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First Hand Account – after Peleliu

Bruce Watkins, Monty Montgomery & Steve Stasiak

Bruce Watkins (Commander), Monty Montgomery (platoon Sgt.) & Steve Stasiak (guide)

INTRODUCTION: The following is a chapter taken from “Brothers in Battle” by R. Bruce Watkins. This book was written for the benefit of his children, grandchildren, and friends who have an interest in the events of World War II as he saw them. It reflects his personal experience as a platoon leader in E CO/ 2ND Battalion/1st Marines at Peleliu. He also served as company commander of E Co on Okinawa. Bruce dedicated his book to “My Brothers, those undaunted Marines, who followed me without hesitation into the very jaws of death.” [Pictures below are some of these men.]

We don’t often hear what happens after the men fight, the following is what Bruce Watkins remembered after the battle:

Bruce Watkins

Bruce Watkins

Chapter V
PAVUVU

marc_jaffe_better_web

Marc Jaffe

As we filed off the Tryon to our old bivouac at Pavuvu, we saw few familiar faces. There were a handful of lightly wounded casualties, but all the other living were still hospitalized. Settling into the tents that had been our home a short month ago, we were immediately struck by the empty cots with personal gear stowed below. We had returned with about 15% of our original number. That made for a lot of empty cots. Most of these cots would never see their original occupants again.

     Shortly after, I received a summons from Division headquarters. “We think we may have one of your men down here.” It was PFC Brennan and he told me he did not have a name, that the Japs had taken it from him on the second day. He was sent home to the States and I received a letter from him some time later. He had been suffering from cerebral malaria but back in a cool climate he had recovered.

    

John Kincaid

John Kincaid

In the heat of the Peleliu battle I had not accounted for two of our 17-year-old privates, but these returned to us now, unscathed. Monty told me they had bugged out in the middle of the battle. I had assumed they were wounded or killed. Although this was technically desertion under fire, the NCO’s had a great deal of understanding, taking into account their youthfulness. I saw no reason to take issue with their judgement, and these two more than proved themselves in the next battle.

     There were many signs of strain after Peleliu. Our colonel told us how coming out of the shower he met a major, a member of Battalion Staff, with a towel draped over his arm. The major asked the colonel if he really liked him. The colonel replied, “Of course.” He then removed the towel displaying a loaded 45 pistol in his hands. “I’m glad you do,” he said, “because if you didn’t, I would have to shoot you.” Our colonel made quiet arrangements and the major was shipped back to the states under guard.

Sgt. Hap Farrell

Sgt. Hap Farrell

     We took a boat over to Bonika, the main island of the Russells, where our hospital was. There we saw many of our comrades. John Kincaid was having trouble with both eyes and Joe Gayle was just getting the use of his arms back. Sam Alick was recovering well from the leg wound, but his thumb would never work the same. Another platoon sergeant, a handsome man, had half his face and jaw gone. A gunny sergeant with a shattered pelvis lay there with rods like an erector set holding his hips in place, and so it went. The good news was that Lee Height could return with us.

Lt. Lee Height

Lt. Lee Height

     Back on Pavuvu in the days that followed, we were allowed to rest and routine was at a minimum. We drifted from tent to tent checking on who had returned and always there were the empty cots. This was a most necessary rehabilitation period during wich we dealt with our shock and the loss of many friends. We were to need that rest both physically and mentally for there was much ahead of us.

In 1992 Bruce wrote “Brothers in Battle” about his experiences. The period covered stretches from December 1941 until November 1945.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Edward Borschel Jr. – Panama City, FL; US Army, 187th RCT

Jack Griffiths – San Diego, CA; US Army, Korea, HQ/38/2nd Infantry Div., Major, POW, KIA

Dixie Heron – UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, 249th Squadron

Hugo Koski – Mt. Vernon, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, Quartermaster

Ira Miss Jr. – Frederick, MD; Korea, HQ/38/2nd Infantry Div., MSgt., POW, KIA

Clifford Nelson – Spanish Fort, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO & Korea, Captain (Ret. 29 years)

Charles Owen – Greendale, WI; US Navy, WWII

Lee Ragatz Jr. – Dania, FL; US Navy, USS Midway

Jack Slaughter (103) – Muskogee, OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Welles, Silver Star

Martin Waddington – So.Hurtsville, AUS; RA Air Force # NX098714, 10th Squadron

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October 1944 (1)

Causeway with 2 damaged Sherman tanks, Peleliu

Causeway with 2 damaged Sherman tanks, Peleliu

3  October – the Marines on Peleliu attacked the “Five Sister,” a coral hill with 5 sheer peaks and the Japanese defensive fire was deadly accurate.  Four days later, in an Army tank/Marine infantry operation, they made their assault in a horseshoe shaped valley after 2 ½ hours of big gun artillery fire.

The odor on the island of decaying bodies and feces, (latrines could not be dug in the coral), became extreme.  The flies were uncontrollable.  The [now-banned] pesticide of DDT was first used on Peleliu, but with very little success.

Napalm strike on Five Sister, Peleliu

Napalm strike on the Five Sisters, Peleliu

On 12 October, Captain Andy “Ack-Ack” Haldane, well-respected leader and veteran of Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester and Peleliu, was killed on Hill 140 in the Umurbrogol Pocket.  This was also the date that organized resistance on the island was declared over.

10 October – The 3rd Fleet of aircraft carriers made a major attack on the enemy naval and shore installations on the Ryukyu Islands.  Their arrival took the Japanese by surprise and destroyed 75 planes on the ground and 14 in the air; 38 ships were either sunk or damaged.  Other US Navy surface vessels conducted a 15-hour bombardment of Marcus Island.  This would give the US a forward base less than 1000 miles from the Japanese mainland.

Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands

Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands

12→15 October – after refueling, the 3rd Fleet’s 1000 carrier fighters and bombers conducted a campaign over Formosa along with 100 Superfortresses of the US Army’s 20th Air Force coming out of the Chingtu bases.  The 500 enemy aircraft of Adm. Fukudome’s Imperial Navy 6th Air Force were manned by inexperienced pilots.  On the 13th along, 124 enemy fighters were shot down during a massive dogfight and 95 more were destroyed on the ground.  As Fukudome himself described it, “Like so many eggs thrown against the stone wall of indomitable enemy formations.

More than 70 enemy cargo, oil and escort ships were sunk in the area.  The US lost 22 aircraft.  The carrier, Franklin, and the cruiser, Canberra, were hit, but the latter was towed to safety.  Due to the inexperienced Japanese pilots misinformation, Tokyo Rose announced, “All of Admiral Mitscher’s carriers have been sunk tonight – INSTANTLY!”  Japan claimed a second Pearl Harbor and a public victory holiday was proclaimed.

Arisan Maru

Arisan Maru

In October, the Japanese ‘hell ship’, Arisan Maru, departed Manila, P.I. with 1800 American prisoners on board held in her unventilated hold.  It was sunk by the USS Snook, killing 1795 POW’s.

The Japanese attempted to break the build-up of Allied forces in Manila Bay, Luzon, P.I., but the result was losing approximately 30 more aircraft to US fighters and antiaircraft fire.

October 1944 was an extremely active month and it will take at least 5 posts to just put the basics down.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Alamar – Scranton, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, minesweeper

Robert Brooks – Ontario, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, 143rd Air Wing, radio operations

Peleliu cemetery

Peleliu cemetery

Harold Girald – Mah-wah, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Ken Hartle (103) – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, SeaBee

Melvin Hill – Pomona, CA; Korea, 31st RCT, KIA

Harold “Hal” Moore, Jr. – Auburn, AL; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 1/7th Cavalry Reg., Lt.General, West Point Grad, DSC

Allen “Bud” Moler – Dayton, OH; USMC, PTO, KIA (Roi-Namur)

Brent Morel – Martin, TN; USMC, Iraq, 1st Marine Recon Battalion, Navy Cross, KIA

Richard Lyon – Oceanside, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO / Korea, Admiral (Ret. 41 years)

Elizabeth Zarelli Turner – Austin, TX; US Army WAC, WWII, pilot

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September 1944 (2)

Moro tai, 15 September 1944

Morotai, 15 September 1944

Adm. Mitscher’s TF-38 bombings of Clark and Nichols airfields on Luzon, P.I., mowed down enemy bases.  More than 200 planes were destroyed and the shipping in Manila Bay was ravaged.  No Japanese aircraft reached the fleet, but 15 US aircraft were lost during the operation.

15 September – US troops landed at Morotai in the Netherlands East Indies.  They were met by only light resistance despite its location at the entrance of the Celebes Sea off the southern coast of the Philippine Islands.

16 September – the Japanese escort carrier Unyo [“A Hawk in the Clouds”] was sunk in the South China Sea by the US submarine Barb.  Although no US surface ships were in the area, the submarine service were causing havoc with the Japanese supply convoys between the N.E. I. and the southeastern Asian enemy forces.

Peleiu, 1944

Peleiu, 1944

On Peleliu. most of the 6 x 2 mile island was composed of coral ridges and heavily wooded scrub which made taking aerial photographs useless.  Although on paper, the 1st Marines were reinforced to an adequate size, the figures convinced MGen. Rupertus that Operation Stalemate would only last 3-4 days.  Col. Chesty Puller differed and pointed out the number of actual combat troops, but the general felt Chesty’s argument was groundless.

As the men crossed the airfield, E.B. Sledge, [author of “With the Old Breed’], said, “To be shelled by massed artillery and mortars is absolutely terrifying, but to be shelled in the open is terror compounded beyond belief of anyone who hasn’t experienced it.  The temperature that day was 105°F in the shade.”

Peleiu landing

Peleiu landing

19 September – on the eastern coast of Peleliu, the Marines took Ngardololok and flushed out a large Japanese defense, but the enemy remained deeply embedded in fortified positions.

22-23 September – naval bombardment sank some of the enemy barges which headed out to Peleliu, but about 600 of the Japanese troops from the 2nd Batt/15th Regiment made it to shore.  The Marines became even more weary of the continuing battle upon hearing this news.  The situation was becoming a replay of Guadalcanal.

25 September – The US Army 321st Infantry Regiment/81st Division was brought to Peleliu to support the Marines.  The joint effort created the III Amphibious Corps.

marines_wait_in_their_foxholes_-_peleliu

28 September – Marine pilots pounded the beach of Ngesebus, Peleiu for another amphibious landing.  They found no resistance until the reached the second airstrip.

In mid-September, FDR and Churchill met for their 8th was summit known as the Octagon Conference.  Most of the discussions revolved around the European Theater, but the British suddenly demanded more of a visible presence in the Pacific.  This after 3 years of insisting the PTO was America’s responsibility.  Adm. King vetoes the idea, but FDR accepted and this both embarrassed and infuriated the Chief of Naval Operations.  Ground work was also started for post-war atomic bomb production and an agreement for the weapons use against Japan if necessary.

Click on images to enlarge.

An eye witness account of Peleliu will be in the following post.

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Military Humor – 

Sad Sack

Sad Sack

Private Beetle

Private Beetle

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Farewell Salutes –

Anthol Bensley – Manawatu, NZ; RNZ Navy # 6389, WWII, Able Seaman

Joseph Frigenti – FL; US Army, Korean Warmediumpic634249020853470000

William Holden – Burlington, VT; US Navy, WWII, ETO, submarine service

Kenneth Irvin Sr. – Altoona, PA; US Army, WWII, 433rd Medical, Pfc

Philip Karp – Northdale, NJ; US Navy, WWII

Bob Leidenheimer Sr. – New Orleans, LA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Richard Manning – Norwell, MA; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea

Frank Puckett – Dickson, TN; US Army, WWII, ATO, Purple Heart

John Strudwick – London, ENG; RAF, 604 Squadron

William Tice – Ann Arbor, MI; US Army, 1st Infantry “The Big Red One”

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Floating Docks of WWII

SS Artisan (ABSD-1) w/ Antelope (1X-109) & LST-120 in the dock at Espiritu Santo, 8 January 1945

SS Artisan (ABSD-1) w/ Antelope (1X-109) & LST-120 in the dock at Espiritu Santo, 8 January 1945

The United States Navy, during World War 2, decided to create a temporary forward base utilizing service stations; these stations meant the United States Navy could operate throughout the huge Pacific Ocean for more sustained amounts of time.

Creating these pretty much meant they could have a major naval base within a short distance of any operation carried out in the area. The base was able to repair; resupply and refit, meaning fewer ships had to make the journey to a facility at a major port, which allowed them to remain in the Pacific for up to a year and beyond.

This was vitally important as if ships were damaged enough (either by storms in the area or damage from the enemy) they would usually have to travel thousands of miles to get to the United States naval base that could carry out essential repairs. The distance to the San Francisco base (the nearest United States naval base) was as far from their location as it would have been to sail from London, England to San Francisco.

USS Iowa in dry dock

USS Iowa in dry dock

These temporary bases provided ships with supplies, ranging from food, fuel, ordnance and other much-needed supplies. This meant that these stations were vital in terms of practical use to the United States Navy and their operations in the area.

These stations were officially named Advance Base Sectional Docks (ABSDs) and were put together section by section. Each part was welded to the next once in their correct position.

There were two different sizes of floating docks created, the largest ones were created using ten sections and could lift 10,000 tons each – being 80 feet wide and 256 feet long. Once these sections were welded together, it became a fully assembled dock that was a whopping 133 feet wide, 827 feet long and could lift up to 90,000 tons.

Looking at an LST from inside the ASDR

Looking at an LST from inside the ASDR

This was more than enough lifting power for any ship within the Fleet.

The smaller dock was put together using eight sections and could lift 8,000 tons each – being 101 feet wide and 204 feet long. Once the sections of the smaller dock were fitted together, it was capable of lifting a ship up to 120 feet wide, 725 feet long and 8,000 tons of weight.

The sections used in the creation of these docks were given the form of a rough hull; this allowed the sections to be towed in place at a speed of 6-8 knots. The walls were capable of folding down so that they had resistance to the wind while being towed and helped to lower their center of gravity.

ABSD-2 at Manus w/ USS Mississippi (BB-41), 12 October 1944

ABSD-2 at Manus w/ USS Mississippi (BB-41), 12 October 1944

Each dock had their own generator aboard (fueled by diesel) and quarters for the crew. Once fully assembled every dock had two cranes aboard, that could lift 15 tons; these ran on specially placed rails that sat on top of the dock walls.

Enough sections were made during the War that three large and four small docks were able to be assembled. The very first one was complete within 1943 (at Noumea) and a second was being fitted by the end of the year at Espiritu Santo. The total capacity of the dry docks in the Navy by the end of 1943 was 723,000 tons.

Idea for this post was suggested by Ian, the Aussie Emu.

Information retrieved from the War History on line.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Lawrence Apel – St. Louis, MO; US Army, ATO & PTO

Frank Bobb Jr. – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Gene Cernan – Chicago, IL; US Navy, pilot, Astronaut (2 Moon voyages)

Max Duncan – Forest City, NC; US Navy, WWII, USS Barb (SS-220), Capt. (Ret. 30 yrs.), Silver Starsalute

Robert Eaves – Boston, MA; US Army, WWII

Colin Gibbard – Wanganui, NZ; RNZ Army # 105345, WWII, 27th Machine-gun Battalion

Ernest Glass – Walpole, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, KIA

James King – Temperance, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Savo Island (CVE-78), machinist’s mate

Roderick McIntire – Kuluin, AUS; RA Air Force # 420241, WWII, navigator

William Mohr (108) – Hatboro, PA & Port St. Lucie, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 381st/45th Infantry Div., Sgt.

John Oblinger Jr. – North Bend, OH; US Army, West Point, 11th & 82nd Airborne, Major (Ret.)

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September 1944 (1)

Bonin and Volcano Islands

Bonin and Volcano Islands

31 August → 2 September – US carrier aircraft started an intense 3-day bombing on the Bonin and Volcano Islands.  The Japanese suffered heavy losses of matérial.  A US Navy communiqué lists the enemy damages as : about 50 ground and airborne planes destroyed; around 15 ships sunk and damage to installations, hangers, ammo and fuel dumps.

 

1 September – the American submarine, Narwhal landed men on the eastern coast of Luzon in efforts to become logistics-ready for the Philippine invasion.

USS Narwhal

USS Narwhal

2 September – Wake Island, the most isolated post for the Japanese Empire, received bombardments from the Task Force of one aircraft carrier, 3 cruisers and 3 destroyers.  The island would not be invaded; it would remain in Japanese hands until the end of the war.  The main Allied advance was planned for the Philippine and Ryuku Island groups.

In China, the enemy-held airfield of Hengyang was bombed along with gun positions, and areas with apparent troops in the Changning areas.  A bridge at Yangtien was also damaged.

3 September – the Japanese ‘hell ship’ Shinyo Maru left Mindinao carrying 750 American prisoners.  She was torpedoed by the USS Paddle four days later, killing 668 of the POWs on board.

 
6 → 11 September – a massive naval force of 16 aircraft carriers, numerous cruisers and destroyers attacked Yap, Ulithi and the Palau Islands in the Carolines.  The 5th Fleet became the 3rd Fleet when the Battleship USS New Jersey arrived flying Adm. Halsey’s flag.  This started the air bombings of the Philippine Islands, Mainly Mindinao and Luzon.

liuchowmap
In the CBI, in China, railroad yards, troop occupied areas, and trucks were hit north of Lingling.  While 45 Allied aircraft attacked troops, warehouses shipping and communication targets in the Hukow area Pengtse areas.

8 → 11 September – Adm. Mitscher’s TF-38 hit industrial, naval and aviation positions around Mindinao.  The airfields at DelMonte, Valencia, Cagayan, Buayan and Davao were the targets.  On the first day of the attack, 60 enemy aircraft were destroyed.

12 September – Halsey signaled Admiral Nimitz after the attacks on Mindinao that it appeared enemy strength had been wiped out.  There was “no shipping left to sink” and “the enemy’s non-aggressive attitude was unbelievable and fantastic.”  He recommended that Leyte be the next invasion, but Nimitz refused to call off the pre-planned invasion of Peleliu. (Operation Stalemate).

 

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard G. Adams – Newbury, ENG; Royal Army Service, WWII, ETO, (beloved author)

Frederick Campbell – Bellingham, WA; USMC, WWII, Korea & Vietnam

John Carver Jr. – Preston, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Undersecretary of the DOI, Lt. 120507-m-0000c-005

Earl Cumpiano – Santa Barbara, CA; US Navy, WWII, fireman striker

Allen Farington – Montreal, CAN; RC Navy

Luther Kimbler – Louis City, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 411th Bomber Squadron, SSgt.

Donald McEvoy – N.Platte, NE; USMC, WWII

Edward O’Soro – Wakefield, MA; USMC, WWII, 1st Marine Division

Isadore Pette – Lakewood, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 675th Medical/11th Airborne Division

Scott Sherman – Fort Wayne, IN; US Navy, USS Eisenhower, A-7 pilot

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Smitty – Letter XI

Everett 'Smitty' Smith and the 187th Regiment

Everett ‘Smitty’ Smith and the 187th Regiment

This following letter from Smitty will show how much the G.I.’s of WWII and those of today have in common.  Human nature doesn’t seem to change very much in 68 years.

11th A/B patches

11th A/B patches

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Letter XI                                      Java at 2100                                Thursday 8/10/44

 

Dear Mom,  Java at 2100 is nothing more or less than a good old-fashioned gabfest or the same as women folk back home call a “Koffee Klotch.”

There are a few differences though that need a little explaining.  At home, the girls gather and talk, generally about the one who isn’t present; including in this conversation, her husband and his family, also hers and then down the line to her most distant relatives.  Also, they will gab for hours about the gossip of the neighborhood and of course add a little more to it.  At times, arguments amongst themselves will ensue and that ends the present meeting and the next few to come.

With us there are a few differences and variations, such as: we don’t care whether the person being talked about is present or not; although his absence is preferred and appreciated.  Of course we have our little gossip circles, but they mostly run toward the rumor side and therefore no one puts much stock in them.  Invariably we always talk of home, such as what we did before the President greeted us, also what we intend to do when we get back.  This home talk most always leads into a lively debate as to whose state, city or county is the best.  Arguing that topic is just like arguing religion; no one is ever impressed or convinced.

The officers are always good for a good 20 to 30 minute razing, with no one pulling their punches.  At times though you must be careful, as there might be someone present who is bucking like the devil and the talk will go back.  Never is there a good word said in the officers’ defense and I doubt if there ever will be.

Another colorful period is spent when someone brings up non-coms.  What is said at this time is unprintable.  Surprise to say that if I was visited by the seven plagues, I wouldn’t be as bad off as the non-coms, if even half the things wished upon him should ever befall him.  I sometimes wonder if ever in their own conceited way they know just how the private feels toward them.

At home, the girls are all gathered around strictly  talking, but here again we vary.  Some may be playing cards with every now and then some player adding his say, much to the consternation and anguish of the others.  Over in another corner are the die-hards who always listen for rumors and continue on talking about the latest one long after the others have dropped it.

All this time the water is being boiled outside in a large five gallon can.  Every now and then, someone will go out to see if it is time to add the coffee.  When once the coffee is added, there comes over the tent a lull and then everyone shuffles out to get his cup, which he will dip into the can of coffee before coming back in.  Conversation for a while is a combination of talk, loud sips and the blowing of the hot Java.  We manage also to provide milk and sugar and at times, crackers.  The last is generally present only around paydays.

coffeepouringani

I don’t know whether it is the effects of the hot coffee upon the vocal chords or not, but always right after the coffee, some would-be Crosby or Sinatra starts singing some old favorite and that is when music conquers over all.  They say music has its charms, but after listening to it here — I have my doubts.

Some nights the conversations are really good and so is the coffee, on those occasions, talking lasts after taps has blown and then you are sure to hear the mournful wail of the company charge of quarters meekly saying, “Aw fellas, put out the lights.”  Never has it happened that the request was heeded and I doubt if it ever will be.  It isn’t long after though that the first sergeant comes barging in bellowing, “Get those blankety-blank lights out and get the H–l to bed!”  Lights immediately go out and good-nights can be heard throughout the company area as Koffee Klotches all over break up.

Peace and quiet prevails until all one can hear is the not too soft patter of feet heading out to the place where, at some time or another, we all must frequent.  Bits of conversation can be heard drifting through the night, but generally isn’t worth listening to, as it is only the rumor mongers at work again in their office.

Before I close this chapter, allow me to say that the evening coffee, sugar and milk are all donated cheerfully by the fellow most unfortunate enough to have had K.P. the day before.

Having nothing more to gab about and also having to pay a visit down to the end of the company street, I’ll close before I have to make a run for it.

Gabbingly yours,  Everett  (The Donator of This Evening’s Coffee)

Click on images to enlarge.

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imagesiu502ww1To the Arkansas veterans who read and listen to this site… may I send you a Happy New Year wish and hearty Thank You for all you’ve done for us !!

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Ables – Kirkersville, OH, US Army, WWII

Joseph Charyk – Falmouth, MA; Under Sec. of the Air Force

W.L. Doerty – Gunnison, CO; US Air Force, Korea, pilot, POW &

Broad Channel veteran's  parade

Broad Channel veteran’s parade

Vietnam, Bronze Star

Fredene Frye – Greybull, WY; US Army WAC, WWII

Billy Hooks – Lake City, TN; USMC, Vietnam, Cpl.

Darlene Koering – Shellsburg – IA; US Women’s Marines, WWII

Troy Gilbert – Litchfield Park, AZ; US Air Force, Oper. Iraqi Freedom, Major, KIA

Charlie Laine – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Troy Gilbert – Nazzareno Tassone – Niagara, CAN; YPG, Syria

Floyd Passmore – Bedford, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, C/503rd/11th Airborne Division

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August 1944 (2)

Left: RM1c George Ray Tweed Right: Sergeant Soichi Yokoi

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

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

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

On Noemfoor Island, pointing to the enemy withdrawal.

On Noemfoor Island, pointing to the enemy withdrawal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Operation Vogelkop

Operation Vogelkop

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

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

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

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

Gettysburg

Gettysburg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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USS Alabama – Then and Now

USS Alabama

USS Alabama, Cruise book

The USS Alabama (BB-60) is a South Dakota Class Battleship, launched on April 16, 1942. It served during World War II in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

The Alabama served in British waters protecting supply convoys to the Soviet Union.

Later it joined U.S. forces fighting in the Pacific. It was involved in the Gilbert Island, Marshall Islands, and Marianas Islands campaigns, and in the Battles of the Philippine Sea and Okinawa.

The Alabama was awarded nine battle stars for her service.

On January 9, 1947, the Alabama was decommissioned. Her last journey under her own power was to the United States Pacific Reserve Fleet at Bremerton, Washington. She remained there until removed from the Naval Vessel Register on June 1, 1962.

US Navy poster

US Navy poster

However, that was not the end of her life. Some citizens of the State of Alabama formed a ‘USS Alabama Battleship Commission’ with the aim of raising funds to preserve the Alabama as a memorial to the men and women who served their nation during World War II.

The money, including $100,000 raised by schoolchildren in the form of nickels and dimes, and a $1,000,000 corporate donation, was found, and the Alabama was awarded to the state on June 16, 1964. She was formally handed over at a ceremony in Seattle on July 7.

She was then towed to Mobile Bay, Alabama, where she lies in Battleship Memorial Park. It opened as a museum on January 9, 1965. She was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

The Alabama is one of the most well-known American ships of World War II. The 1992 movie Under Siege, starring Steven Seagal, featured it, though not by name.

Though the action in the film is supposed to have occurred on board the Missouri, the Alabama is actually shown in most of the battleship scenes.

 

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Military Humor –

military-humor-funny-joke-ship-aircraft-carrier-navy-avation-aircraft-parking

 

wwonenjokes_0185

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Carlton Blackmore – Westfield, NJ; US Army, WWII, Captain

John Cleary Jr. – Bronx, NY; US Army, Korea

Allan Dally – Hawke’s Bay NZ; RNZ Army # 056129, WWII, East Coast Mounted Riflesbiabonlceaepa7g-599x769

Harold Gordon – New Bern, NC; US Merchant Marine, WWII & Korea, radioman

Fred Johnson – Park City, UT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Snowbell (AN-52)

Larry Jordal – Sisseton, SD; US Army, Korea

Stanley Levine – Cincinnati, OH; US Army, WWII

Richard Rose  – Battle Creek, MI; US Air Force

William J. Simon Jr. – W.Scranton, PA; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Marcey Jack Wilson – Wichita Falls, TX; US Navy, WWII

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July 1944 (3)

Gen. Hidecki Kojo and Cabinet

Gen. Hideki Kojo and Cabinet

18 July – Gen. Hideki Kojo, the Japanese Prime Minister and Chief of Staff resigned along with his entire cabinet.  The former premiers of Japan as an advisory group had moved the Emperor to form a new government in the wake of the increasing defeats.  Gen. Kuniaki and Adm. Mitsumasa Yonai took over the Army and Navy, which Tojo had been running under one office.

For two weeks, the bombardments of Guam in the Marianas had continued.  On the 19th, US Navy ships started the 2-day pre-landing attacks, focusing on the Asan and Agat beaches.  A Japanese diary of these days read: “On this island, no matter where one goes, the shell follows.”

While marines crawl onto a beach, an enemy shell explodes a troop-laden amtrac offshore. Survivors from other shelled amtracs are swimming toward the beach. (National Archives)

While Marines crawl onto a beach, an enemy shell explodes a troop-laden amtrac offshore. Survivors from other shelled amtracs are swimming toward the beach. (National Archives)

21 July – The 1st Marine Brigade/3rd Division and the 77th Army Division went ashore on the west coast of Guam.  They discovered a sign left for them reading: “WELCOME MARINES.”  It was put there by the Navy UDT (Underwater Demolition Team).  It would then take 5 days for the two landing teams to link up.  A massive frontal attack took place that the men called “New Year’s Eve at the zoo.”  But the Japanese were mainly in cliff side sheltered positions.  They had not encountered the whole force.

untitled-png30

24-25 July – after a 2-week rest, the US 4th Marine Division landed on the Tinian Island northern coast while the 2nd Div. made a feint attack off the southern sector around Sunhanon Harbor.  The 4th ran into ferocious resistance from the Japanese as the 2nd moved up the coast to support.

25-29 July – on Guam, the enemy launched a massive attack on the 3rd Marines who lost 1,744 men.  It was still considered a defeat for the Japanese who suffered nearly 20,000 casualties and men taken prisoner.  Plus, the enemy lost the island’s main airfield, Tiyan, as the Orote Peninsula was taken.  MGeneral Geiger then headed north.

Pres. F. D. Roosevelt in conference with Gen. D. MacArthur, Adm. Chester Nimitz, Adm. W. D. Leahy, while on tour in Hawaiian Islands. 1944. (Navy) NARA FILE #: 080-G-239549

Pres. F. D. Roosevelt in conference with Gen. D. MacArthur, Adm. Chester Nimitz, Adm. W. D. Leahy, while on tour in Hawaiian Islands. 1944. (Navy)
NARA FILE #: 080-G-239549

During July, US military leaders, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and FDR met at Pearl Harbor to discuss the Pacific War.  The men were basically divided between the MacArthur/Halsey plan of attacking the Philippines and Okinawa and Nimitz/ Admiral King’s idea to by-pass the Philippines and go directly to Formosa and isolate Japan from her resources in the Netherland East Indies.

The Joint Chiefs eventually gave their consent to MacArthur and Halsey mainly because the King/Nimitz plan would leave major Japanese bases in the rear of the Formosa landing.

In the CBI theater, various enemy positions, railroads, shipping, troops garrisons and other areas of opportunity were bombed by both the 10th and 14th Air Forces continually.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Japanese cartoons from the Kunihiko Hisa collection cont’d – 

imagenes_divertidas_de_la_segunda_guerra_mundial2

 

imagenes_divertidas_de_la_segunda_guerra_mundial5

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Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Abbott Sr. – Vancouver, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Melvin Bales – Manitoba, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, 407th Squadron

William Carden Sr. – US Navy, WWII, USS Huntington and Guamletellier_grave-jpgpeleliu

Jim Delligatti – Uniontown, PA; US Army, WWII

Herbert Gilbert – Dryden, VA; US Army, Korea

Sammy Lee – Fresno, CA; US Army, Medical Corps doctor, (Olympic diver)

Allen W. Osborne – Thompsontown, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/127th Engineers/11th Airborne

Alton Phillips – Tampa, FL; US Navy, WWII

Revell ‘Jack’ Sowards – Manassa, CO, US Navy, WWII

Manuel Tabackman – Dayton, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII

James Williams – Hendersonville, SC; US Army, WWII

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Gen. Kenney and Charles Lindbergh

P-38 Lightning, New Guinea 1944, Col. Perry Dahl, pilot

P-38 Lightning, New Guinea 1944, Col. Perry Dahl, pilot

On 4 July 1944, a correspondent notified Gen. Kenney that Colonel Charles Lindbergh was in New Guinea.  Kenney did not know about it and neither did General HQ!  So the Colonel was flown to Brisbane to explain his presence.  He wanted to know more about fighter design, especially how well the 2-engine P-38 could hold up against the enemy one-engine models.

Kenney suggested they go to see MacArthur for Lindbergh’s official status paperwork.  When Mac asked the colonel what he could do for him, Kenney interrupted, he wrote in his reports:

“I said I wanted to look after him… If anyone could fly a little monoplane all the way from New York to Paris and have gas left over, he ought to be able to teach my P-38 pilots how to get more range out of their airplanes.  If he could do that, it would mean that we could make longer jumps and get to the Philippines that much quicker…”

Gen. George C. Kenney

Gen. George C. Kenney

Mac said: “All right Colonel.  I’ll just turn you over to General Kenney, but I warn you.  He’s a slave-driver.”

Kenney instructed Lindbergh that during these teachings, he was not to get himself into combat, he was a high-profile personality and a civilian!  For 6 weeks everything went well.  Lindbergh taught the pilots how to stretch their distance from 400 to 600 miles, spending most of his time with Col. Charles MacDonald’s 475th Fighter Group, Fifth Air Force.  The men became so enthusiastic, they began to talk about stretching their distance to 800 miles!

During a raid on the Japanese oil depot at Boela, on Ceram Island, a lone enemy aircraft suddenly aimed for Lindbergh, who fired a burst and the Japanese airplane went down.  Kenney was told about the incident, but being as no one claimed credit for the action, the General could pretend he never knew.

Lindbergh with the 5th Air Force

Lindbergh (l.) with the 5th Air Force, Thomas McGuire (r.)

Photo is by Teddy W. Hanks who was a member of the 433rd Squadron, 475th Fighter Group at that time.  The photos were taken on Biak Island in July 1944.  They had just returned from a combat mission to an unrecorded enemy area.  The P-38 obviously was assigned to the 431st Fighter Squadron because the propeller spinner is a solid color — apparently red. The spinners in Teddy’s squadron,  were blue and only the back half were painted.  Could very well have been McGuire’s plane, # 131, since he was assigned to the 431st at that time.

To prove the long-range capabilities, Lindbergh, Col. MacDonald, LtCol. Meryl Smith and Captain Danforth Miller headed for Palau, 600 miles north, in their P-38’s.  While strafing an enemy patrol boat, Japanese pilots went air-borne and Lindbergh discovered that once an enemy airplane was on his tail – he could not shake it.  Luckily, he was traveling with 3 experts who downed the Japanese before they got him.

But, there was never to be a ‘next time.’  Kenney felt the celebrity was pushing his luck and Lindbergh agreed; he also had taught the pilots all he could.  As long as the war on, he would not mention his combat experiences.  Colonel Charles Lindbergh headed back for home.

Information taken from “General Kenney Reports: A Personal History of the Pacific War” by George C. Kenney

Click on images to enlarge.

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Aviation Humor – 

What a hairy situation !!

What a hairy situation !!

On A WINDY Day !!

On A WINDY Day !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

aviation-humor

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ted Acker – Wooster, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Joan Carby – Bolton, ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO, radio operator cemetary-flag-bench-final-2-72-res

Milton DeVries – Grandville, MI; US Army, WWII

Charles Eby Jr. – Kensington, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot / Korea

Guy Hunter Jr. – Atlanta, GA; US Army, WWII

Max Lyons – Tasmania, AUS; RA Navy # H2578

Donald Minnich – Virginia Bch., VA; US Navy (Ret. 26 yrs.), WWII, Korea & Vietnam, USS Pine Island

Phyllis Paul – New Westminister, BC, CAN; RC Medical Corps, WWII, ETO

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

Herbert Sweney – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 7650, WWII

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