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Ready – Set – Okinawa

B-32 on Okinawa, 12 Aug. 1945

Saturday, 11 August 1945, top secret orders were delivered to General Swing for the division to be prepared to move to Okinawa at any time. The division G-3, Colonel Quandt, called Colonel Pearson, “This is an Alert. Have your regiment [187th] ready to move out by air forty-eight hours from now.” Commanders throughout the 11th A/B had their men reassembled, even those on weekend passes had been found and brought back to camp. The lead elements left Luzon immediately. At 0630 hours on the 13th, trucks brought the 187th to Nichols and Nielson Fields for transport and they landed at 1645 hours that afternoon at Naha, Kadena and Yotan Fields on Okinawa. They would remain on the island for two weeks.

C-47’s of the 54th Troop Carrier Wing

It would take the 54th Troop Carrier Wing two days to transport the 11th Airborne using 351 C-46s, 151 C-47s and 99 B-24s; with their bombs removed and crammed with troopers. The planes had carted 11,100 men; 1,161,000 pounds of equipment and 120 special-purpose jeeps for communication and supply. Eighty-six men remained on Luzon long enough to bring the 187ths organizational equipment to Okinawa by ship.

Jeeps on Okinawa

Jeep trailers on Okinawa

Okinawa, as one of the islands being “beefed-up” with supplies, men and materiel, quickly became significantly congested; it is only 877 square miles. One day would be unbearably hot and the next would bring the heavy rains that created small rivers running passed their pup tents. The troopers were back to cooking their 10-in-1, ‘C’ or ‘K’ rations on squad cookers or eaten cold. A typhoon crossed the island and the men were forced to live on the sides of hills with their pup tents ballooning like parachutes and taking off in the wind. In the hills were numerous old Okinawa tombs that the Japanese troops had adapted into pillboxes and these helped to protect the men from the storms.

Swing was not certain how the enemy would take to him and the 187th regiment landing in Japan, so the men were ordered to be combat ready. Besides staying in shape, they spent many an hour listing to numerous lectures on the Japanese culture. The 187th regiment of the 11th Airborne Division would be the first troops to enter Japan, as conquerors, in 2000 years.

Okinawa Cemetery, Never Forget

Also, on 13 August, two ships, the Pennsylvania and the La Grange were hit by kamikaze carrier planes. All ships in Okinawa harbors were shipped out to ensure their safety. Although the Emperor was at this point demanding peace, the complicated arrangement of their government (Emperor, Premier, Cabinet, Privy Seal, etc. etc.) made it difficult for them to answer the Allies immediately. As Soviet forces, hovering at the 1.5 million mark, launched across Manchuria.

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Military Humor-

“Now that ya mention it, it does sound like patter of rain on a tin roof.”


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Farewell Salutes – 

Raymond Ackerman – Brooklyn, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII  /  US Merchant Marines

Thomas H. Barber – Glencoe, IL; USMC, WWII

Roy Carney – Electra, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt. # 19114586, 345 BS/98 BG/ 9th Air Force, B-24 gunner, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

Eugene De Filippo – East Haven, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO,B-24 pilot  /  US Coast Guard, Korea, LT. Comdr.

Curtis L. Eaves – Oxford, AL; US Army, WWII, PTO, POW / Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. (Ret.)

Benjamin Houden (100) – Belvidere, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Independence, Hellcat pilot

Robert M. Mintz – Cuba City, WI; US Navy, Purple Heart  /  Howard Hughes Aircraft (jet radar design)

Nils Oldberg – Kansas City, MO; US Navy, WWII, SS Guavina – 362, submarine service

Lucy (Shaw) Richmond – Fort Smith, AR; Civilian, WWII, Liberty Ship welder

Fred T. Smith – Palestine, WV; USMC, WWII, PTO

Ithiel E. Whatley – Escambia County, FL; US Army, Korea, Pfc # 14270848, M Co./3/21/24th Infantry Reg., KIA (Chochi’won, SK)

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The Bomb and the 509th

Pres. Truman

In a 1958 interview, Truman was asked about the soul-searching decision he went through to decide on dropping the bomb. He replied, “Hell no, I made it like _ (snapped his fingers) _ that!” One year later at Columbia University, he said, “The atom bomb was no great decision.” He likened it to a larger gun.

The components for the 20-kiloton weapon were being shipped to Tinian Island, in the Marianas, aboard the USS Indianapolis.   The top-secret package arrived at its destination a mere 24 hours after the official operational order for the bomb was sent to General Carl (“Tooey”) Spaatz.

Prince Konoye

Prince Konoye, after laboring two years for a route to peace, swallowed poison and died the day before he was to turn himself in as a war criminal.

Sadly, four days later, the Indianapolis was hit by three torpedoes and sunk within twelve minutes. The ship was without a sufficient number of lifeboats, her disappearance went unnoticed for almost four days and the navy search team was called off early. Therefore, only 316 men of her 1,196-man crew were rescued. This has been considered the most controversial sea disaster in American history.

USS Indianapolis

The bomb, when it arrived, was a metal cylinder approximately 18 inches in diameter and two feet high, but when fully assembled, it measured ten feet long and 28 inches in diameter. It had originally been nicknamed “Thin Man” after the movie and the expected shape, but when it was completed, they changed it to “Little Boy” and gave the small bundle its own hiding place. The secrecy involving the bomb storage area was so secure that a general was required to have a pass to enter.

The other members of the 509th Bomber Group, not included in the mission, knew something was brewing, but they also were unaware of the exact plans. Hence, an anonymous writer was inspired:
Into the air the secret rose,
Where they’re going, nobody knows.
Tomorrow they’ll return again,
But we’ll never know where they’ve been.
Don’t ask about results or such,
Unless you want to get in Dutch.
But take it from one who is sure of the score,
The 509th is winning the war.

The crew of the ‘Enola Gay’ even received a humorous menu as they entered the mess hall for breakfast:
Look! Real eggs (How do you want them?)
Rolled oats (Why?)
Milk (No fishing)
Sausage (We think it’s pork)
Apple butter (Looks like axle grease)
Butter (Yep, it’s out again)
Coffee (Saniflush)
Bread (Someone get a toaster)

After takeoff, they met up with their two escort planes, ‘The Great Artiste,’ which carried scientific equipment and Number 91 (never named) carrying photographic gear.

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Military Humor – 

“Whoever is humming the ‘Jaws’ theme is gonna get slapped!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edwin Askins – Calhoun, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO, 240th Medical Battalion

Norman Baylis – Rotorua, NZ; NZ Expeditionary Force # 455856, WWII

Final Mission

Bobby L. Dew – Norfolk, VA; US Army, 101st Airborne  /  Korea, 7th Division, Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts

Alfred Fergen – Parkston, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Sea Bees, 109th Construction Battalion

Frank Gaughan (101) – Cleveland, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

Robert Haney – Columbia City, IN; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

William G. James – Boynton Beach, FL; US Army, 508th RCT

Edward Kirwan Jr. – Newburgh, NY, USMC, WWII, PTO

Dennis C. Lansing – Richland, WA; US Army, Vietnam, Green Beret, Major (Ret. 22 y.)

George McLean – New Orleans, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, GSgt., 93 BG/8th Air Force

Brian Reichert – Andover, ND; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division, Sgt. (Ret.)

Bruce Sauder – Highspire, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

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I’m no quitter!

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C.B.I. General Stilwell & the 11th Airborne Division on Luzon

Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell wasn’t around, so caricaturist Don Barclay, who wanted to meet the CBI Theater commander to sketch his familiar features, did the next best thing – captured them from a photograph. 

 

General Joseph W Stilwell along General Joseph W. Swing and Lieutenant General O. W. Griswold salute during the playing of the national anthem in Luzon, Philippines. General Stilwell shakes hands with several of the officers of the United States 11th Airborne Division. He pins a Silver Star on a sergeant and other officers. Recipients of awards march past. Location: Luzon Island Philippines. Date: June 9, 1945.

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Rene Antil – Fitchburg, MA; US Navy, WWII

James T. Bailey – Randolph, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 101st Airborne Division

Ronald Barkel – Coopersville, MI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Patricia Ann Carroll – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII  /  beloved comedian/actress

Charles Civil – Ocala, FL & Jarreau, LA; US Army, WWII & Korea

Malcolm Counsil – Nampa, ID; US Navy, WWII, USS Thompson

Anthony ‘Tony’ Dow – Los Angeles, CA; National Guard  /  beloved actor

Melvin “Bob” Kroeger – Flandreau, SD; US Army, WWII, PTO

George McLean – New Orleans, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 93 BG/8th Air Force

Ralph T. Potter – Galveston, TX; US Merchant Marines / US Army, WWII, ETO, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

Eugene “Tex” Ritter – Unity, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, C-46 pilot, 1st Combat Cargo Sq./14th Air Force (over ‘The Hump’)

Michael Tarkane – Valparaiso, IN; US Army, WWII

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Pacific Theater items

Lipa Railway Station, May 1945

showing damage, looking south from Lipa Cathedral

The 11th Airborne continued their patrols, moping up details and training at Lipa. General Swing had another jump school built that created 1,000 newly qualified paratroopers. Plus, the entertainer, Joe E. Brown came to visit.

The new glider school concentrated on the “snatch pickup” method, whereby a CG-4A Glider on the ground with a towrope and a C-47 with a hook. As the plane goes overhead at an altitude of 15 feet, it snatches up the glider and brings it to 120 mph in a matter of a few seconds. (The noise from the plane, shock and whiplash must have been overwhelming.).  With May drawing to a close and the Japanese Army being pushed to the northeast corner of Luzon, the men of the division began to realize something was afoot.

Joe E. Brown passing out mail call on Luzon


23 May, at least 65 square miles of Tokyo had been incinerated by bombs and napalm. Later, the same action was taken over Yokohama, Osaka and Kobe. This left over 100 square miles of the principle Japanese cities devastated and one-third of the country’s construction destroyed. Japan’s factories were demolished.

The Sixth Australian Division attacked and occupied Wewak, New Guinea. This is relevant because it housed the headquarters of the Japanese Eighteenth Army. A major boon for the PTO (Pacific Theater of Operations).

Young Japanese girls wore headbands that designated them as Special Attack Force members. Daily they would recite the Imperial Precepts for Soldiers and Sailors before they began a twelve-hour shift in a makeshift factory in Kokura, Japan. Here they were producing 40 foot balloons to carry a bomb package across the ocean as they were released to drift on the Pacific jet stream.

Japanese balloon bomb

A total of approximately 9,300 of these weapons were made and about 342 reached land, some as far east as Ontario, Michigan and Nebraska. Some were shot down or caused minor injuries and one hit a powerline of the nuclear weapons plant at Hanford, Washington. But – 5 May 1945 – near Klamath Falls, Oregon, a pregnant woman, Elyse Mitchell and five students were killed on their way to a picnic. These were the only casualties of the war in the 48 states.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Wallace Bryans – Omaha, NE; US Army, Vietnam, Airborne Ranger, Master Aviator, (Ret. 24 y.), 2 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart

Charlie M. Chester – Clarksville, TN; US Army, Sgt., 101st Airborne Division

William Coughlin – Atlanta, GA; US Army, Lt. Colonel (Ret.), 82nd Airborne

Andrew G. Coy – Pure Air, MO; US Army, Vietnam, 5th Special Forces (Ret. 25 y.), Bronze Star, Purple Heart

James F. “Stocky” Edwards (100) – Nokomis, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, P-40 pilot, Lt. Col. (Ret.32 y.), Wing Comdr.

Ralph Grogan Sr. – Critz, VA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co B/9th Armored Battalion

Henry “Jimmie” James Sr. – London, ENG; RB Navy, WWII, gunner, HMS Sheffield

Bette Jensen (100) – Bedford, TX; US Women’s Army Air Corps WAC, WWII, aviation

Earl R. Lewis Jr. – Meadville, PA; US Army, Vietnam

Anne McGravie – Edinburgh, SCOT; British Women’s Navy WRENS, WWII

Thomas Rawlins – Bellbrook, OH; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

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Manila | February 1945

Flamethrower

While advancing, the 11th Airborne encountered heavy barrages from machine guns, mortars, artillery and grenades streaming from tunnels and caves above the highway.  After the enemy was eradicated, the command post dug in on the side of the road.  In the middle of the night, they were attacked.  Headquarters Company used flame throwers and rifle fire to fend them off.

My father, Smitty, would wrinkle his nose at the mere sight of a flame thrower on TV.  He said, “Once you smell burning flesh, it stays with you.  There’s nothing worse.  Every time I see one of those things flare up, even in a movie, I can smell the fuel and flesh all over again.”

The importance of Manila cannot be stressed enough. The natural harbor has served as a strategically situated port for commerce and trade for centuries. Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay are connected by the Pasig River.

Pasig River, before the war

Following the initial American breakthrough on the fourth, fighting raged throughout the city for almost a month. The battle quickly came down to a series of bitter street-to-street and house-to-house struggles. In an attempt to protect the city and its civilians, MacArthur placed stringent restrictions on U.S. artillery and air support. But massive devastation to the urban area could not be avoided. In the north, General Griswold continued to push elements of the XIV Corps south from Santo Tomas University toward the Pasig River.

Late on the afternoon of 4 February he ordered the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, to seize Quezon Bridge, the only crossing over the Pasig that the Japanese had not destroyed. As the squadron approached the bridge, enemy heavy machine guns opened up from a formidable roadblock thrown up across Quezon Boulevard. The Japanese had pounded steel stakes into the pavement, sown the area with mines, and lined up old truck bodies across the road. Unable to advance farther, the cavalry withdrew after nightfall. As the Americans pulled back, the Japanese blew up the bridge.

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Current News – The Legacy continues – 

The 11th Airborne will exist once again!!

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/05/05/army-creating-second-paratrooper-division-service-forges-new-identity-arctic-troops.html?ESRC=eb_220506.nl

5 May 2022

Military.com | By Steve Beynon

Soldiers stationed in Alaska will soon ditch the 25th Infantry Division’s “Tropic Lightning” patch and be re-designated the 11th Airborne Division,

The two existing airborne combat units are the 82nd Airborne Division and  the 101st Airborne, which is airborne in name only; it’s actually an air assault division.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Russell Adams – San Francisco, CA; US Merchant Marines, WWII

Willy J. Cancel – TN; USMC  /  KIA (Ukraine)

Aubrey B. Dale – Lilburn, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Jack W. Harrell – MacClesfield, NC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Luis Herrera – Marion, NC; US Army, Spec., 82nd Airborne Division

Jack E. Lilley – Waldworth, OH; US Army, Korea, Pfc. # 15414336, Truck Driver, HQ Co/34/24th Infantry Division, KIA (Taejon, SK)

Riley D. Mixon – Greenville, SC; US Navy, Vietnam, Desert Shield & Desert Storm, Admiral (Ret. 36 y.) / Exc. Director & Vice Chairman to establishing the USS Midway Museum

Laverne A. Nigg – Browns Valley, MN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3167440, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Lee R. Peterson – Edmore, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Radioman, USS Estes

William F. Teaff – Akron, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, radioman # 35586750, POW, KIA (Stalag Luft VI)

Chauncey (William) Sharp – Osborn, OH; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co C/1/27/25th Infantry Division, KIA (Hwanggon, SK)

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So… Have a great day!

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Luzon February 1945 (1)

Entering Manila

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

The U.S. on Luzon

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

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

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

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Current News –

From: Fellow Blogger – Brizzy Mays Books & Bruschetta___

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

USS Frank Cable

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

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

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

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

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

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Military Humor –

‘THIS IS A HELLUVA JOB FER A SOJER”

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Entering Luzon | 31 January 1945

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

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

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

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

Palico Bridge

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

Japanese artillery, Nasugbu, Luzon

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

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

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

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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11th Airborne lands on Luzon

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

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

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

Divisions of enemy troops on Luzon

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

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

LST landing Jan. 1945

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

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

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

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

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

Over the horizon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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13 March – K-9 VETERANS DAY

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New Orders for the 11th Airborne

Lt. Gen. Joseph May Swing

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

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

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

Generals Swing and Eichelberger making plans for the 11th Airborne

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


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

Adm. Flechteler

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

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

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

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

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

Sea Captain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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HMAS Australia

HMAS Australia

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

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

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

Aussie damage

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

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

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

Aussie damage

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

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

funnel damage

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

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

The Australian Navy link includes some fantastic photographs!

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

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

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

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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