Blog Archives

Memorial Day 2017

MEMORIAL DAY.

WHO DO YOU SAY THANK YOU TO?

Should you care to see Memorial Day posts from past years ____

Michael’s Tree – planted by Lavinia & Rick Ross in honor of my son, Michael USMC.

2016

2015(1) and 2015 (2)

2014

2013

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Farewell Salutes –

Jacob Baboian – Watertown, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Thomas Coughlin – Portland, OR; US Army, WWII, Corps of Engineers

Lamar Day – Salt Lake City, UT; US Navy, WWWII, PTO, USS John Pope

Edward Flora – Mishawaka, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, A/674th Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Earle Garlinger – Roswell, NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, (Ret. 21 years)

Harold Kline – Charlotte, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 737th/454/15th Air Force

James O’Leary – Manchester, NH; USMC, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Cuban Missile Crisis

Michael Sadlo – Hollywood, FL; USMC, Pfc

Everett Smith – Broad Channel, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/187th/11th Airborne Division

Vartan Torosian – Pleasant Hill, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188th/11th Airborne Division

Albert Washington Jr. – Midland, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO

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WWII – in memorial

Memorial Day is to honor those that have left us after they served to guarantee us the freedoms we too often take for granted. I do not have the words – so I present Jay who wrote a poem that expresses what I feel.

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Once upon a battlefield
I stood where heroes fell,
where brothers, sons and lovers paused
to hear death’s tolling knell.

Once upon an open sea
I sailed where deep remain
the bodies of courageous men
who, by war were sadly slain.

Once upon the azure blue
I drifted through the crimson cloud
where valiant fighters dealt with death
to die alone in sullen shroud.

I’ve felt the moments summoned.
I’ve seen the grave despair.
I’ve witnessed every breath so gained
and every soul laid bare.

I’ve shed a tear not meant for me,
but for the uncaressed
that ne’er again felt warmth of love
before their final rest.

To their souls my prayer,
my honor and my truth,
that they be blessed eternal,
and blessed in memory’s youth!

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Eye Witness Account – Leyte

Leyte-Patrol

Leyte patrol

These events took place in November 1944, therefore please do not be offended by any offensive language.

This was written by Pfc Deane Edward Marks, Light Machine-Gun (LMG) Platoon/HQ2/11th Airborne Division.  From “No One Smiled On Leyte,” published in the “Voice of the Angels” newspaper, Matt Underwood, Editor.

“…It was still raining.  We had no idea where we were going.  Someone mentioned Ormoc, wherever that was.  We heard that somewhere ahead, part of the C/511th was surrounded by the Nips.  We didn’t have any idea what the hell was going on.  After a day or two of walking, we arrive where the C/5511 had been.  Now, I see my first dead man, he was a trooper.  Now I realize what was going on.  It was real, real.  Somehow the mud seemed wetter, the rain colder and the stomach emptier.

Type 96 LMG

“…every now and then they would open up with their “woodpecker”. [name given to the Japanese Nambu 6.5mm light machine-gun Model 96] … the only thing you do is drop to the ground and roll over a time or two so when you lifted your head, you would not be in the sights of the shooter … ole Vicbert D. Sharp, LMG Platoon Sgt., starts wiggling up the side of the slope with his M-1.  He stopped, saw a sniper in a tree, then another and with 2 quick shots, using Kentucky windage, he got the both of those Nips.

“One day we climbed up a very large plateau and moved up our LMG.  We didn’t know why – shucks we never knew WHY we did anything.  We just kept putting our feet in the mucky brown footprint in front of us.  About 2 hours after we set up, we looked out into the valley and ‘holy cow!’ here came this C-47 barreling at eye level perhaps a thousand yards to our front … a slew of red and yellow parapacks dropped and troopers started jumping …  We finally figured out that they were the 457th Airborne Artillery also part of the 11th Airborne!

Cameraman on Leyte

“We headed back to our perimeter around a place called Lubi …we looked up to see at least 6 C-47s flying at 6-8 hundred feet overhead.  I found out later that they were Japanese “Tabbys” (a DC-2 built in Japan), loaded with a few hundred Nip paratroopers headed for the airstrips around Burauen … raised hell for a few days and nights and were finally driven off by the HQ Company/11th Airborne.  (Smitty was there.)

“All the time the rain kept falling.  We were all damp and cold.  After dark, one’s eyes got big as saucers.  You couldn’t see 5′ in front of you and your imagination would run rampant.  There were Japanese out there and one consolation was, they were just as wet, muddy and cold as we were.  Sitting in your foxhole at night and waiting to see if they would try to slip through was something else.  You were full of anxiety….”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News –50

To Remember – April 25th is ANZAC Day!  To view this blog’s posts on that memorial day – type ANZAC Day in the search box [top right].

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Valor with Honor” will be screened on Vimeo starting May 2017 for Asian Pacific Heritage Month.    “Valor with Honor” not only records the deeds and emotions of the veterans of the 442nd, but highlights the difficult struggle of the brave Nisei both on and off the battlefield.



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Military Humor –

“THIS WASN’T COVERED IN THE MANUAL!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Allen – Little Rock, AR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Bullwheel

Clifford Cursons – Wellington, NZ; RNZ Army # 239426, WWII, gunner

Arthur Gordon – Rochester, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Cabot

Gary Hardman – Newcastle, AUS; RA Navy, Vietnam, HMAS’ Ibis & Parramatta

Robert Kabat – Cleveland, OH; US Army, 17th Airborne Division

Michael Mastel – Hague, ND; US Army, WWII, PTO, surgery technician

Walter Roderick – Fall River, MA; US Navy, WWII

Richard Saggau – Denison, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 101st Airborne Division

George Teale – Vineland, NJ; US Army, WWII

Jack Wilson (106) – Willow Springs, IL; US Army, WWII

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Lost at Sea

A look into the air war and saving pilots!

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IHRA

As November 1944 began, the 345th Bomb Group was flying to the staging base of Morotai, where they would then take part in missions that targeted islands in the Philippines. Morotai was three hours away from their base at Biak Island. While this hop could be considered routine, weather once again thwarted plans of landing at Morotai on November 6th. As the B-25 pilots attempted to fly through the stormy weather, Morotai went on red alert and the control tower went off the air. It became extremely difficult for the crews to find their way to Morotai without a radio signal, not to mention a way out of the storm. Several pilots turned around. One, Lt. Edward Reel, remained in the area, hoping to catch a station. Aboard his B-25 were six crewmen as well as two passengers.

Hours passed. Reel had descended to find the bottom of the clouds…

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International Women’s Day, Veteran of the Day, Violet Gordon

Violet Gordon

Violet Gordon

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Women’s Army Corps Veteran Violet Hill Askins Gordon. Violet served during World War II.

Violet was living in Chicago, Illinois, supervising stenographic pools, bored and restless, when a friend told her about the Women’s Army Corps. Violet enlisted when the first Officer Candidate class for women accepted her application.

At the end of the training period, Violet had earned the rank of Second Commanding Officer and was assigned to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where the first detachment of African-American women for the WAC were stationed. In an interview with the Veterans History Project, Violet said it was a little nerve-wracking when they arrived. “Of course the male units that were already there knew that we were coming. There was a lot of controversy about women in the services. A lot of rumors, most of them not really very complimentary.” Fortunately, Violet said Army officers always maintained safe and appropriate order within the camps.

After Fort Huachuca, Violet and her unit became the only all African-American female unit to serve overseas in England and France during World War II. Violet believes her experiences in WAC changed her from a shy, introspective person into a leader. Violet left the service as a Captain.

Decades after her retirement, Violet went to the dedication of the Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. On the final day, Violet heard somebody say, “Violet?” and turned to see one of her old friends from her unit. “I had no trouble whatsoever recognizing her and obviously she had no trouble recognizing me,” Violet said. Her friend then led Violet to a group of women from her first officer’s class and unit all sitting together. Violet was overjoyed to see her old friends.

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Violet remembers how happy it made her to see the women on active duty at the dedication in D.C. from all branches of the service, representing all colors, all races and all ranks. “It was something that I would have never envisioned in 1942 was right there in front of me.”

This past October, Violet celebrated her 100th birthday in Florida.

Thank you for service, Violet!


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to newmedia@va.gov with as much of the information as you can put together with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating for how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.


Graphic By Kierra Willis: Kierra Willis is a Graphic Communication Major at the University of Maryland University College. She currently has an AAS in Graphic Design and Visual Communications.

Japanese View of the Leyte Naval Battle

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The following was published in “Senso: The Japanese Remember the Pacific War.”

Don’t Shoot at a Sinking Enemy

As a 25-year old seaman about a destroyer, I participated in the sea battle off Leyte.  In the midst of the battle, our destroyer was pursuing a fleeing aircraft carrier through squalls and curtains of smoke.  Suddenly a single enemy destroyer headed directly for us.  Attacked by the concentrated fire from our destroyer squadron, it rapidly went up in flames.  As we neared the enemy ship to see its last moment, it listed to one side, with flames rising everywhere.  It was about to sink.  Men were floating on the water’s surface or sinking beneath it, while half-naked crew members jammed themselves into lifeboats and rowed away, escaping.

We were close enough to see their unkempt beards and the tattoos on their arms.  One of our machine-gunners impulsively pulled his trigger.  He must have been overflowing with feelings of animosity toward the enemy.  But he was checked by a loud voice from the bridge saying, “Don’t shoot at escaping men!  Stop shooting, stop!”  So he inflicted no injury on the enemy.

I read an article written after the War’s end that the captain, who survived*, (a descendant of the Cherokee tribe) had tears in his eyes when he recalled the scene. “A Japanese destroyer that passed by did not shoot.  What is more, I cannot forget the officers on the Gigantic warship who saluted us in seeming condolence for the loss of our ship.”  What flashed through my mind was the story of Commodore Uemura, who rescued the crew of the sinking Yurik during the Russo-Japanese War.  Seppū was the name of his destroyer – known as the luckiest warship in the world.

This was written by Okuno Tadashi, who became a business owner in Ōmuta, Japan after the war.

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Edward E. Evans

Edward E. Evans

Commander Ernest Edwin Evans was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma on August 13, 1908.  He was three quarters Cherokee Indian.

During the Battle of Leyte Gulf on October 25, 1944 Commander Evans and the USS Johnston were assigned to Task Unit 77.4.3 AKA Taffy III with 2 other destroyers (Hoel and Heermann), 4 destroyer escorts (Butler, Dennis, Raymond, Roberts) and 6  escort carries (Fanshaw Bay, Saint Lo, Kalinin Bay, White Plains, Kitkun Bay, Gambier Bay).  Here, at the Battle Off Samar, they fought the vastly superior Imperial Japanese Navy Centre Force which consisted of 4 battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers.

At 9:45 AM Commander Evans ordered his crew to abandon ship.  The USS Johnston sank at 10:10 AM, receiving a hand salute from the skipper of a Japanese destroyer.

* The article Mr. Tadashi read must have been written by another crew member, as Cmdr. Evans was seen abandoning ship, but was never found.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Personal note – 

I would appreciate hearing if you are interested in more stories from the Japanese side of the war.  I refrained from adding a second story here from a crew member of the Musashi to keep the post at a decent size.

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Military Humor – from the Readers Digest ‘Humor in Uniform –

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“I’m the commander of data security.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Allis – Clearwater, FL; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lou Bucelli Sr. – Bridgeport, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Scoter

George Clifford-Marsh – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Army # 629433, WWII, Cpl.th-jpg1

James Fuehrmeyer – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Thomas Gibson – Nashville, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Stuart Hansen Jr. – Kettering, OH; US Army, Vietnam

Robert Jones – Syracuse, NY; US Navy, WWII

William ‘Bud’ Liebenow – Fredericksburg, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO & ETO. Captain, PT-199

Howard Porter – Kalamazoo, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO, medic

Joseph Wapner – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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A Soul Lost in a Faraway Jungle – Part 2

Our good friend Koji Kanemoto gives us a view from both sides of the war.

Masako and Spam Musubi

It is believed I occupy a potentially unique position when it comes to looking at history as it pertains to the Pacific Theater in World War II.  I am American first and foremost and have studied WWII history out of curiosity.  As expressed in the description of my blog, my viewpoint is from “one war, two countries, one family”.  However, one potential uniqueness is that I am able to read a bit of Japanese; you may be amazed to read what is written about WWII from the Japanese viewpoint of history. As such, I believe each battle will have in the background two broad, driving and dissimilar viewpoints: one from America and one from Japan.  The attack on Pearl Harbor is one example. But that is but the surface on war’s history – a high altitude view.  One that can be easily manipulated politically. But being on the ground dealing…

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Japanese Prime Minister Abe in Hawaii – correction

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe having a moment of silence after the laying of the wreath

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe having a moment of silence after the laying of the wreath

Once again – correcting the media……

In May, President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Hiroshima, where the United States dropped an atomic bomb in 1945 and soon compelled Japan’s surrender, ending World War II. It was a historic moment: Obama was the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city.

Now, Abe is repaying the favor.  On Tuesday, he will accompany Obama to Pearl Harbor, the site of the Japanese attack 75 years ago that led the United States to join World War II.

But is Abe’s visit quite as historic? When it was announced in early December, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said Abe would be the first sitting Japanese leader to visit Pearl Harbor since World War II. News outlets repeated this assertion, including The Washington Post.

But quickly afterward, things began to look a little more complicated. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper soon reported that Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida had stopped in Hawaii, home to Pearl Harbor, in 1951 when flying back home from San Francisco. He made a public visit to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, which honors American war dead, and a more private visit to Pearl Harbor.

 Aug. 31, 1951, then-Japanese Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, center right, accompanied by his daughter, Kazuko, center left, is greeted by Adm. Arthur Radford, left, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Joseph R. Farrington, a delegate of the U.S. Congress for the Territory of Hawaii, during an arrival ceremony for Yoshida in Honolulu. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that Yoshida had stopped in Hawaii in 1951.

Aug. 31, 1951, then-Japanese Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, center right, accompanied by his daughter, Kazuko, is greeted by Adm. Arthur Radford ( l), commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Joseph R. Farrington, a delegate of the U.S. Congress for the Territory of Hawaii, during an arrival ceremony for Yoshida in Honolulu. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that Yoshida had stopped in Hawaii in 1951.

The Pearl Harbor visit was not noted widely by the U.S. press, but it appeared in the Japanese press.

Yoshida told a reporter from the Yomiuri Shimbun that he had been “moved” by the visit. It also turns out that the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander at the time, Adm. Arthur Radford, was present. Radford later wrote that the visit was awkward for Yoshida and that they mostly discussed his dog.

Now more developments indicate that Abe may not be the second sitting prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor, either. Last week, the Hawaii Hochi — a dual-language Japanese-English newspaper based in Hawaii — suggested that two other Japanese leaders may have visited Pearl Harbor in the 1950s.

The newspaper posted images to its Facebook account that showed two front pages from its archive. One claimed that Ichiro Hatoyama visited the harbor on Oct. 29, 1956, where he was welcomed by a 19-gun salute and a band performing Japan’s national anthem. Another headline says that Nobusuke Kishi, Abe’s grandfather, visited the harbor on June 28, 1957, where he laid a wreath at the flagpole at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

The Japanese government has now been forced to change its story. After Yoshida’s visit to Pearl Harbor was made public again, the government asserted that as the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor was not constructed until 1962, Abe will still be the first to visit the most famous monument. “He will also be the first to do so with an American president,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Sheila Smith, a senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, says she was “taken aback” by the initial mistake.

“If any organization should know its history, its MOFA,” she wrote via email, using an acronym to refer to the Japanese Foreign Ministry. “I’m also surprised that Abe himself or rather his office didn’t correct the record as he is a careful student of his grandfather’s diplomacy towards the U.S.”

Article found in Stars and Stripes magazine; by Adam Taylor | The Washington Post | Published: December 27, 2016

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News Corrections Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Bossi – Medford, MA; US Army, WWII & Korea

Attilio Cardamone – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Real DeGuire – Tecumseh, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, ETO, HMCS Hunter Haida & Algonquinplaying-taps

Pat Farwell – Skagway, AK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot

John Hayes – Elyria, OH; US Navy, WWII

Thelburn Knepp – Peoria, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 89th Infantry Division

Jack Messemer – Phoenix, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, POW / Korea, Sr. Sgt. Major (Ret. 41 years)

Sam Patane – Kirland, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQS/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Div.

Donald Patterson – Wichita, KA; US Army, Korea

Liz Smith – Lincolnshire, ENG; Women’s Royal Naval Service, WWII, CBI, (beloved actress)

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Working Dogs honored for their service

Sgt. Wes Brown & Isky

Sgt. Wes Brown & Isky

WASHINGTON — During a routine perimeter check in the desert of Afghanistan, Isky found a roadside bomb. He had come to a complete stop, sitting near the explosive device, patiently waiting for orders from his best friend, Army Sgt. Wess Brown.

The IED – buried two feet deep – was a 120-pound bomb. Isky, a German shepherd military working dog, had just saved countless lives.

For his service, he was honored on Capitol Hill – along with three other dogs – with the first-ever K-9 Medal of Courage. It is the nation’s highest honor for military dogs, acknowledging their extraordinary valor and service, awarded by the American Humane Association.

Isky found at least five deadly IEDs and 10 weapon caches as an explosive-detection dog deployed with Brown in July 2013. The two spent a year protecting U.S. political leaders, including President Barack Obama.

Isky and Brown were with 100th Military Working Dog Detachment and have been together since October 2011.

“After he came out of training from Lackland – he was about 18 months old – I was his first handler to certify with him,” Brown, now 27, said.

While most military working dogs can have two to seven handlers, Isky has only had one: Brown.

“I didn’t PCS,” Brown said. If he had, the dog would have gone to a new handler.

In May 2014, Isky’s military career came to an end.

“We were on a combat mission, one of many,” Brown said. “To avoid an ambush we had to get into the vehicles fairly quickly. While Isky was running up the stairs, I had a hold of him, but he fell off the side and broke his leg in six different spots.”

The leg had to be amputated.

“Once I knew he got injured and knew what was happening, as soon as his amputation was scheduled and his future with the Army was done,” Brown put in the paperwork to adopt him, he said.

Brown has been separated from Isky for only two weeks, and that was while Isky recovered. Even when Isky isn’t with him, Brown carries his picture.

These days, instead of searching for bombs, Isky suns himself on a porch in Virginia with Brown. He has become Brown’s PTSD service dog, and the two comfort each other.

“I have nightmares, I get night terrors stuff like that,” Brown said. “I’ll wake up, and he’s jumped up in bed with me. He kind of does the same thing. I’ll hear him have bad dreams and I’ll wake him up. For all I know he’s chasing a ball, but it sounds to me like he’s having a pretty rough time in some of these dreams. I’ll wake him up and he jumps right up in bed with me. And we both calm down.”

Brown has been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress, and has three crushed discs in his neck. He is currently waiting to be medically retired from the Army.

Isky hasn’t been trained as a PTSD dog. But his bond with Brown is strong enough that when Brown has an anxiety attack, Isky knows.

“When I look at him, I feel safe because of everything we did together in Afghanistan. If it wasn’t for him and doing what we did, there would be a lot more people unable to go home,” Brown said.

More than 200 Congressional staffers and 19 members of Congress attended the event to honor military working dogs. The other dogs who earned the Medal of Courage:

  • Matty, a Czech German shepherd, was a bomb-detection dog in Afghanistan. Now retired Army Spc. Brent Grommet, his handler, says that Matty saved his life and the lives of everyone in his unit more than once. The two were wounded together, including being in a truck that was hit by two roadside bombs. They were flown back to the U.S. for treatment, and while Grommet was in surgery, Matty was wrongly given to someone else. The Humane Association helped reunite the two, and now Matty serves as a support dog for Grommet.
  • Fieldy, a black Labrador retriever, served four combat tours in Afghanistan, where he worked to detect explosives. Handler Marine Cpl. Nick Caceres spent seven months deployed with Fieldy in 2011 and adopted him three years later when the lab was discharged.
  • Bond, a Belgian Malinois, worked 50 combat missions and deployed to Afghanistan three times. He was a multipurpose dog with a special operations unit before he retired. Bond suffers from combat trauma and will be reunited with his handler, who will leave active duty in a few months.

From “Stars and Stripes.”

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Military Canine Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

  • Cairo, a Belgian Malinois used by U.S. Navy Seals in Operation Neptune Spear, in which Osama bin Laden was killed.
  • Gander –  a Newfoundland, was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medall for his feats during the Battle of Hong Kong in WWII.
    Civil War mascot memorial

    Civil War mascot memorial

    Gunner –  Canine air-raid early warning system during the bombing of Darwin in World War II.

  • Rags –  a Signal Corps mascot during World War I.
  • Rifleman Khan –  a German Shepherd that won the Dickin Medal for bravery.
  • Rip –  a Second World War search and rescue dog.
  • Sarbi –  an Australian special forces explosives detection dog, that spent almost 14 months missing in action (MIA) in Afghanistan before being recovered in 2009.
  • Sasha – bomb sniffing dog, posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal
  • Smoky –  hero war dog of World War II, was a Yorkshire Terrier that served with the 5th Air Force in the Pacific after she was adopted by Corporal William Wynne.  Smoky was credited with twelve combat missions and awarded eight battle stars.
    .Sgt. Stubby –  a Boston bull terrier, the most decorated war dog of WWI and the only dog to be nominated for rank and then promoted to sergeant through combat.
  • Tich –  Dickin Medal winner of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, WWII
  • Treo –  awarded Dickin Medal for work as a Arms and Explosives Search dog in Helmand Province, Afghanistan
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Smitty ~ Letter X

11th Airborne preparing to jump. (soldier turned around appears to be Smitty)

11th Airborne preparing to jump. (soldier turned around appears to be Smitty)

In Dobodura, New Guinea, the 457th began to notice severe shortages in their sugar supply.  As it turned out, there was a major boot-legging operation in progress.  With the absence of alcohol, the men felt ‘necessity would be the mother of invention’, but they were caught with their stills in production.  The makeshift liquor companies were immediately put out of business.

My father had other ideas.  Smitty’s ingenuity was unfailing.  He used to tell me, “If you think hard enough, there’s a solution to every problem.”  After years of having tended bar, this was going to  be right up Smitty’s alley.

Letter # 10 has been previously published by “Whistling Shade” magazine in 2007.  I submitted it during their war story inquiry.

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Letter X                                          “Jungle Juice”                                  Monday 7/17/44

Dear Mom,  The title of this letter, at first glance, will no doubt puzzle you, but I suspect at the end you will know more than you do now.  Before going any farther with this, allow me to explain the whys and wherefores of its origin and purpose.

The Army has been telling us, for some time now, that any day (they mean year), they are going to issue us hot, dry soldiers some beer.  They haven’t told us the percentages yet, but never fear, it will be 3.2.  In the meantime, we’re here in New Guinea patiently awaiting the day.  We know, because our eyes and nostrils do not lie, that there is good whiskey slyly floating about.  Try as we may to lay hold of some, as yet, none have succeeded. 

There is an old saying, told to me by a much older and wiser veteran of this man’s army that goes: “Take something away from a soldier and he will, in time, make or find a better substitute.”  Hence and forever after – Jungle Juice.

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To begin the making of this liquor substitute, one must first overcome a few minor details in order to secure the necessary equipment and ingredients.  First:  You may try to cultivate the friendship of the mess sergeant.  This is easily accomplished if one is well endowed with currency.  Second:  You may try getting on guard duty and taking a chance of getting the job of protecting the mess hall. (The odds against this working out is ten to one against you.)  This is the hard way of acquiring the friendship of the mess sergeant and we will continue.  With your new buddy’s help, you now have in your proud and cherished possession a quantity of raisins, dried prunes or apricots and some sugar.  (Very rarely will one come up with any yeast, so we will forget it.)

Now, we need something to put all this stuff into.  To make matters worse, it cannot be metal and it must be waterproof.  A nail barrel will do the trick, if we soak it in water, thereby allowing the wood to swell.  You could go to the supply sergeant and get a saw, hammer, nails and boards, but in taking this route, you risk your supplier discovering your idea and you will have to pay him off with the promise that, when finished, he will receive a share.  Not only is this undesirable, but now you will have to sit out in the hot sun and build a cask.  My first suggestion of a nail barrel will not only save you labor, but also add an extra drink of this wonderful alcoholic beverage.

Now, we are ready to begin.  Into the empty cask, put your fruit and sugar, making certain to add water.  With your hands, (clean ones are advisable) stir everything around while crushing some of the fruit with your fists.  This is what’s called the “rapid juice extraction process.”  When finished, cover the cask with a clean piece of linen long enough to drape over the side.  Here, you can also use a G.I. handkerchief or undershirt.  (This is just a sanitary precaution and it in no way affects the product.)

Now, dig yourself a hole (under your bunk preferably) large enough to receive the cask and conceal it.  This is a necessary precaution as the manufacture of Jungle Juice is frowned upon by the Army and especially you C.O. or Inspection Officer.  The finding of such might cause embarrassment.  This way it will only be found if someone should trip you C.O. and he inadvertently falls face down on the spot.

All you have to do at this point is use some self-control and patiently wait out the next two or three weeks as the fruit, sugar and water do their stuff.  We all know from experience that you will only sit out two weeks, so let’s get on with the last step.  Surely you have kept busy locating empty bottles and cleaning them, so dig up the cask.hootch-2bbottles-640x560

To accomplish the final phase, it is wise to get your mattress cover and put it over a clean, steel helmet.  You will find that the Army had supplied you with a damn good filter.  The whole parts stay on top and the liquid freely pours through, without blemish to the helmet.  Pour the juice into the bottles and seal with candle wax, making them air tight.  Here is the most difficult step because by this time, not only your curiosity, but your craving for a taste is so high — you’re almost completely out of control.  But, you must put your contraband away for one more week.

As the expected day approaches, I want to warn you to be on the lookout for newly acquired friends who start calling on you, regardless of the fact that they never came near you before.  Yes, you are suddenly becoming the most popular guy in camp.  When the hour approaches, marked as the time of reckoning, I would advise you to make up your mind that you are not going to finish it all in one sitting.  Actually, this precaution is really unnecessary, as the Jungle Juice will decide that for you.

I won’t describe the taste.  For some it is bitter and others say sweet.  No two batches are alike and in fact the Juice has no opposition.  Even its most adamant foes agree that for variety, the Juice has no equal.

This recipe is given free of charge.

I hope to hear your hiccupping in your next letter soon.  Your brewmeister son & never to be dry again,     Everett

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General Swing decided, after the stills were destroyed, to bring in ice cream machines and set up sports competitions.  Teams were made up for volleyball, softball and tackle football.  This proved not only to lift their spirits, but the activities kept them in top physical shape.

It always amazed me that such a letter as “Jungle Juice” made it through the censors without Smitty ever getting into trouble.  His little operation was never discovered.

Click on images to enlarge.

jumping school

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Military Humor –demotivational-poster-beer

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Farewell Salutes – 

Gilbert Berry – Northwood, OH; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Gerald Boutilier – St. Margaret’s Bay, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO, POW

Standing Guard

Standing Guard

Joseph Cox – Charlotte, NC; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. (Ret.28 years), Silver Star, Bronze Star

Alfred Doktor – Riverton, KS; US Army, Korea, E/187th RCT

Maurice Eatwell (102) – Greymouth, NZ; RNZ Army # 80776, WWII, 35th & 37th Field Batt.

Guy Luck – Cajun, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 457th Artillery/11th A/B Div.

Warren Mitchell – London, ENG; RAF, (beloved actor)

Thomas O’Grady – Newport News, VA; US Army, 503rd/11th Airborne Division

Melvin Smith – Waldwick, NJ; US Navy, WWII, submarine SSR 272 Red Fin

Leonard Sousa – Manchester, NH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div.

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