Blog Archives

U.S. Coast Guard disaster, the USS Serpens

USS Serpens USCG

The sinking of the ammunition ship USS Serpens in January 1945 was the single deadliest day in the history of the Coast Guard. The gigantic explosion, which killed 250 sailors and almost vaporized the ship, was blamed on an accident involving the ship’s explosive cargo. Now, new allegations push the theory that the ship was actually attacked by a Japanese submarine—and that U.S. Navy officials were covering this up as late as 2003.

On the night of January 29th, 1945 the island of Guadalcanal was wracked by a truly massive explosion. The USS Serpens, whose crew had been handling a cargo of anti-submarine depth charges, exploded with the force of 600 tons of explosives.

Serpens, a Liberty Transport Ship, 424 feet long and displacing 14,250 tons, practically disappeared in the blink of an eye. The ship, save for a section of the bow, disappeared from the face of the earth. Along with it went 193 Coast Guardsmen, 56 U.S. Army soldiers & a U.S. Public Health Service surgeon.

One sailor who responded to the explosion stated:

“…as we came into closer view of what had once been a ship, the water was filled only with floating debris, dead fish, torn life jackets, lumber and other unidentifiable objects. The smell of death, and fire, and gasoline, and oil was evident and nauseating. This was sudden death, and horror, unwanted and unasked for, but complete.”

The U.S. Navy would ultimately chalk up the incident to an accidental detonation of the ship’s cargo: 3,399 unfused bombs, each containing 350 pounds of high-explosive Torpex. That adds up to 1,189,650 pounds of high explosive, or 594 tons. As the Coast Guard states, “By 1949, the U.S. Navy officially closed the case deciding that the loss was not due to enemy action but an “accident intrinsic to the loading process.”

Now, 74 years later, a son of one of the lost crew members of the Serpens is lobbying for the Pentagon to reconsider the official explanation. Backing him up are some curious facts, allegations, and discrepancies, as reported recently by the Sarasota-Herald Tribune:

  • Amazingly, there were two survivors of the ship explosion, both of whom survived in the remaining bow section of the ship. One of them reported that a Japanese submarine had been tracking the Serpens before the explosion.
  • Two explosions were heard by nearby military personnel. The second explosion was the detonation of the million plus pounds of high explosives aboard the ship. According to the submarine theory, the first explosion was a torpedo which then set off a huge “secondary” explosion of the ship’s cargo.
  • A majority of the Court of Inquiry convened to look into the accident believed that the ship had been the victim of enemy action—yet the Navy still insisted the cause of the explosion had been an accident.
  • Japanese radio propaganda actually announced the explosion before Japan could have plausibly learned about it from the Americans, suggesting a submarine reported the attack back to Tokyo.

Veering into sinister territory: the Navy Judge Advocate General’s conclusions on the Serpens’ sinking, dated 1949, “were checked out of the National Archives Records Administration in 2003 by the Navy JAG’s office and never returned.”

USS Serpens’ caskets at Arlington Cemetery

At 76, the retired Central Intelligence Agency senior finance officer and certified fraud investigator wonders if he’s onto one of the last cover-ups of World War II.

So why would the U.S. Navy cover up the incident? By 1945 Guadalcanal was thousands of miles behind friendly lines and was part of the logistics chain supporting the Allies’ advance on Japan itself. Anti-torpedo nets were supposed to be strung along Lunga Point to protect ships like the Serpens, but were often less than 100 percent reliable.

The death of 250 military personnel far from the front line would have been a major embarrassment to the Navy.

Could the Navy reverse course and come clean? In 2001, Naval historians pieced together enough evidence to convince the Chief of Naval Operations and Secretary of the Navy that the USS Eagle 2, a patrol boat sunk off the coast of Maine in 1945, was the victim of a submarine attack. For decades, the Navy believed Eagle-2 had been the victim of a boiler explosion.

USS Serpens monument

Historians discovered reports by survivors that a mysterious submarine with unique symbols painted on the conning tower was sighted at the time of the attack. The symbols matched those painted on the German Navy U-boat U-583,proving it was responsible for the sinking.

The official explanation for the loss of Serpens leaves open the possibility that members of the crew were in some way incompetent and caused their own deaths. A submarine attack, on the other hand, could mean that local anti-submarine defenses were not strong enough and would fault the Navy’s leadership.

Reopening the case of the Serpens could help clear the names of the crew—and determine why the real truth didn’t come out decades sooner.

Story by:
Kyle Mizokami

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Stuart Amstutz – New Orleans, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Jeff Bricker – Quincey, IL; US Army, Gulf War, 82nd Airborne Division

John Christopher – Roswell, GA; US navy, WWII, PTO, USS Rodman

Aubrey Downey – Morvin, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI; 375th Bomb Squadron

William Frasher – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Frederick Gerken Jr. – Denville, NJ; US Army, WWII, Pvt., cannoneer, 398th Infantry Reg., Bronze Star

Richard Lillie Sr. – Boston, MA; US Navy, WWII, USS Bunker Hill

Ceci Nelson (102) – Oklahoma City, OK; US navy, WWII

Peter Povich – Akron, OH; US Army, Cpl., 11th Airborne Division

John A. Shelemba – Hamtramck, MI; US Army, Korea, L Co./3/34/24th Infantry Division, KIA (Taejon)

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

HAPPY HOLIDAY WISH FOR ALL !! Poems (2)

SANTA PARATROOPER

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everyone out there !!   May you all find the Peace and Happiness you deserve.

 

 

A 1944 Christmas

FromPacific Paratrooper to ALL !!!

Cherish His Christmas

by Roger J. Robicheau

Dedicated to our military…

Christmas brings such a time of love
Each tender heart holds so much of

Unselfishness thrives, trust is strong
The purpose to give, send love along

A time of pleasantries, patience too
Good wishes to all, all feelings true

Thankfulness follows each fine deed
Gifts from our God, never from greed

Great the rewards that joy does bring
Like the beauty in hearing angels sing

We pray for our loved, each so dear
Especially those who can’t be near

Many leave home to bravely serve
All freedoms we have, they preserve

Do pray for our troops, as we should
And their families too, if you would

Give thanks to our Lord, His only Son
And cherish His Christmas, everyone

©2004Roger J. Robicheau

Please do me one favor and click on last year’s post – Right Here !  

From Charly Priest to Smitty – CLICK HERE!!

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

Military Humor – 

Easton, MD–Dec. 22, 2011–This is a Christmas display at the home of Tom and Alice Blair, which includes an F 104 jet, staff photo/Barbara Haddock Taylor} [Sun Photographer] #9306

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas Anderson – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII & Korea

Bill Bjorson – Canfield, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/511/11th Airborne Division

Roland Duffany – Pawtucket, RI; US Army, WWII, SSgt., Purple Heart

Robert Gibbons – Denver, CO; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Samuel Jones – London, ENG; Royal Navy, WWII, ETO, gunner, HMS Zulu

Shuso “Shoes” Kumata – IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, Occupation interpreter

Thomas Lovell – St. George, UT; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Tetsuo Matsumoto – Lodi, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt., 100/442nd RCT

George A. Sakheim – Brn: GER; US Army, WWII, ETO, Military Intelligence & interpreter

Wiley Tanner – Radium, KS; US Army, WWII

 

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

 

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

Military during Thanksgiving

 

 

 

The Thanksgiving Day card GP Cox received from the National WWII Museum in New Orleans

I WISH TO EXPRESS MY THANKS TO EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU !!!  AND MAY WE ALL THANK THOSE VETERANS WHO FIGHT FOR US !!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanksgiving during WWII…

They’re celebrating Thanksgiving on this very day,

My thoughts are at home, though I’m far away;

I can see everyone, eating dinner deluxe,

Whether it be chicken, turkey or even duck;

The fellows over here won’t whimper or moan,

They’ll look to the next one and hope to be home.

 

Truly and honestly, from way down deep,

They want you to be happy and enjoy your feast.

These holidays are remembered by one and all,

Those happy days we can always recall.

The ones in the future, will be happier, I know

When we all come back from defeating the foe.

_______Poem by an Anonymous WWII Veteran

Thanksgiving

For those of you living where there is no official Thanksgiving Day on this date – look around – family, friends, Freedom and life itself – all enough to give thanks for each day !

 

FROM: PACIFIC PARATROOPER – May you all have a happy and healthy Holiday Season !!

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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

Please be considerate to those who may not be celebrating…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Military Humor – 

Navy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Army

 

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Archer – Omaha, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-25 navigator

John Boone – Summerville, SC; US Army, WWII, ETO, light mortar, Co. I/319/80th Division

Juan Borjon Jr. – Morenci, AZ; US Army, Spc., 11th Airborne Division

WWII Memorial poem at Arlington Cemetery

Don Dyne – Kelseyville, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO / Korea, radio tech.

Adolph J. Loebach – Peru, IL; US Navy, WWII, USS Oklahoma, KIA, (Pearl Harbor)

Donald McElwain – Holyoke, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Ensign, LST

Frank Merritt – Broxton, GA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Charles G. Ruble – Parker City, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, TSgt., 441st Troop Carrier Group, KIA (Germany)

Elmo Sepulvado – Zwolle, LA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Gerald N. Wilson – Camden, MI; US Army, Korea, Cpl., 1st Calvary Division, KIA

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

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

Borneo – a world forgotten / Lt. Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.

Australians landing on Borneo

Part of the wider Borneo campaign of the Pacific War, was fought between 10 June and 15 August 1945 in North Borneo (later known as Sabah). The battle involved a series of amphibious landings by Australian forces on various points on the mainland around Brunei Bay and upon islands situated around the bay. Japanese opposition to the landings was sporadic initially, although as the campaign progressed a number of considerable clashes occurred and both sides suffered relatively significant casualties. Ultimately, however, the Australians were successful in seizing control of the region.

Codenamed Operation Oboe Six, the battle was part of the second phase of the Allied operations to capture the island of Borneo. Previously in May a brigade-sized force had been put ashore on Tarakan. A total of 29,000–30,000 men were committed to the operation by the Allies, with the majority of the ground forces being provided by the Australian 9th Division, under the command of Major General George Wootten and consisting of the 20th and 24th Brigades, along with naval support from the United States Navy and Royal Australian Navy and aerial support from the United States Army Air Forces, the United States Marine Corps and elements of the Royal Australian Air Force’s 1st Tactical Air Force.

Borneo

Two United States Army units, the 727th Amphibian Tractor Battalion who manned the LVTs and the 593rd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment’s Boat Battalion, were also attached to the Australians. Having been planned by General Douglas MacArthur to take place in three stages—preparatory bombardment, forced landings, advance—the objective of the operation was to enable the Allies to establish “an advanced fleet base” in order to enable subsequent naval operations, to capture the vast oil and rubber supplies available in the area and to re-establish British civil administration.  Intelligence estimated that there were approximately 31,000 Japanese troops on Borneo.

Borneo map

Despite the progress that had been made on the southern mainland,  the fighting intensified as the Japanese defenders retreated inland to a heavily fortified position known as “the Pocket.” After the battle 180 Japanese dead were counted, bringing the total killed during the fighting on Labuan to 389. Against this the Australians suffered 34 killed and 93 wounded.

The second main landing came on 16 June on the mainland at Weston, in the north-eastern part of Brunei Bay. Many times the fighting came down to hand-to-hand combat.

In early August 1945, two atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and on 15 August the Japanese Emperor, Hirohito, effectively announced an end to hostilities, with the formal surrender being signed on 2 September 1945. As a result of the ceasefire, the planned Allied invasion of Japan was no longer required and as a result, the strategic gains provided by the capture of North Borneo were arguably negated.

Combat in Borneo

Throughout the course of the fighting on North Borneo, the Australians lost 114 men killed or died of wounds while another 221 men were wounded. Against this, the Japanese lost at least 1,234 men, while 130 had been captured. On top of this, a further 1,800 Japanese were estimated to have been killed by guerrilla forces operating as part of the clandestine Services Reconnaissance Department.

Borneo

After the fighting was over, the Australians began the task for establishing British civil administration, rebuilding the infrastructure that had been damaged and providing for the civilians that had been displaced in the fighting. Following the ceasefire, there were still a large number of Japanese troops in North Borneo—by October 1945 it was estimated that there was over 21,000 Japanese soldiers and civilians still in North Borneo—and the 9th Division was made responsible for organizing the surrender, provisioning and protection of these personnel.

Lt. Gen. Masao Baba at Borneo surrender

They were also tasked with liberating the Allied civilian internees and prisoners of war that were being held at Batu Lintang camp in Kuching, Sarawak. As civil administration was slowly restored, in October 1945, the Australian demobilization process began. Initially this process was slow as there were few troops able to relieve the Australian forces in Borneo and as such only long service personnel were released for return to Australia. The 9th Division remained in North Borneo performing garrison duties until January 1946, when it was relieved by the 32nd Indian Brigade, and subsequently disbanded.

This situation remained until 1963, when the region was subsumed by the Malaysian state of Sabah.

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Military Humor –

“Did you hear about the cruise ship that got stranded for 5 days? Must have been tough.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salute to Lt. General Edward M. Flanagan Jr. –

Lt.General E.M. Flanagan

 

Edward Flanagan Jr. Beaufort, SC – Lt. General (retired) Edward M. (Fly) Flanagan, 98, made his final jump on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at his home on Lady’s Island. He spent his life in daily acts of adoration of his wife and devotion to God. A three-star Army General, accomplished author and military historian.

Born and raised in Saugerties, NY, the son of Edward and Marie (Sinnot) Flanagan, he was a career military officer stationed at home and abroad including Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Germany. After graduating from the United States Military Academy in 1943 he became a paratrooper and fought in the Pacific during World War II. He had a combat jump into the Philippines with the 11th Airborne Division and participated in the occupation of Japan at the end of the war.

He met his wife, Marguerite Farrell while on leave from West Point and they were married in 1945 when he returned from the war. He had a distinguished military career, rising to the rank of Lt. General and his commands included the 25th Infantry Division (Assistant Division Commander), 1st Infantry Division, U.S. Army center for Special Warfare and U.S. Army Special Warfare School (Green Berets), Eighth United States Army and Sixth United States Army. He retired from active duty in 1978.

11th Airborne Division patch

During his retirement he did extensive research and wrote a number of military history books including Angels at Dawn; The History of the 11th Airborne Division; Rakkasans; The Los Banos Raid; Airborne A Combat History of American Airborne Forces; and Lighting: The 101st in the Gulf War.

The General was kind enough to call me twice when he heard my father had served with the 11th Airborne and that I was using many of his well-researched books as a resource of my information.  He was only too eager to help.

The General will be buried with fellow graduates at the West Point Military Academy.

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

U.S. Marine Corps Birthday – 10 November 2019

What does the celebration mean to Marines across the globe?  To General John Lejeune it meant a great deal.  On 1 November 1921, he issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921, which provided a summary of the history, mission and traditions of the Corps and directed that the order be read to every command each subsequent year on 10 November.

The reading of Order 47, Series 1921

 

To read Order 47 please click HERE!

 

 

USMC Birthday Cake

 

 

At the Marine Corps Ball, one key piece of the ceremony is to present the first piece of cake to the oldest Marine in the room, who in turn gives the next to the junior Marine.  This symbolic gesture is the passing of experience and knowledge from the veteran to the recruit.  We should all emulate their example and take part in history.

 

To all those who are able – Enjoy the fruits of your labor and revel in the spectacle and unabashed camaraderie that is the U.S. Marine Corps!!

 

 

 

 

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Current News – Charly Priest Review

As I explained to Charly Priest, I am the farthest thing from a poet that anyone could meet, but I am attempting a review of his Kindle/Paperback book.  I hope everyone bears with me.

Priest is an unusual sort, and his poetry bears witness to this statement, but he’s humorous, serious and down-right confusing at times.  There is no clearer explanation of him than that which is written at the end of the book by himself.

There are some that make you think, such as his poem “The Priest”, but I think he hunkers down and shows more of his true self in Chapter 4, and I was impressed.  Such as “Land of the Killers” you can hear his own experiences in the Spanish Legion during deployment.  “In Warfare”, that with all said and done, boils down to the last line, “where it’s a day-to-day reality of the insane.”

“Invisible People”, we’ve either known one of these or were one ourselves;  “Seven Sins”, he expresses the human condition as he sees it and “After the End” with great advice to all.

To find his book, Click Here!

To locate his blog, Click Here!!

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

Marine Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Somebody stop that guy and give him a piece of cake!!!”

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Rudy Boesch – Virginia Beach, VA; US Navy, Vietnam, Master Chief SEAL (Ret. 46 y.), Bronze Star

Larry Brown – Columbus, OH; USMC, Vietnam

Thomas H. Cooper – Chattanooga, TN; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl. # 295826, 2nd Amtrac Battalion, KIA (Tarawa)

Glen “Bud” Daniel – Belleville, KS; USMC, WWII, 2ndLt., pilot, Purple Heart

Darryly Fleming – Orange Park, FL; USMC, Chief Warrant Officer-5 (Ret.)

Harry C. Morrissey – Everett, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Co. B/1/7/1st Marines, KIA (Guadalcanal)

Paul Plasse – Waterville, ME; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Kenneth Ross – Mosinee, WI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Thomas Walker III – Gadsen, AL; USMC, WWII, Sgt.

Jack Van Zandt – Danville, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc, Co. A/1/6/2nd Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

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

WWII Glider Stands as a nod to Camp MacKall, NC

Glider at Camp MacKall

HOFFMAN, N.C. (Tribune News Service)  — The Army’s Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations soldiers have been tried, tested and trained at Camp Mackall for decades.

But long before the first Green Beret was built amid the remote satellite installation several miles west of Fort Bragg, Camp Mackall was home to the nation’s parachute and glider training amid World War II.

Airborne, Camp MacKall

The U.S. Army Special Warfare Center and School honored that history as it dedicated a replica of a Waco CG-4A glider that now welcomes visitors from Camp Mackall’s Ashemont Road entrance.

The glider — which is raised above an intersection that also features a flag pole, historical marker and welcome sign — was built to be a sturdier version of the original CG-4A gliders. The nose of the glider includes a metal frame salvaged from an actual glider that was found, crashed, in a nearby swamp in recent years.

Glider at Camp MacKall, 1943

The glider has replaced a UH-1 Huey helicopter that had been on display at the location. Officials said the Huey is being refurbished and will eventually be relocated to another part of Camp Mackall.

Several World War II veterans attended the ceremony, including a paratrooper who jumped into Normandy, France, on D-Day alongside glider forces, a glider infantryman and a glider pilot.

Glider training

Russ Seitz said he could remember riding in a glider very similar to the one now on display as a soldier at Fort Bragg in 1944 and 1945. It would have been towed by a C-47, quietly pulled through the air behind the much larger plane.

Seitz pointed to how the nose of the glider had a hinge to allow it to open upward so jeeps or other equipment could be driven inside.

“There’s a bench on each side,” he said. “There is a sensation when you’re being towed.”

Camp MacKall postcard

During the war, the Army ordered 13,900 gliders, made of wood and metal covered in fabric. And they would be used across Europe, China, Burma and India and were often used as a complement to paratroopers, carrying additional troops, howitzers and vehicles.

The flying machines, which used a set of skids to land, were nicknamed “Gooney Birds,” “Flying Coffins,” “Tow Targets” and “Silent Wings.”

Lt. Col. Seth A. Wheeler, the commander of 1st Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group, said the ceremony was a unique opportunity to reflect on Camp Mackall’s past and commemorate its history.

Now a small but growing camp housing mostly special operations facilities, Camp Mackall was once a bustling Army installation 7 miles from Fort Bragg’s western training areas.

Smitty, 187th RCT/11th Airborne Division, Camp MacKall 1943

Construction at the camp, originally named Camp Hoffman, was begun in late 1942, according to officials. And most of the work was finished in four months, with buildings created out of temporary materials such as plank siding and tar paper.

The installation was renamed Camp Mackall on Feb. 8, 1943, in honor of Pvt. John Thomas Mackall, who was thought at the time to be the first paratrooper casualty in World War II.

The glider’s tail number, 111242, corresponds to the date Mackall died, Nov. 12, 1942.

Wheeler said Camp Mackall is the only Army installation named after an enlisted soldier.

Now a relatively austere camp, Wheeler said the installation has a lofty wartime past.

“Camp Mackall was an installation to behold, with over 65 miles of paved roads, a 1,200 bed hospital, two cantonment areas with five movie theaters, six beer gardens, a triangle-shaped airport with three 5k foot runways and a total of 1,750 buildings including three libraries and 12 chapels,” he said.

The camp was home to U.S. Army Airborne Command, which needed greater maneuver areas and airfields to train the expanding airborne and glider units.

All five U.S. Army airborne divisions have ties to Camp Mackall, officials said. The 11th, 13th and 17th Airborne Divisions were headquartered at the camp. Additionally, the 82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Division at Fort Bragg trained at Camp Mackall.

Camp Mackall was home of the airborne and glider infantry for three-and-a-half years.

At the war’s end, Airborne Command moved to Fort Bragg. And a few years later, the Army began using Camp Mackall as a training location for a new kind of unit, Special Forces.

Drew Brooks can be reached at dbrooks@fayobserver.com 

(c)2018 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Military (Airborne) Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Brando – Jersey City, NJ; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea

Francis Costello – Victoria, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Mike Dunsmore – MI; US Army, Vietnam, 1st Cavalry Division, Purple Heart

Cletis Eades – Grandview, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Makato Harano – Kealakekua, HI; US Army, WWII

Victor Klopping – Des Moines, IA; US Army, WWII

Henry ‘Hank’ Lee – Zanesville, OH; US Army, Vietnam, Corps of Engineers, Lt. Colonel (Ret), West Point grad

Joseph Orosz – Westlake, FL; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Roger H. Swartz – Palatine Bridge, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/11th Airborne Division

Matthew Zieringer – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Major (Ret. 22 y.)

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

You don’t need to be Superman to be a hero

Following his U.S. Army service in World War II, Thompson joined the Air Force, retiring with more than 20 years of service at the rank of major and earning his master’s degree. Courtesy of Jeremy P Amick

Growing up with dyslexia, James Thompson faced many challenges in his early learning experiences, which tempered his ambitions toward pursuing an education in future years.

Additionally, while in the eleventh grade in the fall of 1944, he received his draft notice and believed it to be the end of any formal education; instead, the military later provided the spirit and resources to earn a master’s degree.

“I was 18 years old when I received my draft notice for the U.S. Army and left Columbia by bus on October 20 (1944),” said the veteran. “When we arrived at Jefferson Barracks (St. Louis), we were given another physical, issued our uniforms and the next morning put on a train to Camp Crowder.”

For the next few weeks, he underwent his basic training followed by lineman training, instruction as a radio operator and cryptographic training.

“The first sergeant came and got me and said there’s a guy (in civilian clothes) who wants to interview you,” Thompson said. “After that, I was in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)—the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),” he added.

Serving as “the first organized effort by the United States to implement a centralized system of strategic intelligence,” the OSS was established on June 13, 1942 and conducted many covert functions such as receiving and decoding enemy communications.

In the summer of 1945, Thompson received orders for overseas service. He took a train to California and, from there, sailed aboard a troop ship to the island of Eniwetok. His journey ended with his arrival at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, where he spent the next several months as a cryptographer.

General William J. Donovan reviews Operational Group members in Bethesda, Maryland prior to their departure for China in 1945.

“The OSS was disbanded because the war was over,” said Thompson. “I can remember that in late November 1945, there were about six of us transferred from the Philippines to Tokyo, Japan, at the headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur who was there as oversight for the occupational forces.”

The veteran explained that he was part of a group who processed messages sent to and from Sixth Army and MacArthur’s headquarters. While there, he was later promoted to sergeant and placed in charge of the code room, which had the responsibility of decoding message traffic.

While in Japan, his enlistment expired but he chose to remain there as a civilian to continue the work he enjoyed at McArthur’s headquarters. However, in June 1947, he returned to the United States and was able to enroll in college at the University of Missouri despite having not completed his high school education a few years earlier.

MacArthur and the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, at their first meeting, September 1945

“In 1951, I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology,” recalled Thompson. “While I was at MU, I was informed that since I had held the rank of sergeant in the Army, I could complete one semester of ROTC and qualify for commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force upon graduation.”

The former soldier began his Air Force career as an officer when assigned to Bangor, Maine, administering entrance exams for new recruits and draftees. It was here that he met the former Barbara Longfellow while taking courses at the University of Maine and the two soon married. The couple went on to raise three sons.

From there, he was briefly transferred to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, before receiving assignment to Wheelus Air Base in Tripoli, Libya, spending time as an administrative officer for the 580th Air Materiel Assembly Squadron.

Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, United States – 20 Feb 1995

 

“I became the adjutant for the base administrative officer at Selfridge Field (Michigan) in 1959,” he explained. “I made captain while I was there and then became the administrative officer and later commander for the 753rd Radar Station at Sault St. Maria, Michigan.”

He would later attend the first class of the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington D.C., as the various military service branches learned to combine their intelligence gathering capabilities.

From 1962 to 1966, he was stationed in Ramstein, Germany, gathering intelligence on the Soviet air capabilities.

In Germany, he took courses through the University of Southern California, earning his master’s degree in systems management. He was then transferred to Little Rock, Arkansas, for a year followed by his assignment to Vietnam. During the war, he was stationed in Nha Trang and briefed pilots prior to their aerial missions.

“I was given my base of choice when returning to the states in 1969, so I chose Whiteman Air Force Base,” said Thompson. “I spent the last few months of my career there and retired as a major with 20 years, 1 month and 1 day of service,” he grinned.

Whitman Air Force Base

His military career, he explained, was a collection of unique experiences that did not follow a linear path. As a child, he further noted, he would never have imagined the opportunity for an advanced education or the option of pursuing his interest of becoming a member of the military.

“When I was younger, the military was something I always wanted to do and I never believed I could join the Army or Air Force because of my dyslexia,” he said. “My ambitions weren’t all that high as a child but then I was drafted, I encountered people who I admired and inspired me to achieve.”

He concluded, “When it was all said and done, I not only got to serve both in the Army and Air Force, but this young man,” he said, pointing to himself, “who didn’t finished high school, was able to earn a master’s degree … all because of the military.”

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

Military Humor –

Navigator to pilot… navigator to pilot… HALP !!

Two other CBI newspapers for the troops.

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Elizabeth Birkhimer – Greenfield, IL; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Robert Dean – NY; US Navy, WWII, PBY pilot

James Fraser – Stratford, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Richmond

Margaret Goodell – Taplin Hill, VT; US Army WAC, WWII, 2nd Lt.

William Hunter – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII/ Korea

Warren Kepner – Harrisburg, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Benjamin Neal – Norfolk, VA; US Army, WWII

Lowell Rutherford – Battle Creek, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, 113 SeaBees

Richard Sprague – Dewey, OK; US Navy, WWII, USS Indianapolis

Joe Varela – Norwalk, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co./187th/11th Airborne Division

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

The U.S. Marine Corps in China – part I

Marines in China

On September 2, 1945, Japanese representatives boarded the battleship USS Missouri. World War II had been brought to a swift conclusion. To the men of the III Marine Amphibious Corps (IIIAC), already training for the proposed invasion of Japan, this was welcome news indeed.

The leathernecks knew that an invasion of the Japanese home islands would have been bloody.  Now the nightmare seemed over, and the Marines looked forward to returning to the States.

But instead of going home, the IIIAC Marines found that they were going to be sent to China instead. This was a bitter disappointment for many, but some actually looked forward to an adventure in the Far East. Private Harold Stevens of the 29th Marines was thrilled that he was not going back to his family’s farm in Pennsylvania. He was only 19 but was already a veteran of the bloody battles that secured Okinawa.

To many Americans of Stevens’ generation, China was still the land of mystery and romance, of exotic sights and beautiful women. It was a place that had enthralled Marco Polo. Now Stevens, a farm boy, was about to be sent there. He could hardly believe his good fortune.

Chiang Kai shek

The story of the postwar Marine involvement in China is interesting but anything but romantic. It began when Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, leader of China during World War II, requested American help in securing northern China. There were more than two million Japanese there who had to be repatriated to Japan, including a substantial number of soldiers. But Chiang was also thinking of his chief rival, Communist leader Mao Zedong. The communists were particularly strong in the north. With American help, directly or indirectly, Chiang hoped to seize the important cities of northern China before the communists could gain control.

While the U.S government did help transport Chiang’s Nationalist troops to various locations, in general the American military was to maintain strict neutrality. In October 1945, the U.S. Fourteenth Air Force airlifted 50,000 men of the 92nd and 94th Chinese Nationalist Armies to Peiping (Beijing) and other key strategic points. While “cooperating” with Chiang and the Nationalists, the Americans thought they could bring about a permanent peace in China.

In fact, on November 1945, President Harry Truman appointed Gen. George C. Marshal as a special representative to mediate the differences between the communists and Nationalists. Truman felt it was in the most “vital interest” of the United States and all the United Nations that the people of China overlook no opportunity to adjust their internal differences promptly through peaceful negotiation.

Gen. George C. Marshall

American foreign policy over the last 70 years has often been based on naïve thinking and well-meaning blundering. There is an underlying assumption that Americans have the “know how” to solve the insoluble. Deep cultural, religious, ethnic, and political differences are all too often downplayed or ignored in favor of an optimism that is almost always misplaced.

Such was the case in Vietnam, and such was the case in China from 1945-1949. The Truman administration was certain that General Marshall could negotiate a lasting peace between the bitterest of enemies, foes who mistrusted each other and who were stalling for time to gain a decisive advantage over their rivals. As a result, the Marine IIIAC was left “holding the bag,” trying to maintain a precarious neutrality in the face of a swiftly deteriorating situation.

A pair of communist soldiers read a broadside describing a plan for reconciliation in post-World War II China that has been put forward by General George C. Marshall, U.S. Army Chief of Staff.

In fairness, there were some “Old China hands” in the State Department who recognized that the Chinese government was riddled with corruption and warned the Truman administration accordingly. They were ignored. Though Chiang was no “prize,” he was anti-communist, and that’s all that seemed to matter. The Cold War was starting and with it a new “Red Scare” that communism would spread throughout the world.

The Marine IIIAC Corps headquarters together with the 1st Marine Division would occupy positions in and around Tangku, Tientsin, Peiping, and Chingwangtao in Hopeh Province. Air Support would be provided by the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing flying Grumman F7F Tigercats and other planes. The airmen would be stationed at airfields in the Tsingtao, Tientsin, and Peiping areas.

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Military Humor – 

 

It’s his discharge papers.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Ernest Bernard – Ackley, IA; US Navy, WWII

“THE LAST TRIP”

Walter Brown Jr. – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

Adam Cho – Honolulu, HI; US Army, WWII & Korea

Leonard Gustafson – Columbia, SD; US Army Air Corps, WWII / US Coast Guard

Charles Hasper – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 tail gunner

Jerry Kaschak – Castle Shannon, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Robert Parker – MA; US Army, WWII, APO

Howard Reynolds – Fort Worth, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Recon/11th Airborne Division

Herman ‘Bud’ Schwabl – Canandaigua, NY; USMC, WWII

Douglas Willson – Markham, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, # 10 Squadron

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

Personal Comment –

I have been under the weather, so please bear with me as I am trying to continue my on-line presence as usual as possible.  I seem to have had the need to become quite acquainted with my couch.

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

11th Airborne Division honored

11th A/B trooper Wiiliam Carlisle on the cover of “Yank”

On the cover of the 14 September 1945 issue of Yank magazine,(Vol. 4 No. 13) is S/Sgt. William Carlisle of Chalmers, Indiana

This poem was written by: Pvt. Bronnell York, Battery D, 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, 11th A/B; even if you are not a poetry enthusiast, it is worth reading.

“Victory For the U.S.A.”

We’re the boys of the 457,
Earning our major pay,
Fighting Japs and jungle life,
For three sixty cents a day.

Back home we’re soon forgotten,
By girls and friends we knew,
Here in the South Seas Islands,
Ten thousand miles from you.

All night the rains keep falling,
It’s more than we can stand,
“NO” folks, we’re not convicts,
We’re defenders of our land.

We’re the boys of many,

Bronnell York’s original poem

Holding the upper hand,
Hitting the silk and hoping,
We’re living when we land.

We’re having it pretty tough now,
You can believe what I say,
Some day we hope to live again,
Back home in the USA.

Victory’s in the making,
Our future will be serene,
We’ve got the Navy backing us,
Along with the fighting Marines.

We’re in this all together,
Fellas like you and me,

We’ll be a united people,
And our Country will be free.

There’s no two ways about it,
We’ll either do or die,
For our Country with dictation,
Is not for you or I.

When the war is over,
And we have finished what they began,
We’ll raise Old Glory high above,
The Empire of Japan.

So, to all you 4F jokers,
Who thinks there’s something you missed,
Don’t let the draft board get you,
And for God’s sake don’t enlist.

It might be a long time yet,
Then it might be any day,
When smiling faces see the Golden Gate,
And sail in Frisco Bay.

When this conflict’s over,
The boys can proudly say,
We had to fight for what was ours,
Victory for the U.S.A.!

*****         *****          *****

11th Airborne Memorial

Some of my friends and readers who visit often might remember this cover of Yanks magazine with William Carlisle , of the 11th A/B on the cover.  Koji of http://p47koji.wordpress.com notified me that he found a William and Norma Carlisle in Chalmers, IN.

I sent a note to inquire about the photo.  I received this reply from his widow:

Hello! So nice of you to write, Bob would have been pleased. The picture on the cover of the Yank magazine is William Robert Carlisle, my husband. I’m sure he could have told you stories of the 11th Airborne.  I’m Mrs. Norma Carlisle, Bob’s wife. I’m sorry to tell you that Bob passed away on Dec. 12 – 1997. I miss him! Hope you and yours are enjoying the Golden Years! God Bless, Norma

I was so disappointed to discover that we had lost yet another trooper’s tales of the era and a little taken back to see that he passed on what would have been my father’s 83rd birthday.

With many thanks to Josh, we now have a link to the war memorial that honors the 11th Airborne using Mr. Carlisle’s photo as a model.

http://www.warmemorialhq.org/cpg/thumbnails.php?album=520

Click on images to enlarge.

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

Military Humor – 

“I dropped out of parachute school.”

 

 

 

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Stanley Abraham – Greenwood, NY; US Army, WWII, 299th Combat Engineers

Bobby ‘Pete’ Beckett – Logan, WV; US Army, WWII, Medic

Martha Groton – Washington D.C.; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Gordon Huff – CAN; RC Navy, WWII

William Jones – Tucker, GA; US Navy, WWII

James Myers – Rouseville, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/188/11th Airborne Division

Virgil Oyler – Barberton, OH; US Navy, WWII, aviation

Merle Smith – Clark County, WA; US Navy, Pearl Harbor, Electrician’s Mate 3rd Cl., USS Oklahoma, KIA

Randall Troop – Manchester, MA; US Navy, WWII, USS Colorado, radar

James Watson – Roanoke, VA; US Navy, WWII, ETO

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

MEMORIAL DAY 2019

Luxembourg American Cemetery

Just a Common Soldier (A Soldier Died Today)

by A. Lawrence Vaincourt

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,

Michael, my son.

For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land

Smitty, my father

A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

James J. O’Leary, my uncle

It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,

Arthur Mulroy, my cousin, now deceased

But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor while he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

© 1987 A. Lawrence Vaincourt

 

THESE TROOPS TOOK THE TIME TO FIGHT FOR YOU AND ME.  PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO HONOR THEM.

Posted here courtesy of : Partnering With Eagles

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

Not your usual Military Humor today….     

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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

Farewell Salutes – 

Vernon Bishop – Santa Rosa, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1st Army Group

David Bond – Tampa, FL; USMC, Major (Ret.22 y.)

Tim Conway – Cleveland, OH; US Army / comedian

Eugene Galella – Memphis, TN; US Navy, WWII, ETO/ETO, pilot / USNR, Lt. Commander (Ret.)

Charles Holland – Aberdeen, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/187/11th Airborne Division

Don Jesperson – Idaho Falls, ID; US Army, Korea, Co. B/187th RCT

Kaylie Ludwig – IL; US Navy, Lt., Medical Corps, 6th Fleet, USS Arlington

Ralph Manley – Springfield, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO, 101st Airborne Division, demolitions

I.M. Pei – brn. Canton, CHI; Civilian, WWII, bomb fuse creator / architect

Herman Wouk – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII, destroyer minesweeper / author

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

%d bloggers like this: