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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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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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