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Clemson U. honors Ben Skardon (102)

‘Ben’ Skardon

Clemson University will award its highest honor, the Clemson Medallion, to two distinguished alumni — Professor Emeritus Beverly “Ben” Skardon and Trustee Emeritus Allen Price Wood. Skardon and Wood will be honored at a presentation ceremony in February 2020. Skardon, who lives in Clemson, is a native of Walterboro. His brother, Jimmy Skardon, still lives here.

Clemson University President James P. Clements said he is proud that the university is honoring Skardon and Wood for their leadership and contributions to the university. “Both of these men have helped shaped the university in important ways,” said Clements. “Col. Skardon made a lasting impact by teaching countless students during his career on the faculty, and students are being educated every day in buildings that Allen Wood designed. It is safe to say that our university would not be what it is today without these two outstanding leaders.”

Ben Skardon in Army dress greens, formal photo in 1938 Clemson University TAPS yearbook.

Skardon, 102, is a 1938 Clemson graduate and veteran of the U.S. Army. He fought in the Philippines in World War II, earning two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor before becoming a prisoner of war when American troops were forced to surrender to the Japanese April 9, 1942. Skardon lived through one of the most infamous ordeals of World War II, the Bataan Death March, and survived for more than three years in Japanese prison camps despite becoming deathly ill.

Two fellow Clemson alumni, Henry Leitner and Otis Morgan, kept him alive by spoon-feeding him and eventually trading his gold Clemson ring — which he had managed to keep hidden — for food. It is a story now told at every Clemson ring ceremony, when Clemson seniors receive their class rings. Leitner and Morgan did not survive the war. Skardon honors them every year by walking in the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Ben Skardon, at 99, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, walks in the annual Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, accompanied by two Army medics, March 19, 2017. This was the tenth time Skardon walked in the march, and he is the only survivor of the real Bataan Death March who walks in the memorial march. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar)

He is the only survivor of the real march who walks in the memorial march. Last year, at 101, he walked more than three miles through the desert to honor his friends. Skardon went on to serve in Korea in 1951-52 and retired from the Army at the rank of colonel in 1962. He joined the Clemson faculty in the department of English in 1964 and was named Alumni Master Teacher in 1977. He taught at Clemson until his retirement in 1983.

Skardon has received several honors from the university, including the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. In 2013 the university established the Skardon Clemson Ring Endowment, which helps fund the ring ceremony, and in 2016 the Memorial Stadium flagpole was dedicated in his honor.

On Skardon’s 100th birthday on August 11, 2017, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster presented him with the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest honor. In March 2018 Skardon received the Congressional Gold Medal honoring Filipino and American Veterans of World War II, which is one of the highest civilian awards in the United States.

 

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Blythe – Long Beach, CA; US Navy, WWII, ETO, minesweeper / PTO, USS Ticonderoga

Bruce Brigham – Fort Knox, KY; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel, Quartermaster Corps

Alive Ferguson (99) – Williamsburg, VA; US Navy WAVES, nurse

Ruth (Baker) Gilbert – White Plains, NY; Civilian, aircraft riveter

Lyle Norquist – Thief River Falls, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Monroe Ozment – Rome, GA; USMC, PTO, Purple Heart

Nathan Rawson – Thompson, VA; US Army, WWII

Fred Reed – Gardendal, AL; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Mary White – Perryville, MD; Civilian nurse’s aide

Al Worden – Jackson, MI; US Air Force / NASA astronaut, West Point Alum 1955

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One Woman’s Contribution – Elaine Ooley

 

Happy birthday, Elaine! Weldon Spring woman turns 106

“I don’t want to grow old. So I don’t act like I’m old. I refuse to do that,” Elaine Ooely said

 

 

WELDON SPRING, Mo. — We want to wish a happy birthday to Elaine Ooley from Weldon Spring. She recently turned 106 !!

Elaine Ooley is the definition of resilient. Here’s a short version of her amazing life story. She weighed just one pound when she was born and wasn’t expected to survive.

When she was just 4 years old, she survived the 1918 influenza pandemic in America. She went on to graduate high school during the Great Depression. And after that, she served as an aircraft dispatcher in the women’s Army Corps.

Air Force veteran Elaine Ooley, looks up toward a bomb addressed to Hitler, and asked for a picture of it, inside of the World War II B-17 bomber on display at the Greater Kankakee Airport during the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom tour. Ooley, was an aircraft dispatcher for B-17 planes stationed at the Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., in 1944.

She said living long is thanks to good genes and an even better attitude.

“My long life is due to the fact that I’m positive in my attitude,” she said. “I don’t want to give up. I don’t want to grow old. So, I don’t act like I’m old. I refuse to do that. And I keep up with all the news so I can converse and am a people person. So, I believe in keeping busy, not feeling sorry for yourself, not worrying about your condition, cope with it, do what you can, and go.”

She didn’t have children but has tons of friends who all lined up to wish her happy birthday at the Breeze Park Senior Living Community in Weldon Spring. She calls the people at Breeze Park her family.

Ms. Ooley takes shelter in a B-25 to get out of the rain on her 103rd Birthday.

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Military Humor – HOME FRONT “Saturday Evening Post” style

“WHAT THE HECK DID WE DO EVERY NIGHT BEFORE THE WAR?”

 

“Why so polite all of a sudden? Are you hearing Peace rumors?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ena Andrews – Richamond, CA; Civilian, WWII, Shipyard welder

Robert Griffith – Berwyn, IL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Wilma Gregory – MN; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

James “Hollie” Hollingsworth – Hephzibah, GA; USMC, Vietnam, !st Sgt. (Ret.)

Mary Horne – Fall River, MA; Civilian, Newport Naval Base, WWII

Katherine Johnson (101) – Civilian, NASA, Mathematician rocket trajectory expert

Betty Romesberg – Columbus, OH; US Army WAC; WWII, PTO, nurse

Peggy Simmons – Jonesville, NC; FBI, WWII

Morella Staggs – Gardenea, CA; US Coast Guard SPARS, WWII, radio

Edmund Torry – NYC, NY; USMC, 2nd Marine Division

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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.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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)

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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!!

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

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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 !!!

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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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Military Humor – 

Navy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Army

 

 

 

 

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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

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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.

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Military Humor –

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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!!

 

 

 

 

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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!!

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Marine Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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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)

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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.

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Military (Airborne) Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.)

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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.”

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Military Humor –

Navigator to pilot… navigator to pilot… HALP !!

Two other CBI newspapers for the troops.

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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

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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.

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Military Humor – 

 

It’s his discharge papers.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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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.

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