Blog Archives

Leyte | start of November 1944

3 November – When the Japanese 57th Regiment arrived at Limon, Gen. Krueger’s 24th Division was on the other side of the mountain range.  Rather than attack the lightly defended enemy positions, he halted his troops.  For some reason, he was expecting a possible enemy amphibious landing and the US attack would not begin for 2 more days.

5→10 November – in the 19th year of Showa, for the Japanese, the G.I. mortar and machine-gun fire seemed to nearly wipe out the squad scaling the ridge.  As the brush caught fire, the Americans of I Company/3rd Battalion/21st Infantry Regiment/ 24th Division, attacked and charged over the ridge until the enemy’s big guns opened up.  Another Japanese force arrived and the US troops retreated.  This would be known as Breakneck Ridge [Yahiro Hill to the Japanese].

Breakneck Ridge, Leyte; courtesy of Koji Kanemoto

Even with the support of the 1st Cavalry, the soldiers were pushed back, but they would return on the 8th.  They then proceeded to continually hit the ridge until the 10th, when the Japanese 3rd Battalion was ordered to tenshin. (which means to turn around and advance).  The few survivors remaining did make it back to their supply depot.

Breakneck Ridge (highlighted) map

6 November – Japanese convoy MA-TA 31 escorted by 2 cruisers and other escorting vessels was attacked by a wolfpack of US submarines, Batfish, Ray, Raton, Bream and Guitarro at Luzon.  The Ray fired 6 rear torpedoes at the enemy cruiser  Kumano and destroyed her bow.

US Hellcat fighters and bombers with Avenger torpedo planes attacked enemy airfields and shipping installations throughout southern Luzon.  The US aircraft were intercepted by about 80 Japanese fighters and a dogfight ensued over Clark Field.  The enemy lost 58 planes and 25 more later in the day.  More than 100 Japanese aircraft were destroyed on the ground.  One cruiser sank in Manila Harbor and 10 other vessels were heavily damaged.

IJN Shimakaze

10→11 November – Another Japanese convoy, carrying 10,000 reinforcements for Leyte, escorted by 4

Japanese transport under attack

destroyers, a minesweeper and a submarine chaser.  They were screened by 3 other destroyers, but were intercepted by the US 10th Fleet aircraft as they made their turn into Ormoc Bay.  Before they could reach the harbor, the TF-38 aircraft attacked.  The first wave aimed at the transports.  The second wave hit the destroyers and third wave strafed the beaches and the burning destroyers.  Nine of the ships sank and 13 enemy planes providing air cover were shot down.

The FEAF (Far East Air Force, the 5th A.F.) used 24 B-24’s to hit Dumaguerte Airfield on Negros Island in the P.I. and fighter-bombers were sent to the Palompon area on Leyte.  Targets of opportunity were hit on Mindanao.  Fighter-bombers and B-25s hit shipping and Namlea Airfield, and P-38s hit Kendari Airfield on Celebes Island while B-24a bombed the Nimring River area.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

####################################################################################################

Military Humor –

####################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Adrian Cervini – Flint, MI; USMC, Korea

Margaret Christie – Toronto, CAN; Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, WWII

Final Mission

Joseph Devlin – Johnstown, PA; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Roy D. Eneroth – Thornton, WA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Wesley E. Graham – Watervliet, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor )

John Klunder – E.Elmurst, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman 1st Class, USS Fayette (APA-43)

Anthony R. Mazzulla – Bronx, NY; US Army, Korea, 1st Lt., Co B/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

George E. Park – Bedford, MA; US Navy, WWII, Quartermaster/Navigator, USS Bunker Hill

Duane I. Pierce – Lyndon, VT; US Navy, WWII, PTO

William Potoka Sr. – Mt. Pleasant, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co C/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

John R. Samuelson – Page, City, KS; US Army, WWII

Jim Warnica – Clovis, NM; US Navy, WWII, PTO

########################################################################################################################################################################################################

Leyte continued

LST’s # 66,67,18,245,102 on 20 October 1944

While the Imperial Navy was floundering in their attempts to halt the persistent invasion of Leyte, Gen. Yamashita was in his headquarters at Fort McKinley on Luzon.  He was receiving very little information from his own people and upon hearing of the US landing, he was heard to say, “Very interesting.  But where is Leyte?”  [The Japanese general had only just been transferred from Manchuria.]

Yamashita did not feel that the Japanese all-out standing defense should be on Leyte and he refused to supply more troops to the island.  But he was overruled.  Gen. Terauchi, knowing that the island’s occupation by the Americans would divide their bases, so reinforcements would be sent in.

Yamashita Tomoyuki, 1945

21 October – Most of the Japanese beach defenses had been shattered by bombing and strafing and a majority of the 1st Battalion/16th Division had been wiped out.  Parts of Tacloban had been liberated by the US troops and Gen. Makino was now forced to split the remainder of his 16th Div. in half, North and South Defense Forces.

As the ground forces continued fighting, Japanese aircraft from all other bases in the Philippines arrived on Luzon to support the plans for a counteroffensive.

airfield construction

25 October – Gen. Sosaku Suzuki, in charge of defending the Central Philippines, still was receiving inferior or misleading intelligence and remained confident of Japanese victory because:  He still expected support from the Navy; he had glowing reports concerning Formosa; he was told that ALL US carriers had been sunk and no American aircraft were flying over his headquarters on Cebu.  Suzuki told his Chief of Staff, Gen. Tomochika, “…we are about to step on the center of the stage.  There is no greater honor or privilege.”

Two Japanese units were on en-route to Luzon:  the Japanese 1st Division [the Gem Division] to land at Ormoc on the west coast and the 26th Division at Carigara in the north.

MacArthur surveys Leyte beach, 1944

MacArthur’s summary:

“The assault continued after a rapid consolidation of the first few days  objectives.  Numerous enemy counterattacks were beaten off in all areas during the next few days as advancing forces reported increased resistance on every front.  By the end of the third day, over 2,000 Japanese had been reported killed…

“On 24 October, elements of the XCorps began a drive up the Leyte side of San Juanico Strait, while farther south other units of the Corps pushed westward.  At the same time, the XXIV Corps directed attacks northward and westward.  The 96th Div., moving inland from Dulag, met heavy opposition from fortified positions on Catmon Hill, a terrain feature dominating the division’s zone of action and giving protection to enemy mortars bobbing shells toward the assault shipping in Leyte Gulf.  Catmon Hill was initially by-passed, then neutralized by naval guns and field artillery and finally cleared of the enemy by 31 October.”

###################################################################################################

Military Humor – 

“You’re doing it wrong.”

Practice aircraft carrier??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

####################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Keefe R. Connolly – Markesan, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Hospital Apprentice 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Daniel Coons Jr. – Fort Madison, IA; US Army, WWII

Joe Chadwell Tullahoma, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Charles A. Day – Redwood, CA; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Colonel (Ret.)

Stanley L. DeWitt – Royal City, IN; US Army, Korea, Sgt., Medical Detachment/57th FA/ 7th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Robert C. Martin – Lakemore, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, radio/gunner, Putple Heart

Mortimer Goodkin – Short Hills, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ATO (Adak, AK)

Robert Killey Sr. – Elmira, NY; US Coast Guard

Reuben Klamer – Canton, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, V-7 program  / boardgame developer

Michael T. MIles – Wikes Barre, PA; US Army

Joe R. Nightingale – Kalamazoo, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Elizabeth Thew – Hopeswell, VA; Civilian, WWII, Corsair cockpit construction / military librarian

####################################################################################################

Leyte, Philippines begins

Leyte, Oct. 1944

20 October – the X and XXIV Corps of the 6th Army, under General Krueger, made their amphibious landing on a 25-mile (40 km) stretch of coastline between Dulag and Tacloban on the eastern side of Leyte.

At 0945, the 1st Cavalry went ashore on White Beach, the 24th Infantry Division went on their left at Red Beach and the 96th Infantry Division landed further south on Orange and Blue Beaches.  They all moved inland for about a mile, hitting stiffer resistance as they went.

MacArthur observing the beach at Leyte

The 7th Infantry Division at Violet and Yellow Beaches had the lightest opposition, but Dulag was taken by the following day.  MacArthur described the view he witnessed from the flag bridge of the USS Nashville:

“Landings are explosive once the shooting begins and now thousands of guns were throwing their shells with a roar that was incessant and deafening.  Rocker vapor trails criss-crossed the sky and black, ugly ominous pillars of smoke began to rise.  High overhead, swarms of airplanes darted into the maelstrom.  And across what would have ordinarily been a glinting, untroubled blue sea, the black dots of the landing craft churned towards the beaches.

“From my vantage point, I had a clear view of everything that took place.  Troops were going ashore at Red Beach near Palo, at San Jose on White Beach and at the southern tip of Leyte on tiny Pansom Island…”

Gen. MacArthur walking into the Philippines.

MacArthur became impatient and ordered a landing craft to carry him and President Osmeña to Red Beach for a dramatically staged arrival back to the Philippines.  But the boatload of VIP’s and press were caught in a traffic jam of vessels making an effort to the same makeshift pier.  The harassed beachmaster directed the VIP’s away and said, “Let ’em walk!” This more and likely is the reason for his surly expression in the famous photograph, despite him trying later to create a better one.

Mac went into the 24th’s area and sat on a log with Osmeña and a Signal Officer gave the general a microphone.  The “Voice of Freedom” was back on the air and Mac gave his speech, “People of the Philippines, I have returned…”  His aides noticed that the speech left him shaken and visibly moved.

By evening, a 17-mile beachfront was taken with only light casualties, but a serious enemy counter-attack came with Japanese torpedoes bombers that scored a hit on the USS Honolulu.  Approximately 22,000 enemy troops were dug into their positions in the hills behind Tacloban.


The X Corps had unfavorable conditions in terrain and sporadic mortar and artillery fire which caused them to take 5 days to complete unloading.  This however did not prevent them from the establishment of their beachhead.

MacArthur’s summary:

“The enemy’s anticipation of attack in Mindanao caused him to be caught unawares in Leyte and the beachheads of the Tacloban area…  The naval forces consisted of the 7th US Fleet, the Australian Squadron and supporting elements of the 3rd US Fleet.  Air support was given by naval carrier forces, the Far East Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force.  The enemy’s forces include the 14th Army Group under Field Marshall Count Terauchi, of which 7 divisions have been identified – 16th, 26th, 30th, 100th, 102nd, 103rd and the 105th.”

###################################################################################################

Current News – Happy 74th Birthday to the U.S. Air Force 9/18/1947 

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/?s=air+force+birthday

####################################################################################################

Military Humor – 

“The situation in Iraq appears to be going well, gentlemen. THAT however, is a map of Staten Island.”

###################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

James C. Barnhart – Somerset, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart / Korea, Purple Heart

A. Charles Casadonte Jr. – Herkimer, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co. B/111 Medical Battalion

Keith Dunker – Dayton, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Pt., pilot

Lester Flack – Guest, KY; US Army, WWII, 22 Infantry Division

Richard Gartee – Monroe, MI; US Navy, WWII

David M. Hardy Jr. – Tucson, AZ; US Navy, WWII, USS Louisville

Richard G. Hudak – Elizabeth, NJ; USMC, Vietnam, Captain

Teppo K. Jokinen – brn: Hyvinkää, FIN/ Everett, WA; Finnish Air Force

Paul Mazal – Loomis, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-47 pilot, Lt.  # O-763693, 513/406th Fighter Group, KIA (GER)

Andrew Pellerito – MI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl. # 355031, Co. K/3/2nd Marine Div., KIA (Betio, Tarawa)

Joseph C. Rouse – Riverside, NC; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 2624770, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Helen Scallion – Birmingham, AL; Civilian, WWII, B-24 & 25 electrical system construction

####################################################################################################

Pacific War Trials – part two

Courtroom spectators, Manila

The Allies also established the United Nations War Crimes Commission (the UNWCC) in 1943.  The UNWCC collected evidence on Axis war crimes and drew up lists of suspected war criminals for Allied prosecution after the war.  In 1944, a sub-commission of the UNWCC was established in Chungking to focus on the investigation of Japanese atrocities.

The major trials being held in Tokyo were presided by the U.S., Britain, Australia, the Netherlands, France, China and the Philippines and began in May 1946. General MacArthur, as supreme commander of the Allied powers, largely controlled the progress of the trials. They started with 25 defendants, but two passed away during the proceedings and another was evaluated as too mentally deficient to participate.

Hideki Tojo listening to testimonies.

Hideki Tojo was the most infamous face to symbolize Japanese aggression being that he was the Prime Minister at the time of Pearl Harbor. A 55-count indictment was drafted by the British prosecutor, Arthur Comyns-Carr. Every nation’s prosecutor signed the document listing: 36 counts of ‘crimes against peace’, 16 for murder and 3 counts for ‘other conventional war crimes and crimes against humanity’ for the major persons involved. These proceedings were held at the Japanese War Ministry Building and would last until November 1948. During this time, the prosecution called 400 witnesses and produced 800 affidavits.

Foreign Minister, Koki Hirota at his sentencing.

Tojo took responsibility as premier for anything he or his country had done; others argued that they had operated in self-defense due to the ABCD power’s embargo and military assistance given to China. In Tokyo, all defendants were found guilty. The death sentence was given to: Hideki Tojo; Foreign Minister Koki Hirota; Generals Kenji Doihara, Seishiro Itagaki, Akiro Muto, Hyoturo Kimura and Iwane Matsui – these sentences were carried out three days later.

Sixteen others received life in prison. Eight of the judges agreed on all of the sentences. Sir William Webb dissented, Delfin Jaramilla of P.I. thought they were too lenient, H. Bernard of France found fault with the proceedings, B.V.A. Roeling of the Netherlands voted to acquit Hirota and several others.  A complete dissent came from Radhabinod Pal of India.

Tomaya Kawakita and his attorney

Another series of tribunals were held in Yokohama, Japan. These were for lower ranking officers, Shinto priests, medical personnel and farmers in association with the treatment of prisoners. One case involved the ship, Oryoko Maru, upon which 1,300 POWs died in 1944. The secret police, the Kempeitai, were brought to justice along with other spies. The trial of Tomaya Kawakita was moved from Yokohama to Los Angeles at his request being that he was born in the United States. This was a clear case of “be careful what you wish for” – the American court sentenced him to death.

American tribunals were held in Shanghai for those accused of executing American airmen under the “Enemy Airmen’s Act” due to the Doolittle raid on Japan in April 1942, when many prisoners were murdered as an act of revenge for that mission of bombing Japan early in the war.

To be continued…

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

################################################################################################################

Military Humor –

################################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Ralph Becker – South Bend, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 388th Bomb Group/8th Air Force

Alice Keller Clark – Lebanon, PA; US Army Air Corps WAC, WWII

David A. Deatherage – Independence, MO; US Army, Korea, Co. A/187th RCT

James M. Flanagan – Jacksonville, FL; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

George Homer Jr. – New Rochelle, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/457th Artillery/11th Airborne Division

George La Marsh – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII

John Price – Muskogee, OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PB4Y-2 bombardier

Charles ‘Chuck’ Reiner (100) – Rochester, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII  /  31 y. career as volunteer, Red Cross, VA Hospital, DAV

Jack Schouten – Keokuk, IA; US Army, WWII, SSgt., 588th Signal Depot Company

Edward Wall – Riverside, CA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

The Wreck of the IJN Chokai

IJN Chokai, 1942 -by: Paul Wright

Chokai was the last of the four-strong Takao class of heavy cruisers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy in the late 1920s. Imperial Japanese designers worked for several years under the restrictions of the Washington Naval Treaty to make warships that were superior in quality to their American and British opponents, but the tonnage limitations imposed by the treaty made designs that would satisfy the General Staff almost impossible.

In WWII,  Chokai participated in several of the early operations in Southeast Asia, including convoy escort, assisting in the Hunt for Force Z, and the destruction of ABDA forces.

In March 1942, the IJN made a raid into the Indian Ocean with impressive results. The British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, the heavy cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire, and the destroyers Tenedos and Vampire were all sunk. Additionally, several ports were raided on the island of Ceylon and the Indian mainland, and more than 25 merchant vessels were sunk for the loss of around 25 Japanese aircraft.

After a short refit at Yokosuka, Chokai was assigned to the occupation force for the Midway Invasion operation, with the intention of providing support to the Special Naval Landing Forces while they assaulted the atoll. However, the destruction of the Kido Butai and the resulting loss of Japanese air cover on June 4th resulted in the failure of the operation, and Chokai returned to Japan.

IJN heavy cruiser Chokai at Ruk 20 Nov. 1942, Yamato in background

On the night of August 9th, Chokai acted as the flagship for Vice Admiral Mikawa as the 6th Cruiser Division went into the Battle of Savo Island, a mostly one-sided beating of the Allied naval forces in the waters off the island.  Four Allied heavy cruisers were sunk (CanberraAstoriaVincennes, and Quincy) by the combined weight of gunfire and torpedoes from the Japanese force, and another survived with heavy damage. Despite the surprise of the attack, two Japanese cruisers were damaged by return fire, including ChokaiQuincy and Astoria succeeded at hitting Chokai’s Number I turret, disabling it and killing 34 of the crew inside. Repairs are made at Rabaul over the next several days.

For the rest of 1942, Chokai participated in bombardments of Henderson Field and escorted Tokyo express convoys to the island. For several more months most of Chokai’s time was spent escorting convoys, and in some minor refits that added newer radar and more AA guns.  In June 1944, she was part of the Mobile Force at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, a colossally one-sided battle that saw the loss of three Japanese aircraft carriers, three more carriers damaged, damage to several surface combatants, and the loss of more than 700 aircraft. Chokai emerged unscathed from the battle.

 

October 1944 would see the end of Chokai. In an effort to halt the American landing on the island of Leyte, the IJN put together a massive operation to divert the main striking power of the US navy away from the island, so that their battleships and cruisers could attack the vulnerable transport ships in the gulf.

IJN Center Force departing Brunei Bay, Borneo, for P.I. 22 Oct. 1944 w/ Yamato & Musashi

The Center Force under Admiral Takeo Kurita comprised four battleships (including Yamato and Musashi, the largest battleships ever built), ten heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and fifteen destroyers. Despite two devastating attacks on the 23rd and 24th by American submarines and aircraft (which sank two of her sister ships and critically damaged another), Chokai made it into the gulf for what would have been the main event.

During the Battle off Samar on October 25th, the Center Force totally failed to utilize its advantage in survivability and firepower and was turned back by the boldness and audacity of the Americans in the small task forces that were supporting the marines on the island. For the loss of an escort carrier, two destroyers, a destroyer escort, several aircraft, and damage to several other warships, the Japanese lost three more heavy cruisers and another three were seriously damaged.

At 0558 the Center Force opened fire on Taffy 3, by 0850 Chokai started to take 5” shellfire from the guns on the escort carriers and destroyer escort Roberts. It is probable that several of them were from USS White Plains (CVE-66).  Less than ten minutes later, reports indicate a large explosion, long believed to be from Chokai’s torpedoes detonating from a near hit by a 5” shell. Her engines and rudder were disabled, and she fell out of formation. At 0905, a flight of four TBM Avengers from Kitkun Bay scored a hit with a 500 pound bomb on the stern, and they reported billowing smoke.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Towards the end of the hour, the heavy cruiser Tone reports that Chokai is dead in the water. Kurita orders the destroyer Fujinami to escort the stricken cruiser away a few minutes after 1000, and the destroyer takes off the survivors. At last, at 2148 hours Fujunami reports that she had scuttled Chokai with torpedoes.

But even after their ship was sunk, Chokai’s crew weren’t safe. On October 27th, while diverting to pick up more survivors from another lost Japanese ship, aircraft from USS Essex attacked Fujinami in the afternoon. Fujunami was sunk with all hands, including all of the survivors from Chokai.

On May 5th, 2019, the R/V Petrel located Chokai at a depth of 16,970 feet (5,173 meters), and on May 30th they conducted an ROV survey of the wreck.  Chokai is resting upright, her bow broke off in front of the Number I turret and is resting about 980 feet (300 meters) away, an aircraft catapult also broke away, and the rear deck has fallen in.

Aside from that, most of the ship is in one piece.

 

################################################################################################################

Military Humor – Navy Chief style – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

################################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Leon Ahlquist – Scarborough, ME; US Navy, WWII, USS Antietam

Daniel H. Bergolc – Euclid, OH; US Army, Iraq & Afghanistan, Captain, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts

Jack Childress – Ridgeland, MS; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st marine Division, 3 purple Hearts

Robert Dishmond – Science Hill, KY; US Army, Korea, 101st Airborne & 3rd Infantry Division

Charles Gwinn – Silverdale, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/674 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Norris Halstead – Notomine, WV; US Navy, WWII

Fred Kerhoff – Lena, IL; US Army, WWII

Laverne Mertz – Walnut, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Oliver Williams Jr. – New Orleans, LA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Hutchins

Thomas Francis Wills – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII, ETO & PTO, radioman 1st Class, USS Upshur Inshore Patrol/10th ND/Navy 116; USS Chickadee, Monitor & Dyess

################################################################################################################

Clemson U. honors Ben Skardon (102)

‘Ben’ Skardon

Clemson University will award its highest honor, the Clemson Medallion, to two distinguished alumni — Professor Emeritus Beverly “Ben” Skardon and Trustee Emeritus Allen Price Wood. Skardon and Wood will be honored at a presentation ceremony in February 2020. Skardon, who lives in Clemson, is a native of Walterboro. His brother, Jimmy Skardon, still lives here.

Clemson University President James P. Clements said he is proud that the university is honoring Skardon and Wood for their leadership and contributions to the university. “Both of these men have helped shaped the university in important ways,” said Clements. “Col. Skardon made a lasting impact by teaching countless students during his career on the faculty, and students are being educated every day in buildings that Allen Wood designed. It is safe to say that our university would not be what it is today without these two outstanding leaders.”

Ben Skardon in Army dress greens, formal photo in 1938 Clemson University TAPS yearbook.

Skardon, 102, is a 1938 Clemson graduate and veteran of the U.S. Army. He fought in the Philippines in World War II, earning two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor before becoming a prisoner of war when American troops were forced to surrender to the Japanese April 9, 1942. Skardon lived through one of the most infamous ordeals of World War II, the Bataan Death March, and survived for more than three years in Japanese prison camps despite becoming deathly ill.

Two fellow Clemson alumni, Henry Leitner and Otis Morgan, kept him alive by spoon-feeding him and eventually trading his gold Clemson ring — which he had managed to keep hidden — for food. It is a story now told at every Clemson ring ceremony, when Clemson seniors receive their class rings. Leitner and Morgan did not survive the war. Skardon honors them every year by walking in the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Ben Skardon, at 99, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, walks in the annual Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, accompanied by two Army medics, March 19, 2017. This was the tenth time Skardon walked in the march, and he is the only survivor of the real Bataan Death March who walks in the memorial march. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar)

He is the only survivor of the real march who walks in the memorial march. Last year, at 101, he walked more than three miles through the desert to honor his friends. Skardon went on to serve in Korea in 1951-52 and retired from the Army at the rank of colonel in 1962. He joined the Clemson faculty in the department of English in 1964 and was named Alumni Master Teacher in 1977. He taught at Clemson until his retirement in 1983.

Skardon has received several honors from the university, including the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. In 2013 the university established the Skardon Clemson Ring Endowment, which helps fund the ring ceremony, and in 2016 the Memorial Stadium flagpole was dedicated in his honor.

On Skardon’s 100th birthday on August 11, 2017, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster presented him with the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest honor. In March 2018 Skardon received the Congressional Gold Medal honoring Filipino and American Veterans of World War II, which is one of the highest civilian awards in the United States.

 

################################################################################################################

Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

################################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

William Blythe – Long Beach, CA; US Navy, WWII, ETO, minesweeper / PTO, USS Ticonderoga

Bruce Brigham – Fort Knox, KY; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel, Quartermaster Corps

Alive Ferguson (99) – Williamsburg, VA; US Navy WAVES, nurse

Ruth (Baker) Gilbert – White Plains, NY; Civilian, aircraft riveter

Lyle Norquist – Thief River Falls, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Monroe Ozment – Rome, GA; USMC, PTO, Purple Heart

Nathan Rawson – Thompson, VA; US Army, WWII

Fred Reed – Gardendal, AL; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Mary White – Perryville, MD; Civilian nurse’s aide

Al Worden – Jackson, MI; US Air Force / NASA astronaut, West Point Alum 1955

###############################################################################################################

USO Pacific Tour – Candy Jones

Candy Jones

By Sgt. Al Hine

YANK Staff Writer

Candy Jones was just back from a USO tour of the Pacific when I saw her, and with rare originality I said to her, “How are you?” She said, “Fine.”

Well, maybe she was telling the truth, and anyway who am I to be calling a beautiful model like Miss Jones a liar, but if she was feeling fine, she must have been pressing the old will power to its limit. The fact is that Candy had one of those Pacific trips that GIs usually are thinking about when they say, “Why doesn’t anyone ever print how lousy things are?”

She took off from the West Coast in November of 1944 and got back, a couple of months after the rest of the troupe she started out with, in August 1945. In this comparatively short time, she managed to get involved in two minor earthquakes, to lose the top of her dress on stage, and to spend a month in GI hospitals on Leyte and Morotai and in sick bay on the U.S.S C.H. Muir, the troop ship she came home on.

Candy Jones

Candy’s time on sick call was not goldbricking but the result of one of those nice little Pacific gadgets which medics diagnose as “fever of undetermined origin” and treat like malaria, coupled with a nasty case of eczema. A dame columnist in New York, shortly after Candy’s return, printed as an item that the showgirl-model was suffering from “jungle rot.” Possibly this made the eczema sound more romantic to the columnist, but eczema it was.

Candy threw off the fever in pretty good shape. “It only had me scared once, when I thought my hair was all going to fall out,” she said, “but after I lost a little, it stopped falling and everything was alright.”

The eczema left large areas of pale white on Candy’s otherwise sunburned chassis and this is possibly what caught the columnist’s eye.  It caught other eyes too, namely the eyes of photographers for whom Candy made a living posing.

“I won’t be able to pose for any color work till I begin to get even again, ” she said.

By the time all this info had come out, I was ready to ask Candy if she stuck by her original statement that she felt fine.  She said she did.

“It was a good trip and the GI’s we met were wonderful.  They gave us a swell hand everywhere, except sometimes in the hospitals.  I don’t see why I shouldn’t say that about the hospitals either.  It’s the truth.  Lots of guys who had been wounded were bitter and you couldn’t blame them.  They’d look at you when you came in with a sort of “Well, who the hell do you think you are?”

“We played regular shows nights and hospitals during the day.  After the regular shows, we’d get a chance to gab with the GI’s and stuff.  There was almost an even balance between officers and GI’s among the people we got a chance to know.”

“How about the earthquakes?” I asked.

“One was at Leyte,” she said.  “I was in bed when it happened and I almost fell out, but not quite.  The other was at Finschhafen, our first stop after Hollandia.  It was funnier because it was the first time I ever experienced an earthquake and I was in the johnny when it happened.”

“I was in the johnny and there was this crash and things started shifting around.  For a minute or two I thought I had jungle fever.  I pulled myself together, ran out and found it was only an earthquake.”

Candy’s itinerary ran from Brisbane to Leyte, hitting most of the whistle stops along the way.  The gang she was with was called “Cover Girls Abroad”.  The original destination was such a dead secret that Candy guessed wrong by thinking it was the ETO.  When she arrived at the dock, complete with woollies, she was flabbergasted to find she was headed for hotter Pacific.

Candy Jones

“Somebody got a surprise poking around that dock we left from”, she said.  “When I found out where we were going, I got rid of some of my luggage, women’s winter woolies.”

The Cover Girls played over 30 installations.  The troupe did vaudeville-type stuff – juggling, acrobatics, songs and black-out skits.  But it was a wedding number that Candy lost the top of her dress.

General Hospital dispensary/blood bank. Hollandia, New Guinea, 1945

“When the frame (for the ‘wedding picture’) went down,” she explained, “it hooked on top of the dress and took it with it.  I went through the number, sweetly holding up the shreds of camouflage.  After that time, we did the number in a reworked model of the same dress, the only strapless wedding dress I’d ever seen.”

Just as our interview was winding up, I thought of one more question: “How had she liked spending Christmas overseas?”

“Well, it wouldn’t have been bad really if I hadn’t gone and tried to be so smart.  You see, I was staying with the 334th General Hospital in Hollandia.  Christmas Eve had been rough.  We had carol singing and whipped up a bit of the spirit of the season and then they brought in some casualties.  Somehow it seemed worse than ever – no matter how many wounded men you might have seen – to see them on Christmas Eve.”

“But Christmas Dayed started out well.  The guys in the mess were buzzing around with their preparations for a real Christmas dinner – turkey and everything.  It sounded wonderful and I could hardly wait.  In fact I didn’t.  A friend asked me to go to the officer’s club for dinner at noon and thinking I’d be able to wolf down 2 Christmas feast, I accepted.”

“The officer’s club lunch was corned-beef hash; they’d have their turkey in the evening.  But I could dream of dinner at the hospital.  But when I returned to the hospital, I found that they had already feasted on turkey at noon.”

++++++++++

Candy Jones made another trip with the USO during the Vietnam War.  She passed away from cancer on 18 January 1990.

Click on images to enlarge.

#############################################################################################

Military Humor – Saying Goodbye to the Best –

Bob Hope in Heaven

#############################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Joshua Beale – Carrollton, VA; US Army, Afghanistan, 3rd Special Forces Group, KIA

Henry A. Courtney Jr. – Duluth, MN; USMC, WWII, PTO, Medal of Honor, KIA

Elwin Duhn – Grand haven, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 82nd Airborne Division, 2 Purple Hearts

Martin Freed – Cleveland, OH; US Air Force

Rosemary Gancar – Mt. Sterling, KY; US Army Air Corps WAC, flight line mechanic

Edward Hock – Lewisburg, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. F/187th/11th Airborne Division

Ralph Jordon – Enfield, CT; US Army, Korea, Co. C/187th RCT

Edward Loeb – Berkeley, CA; US Navy, WWII

Charles Muehlebach – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII, PTO, 40th Infantry Division

Bill “Tiger” Watson – UK; British Army, WWII, ETO, Commando, POW,

############################################################################################

North Luzon – July 1945

Kiangan Valley

XIV Corps plans for operations against the remainder of the Shobu Group differed only in detail from those I Corps had previously employed.37 Reduced to their simplest terms, both sets of plans called for the exertion of unremitting pressure against the Shobu Group wherever Shobu Group troops were to be found.

East of the Cagayan River the 37th Division, and for a time a regiment of the 6th Division, hampered by supply problems and torrential rains, patrolled vigorously, forcing Japanese troops ever farther into the Sierra Madre. From 1 July through 15 August the 37th Division and attached units killed about 1,000 Japanese east of the Cagayan, itself losing approximately 50 men killed and 125 wounded.

On the northwest and west, opposition was stronger and better organized. Here the 15th Infantry, USAFIP(NL), finally secured the Sabangan junction of Routes 4 and 11 on 9 July, and on the next day the 11th Infantry occupied Bontoc. The 19th Division’s defenses in the Lepanto Mines-Mankayan area began to fall apart before attacks of the 66th Infantry, USAFIP(NL), on 10 July; Mankayan fell on the 20th.

The 66th Infantry secured the junction of Routes 11 and 393 at KP 90 on 25 July, making contact the same day with troops of the 15th Infantry coming down Route 11 from Sabangan. The 19th Division now began withdrawing into the upper Agno Valley to block the northern, western, and southern approaches to Toccucan, at the western end of Yamashita’s last-stand area in the Asin Valley.

The 15th and 121st Regiments, USAFIP(NL), immediately began attacks toward Toccucan, but found the 19th Division remnants still capable of effective resistance. By 15 August the USAFIP(NL)’s leading units were four miles short of Toccucan on the northwest and a mile and a half short on the west.

Meanwhile, the 66th Infantry , USAFIP(NL), had struck south from KP 90 along Route 11 to make contact with troops of the 32d Division, coming north from KP 21. The clearing of Route 11 north from Baguio had become a matter of pressing urgency because the heavy summer rains were making it nearly impossible to supply the USAFIP(NL) either by airdrop or over tortuous Route 4 from the west coast. Mixed forces of the 58th IMB and the 19th Division held along Route 11, their principal defenses located in the vicinity of Gambang, about five miles south of KP 90. Here, on 29 July, the 66th Infantry, USAFIP(NL), and the 127th Infantry, 32nd Division, finally made contact.

The two regiments next swung eastward into the Agno Valley near Buguias and initiated a drive south along the valley to gain contact with the 126th Infantry, 32nd Division, coming north up the valley from Ambuclao and Bokod. Starting off on 1 August, the 126th Infantry found few signs of the 23rd Division, which had melted away eastward into the inhospitable Cordillera Central.

On the east side of the Shobu Group’s last-stand area, while the 6th Division was making its strongest effort an attack toward Kiangan, elements of the division struck north up Route 4 and reached Banaue on 20 July. Meanwhile, troops of the 11th Infantry, USAFIP(NL), had started south along Route 4 from Bontoc and on 21 July made contact with the 1st Infantry, 6th Division, at Polis Pass, five miles north of Banaue. This contact, coupled with that between USAFIP(NL) and 32d Division units on Route 11 eight days later, marked the complete encirclement of the Shobu Group last-stand area.

The 1st Infantry, 6th Division, and the 11th Infantry, USAFIP(NL), turned east from Banaue along Route 389, on which about 2,500 Japanese of the 103d Division and the 4th Air Division had concentrated in mid-July. The 11th Infantry ultimately made its main effort from the north and east, and, with the 1st Infantry in support, cleared Route 389 by 9 August. The Japanese forced off Route 389 hid in mountains north of that road and east of Route 4 until the end of the war.

Click on images to enlarge.

############################################################################################

Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

############################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Dan Alion – Rock Hill, SC; US Navy, WWII, radio-morse code operator

Gerard Bradley – Richmond, VA; US Navy / USMC, Korea

George Danscak – Munhall, PA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Marion Greene – Atlanta, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 Gunner, 466th Bomb Group

Charles Kaitlin – Boca Raton, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Darrence Lewis – Hazel Park, MI; US Army, WWII, Commander, 738th Tank Battalion

Maika – NETH & USA; US Army, Sgt., 6 Afghanistan tours, 75th Ranger Reg./2nd Batt., Canine Explosive Detection Unit, KIA

Robert McDevitt Jr. – Dayton, OH; USMC, Vietnam

George Parmenter – Great Falls, MT; US Army, WWII, Co. I/163/41st Division

Walter Tokarski – Baltimore, MD; US Navy, WWII

############################################################################################

Gen. Kenney’s report – Reorganization – July 1945

18 July 1945, Okinawa, 90mm AAA-gun emplacement

During the night of 1 July, I found out that the was on Okinawa was not quite over.  Around midnight a party of Japs blundered into a fight with the guards about 50 yards from my tent. I put my pistol on a chair beside the bed.  The shooting died down a little later and I went to sleep.  The next morning, as I was taking off for Manila, Col. ‘ Photo’ Hutchison told me that he had had another battle going on during the night near his HQ.

On July 10th it was announced from Washington that the B-29s in the Marianas would form the 20th Air Force, under Gen. Twining and that those operating from Okinawa would form the 8th Air Force, under Jimmy Doolittle.  The 8th & 20th would together be called the United States Strategic Air Force, with Gen. Spaatz in command.

American soldier, Okinawa

On the same day, Nimitz turned over control of the 7th A.F. to the Far East Air Forces and told the Marine Fighter Wing at Okinawa to operate in conjunction with our (Army) show there.

On the 12th, Lord Louis Mountbatten and a few members of his staff flew from India to Manila for a conference with MacArthur.  We briefed him on the coming Olympic Operation and his staff in turn gave us the details of the proposed British operation to recapture Singapore.

Mountbatten wanted some bombing assistance at that time, if we had any to spare.  MacArthur asked me what I could do.  I gave him the details about the Australians and our B-24s and Mountbatten was quite pleased.

Kyushu Island, July 1945 bombing

All through July we kept moving aircraft into Okinawa from both the 5th and 7th Air Forces.  Generals Whitehead and Tommy White set up their HQ on the island and began the final sweep of Japanese shipping from the Yellow Sea and the Straits of Tusishima, between Japan and Korea.

In conjunction with the B-29 from the Marianas, who were battering the big cities of Japan apart and burning them down, we concentrated our attacks on the island of Kyushu, smashing airdromes, burning up gasoline stocks and wrecking the railway centers, bridges and marshalling yards.

The attacks were being made with a ever-increasing weight, as airdromes were being finished on Okinawa, allowing us to move the aircraft forward from the Philippines and the Marianas.

By the end of July, on an average day, when weather permitted large operations, there would be over 1500 of my airplanes operating along the line from Japan to Formosa to Shanghai to Borneo and the Netherlands East Indies.  Of this number around 600 bombers, strafers and fighters would be attacking targets in Japan itself.

It was a far cry from the days back in 1942, when a raid of 50 or 60 planes was such big news that we boasted about it for days!

Click on images to enlarge.

#############################################################################################

Military Humor – 

Great Lakes Training 1945

From: David Hart at https://mywarjournals.com/

#############################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Connelly – Tulsa, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII / US Navy, Korea

Brian Hawkins – Pasadena, TX; US Army, 143rd/36th Division, medic

Herbert Hill – Shreveport, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 nose gunner

Ellis Lindsey – SC; US Army, 511th/11th Airborne & 504th/82nd Airborne divisions

William Mercantonio – East Orange, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea, TSgt.

Earl Ray – Cadillac, MI; US Army, MP

Maureen Rodgers – London, ENG; British Navy WRENS, Hut 11 decoder, Bletchley Park

Roland Rioux – Vero Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO / Korea, Cuban Missile Crisis

Nicholas Vollweiler – Pleasant Valley, NY; US Army, K-9 instructor, Japan Occupation

Sam Wagner – Tonville, CO; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

#############################################################################################

July 1945 from Gen. Eichelberger

Ge. Robert Eichelberger

On 7 July 1945, General Robert Eichelberger left San Jose, Mindoro, P.I. in a C-47:

Generals Griswold and Byers and a number of other officers were with me.  We came down at Bagabag in 6th Div. territory.  Gen. Hurdis met us and we jeeped to the command post of the 63rd Infantry in the mountains NW on the road to Bontoc.

Luzon airfield

Col. Everett Yon was full of fight and the situation looked good: Yon’s forward elements were withing 200 yards of the hills overlooking a Japanese stronghold at Kiangan, and he expected to take it within a few hours.

There I had my first glimpse of almost naked savages, armed only with spears, who were fighting side by side with our troops.  These were the Ifugaos.  The tribesmen had come down from their villages and thrown in their lot with us.  They were tall, broad-shouldered, splendidly muscled, and despite the cold climate, wore only G-strings.  They carried deerskin packs.

Ifugao Warrior

The first one I met indicated by sign language that he wanted a cigarette.  Since I don’t smoke I couldn’t oblige him.  Col. Yon told me that the Ifugaos were excellent fighters; they were also the best of our native scouts.

My next port of call was the HQ of the 37th Div. at Tuguegarao, where my friend Gen. Bob Beighler met me.  We proceeded to the CP of the 148th Infantry where i had a talk with Col. Delbert Schultz.  The 37th controlled the upper section of the Cagayan Valley and in conjunction with the 11th Airborne, which made a landing at the seaport of Aparri, had seized control of Hwy No. 5 shortly before the 8th Army took over.

Northern Luzon

The job of the 37th was to eliminate by-passed Japanese units, a discouraging job indeed.  This meant going into sections altogether without roads.  The enemy was incapable of offensive action, but the heavy rains aggravated the problem and made it sheer drudgery.

During the next several days, I continued to inspect the troops in the field.  The HQ of the 38th Div., which had been assigned the job of cleaning up central Luzon, was on a ridge only about an hour’s ride east of Manila.  MGen. William Chase met me at Bielson Field and we made the inspection trip to the front together.

Napalm bombing near Ipo Dam

From a high hill, Chase and Gen. Bill Spence pointed out to me the Ipo Dam area and other battlefields of the 38th.  Although the tempo of the fighting was now slowed, 259 Japanese were killed between dawn and dusk and 29 captured.

That evening I wrote gen. MacArthur that I found morale on Luzon very high.  My own morale was high.  I was convinced that the back of the Japanese opposition was broken.  (I might not have been so optimistic if I had known that when IJA Gen. Yamashita finally came out of the mountains, he brought 40,000 of his men with him.)

( This is an example of “mopping-up”)

37th Div. dug-in @ Baguio Cemetery

Click on images to enlarge.

##########################################################################################################

Military Humor – 

“That can’t be no combat man. HE’S looking for a fight!!”

Courtesy of Chris @ Muscleheaded

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

##########################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Norman Christiansen – Des Moines, IA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Army, combat Engineer

Henry Gerhart Jr. – Reading, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Travis Houser – Hampton, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

James Lansdale – Orlando, FL; Civilian, WWII Historian

Charles McDaniel Sr. – Greenwood, IN; US Army, WWII / Korea, 1st Cavalry Div., medic-Chaplin, MSgt, KIA

Richard Murray – Kansas City, KS; US Navy, WWII

DeWitt Parsons – Battle Creek, MI; US Navy, Korea, navigator

William A. Reilly – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

Joseph Ryan – Boston, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Frederick Segrest (aka Eddie Hart) – Phenix City, AL; USMC, WWII, PTO

##########################################################################################################

%d bloggers like this: