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Leyte | First-hand account – Purple Heart Hill

Purple Heart Hill

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.

Japanese woodpecker


“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.

Col. Robert Soule

“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, (Smitty’s unit)..  The bloody battle for Purple Heart Hill had lasted for almost 5 weeks.

11TH AIRBORNE HOSPITAL ON LEYTE

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

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

“It says: ‘I am an American with 94 points and if lost in enemy territory, Please Get Me Home”‘

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Barnett – Philadelphia, PA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Allen J. Blake – Algona, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/503/11 Airborne Division

Anthony Costanzo – Queens, NY; US Army, WWII & Korea

TAPS

Francis L. Coune (102) – Tampa, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 pilot

Bob Dole – Russell, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, Colonel, 10th Mountain Division, Bronze Star, Purple Heart  /  U.S. Senator

Buford H. Dyer – Barberton, OH; US navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

William W. Hail – Los Angeles, CA; US Air Force, Vietnam, Lt. Col. # 553421612, pilot, 1131st Special Activity Sq., MIA (Quang Tri Provence, SV)

James L. Quong – Norman, OK; US Army, Korea, MSgt., Co. D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin, NK)

Mary Schmaelzle – Springfield, MA; Civilian, WWII, Pratt Whitney

Carl A. Scott Jr. – Savannah, GA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Richard A. Umstead Sr. – Chelsea, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, radioman

F. Jackson Worthington – Ontario, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

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6 December 1944 Japanese Paratroopers | Happy Thanksgiving!

IJA paratroopers at the ready

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.

Henry Muller, US Army

 

“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!!”

Japanese paratroopers

“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.

Japanese para attack

“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.

Col. Douglass Quandt

“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.”

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Gen. Robert Eichelberger

This 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.”

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE !!

For an idea of what it was like… (I recommend fast forwarding to 5:50)

 

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO OUR TROOPS

I WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY THANKSGIVING _ WHETHER YOU CELEBRATE THIS HOLIDAY OR NOT
I have done a bunch of Thanksgiving posts over the years – take your pick……

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/?s=thanksgiving

 

🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃

Military Turkey  Humor –

“TAKE YOUR PICK!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lynn Aas (100) – ND; US Army, WWII, ETO, 17th Airborne Division, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Clarissa Churchill – London, ENG; Civilian, WWII, decoder, Ministry of Information

Kenneth R. Foreman – Mount Orab, OH; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co A/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Ben Groesbeck – Meridian, ID; US Army, Korea, 187th Airborne Regiment

Juan F. Gutierrez – Sante Fe, NM; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pfc., 200th Coast Artillery Regiment, KIA (Cabanatan POW Camp, Luzon, P.I.)

John ‘Mike’ Lappano – Spokane, WA; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division, Bronze Star

Mariam L. McNally – New Albany, IN; US Womens Marine Corps, WWII

Jimmy Rowland – Prentiss County, MS; US Army, Korea, PTO,  Pfc. #14299700, Heavy Weapons Co./19/24th Infantry Division, KIA (Kum River, Taejon, SK)

Edward M. Ryan – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pvt. # 12026079, HQ Co/1/105/27th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Saipan)

Ben Skardon (104) – Walterboro, SC; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bataan March survivor  /  Korea, Colonel (Ret. 20 y.), 3-Bronze Stars, 2 -Silver Stars

Arthur Talis – Boston, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Puget Sound

Minoru “Daddy Mike” Yoneda – San Martin, CA; US Navy, Korea & Vietnam (Ret. 33 y.),  / Civilian, Sasebo Naval Base, Japan

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December 1944 Leyte

USS Ward off of Ormac

6 December – the main thrust of Operation Wa on Leyte, P.I. was provided by the Japanese 26th Division, minus the battalion that was attempting to protect Ormoc, but the enemy found it difficult to maintain their schedule given to them by the Manila headquarters.  General Suzuki requested a 2-day delay, but he was denied.

Only 300 Japanese paratroopers of the 16th Division were left after desertions to jump on the Buraen airfield.  The 700 troopers of the 3rd Parachute Regiment, flying in from Luzon, ran into heavy flak and lost 4 planes.  The remaining Japanese

Major Shirai Tsuneharu suiting up for Leyte jump.

aircraft dropped their troopers on the 11th Airborne Headquarters Company.  [Smitty’s unit] (an eye witness story on this will appear next Monday)

8→9 December – 500 more enemy paratroopers were assigned to to jump on an airfield above Ormoc near Highway 2, but they landed 5 miles north of their target.  Col. Mitsui, with poorly armed service units, was dug-in on a high ground position below the city waiting for support.  MGen. A. Bruce’s US 77th Division broke through the defense.  He sent the following message to Corps Commander, John Hodge: “HAVE ROLLED TWO SEVENS IN ORMOC. COME SEVEN, COME ELEVEN.”  [referencing to the 77th; 7th and 11th divisions].

Mortars by Ormac

9 December – two more enemy convoys were enroute to Ormoc Bay.  The first convoy had 3,000 men of the 8th Division and 900 tons of matériel and supplies in 5 transports, 3 destroyers and 2 sub-chasers with an escort of about 30 fighters.  US Marine Corsairs sank 3 transports and then one more was sunk in a combined USMC/Army aircraft effort.

The other convoy of 2 destroyers and 2 transports carried 700 men, tanks, and mortars.  These were spotted by the destroyer Coghlan which proceeded to sink one of the Japanese vessels.  Despite the fact that so many enemy ships were destroyed, a very large number of reinforcements made it to shore, but their effectiveness was hampered by the amount of supplies that went to bottom of the ocean.

Oryoku Maru sinking and POWs abandon ship in Subic Bay. This picture was provided by David Demether.

13 December – 1,800 prisoners at Santo Tomás, Luzon began marching to Pier 7 to board the enemy “hell ship” Oroyoku-Maru.  It was sunk 2 days later near Subic Bay by American carrier aircraft.  Angry Japanese guards shot at the men trying to escape the ship’s sinking hull and those struggling in the water.  Those that made it to shore were sent out on other ships 27 December and 2 January.  Out of the original 1800 Americans, 1,426 perished.

Also on this date, the cruiser USS Nashville and destroyer USS Haraden were damaged by kamikaze pilots.

15→20 December – The Visayan Force [ between Mindanao and Luzon are the Visayan Islands – Cebu, Panay, Negros, Leyte and Samar.], the US 24th Division landed on Mindoro just off the SW coast of Luzon.  The island only had a small garrison, but 4 abandoned airfields that would soon be used by the US Army Air Corps.  The 503rd PRCT came ashore.  They could not jump in due to the weather.

On and over Luzon, US carrier aircraft destroyed 225 enemy aircraft in 3 separate attacks.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Gus M. Betzares – Richmond, VA; USMC, WWII & Korea

Seth F. Beyeler – Fish Haven, ID; USMC, WWII, PTO

Francis DiMarco – Stonington, CT; US Army, WWII, Medic, 117th Evac

A. Linwood Holton Jr. – Big Stone Gap, VA; US Navy, Japanese Occupation, submarine service

Paul Kitagaki – Oakland, CA; US Air Force, radar/electronics

Dow H. Luetscher – Madison, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co L/347/87th Infantry Division

Pacquale Manno – brn: ITA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Fenton D. McVannan – W.Endicott, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO

William O’Donnell IV – Brighton, MI; US Army, 101st Airborne Division

Joseph Pallotta – Cleveland, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO

William Pencak – Adams, TN; US Army, HQ Co/3/511/11th Airborne Division

John Soliz – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Medical/221/11th Airborne Division

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Smitty’s Letter XV “Land”

Native outrigger canoes meet up with a Coast Guard transport.

[Please do not be offended by certain remarks, remember that these letters were written 77 years ago when people lived in another time and another world].

As the ships drew closer to Leyte, the American soldiers already on shore were being hampered by logistical problems which caused a severe delay in capturing the island.  When the 11th A/B division arrived on Bito Beach, General Hodge was finally able to move General Arnold’s 7th division and their plans started to come together.

Leyte activity map | enlarge for detail

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Letter XV                                         Landing                        Somewhere in the Philippines

Dear Mom,

We landed here in the Philippines yesterday morn, but before leaving the ship, the Japs treated us with their honorable (?) presence in the form of bombing planes.  Shore batteries kept hammering at them in the gloom of a misty a.m. and the tracer’s bullets reaching up to the planes made a very pretty but gruesome sight.   The way those tracer shells can pick out the planes you would think that they had a score to settle and just can’t wait to even it.

We landed finally on the beach, being taken to it in those much touted and not highly praised enough landing boats.  How boats can ground themselves  on land the way they do and still get off again unscratched is really a marvel.  Those boys who handle them also deserve a lot of credit and, as Winchell would say, “A great big orchid is due.”

The natives here were real friendly and helpful in a dozen different ways.  They ran up to the landing boats as soon as the bow of the boat sunk its bottom into the beach and helped us carry off our burdensome equipment.  It reminded me of Penn or Grand Central Stations with porters running helter-skelter all over the place.  The only thing missing to make the picture complete were the tell-tale red caps on their heads.

It wasn’t long after landing that we were organized into work groups and sent off to our chores.  Work kept on until we were hours into the night despite the fact that again, Jap planes came over.  I am happy to report that they will not be able to do so again, that is – not the same ones.

During the day we were handed K-rations for our dinner and after the excellent food we had aboard ship, they sure tasted like hell.  Just before dark last night, we were allowed a few moments to ourselves and at once set to work getting our tents erected.  Here again, the native men came in handy helping us to either put up the tents or dig our slit trenches.  Of course they don’t do any of this work for nothing, but for items such as undershirts, trousers, soap or most anything in the line of clothing.

I will write more about the people in a later chapter.  After all, you can’t do well to write about them on so short an acquaintance.  Right now we are busy setting up a camp decent enough to live in.  Having a few minutes to spare in between tents.  I thought I’d write this down before it completely slipped my unrententive and feeble brain.  There goes the whistle calling us back to work now, so until the next ten minute rest period, I’ll close with loads of love and car loads of kisses,

Love, Everett

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Howard R. Belden – Warren County, NY, US Army, Korea, Cpl. # 12107317, HQ Co/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Roger Butts – Portsmouth, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Cook 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Gen. Colin Powell

Elvagine “Gene” Ertzberger – Rainier, WA; Civilian, WWII, shipyard welder

Lorenz D. Haselhofer – Watsonville, CA; US Navy, USS Hancock

Sonny Karcher – Enid, OK; US Army, Cold War

Fred M. Montanari – Westmoreland County, PA; US Air Force, pilot

Larry E. Murphy – E. St. Louis, IL; US Air Force & US Army, Cmdr. Sgt. Major (Ret. 36 y.)

Steven L. Nolin – New Brockton, AL; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 188/11th Airborne Division

Henry G. Piper Sr. – Englewood, NJ; US Army, WWII, APO (Alaska)

Colin Powell – NYC, NY; US Army, Vietnam / General (Ret. 35 y.), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Sec. of State

Edward Souza – New Bedford, MA; US Air Force

James Wallace – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt., B-24 waist gunner, POW (escaped)

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The Showers

Unfortunately, I do not remember which island this story occurred on.

Smitty did not write home about his experience with the showers. .. BUT,

He was coming back into camp after having a nice cold shower.  He walked back with a towel wrapped around his middle and held it closed with his left hand.  The jungle appeared quiet except for the buzzing of the insects whizzing around him.  [The New Guinea “salute” is said to actually be the act of swatting the insects!)

He said, “You know how annoying just one mosquito can be when it’s hovering by your ears.  This was like a swarm and I tried like hell to use my right hand to swat them away from my face.  When I began to approach our tents there was not one man to be seen and I couldn’t imagine where they all went.  As I got closer I could hear the G.I.s yelling and they were waving their arms as they crouched in their tents, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying.  Besides, I was too preoccupied with swatting the bugs that seemed the size of half-dollars. 

“When I got back to my tent complaining about how aggravating the bugs on the island were, I asked them what all the hooting and hollering was all about.  All they kept doing was checking my skin and asking if I was alright. 

Somebody yelled, ‘Those were no jungle bugs — that’s shrapnel!’  When they discovered that I had been hit, someone happily said that I could put in for a Purple Heart.”

Sea Bees’ showers in the Pacific

After a good laugh between Dad and I, I asked if he ever put in for the medal.  He laughed again and said that he was too embarrassed.  “For one thing I felt stupid for not realizing what was going on and second, I didn’t want to be grouped into being one of those guys that put in for a Purple Heart every time they nicked themselves shaving.  It would be like taking something away from the men who actually did get wounded and deserved the medal.”

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

Sad Sack Shower

Sad Sack

The funnier side of Army life – Pride in one’s work!

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Farewell Salutes – 

John G. Bock Jr. – Lincoln, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3167160, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Martin Gelb (101) – Brooklyn, NY; US Army / OSS, WWII, ETO

Final Mission

Carl H. Graham – Hackensack, NJ; US Navy, Korea, USS Boyd & Yarnall

George Grater – Hoboken, NJ; US Army, Korea, 1st Lt.

Charles E. Hiltibran – Cable, OH; US Army, Korea, Cpl., 1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Thomas A. Lipscomb Jr. – New Orleans, LA; US Army, Korea

George J. Palermo – Chestnut Hill, PA; US Air Force, Korea, Cryptographer

George Psihas – Detroit, MI; US Army, West Point Class of ’51, Korea, M1 Abrams Tank trailblazer

Donald Rumsfeld – Winnetka, IL; US Navy, pilot  /  Congressman, NATO, White House Chief of Staff, Sec. of Defense

George R. Russum – Lake Worth, FL; US Navy, USS Forrestal

Calvin Shepherd – Inkster, MI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Montford Point Marines

Francis W. Wiemerslage – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt. # 16146369, B-17 ball turret gunner, 549/385/8th Air Force, KIA (Dresden, GER)

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From the US Navy helicopter crash off Mexico

James P. Buriak – Salem, VA; US Navy, Helicopter crewman 2nd Class

Sarah F. Burns – Severna Park, MD; US Navy, Corpsman 2nd Class

Bradley A. Foster – Oakhurst, CA; US Navy, pilot, Lt.

Paul R. Fridley – Annandale, VA; US Navy, pilot, Lt.

Bailey J. Tucker – St. Louis, MO; US Navy, Corpsman 3rd Class

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DON’T KNOW HOW I MISSED THIS DRAWING OF SMITTY’S FOR LAST WEEK’S POST

( I’M CLAIMING A SENIOR MOMENT…)

Latrines, by Smitty, (Everett Smith)

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Letter VII Land

native hut in New Guinea

For a period of five months the 11th Airborne Division would receive jungle warfare and intensified combat unit ground training in the primitive land of jungles and mountains and thatched huts and the native population fondly called, Fuzzy Wuzzies.  The Papua brigades and Allied forces, that fought in what constituted the Cartwheel Operations before the troopers arrived, made this landing possible.

The Dobodura area that the 11th A/B would make their home was inherited from the 5th Air Force.  The first order of business was for the 408th Quartermaster trucks to deliver the pyramidal tents.

Smitty near Lae, New Guinea

 

 

Letter VII                                                          Land               6/8/44

 

  Dear Mom,    

Well, here we are on the island of New Guinea.  From what we can see if it so far, I know we’ll never go hungry as the coconut trees are as thick as a swarm of bees.

We started for our area in trucks after all the rumors said we’d walk and we “Oh!” and Ah’d” all throughout the trip.  Not wanting to show the natives here how smart we are, the driver proceeded on his own when lo and behold — where were we?  I don’t know, no one knows, so right away we all knew that wherever we were — that wasn’t where we were supposed to be. 

Now, of course, we weren’t to blame, as after all, this is a strange and new place to us and they didn’t give us a Socony road map or a compass reading, so no matter — drive on — come what may.  Of course, some large and strange appearing trees which grew in the road had different ideas and no matter how hard we hit them, they consistently set us back.  How they ever managed to find a road to grow in is beyond me, but then they were here before us.  Naturally, after the way they treated our truck, we gave them a wide berth, eventually leaving the road al together.

When after what seemed like hours, we finally found our area, much to the delight of the lower hind part of our anatomy.  Then, our shoulders and backs had to haul our bags around until we found our tents.  This was done very systematically: someone had the idea of first asking the captain just where we belonged and he proceeded to take us there.  We could see at once that this place was no place for us and got right down to thinking up goldbricking alibis.

Work here is the main word we soon found out, and might I add we are all still trying to duck, but it seems that as soon as one finds a spot in the woods, oops I mean jungle, the tree-chopper-downers come along and there you are not only up to your neck in work, but also find out that now your haven is so exposed as to make it useless again as a hideout.

You might wonder what all this labor is about and also expect to find out in this chapter or letter, but no, it shall never be.  I’m saving that for the next installment, which I’m sure you will be breathlessly awaiting. 

 Regards to all.

Love, Your son,  Everett

Quartermaster Corps collar disc

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Barno – Nesquehoning, PA; US Navy, WWII  /  USMC, Korea, Sgt.

Wesley J. Brown – Helena, MT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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

Robert F. England – MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, “Hump” pilot  /  Korea, 1st Lt.

Kenneth G. Hart (100) – Stanwood, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Floyd D. Helton – Somerset, KY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, Fireman, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Donald Johnson (100) – Lake Orion, MI; US Navy, WWII, USS Takanis Bay (CVE-89)

Henry J. Kolasinski – Clayton, DE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

Charles E. Lee – McLennan County, TX; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/34/24th Infantry Division, Field Lineman, KIA (Taejon, SK)

Thelma Miller – Akron, OH; Civilian, WWII, Goodyear Aircraft Corp., F4U construction

Robert Read (101) – London, ENG; Royal Navy, submarine service / Korea, Lt. Comdr.

Merle Smith Jr. – New London, CT; US Coast Guard, Vietnam, Cutter Comdr., Coast Guard Academy graduate Class of ’66

John J. Trumbley – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co. H/137th Infantry, Sgt.

Stanley Wilusz – Holyoke, MA; US Merchant Marines, WWII  /  US Army, Korea, Sgt.

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My week went well……

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The Neptune Society – Letter IV “Still At Sea In A Quandary” – GP Interview

Pacific Ocean, rough seas off New Zealand

When Smitty and the other troopers passed the equator, as per naval tradition, the ship’s crew donned their apparel of King Neptune and his court in preparation of handing the “Pollywogs” (the soldiers) their certificates of crossing.  The Royal Barber tried to cut the hair of the crew-cut troopers and the Royal Executioner paddled a backside with an oar if the receiving line moved too closely to a snail’s pace. (which one can imagine was every G.I. derriere that went by!) Smitty was one to really enjoy this sort of tomfoolery — even if it was with the navy!  The water damage you see to Smitty’s certificate (pictured below) is one of the reasons I began to make a facsimile of his scrapbook onto the computer.  I have re-typed the contents of the certificate to show the humor involved — despite a war.

IT Read….

To All Sailors, Marines, Whatever Ye Maybe: Greetings: and to all Mermaids, Whales, Sea Serpents, Porpoises, Sharks, Eels, Dolphins, Skates, Suckers, Crabs, Lobsters and all other Living Things of the Sea: Know ye, that on this June 15 ’44 in Latitude 00000 and Longitude Cape Mendacia there appeared within Our Royal Domain the bound Southwestward for the Equator, the South Sea Islands, New Zealand and Australian ports.

BE IT REMEMBERED That the said Vessel and Officers and Crew thereof have been inspected and passed on by Ourselves and Royal Staff: AND BE IT KNOWN By all ye Sailors, Marines, Landlubbers, Soldiers and all others who may be honored by his presence, that Pollywog Everett A. Smith 32816491  Having been found worthy to be numbered as one of our Trusty Shellbacks he has been duly initiated into the SOLEMN MYSTERIES OF THE ANCIENT ORDER OF THE DEEP  Be It Further Understood:  That by Virtue of the power invested in me I do hereby command all my subjects to show honor and respect to him wherever he may be.  Disobey the Order under Penalty of Royal Displeasure. (bottom left) Given under our band and seal this Davey Jones, His Majesty’s Scribe – (bottom right)  Neptunus Rex, His Servant – the signature appears to be Gregory Cullen

equator crossing certificate

Smitty’s Letter IV

Letter IV                                                                                    Still at sea in a quandary

Dear Mom,  Well, here I am again as promised.  Yesterday we had a little something different to sea besides the sea.  Notice that I’m getting so that I can only spell  the sea when I mean to write see.  Early in the morning we had the pleasure of seeing another ship and must say it sure made one feel good.  Why it should though I can’t say unless it is the thought that someone else is having it just as tough.  Guess there is some truth in the saying, “Misery loves company.”  We also had the pleasure of watching some islands in the far off distance.  I won’t try to describe them to you, as that would be too much to expect to pass. (Censorship)  You will kindly take notice that I used the words “pleasant” and “pleasure,” if I keep that up you might get the idea this is getting to be that kind of voyage.  Some amusing things do happen though, such as the boys sleeping out on the deck getting caught in the rain or some clumsy ox slipping and sliding his way along the boat.  By the way, I forgot to tell you that we get the regular news everyday in a printed form resembling a newspaper.  Also music by record sounds tinny, but anything out here is good.

You can readily see I haven’t much ambition for writing today, which reminds me    Matter of fact, the way I feel right now, I don’t care much whether I do or not.  Well, that is all for today’s report on nothing, so with all my love, I am your ever obedient son,  Everett

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Smitty and his mother in artwork courtesy of, Priorhouse.wordpress.com/

From GP – Yvette, from Priorhouse, was kind enough to ask me for an interview for Memorial Day.  I was flabbergasted and honored!

I do hope you will go on over and take a peek, I would greatly appreciate it!  Priorhouse

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Burkle Carmichael – Ocala, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO,POW Stalag IV-B

Alex Coran – brn: ITL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Carl M. Ellis – Hope, AK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Myles W. Esmay – Utica, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI, !st Lt., Co B/236th Engineer Battalion w/ Merrill’s Marauders, KIA (Myitkyina, Burma)

Gavin MacLeod – Pleasantville, NY; US Air Force  /  Actor

Theresa Morris – Fairfield, CT; Civilian, WWII, Remington munitions inspector

Brian T. O’Connor – Rahway, NY; US Army, Vietnam, 5th Special Forces

Ralph Palmer (100) – Florence, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 450/15th Air Force, B-24 bombardier, DFC

Jennings “Bill” Rich – Bainbridge, GA; US Navy, WWII, Korea + Vietnam, USS Boxer, Pickaway + Hornet, MChief Petty Officer (Ret. 20 y.)

Clarence A. Robinson Jr. – Vienna, VA; USMC, Korea, Sgt. / Vietnam, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart (Ret. 20 y.)

Matsuo “Jack” Tominaga – Shelley, ID; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT

John D. VanPatten – Ft. Wayne, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Lester E. “Tosie” Wawner (101) – Clifton Forge, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO + ETO, Machinist 1st Class, USS Morris / US Coast Guard (Ret.)

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Letter III – SMITTY, Somewhere At Sea At A Loss

May 1944 – US troops relax laying cards while a troopship takes them to their deployment.

From my father’s description of his transport ship out of San Francisco and the approximate number of soldiers that were aboard, I can speculate that it was a Heywood class ship.  As the ship lumbered out to the ocean swells, many of the young men took their final glance of the USA.  Smitty thought that his most boring time in the army was while he sailed on this cruise, although he did well in learning how to play cards – as did many other G.I.’s.

USS Heywood

As they boarded, the ship’s crew immediately began enforcing the security procedures.  All portholes and hatches were covered and no lights were allowed after dusk.  The heat below deck would become intolerable.  The arrival of the “ditty bags” filled with toiletries, cigarettes, gum and a harmonica brightened their spirits; although many of the mouth organs were sent flying overboard when the noise made from the tin-eared soldiers became too much for the ship’s officers to endure.  This cruise would take 28 days.

 

Letter III                                                  Somewhere at sea at a loss

 

Dear Mom,  

 We have been on this tub for quite some time now and I must say that although the army doesn’t go to any great pains making you comfortable, they sure do go to extremes making it unpleasant.   I can’t tell you as much as I would like to about the  trip or what we are doing.  One reason is that we don’t know where the heck we are anyway and as for what we are doing, well anything we might like to do would be stopped sooner than it got started.  It has gotten so that now we have to play cards, if money is displayed, down in the hold.  Seems as though the sea gulls over this ocean are the pious type and the sight of men gambling is revolting — or they think it is food.

To try and describe the food or the mess hall would curtail the use of profanity the like of which I wouldn’t attempt to use.  To call it food in the first place is flattery at its best.  Mess Hall is very appropriate — it is some MESS.  This is the first time in my life that I can truthfully say I dread the thought of eating.  We are supposed to tell you that on board ship we can purchase cigarettes for 4 1/2 cents a pack, also candy and a load of other stuff at cost price.  We can also buy bottles of coca cola, but the blame stuff is so hot that we are of the opinion that loaded down with this coke in our stomachs, we might be used as depth charges if a sub should show up.  We did receive free, with no strings attached, a bag full of necessary things from the Red Cross.  It really was worthwhile going after.

Where we might be bound for is still a very big question that will no doubt be answered only when we finally arrive there.  After all, if we knew, we might tell it to the stars and that would be just awful.  I realize this doesn’t sound like a very pleasant letter, but then you must take into consideration this isn’t a very pleasant trip.  None of those romantic moonlit nights.  Well, that is all for today, so until later on when I will be back to add to this,

I’ll say so long for now and all my love,  Everett

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Military Humor –

“Spud peeling machine? Yes, you’re the latest model.” Navy News cartoon # 21

“Chow down at the mess.” USS Darter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Harvey Alexander – East Dennis, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/187/11th Airborne Division

Heren Cabacar – Portsmouth, VA; US Army, WWII & Korea, Death March survivor, POW

RESPECT

Paul C. Charvet – Yakima County, WA; US Navy, Vietnam, Lt. Commander, pilot, Attack Squadron 215, USS Bon Homme Richard, KIA (Phuoc Long Prov.)

Charles Hagemeister – Lincoln, NE; US Army, Vietnam, medic, HQ Co./1/5/1st Cavalry Division, Medal of Honor

Edgar Harrell – Clarksville, TN; USMC, WWII, PTO, USS Indianapolis survivor

Harry Holmes – USA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, fireman 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

John King – Scranton, PA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Lloyd “Babe” Lashaway – Liberty Center, WI; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

Burl Mullins – Dorton, KY; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Heavy Mortar Co./3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

M.Bernadine Pierce – Herrin, IL; Civilian, WWII, “Rosie” at Mc Donald Douglas

Victor Sharp – Christchurch, NZ; NZ Army # 446826, WWII, PTO, SSgt., “Z” Special Unit

Peter Tarantino – Woodbridge, NJ; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

John Wilstrup – Seminole, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Boxer

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Camp Stoneman conclusion

POE Camp Stoneman

This photograph above was removed from a New York newspaper.  The sign above the entry states: “Through these portals pass the best damn soldiers in the World.”  The clipping beside it indicates shipping out dates.   The 11th A/B departed May 5, 1944.   Smitty said that this cruise would be the most boring part of his service, although he did become quite adept at playing cards during this time.

Smitty was unable to tell his mother that he and the 11th A/B would be shipping out the following day – destination and mission unknown.  The men cruised from Suisan Bay into San Pablo Bay, into San Francisco Bay and under the Oakland Bridge to Oakland Mole where the Red Cross passed out coffee and donuts while they boarded the transport ships.  So … back under the Oakland Bridge, thru San Francisco Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge to the open Pacific.

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Letter II                                                                                                                                                                                      Thursday 5/4/44

Dear Mom,

     There really isn’t much to write about as I’ve told you most everything on the phone.  By the way, when you receive your bill for the month let me know just how much these calls cost.

I heard from *Harley yesterday and it seems that he wants something to do and they just won’t give him anything.  They have now made him landscape sergeant and I can just see him pulling weeds and taking care of flowers.  If he should ever get his load on, he’ll nip out the flowers and let the weeds alone.  I haven’t written to Woods yet, but give me time.  I’ll get around to it before long.

We have to police up the area now, so will leave you for a while.  Be back before long. — Hello again.  We no sooner pick up the old cigarette butts and paper than some jerk behind you drops one so that cleaning up is getting to be a problem.  Policing up is what is known as body bending exercise, head down, backsides pointing to the sky.

Well mom, that is all there is for now so take care of yourself and give my regards to all. 

All my love, Everett

*  Harley was a friend from back home in Broad Channel, now in the Army.

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Current News – 

I hope all have been showing their thanks during Military Appreciation Month this year and will have a safe and commemorative Memorial Day on 31 May 2021…. and everyday!

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hugh R. Alexander – USA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt. Commander, USS Oklahoma, Silver Star, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Jack Barnes – Haskell, OK; US Navy, WWII, Vietnam, Senior Chief (Ret. 23 y.)

Arlington Cemetery

Leonard H. Crump – Indianapolis, IN; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Edward Geary – Tampa, FL; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Henry L. Helms – Colleran, AL; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

John Knapp – Ottawa, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, ETO

Douglas Lowell – Pagosa Springs, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO, 97th Infantry Division, Bronze Star

Billy McDonell – CA & TX; US Army, Vietnam, 3/506/101st Airborne Division

Rosie – Annapolis, MD; US Coast Guard, Petty Officer 1st Class, Annapolis Station canine mascot,( her watch is over)

Gene Podulka – Glenview, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, weather forecaster

Robert Tatje – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Combat Engineers

Richard Zeeff – Grand Rapids, MI; US Navy, WWII, aviation

 

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Camp Polk

Entrance to Camp Polk

It took 22 trains and one week to transport the proud and cocky division to Camp Polk in the west-central area of Louisiana.  This was the home of the armored forces and it would not take long for the two units to clash.  But first, the 11th A/B planned to enjoy the improved living conditions and the 3.2 beer.  They found time to “hit the town” and often it was a place called “Scotty’s,” just outside of Southern Pines.

Camp Polk 1944

The tank units, who called Camp Polk their home, did not take kindly to the new finely tuned troopers who were in the best shape of their lives (and they knew it!).  The 11th A/B  would often “unboot” the tankers when they were in town, forcing them to return to base barefoot and find their footwear neatly lined up in their barracks.

building a pontoon boat in Calcasieu Swamp

Beginning Jan. 10, the men underwent harsh training in preparation for the tests at the hands of the Third Army.  The Louisiana Maneuvers began Feb. 5 with the troopers bivouacked near Hawthorne, LA.  There were 4 tactical maneuvers lasting 3 days each.  First, they jumped and marched immediately after.  Then they attacked and defended using an attack sequence of “flags & umpires.”  Finally, the “enemy” broke through and they would retreat.  The weather in the Calcasieu Swamp was snow, hail, sleet and enough rain to swallow a jeep.  The men joked that the camp should be a naval base.  On Feb. 20, the 11th airborne division took and passed their infantry tests.

Everett Smith w/ unknown buddy, Camp Polk

About this time, Gen. Swing was pleased to be told that the troopers were being sent to the Pacific Theater and MacArthur would consider the unit his “secret weapon.”  This turned out to be one reason for the lack of newspaper coverage for the division until they landed in the Philippines.  I discovered this after an extensive search in the Australian library and newspaper archives.

Camp Polk

The 11th was restricted to base for one month.  Swing decided the men should travel to their POE (Port of Exit/Entry) Camp Stoneman, CA incognito as Shipment # 1855 in an effort to bypass the Inspector General’s men.  Orders were to look and act as a “straight-leg” unit; ALL paratrooper I.D. and clothing to be stowed away.

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News from home:  The Banner (Broad Channel newspaper sent to servicemen) reports:  NY Governor Dewey signed a bill that would allow fishermen of Jamaica Bay to shoot an unlimited amount of eels, but the shooting had to be done with bow and arrow.  Smitty’s mom says:  everyone is still trying to figure that one out.

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Fellow blogger, Carl D’Agostino at “i know i made you smile”, sent me his father’s pictures and information.  Arthur D’Agostino had been with the 8th Armored Division.  They were stationed at Camp Campbell, KY until 1943 when they were moved to Camp Polk, LA to prepare for combat.  The division was sent to the European Theater on 5 December 1943, but Mr. D’Agostino was in recovery from surgery and was spared the journey.  Carl’s blog can be found HERE.

Arthur D’Agostino

Unfortunately, the world lost  Arthur R. D’Agostino, 97. when he passed away March 17, 2021. Served 8th Armored Division March 1943 – September – 1944. T-Sgt. Survived by his son, Carl, two grandchildren and 4 great children. An honest, upright, kind and generous man to all and the best father a son could ever hope for.

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Personal Note – I have recently noticed that I have lost links to blogs I follow.  I can not imagine how it happened and I have recovered a few – BUT I do not know how many others this has happened to.  Please contact me if I have not been on your site the past few weeks!!

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Military Humor from WWII’s Camp Polk – 

Click on to enlarge.

Drill Instructor

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Farewell Salutes – 

Chester Balinski – Highland Heights, OH; US Army, WWII / USMCR

Harold Bates – Rush Center, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Bobbie Ray Daniels (17) – Bedford, VA; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co. F/2/5/1st Cavalry Division, KIA (Waegwan, So. Korea

Hubert Faure (106) – Neuvic, FRA; French Commandoes, WWII, ETO, Chief Warrant Officer, 1st Battalion, Fusiliers

Abigail Jenks – Gansevoort, NY; US Army, Spc., 1/319 Airborne Field Artillery/3rd Brigade Combat Team

Susanne Kostelnik – Dearborn, MI; Civilian, WWII, teacher at Willow Run Air Force School

Walter Mondale – Ceylon, MN; US Army, Korea / US Senator, Vice-President & Ambassador to Japan

Clayton Schenkelberg (103) – Carroll, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Pearl Harbor survivor, (Ret. 30 y.)

Bernie Sippel – Morningside, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Capt., C-46/C-47 pilot, 64/433rd Troop Transport/ 5th Air Force

Wallace Taylor – Louisville, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, MSgt. / Korea, 38th Ordnance Co., Colonel

Ernest N. Vienneau – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt., B-17 co-pilot, 340/97 BG/15th Air Force, KIA (Maribor, YUGO

KRI Nanggala 402

In honor of the 53 souls lost when the Nanggala went down below the waves.  May their final voyage be on eternal peaceful seas.

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