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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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IJN Yamato

IJN Yamato

By early 1945, Japan’s strategic situation was grim. Japanese conquests in the Pacific had been steadily rolled back since the Allied landings on Guadalcanal in August 1942. The Philippines, Solomons, Gilberts and Carolines had all been lost and the enemy was now literally at the gates. Okinawa, the largest island in the Ryukyu island chain was the last bastion before the Home Islands itself. The island was just 160 miles from the mainland city of Kagoshima, coincidentally the birthplace of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

 From: Kyle Mizokami

In early 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy made a difficult decision: it would sacrifice the largest, most powerful battleships ever built to protect Okinawa, the gateway to Japan’s Home Islands. The decision sealed the fate of the battleship Yamato and its crew, but ironically did nothing to actually protect the island from Allied invasion.

Yamato under construction

The battleship Yamato was among the largest and most powerful battleships of all time. Yamato has reached nearly mythical status, a perfect example of Japan’s fascination with doomed, futile heroics. Built in 1937 at the Kure Naval Arsenal near Hiroshima, it was constructed in secrecy to avoid alarming the United States. Japan had recently withdrawn from the Washington Naval Treaty, which limited battleship tonnages, and was free to build them as large as it wanted.

Unfortunately for Yamato and its crew, it was obsolete by the time it was launched in 1941. The ability of fast aircraft carriers to engage enemy ships at the range of their embarked dive and torpedo bombers meant a carrier could attack a battleship at ranges of two hundred miles or more, long before it entered the range of a battleship’s guns. Battleships were “out-sticked,” to use a modern term.

At 0800 hours on April 7, scout planes from Admiral Mitscher’s Fast Carrier Force, or Task Force 58, located IJN Yamato, still only halfway to Okinawa. Mitscher launched a massive strike force of 280 fighters, bombers and torpedo planes, and the fight was on.

IJN Yamato

For two hours, the Surface Special Attack Force was subjected to a merciless aerial bombardment. The air wings of 11 fleet carriers joined in the attack—so many planes were in the air above Yamato that the fear of midair collision was real. The naval aviators were in such a hurry to score the first hit on the allegedly unsinkable ship plans for a coordinated attack collapsed into a free-for-all. Yamato took two hits during this attack, two bombs and one torpedo, and air attacks claimed two escorting destroyers.

A second aerial armada consisting of one hundred aircraft pressed the attack. As the Yamato started to go down, U.S. naval aviators changed tactics. Noticing the ship was listing badly, one squadron changed its torpedo running depth from ten feet—where it would collide with the main armor belt—to twenty feet, where it would detonate against the exposed lower hull. Aboard Yamato, the listing eventually grew to more than twenty degrees, and the captain made the difficult decision to flood the starboard outer engine room, drowning three hundred men at their stations, in an attempt to trim out the ship.

Yamato in battle, artist unknown

Yamato had taken ten torpedoes and seven bomb hits, and was hurting badly. Despite counterflooding, the ship continued to list, and once it reached thirty five degrees the order was given to abandon ship. The captain and many of the bridge crew tied themselves to their stations and went down with their ship, while the rest attempted to escape.

At 14:23, it happened. Yamato’s forward internal magazines detonated in a spectacular fireball. It was like a tactical nuclear weapon going off. Later, a navigation officer on one of Japan’s surviving destroyers calculated that the “pillar of fire reached a height of 2,000 meters, that the mushroom-shaped cloud rose to a height of 6,000 meters.” The flash from the explosion that was Yamato’s death knell was seen as far away as Kagoshima on the Japanese mainland. The explosion also reportedly destroyed several American airplanes observing the sinking.

Yamato at the end, artist unknown

When it was all over, the Surface Special Attack Force had been almost completely destroyed. Yamato, the cruiser Yahagi and three destroyers were sunk. Several other escorts had been seriously damaged. Gone with the great battleship were 2,498 of its 2,700-person crew.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Beasley – Athens, OH; US Navy, corpsman

Ainslie Boyd – Marlborough, NZ; RNZ Navy # 7544, WWII & Vietnam, K Force

Francis Drake Jr. – Springfield, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, KIA (Tarawa)

David Douglas Duncan (102) – Kansas City, MO; US Army, WWII, PTO, combat photographer / Civilian, Korea & Vietnam Wars, Life Mag. photographer

Donald Freeman – Mobile, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Howie Judd – Rensselaer, NY; CIA (Ret.)

Harvel Moore –  Chatham, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO, KIA (Tarawa)

James Robinson – Leavenworth, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Mustin

Dee (Berglin) Robinson – Fairmount, ND; VA hospital nurse, WWII

Robert Southall – Cleveland, OH; US Army, WWII

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HAVING TROUBLE DEALING WITH MONDAY?

HAVE A GREAT DAY, FOLKS!!

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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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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

Philippine Remembrance

 

Dioscoro Valenzuela

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

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

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

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

Dioscoro Valenzuela

Eulogy in honor of DP Dioscoro G. Valenzuela:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veterans Federation of the Philippines

Click on images to enlarge.

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Political Cartoons of 1944 – 1945 – 

NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED!!

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

Juan Guerrero – Kennedy, TX; US Army, WWII

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

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

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

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

Matthew Sarrett – Oceanside, NY; US Coast Guard

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

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Japanese Soldier’s Remembrance of Iwo Jima – part one

In this painting by an unknown Japanese artist, Japanese soldiers, taking cover behind a wrecked U.S. plane, fire on Marines approaching from the beachhead.

This article from HERE was contributed by Nasuko.

My grandfather passed away in 1986. Since then, nearly 20 years have passed, but my grandfather left a note of “Battle experience record”. My grandfather was born in Meiji 45 (the first year of Taishō), was summoned four times from the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War, and was serving to “Iwo Jima”, one of the greatest fierce battles during the Pacific War. It seems that after the war, I remembered it based on the memories of that time and the records written in my notebook.

In Iwo Jima, about 21 thousand Japanese soldiers fought and crushed and survived by only about 1,000 people. My grandfather belonged to the hybrid First Brigade Engineer Corps and only 13 out of 278 people had survived.

Takahashi Toshiharu (74 years old who died in 1986) from Susaki city, Kochi Prefecture, who was assigned to Iwo Jima as a commander of the Army Engineer at the age of 31.
Being seriously injured while shoulder struck back at Iwo Jima, he was taken prisoner of the US military and returned in February of 1946 (Showa 21).
After that, he worked at the Shimizu station in Tosashimizu City, Kochi Prefecture.

We are engineers, making bombs is an expert. They made 20 km bombs at once. Put this on your back and infiltrate ourselves into enemy tanks. Wait for the night to come, carry the bombs on your own. I gave up my gun. No one says anything. It will not return to this position again. The war situation is a disadvantage, the division headquarters is also in danger. Now we are leaving.

There are many injured soldiers left in the position. Looking at our departure, we want to die together. You must destroy a tank that comes to Tianshan tomorrow morning. I never fail to fulfill my promises though I told my wife when I leave Japan that I should live and return. I was destined to die. Even if I live, there is no rice, there is no water, no bullets, no way I can live. Forgive my wife child I apologized with my heart that I could not return home alive. Now we are going to death with justice.

I know the topography. I enter a sideways hole position. . I will be absent until morning. I swear that our day will be our day. In turn and wait for the enemy’s coming at the exit of the hole. When I moved and looked at the enemy, my eyes flashed sharply. I heard a sound, I was buried in the earth and sand. The shell fell in front of me. It was a misfire. Every time I face death, something happens and helps. It is strange.

The tank that should come is still coming. The most terrible fellow, brown and large M4, came. It is 200 meters away. It protrudes a cannon, puts machine guns on the left and right, and also has a flamethrower. It is time for our eight people to die. There is no prospect of saving any thought. I am prepared for it. There is no fear, but the death is ever closer to us.

Yano, the sergeant watcher, ran to warn the others to prepare for the battle – the tank came. His complexion is pale. The enemy burns off the front with a flamethrower, sweeps with a machine gun, shoots with a cannon with a cannon and just goes on a slurp. This is repeated.

We have decided to jump out as the tank approaches 10 meters.  There are ten tanks and we have eight people, so only eight can be destroyed. The remaining tanks will pour into my army.

to be continued….

Click on images to enlarge.

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

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Bennett – Bartlesville, OK; US Army, WWII, CBI, 2nd LT.

Floyd Carter Sr. – Yorktown, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Tuskegee / Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Col. (Ret.)

Frank Forlini – Yonkers, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/187th/11th Airborne Division

Koso Kanemoto – Chicago, IL & Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Japan Occupation, US 8th Army, G-2 MIS Interpreter

Bill Lundquist – Skagit Valley, WA; US Army, WWII, ATO, radioman

Thomas Martin – Huron, SD; US Army, Iraq, Ranger, West Point graduate, KIA

Austin McAvoy – Detroit, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Intrepid

Bernard “Wallie” Newport – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Navy # 8095, WWII, Sub-Lt.

Rose Puchalla – Minneapolis, MN; US Army Air Corps WAAC, WWII, ETO, 1202nd AAFB (Africa), Pfc., KIA

Robert Wood – Lady Smith, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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Current News – Iwo Jima Remembrance

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

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

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

Hershel Williams

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

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

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

Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, then and now

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

Punchbowl Cemetery, Honolulu, HI

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

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

Hershel Williams

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

Click on images to enlarge.

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Personal Request –

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

Sgt Walter “Wally” Morgan Bryant

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iwo Jima Remembered…

 

William Leahy, USMC

“As it appeared on Locust Valley Leader, March 4, 2015. Patty Brexel of the LV Leader sent this to me,” Rosalinda Morgan, contributor.

William Leahy, at 17, enlisted in the U.S.M.C. in December, 1943. At that age, he needed parental permission to join. Eventually his mother relented and signed the form. Less than one year later the young Marine fought in what is considered the bloodiest battle the Corps has engaged in to date. In the following , Leahy vividly recalls some memories of the 36 days he spent on Iwo Jima.
In his words:

There was a war going on and I wanted to fight for our country. After boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. much to my disappointment, I was assigned to guard duty in Maryland. One day I noticed a Fleet Marine Force sign-up sheet on a bulletin board at the camp. I immediately signed my name to it. An old Marine, with previous service, a “retread” were the only Marines available for guard duty except me. He told me, “To forget it, the notice had been there forever, and no one was ever called up.”

I proved that old Marine wrong. After some advanced training at Camp Lejeune, NC, I eventually arrived in Guam in October, 1944. I was assigned to the 3rd Pioneers of the 3rd Marine Division. We shipped out and headed for an eight-square mile volcanic island called Iwo Jima, about 750 miles south of Japan. It was heavily fortified with about 22,000 Japanese soldiers and it was said to be impregnable.

We were there on the first day of the invasion, February 19, 1945. For the first 10 hours everything seemed to be going well. We were still on our transport ship, but we could hear everything that was going on through the P.A. system. Then a Kamikaze raid badly damaged one of the carriers in the fleet and forced us to head out to sea. We were just a sitting duck in the harbor.

The next day, they let down the cargo nets on our ship and down we scramble onto our landing craft. No mean task that was. Three times that day, we climbed up and down the cargo net because the artillery and wreckage made it impossible to make a beach assault.

My company, Fox company, 2nd Battalion, 21st Marines, about 240 men or so, finally hit the beach the next day. There were American bodies everywhere. I don’t think I saw a dead enemy soldier for about a week. They were all underground, dug into caves.

We were getting hit hard. We were taking a pounding. They were giving everything they had. We dug into foxholes as fast as we could. But the holes kept filling in, because the whole island was made up of very fine volcanic ash. Marines were getting hit all around me.

Then we advanced up the island, alternating between forward and reserve units. But even if you were in the reserve you could be assigned to stretcher duty, bringing in the wounded and the dead from the front lines, which in many ways was worse. A buddy of mine, Charles Thomas Lochre, from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, went out on stretcher day and I never saw him again. We lived and fought side-by-side and then he was dead. I saw the flag go up. The famous one on top of Mt. Suribachi. That hill was captured a few days after the invasion. A lot of people think that was at the end of the invasion. But we had many more rough battles ahead of us. Actually, the worst action was in the northern part of the island. That’s where the Japanese headquarters and their General were located.

Sherman tank w/ rocket launcher attachment

There were two things all the ground troops hated, tanks and rocket launchers.  And I don’t mean the Japanese tanks and rocket launchers. As soon as our tanks came in or the artillery started deploying the rocket launchers, the Japanese would zero in on us. The guys in the tanks were all zippered in but the guys on the ground really caught it.

I guess they fed us all-right, mostly cold K-rations. Once in a while, they’d manage to bring in big vacuum bottles of hot coffee up to the front if the action calmed down. Most think of the Pacific as hot and balmy. But actually it was pretty chilly, especially when it rained. Once during those 36 days, I actually got to have a hot shower. After about four weeks we were pretty “skuzzy”. Our uniforms were covered with blood from carrying out the dead and wounded. They took my dirty clothes and threw them away and gave me new ones.

Our favorite defense weapon was a bulldozer. We put some metal up around by the operator and he would raise the blade and forge ahead into the enemy lines. The Japs were all underground. They had a very intricate network of tunnels. One day my buddy, Ralphie Lane from Brooklyn, and I were clearing a cave. I don’t know how it happened but that time he went in first. I heard a scream, saw gun flash and I fired at it. I guess I hit the Jap. We pulled my buddy out and blew the cave. There were probably more of them in there. I just don’t know for sure. But Ralphie was dead, shot in the head.

They also had something called a spider trap. The enemy would buy steel, like our 55-gallon drums, in the ground, get inside, and camouflage the top, wait for a patrol to pass by and then pop out and shoot us. Well the bulldozer worked out real fine in those situations. On one sweep we captured a Japanese soldier who was in a spider trap. His legs were sticking up out of the ground. When we pulled him out he indicated that his leg was injured and he couldn’t walk, so we put him in a shelter shelf and took him back to the CP. On the way to the rear, numerous Marines wanted to shoot and kill the injured Japanese soldier. I had to fend them off on several occasions. Saving him proved worthwhile, because it turned out that the next day they gave him a radio and sent him behind the Japanese lines in an effort to get the Japanese General to surrender.

That’s about the only time you’d capture a Jap. They never gave up. I admired them. They were tenacious fighter. I didn’t hate them. They were the other team and they lost. And they lost big. Out of the estimated 22,000 Japanese soldiers on the island, we only captured 216. Some 3000 Japanese soldiers were hiding in the caves, and eventually surrendered or committed suicide. The ones that surrendered were surprised by the American’s kindness in offering cigarettes, and water. We took a very heavy hit. Of the 60,000 Marines who took part in the invasion, 6,831 were killed and 19,000 were wounded. I was one of the rarities of that battle. I was never wounded.

When the island was pretty secure, we turned it over to the Army on April 1st.
We went back to Guam to train for a planned November 1st invasion of Japan. If the Japanese fought so hard for a tiny island like Iwo Jima, what would they fight like for their own homeland? I had decided at that point that I would never make it home. Then the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan finally surrendered, on September 2, 1945. The dropping of the atomic bomb proved to be a good decision as it saved hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides.

I came home on my 20th birthday, April 22, 1946. Being in the Marine Corps was the defining point of my life. But, looking back now, it seems like a vignette from a distant past. Sort of like when I read about the Civil Was as a child and imagined what it would be like to fight in a war. I sometimes wonder if I was really there.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Acevedo – San Bernadino, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Medic, POW

Jack Barnes – Tampa, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Charles Crump – Emmett, ID; US Army, WWII, POW camp guard

William Derrenberger – Loudonville, OH; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

John Harvey – Barnum, WV; US Navy, WWII & Korea, (Ret. 20 y.)

Herbert Leake – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Warwick Mentiplay – Malvern, AUS; RA Navy, WWII, HMAS Quiberon

Frederick Stokes – Rock City, CAN; WWII, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion

Millie Dunn Veasey – Raleigh, NC; US Army WAC, WWII, 6888 Central Postal Battalion

William Wheat – Montross, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, HQ Co./187th/11th Airborne Division

 

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USS Hornet (CV-12) – A Father’s Untold War Story – Battle of Iwo Jima (Feburary – March 1945)(Part 1)

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