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Los Banos – conclusion

Los Banos in art

 

Inside the Los Baños compound, all was suddenly noise and confusion. “That morning, as I walked out of the barracks with my family to line up for 7:00 am roll call, I looked up into the sky and over a field near our camp saw several C-47 transport planes,” the paratroopers took approximately 15 minutes to assemble and move the 900 yards or so to the barrier around the compound.

Los Banos line of amtraks

“After a rapid assembly,” remembered Lieutenant Ringler, “there was only minor enemy resistance, which was eliminated.” Some of the men used a dry riverbed on the edge of the drop zone that angled toward the camp to provide cover as they rushed forward.”

467th Reg. support

“Within 20 minutes of the first shots, the firing seemed to die down. Most of the Japanese guards were either killed or fled to the south and west, away from the incoming paratroopers. All the guards doing their morning calisthenics in an open area to the south of the compound were either killed or scared off.

Los Banos liberation, pic taken by Jerry Sam

“Although most of the sentries and pillboxes had already been silenced, some had to be eliminated by the Company B paratroopers”, remembered Robert A. Wheeler, a 12-year-old internee.

Los Banos evac internee on stretcher

Young internee Bill Rivers remembered, “A whole herd of the damnedest vehicles I’d ever seen, roared into the camp. When I saw the white star with the two bars on each side, I feared that the Russians had somehow rescued us, as I’d never seen that insignia before. But when I heard one soldier profanely order [another soldier nicknamed] ‘Red’ to give him the field phone, I believe I heaved a sigh of relief.”

Dr, Dana Nance & wife, Anna in TN 1939. Only medical doctor in camp

Two of the first men to jump out of the amtracs were General Whitney and his mysterious civilian companion. As Major Burgess recalled, the two men went into the camp and after a short time General Whitney came out carrying “several boxes well tied together containing documents which he deemed to be of considerable military significance. I didn’t believe it at first, but he was really sincere about keeping those boxes together and was with them all of the time.”

USN nurse Dorothy Sill (US Navy pic)

Although the contents of those boxes were never made public, it is believed that the information on the captured papers was used against the Japanese during subsequent war crimes trials.

About 9:30 am, 21/2 hours after the Los Baños Raid had begun, Colonel Gibbs and his fully loaded amtracs finally began the slow crawl back to San Antonio and Laguna de Bay. Those people that could not fit in the amtracs began walking back to the beach.

Maryknoll sister before becoming prisoners

Father William R. McCarthy, an internee Catholic priest, remembered those that walked. “Men, women and children followed,” he wrote, “bundles under their arms or dangling from sticks, carrying their scant possessions with them…. With many others we walked over the highway of freedom against a background of flames, as one straw barracks quickly followed another in an all-consuming fire fanned by the morning breeze.”

Registration and temporary housing back at Old Bilibid

Unfortunately, when the Japanese discovered that the Los Baños prisoners had been spirited away from under their very noses, they retaliated against the Filipino residents in the barrio of Los Baños. Shortly after finding the internment camp empty and destroyed by fire, the Japanese rounded up an estimated 1,400 Filipinos, tied them to the stilts holding up their houses, and set the structures on fire.

For these crimes and for others committed against the Filipino people and the internees at Los Baños, Lt. Gen. Fujishige and Warrant Officer Sadaaki Konishi, a brutally sadistic supply officer at the camp, were summarily found guilty by the subsequent war crimes commission and executed.

Sadaaki Konishi – as a POW himself

This was an extraordinary operation , expertly carried out in one day of dramatic courage and cooperation in battle.  Not one person was lost saving 2,122 people.

 

Resources: The Los Baños Raid and History of the 11th Airborne Division, by Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.; Rescue at Los Baños, by Bruce Henderson.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Masao Akiyama – Portland, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO, 100th Battalion

Billy Bates – Dallas, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, LT., P-51 pilot

Max Desfor (104) – Rockville, MD; Korea, War photographer, Pulitzer Prize

Ralph Finch – Santa Rosa, CA; US Army, WWII, medic

John Gazo – Windsor, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, 408 “Goose” Squadron, POW

Carlos Hathcock – North Little Rock, AR; USMC, Vietnam, Gunnery Sgt., Silver Star

Gustave Jacobsen – Tacoma, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 gunner 32 missions (Ret. 33y.)

Maureen Lancaster – Norwich, ENG; WRAF, WWII, radio operator

Bernard Madnick – CT & Delray, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Ellyson

Verrill ‘Sonny’ Worcester – Jonesport, ME; US Army, Vietnam, Iran, Sgt. Maj. (Ret. 22 y.)

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Los Banos (2)

New Bilibid Prison

Heading out from New Bilibid Prison, the group also turned south down Highway 1 and eventually turned off at Mamatid, along the western shore of Laguna de Bay and about five miles above the San Juan River. Here, the entire convoy went into bivouac under a canopy of trees. Major Burgess finally informed the men about the upcoming mission, specifying the role of each company, the engineers, and the two gun crews.

Dry riverbed route to Los Banos

That afternoon the convoy of 54 amphibious tractors of the 672nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Joseph W. Gibbs, moved out. The amtracs had been sitting at the Manila racetrack for a couple of weeks before making the trek southward through the streets.  After traveling along Highway 1 to Muntinlupa, the convoy turned east and crawled into the waters of Laguna de Bay. Traveling southward until just after dusk, Colonel Gibbs led his amtracs ashore near Mamatid to join Major Burgess’s waiting paratroopers, engineers, and artillerymen.

Finally, in the late afternoon, the reinforced Company B paratroopers moved out of New Bilibid Prison. Before the men left, the plan was revealed to them.  Word had come in from Filipino guerrillas that the Japanese were going to execute all the prisoners on the morning of February 23rd.”

Skau and his recon platoon and about 80 Philippine guerrillas moved over to San Antonio, a small shoreline barrio located about one mile east of the village of Los Baños. Leaving a few recon men behind to mark the beach with white phosphorous grenades, the rest of the band headed inland.  “Traveling overland through rice paddies, taking circuitous routes in order to skirt by the various enemy listening posts and outposts, it took us 10 hours to arrive at our objective [i.e. the internment camp],” wrote Terry Santos, the lead scout of the recon platoon.

Filipino guerrillas depicted in art

“Just as we crested the bank of Boot Creek [on the south side of the prison pen],” wrote Terry Santos, “enemy fire erupted at 3 minutes before 0700. This alerted the Japanese gunners in the pillboxes.”

Terry Santos, lead scout, 11th Recon

Charging the positions, two of the four recon men in Santos’s squad were wounded, and one of the 12 Philippine guerrillas with them was hit before two pillboxes were silenced. “Then suddenly a third, unreported machine gun opened fire on us,” Santos remembered. “We spotted this machine gun on a knoll near a large tree overlooking our exposed position. We kept it under fire until B Company troopers reinforced us.”

Nipa-style barracks for the internees.

Up above, the pilots spotted the intended drop zone, a small field to the west of the compound. “As we crossed the edge of the drop zone,” co-pilot Parker stated, “Major Don Anderson ordered the jump.

Picture by Jerry Sam w/ his secret camera.

The Japanese at Mayondon Point, an outcropping just west of San Antonio, fired upon the noisy, incoming horde of amtracs but scored no hits. As soon as the first wave of LVT-4s hit shore, one of Major Burgess’s paratrooper platoons scrambled out of the vehicles and set up a defensive perimeter around the beach. At the same time, the two 75mm pack howitzers were offloaded and went into action, firing at a Japanese position on a hill to the west. The empty amtracs and those in the succeeding waves then started down the road to Los Baños, 21/2 miles away.

To be continued…

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Merrill Bibens – Springfield, VT; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Ward Choate – Timber Pines, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII

courtesy of Cora Metz poster designs.wordpress.cm/, US Army

Marvin Edwards – Jacksonville, FL; OSS, ETO

Louis ‘Honey’ Guidroz – Westwego, LA; US Army, WWII

Malcolm Hayles – Monroeville, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 79th Fighter Squadron, pilot

Allen Koster – Rocky River, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Korea, Annapolis grad., destroyer escorts & Intrepid

Frank Mann – Juneau, AK; US Army, WWII, Lt.Colonel

Charles Pappas – Worthington, MN; US Army, WWII, PTO

Marvin Reynolds – Shell Rock, IA; US Army, WWII

Elsie Thomson – Perth, AUS; AW Army Service, WWII

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Japanese weaponry

Firing a ‘knee’ mortar.

When it came to weapons production, the Imperial Japanese Army’s requirements often came in second to the needs of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Army was an infantry-heavy organization that lacked much in the way of the modern heavy weaponry other armies enjoyed. 

To help compensate for the lack of heavy weapons, the Imperial Japanese Army worked hard to develop large numbers of what were probably the best light infantrymen in the world at the time. Their creed stressed relentless offensive action seeking a quick decision and emphasizing spiritual factors including zealous dedication and fighting spirit. Night attacks were a true specialty, and their weaponry reflected their light and fast doctrine.

To offset their frequent lack of artillery, the Japanese augmented their firepower through the extensive use of mortars, the best and most cost-effective substitute for industry-intensive heavier artillery.  Technically, Japanese light “knee” mortars at first merely bridged the gap between hand grenades and true mortars and were more properly referred to as grenade dischargers.

The Model 89 was by far the most prolific of the grenade dischargers and the weapon most commonly encountered by Allied Marines and soldiers throughout the various theaters of the Pacific War. Technically known as the Hachikyu Shiki Jutekidanto, or 89 Model Heavy Grenade Discharger, the new weapon featured a wide variety of improvements over the old Type 10 and had almost universally replaced the former weapon by 1941. To the frontline Japanese infantryman, the Type 89 was most often referred to as the Juteki.

To fire, the gunner removed the fuse’s safety pin and dropped the bomb tail first down the muzzle of the knee mortar. A pull on the leather lanyard attached to the trigger then fired the weapon. The firing pin struck a percussion cap primer that fired the propelling charge, which also caused a copper driving band on the charge body to push out and engage the rifling of the barrel. The force of discharge also set back and armed the fuse in the nose projectile and re-cocked the mainspring inside the mortar.  This was usually done at a 45-degree angle.

Despite these relatively crude controls, a soldier could quickly and easily be trained to fire the Type 89 knee mortar with impressive accuracy. While it could be fired by one man, a knee mortar with a three-man crew could maintain an effective rate of fire of 25 rounds per minute.

 Lt. Col. Merritt “Red Mike” Edson, leader of the famous Marine Raiders, critically evaluated the knee mortar and insisted American forces badly needed an equivalent. He listed the following reasons:

“1. It is a one man load.

2. A man can carry ten rounds on his person besides his weapon.

3. It has a high rate of fire.

4. It gives to the platoon commander a weapon of this type which is immediately available to him.

5. This mortar uses the Jap all-purpose hand grenade….”

A Marine Corps legend, then-Lt. Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller seconded Edson’s opinion. “I consider it imperative that the Army and Marines be equipped with knee mortars and only carry one type grenade.”

Army Sergeant C.W. Arrowood completely agreed: “The Jap knee mortar gives us hell. They come in fast, thick, and accurate. Can’t we have one?”

M79 40mm grenade launcher

The answer to Sergeant Arrowood’s question was a resounding No. United States forces soldiered on with the little loved rifle grenade until the advent of the M79 40mm grenade launcher during the early stages of the Vietnam War.

References: Warfare History Network;

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

You can always count on your scoped grenade launching silenced pistol bipod w/ attached katana handle crowbar!

Because no Zombie Apocalypse survival kit is truly complete w/out a grenade launcher & a few bandoleers of HE rounds.

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Cecil Akigg (100) – Calgary, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO, radar technician

Nicholas Baxter – Harrisburg, PA; US Army, Co. M/187th/11th Airborne Division

Benjamin Bold – Rotorua, NZ; NZ Army # 267128, WWII, Pvt., J Force

Jean Doyle – Tyngsboro, MA; US Army Air Corps WAC, WWII, 1st Lt.

Luther Gordon – San Diego, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart, Silver Star

Melton ‘Dale’ Hair – Tulsa, OK; US Navy, WWII

Herschell Johnson – Dothan, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 8th Armored Division

John Kelly Jr. – Billings, MT; US Navy, WWII

Richard Pettijohn – Naples, FL; US Army, WWII, ATO, radio operator

Gordon Sherwood – Yarmouth, ME; US Army, Korea

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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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8th Army – Gearing Up For Luzon

Gen. Eichelberger (C) w/ Gen. Swing (R)

21 January 1945 – Gen. Swing announced to his 11th Airborne Division that he was ordering up a review as they were transferring to the 8th Army and the reviewing officer would be none other than Gen. Robert Eichelberger.  Swing had received Field Order Number 17 which gave him the order to prepare for Luzon.

Luzon was the most populated, most highly developed and the historical island in the archipelago.  It was a land of wild boars, birds, snakes, reptiles, feral dogs, tons of insects and an enemy hiding within the cogon grass at every turn. (the plant had coarse spikes with “silky” hairs that made your skin feel as those hundreds of critters crawled beneath it.)  There was always a threat of dengue fever, that is contracted from a mosquito and if left untreated resulted in bleeding and death, and we can’t forget malaria.

The 6th Army, under Gen. Krueger, was already in the midst of all this trying to reach Manila.  MacArthur had told Eichelberger how upset he was at their slow progress to get to the capital and added, “speed up your ‘palsey-walsey,’ Krueger doesn’t radiate courage.”  Ergo – a rivalry was born and a race between the 6th and 8th Armies would exist – the problem was – the 11th A/B had been given more than one priority as their mission.

As X-Day approached, the pace of activity increased dramatically.  The division’s supply loading plan put the responsibility on the unit commanders.  The G-4, Roy Stout, set up a special section to load the 11th and all ran efficiently despite not knowing what vessels the Navy would be sending.  But on 25 January, most of the supply ships were completely loaded within 24 hours.

The LCI’s (Landing Craft Infantry), arrived at 0700 hours on 27 January and a convoy of almost 100 ships pulled out to sea that afternoon,under the command of Adm. Fechteler, and headed south through Mindanao Sea and then swung north.  The LCI’s were crowded and there were no cooking facilities, the men ate “10-in-1” rations rather than having the customary steak and eggs before a landing.

Most of the sailing days were spent in map study, planning and orientation.  All the troopers would be so well briefed on the terrain from aerial photographs and mock-up reliefs that their landing somehow felt like deja-vu.  Excess baggage was not carried – only what the men could carry on their backs.  Personal baggage would not be seen for 2 months.

General Eichelberger wrote his wife, Miss Em, of the beauty in watching the large naval convoy and he marveled at their expertise.  He noted the Navy’s ability to keep their sense of humor, despite the seriousness of their voyage.  Before landing on 31 January, he heard over the loud speaker system, “Sick call _ all sick, lame and lazy report to sick bay.”  He also commented that Gen. Swing was grand to deal with.

Eichelberger would write in his book, “Now the stage was set for what I regard as one of the most thrilling exploits for the Pacific War – the 11th Airborne’s dash for Manila”

References: “Our Road to Tokyo”, by Gen. Robert Eichelberger; “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division,” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.

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Military Humor –

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Melton Austin – Live Oak, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Air-Sea Rescue Squad

Dave Barnett – Charlotte, NC; US Army, WWII, PTO

Charles Cooper III – Dover, DE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Capt., USS Hornet, Washington & San Diego

William Darr Jr. – Dyer, AR; US Army, WWII

Mihail Golin – Riga, LAT; US Army, Iran & Afghanistan, Sgt. 1st Class, KIA

Jacob Hagopian – Providence, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, Col.(Ret.), 11th A/B & 82nd A/B divisions

Ben Jones – Chestertown, MD; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Joseph Medina (103) – MN; US Army, WWII, PTO

Chester Roberts Sr. – Coatesville, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Ronald Scott – Claremore, OK; US Air Force, Vietnam, Col., pilot, Silver Star, KIA

Vito Truglio – Staten Island, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Shangri-la

Marjorie Harris White – Creswick, AUS; AWAS # 11483, WWII

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CBI Theater – January 1945

Here are snippets of what was going on in the China-Burma-India Theater at the opening of 1945.

Happy New Year, From Over “The Hump”

EAC HQ. – The light of a full moon gave EAC planes an opportunity to hit Jap-held railways, roads, rivers and airfields and smash enemy communication lines, as decisive daylight support was given ground forces on the Burma battlefronts this week.
B-25’s of the 10th Air Force strafed motor vehicles at night in North Burma. The 10th also hit enemy fields at Lashio during daytime, setting two planes afire.
The night intruders, composed of USAAF B-25’s and RAF Mosquitos, Beaufighters and Hurribombers, carried out their operations as far south as Hninpaze, near the mouth of the Sittang River.
Well over 150 sorties were flown in support of the 15th Indian Corps in its current drive in the Arakan.
On the Irrawaddy-Chindwin front, RAF Hurribombers attacked objectives on the road to Yehuphonu. The village of Tabayin was left aflame.

*****          *****          *****

 KANDY – Maj. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer, commanding the American Forces in China, and Maj. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, commanding the Eastern Air Command, have been awarded the Order of the Bath by King George VI, it was announced this week.

*****          *****          *****

US Infantry meeting up with the Mars Task Force

The 533rd Brigade (Provisional) was activated on 26 July 1944. It soon came to be known as the MARS TASK FORCE. It was designed as a Long Range Penetration Force and training, equipment and organization were all directed toward this end.

Mars Task Force

MARS was able to profit by the experience of Wingate’s Raiders and Merrill’s Marauders in Burma jungle operations. The leaven of veteran jungle fighters was mixed with the freshness of volunteers and the assignment of the 124th Cavalry Regiment.

FAMILY TIES

 1328TH ATC BASE UNIT, ASSAM – It’s usually the father who offers guidance and advice to the son, but the combination of the Army and India has proved too much even for such a stalwart tradition.
Cpl. Kadzie Goodwin arrived here recently on a change of station and not long afterward encountered his father, S/Sgt. William A. Goodwin, who he hadn’t seen for more than a year.
Now Kadzie, a ground radio technician in the Army Airways Communication System, guides his father, an aerial radio operator flying The Hump for the ATC’s India-China Division, over the treacherous transport routes between Assam and China.

The Chan brothers.

THE WOMBAT SQUADRON – The story of how two Burmese youths walked 900 miles over some of the most treacherous terrain in the world to evade the Japanese and join the American forces was revealed recently with the appearance of two new waiters in the officers mess hall at this “Liberators of China” field.

after 2 years, Mj. Arthur Walker (R) meets up with his son, Pfc. Peter Walker of the Mars TF, in Burma

TENTH AIR FORCE HQ, BURMA – Probably the first instance of twin brothers meeting in the I-B Theater after a long separation occurred recently when Eugene and Edward Crivaro, 19, of Carnegie, Pa., met each other at a base in Burma. In most cases, twins in the Army remain in the same outfit throughout their service.

Edward and Eugene Crivero

Pvt. Eugene, bomb maintenance man for a service group in China, requested and was granted permission to fly over The Hump. Arriving in Burma, he immediately began a quest for his twin whom he had not seen for 20 months. Using an APO number as a guide, Eugene was soon directed to a 10th Air Force fighter control squadron of which Pfc. Edward was a member. Reunion… at long last.
Eugene spent seven hours in the cold Atlantic waters a year ago when the ship taking him overseas was sunk by German torpedo bombs.

Football Round-up

Rice Bowl
GROUND FORCES BEAT SOS (Services of Supply)

Rice Bowl Champs

HQ CT & CC, CHINA THEATER — Capitalizing on two pass interceptions and a safety, the Army Ground Force, touch football champions of China, fought off a strong SOS team to win the New Year’s Day Rice Bowl classic, 16-0, before a large G.I. crowd.
Ground Force grabbed a slight edge, on a safety in the first Period, adding touchdowns on pass interceptions by Wolfe for 40 yards in the third and Bruner for 60 yards in the fourth. Ben Schall booted both extra points.
SOS often penetrated enemy territory but could not muster a score. Of 20 aerials they tossed in the second half, only four were completed.
The Lineups:
GROUND FORCE: Uhlen, Meyers, Autry, Petiit, Wolfe, Chapman, Schall, Bruner and Becker.
SOS: Crowe, Demski, Harding, Roland, Snyder, Staley, Hardee, Sleteher and Heckman.

Information from CBI Theater.com and CBI Roundup.  Clark King & Gary Goldblatt also have a CBI website.

Clark King & Gary Goldblatt

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – CBI Style – 

Oh sure – they’re real.

Oops! Not enough money for this place!!

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Florence Blohm – Wooster, OH; US Navy WAVES, WWII

Peter Carrie (102) – Dundee, SCOT; RAF, WWII, ETO, Flt. Engineer / CBI, Tank Corps

Alan Dick – NZ; RNZ Air Force, Wing Commander (Ret.)

Raymond Evans – Stollings, WV; US Army, Vietnam

Harry Hanen – Alberta, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Keith Iwen – Milwaukee, WI; US Navy, WWII

Mancel King – Agra, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 pilot

William Marshall – Vine Bluff, UT; US Navy, WWII

Edward Reimuth Jr. – Poughkepsie, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 7th Infantry & 11th Airborne Div.

Harold Wilbur – New Castle, DE; US Navy, WWII / US Coast Guard, Korea

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Kiwis Over the Pacific

Flight Officer, Geoff Fisken

During early World War II operations in the Pacific, Geoff Fisken would become one of the most outstanding pilots of the RNZAF—the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Fisken was born in Gisborne, New Zealand, in 1918, and during the 1930s he learned to fly a de Havilland Gypsy Moth biplane. In 1939, Fisken was working for a farmer in Masterton, and at the outbreak of war in Europe he volunteered for flying duty.  In October 1941, as the threat of war with Japan was increasing, No. 67 Squadron was moved to Mingaladon, Burma, but Fisken was posted instead to No. 243 Squadron RAF.

With the Japanese attacks across East Asia and the western Pacific on December 8, 1941, No. 243 Squadron was assigned to defend the Royal Navy’s Force Z––the battleship HMS Prince of Walesand battlecruiser HMS Repulse. Two days later the British warships were attacked and sunk by Japanese air units. Then, as the Japanese advanced down the Malay Peninsula, Singapore became the target of an increasing number of bombing raids.

RNZ on Guadalcanal

After continuous missions,  No. 243 Squadron had lost the majority of its pilots and virtually all its aircraft. As a result, it was merged with No. 453 Squadron of the RAAF, which continued to operate along with No. 488 Squadron RNZAF.  Fisken claimed another fighter destroyed on February 1. Five days later he was bounced by two Japanese fighters, shooting down one while narrowly escaping the other, though he was injured in the arm and leg by a cannon shell. On the eve of Singapore’s surrender, Commonwealth pilots were withdrawn to Batavia (now Jakarta), Java, and later to Australia. As a result of his performance in Singapore, Geoff Fisken received a commission and was promoted to the rank of pilot officer.

Fisken was just one of hundreds of New Zealanders––Kiwis––who loved nothing more than a good brawl but of whom little is known today outside their island nation.

“Too Young To Die” by Bryan Cox

Many of you history buffs out there already have “Too Young To Die” by Bryan Cox or have seen a book review and already know The story of  Flight Sergeant Bryan Cox, who suffered a failure of both his radio and lights during the return flight but happened to stumble upon the landing strip at Green Island just as he was nearly out of fuel. It was not only a fortunate day for him, but also his 20th birthday. Below is another story of that day…

Bryan Cox (19), WWII

Continually fighting throughout the war, on January 15, 1945, during a strike on Toboi Wharf in Simpson Harbor at Rabaul, conducted by aircraft of Nos. 14 and 16 Squadrons flying from Green Island and No. 24 from Bougainville––a total of 36 Corsairs––one was knocked down by antiaircraft fire. The F4U was piloted by Flight Lieutenant Francis George Keefe of No. 14 Squadron, who managed to bail out, landing in the harbor.

An exceptional swimmer, Keefe struck out for the harbor entrance. For some time he made good progress. Then, in the middle of the afternoon, by which time he had been swimming for six hours, the tide and wind changed and he began to drift back up the harbor.

RNZAF on Green Island

A rescue force had been quickly organized while sections of Corsairs kept watch overhead to prevent Japanese attempts to capture Keefe. Two bamboo rafts were assembled and loaded aboard a Ventura at Green Island, intended to be dropped to the downed pilot.

As two Corsairs orbited above Rabaul awaiting the arrival of the Ventura, an American Catalina pilot circling just beyond the harbor entrance spotted Keefe and twice requested permission to land and pick him up. The request was denied both times by the officer in charge, Squadron Leader Paul Green, the commander of No. 16 Squadron, due to the threat posed by Japanese coastal and antiaircraft guns.

RNZAF doing maintenance after a Rabaul mission

When the Ventura arrived, it was accompanied by another 12 Corsairs, whose task was to strafe the Rabaul waterfront while the Ventura dropped the rafts. Everything went as planned, but Keefe failed or was unable to reach the rafts. The rescue was then aborted, and all aircraft were directed to return to base.

Approximately halfway back to Green Island, the Corsairs encountered a tropical storm front stretching across the horizon and down to sea level. Due to limited navigation aids, the aircraft were required to maintain a tight formation as the storm and darkness reduced visibility. The pilots could only see the navigation lights of the other aircraft in their flight.

Five of the Corsairs crashed into the sea, one crashed at Green Island as it was making its landing approach, and a seventh simply disappeared. The lost pilots included Flight Lieutenant B.S. Hay, Flight Officer A.N. Saward, Flight Sergeant I.J. Munro, and Flight Sergeant J.S. McArthur from No. 14 Squadron and Flight Lieutenant T.R.F. Johnson, Flight Officer G. Randell, and Flight Sergeant R.W. Albrecht from No. 16 Squadron.

RNZAF on Espiritu Santo

After the war, it was reported by Japanese troops captured at Rabaul that Keefe had managed to swim ashore. With a wounded arm, he was taken prisoner and died a few days later.

From September 3, 1939, to August 15, 1945, a total of 3,687 RNZAF personnel died in service, the majority with RAF Bomber Command flying in Britain and over Europe. The RNZAF had grown from a small prewar force to over 41,000 men and women (WAAFs) by 1945, including just over 10,000 serving with the RAF in Europe and Africa; 24 RNZAF squadrons saw service in the Pacific. On VJ Day, the RNZAF had more than 7,000 of its personnel stationed throughout the Solomons and Bismarcks.

The Kiwi airmen had not only fought proudly against their Japanese foes, but also carved out a place for themselves among their much larger Allies—Britain, Australia, and the United States—as they wrote their names into the history of the Pacific air war.

Click on images to enlarge.

Information from: ‘WWII Magazine’ and ‘Too Young To Die’ by Bryan Cox. Another excellent resource you might wish to look into “Kiwi Air Power” by Matthew Wright.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

Avadon Chaves – Modesto, CA; US Army, Iraq, Spc., 1/6/2nd Brig. Combat Team

Raymond Debenham – Kalapol, NZ; RNZ Navy # 14075

RNZAF Airtrainers perform farewell flight

David Fail – Manawatu, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 412665, WWII

Bruce McCandless – Boston, MA; US Navy, Cuba, pilot / NASA, astronaut

Peter O’Donnell – Auckland, NZ ; RNZ Air Force # M83478

Bryan Raos – Te Kauwhata, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 459204, Flight Lt.

Robert Scott – Linwood, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 414822, WWII

John Sweeney – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 452589, WWII

Jerry Yellin – Newark, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 78th Fighter Squadron, P-51 pilot

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Christmas Wishes for ALL

TO ALL THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN PEACE  HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!

REMEMBER THOSE WHO HELPED TO GIVE YOU FREEDOM!!!

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AND THOSE WHO CONTINUE TO KEEP US SAFE!!!

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AND

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Albert Atkins – Belvidere, NJ; US Army, Korea, Co. E/2nd/187th RCT, KIA

Mary (Sweet) Brown (103) – Tauranga, NZ; WA Air Force # 2031332, WWII

Ronald Burditt – NV; US Army, Korea, communications

Jack Downhill – Rochester, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lt.Col. (Ret. 28 y.)

Joseph Elliot – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Lt.Commander (Ret. 23 y.)

Richard Grimm – Athens, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187/11th Airborne Division

Andrew McGarry (100) – Milton, OK; US Navy, WWII

Robert Newcomb (100) – Honolulu, HI; US Navy, WWII, PTO / Korea, Cmdr. (Ret. 20 y.)

Kenneth Reth – Racine, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, tank battalion

Maurice Ritter – Cockeysville, MD; US Navy, WWII, USS Naukesa

Lones Wigger Jr. – Carter, MT; Vietnam, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 27 y.), Olympic Gold winner

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Smitty’s Letter XVI – Guard Duty, part one

 

Guard Duty, history.army.com, click to enlarge.

15 January 1945, all of the 11th Airborne Division was back on Bito Beach where they rested, re-organized, got re-equipped, re-trained and with a little time left over – they wrote letters home.  Here starts Number 16 from Smitty….

Letter XVI                                                                 Guard Duty                                                               1/15/45

 

You have received many notes from me in the past that always seem to contain one line that went something like this, “Have to go on guard duty tonight ____.”  Now in this letter I hope to be able to picture for you convincingly enough my first night on guard duty.  Please remember, all through this letter, that this place at the time was threatened at ALL times by the Japs and never for one moment were we allowed to forget it — especially at night.

My first trick on guard was posted for the hours of 9 to 11pm with a four-hour sleep period before going on as second sentry relief.  We were to be ready for immediate action.  This was also the first time I had to stand guard with a loaded rifle, so instead of feeling safe and secure, it tends to make me that much more nervous and apprehensive.

At eight-forty-five sharp, we were called out, inspected and told the password and counter sign.  We were then marched away, in a body, to our respective posts, told the special orders pertaining to that particular post and then left alone.  The quick, short steps of the guard soon grow faint and they rapidly walk on until all you can hear is the beat of your heart.

As soon as I realized that I was alone and on my post, I tried vainly to pierce the darkness and see just where I was and what was around and near me.  It generally takes from five to ten minutes before your eyes become accustomed to the darkness, but before that happens, I found out that your mind sees things and imagines most anything from a Jap standing or crouching down.  You try to shake off the feeling, but damn it all — how can you?

After a while, you begin to see things in their true form and you notice that the standing Jap is nothing but a small palm tree and that sinister apparition is only some old debris or fallen tree.  As these things unfolded before in their real form, I heaved a great sigh and relieved my tightened grip on my rifle.  Boy!  What a relief I thought and was just about to sling my rifle over my shoulder when suddenly I heard a noise.

I crouched down trying desperately this time to see what my ears had just heard, when again, I heard a faint sound — only this time it was in back of me or maybe on the side.  All sorts of thoughts run rampant through your mind at this stage and mine were really running wild.

 

You try to remember things you were taught about for situations such as these, but at the time the lessons were given, they seemed boring and so you didn’t pay much attention.  Now I wish I had listened and desperately tried to recall to mind what little I did hear.  Seconds seemed liked hours, my legs were getting numb, but I was too damned scared to move a muscle for fear of giving away my position to whatever was around.  “Where the hell is that man?”  I thought to myself.  Gosh, it sure was quiet and still that night.  I even tried to stop breathing for fear it would be heard.

Suddenly, your eyes pick out a strange object that wasn’t there before, or so your memory tells you.  You watch it for a while, then — oh, oh — it moves, sure as hell, it moved — there it goes again.

I could see it then, just an outline, but that was clear enough for me.  I held my breath and at the same time brought my rifle up and aimed it.  Now, I was in a mess.  What if it was an American soldier out there or the next guard?  The book covers this well, you remember it says, “Yell out, in a clear distinctive voice, HALT, at least three times.”  That’s fine I thought, but dammit, the guy who wrote that isn’t out there with me now and I’d bet he wouldn’t yell “HALT” at least three times.

Well, I won the bet and only yelled once and waited for the password.  Again, minutes seemed like hours, suppose he didn’t hear me, should I yell again?  Suppose it is another guard and he thinks I’m only kidding or it’s nothing but a swaying branch, what a mess, what do I do?  All these thoughts flash thru your mind and you are about to get up and yell again, but it moves back — that’s a Jap.  Without hesitation now, you pull the trigger and then in excitement, before you release your finger, you hear instead of one shot, three or more ring out.

Flash lights appear from nowhere as men come out anxiously looking about and trying to find out what the noise is about.  In the dim rays of their lights, you find that what you thought was a hoard of Japs surrounding you is nothing or was nothing more than a dog or wild pig prowling about.  You feel about the size of a ten cent piece, I sure did.  Inwardly you are proud to note that what you aimed at in the darkness, you hit and that a few are even remarking about that wonderful feat.  You aren’t even shaking anymore.  In fact, you notice to your most pleasant surprise you are no longer afraid.

Soon tho, you are left alone again, but this time the loneliness isn’t so bad and you know that soon you will be relieved and another “first night” will come along and make the same mistakes you did.

to be continued …

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Military Humor –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Lucien Bolduc Jr. San Antonio, TX; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, West Point grad, MGeneral (Ret.)

Leo Chisholm – Baton Rouge, LA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

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)

Thomas Curtsinger Sr. – Springfield, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, ‘The Hump’, radioman

Glen Elfrank – Painton, MO; US Air Force

Richard Groff – Collegeville, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Edwin ‘Perry’ Miller – Lincoln, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-25 pilot instructor

Pat Murphy – Kansas City, MO; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT ‘Rakkasans’

George Pfeifer – Roslyn Heights, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Irving Sager (103) – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, radar

Ernest Zeman – Tampa, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Breton, Lt. (Ret.)

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10-16th January 1945 – Navy

Movements of Task Force-38

Except for submarines, Task Force-38 was the first appreciable presence of U.S. forces in the South China Sea.  The ‘Great Fleet’ under VAdm. John McCain consisted of 8 carriers, 4 light-carriers, 19 other capital (war) ships, 56 screening vessels and various logical support ships.  Their mission, Operation Gratitude, was to disrupt the Japanese Navy and interrupt the vital support lanes from Singapore and Indochina.

TF-38 spent 2 days avoiding detection from the enemy and staying clear of the typhoon brewing over the island of Mindanao.  On the 12th, they arrived 65 miles off Can Ranh Bay in French Indochina (Vietnam).  Halsey’s intelligence proved false as to the activity in the area, so alternative plans were put into action.

USS Essex pilots: Hartsock, Parker, Finn and Libbey, Jan. 1945. US Navy photo

Waves of US aircraft scoured the Indochinese coast from Qui Nhon to Saigon.  Clusters of merchant ship and escort vessels were attacked, as were concentrations found in Saigon Harbor on the Mekong River.  Convoy HI-86, north of Qui Nhon, consisted of 10 merchant ships and 6 escorts and drew attention that was an average for the day.

2 freighters and i tanker sunk by Ticonderoga aircraft, Saigon

The full strikes of 30-40 planes each from the carriers Hancock, Hornet (Essex-class), Ticonderoga, Essex, Langley, Lexington (Essex-class), and Independence.  The result was that only 3 smaller enemy escorts remained afloat, the rest were either sunk, left beached or burning.

USS Sullivans & Astoria fuel up from the Taluga 62. Halsey’s flagship New Jersey in the background.

The absence of air opposition allowed all this damage to be accomplished.  At the end of that single day, a total of 41 ships throughout the region were sunk, 31 damaged and 112 aircraft were destroyed on the ground.  In addition to all this, docks, oil storage tanks, and airfields were heavily damaged.

USS Astoria guad-40mm hun crew

The results of this day drastically reduced the Japanese ability to ship goods along this route and Japan would feel the effects for a long time to come.  Robert Sherrod, a Time Magazine correspondent, flew as an observer in one of the Essex aircraft, summed up the day by saying, “By any accounting, 12 January 1945 must be regarded as one of the greatest days of the U.S. Navy.”

With the typhoon now moving westward, TF-38 moved across the South China Sea and northward.  After they refueled, they were in position to strike Formosa again on the 15th.  These strikes were successful, but not as dramatic as the previous ones and they proceeded to backtrack westward again.

Japanese convoy off French Indochina, 12 Jan. ’45

On the 16th, they launched strikes against Hong Kong and the island of Hainan.  The Formosa, Hong Kong and Hainan missions encountered a better organized anti-aircraft fire than Indochina, but it did not hold back the attack.  During these 2 days, another 14 Japanese ships (mostly warships) were sunk and 10 more were damaged.

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Navy Humor

TF-38 avoided the typhoon, but still experienced very rough seas.  On 13 January 1945, they created their own humor!! 

USMC Captain Gerard Armitage was washed overboard from the USS Astoria‘s port beam; Herman Schnipper took the photograph. Joe Aman drew the cartoons for the USS Astoria ‘Morning Press News’.

As you can see below – Capt. Armitage was rescued from the sea, but the seamen on board were not satisfied to simply do that for the Marine.  When he got back on board ship the men serenaded him with their own version of a popular song….

The Captain of the Marines went over the rail, parlez vous

It happened in a terrific gale, parlez vous

He slipped on the deck and slid on his tail

You’ll never teach a Marine to sail

Inky-dinky parlez vous.

                                               _____ J.Fred Lind

Once dry and having a meal in the mess, Capt. Armitage was awarded the “Extinguished Service Cross” –  It just happened to be his 24th Birthday!!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Gary Asles – Long Beach, CA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

John Balog – Wichita, KS; US navy, WWII, PTO, Yeoman, USS Anthony, gunner

111024-N-WD757-029
SAN DIEGO (Oct. 24, 2011) Ceremonial honor guard during the funeral for retired Vice Adm. Paul F. McCarthy. McCarthy passed away on October 5, 2011. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Carlos M. Vazquez II/Released)

Charles Cooper – Dover, DE; US Navy, WWII, Captain, USS Hornet, Washington & San Diego

Harry Doerfler – Amarillo, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, 424/106th Infantry Division

Jay Ewing – AR; US Army, WWII, PTO, ambulance driver

Joseph Hanoon – Philadelphia, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Enterprise

Merv Martin – Paeroa, NZ; RNZ Navy # 13636, Korea

Frank Nolte – Albuquerque, NM; US Army, Korea, Co.K/187th RCT

Marvin Peters – Longmont, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 gunner

John Turek Sr. – brn. POL/Newington, CT; US Army, WWII, Cpl., mechanic

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