Blog Archives

Letter IX – “A Day’s Venture”

Dobodura, New Guinea

At this point in time, the jungle war training had live firing and everything was becoming a bit clearer, a bit more realistic.

Major Burgess left the units temporarily to set up a jump school.  This would give the glidermen and Burgess himself an opportunity to qualify as paratroopers.  The parachutists began their glider training at Soputa airstrip that was no longer in regular use.

waters off Lae, New Guinea

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Letter IX                                               “A Day’s Venture”                                                                      Monday   6/26/44                                        

Dear Mom,

Yesterday, being Sunday, a day of rest, I decided to ride around this place and see something.  I made up my mine though that this sightseeing tour of mine, this time, would be done as a civilian completely forgetting I’m in the army.  You have to do this in order to see the place in its true light, otherwise if you don’t all you can see is hardship and work.  With my mind cleared of Khaki, I set forth in a jeep with a buddy of mine; who I dare say couldn’t see the sense of our venture.

As we drove along in the still quiet, the thought kept coming to me of the enormous job the boys before us had to confront and overcome.  Here and there along the way you could see some old emplacement or deserted village.  These villages were really something to see with their straw-thatched roofs and open sided houses.  We wouldn’t call them shed, but that is just what they looked like.

One can readily understand why the authors of those travelogues really go all out when describing these islands.  You forget the heat as cooling breezes blow over you from the coast and the shade of the giant coconut trees gradually engulf you.

We passed one spot close to the coast that suddenly shook us with the horrible realization of our place and mission.  It wasn’t large or spread out, but all was peaceful and quiet though men were gaily chatting and swimming nearby.  We entered by an archway on which was inscribed, “Japanese Cemetery.”  We passed now upon some of the little white markers all neatly lined up and lettered.  Although they were once an active enemy, one could not help but see the shame and waste of war.

We looked around the beach for a while, then decided to go in for a swim.  The water here is amazingly warm and clear.  You could never believe it unless you could see it as I have.  How crystal clear and immune of blemish this water here is.  Why, to peer down 25 feet and see bottom is really an easy thing to do.  The bottom is sand, sand at its finest and whitest literally covered with shells of every shape and color with here and there a grotesque piece of coral.  You can really pick out the coral as it shows up a faint green while the shells throw all colors of the rainbow up at you until your eyes are completely dazzled by the many-colored lights.

By this time, the sun was well on its way toward the horizon and dusk rapidly approaching.  Here and there a faint star twinkled until suddenly the sky was almost completely covered with thousands.  The moon finally appeared in all its bright glory and reflected itself a hundred times over on the waves before us.  The end of the day had come and with it also my venture into a world never to be forgotten.  This day will long be remembered and stored with the rest of my most treasured memories.

Good night!  And may God bless you,  Everett

PS>  I shall write to Joe Dumb as soon as I send this letter on its way.  Be good and take care of yourself.

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Current News –        Mission 55

Say hello to Mr. Joe Butkus, a proud veteran of the 84th Engineer Construction Battalion who is having a birthday REAL SOON!

For the Mr.  Butkus story, visit equips !!

Cards to be sent to:  Joe Butkus  c/o Mary Ellen Hart  1868 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT  06824

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charles E. Burns – Miami, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Pete Conley – Chapmanville, WV; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Arthur W. Countryman – Plainfield, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, TSgt. # 20602751, Co F/12/4th Infantry Div., Bronze Star, KIA (Hürtgen, GER)

Tony Elliott – brn: UK; Royal Navy, WWII, CBI  &  Korea

George M. Gooch – Laclede, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Electrician’s Mate, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Robert J. Harr – Dallas City, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Irene Heyman – Brooklyn, NY; Civilian, WWII, Defense blueprints and Red Cross “Gray Lady”

Andrew J. Ladner – MS; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pvt. # 34133073, 126/32nd Infantry Div., Bronze Star, KIA (Huggin Road Blockade, NG)

Francis Morrill Jr. – Salem, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO  /  USMC, Korea

Earl D. Rediske – Prosser, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co A/55/11th Airborne Division

Marian Robert (102) – Vancouver, CAN, RC Women’s Air Force, WWII

Leonard F. Smith – Albany, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Metalsmith 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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A TOUCH OF BEAUTY

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Camp Stoneman part 1

POE/POD Camp Stoneman

Pvt. Smith was as cocky and proud as the next trooper, but he also thought of the Army as a learning experience and considered his new adventure as a chance to experience things he would not otherwise have the opportunity and on April 23, 1944, he stepped off a train near Camp Stoneman, California.  It was here the troopers would learn how to live aboard ship, operate life boats, raft kits and climb up and down rope ladders.  Censorship of the soldier’s letters began here.

Camp Stoneman

The Inspector General’s men discovered the ruse of the 11th A/B Division hiding behind the paperwork of Shipment #1855 and the troopers began to accumulate AW104’s in record amounts. (Under the Article of War #104 – a commanding officer may give punishment, as is necessary, without the threat of court-martial.)  May 2, the 11th A/B moved to Pittsburg, CA by way of inland boats to their actual POE/POD (Point of Entry/Point of Departure), and the letters from Smitty began …

Letter I                                                                                                                        Tuesday 5/2/44

Dear Mom,

I sure am a fine one after calling you Sunday especially to wish you a Happy Birthday and I go and forget to, but I assure you it wasn’t intentional, but just excitement of the conversation.  I tried yesterday to buy a card, but to no avail.  No doubt by the time you receive this letter you will be wondering why I didn’t call you this week as I promised I would.  It just so happened that we were confined to our company area starting yesterday morning, so it was an impossibility to get to either a telephone or telegraph office.     From now on all my letters to you will be numbered as this one is in the upper left hand corner.  In that way, you can read my letters in sequence and can tell whether or not you are receiving all my letters.  I would also advise sending all letters to me from now on by airmail as that will be the quickest way.  We heard that not all the mail so far from here has yet been sent out, but when it does go out, why you will no doubt get them all at once.  Tell everyone at home to be patient and they will no doubt hear from me as I sit down Saturday and either write a letter or card to everyone I know.  You had better check up on them all and see that they have my correct address, as the army will notify only you of any new changes.  I sure don’t want to lose out on my letters of anyone just because they have an incorrect address.     Yesterday we didn’t do much of anything, but Sunday was really quite an entertaining day.  We went bowling, then to a free USO show and from there to a movie.  The entertainment is so full and alive that sometimes it still persists in your dreams.  Therefore, you can really say they even take care of you while you are slumbering.     Well mom, that is all for now, so once more I want to wish you a “Happy Birthday” and the best of everything.  Don’t worry and keep your chin up.   

Love,                 Everett

PS – Be on the lookout for a new Class E allotment I made out and also a B allotment.  Your allotments now will come to 22 dollars cash and a $18.75 war bond a month.  I’m getting pretty good, aren’t I?

Camp Stoneman souvenir

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Current News – Everyone helps out when it comes to finding the MIA.

 

Austrian Raimund Riedmann, pilot with the Flying Bulls, flies a restored P-38 Lightning

Austrian, Raimund Riedmann, a pilot with the Flying Bulls, flies a restored P-38 Lightning during a fly over event for a recovery team attached to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), Austria, April 25, 2021. DPAA personnel arrived to conduct excavation operations in an effort to find a U.S. service member lost from a P-38 lightning that crashed during World War II. DPAA’s Mission is to achieve the fullest possible accounting for missing and unaccounted-for US personnel to their families and our nation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melanye Martinez)

 

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Military Humor –

‘Lord, what have they done to him? He made his own bed!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert R. Arrowsmith – Livermore, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Pfc., rifleman, Co E/511 PIR/11th Airborne Division

Carmen DePaulo III – Jacksonville, FL; US Army, Africa, Green Beret, Medical Sgt., 3rd Special Forces

John Foye Jr. – Lowell, MA; US Navy, Japanese Occupation

William Halliday – Scarborough, CAN; Queen’s Own Rifles, WWII, ETO

Sherman Hoffenberg – Delray Beach, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Military Police

Clifford S. Johnson – Valatie, NY; US Army, Korea, Cpl., HQ Co./57 FA/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Joseph Kuba (100) – Struthers, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Major (Ret.), 1264th Engineer Combat Battalion

Lindbergh Lopez – Niagara Falls, NY; USMC; WWII, Korea / US Army, Vietnam (Ret. 23 y.)

Ian N. Morosoff – Saquamish, WA; US Army, Pfc., Co. B/1/503/173rd Airborne Division

Robert Parker – Lansing, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO, pilot, 1st Lt.,35th FS/8th Fighter Group, KIA (New Guinea)

Lloyd Price – New Orleans, LA; US Army, Korea  /  singer

G. Clark Shaffer – Bloomsburg, PA; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 5th Air Force

Bobby Unser – Albuquerque, NM; US Air Force, sharp shooter  /  auto racing champion

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11th Airborne graduates Camp MacKall

1943 Camp MacKall, 11th Airborne yearbook

Smitty had acquired additional postcards to show the people back home what Camp MacKall looked like.  They were in the scrapbook his mother put together and was saved for all these years….

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General Order No. 1 listed the original organic units of the 11th Airborne Division, as they moved on with their training, as follows:

Headquarters, 11 A/B Division

Headquarters Company, 11th A/B Division

Military Police Platoon, 11 A/B Division

408th A/B Quartermaster Company

511th A/B Signal Company

711th A/B Ordnance Maintenance Company

221st A/B Medical Company

127th A/B Engineer Battalion

152nd A/B Antiaircraft Battalion

HQ & HQ Battery, 11th A/B Artillery

457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion

674th Glider Field Artillery Battalion

E. Smith, back row, 5th from the right – HQ Co/187th Regiment

675th Glider Field Artillery Battalion

187th Glider Infantry Regiment

188th Glider Infantry Regiment

511th Parachute Infantry Regiment

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Total = 8,321 men

 

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Military Training Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ollie Baird – Malin, OR; Civilian, WWII, B-17 production

Nathan Burke – Lubbock, TX; US Navy, Airman

Stanislaw F. Drwall – WV; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, Pattern Maker 1st Class, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

James Hawkins – Decatur, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO

Jeffrey Wester “Pug” Lee – Hamilton County, FL; US Army, WWII, PTO, 243rd Port Company Transportation

Dennis Merriman – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Bruce Meyers – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, USS Bunker Hill  /  invented the dune buggy

Frank Occhiuto – Longmont, CO; US Navy, WWII & Korea, radioman, USS Lowry

Joan Parks – Ypsilanti, MI; Civilian, WWII, Willow Run bomber production

Ramon L. Smith – Knox County, TN; US Army, Korea, Pfc. # 14270116, 50th AntiAircraft Battalion, KIA (No. Korea)

Nicholas J. Valentine – Cassville, WI; US Army, Korea, Sgt. 1st Class, Batt B/57 Field Artillery/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

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The Army Airborne and the start to Camp MacKall

Airborne, Camp MacKall

The original idea for an American airborne came from Gen. Billy Mitchell in 1918.  His  commander, Gen. Pershing agreed, but once the WWI Armistice was signed, the plan was terminated.  In the late 1920’s, Germany began training parachute units and in the 1930’s, they led the world in gliders.  Russia created the Air Landing Corps in 1935.  Japan started in 1940 with German instructors.  The U.S. did not take note until Germany was successful on Crete in 1941.

Smitty, 187th RCT/11th Airborne Division, Camp MacKall 1943

The American tradition was born when 48 men jumped at Ft. Benning on Aug. 16, 1940, where  Private Eberhard, promised to yell to his buddies below, was the first to shout out “Geronimo”.  General William Lee is considered the “Father of the Airborne.”  My father, Everett Smith or “Smitty” (as you’ll get to know him),  did not care for heights or jumping, so I asked him – “Why volunteer?”  He shrugged and said, “They pay you more in the paratroopers.”  Smitty had a dry sense of humor which you will see more of in the letters he wrote to his mother in future posts.  He did however accept his boot camp, sharp shooting, glider & parachute training as a way  of learning new things he would otherwise have never experienced. [One of his statements driven into me – ” Like any job, always try your best.”]  Since he was 27 and much older than other recruits, he was often referred to by the nickname of “Pops.”

Camp MacKall postcard

The 11th Airborne Division was formed on Feb. 25, 1943 and their conditioning was so severe that most of the men felt combat would be a breeze.  They were the first A/B division formed from scratch, so instead of following the manuals – they were writing their own.  The camp was under construction 24/7 and they took classes sitting in folding chairs and easels were used for map reading, first-aid, weapons, foxholes, rules of land warfare, communications, field fortifications, and so on.  Between May and June one battalion at a time went to Fort Benning for jump school.

glider jumping

When the time came for Stage A of jump school, it was scratched since the men were already as fit as possible.  Stage B, was learning to tumble, equipment knowledge, sliding down a 30′ cable and packing a parachute.  In Stage C, they used a 250-foot tower, forerunner to the one at Coney Island, to simulate a jump.  Stage D, they earned their jump wings and boots.  In June, the units began training in every circumstance that might arise in combat.

The gliders used were WACO CG 4A, boxlike contraptions with wings.  The skeleton was small gauge steel covered with canvas; a wingspan of 84 feet, length of 49 feet and carried 3,700 pounds = two pilots and 13 fully loaded soldiers or a jeep and 6 men. The casualty list developing these appeared endless to the men.  Smitty could not listen to “Taps” without tearing up, even in his later years.

WACO glider in take off from Camp MacKall field.

21 June, the division entered the unit training program.  During July, all units went on 10-day bivouacs and to Fort Bragg.  Glider formal training occurred at Maxton Air Base.

In July, in Sicily, Operation Husky went terribly awry, due to the weather conditions –  3,800 paratroopers were separated from their gliders and each other.  The casualty rate was exorbitant.  This created serious doubts about the practicality of a division size airborne.  Proof would rest on the shoulders of the 11th and their commander, Gen. Joseph May Swing.  A demonstration called the “Pea Patch Show” was displayed for Sec. of War, Stimson.  He gave Swing a positive review, but it did not convince Gen. Marshall or McNair.  The fate of the Airborne Command rested on the upcoming Knollwood Maneuvers.

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Smitty’s hometown of Broad Channel sent out a free issue of their newspaper, “The Banner”, to every hometown soldier and this became another source of back front info, along with news from his mother and friends:

News that Smitty got from home at this point:  Broad Channel was getting their own air raid siren.  (Broad Channel is one-mile long and about 4-blocks wide).  His neighbors, the Hausmans, heard from their POW son in the Philippines.  And – his divorce papers were final, Smitty was single again.

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Military Humor –

‘I dropped out of Parachute School.’

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Ashby – Sun City, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Carl Bradley – USA; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Leo Brown – Lima, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, USS Colorado,3rd Marine Division

Benjamin Goldfarb – Toronto, CAN; US Army, WWII, PTO, Surgical tech, 54th General Hospital, Philippines

Daniel C. Helix – Concord, CA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, MGeneral, Purple Heart / Mayor

Denis H. Hiskett – USA; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Robert L. Moore – Queens, NY; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, Gunnery Sgt.

Thomas O’Keefe – Washington D.C.; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT  /  CIA

George Semonik Jr. – Sewickley, PA; US Army, Chief Warrant Officer, 82nd Airborne Division (Ret. 20 y.)

Shelby Treadway – Manchester, KY; US Navy, WWII, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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187th Rakkasans – part (4)

Rakkasans for life!

In March 2010, the 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), Vermont National Guard, joined Task Force Rakkasan units in Paktya province as a battle space owning unit in AO Rakkasan. Task Force Avalanche conducted 65 major named operations, over 4,300 combat patrols and 9 air assault operations, including Task Force Rakkasan’s largest combined air assault operation of the deployment in support of Operation Champion Stone.

During OEF X-XI, Soldiers earned or were nominated for 132 Army Commendation Medals (Valor). 44 Soldiers were decorated with the Bronze Star Medal (Valor). Additionally, two Soldiers were decorated with the Silver Star Medal. Nearly 1,600 individual Task Force Soldiers earned combat badges for participating in direct combat against the enemy for the first time. Almost 1,100 Combat Infantryman Badges (CIB), over 1,300 Combat Action Badges (CAB), and 117 Combat Medical Badges (CMB). As a testament to the sacrifice, troopers from Task Force Rakkasan made in service to the nation, 229 Soldiers earned Purple Hearts for battle injuries. 17 Task Force Rakkasan Soldiers paid the ultimate price.

 

Units
Headquarters and Headquarters Company “Samurai Rakkasans”
1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment “Leader Rakkasans”
2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment “White Currahee Rakkasans”
3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment “Iron Rakkasans”
1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment “War Rakkasans”
21st Brigade Engineer Battalion “Rak Solid Rakkasans”
626th Brigade Support Battalion “Assurgam Rakkasans”

Col. John Cogbill, MGen. Brian Winski & Col. Brandon Teague, Fort Campbel. Changing of command._ Avery Seeger photo

In August 2019, the Rakkasans received a new commander, Col. John Cogbill, who has commanded the unit for two years, will pass the brigade colors to Col. Brandon Teague.

“For the past two years, it has been an honor and privilege to serve as commander of this outstanding organization,” said Cogbill. “This brigade has a unique mission, with Soldiers currently training for unknown missions anywhere in the world. Initially it was for a U.S. Central Command mission, later, focused readiness, with focus in East Asia, transitioning to a Regionally Aligned Forces focus in support of Africa Command. During my tenure, we were the most ready brigade in the Army, and as such, would have been one of the first to be called. I’m proud of this team and all they’ve done, and all they will do in the future.”

Colonel Brandon Teague

“It is my distinct honor to take command of this historic organization,” said Teague. “I look forward to continuing to build upon the strong legacy of this brigade and preparing our Soldiers for our next rendezvous with destiny.”

A last minute item I discovered from the Rakkasans – Awards received for their field culinary creativity!!

https://www.army.mil/article/237559/top_dog_training_field_feeding_equipment_integral_part_of_rakkasan_contest

It is because of the heroic service of these brave airborne soldiers that the colors of the Regiment fly proudly, fifteen Citations for Valorous and Meritorious service and twenty three Battle Campaign Streamers. No other Airborne Regiment can equal that record and the Rakkasans stand proudly at, and have earned, “the right of the line”, amongst their sister Airborne Regiments, ever mindful of their Regimental motto.

”Ne Desit Virtus” — “Let Valor Not Fail”!

They have not —– and shall not

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To be continued by forthcoming generations, we hope…

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Current News – We can all make a difference!  American Legion

https://alaforveterans.wordpress.com/2020/07/27/virginia-junior-provides-handwritten-thank-you-cards-for-servicemembers/

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Alfred Altmiller – Lipscomb County, TX; US Navy, WWII

Carl Davis Jr. – Sidney, OH; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. (Ret. 20 y.)

Charles Evers – Jackson, MS; US Army, WWII / mayor

George M. Fisher Sr. (100) – Bedford, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Co. B/44th Tank Battalion / Korea, (Ret. 21 y.)

Jack Halpin – Washington D.C.; US Navy, WWII, PTO / CIA (Ret.)

William Jenkins – Conway Springs, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, gunner’s mate, USS Corregidor

Lillian Meidinger – Huntsville, AL; Civilian, Civil Air Patrol, WWII, pilot

Jack Park – Flint, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO

Sidney Schlain – Hartford, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO

Marjorie Watson (101) – Taradale, NZ; Red Cross, WWII, PTO & ETO, Nurse # 820748

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187th Rakkasans – part (3)

By the Persian Gulf War in 1990, the 101st Airborne, along with the Rakkasans of the 3rd Brigade had converted from airborne to air assault troops. During that 100 days of ground combat, the 1/187 Infantry conducted an air assault 155 miles behind enemy lines to Objective Weber capturing over 400 Iraqi soldiers on February 25, 1991. (48 years to the day after they were formed).  The operation into the Euphrates River valley cut off the retreating enemy out of Kuwait. The Rakkasans had advanced further than any other Allied unit, proven the viability of the air assault on the modern battlefield, and did so without a single soldier killed in action.

As part of the Global War on Terror (GWT), the Rakkasans deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in December 2001. As such, the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne became the first Army brigade to deploy in the ongoing war on terror. The Rakkasans fought against the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, which included Operation Anaconda in March 2002.

Rakkasans in the Gulf War

Seven months after their return from Afghanistan, the 3rd Brigade deployed to Kuwait for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF1). On March 20, 2003 the Rakkasans led the 101st Airborne Division into Iraq, establishing Forward Area Refueling Points (FARPs) to support deep attacks into Iraq. They seized the city of Hillah and participated in the liberation of Saddam Hussein International Airport before going on to occupy portions of Baghdad. The BDE then moved to western Ninewah province along the Syrian border for the remainder of the deployment, establishing fledgling governance and reconstruction projects for the betterment of the local population, while continuing operations against insurgents.

The 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division returned to Fort Campbell in early 2004 and was reorganized under Army Transformation as the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT). The 3BCT then began a train up for returning to Iraq. They deployed in September 2005 for OIF rotation 05-07. During this year-long deployment the Rakkasans fought the growing Sunni insurgency in Salah Ad Din Province, which included Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.

The Rakkasans deployed again to Iraq for OIF 07-09 as part of the Iraq Surge in September 2007. This rotation took the 3BCT to southwest and southern Baghdad between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. This time the brigade was deployed for 15 months and conducted operations against both Sunni and Shia insurgents.

The Rakkasans returned home in November 2008. After their fourth refit and re-training period since 9/11, the 3d Brigade Combat Team deployed again in January 2010. This time they went to Afghanistan in support of OEF 10-11 as part of Regional Command-East near the Afghan-Pakistan border. The Rakkasans were home in early 2011, but redeployed to Afghanistan again in September 2012. They came home to Fort Campbell in May 2013 and are again preparing for their next deployment.

The banner under the distinctive unit insignia of the 187th Infantry Regiment (Airborne) bears the Latin words Ne Desit Virtus, meaning “Let Valor Not Fail.” The soldiers of the 187 Infantry from every era have certainly upheld their motto.

To be continued………

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

George C. Allen – Morgantown, WV; US Army, WWII, ETO, 7th Army

James Boak – Kosk-onong, MO; USMC, WWII

2020 POW/MIA poster unveiled

Glen E. Collins – Tucson, AZ; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Heavy Mortar Co/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Hugh Dischinger Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, fighter pilot

John E. Gillen – Champaign, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., Co D/1/6/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Tarawa)

Mejhor Morta – Pensacola, FL; US Army, Pvt., mechanic, 1/5/2/1st Cavalry Division

Regis Philbin – NYC, NY; US Navy, supply officer / TV personality

John Haig Robinson – TeAwamutu, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII, HMNZS Achilles

Roy Shibata – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, / Civilian, US Army

Charles Wood – Redwood City, CA; US Army, WWII, SSgt., HQ Battery/899th Field Artillery Battalion / actor

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The Last Living Paratrooper from MacArthur’s return …..

Gen. Douglas MacArthur (l.) and Richard “Dick” Adams (r.)

Richard Adams describes General MacArthur as “quite a guy.”

In commemoration of the 75th year of World War II in the Philippines, one of its heroes returned. Richard “Dick” Adams visited Corregidor once again, but this time, he did not parachute out of a C-47 plane to land on the towering trees of the Rock. The 98-year-old understandably opted to ride a ferry.

He was recently, poignantly, at the MacArthur Suite of the Manila Hotel, in a room dedicated to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who led the American and Filipino troops in liberating the country from Japanese occupation. MacArthur actually stayed in that suite for six years, as Manila Hotel’s honorary general manager.

It was a time of fear across the country as Japanese forces ravaged Manila and the countryside. People clung to MacArthur’s words, “I shall return,” which he said after he was forced to abandon the Philippine island fortress of Corregidor under orders from U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in March 1942. Left behind at Corregidor and the Bataan Peninsula were 90,000 American and Filipino soldiers, who, lacking food, supplies, and support, would soon succumb to the Japanese offensive.

‘Dick’ Adams

It was at this battered battleground that Adams, as a young paratrooper assigned to the HQ Company 3rd Bn in an 81 mm mortar platoon, arrived on February 16, 1945. He is the last surviving paratrooper of the group and he shares his memories of the wartime experience.

What he remembers the most about his Corregidor landing is the wind. “It was a beautiful day when we came in at about a thousand feet above the water and then the island came up 500 feet so we jumped in about four to five hundred feet,” he says. “And the wind was a little too hard so they dropped it down and once they came after us we were pretty close to the ground.”

The landing itself was over pretty quickly, but the wind blew him toward a cliff and not the golf course that he was aiming for. Luckily, he says, he landed on a tree and that kept him from going down further.

He thinks something else saved him that day. “I wear a Miraculous Medal that my mother gave me. The second day after my jump, I noticed that the medal was gone, it was torn off,” he says. “About a week after we went to Corregidor, we went up to the hill and there were so many flies. You couldn’t open a can and put it in your mouth. The flies were terrible because the battlefield was kind of a mess that encourages the flies. I went back down to the jump field to get a parachute to protect me from the flies and came back towards the hill. It came out of my hands and when I picked it up, I saw it.  There was my medal, in the middle of the field. So that was kind of a Miraculous Medal.”

PT-32, one of 4 boats used in the escape.

Adams spent a good part of the first day getting injured troopers to the first aid station. He was in Corregidor until early March, when General MacArthur returned. He was part of the border patrol, spending most of his time on the hills and further down, he recalls.

Although a young recruit at the time, having joined the troops only a few months prior to his assignment, he understood the significance of that tiny island.  “It was kind of a guard in Manila Bay. It has a kind of control on any ship that came in through there. It was mainly a field with a fortress where they control it,” he shares. “Also, it was the last place where the phrase ‘I shall return’ became significant because that’s where General MacArthur left from going to Australia and then he came back. It was important in a sense that it controls the Manila Bay, but it is also significant just because it was the last place that the Americans surrendered from.”

“It was a pretty scary place,” he says of wartime Philippines. “I joined a few months earlier, so I was kind of new in the game at that time. We were in Mindoro and I ended up in the hospital. After Corregidor, we ran in Negros, so we got around a little bit. We spent most of our time up in the woods.”

He has vivid memories of MacArthur. “We did meet once in a while. I was at the dock when he came in and, as a matter of fact, the first time I was back in Corregidor I was in the museum and I found a picture of myself that was standing on the dock where he and I met. So, I welcomed him, but I don’t think he knows. He was quite a guy.”

After the Negros campaign and occupation duty in Japan, Adams returned home and joined the National Guard as operations sergeant in the 165th Infantry and left 20 years after as a master sergeant. He obtained a law degree from St. John University and is retired from General Motors. He has two daughters, one of whom is an Air Force Captain.

Pictures are courtesy of Manila Hotel

 

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His first trip back to Corregidor was in 2012 and he described it as an emotional trip. “I like going back to Corregidor. It’s really an honor to be here. It’s a little embarrassing when there are people standing around taking pictures—the people you should be taking pictures of, they are not here. Some might be still in Corregidor. My whole climb to fame is that I was there and I’m still here,” he says.

Of his visit, he shares, “I’m doing these to honor those people, the Filipinos and Americans that defended the island and also those who on the 16th came back to Corregidor. I think we are honoring those not only who came back on the 16th but everyone who was left.”

By : esqiremag.com   |   Feb 18, 2020

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

“Yes, sailor, we docked 2 days ago!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Margaret Adamchak – Bridgeport, CT; Civilian, WWII, Naval Dept. employee

John Dennis – Tucson, AZ; US Navy, WWII, radar, USS Rochambeau

Paul H. Gebser – San Diego, CA; US Navy, WWII, Machinist’s Mate 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

John Henry – Lugarno, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, pilot instructor

Benjamin Meo – Haddon Heights, NJ; USMC, WWII

Carl Overcash – Rowan County, NC; US Army, WWII, PTO

Augustin Polasek – MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, bomber pilot, Colonel (Ret.)

Andrew Schmitz – Richmond, VA; US Navy, WWII, fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Donald Stratton – Red Cloud, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Arizona survivor / USS Stack / author, “All the Gallant Men”

Charles Wion – La Junta, CO; US Navy, WWII, Signalman

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The Caterpillar Club

Portraits of Henry Wacker and John Boettner frame an illustration of their July 21, 1919, jump from a Goodyear airship, qualifying them as the first two members of the Caterpillar Club. NASM-00152652

A hundred years ago, tragedy struck the skies of Chicago just before five in the afternoon on July 21, 1919.  The Goodyear airship, Wingfoot Air Express, more commonly known as the Wingfoot Express, took off from Grant Park, destined for the White City Amusement Park balloon hangar. The Wingfoot Express had successfully made its maiden flight that morning and another later in the afternoon. As the airship passed over the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank, it turned into a “mammoth red ball of fire.” Four tiny parachutes became visible over the financial district. Only two survived—Henry Wacker, the chief mechanic, and John Boettner, the pilot. They became known as members one and two of the Caterpillar Club, an organization formed in November 1922 consisting of people who had used parachutes to make an emergency jump.

The wreckage of the Goodyear Airship Wingfoot Express falling onto a bank building in Chicago, Illinois, July 21, 1919, people and cars can be seen in the foreground. The photograph is signed, “To B.E. Walls, From First Caterpillar [sic] Club Member, July 21, 1919, Henry Wacker”, Wacker’s parachute can be seen below the falling wreckage. NASM-2007-72

 

United States Air Force 1st Lieutenant Harold R. Harris, served as the inspiration for the creation of the Caterpillar Club.  On October 20, 1922, Harris was testing experimental ailerons on a Loening pursuit monoplane at McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio.  As he banked in tandem with Lieutenant Muir Fairchild, Harris lost control of the plane. He slid out of his aircraft and attempted to open his parachute several times. It is estimated that he had fallen from 2,500 feet to 500 feet before successfully deploying his chute—marking what is thought to be the first successful use of a parachute in an emergency situation from an airplane.

At a 1943 dinner at the Wings Club, Colonel Harold R. Harris, commanding officer of the Air Transport Command (center), is presented the Switlik Trophy commemorating the first jump from an aircraft via parachute by Stanley Switlik (right) donor of the plaque and leading proponent of safety parachutes. Capt. Harold L. Foster (left) President of the Caterpillar Club looks on. NASM-00143229

Milton H. St. Clair, a parachute engineer at McCook Field, and Verne Timmerman and Maurice Hutton, journalists for the Dayton Daily Herald, figured that Harris was just the first of many future emergency parachute jumps. St. Clair suggested the term “caterpillar” from a description on the composition of a parachute: “mainsail and lines…are woven from the finest silk. The lowly worm spins a cocoon, crawls out and flies away from certain death.”  Thus was born the Caterpillar Club.

Irene McFarland

Irene McFarland became the first female member of the Caterpillar Club on July 4, 1925. A stunt jumper, McFarland was scheduled to test a parachute of her own design in a 3,500 foot jump. Government regulations required that she wear a backup Irving chute. Despite her protests, McFarland wore the emergency chute and used it when her original failed. The Club accepted her as a member even though she intended a parachute jump because she did not intend to use the emergency pack, which saved her life.

The parachute companies quickly got in on the marketing game, presenting pins to the latest emergency parachutists who could confirm which brand of chute they had used. While Robert Fitzgerald of Wright Field maintained the “official” records of the self-proclaimed “mythical organization.”

 

Leslie Irvin of  Irving Air Chute Co., Stanley Switlik of Switlik Parachute Co. and others kept their own lists. Members could be eligible for special deals. For example, on February 25, 1932, Keith’s Theater in Washington, DC, reserved a box for the estimated 17 local members to view the movie The Lost Squadron, advertised as having “more crashes than Wall Street.”

Milton H. St. Clair, parachute engineer and co-founder of the Caterpillar Club, points to a sign for Caterpillar farm tractors.

With the dawning of WW II, it appeared the ranks of the Caterpillar Club would grow exponentially. The Club decided to take its status beyond “mythical” to “organized” and officially incorporated on April 6, 1943.  Stanley Switlik provided office space and assistance with applications and credentials.

Today the ranks of Caterpillar Club members number in the tens of thousands. Both Irving (as Airborne Systems) and Switlik continue to register members. Famous members include John Glenn, Jimmy Doolittle and George H.W. Bush.  With four jumps to his credit, Charles Lindbergh is probably the member with the most pins.

Lt. Charles Lindbergh parachuting from his disabled airplane, circa 1926.

Maurice Hutton, co-founder of the Caterpillar Club and aviation editor for the Dayton Daily Herald, poses for a photo wearing flight gear and standing next to his plane

And how are Wacker and Boettner members one and two, if the Club was founded three years later with Harris as the first member? The Caterpillar Club was willing to add back-dated members. William O’Connor was the first to be added with a 1920 exhibition jump requiring an emergency chute, making him number one, then number three when Wacker and Boettner were added about nine years after the fact.

 

John Boettner continued to pilot airships for Goodyear and rose to the rank of Commander in the US Navy, flying in World War II. Henry Wacker went on to work for B.F. Goodrich and the WPA. He proudly autographed photos of his jump as “the first Caterpillar Club member.” And every year on July 21, the anniversary of his jump, he took his parachute out of storage and aired it out, in honor of the day it saved his life.

 

Story derived from a Smithsonian Museum article.

Please click on images to enlarge.

 

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jack P. Ancker – NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 17th Airborne Division / Korea & Vietnam, Col. (Ret.)

Carl Bell – Gresham, OR; US Navy, WWII, USS Pickens

‘Last Flight’, by Rhads

William B. Clarke – Smyrna, DE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Vincennes / Korea, USS Worchester

Joseph Damico – Poughkeepsie, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 76/3rd Army

Kenneth E. Ford – Albia, IA; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. C/1/32, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Louis Kulma – Parisville, MI; US Merchant Marines, WWII, chief radio operator

Isabelle Messenger (100) – Peru, MA; Civilian, Red Cross, WWII, ETO, Medal of Freedom

Nicholas Panipinto – Bradenton, FL; US Army, Korea, Spc., 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team/1st Calvary, KIA

Lonnie Ware – Marrero, LA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Robert Waring – Fredericksburg, VA; US Army, Korea, 101 Airborne Division / US Coast Guard Res., Cmdr. (Ret. 40 y.)

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Classified British Life-savers in D-Day Landings

From a woman who always advocates for our military… an insight into those clickers you see and hear in the movies!!

Tribute to Veterans

Acme 470 clicker used during 1944 D-Day landings as a means of communicating with allied troops
Photo – Evening Standard

In approaching the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, perhaps there is still history, unbeknownst to many, on safeguards instilled prior to 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landing upon five beaches of France’s Normandy region, June 6, 1944 – along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified coast.  This particular defense was secretly crafted and classified by the British.

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Desperate bid to track down life-saving ‘clickers’ British soldiers used in D-Day landings

The Evening Standard (UK)
Olivia Tobin

Manufacturers from ACME Whistles are attempting to trace the “lost clickers” of the Normandy Landings, a life-saving tool of the invasion, to mark the 75th anniversary.  The small metal device was used by troops abroad to try to determine if among friends or foes in pitch black conditions.  Every paratrooper was issued a clicker and…

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Military Poetry – Intermission Story (20)

When only poetry will do – in their words ______

A SOLDIERS PICNIC

I like my olives sanded,
My pickles full of bugs;
I’m rustic: To be candid,
I shy from chairs and rugs.

The open field! The azure sky!
The fields of waving grain!
The piece of huckleberry pie
That’s bogged with sudden rain!

I understand the merits of
A cake that’s turned to goo;
For every bite I take and love
Mosquitoes give me two,

And naught I know can close compare
The taste of hardboiled eggs,
While bees make honey in my hair
And flies besiege my legs.

So “outdoor” is the word for me
Ah! – Give me trees to hack!
And then my first response will be
To give the damned things back.

– By M/Sgt. H. E. KELLENBERGER

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11th Airborne Division Chapel

A PARATROOPER’S PRAYER

When I’m flying at seven hundred
And the red light flickers on
I know I’ll tremble and start to sweat
But, God, let me be strong.
When I look down through the hole, God
It’s like I’m standing by a grave
And my knees go weak and I can’t speak
Then, God, please make me brave.
And if it be Thy will, God
Part of Thine own Great Plan
That my life should stop, then on that last long drop
Oh God, let me die a man!
While I’m waiting to emplane, God
And checking my jumping kit
Though I laugh and jeer I’m full of fear
But, God, don’t let me quit.
When the kite begins to move, God
And take off time is near
Then my heart grows cold – God, make me bold
And drive away my fear.

 

Desmond Le Pard, 17th Battalion Parachute Regiment @ 18 years old

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Paratrooper School.

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Timothy Bowman – Ontario, CAN; Canadian Forces, Military Police, Capt. 1 Wing HQ, pilot

Edward Flora – Mishawaka, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, A/674th Arty/11th Airborne Division

Gilbert Grossinger – Kerhonkson, NY; US Army, WWII

Donald Hardcastle – Rochdale, ENG; RAF, WWII, radioman

Hugh Hefner – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, Infantry Clerk, military newspaper cartoons

Vincent Koravos – Lowell, MA; USMC; WWII, PTO, MAG-24 tail gunner

Ramon Laughter – Edna, TX; US Army, WWII & Korea, Colonel (Ret. 25 y.)

Kevin McCarthy – Brooklyn, NY; US Air Force, Flt. Surgeon

Geral Sheridon – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Jon Vaccarino – Yorktown Heights, NY; US Army, Korea

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