over thirteen villages for use of civilians. Civilian foodstuffs are being salvaged and used. Our medical facilities have proved adequate for treatment of civilians thus far.

Okinawa, April 1945, taken by: W.E. Smith

CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 340, APRIL 22, 1945

The Twenty Fourth Army Corps continued to attack the enemy’s fortified positions in the southern sector of Okinawa on April 22 (East Longitude Date) meeting bitter resistance in all areas of the fighting. Our troops were supported by heavy artillery, naval guns, and carrier and landbased aircraft. No substantial changes had been made in the lines by 1700 on April 22. A total of 11,738 of the enemy have been killed and 27 taken prisoner in the Twenty Fourth Corps zone of action.
Elements of the Marine Third Amphibious Corps occupied Taka Banare Island east of Okinawa on April 22 and landed on Sesoko Island west of Motobu Peninsula on the same date. Our troops on Sesoko were reported to be half way across the island in the early afternoon.

Corpsmen race under fire to the wounded, Okinawa

During the night of April 21-22, a few enemy aircraft approached our forces around the Okinawa area and four were shot down by carrier planes and aircraft of the Tactical Air Force. On the afternoon of April 22 a substantial group of Japanese planes attacked our forces in and around Okinawa causing some damage and sinking one light unit of the fleet. Forty-nine enemy planes were shot down by our combat air patrols and antiaircraft fire.
Carrier aircraft of the U. S. Pacific Fleet attacked airfields and other installations in the Sakishima Group on April 21 and 22.
Army Mustangs of the Seventh Fighter Command attacked Suzuka airfield 32 miles southwest of Nagoya on April 22 inflicting the following damage on the enemy:

9 aircraft shot out of the air

Japanese land-based aircraft destroyed

One probably shot down
17 aircraft destroyed on the ground
20 Aircraft damaged on the ground

A 6000-ton ship exploded in Ise Bay south of Nagoya
Two small oilers sunk
One small tanker sunk
One coastal cargo ship damaged

Carrierbased aircraft of the U. S. Pacific Fleet attacked airfields and ground installations in the Amami Group of the Northern Ryukyus during April 18 to 20 inclusive, damaging or destroying numerous airfield structures. On April 21 and 22 carrier planes operating in the Northern Ryukyus shot down 16 enemy planes and burned 10 more on the ground.
A search plane of Fleet Air Wing One attacked a small cargo ship east of the Ryukyus on April 22 leaving it burning and dead in the water.
Runways and installations on Marcus Island were bombed by Liberators of the Seventh Army Air Force on April 21. Helldiver bombers of the Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing attacked the airstrip on Yap in the Western Carolines on April 21.
During the twenty four hours ending at 1800 on April 20, 60 Japanese were killed and 64 were captured on Iwo Island. A total of 23,049 of the enemy have been killed and 850 captured since February.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military ‘Office’ Humor – 

Incognito office duty

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Derek Barnsley – Coromandel, NZ; Royal Navy # FX705461, WWII, Sgt., 580 Squadron/RAF

Wayne Chapman – Burlington, VT; US Army, Korea

Norbert Gilly Jr. – New Orleans, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Howard Hermance – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Ted Leslie – Jensen Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 82nd Airborne Division

Ernest L. Medina – Montrose, CO; US Army, Vietnam, Captain, Silver Star

Dennis Odom – St. Louis, IL; US Army, Vietnam

Jack Rotolo – Rome, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, 118th Combat Engineer Battalion

Crosbie Saint – Philomont, PA; US Army, Vietnam, General (Ret. 30 y.), West Point grad, Cmdr, of the U.S. Army Europe, Silver Star & DFC

Fred Williams – Springfield, OR; US Navy, WWII & Korea

SeaBees on Okinawa, April 1945

SeaBees of WWII

This eye witness account was contributed by John Ratomski.

 

AHEAD OF OKINAWA’S FRONT LINES WENT A FIVE MAN SEABEE SURVEYING TEAM TO LAY OUT THE SITE FOR A NEW AIRFIELD.  CCM DOYLE L. CROWELL AND HIS MEN WORKING IN “NO MANS LAND” FOR TWO DAYS – SOMETIMES MORE THAN A HALF-MILE IN FRONT OF THE FIGHTING. THE MARINES DIDN’T CATCH UP WITH THE SURVEYORS UNTIL THE THIRD DAY.

April 1, 1945 – Easter Sunday arrived with a calm sea and a clear blue sky. The sun was two hours above the horizon. The serene South China Sea was fogged with the ghostly gray mist of the smudge pots. Behind the curtain of smoke, landing barges circled restlessly, waiting.  In the distance boomed the heavy naval guns. At 0830 the barges flashed across the line to the beach. The battle for “Bloody Okinawa” was on.

This was the moment we had sweated out for thirty days aboard ship. Thirty days of playing cards and checkers and reading books, magazines and the news reports; thirty days of boredom and anxiety.

USS Joseph T. Dickman, WWII

Aboard the USS Dickman we tried vainly to see what was going on. The wall of smoke obliterated everything outside a radius of two hundred yards. Scuttlebutt spread widely through the ship: The Japs are shelling! Someone had seen several unaccountable splashes near the next ship in line. On our bit of the U.S.A., isolated from the world and the news and in the midst of significant historical events, we depended on the latest developments from the coxswains passing by in landing barges. No one hit on the fourth wave. The sixth wave went in standing up! Our bird’s eye view of the battle was minute indeed.

D-Day for Seabees was April 2nd, and the first groups of the 71st Naval Construction Battalion stepped ashore at Blue Beach to the first nearly civilized country they had seen in eighteen months. There, not six yards from the beach, was part of a real house with the wreckage of some natives possessions strewn about.

Yontan Airfield, aerial view from the 25th Photo Recon Sq./5th Air Force

From Blue Beach we marched five miles, carrying the equipage necessary to existence (a mere 60 to 100 pounds) on our backs, to a former Japanese airfield, Yontan, and prepared to bivouac. Within a few hundred yards of the camp were a number of Nip planes in all states of disrepair.

April 6th. No bombs were dropped in the camp vicinity, but old hands neatly hit holes dug for that purpose. Later in the day planes made a strafing run on the camp, setting fire to and completely destroying the Frank type Nip plane which was parked near the camp. The first casualty due to enemy action occurred, a slight shoulder wound caused by falling flak. The most severe cases were those individuals unfortunate enough to have been carrying open cans at the time of the raid.

On April 8th, grading started on Route 1 from Yamada to Onna, the main road which led north on the China Sea side of the island. This stretch of road formed the backbone of the battalion’s job on Okinawa. The next day the first part of the battalion moved to a more suitable position north, following the Marines of the 3rd Corps and keeping the roads open.

SeaBees on Okinawa

The month of April brought cold weather miseries to the men. Eighteen months in the torrid heat of the South Pacific had weakened the resistance of the men to the mild cold of Okinawa. Cloudy, rainy days and cold nights brought on the worst colds and grippe in two years. Nights were spent with all available clothing wrapped around the body, and baths from buckets and helmets were no longer cool and refreshing as they had been in the tropics, but ordeals to be endured only when the odor became overpowering.

Also in April came terrific hailstorms of steel to those remaining encamped beside Yontan.  Shore installations and ships in the harbor threw up such a tremendous barrage in each raid that the harbor vicinity was prey to the never ending rain of metal.  On 16 April mortar shells aimed at Yontan landed around the camp area.  During the previous night the first and only death due to enemy action occurred. There were air raids too numerous to count, but usually the planes merely passed over on their way to more important targets. On several occasions bombs were dropped nearby, but they were just close enough to make a few more Christians.

SeaBees at work, Okinawa

By April 29th the battalion road responsibility extended from Yamada to Nago, a distance of more than 20 miles. Throughout the entire distance the road was widened sufficiently to accommodate the northward drive of the 3rd Corps. A Piper Cub strip at Onna was begun on April 16th.  By April 20th enough of the strip had been completed to enable the first plane to land.  At the village of Kise, a concrete bridge had been badly damaged by combat action and was repaired by cribbing along the broken span and back filling with rubble. Many of the bridges on Route 1 were damaged, seemingly beyond repair. Each bridge was repaired by crib and back fill or with shoring. These bridges were the only ones on the island made passable by using salvage material and drift wood.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Adams Jr. – So. Windham, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Aviation Engineer

John Beverly – Stone, KY; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Sr. Chief Radioman (Ret. 22y.)

Bob Dorough – AR; US Army, WWII, band, (Schoolhouse Rock)

Larry Harvey – Portland, OR; US Army, (Burning Man founder)

Douglas Jackson – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1261st Combat Engineers Battalion

Kathleen Leach – Tauranga, NZ; WAAF # W2039, WWII, L.Cpl.

James Martin – Brookline, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, jumpmaster

Bill Nichols – OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO & CBI

Dennis Odom – St. Louis, IL; US Army, Vietnam

Joseph Varone – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, Bronze Star & 2 Purple Hearts

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Navy Diary for end of March 1945

USS Montpelier

From “Pacific War Diary” by James J. Fahey of the USS Montpelier

Friday, March 16, 1945 – We left Subic Bay, traveled to Mindoro and anchored.  We may be ordered to troops on the southeast side of Mindanao.  We had plane recognition every day as usual.  We have movies of our planes and the enemy’s so we can tell the difference.  Tonight many B-24 bombers returned after a raid on China.  One of the planes came in on 3 motors.

The Press News reported that the Japanese lost approximately 4000 airplanes in the Philippine campaign.  British Lancaster bomber loads were increased to carry 11-ton bombs for the first time yesterday.  They are capable of destroying 5 city blocks each, being the largest bombs in the world.

James J. Fahey

Tuesday, March 20, 1945 – B-29s dropped leaflets on Japan telling the inhabitants that the bombing would cease when they stopped fighting.  They also warned people to stay away from military areas,  Bomber from Iwo Jima will bomb Japan soon.

I left the ship today for recreation on the beach at Mindoro.  We received a ride from an Army truck and went to the town about 10 miles away.  HQ for the 5th Air Force was also accommodated on the island.  I saw a couple of Red Cross girls there.  Some of the men bought corn whiskey from the soldiers.  They paid $17 for one pint.  That must be some kind of record.

Sunday, March 25, 1945 – Today is palm Sunday, our third in the Pacific.  The Australian cruiser Hobart was here, but left yesterday with the Phoenix and Boise.  The Cleveland, Denver and Montpelier are the only cruisers here now.  The men would like to join Bull Halsey’s Third Fleet, but they are only letting the newer ships go with the 3rd.

The other night we were ordered to battle stations.  Around midnight, Jap bombers struck at Manila.  They did not attack the ships in the bay.

USS Franklin, in the Task Force, 60 miles off the coast of Japan. This is what Seaman Fahey was missing. One Japanese “Betty” bomber dropped 2 bombs. All planes on deck were lost as were 832 crew members.

The Press News reported that 274 tons of bombs have been falling on Germany every hour for the past 3 weeks.  This is more than England received during the entire war.  The Japs lost 10,000 aircraft in the past 7 months.

Sunday, April 1, 1945 – A British task force is now operating with the American Fleet off Japan.  Today at noon approximately 100 LCIs arrived.  Some action must be in store.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ted Brewer – Omaha, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, CM Sgt. (Ret. 26 y.)

Willie Cardin – Hartford, CT; US Army, 11th & 82nd Airborne Divisions

Robert Gilmour – Manitoba, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Wendell Hawley – Burlington, VT; US Army, WWII

Alan Konzelman – Patterson, NJ; US Navy, engineer, 6th Fleet

William Lynch – Washington DC; US Navy, WWII, Radioman 3rd Class

Mark Pitalo – Biloxi, MS; USMC, WWII & Korea

Harry Sergerdell – Broad Channel, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII

Thomas Turner – Gaffney, SC; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Willis Williams – Memphis, TN; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Commander (Ret.)

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CBI Theater in March – part one

Editorial staff of the CBI Roundup

These headlines and articles are from the CBI Roundup, newspapers distributed during March 1945.\

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The tanned men in unpressed khaki raised their right hands, were sworn in by Theater Adjutant General, Col. Frank Milani – and the Army of the United States had 10 new second lieutenants.  In such a simple ceremony were enlisted men of the Mars Task Force rewarded at Theater headquarters for combat duty in North Burma that culminated in the opening of the Burma Road from Lashio to Kunming.

They were from eight states of the Union and their ratings ranged from a buck to master sergeants. But after the Adjutant General had signed their commissions, they were eight lieutenants of Infantry and two of Cavalry.  The Infantrymen were with Merrill’s Marauders in the first appearance of American land forces on the continent of Asia, in the campaign that saw their objective taken with the seizure of Myitkyina. Then they joined the 475th Infantry as part of the Mars Force.

Col. Frank Milani giving the oath to 10 new Lt.’s

The Cavalrymen came over here with the 124th Cavalry, which, acting in a dismounted role, made up with the 475th Infantry the component units of the Mars Task Force. They were S/Sgt. Carl R. Hill of Hooker, Tex., and Sgt. Arnold Winkleman of Brenham, Tex.

The Infantrymen were First Sgt. Rupert E. Peters, Arlington, Neb., First Sgt. Kenneth O. LaGrange, Tucson, Ariz., T/Sgt. William McCauley, Phoenix, Ariz., M/Sgt. Hunt Dorn Crawford, Louisville, Ky., T/Sgt. Willie E. Morton, Jacksonville, N.C., First Sgt. William J. Aydt, Merchantsville, N.J., First Sgt. Bernard Block, Long Beach, Calif., and M/Sgt. Valen V. Mellin, Eugene, Ore. Mellin is the man who shot the first Jap at Myitkyina last May.

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FLYING COLUMN

The British sent a flying column out from the 19th Indian Division and these troops smashed right into Mandalay. The last reports are that the British were clearing the city, with the Nips holed up in Fort Dufferin. Combat Cargo planes are airdropping supplies to the British.

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30,000 Japanese Face Trap In Burma

As the Northern Combat Area Command troops of Lt. Gen. Dan I. Sultan drove the Japanese south, British 14th Army units virtually closed the trap on an estimated 30,000 of the enemy if the Myingyan, Meiktila, Mandalay triangle’

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CALCUTTA – Eight members of a crashed B-29 were recently “fished” from the Bay of Bengal in a strange rescue by an American colonel and two enlisted men on an Army fishing cruise in which the rescued airmen were the only “catch.”

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Home Front News

NEW YORK – (UP) – Top numbers this week on nationwide juke-boxes were Rum and Coca Cola, by the Andrews Sisters, Accentuate the Positive, as performed by Bing Crosby and the Andrews gals, and Frankie Carle’s rendition of A Little on the Lonely Side.

The Crosby-Andrews version of Don’t Fence Me In was fourth, ahead of Frank Sinatra singing Saturday Night is Loneliest, Harry James’ trumpet in I’m Beginning to See the Light and Les Brown’s orchestra playing My Dreams Are Getting Better.

I Dream of You, (T. and J. Dorsey), More ‘n’ More, (Tommy Dorsey) and Candy (Dinah Shore), filled out the leading ten.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – CBI Style

 

 

“Strictly G.I.” by Ehret

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bachman – Wilmington, DE; US Army, WWII, CBI, Signal Corps

Patrick Callagy – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Robert DeMoss – Tulsa, OK; US Army, WWII, CBI

William Graham – Hartford, CT; US Army, WWII, CBI/PTO

Albert Hillmeyer – Elmendorf, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO/CBI, radioman

John Ingersoll – Ann Arbor, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, 14th Air Force

Andrew Kowalski – Lambert, PA, US Army, WWII, PTO, Colonel (Ret.)

Miroslav Liškutin – brn: CZE; C Air Force/French Armée de l’Air/RAF, WWII, ETO, Spitfire pilot, BGen. (Ret.23 y.)

Raymond Sinowitz – Bronx, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pvt., POW, KIA

William Waltrip – Springfield, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO,’Edson’s Raiders’, Purple Heart/ Korea, Bronze Star, (Ret. 22 y.)

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