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Tarawa Tribute – Eye Witness Account – Intermission Story (17)

USMC on Tarawa Atoll

Gradually, those buried on Betio in the Tarawa atoll are being identified and returned home.  Pacific Paratrooper is including this story as a tribute to them.

Edwin Glasberg, 93, has lived an extraordinary life and is known as a WWII hero for a number of reasons. He was born on the 14th may, 1924, in Boston and as soon as he was able, he left school and enlisted in the Marines. He was assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Division.

Edwin Glasberg, USMC

War broke out and he was sent to the Western Pacific where he first used his weapon in anger. He was one of the 18,000 Marines that made up the first wave that landed on the Island of Tarawa. There was no significant resistance on the beach, as the Navy had shelled the Japanese positions before the Marines landed, and his company ran up the beach sheltering behind a four foot high wall. From that point on the battle became increasingly bloody as the Japanese detachment of 4,500 men fought back.

Japanese snipers had been positioned in the trees and picked off the American forces at will. Glasberg spotted a sniper hidden in a coconut tree and dashed to the foot of the tree. Pressing his body against the trunk, where he was safe as the machine gun could not be pointed straight down, he noticed a wounded lieutenant, but Glasberg could not reach him as that would place him in the line of fire.  Blazing hot, spent cartridge shells rained down on his head as the Japanese sniper maintained fire at the American forces, so Glasberg simply pointed his rifle straight up and started shooting. He could not see the sniper but as the firing from the top of the tree stopped he could only assume that he had shot the sniper, “I don’t know if I hit him or somebody else did, but he stopped firing. I wasn’t going to climb up to find out.”

USMC on Betio, Tarawa Atoll

The battle raged on and Glasberg, in the company of several Marines, was on manoeuvres when a Japanese soldier leaped out from behind a wood pile and bayoneted Glasberg in the right thigh. “I didn’t realize I got bayoneted,” he said. “You’re so excited, you don’t feel anything.” The Marine in line behind him took out his pistol and shot the enemy soldier in the head. Despite a bleeding wound in his leg, Glasberg remained in the fight.

His next major battle was during the invasion of Saipan. He was part of the contingency that were fighting for Hill 101 and part way up the hill he was wounded for the second time when a bullet grazed the left side of his head. He was awarded his second Purple Heart for this injury and was shipped back to the USA, where he was deployed at the submarine base at Portsmouth on the East Coast.

Soon, he was back in the thick of things when he was part of the boarding party that took control of a German submarine, U-805, that had been forced to surrender. Glasberg was woken in the early hours of 12th May 1945 and ordered to take his rifle, ammunition, and other combat paraphernalia and to report for duty. He had been selected as his file indicated that he spoke German.

Riding in a Navy tender, he and the other six members of the boarding party travelled 25 miles into the Atlantic where they came upon a surreal sight. There lay a German U-Boat on the surface surrounded by six destroyers. The boarding party climbed aboard and in his best schoolboy German, Glasberg yelled, “Alle deutschen Krauts, raus und schnell!” (All you Germans, get out, and fast!) Waving the machine gun in their faces encouraged the German crew to leave quickly, and Glasburg turned to the submarine skipper, Korvettenkapitan Richard Bernardelli. He told the captain, who spoke English, “We’re Marines, not murderers. We’re not going to kill you guys. If the tables were turned, you’d kill us, but we’re not going to do that to you.

All 31 of the crew were captured, and Glasberg used his fluency in German to look through the papers that were found in the captain’s cabin.   “I went to the captain’s quarters. We went through all their maps, and I read them in German, the detailed instructions of their combat patrol. I read the German report. They had sunk three of our ships on their patrol, one off of Nova Scotia, and two in the Saint Lawrence estuary.”

The submarine was then towed to Portsmouth harbor; a trip Glasberg does not remember with any fondness, “I stayed up in the conning tower because the submarine is so musty. You can hardly breathe in it. Plus I got seasick because a submarine on the surface, it’s bobbing up and down in the Atlantic swells.”

Edwin Glasberg, 2010

After the war, Glasberg lived in Massachusetts where he founded a company making hairbrushes. He married, and his wife bore them three daughters.  Glasberg, now 93 years old, is a proud member of the Naples Marine Corps League, and can often be found recounting stories of his life as a marine during WWII at League meetings.

When you come to think of it,” he said, “not too many Marines in World War II were intermingled in combat with both the Germans and the Japanese,” was his last word.

Story is from War history Online.  Pictures are from the Marine Corps League of Naples, FL. and the Marine Corps Association.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

SHOUT OUT !!!

I located this article in “The Week” news magazine – is this what our children do (or learn) in college? !!

calling for a ban on veterans as college students!

Cy Forrest was kind enough to send us a link to the University’s reply to this letter.  I hope the PC people make a note of paragraph # 4.

http://pressreleases.uccs.edu/?p=3424

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Phyllis Birney – Baltimore, MD; civilian employee US Army & Air Force (Ret.)

Beatrice Carroll – Hull, ENG; British Navy WREN, WWII

Werner Eisenmann – Pennsburg, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Howard Falcon Jr. – Evanston, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO & CBI, USS Robinson

James Guglielmoni – Prescott, AZ; US Navy, WWII, destroyer escort

Frank Hurst – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Vivian King – New Plymouth, NZ; RNZ Army # 42512, WWII, Sgt., 27th Battalion, POW

Richard Palmer – Bronx, NY; USMC, Korea

Bernard Sulisz – So.Lyon, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

George Totoiu – Oberlin, OH; US Air Force

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African-American Soldiers of the Pacific War – Intermission Story (16)

Marines boarding a Coast Guard transport, February 1944

Marines boarding a Coast Guard transport, February 1944

MacArthur was one of the few theater commanders who welcomed black troops into his command.  However, “colored” units in the Pacific were almost never employed in a combat role. One exception was 93rd Division.  Despite the skepticism of many senior commanders, the division had performed satisfactorily in training and in the Texas-Louisiana maneuvers of 1943.  The 93 Division was ordered to Hawaii in December 1943 , in order to free a white division for combat.  However, its orders were changed almost at once to send the division to New Georgia.

93rd Infantry Division, Bougainville, 1 May 1944

93rd Infantry Division, Bougainville, 1 May 1944

From Munda a single battalion from the division, 1/24th Regiment was deployed to the Bougainville perimeter in January 1944, and elements of the battalion reached the front line in March. For the most part, the battalion performed well in combat, but on 6 April a single inexperienced company from the battalion panicked when it came under fire during a routine patrol. Discipline broke down, troops from one platoon mistakenly fired on another platoon, and the company returned to the perimeter in considerable disorder. Such conduct was hardly unknown among inexperienced soldiers of any race, but the mistakes and confusion among the black troops was widely reported in the media, and rumor inflated the failure of a single company into an impression of poor performance by the entire division. 93 Division saw very little combat thereafter.

Most black troops in the Pacific were employed as service troops. These were certainly needed and made an invaluable contribution to ultimate victory.  About a third of the troops working on the Alaska-Canada Highway and the Burma Road were black. Other blacks served in amphibious tractor battalions.

1st Sgt. Rance Richardson, veteran of 2 world wars - 4 April 1944

1st Sgt. Rance Richardson, veteran of 2 world wars – 4 April 1944

In 1942, there was a mutiny at Townsville by African-American troops of 96 Engineer Battalion, who responded to abuse by two white officers by machine gunning the officers’ tents. At least one officer was killed and several others wounded, and Australian troops had to be called in to put down the riot. Future president Lyndon B. Johnson visited the base for three days, apparently to defuse the situation. The mutiny was subsequently covered up and did not come to light for seventy years.

The Navy had been largely integrated, at least among its enlisted men and petty officers, until the First World War. The Wilson administration adopted policies that all but excluded blacks from the Navy, even replacing black mess stewards with Filipinos. It was not until the 1930s that blacks began to be quietly recruited into the Navy again. Though most served as mess specialists,  there are no noncombatants on a warship, and segregation is difficult to enforce. Black sailors eventually won grudging respect from their white crew mates, opening the door a little wider to eventual desegregation of the armed forces.

Howard Perry, 1st to enlist in the USMC, 1 June 1942

Howard Perry, 1st to enlist in the USMC, 1 June 1942

The Marines were very reluctant to accept black recruits. However, once the necessity was forced on them, they quickly adapted.  A black Marine was still a Marine.  Although attempts were made to restrict black Marines to defense battalions and support services, black ammunition carriers served with distinction under fire at Saipan and began appearing in the front lines at Peliliu. (Sloan 2005):

As the men of the supply unit picked up their weapons and fell into line behind their sergeant, Mulford tried to discourage them. “Nothing you people have seen this beach is gonna prepare you for the hell you’re gonna face if you go with us,” he said. “So don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“We can take it,” the black sergeant assured him.

For the rest of the day, the African-American Marines made dozens of trips between the front lines and rear areas. They carried dead and wounded in one direction and hauled back ammo, food, and other supplies on their return trips. That night, they moved into vacant foxholes along the line and helped fight off a Japanese counterattack. The next morning, in several hours of bloody fighting, they charged and took an enemy-held hill shoulder to shoulder with what was left of I Company.

recruits at Camp Lejeune, April 1943

recruits at Camp Lejeune, April 1943

A formation of black Marines, 8 Field Depot, helped turn back the final Japanese counterattack on Iwo Jima on 4 April 1945. Regrettably, the Marines would revert to a heavily discriminatory racial policy after the war.

Information from: The Pacific War online.  Pictures from: The History Place

Click on images to enlarge.

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SHOUT OUT !!!

I live in Florida, as many of you know, and could possibly be in the path of Hurricane Irma.  I fully expect to lose power at some point.  PLEASE be patient and I will eventually return to catch up on your posts and answer questions and reply to comments.

Do NOT feel obligated to respond to this Shout Out, it is merely an informative reminder.

Thank You.

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Military Humor – 

Speed limit enforced by aircraft.

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Brian Aldiss – Dereham, ENG; British Army, WWII, CBI, Royal Signals, (author)

Martin ‘Butch’ Beechler – Palm Beach Gardens, FL; US Army, Vietnam, 31st Infantry

Meredith Cooper – Linton, IN; US Air Force, Korea

Final Mission

Harold Evans – Spokane, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, E/188th/11th Airborne Division

Dick Gregory – St. Louis, MO; US Army, (comedian)

James Johnson – Glendale, CA; US Navy, pilot (Ret. 22 yrs.)

Adrian Marcuse – Glen Cove, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 18th/13th Air Force

Jeannie Rousseau – Saint-Brieuc, FRA; Allied Agent, WWII, ETO, POW

Gordon Thompson – Moccasin, MT; USMC, WWII, PTO, “Cactus Air Force”, LT. pilot, KIA

John Winner – MD; US Army, Korea

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A WWII Native American Nurse in the ETO – Intermission Story (15)

Lt. Ryan

The short, soft-spoken former Army nurse was asked how she coped with the harsh realities of working in an Army hospital in war-torn Europe during World War II.

You could hear a pin drop as this 96-year-old veteran nurse stood under the shade of a small tent outside the Fort Meade Museum at Sturgis, South Dakota on 7/17/16.    Without hesitation, Marcella LeBeau responded, “I didn’t have time to worry. I had work to do. There were patients to care for, transfusions to be done, and there were buzz bombs overhead. I just didn’t have time.”

She shared stories of her experiences during World War II, from the D-Day landings at Normandy to the historic “Battle of the Bulge” that helped change the direction of the war.

Marcella Ryan LeBeau’s story began on the Cheyenne River Reservation at Promise, South Dakota, where she was one of five children born to Joseph and Florence Ryan. Her old hometown of Promise – nestled along the banks of the Moreau River – is gone now, inundated by the massive waters of Lake Oahe.

Lt. Ryan and a friend.

Her name belies the rich Lakota heritage of which she is so proud. Her mother was a member of the Two Kettle Band of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a descendant of Rain in the Face, who fought at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Her great grandfather, Joseph Four Bear, was a reluctant signatory to the infamous Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. Her father, a rancher, was Irish.

Marcella’s Lakota name is Wigmunke Waste Win, which in English means “Pretty Rainbow Woman.”

I was working in the surgical ward in Pontiac, and we kept hearing radio announcements about the need for Army nurses.”

While undergoing no real military training, Lt. Ryan was issued her uniforms and was temporarily assigned to work in the  psychiatric wards.  She among the 104,000 young nurses who were recruited by the American Red Cross to become Army nurses and serve at Army hospitals at home and overseas.  She enlisted in April 1943.

She was assigned to the 76th General Hospital and boarded the USS  George Washington headed for England.

Lt. Ryan LeBeau’s uniform.

Then came June 6, 1944 – D Day.

We were called to our duty stations at 2:30 in the morning, and we began getting soldiers from D-Day. We were pretty busy after that.”

The work continued at a hectic pace for days on end.   By mid-August, the Allies had secured Normandy and were on the march toward Nazi-occupied Paris. Lieutenant LeBeau and her unit were ordered to Southampton to embark aboard boats headed for Normandy.

LeBeau was temporarily assigned to the 108th General Hospital in Paris, where they treated Allied casualties as well as German prisoners of war.

A few weeks later, Allied forces regained the Belgian cities of Antwerp and Liege. LeBeau’s 76th General Hospital was ordered northward to the 1,000-bed hospital at Liege, where they would handle casualties from France and other war zones along front.  The came the Battle of the Bulge!

With more than 600,000 Americans engaged in the fighting, casualties were high – more than 89,000, including 19,000 deaths. Many of the wounded were sent to Liege for surgery and hospitalization.

Army reports indicated the city was blasted with as many as 1,500 such devices. Hardest hit among the medical facilities was Lt. LeBeau’s 76th General Hospital unit on January 8, 1944. The Army reported 24 patients and staff killed, another 20 injured, plus buildings and equipment that were damaged.“We had a wooden building that had been built for surgery. I worked closely with two corpsmen and one nurse,” LeBeau recalled. The city remained a target of intense aerial bombardment by German V1 and V2 “buzz bombs.”

Marcella Ryan LeBeau

Additional documents revealed that the 76th General Hospital staff “cared for their own casualties, cleared away rubble, and kept on working.

There were body limbs all over,” LeBeau remembered. “The buzz bombs continued night and day, but our work did not stop, as we cared for wounded troops and gave blood transfusions. We were blessed with plenty of blood and penicillin, which was relatively new at the time and had to be administered every four hours.

I remember one of our hospital corpsmen, named Coffee, was deathly afraid of the buzz bombs and his situation became increasingly apparent, as he was going without sleep. As we ate lunch together one day, I gave him a sleeping pill and had another corpsman put him to bed. He was finally able to get some sleep. I think if I hadn’t done that, he would have gone berserk.”

For Lt. LeBeau, one incident remains vivid in her memory.

Marcella in France receiving the Legion of Honor

It was an American soldier who had been a prisoner of war and was rescued. He was so gaunt.   Skin stretched over his bones. He was so emaciated. Your first inclination was to feed him, but of course, we couldn’t immediately do that. His eyes. A vacant stare. I can’t forget that look.”

Lieutenant LeBeau completed about one year at the hospital in Liege and then was on her way home.  She was discharged at Des Moines, Iowa in February 1946.

She was awarded three bronze stars – for the Rhineland, Northern France, and the Battle of the Bulge. The government of Belgium also presented her and others of their unit with special medals.  Those, however, would not be the end of many special awards for the girl from Promise, South Dakota.

As she contemplated returning to South Dakota, there was little to attract her. Her father had fallen ill and was living in the “Old Soldiers Home” in Hot Springs. So she went to Chicago and moved in with her younger sister, Johanna, who was in the Army Nurse Cadet Corps at St. Luke’s Hospital.   Marcella took a job as a private duty nurse. But in the next year or so, went to work for a hospital in Rapid City.

The following year, on September 4, 1947, Marcella Ryan married Navy veteran Gilbert LeBeau at Moreau, South Dakota. Both hailed from the Promise area.   “Gib” was a Gunner’s Mate Petty Officer and served at Pearl Harbor  and later aboard two ships during the war.

The LeBeau’s had eight children. After they returned to the Cheyenne River Reservation, Marcella was active in her children’s school activities and as a leader in 4-H. She also continued her nursing work with the Indian Health Service at Eagle Butte, South Dakota, retiring as Director of Nursing after 31 years of service.

She became a member of the tribal council – one of just two women elected to the body, and she also served as secretary for the Wounded Knee Survivor’s Organization.

Her many friends and colleagues from the 76th General Hospital at Liege, Belgium, held reunions numerous times over the years to recall their experiences and renew friendships.  The gatherings took place in Des Moines, Iowa, and were, she said “great therapy.”   Mrs. LeBeau and her friend Esther Westvelt Pierce made the trip every summer they were held.  Alas, the once robust group of Army medical personnel has dwindled and the reunions are no more.

The French remembered First Lieutenant Marcella Ryan LeBeau.  She was among 100 World War II American veterans flown to Washington, D.C. in 2004 and awarded France’s highest civilian award, the French Legion of Honor (Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur) at the French Embassy. It was the 60th anniversary of D-Day, and the honored veterans were then flown to France to visit Paris – and later to tour the beaches of Normandy.

Marcella Ryan LeBeau last year.

More than 60 years after her service in the Army, Marcella told a researcher from the University of Arizona that she was never subjected to any discrimination or harassment while in the military. But that was not the case after the war when she returned to South Dakota.   She remembered seeing signs in Rapid City that said, “No Indians or dogs allowed.”

Of her many experiences during World War II and in her long nursing career that followed, Marcella particularly remembers and often shares one story – about Eugene Roubideaux from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.

I was working one night in a Shock Ward – like an Intensive Care Unit – and was asked to see this patient. He had lost both legs, and they were afraid that he might try to commit suicide. So I went to see him. His name was Eugene Roubideaux. I took him newspapers from home, visited with him, and offered to write letters home for him, but he didn’t want to contact anyone.

I went over to see him often…and then, one day, he was gone.

After the war, I came back to the United States. For 40 years I looked for him. Every place I’d go to a nurse’s meeting, I’d ask if anyone knew Eugene Roubideaux, but I could never find him.

Then one day I met a young lady who came to our hospital to introduce us to a new form to be used at the hospital.

The next morning I got this call, and she said ‘This is Ann Lafferty. Do you known Eugene Roubideaux?

I said ‘yes, I do.’”

’He was my father,’ she said.”

It was an emotional moment for Marcella, who was overcome by the news.

Mrs. Rafferty gave Marcella her father’s address and phone number and told her that he had divorced, remarried, and raised a large family. He was living in Yankton.

I couldn’t call him right away, but eventually I did.

I asked if he remembered the nurse who stood at his bed in Liege, Belgium?”

I’ll never forget,” he responded.

For Marcella, who shared the story with the Veteran’s History Project, it was an emotional moment.

Some time later,” said Marcella, “we were able to invite him and his family to Eagle Butte for an honor dinner.”

It is not surprising that Marcella Ryan LeBeau wanted to honor another veteran. Nor that she continues to be active in community and tribal activities. That she remains a steadfast advocate for her family and her people.

More than 16 million men and women served in the military during World War II. They are dying at a rate of about 492 veterans each day. That means our nation will likely loose almost all of them within the next decade.

How fortunate we were to have had this “Greatest Generation” as our elders, our family, our friends, and members of our community – defending and nurturing us during one of the most difficult times in American history.

Information was located from the “Dawes County Journal”.

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Military Medical Humor – 

On the job training?

“NURSE ADAMS, PLEASE REPORT TO ROOMS 13 THROUGH 100…YOU HAVE PATIENTS WHO REQUIRE YOUR ASSISTANCE!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Mary Jean Coffield – Morgantown, WV; Nurse at US Army posts, WWII

Cleo Dyer – Stamford, CT; US Army Nursing Corps, WWII

Julia Fairchild – Luray, VA; US Navy Nursing Corps, WWII

C

Frieda Green – Eugene, OR; US Army Nursing Corps

Jean Jones Hawkins – Hopewell, VA; US Army Kenner Hospital (Ret. 30 yrs.)

Betty Kutchmire – Tampa, FL; US Army Nursing Corps

Gladys Renoe – Taunton, MA; US Navy Nursing Corps

Lillian Ritt – San Diego, CA; US Army Nursing Corps

Virginia Seledyn – New Britain, CT; US Navy Nursing Corps, Commander (Ret.)

Vicki Woldt – Colby, KS; US Army Nursing Corps, Vietnam, 7th Surgical Hospital, Lt. Col. (Ret.)

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The Elephant Company – Intermission Story (14)

(c) Cuneo Estate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Cuneo Estate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

James Howard “Billy” Williams went to Burma in 1920, fresh out of the service for WWI, for a position as a ‘forest man’.  It was there he became increasingly educated on the intelligence, character and welfare of elephants.

When Japan invaded Burma in 1942, Williams joined the elite British Force 136.  [a unit that today would compared to Rangers, SEALs and Delta Force].  Being older and wiser in the ways of the jungles, Williams’ tale of war and daring would become legendary.

In 1944, Lt.Colonel Williams, along with his Karen workers, uzis, elephant tenders, and the animals themselves made the stairway in Burma.  They go upward, a sheer rockface escarpment, narrowly escaping the Japanese hot on their trail, through the mountains of Imphal.

While many times the massive beasts stood on their hind legs to scale an ascent that surpassed Hannibal in the Alps.  All 53 elephants were successful and the workers and refugees alike followed close behind to the ridge and eventual safety.

Williams’ sketch of the ridge.

Years later, General Slim would say of the climb, “This is the story of how a man, over the years, by character, patience, sympathy and courage, gained the confidence of men and animals, so when the time of testing came – that mutual trust held.”

Williams and his company would continue in Burma to alter history with the 270 bridges built and erected to create the largest known Bailey bridge across the Chindurin at Kalewa in December.

Williams’ sketch for his memoir cover

James “Billy” Williams was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1945.  He would forever cherish his memories of the animals and the jungle, as shown in his memoir, “Elephant Bill” published in 1950. (originally titled, “1920-1946, Elephants in Peace, Love and War”)

Williams passed away on 30 July 1958, at the age of 60, during an emergency appendectomy operation.  His son, Treve, had gone to Australia for veterinary school a year previous.

Williams’ sketch of the Bailey Bridge

This information and pictures were derived from “Elephant Company” by Vicki C. Croke.

Click on images to enlarge.

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 CBI Roundup – Military Humor – 

“The folks at home are going to love this shot of me!”

“You can stand there all day – but you’re NOT getting a Section 8!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kevin Bushell – MD; US Navy, USS John McCain, Electrician Tech 2nd Class, KIA

Timothy Eckels Jr. – MD; US Navy, USS John McCain, Information Systems Tech 2nd Class, KIA

Charles N. Findley – MI; US Navy, USS John McCain, Electrician Tech 1st Class; KIA

James L. Hutchinson – CA; US Army Air Corps # 1014403, WWII, PTO, POW, KIA (Bataan, Camp O’Donnell, Section # 4)

Cory G. Ingram – NY; US Navy, USS John McCain, Information Systems Tech 2nd Class, KIA

Abraham Lopez – El Paso,TX; US Navy, USS John McCain,Interior Communication Electrician 1st Class, KIA

James McMillen – Jonesboro, GA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 11th and 101st Airborne Divisions, CO for 16th Battalion, Lt.Col.

Peter Roper – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, ETO / Korea, aviation medicine

Alan Sayers (102) – NZ; RNZ Navy # 1/15/2685

Louis Vetere – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO

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Intermission Story (12) – CBI – Eye Witness Account

Richard Sherman

Richard Sherman trained as a bombardier and navigator for B-25 bombers. He served in the 11th bomb squadron. He served 13 months in China, during which he flew 52 missions and was shot down once. During that time, only seven men from his squad were lost.

He was shot down on February 13th, 1944. What they thought was a Chinese fishing vessel was a Japanese warship in disguise.

Sherman used his “pointy-talky,” a Chinese-English dictionary, to communicate with the Chinese to get help getting to a place where they could get picked up.

WWII pointie-talkie

One of the Chinese told him that the dictionary wasn’t necessary – he spoke perfect English. The Chinese took the Americans by charcoal-powered bus, occasionally stopping to stir the charcoal. At every village they came to, the people held a celebration. Sherman has a piece of cloth, signed by the Chinese, as a memento of this time. Only later did he learn that the Japanese would have killed him and the Chinese who signed the cloth if they had found it.

Sherman claims he didn’t have enough sense to be scared. That, along with his training, kept him from panicking – but there would be tense times while in China.

Raids into China were typically scheduled in the morning. The flight to pick up Sherman and his crew was later in the day. The Japanese were bombing the American airfield, so the flight kept getting pushed back.

11th Bomb Squadron

The flight crew was told to contact the Chinese for instructions on where to land. As the day turned to night, the crew was unable to see a runway when someone on the radio told them to “put your wheels down and get ready to land.” Suddenly, kerosene lamps outlined the strip.

Sherman’s parents had received telegrams stating that he was MIA. Now they received one from the Red Cross stating that they should disregard any previous message. At that point, they knew that he was OK.

Flight crew of the B-24 Liberator airplane, named ‘Betty J’ 11th Bomb Squadron

As a bombardier, Sherman sat towards the front of the plane. Once, his plane was hit by Japanese fire, sending Plexiglass into his arms and face. Seventy-one years later, an x-ray technician noticed that he had a foreign object between his eyes. Since it had been there so long without causing issues, it was decided to keep it there. Sherman received the Purple Heart for that mission.

Gen. Claire Chennault always knew where his men were, according to Sherman. Chennault was not one to kid around, but if you did your job, you would have no trouble from him.

General C. Chennault

After WWII, Sherman worked at Olin Mathieson. One day he received a phone call asking how quick he could get his clothes together and get to Cincinnati. Five days later, he called his wife Pat to tell her he was in Germany. The Russians and Germans had moved tanks to the Berlin Wall, making the U.S. nervous. Sherman was put in charge of the automotive division, which was required to be able to pack up and move overnight, if necessary.

Chennault continued to be connected throughout Sherman’s lives. Their son became friends with Chennault’s grandson when they attended Neville High School together. Also, the Shermans, along with Nita Brinson and others, helped start the Aviation Historical Museum that is now known as the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum. Sherman has some memorabilia on display in the museum.

They also have several paintings that Chennault painted after retiring from the military.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Personal Note – icon_lol

Please check out the honor365 site– they are honoring Smitty today !!!!

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Military Humor –

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Ben Angel – Native Tewa American; Las Vegas, NV; US Army, Military police

Colin Bower – Queensland, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII

Michael ‘Red’ Cerio Sr. – Emira, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Antietam

A soldier from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, waits amid the gravestones during funeral services for Army Spc. Sean R. Cutsforth, of Radford, Va., a member of the 101st Airborne who was killed in Afghanistan in December, Feb. 24, 2011, (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Anthony Formosa – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII

Edward Gray – Newark, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, Bronze Star

Ty Hardin – Austin, TX; US Army, Korea, 1st Lt., pilot; (beloved actor)

Richard Klenoski Sr. – Saginaw, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 26 years)

James Lancaster – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Hugh McCormick Jr. – Baltimore, MD; US Navy, WWII, ETO, Cmdr. (Ret.) subchaser SC-525

Harry Patrie – Celina, OH; US Navy, WWII

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Merian C. Cooper, extraordinary life of a hero of 2 nations and King Kong

Merian C. Cooper was born in Jacksonville, Florida, United States. He was the youngest of his siblings and at the age of six, he started to dream about exploration and adventures, a common dream among future aviators. Then he studied at the United States Naval Academy, but didn’t finish it and became a journalist.

It was not enough to satisfy his taste for adventure. In 1916, Cooper joined the US National Guard and was to help catch Pancho Villa in Mexico. The year after, he was appointed lieutenant, yet he refused the promotion because he wanted to participate in direct combat. To fulfill his desires, he went to the Military Aeronautics School in Atlanta to learn how to fly and graduated with the top grades in his class.

In autumn 1917, Cooper went to France as a rookie, then learned the skills of a bomber pilot in Issoudun, France, and served with the 1st Day Bombardment Group. On one of his missions in 1918, he was shot down over Germany and suffered burns and injured his hands. His general signed a death certificate for him, but that’s not the end of the story. Cooper survived somehow and was taken prisoner.

Merian C. Cooper

After World War I came to an end, he returned to France, but not for long. On February 1919, Captain Cooper went to Poland with a mission from the American Relief Administration to provide aid to the destroyed countries of Europe. In the meantime, Russia transformed into the Soviet Union after the October Revolution in 1917. This would prove fateful for the future life of M

In Poland, he often discussed the importance of the air force in modern warfare. Cooper also had a second motive to help Poland – as he often mentioned, his great-grandfather John Cooper served under Casimir Pulaski in the Siege of Savannah and considered him as a friend. Merian wanted to repay this debt and the possibility was soon on the horizon.

With the outbreak of the Polish-Soviet War, Cooper got permission to form a squadron, so he went back to France, recruited eight more pilots and returned to Poland with Cedric Fauntleroy. All of them were assigned to the Polish 7th Air Escadrille, better known as the Kościuszko Squadron. Faunterloy was a commander, Cooper led the second group “Pulaski”.

In 1920, Cooper and his Escadrille fought on the front. They supported many actions, including the Advance on Kiev, mostly on reconnaissance missions and fights against Budyonny’s Cavalry Army. On one of these missions, Cooper and his crewmate Crawford were shot down, yet they managed to escape on foot. Two months later Cooper became a commander of the squadron assigned to the city of Lviv.

On 13th of July 1920, Merian C. Cooper was shot down for a third time. This time, it happened behind enemy lines. The Soviets captured him. He tried to escape and because of that Russians sent him to a labor camp near Moscow. Free spirits like his were impossible to tame, and he tried to escape again with two others Polish POWs. This time, he was successful and after 700 kilometers they reached Latvia and from that point they headed back to Poland.

Thanks to the supplies and volunteers from many countries, Poland managed to win that war. In Polish historiography, it’s often called the “Miracle over Vistula”. Merian C. Cooper repaid the debt of his family and gave back even more. For valor, he was decorated by Józef Piłsudski with the highest Polish military decoration, the Virtuti Militari.

Merian C. Cooper

Cooper wrote “Things Men Die For”  during his time as a prisoner-of-war. It was a hapless autobiography published in 1927. Why was it hapless? In 1928, Merian started to regret releasing some details about “Nina” (Małgorzata Słomczyńska) as it was proof of his relationship outside the wedlock, so he bought back over 5,000 copies of the manuscript, almost all the amount which had been printed. His life in Poland was also an inspiration for the movie “The Starry Squadron,” a romantic story about Polish girl and an American volunteer pilot. Unfortunately, all copies of this movie were destroyed by Soviets after the WW II.

His most famous work is “King Kong” from 1933, a movie that everyone knows. He wrote the screenplay and was co-director of it and even flew in the scene where an aircraft was shooting at the giant gorilla. He was the one who finished off the King Kong. The movie was a huge success that brought over 1,8 million $ (and a single ticket cost .15¢).

World War II for the United States started in 1941. Cooper was 47 years old, yet he re-enlisted and was commissioned a colonel in the U.S. Army Air Forces. He served with Col. Robert Scott in India and also worked as logistics liaison for the Doolittle Raid. He later served in China as chief of staff for General Claire Chennault of the China Air Task Force, which was the precursor of the 14th Air Force and served then from 1943 to 1945 in the Southwest Pacific as chief of staff for the 5th Air Force’s Bomber Command.

At the end of the war, he was promoted to brigadier general. For his contributions, he was also aboard the USS Missouri to witness Japan’s surrender.

It’s worth mentioning that the famous 303 Squadron inherited all traditions from the Polish 7th Air Escadrille, including the honor badge design. It was one of the most successful squadrons during the Battle of Britain

He was awarded the Order of Virtutti Military, Poland’s highest military decoration for heroism and courage and also the Polish Cross of Valour.

Merian C. Cooper

Additionally, he was awarded the Mexican Border Service Medal, the World War I Victory Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. Also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, but he declined to accept the medal.

Cooper was awarded an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 1952 and have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, though his first name is misspelled “Meriam”.

Merian C. Cooper died in 1973 at the age of 79 in San Diego, California.

Information was received from War History on Line.  Pictures were mainly from the Cooper Museum and Wikipedia.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes –

Norris Bird – Hampton, IA; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Wayne Carver – Logan, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO

Robert Flucker – Rochester, MI; US Army, WWII

Standing Guard

Charles Hankins – Sulligent, AL; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Master Chief (Ret. 32 yrs.)

Ardis Hudak – Toledo, OH; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Paul McCullough – Hialeah, FL; USMC, Korea, Purple Heart

Edward O’Neill – Papakura, NZ; RNZ Army # U42660, Vietnam, Infantry regiment, Victor 5 Co.

Robert Perkins – Sebastopol, AUS; RA Air Force # 12569

Hans Schlichting – Houston, TX; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

James Walsh – Johnston, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

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Current News – WWII Chapel in Australia + Purple Heart Day

St. Christopher’s

ROCKHAMPTON, Australia — As 33,000 troops take part in Talisman Saber war games near Rockhampton along the central Queensland coast, a small chapel overlooking a pasture serves as a reminder of when about 70,000 U.S. soldiers called the city home.

The nondenominational Saint Christophers Chapel, built in 1943 by the Army’s 542nd Engineer Battalion, is the only structure remaining from when Rockhampton served as a springboard and training location for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s World War II island-hopping campaign. The city hosted the 1st Cavalry Division and the 24th, 32nd and 41st infantry divisions on a half-dozen camps between 1942-44.

Along with the open-air, pavilion-style chapel, the grounds include a band rotunda dedicated to a servicemember who helped maintain the chapel decades ago. A concrete pillar from an artillery declination station used by 41st Infantry Division howitzers stands at the chapel’s foot, a

Cliff Hudson, 79, of Sawtell, New South Wales, first visited the chapel about 30 years ago because it shares its name with his son.  “My wife always wanted our daughter to get married here because of the Christopher name,” he said.

Hudson said he is drawn by the chapel’s interior boards listing names, sporting events and results of competitions from the 1940s. The boards were taken from a nearby war-era sports field and placed inside and U.S. and Australian flags and seals adorn the gates and interior.

Saint Christopher’s nearly deteriorated in the years after WWII. Vandals destroyed parts of the chapel in 1959, prompting locals and the 41st Infantry Division Association to start caring for the site. Today, the chapel and its grounds are immaculately maintained, and church services are held each year on the Sunday closest to the Fourth of July.

Julie Henderson, 77, of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, said she’s glad the chapel still stands.  “It’s nice to come and remember the soldiers who served in the war because we weren’t there,” she said.

 

 

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For further information about the chapel please click HERE!

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Military Humor – from the Prisoners themselves – 

Air Activity in Java

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Farewell Salutes –

William Andrews Jr. – Palm Springs, FL; US Air Force, Korea, Bronze Star

Lowell Bailey – Thomaston, GA; US Army, Korea, POW

Bruce D’Agostino – Natick, MA; US Air Force, photographer (Founder of Humanitaian International)

John Ekenbarger – Nashua, NH; US Army, Korea, POW

Richard Ford – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

George Franklin – Pensacola, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division, demolition

Quentin Gifford – Mankato, MN; US Navy, WWII, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Thomas Madison – Austin, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, Col. (Ret. 20 yrs.), pilot, POW

Warren Glenn Ranscht – Racine, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, WIA

Albert Zuidema – Falls Church, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot, WIA

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Personal Note – for Purple Heart Day posts click HERE!

Please remember that today 7 August is the U.S. observation of Purple Heart Day.  Shake the hand of a veteran!

And say a prayer for our 3 Marines missing in the waters off Australia.  Thank You.

Lt. Benjamin R. Cross of Bethel, Maine; Cpl. Nathan Ordway of Wichita, Kansas; and Pfc Reuben Velasco of California.

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Dowsett’s War, Part 6 – Changi Prisoner

In leading up to Purple Heart Day on Monday, 7 August 2017, we honor another POW for his sacrifices.

The Rant Foundry

Three prisoners at Shimo Songkurai in 1943. The effects of malnutrition can be seen in their skeletal frames and the stomach of the man on the right, distended by beri beri. The photograph was one of the last to be taken by George Aspinall on the camera he smuggled up to the Thai–Burma railway from Changi. [By courtesy Tim Bowden] Three Australian prisoners at Shimo Songkurai in 1943. The effects of malnutrition can be seen in their skeletal frames and the stomach of the man on the right, distended by beri beri. The photograph was one of the last to be taken by George Aspinall on the camera he smuggled up to the Thai–Burma railway from Changi. [Photo by G. Aspinall]

“The place earned the title of Hellfire Pass, for it looked, and was, like a living image of hell itself.”
Jack Chalker, Burma Railway: Images of War, London, Mercer Books, 2007, 59

For the other chapters of Dowsetts War, click here.

Douglas France Dowsett, a driver with the 22nd Infantry Brigade Australian Army Service Corps Supply (AASC) Section was held along with roughly 15,000 other servicemen of the Australian Army’s 8th Division in the British Army’s Selarang Barracks, Changi. It was a prisoner of war camp holding some…

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Intermission Story (10) – George Watson

 

George Watson

During the course of a war gallant actions are not bound by race, nationality, or cause. Wherever men fight, some will distinguish themselves from the others. In WWII, when the Allies were engaged in battle against the Axis powers it could be assumed that on both sides men were heroes.

In the case of George Watson, it was his race that limited him from achieving his country’s highest military honor. When his ship was sunk by enemy bombers he assisted several of his wounded comrades to reach life rafts. However, it would be over 50 years before the story of George Watson finally received its due honor and its rightful place in military history.

George Watson was born in 1915 Birmingham, Alabama.  Apart from his birth, little is known about his early life. He attended school in Colorado and graduated in 1942. Like many men that year, Watson then accepted the call to arms in defense of his nation.

Jacob survivors clinging to debris and waiting for rescue from the HMAS Bendigo

As an African-American, the career opportunities in the Army were extremely limited. Consequently, Watson joined the 29th Quartermaster Regiment after basic training. With the war in full swing, Watson’s unit was immediately transported to the Pacific on board the American controlled Dutch Steamer USAT Jacob. They arrived on March 8, 1943.

As Watson and his unit waited to disembark the Japanese attacked the Jacob while she was moored near Porlock Harbor, New Guinea. With little defense against the devastating assault, the Jacob took several direct hits and the order to abandon ship was issued. Troops threw themselves into the sea, many of whom had been severely wounded. Fortunately, Watson had avoided injury and being a competent swimmer was able to head towards the few life rafts that were available. As he did so, he looked back to see many of his comrades were not so lucky.

The sinking Jacob only shows her bow

The wounded soldiers and those who could not swim flailed about in the sea in need of help. Watson turned from the rafts and headed towards the men. The Japanese continued to rake the sea with gunfire making it all the riskier. Time and time again he swam back to rescue troops and bring them to safety. Watson continued saving his comrades until he reached the point of exhaustion. As he swam towards the steamer once more, she slipped beneath the waves. The subsequent drag proved too strong for the exhausted Watson to escape and he was sucked to the bottom with her.

Distinguished Service Cross

As news of his gallantry spread, it was evident to the Army that a heroic and distinguished act had taken place. However, for African-Americans of that era, the Medal of Honor was too far out of reach despite the inexplicable gallantry they consistently displayed. Watson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and was the first African-American to receive that award during WWII.

However, as the decades passed the US military realized such men had been overlooked. They instituted a review in the early 1990’s to determine those that might have been excluded due to race. In 1997, George Watson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. With no family to receive Watson’s medals, they are on display at the US Army Quartermaster Museum in Fort Lee, Virginia. Also, the ship USNS Watson was named in his honor.

USNS Watson

USNS Watson (T-AKR-310) is one of Military Sealift Command’s nineteen Large, Medium-Speed Roll-on/Roll-off Ships and is part of the 33 ships in the Prepositioning Program. She is the lead ship of her class of vehicle cargo ships.

Laid down on 23 May 1996 and launched on 26 July 1997, Watson was put into service in the Pacific Ocean on 23 June 1998.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Willard Blankenship – Burdine, KY; US Army, WWII, eto / Korea, 187th RCT, (Ret. 22 years)

William Devitt – St. Paul, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO, (author: “Shavetail: The Odyssey of an Infantry Lieutenant”)

Pedro Escobedo – Harlingen, TX; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. Major (Ret. 24 yrs.)

Horace Harned – Starville, MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Robert Lyons – Susquehanna, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Signal Corps

Bertrand Morrill – So.Portland, ME; US Army, Chief Warrant Officer (Ret. 28 yrs.)

Joseph Okulicz – Belmar, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Teddy Saiki – Stockton, CA; US Army, WWII,  Intelligence MISer

John Tuttle – Oneida, NY; British Army, WWII, King’s Royal Rifle Corps

Thelma Worboys – Palmerston North, NZ; RNZ Women’s Air Force, WWII

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Intermission Story (9) – A Special Woman

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

Florence Ebersole Smith Finch, USCGR 

Coast Guard SPAR decorated for combat operations during World War II

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


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

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

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

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

Ms. Finch crossed the bar on 8 December 2016.

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

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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