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Smitty & the 11th Airborne in Japan

Smitty’s, Broad Channel, NY

Just as General Douglas MacArthur said to Gen. Robert Eichelberger that it was a long road to Tokyo, so it was for Smitty. Yes, the stretch from Broad Channel to Camp MacKall and finally Atsugi Airfield was a long and arduous road, but here, the 11th Airborne Division arrives in Japan to begin the Occupation and to help start the rebuilding of a country.

With the initial arrival of the division, rarely was a female between the ages of 8 and 70 seen on the streets. The Japanese had heard their government’s propaganda for years as to the American looting and raping, so they were understandably afraid of the conquering troops. But many were confused about the peaceful attitude of the soldiers and a member of the 511th regiment was stopped one day by a Japanese officer, he asked, “Why don’t you rape, loot and burn? We would.” The trooper answered that Americans just don’t do that.

11th A/B guarding the New Grand Hotel

With the New Grand Hotel surrounded by troopers, the manager and his staff bowed to Gen. MacArthur and his party and directed them to their suites. Tired and hungry from their long flight, the Americans went to the dining room and were served steak dinners. Gen. Whitney remembered wanting to take MacArthur’s plate to make certain it hadn’t been poisoned. When he told the general his concern and intentions, MacArthur laughed and said, “No one can live forever.”

The hotel would become his headquarters and later that evening, MacArthur told his staff, “Boys, this is the greatest adventure in military history. Here we sit in the enemy’s country with only a handful of troops, looking down the throats of 19 fully armed divisions and 70 million fanatics. One false move and the Alamo would look like a Sunday school picnic.” (The fact that nothing happened, I believe, said quite a bit about Japanese integrity.)

Atsugi Airfield, Japan 1945

The division Command Post was moved from the Atsugi Airfield to the Sun Oil Compound in Yokohama. This compound had about 15 American-style homes complete with furniture, dishes, silver and linens. The senior staff officers were not so fortunate. They were put up in warehouses on the docks, often without heat.

Smitty @ Sun Oil

On the reverse side of this photo, Smitty wrote: “A picture of the General’s gang taken in the living room at Yokohama. Reading left to right – baker, first cook, Mess Sergeant, me headwaiter and on the floor, second cook. Those glasses you can see were always full. You can’t beat this Japanese beer.”

Smitty (2nd from left) and rest of the crew

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In the Philippines, the Japanese emissary General Kawabe, finished their surrender talks. Kawabe’s aide, Second Lt. Sada Otake, introduced himself to a Nisei G.I. standing guard outside. The guard, in response, said his name was Takamura. Otake said he had married a Nisei by the same name and did he had a sister named Etsuyo? The guard nodded and Otake said, “I’m her husband. Look me up in Japan.” And the brothers-in-law shook hands. (Small world or fate?)

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Tokyo Rose – on the air

On 1 September, newsmen Harry Brundige and Clark Lee, with the help of a Japanese newsman, located Tokyo Rose with her husband in their hotel, the Imperial. Brundige offered her $2,000 for an exclusive interview for “Cosmopolitan” magazine. She agreed and together they typed out 17 pages of notes. The editor of the magazine was so astounded that Brundige had made a deal with a traitor that he rejected the story. The notes were handed over to Lee, who wrote his own version of the story for the International News Service.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John F. Aranyosi – Hammond, LA; US Army, WWII & Korea, Sgt. (Ret. 22 y.)

J.D. Bishop – Anniston, AL; US Army, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

Final Mission

Try A. Charles (103) – DeLeon, LA; US Merchant Marines, WWII, ETO, radioman/medic

Lionel J. Desilets (100) – Paradise Hill, CAN; RC Army, WWII

William H. Flowers (100) – Cambridge, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-25 flight instructor

Guy J. George – Barre, VT; US Army, WWII, CBI

William F. Gusie – IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fire Controlman 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Vernon Hermann – Seward, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Pharmacist’s Mate / Korea, Observer Corps

Marvin Krauss – Redding, CT; US Navy, WWII, Corpsman

Richard M. Marshall – Gilbert, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

A.N. Perry – Surfside, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, LST radioman

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Operation Downfall – part one

Plans for Japan – click to enlarge

The original idea for the invasion of Japan was approved in July 1944 and received constant, precise detailing up until the actual signing of the surrender. Operation Downfall was broken into two separate plans, Operation Olympic which would be followed by Operation Coronet.

With all the devastation already incurred on Japan, a forceful occupation would still be very costly. The Japanese Army controlled the government and their wish was a fight down to the last man, woman and child. Later on, members of that army stated that it would have been an all out suicide effort of every person in Japan to fight to the death.

Women pose for propaganda poster as “beachfront kamikazes”

Operation Olympic, which included 750,000 troops were to land on Southern Kyushi 1 November 1945. In the first wave, Army, Navy and Marine personnel – 436,486; the second wave to hold 356,902. (How they managed to be so specific is way over my head.) The air support would total 22,160. The D-Day Operation Overlord would have paled in comparison and this led the Joint Chiefs of Staff to agree that this rendered Russia’s involvement unnecessary.

MacArthur’s estimations of casualties and wounded that he sent to Washington were judged by the invasion of Luzon. Gen. “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell sent his report based on the Okinawa battles; these were much higher.

While Europe’s “Overlord” had beach codes such as: Omaha, Utah, Sword and Gold, “Olympic” had a variety of automobiles for the beaches that were then grouped by type. Gen. Krueger’s Sixth Army, that included the 11th Airborne Division, was scheduled to land at Miyazaki, the eastern prefecture of Kyushu, the third largest island of Japan. The forty-mile long shallow beach areas were coded as ‘Chevrolet’, ‘Chrysler’ and ‘Cord.’ (Highlighted sections on map above.) At the time, there were approximately 126,000 Japanese troops in that zone. Even after both atomic bombs were dropped, the Sixth Army was expected to have 15,000 casualties.

MacArthur had wanted to keep Gen. Eichelberger close to him and direct the operations since his record with the 11th A/B on Luzon was so efficient. As had been mentioned previously, the five-star general felt that Gen. Krueger had led a rather undistinguished campaign thus far.

Jeep stockpile

The itemized tons of materiel listed in the plans grew beyond comprehension. P-51 Mustang fighters were shipped to Guam still in their crates. Stocking grew on Tinian, Saipan, Samar, Luzon, Hawaii, the Marianas, the Carolines and the west coast of the U.S. (just to name a few). The logistics could only be explained by experts.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lawrence D, Adkisson – Wichita, KS; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Maude Bourassa – Durand, IL; Civilian, WWII, Chevrolet Tank Plant

John Collier (102) – Newberry, SC; USMC, WWII, PTO, Sgt, Major, POW / Korea (Chosin Few)

Richard Friday – Washington DC; US Army, WWII, ETO,Co. H/398/100th Division, Silver Star, Purple Heart

Robert Harrell – Morristown, TN; US Army, WWII, Signal Corps

Louis Iauco (101) – Syracuse, NY; US Army, WWII

John Karakiozis – Clarksburg, WV; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

John Caldwell McLean – Port Elgin, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, gunner, Halifax bomber “Willie the Wolf”, Swordfish Sq. 415

John Pluhacek – Omaha, NE; US Army, WWII

Eunice Salmon (102) – Clinton, MA; US Navy WAVE, WWII, nurse

Jane Winstone – Whanganui, NZ; British ATA, WWII, pilot, KIA (1944)

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Making a Jump on Aparri, Luzon

Jump on Aparri

As the ground races up to meet the troopers, they see the tall, thick fields of the sharp kunai grass, flooded rice paddies, carabao ruts and bomb craters – all would prove dangerous. The Task Force would lose 7%, two men killed and 70 wounded as they landed in 25 mph winds. The battle-hardened paratroopers collected their flame throwers, howitzers and rifles from the gliders and reassembled with “Espirit de Corps.”

Aparri jump

The 11th Airborne battled the Shabu Forces on a 75 mile hike in 120 degree heat to connect up with the Connolly Task Force. The combined goal was to prevent the enemy from escaping into the Cagayan Valley and out to sea. Lt. Col. Burgess met Gen. Beightler, on 26 June, and received a rather snide remark about how his men had saved the 11th A/B. Burgess became quite red-faced and replied that he was under orders to save the 37th Division. Gen. Swift, standing off to one side, laughed and said, “Well, you SOUND like one of Swing’s boys.” (referring to General Joe Swing).

11th A/B Div. drops in Aparri, Luzon, P.I.

The Gypsy Task Force marched away to the 37th’s Headquarters to request C-47s to transport the unit back to Lipa. Burgess was denied and told to countermarch to Aparri and have the trucks take them south to Manila. That would mean they would still need to march another 55 miles from Manila to Lipa. Instead, the men bribed the C-47 pilots with Japanese swords, guns and various other paraphernalia in exchange for a flight back. (Necessity is the mother of invention.)

Bold headlines exploded in the Australian newspapers: U.S. Paratroopers Land In Northern Luzon – “After the 11th A/B Division made their air-borne landing near Aparri on June 23rd., using their gliders for the first time, carrying howitzers, jeeps and mobile equipment. Each trooper jumped with 100 pounds of gear strapped to his body.”
In the 26 June 1945 issue of The Army News – “On Saturday, from 600 feet into paddy fields, the 11th Airborne dropped near the port of Aparri in a surprise move against the Japanese forces in northern Luzon. They used their gliders for the first time in the southwest Pacific…”

Aparri, North Luzon

Gen. Joseph M. Swing

3 July, General Swing made an official note stating that he had implored the higher echelon of the Sixth Army two months previous with a plan to drop the entire 11th Airborne Division onto northern Luzon back when Gen. Krueger’s men were having so much trouble with the Japanese in Balete Pass. He expressed his frustration that his own plan to attack Aparri had gone unheeded. The Japanese had been given the opportunity to withdraw just enough to unite with reinforcements.

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Military Humor – 

CAPTION THIS? WHAT COLD THE ARMY POSSIBLY BEEN UP TO?

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Farewell Salutes –

Harold Allen – Waverly, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Ardeen Bauch – Quincy, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman 1st Class

Aleutians, 1943

Andrew Coy – Pure Air, MO; US Army, Vietnam, 5th Special Forces, Mike Force Unit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, (Ret. 25 y.)

Conrad ‘Billy’ Edwards Jr. – Bladenboro, NC; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

Rodean Elmstrand – Hetland, SD; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

John W. Kohout – Ft. Myers, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Simplicio Magno – LaTorre, PI; USMC, Vietnam, Purple Heart

David McCullough – Pittsburgh, PA; Civilian, Pulitzer Award Historian

William Porteous – Plymouth, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co/511/11th Airborne Division

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Getting Leave on Australia!

Brisbane 1945

8 June 1945, Cpl. Everett Smith found himself and four others from the division on leave in Australia and Smitty was determined to have a good time! Those that went to Brisbane on the same orders for TDY were:
Lt. Col. Francis W. Regnier MC HQ 11th A/B Div.
Major George K. Oliver INF HQ 11th A/B Div.
T Sgt. Manuel C. DeBeon Jr. 187th Glider Infantry
Tec 4 Beverly A. Ferreira HQ 11th A/B Div.
The orders were signed by Major E.W. Wyman Jr., Adjutant General

Townsville, Queensland

My father never told me very much about his R&R and probably for a good reason. (For one, my mother was always around listening.).  He did say that when he first arrived in Australia, he wanted a haircut and a shave. While the barber was working on him, he remarked that the pores in Smitty’s nose appeared enlarged. My father answered, “You spend five months in the jungles of New Guinea and see what your nose looks like.” Dad said after that, his money was no good. Everyone in the barbershop made such a fuss over him that he never got a word in edgewise. They were so extremely grateful to anyone who helped to stop the Japanese. Smitty did always tell me he wished he could make a trip back there; he thought Australia and her people were great, but sadly, he never did.

Perhaps the young lady, Joan, was the reason Smitty wouldn’t talk about his time on leave.

Joan

With his thoughts still focused on his R&R in Australia, Everett “Smitty” Smith landed back at Lipa City, P.I. only to discover that a mission was scheduled. The last remaining organized Japanese group, the Shabu Forces, were hold up in the northeast corner of Luzon and General Swing had organized the Gypsy Task Force to take them out. On his orders, this unique unit would include “all Camp MacKall veterans.” This would include men from the 187th Infantry, the 511th, the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, a platoon from the 127th Engineers and two platoons from B Company. Despite Gen. Krueger’s disapproval, Lt. Col. Henry Burgess, now 26 years old, would be the commanding officer. (Smitty was at the ancient age of 30, one of the oldest paratroopers besides one other soldier and a few of the officers.) Col. Lahti (31) would be CO for the reserve unit.

We’ll have more on Aparri, Luzon next week.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Rex Allender – Cedar, IA; US Merchant Marines, WWII  /  US Army

Amador Barbosa (101) – Kansas City, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO

Farewell

Charlotte Bendure – Centralia, IL; US Navy WAVE, WWII, PTO

Ottaway B. Cornwell – Beaumont, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., pilot, 4 FS/52 FG/12th Air Force, KIA

David Curtis (104) – Salt Lake City, UT; US Navy, WWII, PTO & CBI, USS Black hawk

Joseph De Lorenzo – Pine Brook, NJ; US Army, WWII

Agnes Dion – Springfield, IL; US Navy WAVES, WWII, parachute rigger

Alfred Giumarra – Bakersfield, CA; US Navy, WWII, minesweeper, USS Mainstay

Eugene Gollin – Long Island City, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Captain, communications

John W. Harman (100) – Rock Hall, MD; US Army, WWII, CBI, 866th Bomb Squadron

Thomas McNeill – Elmira, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 503/11th Airborne Division

Floyd D. Simmons (102) – Hontubby, OK; US Army, WWII, ETO, medic (He had been the oldest surviving Choctaw veteran).

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Lipa, Luzon | May 1945

Lipa, after bombardment

1 May 1945, the recon platoon found a company-sized unit of the enemy in the 187th’s zone of responsibility. The 2d battalion, along with 81mm mortars and LMGs (light machine guns) spread out to attack the enemy on three sides. F Company had a kill count of 92 Japanese versus one man of theirs missing the following day. From 3 May on, the fighting was considerable. 10 May, with the situation easing, the division left the area to be patrolled by Filipino guerrillas and was once again united and prepared to set up their base camp amongst the ruins of Lipa.

During the month of May, a new T O & E (Table of Organization and Equipment) was put into effect as replacements finally arrived. A battalion was added to each glider regiment. The 188th Infantry and the 674th Field Artillery became parachute units. The 472d Field Artillery Battalion was added to Division Artillery and the 187th became a Para-Glider Infantry Regiment. For the first time since their creation, the 11th A/B totaled 12,000 men.

VE-Day

7 May 1945, the war in Europe was over, the famous V-E Day, and the men of the 11th Airborne were very happy for their counterparts in the ETO, but they knew the Japanese would remain solid and faithful in their convictions. The fighting in the Pacific would continue, it was a matter of honor to the enemy.

My father, Smitty, had told me of the hatred the G.I.s felt for the enemy and granted, he wasn’t overjoyed at the prospect of getting shot at, but he said he had to have respect for their patriotism and tenacity. (Yamato damashii – Japanese spirit and Bushido – the way of the warrior.) Now, the troopers began to wonder if they would receive ample reinforcements. Rumors began to fly. (Actually, 6 May 1945, 8:41 p.m. Eastern War Time, in Reims, France after 5 years, 8 months and 6 days, the Third Reich ended.)

10 May, the 11th A/B Division regrouped outside Lipa. If a soldier was not at an outpost or out on patrol, he was helping to build a camp in the coconut groves with those all too familiar pyramidal tents. Bamboo and steel matting was used to raise the tents up about a foot since it was about to become rainy season once again. Between two mountains, USO shows and movies began to arrive and a jump school and glider classes were held for the “green” replacements.

11 May, was the first span of 24 hours in a total of 101 days that no one from the 11th Airborne Division had killed one of the enemy. Their average before that had been 93.8 Japanese per day and during that time General Swing was unable to afford even one company to be in reserve. (I believe this in itself deserves a commendation.)

Legionary U.S. ship, Bunker Hill, thought to be unsinkable, unfortunately succumbed to Japanese kamikazes.

USS Bunker Hill, May 1945

Article on USS Bunker Hill attack.

CLICK ON PICTURES AND STORY TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

“EVEN IF SHE IS A BOOBY TRAP, CAN YOU THINK OF A BETTER WAY TO GO?”

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Farewell Salutes –

Helen Bailey – Dixonville, AL; Civilian, WWII, Hagler Field, radio operator

Darren Collins – Broken Arrow, OK; US Navy, Information Systems Technician 2nd Class, USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)

Robert Davis – Nelsonville, OH, US Navy, WWII, USS Gardiners Bay

Catherine Howarth – Middletown, NY; Civilian, WWII, Civil Air Patrol

Leo LaFauce – Springfield, IL; US Army, WWII

Over the horizon

Theodore Mertz (100) – Vallejo, CA; US Navy, WWII

Gwendolyn Ross – Westlock, CAN; Civilian, WWII, military Aircraft maintenance

William O. Wood – Tallahassee, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt., 328 BS/93 BG/8th Air Force, B-24 gunner, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM), To be buried 8/1/2022

Christopher Young – Irving, TX; US Army, Desert Shield & Desert Storm, Medic,  528th Special Operations Battalion (Airborne)

Jerome Zeugschmidt – Bronx, NY; US Navy, WWII,

Robert Zimmerman – West New York, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO

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Mount Malepunyo

Mt. Malepunyo, Japanese defenses CLICK ON TO ENLARGE.

The next operation was Malepunyo. The exhausted men of the 187th were sent to Tiaong to relieve the 188th and allow them to join up the 511th regiment and the 8th Cavalry while they (the 187th) would remain to cut off any Japanese fleeing the high ground. The 187th laid ambushes for 10 miles and confirmed some 400 enemy killed or captured. During three simultaneous banzai attacks coming across the bridges, the 187th were told by a prisoner that they had nearly caught Gen. Fujishige.

Swing received orders to “go it alone, capture Mount Malepunyo and destroy all the Japanese thereon.” This was an area of thirty square miles of hills with a mangled rain forest and bamboo thickets. It had no roadways and was surrounded by wet slopes intermingled with sharp ridges. At one ridge, the troopers spotted fifty to sixty Japanese about 300 feet below them bathing in a stream as if they were oblivious to a war shattering the world around them. The men of the 11th A/B were certain that there was nothing luckier than to literally catch the enemy with his pants down!

But the Japanese were far from done. Holding higher ground, they slowed down the advance of American forces with snipers and machine gun fire. In one particular incident in what was called Hill 2610, men of the 511th were surprised to receive gunfire from carefully hidden apertures in the underground Japanese command post. The Japanese had to be flushed out using flamethrowers. The Americans were not without casualties. Wrote Flanagan:
“Before being mowed down, they (the Japanese) pulled one last trick which cost us casualties. Several of the Nips, as they ran out of the caves, threw large demolition charges into the air, where they burst, wounding and killing our men as well as themselves.”

Gen. Masatoshi Fujshige

After one fray, a patrol of the 187th found a Japanese diary attesting to the starving conditions the enemy were facing. The book read that they were without any communication to or from their headquarters. They were praying for help from Manila and hoped they would die bravely in their fight with the Americans. (Any papers found on the enemy were immediately handed over to a Nisei G.I. for translation).

General Fjishige gave an interview on 27 May 1946 at the Luzon POW Camp No. 1. He said, in reference to the plans for Macolod, that he took one month of planning and organizing the defense himself. He had their positions so well camouflaged that they could not be detected by land or air and were stocked with some of the best troops he had. The general stated that whoever attacked Macolod deserved the highest U.S. Army honors.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ross Avellone – Lake County, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Frank Blair – Sioux City, IA; US Navy, WWII, USS Blackhawk

Felix Bonacci (103) – brn: ITA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Interpreter

Guinevere Doyle Collier – Evansville, IN; US Army, 59th WAC unit

Melvin Frankel – Bethlehem, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS New Mexico

Branford Freeman – Artesia, MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 506/101st Airborne Division, mortarman

Gerald Grimes – Canton, OH; US Army, WWII

Clyde Hope – Amigo, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 1st Lt., B-24 bombardier

Phyllis Brown Jones (100) – Flint, MI; Civilian, WWII, “Rosie” for the Hudson Motor Company

William J. Kerby (101) – Twin Pines, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 2 Purple Hearts

Barclay McFadden – Memphis, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Larry Storch – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII, sub tender USS Proteus  /  beloved actor-comedian

Ronald Taylor – Sandy, UT; UA Army, HQ Co/ 187th RCT

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Manila (cont’d) February 1945

 

The importance of Manila cannot be stressed enough. The natural harbor has served as a strategically situated port for commerce and trade for centuries. Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay are connected by the Pasig River.

As the 11th Airborne  was switched back to the 6th Army, General Swing received orders to destroy all forces in Southern Luzon, specifically at Macolod and Lipa, along with clearing Route 19. The division had not received many replacements so they were even smaller in size than before; the 158th Regimental Combat Team was attached to partially compensate. The Manila-Batangas highway ran north to south and was essential to secure the port of Batangas for future landings.

Japanese in Manila

On top of all this, Swing was ordered to destroy enemy forces in Ternate. (Southern shore of Manila Bay) None of his men had the privilege of being in reserve, but the general had the utmost confidence in his men to succeed. His plan – Put the 187th on the right, going through the neck between Lake Taal and Laguna de Bay. The 158th on two other routes and the 1st of the 188th to Ternate.

Japanese gun in Manila from a super battleship.

22 February 1945, the Cairns Post reported that the 11th Airborne had been seen south-east of Laguna de Bay and surrounded an enemy unit at Mabato Point and compressed them into an area of 1200×800 yards. From there, they traveled through Alabang to Muntinupa where the Japanese were attempting to evacuate their troops. The 11th was relaying back reports of finding natives hacked to death by bayonet or burned alive by the enemy.

Lake Taal, from Smitty’s scrapbook

The 187th, with the675th Glider Field Artillery Battalion attached bivouacked near Mount Sungay and sent out daily patrols to the east. G-2 (Intelligence) knew the Japanese Fuji Force was out there and needed to picture the enemy locations. While the troopers fought ground battles, the engineers were carving out the mountain. The sheer cliff was almost vertical, but the roads being built was imperative.

Assistance with this article came from Rakkasans by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; the VFW; 2eyeswatching.com (pix only); The Angels: History of the 11th Airborne Division by Gen. Flanagan; Pacific War On-line encyclopedia, WW2 Database and my grandmother for keeping Smitty’s scrapbook – all I wish to thank for their diligence in recording history.

Yesterday, Saturday, 15 May 2022, was Armed Forces Day here in the U.S.  I hope you continue to thank a veteran every chance you get!

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bluford Jr. (103) – Richmond, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 pilot

John L. “Gunny” Canley – Bend, OR; USMC; Vietnam, Sgt. Major (Ret.). Medal of Honor

Courtesy of Tofino Photography

Leonard Cecere – Retsof, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, Flight Engineer

Creedin Cornman – Carlisle, PA; US Army, WWII, 584th Antiaircraft Battalion

Ryan DeKorte – Lubbock, TX; US Navy, Electronics Tech 1st Class, USS Jason Dunham  /   Naval Special Warfare Unit

Augustine Delgadillo – Seligman, AZ; US Army, WWII, ETO& PTO

Edmund Liebl – Madison, WI; US Navy Air Corps, WWII  /  US Army, Medical Corps

Rudolph Macey – Tarrytown, NY; US Navy, WWII  /  FCC (Ret.)

Glenn E. Miller – MT. Palatine, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO & Occupation

Seth Plant – St. Augustine, FL; US Army, SSgt., 3/509th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Fred Ward – San Diego, CA; US Air Force  /  Beloved actor

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Manila | February 1945

Flamethrower

While advancing, the 11th Airborne encountered heavy barrages from machine guns, mortars, artillery and grenades streaming from tunnels and caves above the highway.  After the enemy was eradicated, the command post dug in on the side of the road.  In the middle of the night, they were attacked.  Headquarters Company used flame throwers and rifle fire to fend them off.

My father, Smitty, would wrinkle his nose at the mere sight of a flame thrower on TV.  He said, “Once you smell burning flesh, it stays with you.  There’s nothing worse.  Every time I see one of those things flare up, even in a movie, I can smell the fuel and flesh all over again.”

The importance of Manila cannot be stressed enough. The natural harbor has served as a strategically situated port for commerce and trade for centuries. Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay are connected by the Pasig River.

Pasig River, before the war

Following the initial American breakthrough on the fourth, fighting raged throughout the city for almost a month. The battle quickly came down to a series of bitter street-to-street and house-to-house struggles. In an attempt to protect the city and its civilians, MacArthur placed stringent restrictions on U.S. artillery and air support. But massive devastation to the urban area could not be avoided. In the north, General Griswold continued to push elements of the XIV Corps south from Santo Tomas University toward the Pasig River.

Late on the afternoon of 4 February he ordered the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, to seize Quezon Bridge, the only crossing over the Pasig that the Japanese had not destroyed. As the squadron approached the bridge, enemy heavy machine guns opened up from a formidable roadblock thrown up across Quezon Boulevard. The Japanese had pounded steel stakes into the pavement, sown the area with mines, and lined up old truck bodies across the road. Unable to advance farther, the cavalry withdrew after nightfall. As the Americans pulled back, the Japanese blew up the bridge.

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Current News – The Legacy continues – 

The 11th Airborne will exist once again!!

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/05/05/army-creating-second-paratrooper-division-service-forges-new-identity-arctic-troops.html?ESRC=eb_220506.nl

5 May 2022

Military.com | By Steve Beynon

Soldiers stationed in Alaska will soon ditch the 25th Infantry Division’s “Tropic Lightning” patch and be re-designated the 11th Airborne Division,

The two existing airborne combat units are the 82nd Airborne Division and  the 101st Airborne, which is airborne in name only; it’s actually an air assault division.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Russell Adams – San Francisco, CA; US Merchant Marines, WWII

Willy J. Cancel – TN; USMC  /  KIA (Ukraine)

Aubrey B. Dale – Lilburn, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Jack W. Harrell – MacClesfield, NC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Luis Herrera – Marion, NC; US Army, Spec., 82nd Airborne Division

Jack E. Lilley – Waldworth, OH; US Army, Korea, Pfc. # 15414336, Truck Driver, HQ Co/34/24th Infantry Division, KIA (Taejon, SK)

Riley D. Mixon – Greenville, SC; US Navy, Vietnam, Desert Shield & Desert Storm, Admiral (Ret. 36 y.) / Exc. Director & Vice Chairman to establishing the USS Midway Museum

Laverne A. Nigg – Browns Valley, MN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3167440, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Lee R. Peterson – Edmore, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Radioman, USS Estes

William F. Teaff – Akron, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, radioman # 35586750, POW, KIA (Stalag Luft VI)

Chauncey (William) Sharp – Osborn, OH; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co C/1/27/25th Infantry Division, KIA (Hwanggon, SK)

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So… Have a great day!

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Luzon | February 1945 (3)

PAYING HOMAGE TO THOSE WHO WENT BEFORE
Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team Rakkasans, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) stand in formation to honor the 187th Infantry Regiment during an Activation Ceremony Feb. 20 at Fort Campbell, Ky. The ceremony celebrated the regiment’s 70th Anniversary since its activation in 1943 by honoring its long and valorous combat history and all of the fallen Rakkasans, whose names are inscribed on the pylons that stand in front of them. (U.S. Army photo taken by Sgt. Alan Graziano, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)

General Swing now had a supply trail stretching 70 miles and he began to fine tune the missions of some of the units. Colonel Hildebrand and the 187th were sent to Nasugubu and patrol the main supply route. Hildebrand was also put charge of thousands of guerrilla fighters, not an easy job in itself. All in all, he and his regiment had been given a very large task. They were staring into the jaws of the noted Genko Line.

The plan on 15 February for the 2d battalion of the 187th and the 188th was plain and simple: push forward and keep going – then meet up with the 511th at the Carabao Gate and still keep pushing. First they cleared the 6 foot high railroad tracks, then a dry riverbed and started to go up the barren rise. All this time there was no enemy resistance and not one sound whatsoever. The Leyte veterans knew something was wrong, they could feel their skin crawl and suddenly they discovered the ruse.

Banzai charge

The Japanese soldiers and their machine guns had been buried in the riverbed and were now behind the G.I.s. A hoard of the enemy came at them screaming despite the gunfire, BARs (browning Automatic Rifles) and hand weapons that killed and wounded them as they charged. But, they continued to come in waves and reached the 1st platoon.

The second platoon caught up to them and destroyed some of the Japanese machine guns. In the total chaos, the enemy ran to their pillboxes to regroup. When two more companies arrived on the scene, the Japanese outfit was trapped. A strange explosion underground knocked some of the troopers to the ground. The enemy, rather than surrender, had blown their hideout thinking they would kill the G.I.s above them, but it was not a sufficient charge to accomplish this. They had only murdered themselves.

The 674th and 675th Glider Field Artillery Battalions had been firing endlessly with the aid of the cooks, clerk, drivers and gun men and took shifts. Banzai attacks were common on these positions, so perimeters had to be kept firm. Gen. Swing’s plan was to keep squeezing the enemy into a tight group and then block their escape routes.

Japanese suicide crash boat

At one point, Gen. Eichelberger went back to the USS Spencer, but a peaceful night sleep was not to be. “There were a number of attacks by explosive-laden Japanese suicide crash boats. Just after daylight, a little worn, I went on deck and watched a curious cat-an-dog encounter between an American destroyer and a suicide boat. The destroyer was trying to sink the Japanese craft with 5” guns and pursued it.

“Whenever the enemy wheeled and made a direct run at the destroyer, the ship zigzagged and took to its heels…. It seemed like a crazy version of you-chase-me and I’ll-chase-you… After about 50 rounds of firing, a shell from the destroyer found its target. The boat did not sink – it disintegrated.”

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE,

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Addison E. Baker – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot, Lt. Colonel # )-280827, HQ Sq/93rd Bomber Group, Silver Star, Medal of Honor, KIA (Ploesti, ROM)

Joseph E. Bernot – Washington D.C.; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Battery A/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Veteran’s Memorial, by: Dan Antion

Boyd Guttery – Atlanta, GA; US Army, Japanese Occupation

William Harn – Faribault, MN; US Merchant Marine, WWII, WWII

William C. Kitchen – Sandy, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO,  511 Signal/11th Airborne Division

Joseph Loriaux – Kansas City, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, Lt., Tank unit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Etta Moore (101) – St. Louis, MO; Civilian, WWII, Aircraft construction

Agnes “Pat” Paist – Allentown, PA; US Army WAC, PTO, nurse, Bronze Star

Thomas Pessel – Hopewell, NJ; USMC, WWII

Katherine Robinson (100) – Essex Fells, NJ; US Navy WAVE, WWII

George Sage – Shell Lake, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

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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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