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…and a Soldier Died Today…

Koji Kanemoto has started our Memorial Day weekend off with the proper remembrance and respect that our deceased veterans deserve.

Masako and Spam Musubi

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Ernie Pyle, 18 April 1945

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The only house he ever owned became, and remains, Albuquerque’s first branch library. A South Valley middle school bears his name, and his face once appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

But, today, many people would be stumped to tell you much, if anything, about Ernie Pyle, the famed newspaper columnist whose writings brought the realities of World War II home to millions of Americans.

Jerry Maschino, along with several of Pyle’s descendants, is out to change that.

“A lot of people, if you ask them, ‘Do you know Ernie Pyle?’ will answer yes,” Maschino said. “But if you ask about specifics, they usually don’t know any, other than he was a war correspondent. … But there’s a lot more to Ernie Pyle than that.”

Maschino and a trio of other board members with the 3-year-old Ernie Pyle Legacy Foundation, based in Gallatin, Tenn., were in town recently drumming up support for a national Ernie Pyle Day. They plan to kick off the effort with an Aug. 3, 2017, celebration at the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial, which sits about 2½ miles east of Pyle’s 900 Girard SE home, now the Ernie Pyle Library.

“Our mission is simple: Ensure the legacy of Ernie Pyle,” Maschino said. “We have a lot of avenues to do that. The short-term objective is to visit places and have events where we can bring a lot people together and present this idea” of having a national Ernie Pyle Day.

“We want to kick it off in Albuquerque because this was his home,” he said.

Pyle, an Indiana native, was the best-known columnist of World War II. Writing in a conversational, down-home style about the soldiers, places and events of that global conflict for the Scripps Howard newspaper chain, Pyle reached millions of readers who came to regard him as friend, confidant and teller of truth.

Pyle, a thin, balding man approaching middle age, was on the front lines in the North Africa campaign, the invasion of Sicily, the D-Day landings at Normandy and the invasion of Okinawa.

His columns — which Pyle believed never adequately conveyed the horror of war to his readers — won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1944.

“Mothers used to wait for their newspapers every day to see whether their sons might be mentioned in Pyle’s columns,” Maschino said.

But Pyle honed his reporting skills and writing style long before shipping out to war.

While attending Indiana University to study journalism, Pyle was editor of the student newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student.

He quit college in 1923, a few months before graduating, to work as a cub reporter for the LaPorte Herald, now the LaPorte Herald-Argus, in Indiana.

He left Indiana 3 1/2 months later to write for Scripps Howard’s Washington Daily News, where he became the country’s first aviation columnist, rubbing elbows with pioneers of the fledgling industry. His friend, famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart, gave him an engraved watch that he wore most of his life.

After a brief stint as an editor, Pyle persuaded his bosses to let him become a roving reporter. For the next six years he traveled throughout the country, writing columns about the people he met and the places he visited.

Ernie Pyle

During those travels, he developed an affinity for New Mexico. He and his wife, Jerry, decided to settle in Albuquerque in 1940, buying a lot and building the modest home on Girard.

Then came the war, and Pyle embedded with the troops.

When it was clear that the battle against Hitler’s Nazis in Europe was heading toward its inevitable conclusion, Pyle wrestled with the urge to leave war behind. But his bond with the GIs bearing the brunt of the war persuaded him to head to the Pacific Theater.

While in the Pacific, Pyle waged a successful war against military censorship by persuading the Navy to rescind its policy that prevented him from publishing the names and hometowns of the sailors and Navy aviators he wrote about in his columns.

**ADVANCE FOR MONDAY, FEB. 4** This photo provided by Richard Strasser shows the scene on April 20, 1945, two days after his death on Ie Shima, where correspondent Ernie Pyle was buried alongside several soldiers killed in combat on the tiny island off Okinawa _ the kind of men Pyle had written about during four years of WWII battlefield reporting. The photo shows a memorial ceremony led by Maj. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce (back to camera), commander of the Army’s 77th Infantry Division, which captured the island the next day. Ernie Pyle’s wooden coffin, with his picture and a sprig of foliage, is visible at the officer’s feet. His body was moved in 1949 to a military cemetery in Hawaii. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Richard Strasser)

Pyle was killed by a Japanese machine gunner on April 18, 1945, on the island of Iejima, then known as Ie Shima. He was accompanying units with the 77th Infantry Division during the battle for the Japanese island of Okinawa. The nation mourned him like no other casualty of the war.

Jerry Pyle, who fought her own war with alcoholism and mental illness, died seven months after Ernie.

In 1983, Ernie Pyle was awarded the Purple Heart — a rare honor for a civilian — by the 77th Army Reserve Command.

(c)2016 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)

From Stars and Stripes magazine.

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A short video of remembrance for Ernie Pyle….

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Farewell Salutes – 

Gerry Berndsen – St. Louis, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, C-47 pilot

Anne V. Coates – ENG; civilian surgical nurse for wounded veterans, (noted film editor)

Ralph Diaz – Winter Haven, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Donald Freeman – Birmingham, AL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Carlton Hudson – Larto, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW, B-24 navigator

Bob Jacobsen – San Diego, CA; US Navy, Vietnam, Lt.Comdr., pilot

Charles Marner – Oak Park, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Randolph

Joseph Nixon – Olyphant, PA; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Milton Potee – Rogers, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Harold Schworn – Delanson, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Rushmore

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ARMED FORCES DAY

19 MAY, 2018, BEING ANOTHER PART OF MILITARY APPRECIATION MONTH, IS CALLED ARMED FORCES DAY.

THE FIRST ARMED FORCES DAY WAS CELEBRATED 29 MAY 1950 (one month before the start of the Korean War).  ARMED FORCES WEEK BEGINS ON THE 2ND SATURDAY OF MAY AND ENDS THRU THE 3RD SATURDAY.  Due to their unique schedules, the NATIONAL GUARD & THE RESERVE units may celebrate this at any time during the month.

 

PRESIDENT DWIGHT DAVID EISENHOWER, 1953 –  “Today let us, as Americans, honor the American fighting man.  For it is he or she – the soldier, the sailor, the Airman, the Marine – who has fought to preserve freedom.”

 

If you do NOT normally fly your flag everyday, make this day one that you do!  Even a small one sitting in your window shows your heartfelt feelings toward our troops.

If you are not from the U.S., tell us about the days you honor your military in the fight for freedom – help us to learn by sharing.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lloyd Backart – Albuquerque, NM; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Donald Carr – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Vietnam, Major, Team 3 Special Forces, KIA

Mildred Eaton – New Orleans, LA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

John Gobbi – Bodega, CA; USMC, WWII, Purple Heart

Michael Healy – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea, Major (Ret.), 187th RCT

Joseph Mills – Lebanon, KY; US Army, Vietnam (Ret. 22 y.)

Joseph Ranke – Apple Valley, MN; US Army, WWII

Richard Surbaugh – Meadow Creek, WV; US Navy, WWII

Thomas Tight – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Army, LT.

Jim Wilke – Griffin, GA; US Army, WWII, 3rd Infantry Division

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Eye Witness Account to Okinawa

This story was contributed by fellow blogger, Mike Tuggle, in tribute to his father, who sailed his final voyage this past Saturday.

My account of the Invasion of Okinawa

By:  Clayton C. Tuggle

I was one of the approximately twelve hundred men aboard the USS Birmingham CL-62. We set out for Okinawa in March, 1945.

Clayton Tuggle

Arriving in Okinawa, we were stationed about five miles from shore. We bombarded the island with 6-inch guns at night hitting several ammunition dumps and shore guns of several sizes. This went on until the invasion began on April 1, 1945. This battle was something entirely different from any the Navy had experienced. Torpedoes were exploding all around our ship, the skies were full of explosions from guns on both sides.

On the 5th of May, 1945, I was cleaning officers’ quarters when the captain [John Wilkes] came on the PA system. He said he’d just got word that 300 Kamikaze planes were headed for our fleet. He said, “The odds are against us but, men, for God’s sake, go down fighting.”

USS Birmingham

My battle station was fire control on the 40 mm guns. I received orders from the gunnery officer and relayed the message to the gun crews as per instructions to aim the guns at the oncoming planes. This was done by the radar system.

In my battle station I could see almost everything around our ship. Kamikaze planes were coming in from the port side, some would crash just before hitting our ship, some would be on fire and head for a ship of any size to hit. I saw one ship get hit by two planes at the same time. I saw several planes get shot out of the sky and crash into the sea. Some would fall near our ship.

Our Marines fired the 20 mm guns constantly as planes came as close as 50 ft from us. The sky was full of explosions. After the all-clear signal came, we headed toward the island for more bombardment. About a half-hour later everyone was back on regular duty.

USS Birmingham ripped apart by kamikaze plane, 1945

One Kamikaze having hidden in the clouds undetected by the radar came down. This tragedy killed forty-seven and wounded eighty-one on our ship. One sailor standing next to me was blown away. I never saw him again.

I was down below in officers’ quarters when the chaplain came to me and commanded me to take him topside. He was burned bad and suffering smoke inhalation. I was suffering from smoke inhalation, and something told me to get in the shower and turn it on for air. I stayed close to the shower for about a minute, then I was able to get the chaplain topside. He died three days later on a hospital ship.

I saw mangled bodies all over the deck, arms and legs were everywhere, bodies without limbs. I had known them personally. I walked by my living quarters and heard men screaming as the rescue squad was closing the hatch on them to keep the compartment from flooding. I then walked to the back of the ship and sat down for a while.

I was elected pall bearer as most of them were from my own division and I knew most of them. We were friends. They were all buried at sea.

Burial at sea.

We went back to normal duties. All my belongings had been destroyed, and I was assigned to another division temporarily and started out again as a sailor going about normal duty. We headed to Pearl Harbor for repairs. We were there for three months.

After repairs were finished we sailed to Tokyo Bay. We were preparing to attack, but the Enola Gay dropped some bombs and peace was declared.

Clayton Tuggle
3-14-1995

April 10, 1925 – May 12, 2018

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jeremiah Adams – Oswego, IL; US Navy, USS Nimitz

Robert Buchert – Cincinnatti, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 152nd AAA/11th Airborne Division

Bill Cooley – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, Lt.

Thomas Davis – Albuquerque, NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Major, Silver Star

Thomas Eager – Lacona, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Princeton

Felix Cruz-Gomez – Brandon, FL; US Army, WWII, KOrea, Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret.)

Ballard Marshall – Richmond, KY; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt.

Art Paul – Chicago, IL; US Army

Jhoon Rhee – Asan, So.KOR; civilian employee US Air Force, Korea War, interpreter

Emil Smith – Paeroa, NZ; RNZ Navy # 10828, WWII

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Special Issue – MAY – Military Appreciation Month

May, marked officially as Military Appreciation Month, is a special month for both those in and out of the military.

Not only do we pause on Memorial Day to remember the sacrifice and service of those who gave all, but the month also holds several other military anniversaries and events, including Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Armed Forces day.

 

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Walter Black – Marion, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, navigator

George Casseb – San Antonio, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI / Korea, meteorologist, Captain

Charles Crittenden – Seattle, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Francis Fleck – Louisville, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 547th Fighter Squadron, Bronze Star

Richard Lowe – Northglenn, CO; US Army, WWII, CBI

Putnam McDowell – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, P-38 pilot, photo recon

Robert Mumford – York, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT 288, torpedoman

William Punnell – Flandreau, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt., Hellcat pilot, USS Wasp, KIA (Palau)

Ora Sharninghouse – Findlay, OH; US Navy, WWII, Aviation Ordnance, Avenger pilot, USS Intrepid, KIA (Palau)

Robert Welch – Byron, MI; US Army Air Corps, 187th/11th Airborne Division

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CBI Theater in March – part one

Editorial staff of the CBI Roundup

These headlines and articles are from the CBI Roundup, newspapers distributed during March 1945.\

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The tanned men in unpressed khaki raised their right hands, were sworn in by Theater Adjutant General, Col. Frank Milani – and the Army of the United States had 10 new second lieutenants.  In such a simple ceremony were enlisted men of the Mars Task Force rewarded at Theater headquarters for combat duty in North Burma that culminated in the opening of the Burma Road from Lashio to Kunming.

They were from eight states of the Union and their ratings ranged from a buck to master sergeants. But after the Adjutant General had signed their commissions, they were eight lieutenants of Infantry and two of Cavalry.  The Infantrymen were with Merrill’s Marauders in the first appearance of American land forces on the continent of Asia, in the campaign that saw their objective taken with the seizure of Myitkyina. Then they joined the 475th Infantry as part of the Mars Force.

Col. Frank Milani giving the oath to 10 new Lt.’s

The Cavalrymen came over here with the 124th Cavalry, which, acting in a dismounted role, made up with the 475th Infantry the component units of the Mars Task Force. They were S/Sgt. Carl R. Hill of Hooker, Tex., and Sgt. Arnold Winkleman of Brenham, Tex.

The Infantrymen were First Sgt. Rupert E. Peters, Arlington, Neb., First Sgt. Kenneth O. LaGrange, Tucson, Ariz., T/Sgt. William McCauley, Phoenix, Ariz., M/Sgt. Hunt Dorn Crawford, Louisville, Ky., T/Sgt. Willie E. Morton, Jacksonville, N.C., First Sgt. William J. Aydt, Merchantsville, N.J., First Sgt. Bernard Block, Long Beach, Calif., and M/Sgt. Valen V. Mellin, Eugene, Ore. Mellin is the man who shot the first Jap at Myitkyina last May.

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FLYING COLUMN

The British sent a flying column out from the 19th Indian Division and these troops smashed right into Mandalay. The last reports are that the British were clearing the city, with the Nips holed up in Fort Dufferin. Combat Cargo planes are airdropping supplies to the British.

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30,000 Japanese Face Trap In Burma

As the Northern Combat Area Command troops of Lt. Gen. Dan I. Sultan drove the Japanese south, British 14th Army units virtually closed the trap on an estimated 30,000 of the enemy if the Myingyan, Meiktila, Mandalay triangle’

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CALCUTTA – Eight members of a crashed B-29 were recently “fished” from the Bay of Bengal in a strange rescue by an American colonel and two enlisted men on an Army fishing cruise in which the rescued airmen were the only “catch.”

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Home Front News

NEW YORK – (UP) – Top numbers this week on nationwide juke-boxes were Rum and Coca Cola, by the Andrews Sisters, Accentuate the Positive, as performed by Bing Crosby and the Andrews gals, and Frankie Carle’s rendition of A Little on the Lonely Side.

The Crosby-Andrews version of Don’t Fence Me In was fourth, ahead of Frank Sinatra singing Saturday Night is Loneliest, Harry James’ trumpet in I’m Beginning to See the Light and Les Brown’s orchestra playing My Dreams Are Getting Better.

I Dream of You, (T. and J. Dorsey), More ‘n’ More, (Tommy Dorsey) and Candy (Dinah Shore), filled out the leading ten.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – CBI Style

 

 

“Strictly G.I.” by Ehret

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bachman – Wilmington, DE; US Army, WWII, CBI, Signal Corps

Patrick Callagy – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Robert DeMoss – Tulsa, OK; US Army, WWII, CBI

William Graham – Hartford, CT; US Army, WWII, CBI/PTO

Albert Hillmeyer – Elmendorf, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO/CBI, radioman

John Ingersoll – Ann Arbor, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, 14th Air Force

Andrew Kowalski – Lambert, PA, US Army, WWII, PTO, Colonel (Ret.)

Miroslav Liškutin – brn: CZE; C Air Force/French Armée de l’Air/RAF, WWII, ETO, Spitfire pilot, BGen. (Ret.23 y.)

Raymond Sinowitz – Bronx, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pvt., POW, KIA

William Waltrip – Springfield, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO,’Edson’s Raiders’, Purple Heart/ Korea, Bronze Star, (Ret. 22 y.)

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Philippine Remembrance

 

Dioscoro Valenzuela

Contributed by: fellow blogger Elmer @ Malate in honor of his uncle.

Dioscoro G. Valenzuela was a sergeant in the Philippine Commonwealth Army when World War II erupted.

He escaped the infamous 1942 Bataan Death March — just as they were being rounded up along the road by Japanese soldiers — by fleeing with two other comrades through the mountains of Mount Natib, across Manila bay on a banca, and finally to his hometown in Bulacan under cover by an old couple in Calanate, Malolos town.

Many soldiers decided to escape on that fateful day seeing how the Japanese treated their comrades. The sick or injured were beaten up and killed.

Dioscoro Valenzuela

Eulogy in honor of DP Dioscoro G. Valenzuela:

“The Fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942 and the Island of Corregidor on May 6 of the same year was the beginning of the Japanese occupation in the Philippines.

The Japanese, while making real efforts to conciliate the Filipino people simultaneously enraged them with heatings, torture, public beheadings and humiliating orders to bow to the Japanese as they passed.

On this atmosphere of escalating anger and resentment of the Filipino people, dozens of GRLA ORGNS sprang up in the country to harass the Japanese soldiers.

At this point in time, Vet DP Dioscoro Gallardo Valenzuela, an advocate of the principle “The Defense of the State is the Prime Duty of Every Citizen”, unhesitatingly joined the underground movement of the GRLA Organizations in Bulacan.

For this extra-ordinary and loyalty to the service, DP Dioscoro G. Valenzuela earned himself the following awards and decorations:

Philippine Defense Medal with Ribbon;
Liberation Medal with Ribbon;
Presidential Citation Badge;
and lately he was accorded Certificate of Recognition by Cong. Romeo Acop-Committee CHM on National Defense and Security, during the Parade Review in Honor of the Veterans at the ROTC Hunters Parade Ground on April 5, 2017.

Overall DP Valenzuela was always a very good friend, very religious God Fearing Man, cheerful and friendly to everyone, strict and disciplinarian but a good role model. He is one of the oldest members of the Federation.”

Veterans Federation of the Philippines

Click on images to enlarge.

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Political Cartoons of 1944 – 1945 – 

NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED!!

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Barbara (Pierce) Bush – NYC, NY; Second & First Lady of the United States

Finley Davis – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, Korea, MSgt., POW, KIA

Ronald Lee Ermey – Emphoria, KS; USMC, Vietnam, “Gunny” (beloved actor)

Juan Guerrero – Kennedy, TX; US Army, WWII

John Hasselbrink – Granada Hills, CA; US Navy, submarine service, USS Illinois

Alexander Latimer – Fort Saskatchewan, CAN; RC Army, WWII, Winnipeg Rifles

Bernard Newport – Hamilton, NZ; RNZ Navy # 8095, WWII, Sub-Lt., MTB-505

Carl Ragle – Talmms, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, G/511/ 11th Airborne Division

Matthew Sarrett – Oceanside, NY; US Coast Guard

Joseph Turner – Pitman, NJ;US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO,  HQ/ 188/ 11th Airborne Division

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Current News – Iwo Jima Remembrance

Hershel “Woody” Williams, Medal of Honor, Iwo Jima

HONOLULU — Seventy-three years ago on the island of Iwo Jima, Hershel “Woody” Williams randomly chose several fellow Marines to give him rifle cover as he made a one-man charge with his flamethrower against a network of Japanese pillboxes.

He spent four hours unleashing flames into the pillboxes that had stymied advance for days, racing back to the Marine Corps lines to refuel the flamethrower, and then running again into battle — all while covered by only four riflemen.

Hershel Williams

Williams was ultimately awarded the Medal of Honor on Feb. 23, 1945, for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty,” as the official citation describes it. He “daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire” coming out of reinforced concrete pillboxes, on which bazooka and mortar rounds had no effect.

At one point, Williams mounted a pillbox, stuck the flamethrower’s nozzle through an air vent and killed the enemy within it.  Two of the Marines covering Williams died that day, but he never knew their names, and never knew where their remains rested until just a few months ago.

On Saturday, Williams, with the Medal of Honor hanging around his neck, stood over the Hawaii grave of Charles Fischer, one of those “guardian angels” who helped him survive that day and is buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, nicknamed the Punchbowl.  He saluted the Marine, who died a private first class that day, and then slowly bent down and placed a purple lei upon his headstone.

Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, then and now

“I have always said I’m just the caretaker of it,” Williams said later of the Medal of Honor. “It belongs to them. They sacrificed for it. I didn’t.”
Twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded to men who fought on Iwo Jima; Williams is the last still alive.
Williams was in Hawaii to dedicate a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe. The monument was initiated by Williams through the organization he founded, the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation. This is the foundation’s 33rd monument to be dedicated; they recognize the sacrifices made by families who have lost loved ones in the service of their country.

Punchbowl Cemetery, Honolulu, HI

After the Saturday morning dedication, the 94-year-old Williams visited the Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu, where the remains of hundreds of servicemembers who died during World War II are interred.  Patrick O’Leary, a foundation board member whom Williams has dubbed his “research guru,” sleuthed the identity of Fischer by poring through hundreds of military documents concerning the Iwo Jima campaign waged in February and March 1945.

Using five witness statements that had been given in the course of recommending Williams for the Medal of Honor, O’Leary was able to reliably pinpoint the company the riflemen were in and found that only a corporal and private first class had been killed that day.  “It just has to be them,” O’Leary said. “Nothing else fits.”

Hershel Williams

Last fall he tracked down Fischer’s gravesite in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The other Marine is buried in Long Island, N.Y.
Williams also visited for the first time the grave of Vernon Waters, a fellow Marine and close friend who died on Iwo Jima.
They had become very close in the lead up to the Iwo Jima campaign, fostering a feeling of devotion in Williams so strong that he ultimately risked court-martial.
While on the island of Guam, Waters and Williams had made a pact that should either of them be killed, the other would return their rings to family members.
William’s girlfriend had given him a ring with a “wee, tiny, little ruby” in it before he left for the Marine Corps.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Personal Request –

Please visit Katrina’s site for honoring our veterans.  My father has been honored there and now a dear old friend.  Thank you.

Sgt Walter “Wally” Morgan Bryant

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eark Albert – McAlester, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, HQ/457th Arty/11th Airborne Division

Edward Cox – Tampa, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea

A soldier from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, the guardians of Arlington National Cemetery, 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, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Frank Fazekas Sr. – Trenton, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Lt., P-47 pilot, KIA

Betty Flowers – Bristol, ENG; British Woman’s Air Force WAAF, WWII

William Morris – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII, Corpsman

Jack Mullins – Sydney, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII

Stanley Serafin – Surprise, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-29 technician

Jesse Traywick – Ft. Benning, GA; US Army WWII, PTO, Gen. Wainwright’s aide, POW

Donald Wesley Troy – Midland, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO & CBI, P-40 & P-47 pilot / Korea, P-51, Distinguished Flying Cross

John Zucco – Boston, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, USS Alaska

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Current News from: “Stars and Stripes”

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — The flag is in surprisingly good shape for its age.

Made at least 100 years ago, the red, white and blue have only slightly faded. The 48 stars remain neatly in place. The edges are slightly frayed, and a few small moth holes dot the banner.  But there is no more important family treasure for Patty Kelly Stevens and her relatives.  This American flag has been a reward, a sign of hope and a reminder of love and loss.

Now, for the first time in a century, the flag has left the family. On Friday, Stevens – now 93 years old – and dozens of family members made the trek from Oklahoma to North Carolina to donate the flag to the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville.

The flag – once presented to the family by Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood – has survived fire, war and time itself. And now, it will be forever preserved.  “It’s not just a U.S. flag…,” said Jim Bartlinski, director of the museum. “The story behind it is incredible.  We have an obligation to care for that flag until the end of time.”

During World War II, Stevens’ mother, Selma Croft, hid the flag under threat of death as the family was held prisoner for three years in the Philippines.

Airborne & Special Forces Museum

The flag – which briefly flew over the Los Baños Internment Camp – became a symbol of hope for the prisoners there in the weeks before a daring raid to rescue them.  And in the decades since, it has honored the caskets of several family members – including veterans and survivors of Los Baños.

“The flag means so much to me,” Stevens said. “To all of us… to my family.”

The flag’s story begins long before the war.

Alfred J. Croft, Stevens’ father, was a self-taught pilot who served in World War I and had come to the Philippines in 1918 to help train Filipino flyers. There, he met Selma, who came to the islands as a nurse in 1919.  The two married and lived in China and then Hawaii – where Stevens was born – before returning to Manila.

At a carnival in the early 1920s, Alfred Croft rescued the flag from a fire that had engulfed the event. Wood, then governor-general of the Philippines, was so impressed that he awarded the flag to Croft.

They lived an easy life in the Philippines, Stevens said.  But that changed on Dec. 8, 1941, a day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Selma Croft was awakened at 5:30 a.m. that day with news of the attack. Her husband was working in Hawaii at the time.

Stevens and her younger brother, William, were sent home from school early. And on that same day, the Japanese began bombing the island.   “We were not prepared for war,” Stevens recalled. The troops in the Philippines had World War I-era equipment. And they took heavy casualties as Japanese forces overran the islands.

On Jan. 6, 1942, the war reached the family’s doorstep. Stevens was 17, months from graduating high school and moving to California.

But Japanese soldiers ordered her to put her life on hold. They demanded that the family pack enough food and clothing for three days.

“The three days lasted three years and two months,” Stevens said.

Unbeknownst to Stevens, her mother packed the family’s American flag with her things. For three years, Selma Croft would keep the flag hidden – probably by hiding it in a mattress, Stevens reckons.

Stevens, speaking to a group of family and veterans at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, related how her family was held first at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. There were 6,000 prisoners on the campus.

As Santo Tomas grew more crowded, the Japanese sent prisoners to build another camp on the island of Luzon – a camp that would become known as the Los Baños Internment Camp.

Stevens’ story

Stevens said her brother – then 14 years old – was sent to help build the camp. He would never be the same, she said.

Meanwhile, Stevens and her mother stayed at Santo Tomas. As the war waged on, conditions became worse.  “They had a saying,” Stevens said. “‘When victorious, we can be generous.'”

As food rations shrank and abuse rose, Stevens said prisoners realized that American troops must be getting close.  After nearly three years in prison, Stevens said she and her mother were taken to Los Baños.

“We thought it was going to be better,” she said. “It wasn’t.”  At Los Baños, the prisoners were surrounded by jungle.  “We could look across the fence and see bananas on the trees,” Stevens said. “But we couldn’t get there.”

On Jan. 7, 1945, the prisoners received an unexpected surprise. As the inhabitants of the camp awoke, they realized that their captors had unexpectedly left them unattended.  The soldiers had been called away to a battle in Manila, Stevens said. Prisoners ran about the camp shouting “We’re free! We’re free!”

Amid the celebration, Selma Croft took her flag out of hiding and offered it to be raised over the prison camp.

“I had no idea she had it,” Stevens said. “We sang the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and ‘God Save the Queen.’ ”
Some of the stronger men left the camp to get food from a nearby village. Others broke into the Japanese food stores.

But even with no guards, most of the 2,000 prisoners – both civilians and troops – were unable to leave.  “We were afraid. We had no place to go,” Stevens said. “We couldn’t get away.”

When Japanese guards returned a week later, they repeatedly asked about the flag.  For three days, the guards searched prisoners’ barracks trying to find it.

Stevens recalled eating pigweed and brush. “Anything just to stay alive,” she said.  Prisoners could see Allied planes overhead, but they worried that any rescue would come too late.

“They had already dug the ditches for the bodies,” Stevens said.

On the early morning of Feb. 23, 1945, help fell from the sky – angels in parachutes.

As Filipino guerillas attacked from the ground, U.S. troops with the 11th Airborne Division came from the sky.

“It was the happiest day of my life,” Stevens said. “To see those paratroopers come.”

With bullets flying, the family hid under their beds. But the Allied forces quickly overran the Japanese guards.

Stevens said her freedom came with the sound of footsteps as one of the soldiers entered the barracks.

“Are you a Marine?,” she asked.

“Hell no. I’m not a Marine. I’m a paratrooper,” the man responded.

Iron Mike

Stevens said she can never repay the paratroopers who rescued her and others. That’s why it’s perfect to pass the flag to the Airborne & Special Operations Museum.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the airborne,” she said.

The donation – officially made on the 73rd anniversary of the Los Baños Raid – will be displayed through the weekend in the museum lobby, Bartlinski said.

Then officials will begin the needed steps to conserve the flag before putting it back on display in time for Flag Day in June. It will remain on display through July 4 and will eventually have a permanent home in the museum’s main exhibit hall.

Paul Kelly, Stevens’ son, said his family was willing to risk their lives to keep the flag. And he’s now encouraged that the museum will ensure it lasts forever.

“It’s not perfect,” he said of the 100-year-old flag. “But hell, what is?”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Adams – Connersville, IN; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Derald Bickford – Lincoln, NE; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division (Ret.)

Herbert Chancey Jr. – Chattanooga, TN; US Army, Vietnam, A Co/22 Regimen, Ranger

Leslie Colgrove – Fort Sumner, NM; US Army, 173rd Airborne Division, Lt. Col. (Ret. 22 y.)

Lewis Gilbert – Hackney, London, ENG; Royal Air Force, WWII, film unit

“Duke” Hipp – Nyssa, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, Purple Heart

Lawrence Lodewick – Alexandria, VA; US Army, West Point grad, 82nd Airborne Division, Bronze Star, Col. (Ret. 22 y.)

Leroy Murray – Springfield, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CMSgt. (Ret.)

Eugene Roy – Dorens, KY; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Howard Weger – Strawberry Point, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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Chick Parsons – Our Man In Manila

Charles ‘Chick’ Parsons

Charles Thomas Parsons Jr. was born in 1900 in Shelbyville, Tennessee, but his family moved frequently to avoid creditors. When young Charles was 5, his mother sent him to Manila for a more stable life with her brother, a public health official in the American-run government. The boy received his elementary education speaking Spanish at the Santa Potenciana School, a Catholic school founded in the 16th century. 

He returned to Tennessee as a teenager and graduated from Chattanooga High School. He sailed back to the Philippines as a merchant marine seaman in the early 1920s and shortly got himself hired as a stenographer for Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, a hero of the Spanish-American War  On January 2, 1942, the Japanese Army marched into Manila unopposed.

Parsons retreated—only so far as his house on Dewey Boulevard, where he burned his uniforms and any other evidence that he was a United States Navy officer. But he held on to his Panamanian flag. Because of his experience in shipping and port operations, Panama’s foreign minister had named him the country’s honorary consul general to the Philippines. While the occupation authorities ordered that the 4,000 Americans in Manila be detained at the University of Santo Tomas, they left Parsons, his wife and their three children alone, believing he was a diplomat from Panama, a neutral country.

For the next four months, speaking only Spanish in public and flashing his diplomatic credentials whenever necessary, Parsons collected strategic information, including Japanese troop strengths and the names and locations of American prisoners of war

Visitors inside the dungeon used by Japanese forces for Allied prisoners

After the Jimmy Doolittle raid on Tokyo, the Japanese Army’s feared Kempeitai military police retaliated by rounding up all non-Asian men—including Parsons, diplomatic immunity be damned. They were thrown into a stone dungeon at Fort Santiago, the 350-year-old fortress within Intramuros, the colonial walled city where Chick had lived and played as a child.

After being tortured for 5 days, he was sent to the hospital with kidney problems.  Still believing that Parson’s was Panama’s consul, him and his family were allowed to leave.  By the time the Parsons family reached New York on August 27, the Navy had lost track of Chick—he was listed as missing in action.

The gate of Fort Santiago where Parsons played as a boy and held captive as an adult.

When MacArthur received word that his old friend was not MIA, he called Washington: “SEND PARSONS IMMEDIATELY.” Within a month, Chick was on a submarine headed for Mindanao.  He gauged the guerrillas’ strength, established ground rules and united the Christian and Muslim fighters for a common effort of defense.

11 November 1943, Parsons was aboard another sub, the USS Narwhal, and delivered more food, medicine, weaponry and additional radio transmitters to expand the network of coastal watch stations.

By February 1944, Parson infiltrated the Philippines for 3rd time to continue keeping the guerrillas supplied as well as ferrying more than 400 American and foreign nationals to safety.

12 October 1944, a Catalina ‘Black Cat’ delivered Parsons and Lt.Col. Frank Rawolle of the 6th Army Special Intelligence.  For 4 days they sent coded messages back to HQ and warned the guerrillas to pull back off the beaches.  The Navy launched the main invasion on 20 October and the guerrillas joined up with the invading US Army.

Post-war Parsons back in Manila.

Peter parsons, son, said his father took but a few seconds to return to his prewar life and get back in business.  He remembered his father smiling and waving as a ship brought the family back to Manila as though nothing had happened.  We called him “Iron Man.”

Chick Parsons died in Manila on the afternoon of May 12, 1988, during his siesta. He was 88. His sons—Peter, Michael, Patrick and Joe—gathered for a funeral service there, and they laid him to rest in a grave next to Katsy, who had died eight years before. “He was hardly ever sick in his whole life,” Peter Parsons said. “When he died he was asleep”

This story was condensed from an article by Peter Eisner for the Smithsonian Magazine.  To read the complete story…

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/without-chick-parsons-General-MacArthur-Never-Made-Return-Philippines-180964406/?q=

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Amaral – Smithfield, RI; US Army, WWII

Haig Arakelian – Panama City, FL; US Army, WWII / US Air Force (Ret.)

Earl Baugh – Searcy, AR; US Navy, WWII, SeaBee

Tony Holbrook – Ontario, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

William Kunkel – NYC, NY; US Air Force, Korea

Catherine Murray (100) – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; USMC, WWII, MSgt. (ret.), 1st woman to retire from the Marine Corps

John Revill – Swanwick, ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO

Charles Saccamdo – Springfield, IL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Pearl Spurr – Bradford, CAN; CW Army Corps, WWII

Frank Wilkins Jr. – Georgetown, DE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Captain, 599/397/9th Air Force

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