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9 January 1945 – Lingayen, Luzon Landings

Operational Map for Lingayen landing.

With Mindoro secured, American forces were now just south of Luzon. While MacArthur’s intention was to make his main landing assault at Lingayen in northern Luzon, elaborate attempts at deception were made in the south.

Mac had his aircraft unceasingly make reconnaissance flights and bombing missions in southern Luzon. Transport aircraft made many paradrops with dummies, while minesweepers cleared Balagan, Batangas, and Tayabas Bays. Filipino resistance fighters in southern Luzon, too, were called to conduct major sabotage operations. All the effort was to provide a false notion that the American landing was to take place in southern Luzon instead of Lingayen.

landing beaches, Lingayen Gulf

General Tomoyuki Yamashita, commander of the Japanese ground forces in the Philippine Islands, must have been made slightly unsure, for he did not move his headquarters to northern Luzon until after the landing had already taken place at Lingayen.  The U.S. Sixth Army was waiting to start their Luzon campaign.

The opening amphibious operation at Luzon, unopposed by the Japanese except for air attacks, landed more men than the first wave of the Normandy landing, and 175,000 were ashore within the first few days, securing a beachhead twenty miles wide.  At 09:30 hours, the 6th and 43rd divisions of the XIV Corps went in, between Lingayen and Damortis.

As at Leyte, the LST’s were grounded some distance from shore, but this time they had their pontoon causeways, which splashed down around 1100. Also, at Lingayen Gulf there was a more liberal use of LVT’s, invaluable in the terrain behind the beaches—a region of rice paddies, fish ponds, and swamps, through which meandered many streams and several good-sized rivers.

Vice Admiral Shigeru Fukudome noted after the war that he “had no advance information of [American] movement against Lingayen until the fleet actually departed.” Even by then, the Japanese believed the landing would be attempted around Manila Bay, and they “were taken by surprise when Americans appeared in Lingayen and started landing there.”

Nevertheless, Yamashita knew well that the vast coastlines of Luzon meant defenses established closed to the shores would be useless; instead, most of his men were fortified well inland, leaving only small units closer to the shore to delay the advance of American units.

Also on this date, 28  aircraft from USS Ticonderoga attacked their secondary target Heito Airfield in southern Taiwan (the primary target, Toyohara Arfield was covered in clouds), damaging the facilities.  USS Yorktown (Essex-class) launched attacks on Taiwan as well, in direct support of the Lingayen landings on Luzon and US Navy Task Force 38 attacked airfields on the Japanese-held Chinese island.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Herbert Beck – SD; US Army, ETO, Pfc, POW

Katherine Despit – Bayou Blue, LA; USW Air Force, WWII (Ret. 20 y.)

David Feageans – Gretna, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, pilot

John Hillerman – Denison, TX; US Air Force, Sgt., SAC maintenance, (beloved actor)

Neil King – Winnipeg, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Charles Malt – Pittsburgh, PA; US Navy, Vietnam

Stanley Oakes – Vancouver, CAN; RC Army, WWII, engineer

Overland Park – Rockhurst, KS; US Army, 187th RCT

James Simon – Conrad, MT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot, 351/8th AF

Arthur Wyckoff – Traverse City, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

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HMAS Australia

HMAS Australia, imagery scanned from Navy Historic Archive

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

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

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

HMAS Australia funnel damage

Out of the blue skies of Leyte came the ‘Divine Wind” or the Kamikaze. The first Kamikaze hit against Aussie was by a A6M5 Zero-Sen Fighter fitted with a 200 kilogram bomb, the impact of this snapped one leg of the ship’s tripod mast, causing a huge shower of wreckage to rain down upon the compass platform.  Underneath it lay Captain Dechaineaux mortally wounded along with many others, amongst them Commodore J. Collins, hero of the HMAS Sydney.  Four days later, after the initial Kamikaze attack, Aussie again suffered the brunt of another, her sleek hull and distinctive row of three funnels drawing the suicidal pilots to her.

more HMAS Australia damage

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

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

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

HMAS Australia damage to the twin 4-inch mount

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

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

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

The war for HMAS Australia was over.

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

The Australian Navy link includes some fantastic photographs!

Click on images to enlarge.

 

Current News – Doris “Dorie” Miller

Dorie Miller statue in progress

A 9-foot stature sculptured by Eddie Dixon will be unveiled today, Thursday, 7 December 2017, in honor of Doris “Dorie” Miller – Hero of Pearl Harbor!  On the banks of the Brazos River, Miller relatives and former crew of the USS Doris Miller will attend the ceremony for the Waco, Texas born seaman.

For a full story of Mr. Miller please click HERE!

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Military Humor –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Margaret Abbott Hanson – CAN; RC Army, WWII, Regina Rifle Regiment

Deane Brees – Creston, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Gallatin, signalman

Paul Ciccarelli – Monessen, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co A/188/11th Airborne Division

Walter Eacott – Melbourne, AUS; RAF, WWII, night fighter pilot / RAAF, Squadron Leader

Charles Greene – Middleboro, KY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 916 Medical Ambulance, Bronze Star

James Lane – Wannambool, AUS; RA Navy # 57966, CPO

Francis Mitchell – Walkanae, NZ; RNZ Navy # 13840. Korea

David Nesbitt – Sidney, AUS; RA Air Force # 420355, WWII

Joseph Pisano – Queens, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, F/367/101st Airborne Division

Michael Vertucci – Maspeth, NY; US Army, KOrea

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Lingayen Gulf, 2-8 January 1945

USS Ommaney Bay, January 1945

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The USS Louisville is struck by a kamikaze Yokosuka D4Y at the Battle of Lingayen Gulf, 6 January 1945

On 2 January, the US carrier, USS Ommaney Bay, was severely damaged by a kamikaze aircraft and would later need to be scuttled.  Three days later, the cruiser, USS Columbia, was also damaged when she was hit by 2 of the Japanese suicide planes.  US shipping received relentless kamikaze strikes that cost the Navy more than 1000 men due to those 30 hits.

Beginning on 6 January, a heavy naval and air bombardment of suspected Japanese defenses on Lingayen began.  Aircraft and naval artillery bombardment of the soon-to-be landing areas occurred, with kamikazes attacking again on the 7th.

USS Columbia hit by kamikaze

On the 8th, it was observed that in the town of Lingayen, as a response to the prelanding shelling, Filipinos had begun to form a parade, complete with United States and Philippine flags – firing was shifted away from that area.

The USS Louisville had been hit on the 5th of January with one man killed and 52 wounded, including the captain.  The following day she was attacked by six successive plane, 5 were shot down, but one got through.

USS Louisville, hit by kamikaze

The strike on the Louisville was also notable for the death of RAdmiral Theodore Chandler, commanding the battleships and cruiser in Lingayen Gulf.  He was badly burned when his Flag ship was engulfed in flames, but jumped down to the signal deck and deployed hoses to the enlisted men before waiting in line for treatment with the other wounded sailors.  However, his lungs had been scorched by the petroleum flash and he died the following day.

Rear Admiral Theodore Edson Chandler

An eye witness account of the attack on the USS Louisville, from John Duffy:

“All of a sudden, the ship shuddered and I knew we were hit again.  I was in charge of the 1st Division men and I yelled, “We’re hit, let’s go men!”  I was the first man out the Turret door followed by Lt.Commmander Foster and Lt. Hastin, our Division Officer, then a dozen more men.

“The starboard side of the ship was on fire from the forecastle deck down.  One almost naked body was laying about ten feet from the turret with the top of his head missing.  It was the kamikaze pilot that had hit us.  He made a direct hit on the Communications deck.

“As the men poured out of the turret behind me, they just stood there in shock.  Explosions were still coming from the ammunition lockers at the scene of the crash.  We could see fire there too.  Injured men were screaming for help on the Communications Deck above us.  I ordered 2 men to put out the fire on the starboard side by leaning over the side with a hose.  That fire was coming from a ruptured aviation fuel pipe that runs full length of the forecastle on the outside of the ship’s hull.  That fuel pipe was probably hit by machine-gun bullets from the kamikaze just before he slammed into us.

“Although there was no easy access to the deck above us, I ordered several men to scale up the side of the bulkhead (wall) and aid the badly burned victims who were standing there like zombies.  I also ordered 3 men to crawl under the rear Turret 1’s overhang, open the hatch there and get the additional fire hose from Officers Quarters.  These 3 orders were given only seconds apart and everyone responded immediately, but when they got near the dead Jap’s body, which was lying right in the way, it slowed them down…”

For some additional information on the Kamikaze, Click HERE.

The HMAS Australia was included in this fleet and would also come under heavy attack.  Her full story will be the following post.

Click on images to enlarge

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Military Humor – 

“I wish they’d get someone else to make up the mess duty roster!”

“Hold it , sailor! – Let’s see your orders!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Chapman – Macon, GA; US Army, WWII, PTO

George Cramer – Prichard, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Major, B-17 belly gunner

Peter Ferracuti – Ottawa, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Charles Galloway – Clinton, SC; US Army (Ret.), WWII, Korea & Vietnam

Margaret Glazener – NC; US War Dept.; code breaker

William Hayes – London, ENG; RAF, CBI

Vance Larson – Saskatoon, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, Captain

Richard Nichols – Billings, MT; US Army (Ret. 22 y.), 11th, 82nd & 101st Airborne Divisions, 2 bronze Stars

Thomas O’Brien – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Daphne White – Melbourne, AUS; Women’s British Air Force, WWII

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General Joseph May Swing – Intermission Story (30)

Major General Joseph Swing

As the intermission period closes, it is only fitting that I introduce the man who lead the 11th Airborne Division.  Many called him “Uncle Joe”, but on the back of this photograph, Smitty wrote “My General.”

“A hero is a man noted for his feats of courage or nobility of purpose—especially one who has risked his life; a person prominent in some field, period, or cause by reason of his special achievements or contributions; a person of distinguished valor or fortitude; and a central personage taking an admirable part in any remarkable action or event; hence, a person regarded as a model.”

Joseph May Swing was born on 28 February 1894 in Jersey City and went to the public schools there, graduating in 1911 and entered West Point Military Academy directly.  He graduated 38th in the class of the star-studded class of 1915, famously known as “The Class the Stars Fell On.”

The 5-star generals were Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley.  The four-star (“full”) Generals in the class of 1915 were James Van Fleet and Joseph T. McNarney. The three-star (Lieutenant Generals) Generals were Henry Aurand, Hubert R. Harmon, Stafford LeRoy Irwin, Thomas B. Larkin, John W. Leonard, George E. Stratemeyer, and Joseph M. Swing. This view was taken facing south around noon on May 3, 1915.

In 1916 Lieutenant Swing was part of the punitive expedition to Mexico against Francisco Villa under the leadership of General John J. Pershing. In 1917, shortly after the US entered the war in Europe, Major Swing joined the artillery of the 1st Division in France. When he returned to the US in 1918, he became an aide-de-camp to the Army’s Chief of Staff, General Peyton C. March. On 8 July 1918, he married Josephine Mary March, the daughter of General March. Later that year, he joined the 19th Field Artillery at Fort Myer, Virginia, and in 1921 sailed for Hawaii to command the 1st Battalion of the 11th Field Artillery at Schofield Barracks.

In 1925, he returned to the States and assumed command of the 9th Field Artillery at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.  He graduated with honors from the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, and in 1927 he graduated from the Command and Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. For the next four years, he was on duty in the Office of the Chief of Field Artillery in Washington, DC, and in 1933 he became chief of its war plans section. In 1935, he graduated from the Army War College in Washington and then joined the 6th Field Artillery at Fort Hoyle, Maryland.

Next, he went to Fort Sam Houston where he was the chief of staff of the 2d Division from 1938 to 1940. Later, he commanded the 82d Horse Artillery Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Bliss, Texas and then commanded its division artillery. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1941 and at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, organized the division artillery of the 82d Division, a move which was to project him into the brand new field of “airborne.”  In Camp Claiborne, General Omar Bradley was the 82d Division commander. General Ridgway was the assistant division commander, and Colonel Maxwell D. Taylor was the chief of staff.

General Joseph M. Swing

In February of 1943, as a newly promoted major general, General Swing was assigned the task of activating the 11th Airborne Division at Camp Mackall, North Carolina, the Army’s third airborne division. Thus began for General Swing a tenure of service which was unique then and still remains a record: division commander of one division for five years, during which he activated the division, trained it, and commanded it in combat and during its subsequent occupation of Japan. During this period, General Swing and the 11th Airborne Division became synonymous; the man was the division and the division was the man.

General Swing made his mark on the Army and on the thousands of men who passed through the 11th Airborne Division in a way which those of us who were fortunate enough to serve with and have known him will never forget. His subordinates and superiors have described General Swing with numerous adjectives: forceful, energetic, courageous, self-disciplined, purposeful, farsighted, innovative, just, sentimental, short-tempered, forgiving, sincere, considerate, demanding—and with it all, handsome, erect, prematurely gray, with a lean, tanned face from which steely-blue eyes focused with incredible sharpness either to find a mistake or an accomplishment of a subordinate. General Swing fitted all of those descriptive adjectives to one degree or another; illustrations to exemplify each trait abound, particularly in the lore of the 11th Airborne Division. And as the years go by and as the men of the 11th gather at reunions, the stories about the “old man” increase and take on a sharper and more pungent flavor.

Leyte, Gen. Swing and staff on Mt.Manarawat

There is no doubt that General Swing was demanding in training, insisting on excellence, and setting and requiring the highest of standards for the 11th Airborne Division so that when it entered combat, after months of grueling training in Camp MacKall, Camp Polk, and New Guinea, the division was ready to take on the Japanese in the mud and rain across the uncharted central mountains of Leyte. Early in its combat career, it was ready to thwart a Japanese parachute attack on the division command post and nearby San Pablo airfield at Burauen, Leyte.

General Swing demonstrated his courage and vitality on that occasion by personally leading a Civil War-like attack across the airstrip with engineers, supply troops, and a glider field artillery battalion armed with carbines and rifles against the dug-in Japanese paratroopers who had had the audacity to attack the 11th Airborne from the air. In short order, the Japanese paratroopers, the elite Katori Shimpei of the Japanese forces, were routed, and the San Pablo airfield was back in the hands of the 11th Airborne Division.

_____ Condensed from a biographical article written by Edward Michael Flanagan, Jr., Lt.General, Retired

also, “The Gettysburg Daily, Wikipedia and Smitty’s scrapbook.

And this is where we left off the day by day and monthly island-hopping offense of the Pacific War.  You will be hearing often of General Swing, you might even get to admire him almost as much as Smitty did.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

‘I think it’s about time McFergle retired — he remembers the Lusitania.’

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Ball – Sterling, AK; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lloyd Crouse – Columbus, OH; US Army, WWII, PTO, 251st Sta. Hospital, combat medic

Charles Dye – Flint, MI; US Army, WWII

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

Richard Gordon – Seattle, WA; US Navy, test pilot / NASA astronaut, Gemini 11, Apollo 12 & Apollo 18

Bill Jo Hart – Fort Worth, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Flight Instructor

Alfred Jeske – Seymour, WI; US Army, WWII

Bill Mesker – Wichita, KS; US Navy, WWII

Myra Mitchell – Upalco, UT; USMC, Women’s Corps, WWII

Sterling Wood – Omaha, NE; US Army, Colonel (Ret. 30 y.), 143rd Transportation Command

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1944 ending / 1945 opening

New Guinea and the Philippine Islands

CLICK ON TO ENLARGE.

Shortly before the invasion of Leyte began, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed MacArthur to invade Luzon on December 20, 1944, thus settling the argument as to whether Luzon or Formosa should be the next object of attack. It was not expected that Luzon would be easily reclaimed, but it was believed that the conquest of Formosa would be much more difficult and might require as many as nine divisions, more than were then available in the Pacific area.

While construction of airfields on the muddy terrain of Leyte moved slowly forward, and while the fleet recovered from the Battle of Leyte Gulf, MacArthur decided to occupy the island of Mindoro, directly south of Luzon, for the construction of additional airfields.

The attack on Mindoro began on December 15 and the invasion of Luzon was rescheduled for January 9, 1945. Both invasions were undertaken by the U.S. 6th Army under Lieut. Gen. Walter Krueger, supported by the 3rd and 7th fleets, and by the Army air forces in the area.

After the preliminary air attacks on Luzon at the turn of the year, the 3rd Fleet moved into the South China Sea to hit Formosa, Hong Kong and Chinese coastal points.

Barrage rockets during the invasion of Mindoro, Philippines, in December 1944. Launched in salvoes …

UPI/Bettmann Newsphotos

The U.S. troops encountered little opposition on the ground at Mindoro but they were subjected to heavy air attacks both en route and after landing. The Japanese had now begun to use kamikaze attacks on a regular basis and, although many such suicide planes were shot down, many others reached their targets. Before the end of the year new airfields on Mindoro were ready to handle planes supporting the larger invasion of Luzon.

On the way from Leyte Gulf to the landing site at Lingayen Gulf on the west coast of Luzon, the invasion armada suffered damage from repeated kamikaze attacks. One pilot plunged his plane onto the bridge of the battleship New Mexico, killing more than 30 persons, including the captain of the ship.

Yamashita Tomoyuki, 1945

The troops of the I Corps and the XIV Corps would go ashore at Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945, and be met with little resistance because the Japanese had not expected a landing at that point. The Japanese commander in charge of defending the island was Gen. Yamashita Tomoyuki, the conqueror of Singapore and Bataan, who commanded the Japanese 14th Area Army.

Realizing that the diversion of forces to Leyte and the inability of the Japanese High Command to send reinforcements to Luzon gave him little hope of defeating the 6th Army, Yamashita decided upon static defense aimed at pinning down Allied troops on Luzon for as long as possible. He established three principal defensive sectors: one in the mountains west of Clark Field in the Central Plains; a second in mountainous terrain east of Manila; and the third and strongest in the mountains of northwestern Luzon, centering initially on Baguio.   Manila was also strongly defended, though Yamashita at one time apparently had some thought of abandoning the city.

A Japanese kamikaze pilot aiming his plane at a U.S. warship in the Lingayen Gulf, off the coast of …

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph

Mindanao, second largest island in the Philippines, had been MacArthur’s first target before the change in plans made in September 1944, but as events turned out it was the last island to be retaken.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ronald Borm – Dayton, OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Wintle

Rhoderick Brown – Edmonton, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO

Samuel Ervin – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII

William ‘Jack’ Griffis – VillaRica, GA; US Navy, WWII, Destroyer Escort DE-702

Pauline Jensen – Huey, PA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Richard Kramer – E.St. Louis, IL; US Navy, Lt.Commander (Ret.), Purple Heart

James Norton – Boulder, CO; US Navy, WWII

John ‘Pappy’ Polythress – Rincon, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-23 radioman

Raymond Rechlin – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Nolan Stevenson – Brown’s Bay, NZ; RNZ Navy # 435119, 3891; WWII

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Intermission Story (9) – A Special Woman

Last December the world lost a very special person, Florence Ebersole Smith Finch, (101).

Florence Ebersole Smith Finch, USCGR 

Coast Guard SPAR decorated for combat operations during World War II

By William H. Thiesen, Ph.D.
U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Historian


Of the thousands of women who have served with honor in the United States Coast Guard, one stands out for her bravery and devotion to duty. Florence Smith Finch, the daughter of a U.S. Army veteran and Filipino mother, was born on the island of Luzon, north of Manila, in Santiago City. She married navy PT boat crewman Charles E. Smith while working for an army intelligence unit located in Manila. In 1942, after the Japanese invaded the Philippines, her young husband died trying to re-supply American and Filipino troops trapped by the enemy on Corregidor Island and the Bataan Peninsula.

After the Japanese occupied Manila, Finch avoided internment by claiming her Philippine citizenship. She received a note from her imprisoned army intelligence boss regarding shortages of food and medicine in the POW camps. Finch began assisting with locating and providing smuggled supplies to American POWs and helping provide fuel to Filipino guerrillas. In October 1944, the Japanese arrested Finch, beating, torturing and interrogating her during her initial confinement. Through it all, she never revealed information regarding her underground operations or fellow resisters.

When American forces liberated her prison camp in February 1945, Finch weighed only eighty pounds. She boarded a Coast Guard-manned transport returning to the United States and moved to her late father’s hometown of Buffalo, New York. In July 1945, she enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard, eager to continue the struggle against an enemy that had killed her husband. Finch served through the end of the war and was among the first Pacific-Island American women to don a Coast Guard uniform.

After the war, she met U.S. Army veteran Robert Finch. They married and moved to Ithaca, New York, where she lived the remainder of her life. Of the thousands of SPARs serving in World War II, she was the first to be honored with the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon. In November 1947, she received the U.S. Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian medal awarded to Americans who aided in the war effort. In 1995, the Coast Guard honored her service by naming a facility for her at Coast Guard Base Honolulu.

Ms. Finch crossed the bar on 8 December 2016.

  • Read her written answers to questions submitted to her regarding her remarkable life and career, first as a resistance fighter in the Philippines and then as a SPAR
  • Ms. Finch (c) with her extended family.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Peter Aczel – brn: HUN/ Quakertown, NY; US Army Air Corps

Alfred Biegert Jr. – San Antonio, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Photo Lab technician

Arthur Gosselin Jr. – Springfield, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Douglas Hardy – New Plymouth, NZ; RNZ Army # 64450, Sgt.

Stanley Krumholz – Far Rockaway, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT-190 Jack’O’Diamonds

Gerald Larson – Red Oak, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Robert Murray Jr. – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

Donald Perdue – Vancouver, CAN; RC Army, Korea, Queen’s Own Rifles

Hank von der Heyde Jr. – Jacksonville, FL; USMC, WWII (Ret.)

Baxter Webb – Hapeville, GA; US Army, Lt., Tank Platoon/4th Division

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The Fight for Mindoro

A clearly detailed description of following through on a mission!!

d8280cc1a69d6cf46fd49e02caa35208--mindoro-pt-boat

Night Action off Mindoro by Jack Fellows On the night of December 26, 1944, this radar-equipped B-24M night intruder, piloted by Lt. Samuel L. Flinner of the 63rd Bomb Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group attacked and immobilized the Imperial Japanese Navy Yugumo-class destroyer, Kiyoshimo, off the Philippine island of Mindoro, where it was left behind and sunk by a PT boat.http://irandpcorp.com/products/night-action-off-mindoro/
Find this Pin and more on Ken’s Men Against the Empire Vol. II.
Night Action off Mindoro by Jack Fellows
Jack Fellows Figuratives, Landscapes, Sketches & more.

IHRA

Expanding a little more on last week’s post…

As 1944 was wrapping up in the Pacific Theater, units continued their march northward with the invasion and seizure of the island of Mindoro and continuing attacks on Clark Field, Luzon. Mindoro was considered a strategic asset for continued attacks and the eventual push towards reclaiming Luzon from the Japanese. The Japanese knew this, and even though they were driven off Mindoro on December 15th, they weren’t going to give up easily.

Two airfields were constructed on Mindoro within 13 days of the Allied takeover in preparation for the invasion of Luzon. Admiral Masatomi Kumura did not want to see these airfields become usable by the Americans and he assembled eight ships to sail from Vietnam on December 24th to Mindoro in hopes of disrupting the building efforts. It wasn’t until the 26th that their presence was detected some hours south of…

View original post 611 more words

December 1944 (3) – 11th Airborne Div.

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Pfc John Chiesa, E Company/188th Regiment/11th Airborne and Privates Davis and Duncan were on the point going up, what would become known as, Purple Heart Hill on 26 December 1944.  Chiesa recalled:

“We just got to the top of this hill when all hell broke loose.  The Japs opened up with their wood peckers and rifles.  Duncan got hit in the rump and he went tumbling down the hill.  I hit the ground and prayed.  Finally, Davis and i jumped up and went diving over the ridge.  We could not see the Japs because they hide pretty good in the jungle.  They were firing and we were trying to fire back, but we could not see them to know where to shoot at.

“Finally, our Platoon leader, Sgt. Kelly, got up on one knee and started to point to show us where to shoot.  About that time, the Japs got him and he was dead.  He was one hell of a soldier, believe me.

“Me, Pvt. Hodges and three other guys in our company went up to the side of the hill and we laid there waiting for someone to tell us what our next move was.  While we waited, I got hungry so i turned around facing down the hill and got out one of my K rations.  I was opening up the can when 20 feet from me this Jap jumped out of the bushes.  He looked at me and I looked at him.  I think he was as surprised as I was.

“I had an M1 rifle laying across my lap.  Everything was done automatically. (Our training came in handy.)  I grabbed the rifle, turned and pulled the trigger.  He was doing the same thing, but I was luckier.  I hit him smack in his Adam’s apple.  I can still see the surprised look on his face…  The thing that will always be on my mind is that if I didn’t stop to eat, those Japs woulda killed all 5 of us.

Colonel Robert “Shorty” Soule, a Major General during Korean War

“When we came back down the hill, Col. Soule came to me and asked what I would do to get those Japs and take the hill.  I thought he was joking.  Here is a colonel, and a damned good one, asking his pfc how to take a hill.

“I told him, ‘Just bomb the hell out of them, blow the hill up.’  We went up the hill the next morning, and after a good bombardment, we took the hill.”

The “good bombardment” had come from A Battery of the 457th.  Capt. Bobo Holloway of the 188th moved within 25 yards of the Japanese position and directed the firing of the artillery, and some 105mm howitzer and 155mm guns.

On 27 December, when they stormed Purple Heart Hill, they encountered hand-to-hand combat, then proceeded to occupy the old enemy holes as the Japanese evicted them.  Those of the enemy that escaped and headed north, ran into part of Col. Pearsons’ 187th Regiment.  The bloody battle for Purple Heart Hill had lasted for almost 5 weeks.

Japanese WWII “woodpecker”

Information is from “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan (Ret.)

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frederick Crosby – San Diego, CA; US Navy, Vietnam, pilot, Lt.Comdr., KIA

Norman Fraser – North York, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Henry Glenn Jr. – Largo, FL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Temple Hill – Marshville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 top turret gunner

Freddie Knight – Panama City, FL; US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam,Night Fighter (Ret. 27 years)

Tommy Manns – Abilene, TX; US Navy, WWII, radioman, USS Telfair

Remington Peters – CO; US Navy SEAL, 2 deployments, SWO 1st Class

Thomas Sherman – Chagrin Falls, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Joseph Valderrama – brn: SPN/NJ; US Coast Guard, WWII, ETO, USS Faunce & Breckenridge

Frances Weill – Donora, PA; civilian, WWII, torpedo construction

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Filipina Heroine

Magdalena Leones

Magdalena Leones

The Silver Star is the third-highest honor for gallantry in the U.S. Armed Forces. Previous recipients include Audie Murphy, Chuck Yeager, and Norman Schwartzkopf. But few people have heard of Magdalena Leones – she was a Filipino woman that served as a guerrilla soldier under U.S. command in World War II.

Leones was in her 20s when she joined the Philippine-American military effort. She is part of a small group of women – and is the only Filipino woman – to receive the award for her heroism. She died on June 16th in Richmond, California at 96-years old.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recognized her on June 28. “We are diminished by the passing of Corporal Magdalena Leones, Silver Star Filipina World War II veteran — the only Asian to receive this honor,” Supervisor Jane Kim said. “Corporal Leones has paved the way for many women that are breaking barriers in every arena. I look forward to her story and the story of the 250,000 Filipino World War II veterans being told for all to remember.”

Leones was part of why General Douglas MacArthur was able to return. Leones was able to gather the parts needed to make a radio that allowed communications with MacArthur, which in turn led to the invasions at Leyte and the re-taking of the Philippines.

Cpl. Magdalena Leones

Cpl. Magdalena Leones

The Army awarded the Silver Cross to Leones on October 22, 1945.

“For gallantry in action at Luzon, Philippine Islands, from 27 February to 26 September 1944,” the citation reads. “During the period cited, Corporal Leones repeatedly risked her life to carry important intelligence data, vital radio parts and medical supplies through heavily garrisoned enemy-held territory.”

“Although she knew that detection by the enemy would result in torture and execution, Corporal Leones fearlessly continued her perilous missions between guerrilla forces throughout Luzon with notable success. Through her intrepidity and skill as a special agent, Corporal Leones contributed materially to the early liberation of the Philippines.”

Lt. Gen. O.W. Griswold, commanding officer, U.S. Army, signed the citation. San Francisco’s Civic Center has had the citation and a replica medal on display in their Filipino Veterans Education Center since last January.

Rudy Asercion is a Vietnam veteran and the leader of American Legion Bataan Post 600 in San Francisco. He said that Leones’ heroism was not widely known, even in the Filipino community. “She was very private and deeply religious who never talked about her exploits,” Asercion told NBC News. “No one knew anything about her. We didn’t hear about the Silver Star until we commemorated the Leyte Landing and MacArthur’s return in 2004. Then I vetted and researched her and found out the truth. She’s a Filipina, an Asian woman. A Silver Star holder. The only one.”

Magdalena (Far right) with Leones family, 1960's

Magdalena (Far right) with Leones family, 1960’s

Leones moved to the States in the late 1960s.  She worked for the telephone company.  Family members mourned Leones in a small, private funeral.

Libingan ng mga Bayani

“Even with the Silver Star, there were no top brass, no admirals, or generals, to remember her. It’s very sad,” Asercion said. “No obit in the mainstream papers about her heroism either. Nothing.”   She will be buried in Libingan ng mga Bayani, the place where the Philippines buries its heroes.

“The biggest issue to me, is she was not recognized by anybody, in the Philippines or the U.S.,” Asercion said, still troubled by her lack of recognition. “She’s elite, a one of a kind hero.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Ian Boxall – Bellevue, AUS; RC Army, Vietnam

Alfred Cabral – Walpole, MA; US Navy, WWII

Arthur Gordon – Rochester, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Cabot

William Herbert – Cherry Hill, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, Signal Corps

Thelburn Knepp – Peoria, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 89th Infantry Division

Douglas Lane – Chatham, CAN; RC Army, WWII, 17th Field Reg/3rd Forward Observer Unit

Harold Madson – Eastpointe, MI; US Army, WWII & Korea, 1st Lt.

Darby Silvernail – Huntsville, AL; US Army, Afghanistan, Medical Corps

Kenneth Trickett – San Bernadino, CA; US Navy, WWII, fire control, USS Price

Edward Yamasaki – Honolulu, HI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT (author)

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Japanese Airborne Attack 11th Airborne

Gen. Robert Eichelberger

The first eye witness account is from General Robert Eichelberger, Commander of the Eighth Army on Leyte as written in his book, “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo”

“There is a memento of this struggle now in the Military Academy at West Point.  [General] Joe Swing gave it to me, and I sent it on from the Pacific.

“During the fighting on an airstrip, two ducking and dodging American GI’s – Allen W. Osborne and Eustis A. Jolly – were hand-carrying ammunition to the troops under fire.  They noticed a large Japanese flag fluttering in a tree and, being incorrigible souvenir hunters, decided to acquire it.

“Each time they attempted to shinny up the tree, they were met by a fusillade of Japanese bullets.  So they changed their tactics.  They got an ax from their truck and while still under fire, chopped down the tree.  That hard-won Japanese flag now hangs in the West Point museum.

“How can you explain youngsters like that?  Despite the calamity howlers they continue to exist.  Whatever challenge the future holds, I think Americans can meet it.”

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Gen. Henry Muller, Jr.

This condensed eye witness account was written by BGen. Henry J. Muller, Jr.; courtesy of “The Drop Zone” website and published in “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper, Matt Underwood, Editor.

“TRANSPORTS!!” – “JAPS!!” – “PARATROOPERS!!”

“The time was 1800 hours, 6 December 1944 and at first it sounded like a swarm of bees in the distance.  Then it became clear.  No paratrooper could mistake the drone of a formation of troop carrier aircraft.  Someone outside shouted “AIRCRAFT!!” – then many – “JAP TRANSPORTS!!” – “PARATROOPERS!!”

Situation map 6 December 1944

“The division staff dashed out of the mess tent looking skyward.  By now, a dozen parachutes had opened above us and everyone began firing at them.  I even emptied 2 clips from my .45 at the nearest parachutists.  Most jumped well beyond our HQ, landing in and about the San Pablo airstrip.  Only a few who jumped too soon dropped over us and floated down just north of our perimeter.

“There was considerable rifle fire from the vicinity of the airstrip and some from the HQ area.  Someone ordered that the generator be shut down as the lights could attract sniper fire.  Each section had been required to dig foxholes and trenches around their tents, although rather shallow soil piled on the upper rim provided cover from small arms fire if one kept low.

“During the night, the G-3 Col. Quandt prepared a plan for a provisional battalion of Ordnance and Quartermaster companies, with odds and ends of Service and Administrative troops, to counterattack across the airstrip at first light.

“The firing had subsided, but we had no contact with the small aerial resupply detachment at the strip.  So early that morning, Gen. Swing and I, accompanied by his aide and dismounted driver, made our way to the airstrip for a first-hand appraisal of the situation.

“Our counterattack had cleared the field… the Japanese paratroopers had withdrawn into a wooded area north of the strip.  They had burned some of our light aircraft along with small stores of aviation fuel and various supplies which were part of our resupply effort for units in the mountains.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News –  if anyone is looking for my V-E Day post here today, simply type in V-E Day into the Search bar in the top-right-hand corner of the post.  You will be brought to my past 4 posts commemorating that great day!

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Military [Airborne] Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Davis – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, K/47th QM Regiment

Graham Harding – Hawkes Bay, NZ; RNZ Army # 442167, WWII, 27th Battery, Signal Corps

Norman Hatch – Boston, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Photographic Services, combat-cameraman

Freddie Henson – Klamath Falls, OR; US Army, Korea, A/57/7th Infantry Division, KIA

Edward Kitchell – W.Milford, NJ; US Navy, WWII, Sea Bee

Anthony Lipari – Racine, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, aerial engineer, Purple Heart

Kyle Milliken – Falmouth, ME; US Navy SEAL, Somalia, Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator, 4 Bronze Stars, KIA

Donald Omodt – St. Paul, MN; US Army, WWII & Korea

Thomas Strath – Ottawa, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, pilot

Russell Turner Jr. – Houston, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO,  11th Airborne Division

Moray Watson – Sunningdale, ENG; British Army, Northamptonshire Reg., Captain, (beloved actor)

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[In a past post in July 2015, I did an article on the wartime cameramen with Norman Hatch mentioned.]

Sgt. Norman Hatch

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