Blog Archives

Playing cards made history

Playing cards to pass the time

War can be hell… and war can be absolute boredom.  There are few better ways to pass the time than by playing cards.  They’re easy to carry: small and lightweight, they fit into a rucksack, duffel bag or Alice pack without having to sacrifice any piece of essential gear.

Plus – they’re cheap!

Wartime decks have been used to help soldiers in the field learn about their enemies and allies, to identify aircraft and even teach American history.  In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, American forces used playing cards to identify the most wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The U.S. Army and the United States Playing Card Company cooperation goes way back.  But it was their brand Bicycle that took it to a whole new level.

During WWII, Allied Intelligence officers contacted the card company to produce the most clandestine deck of cards in history. According to the Geneva Convention, Allied POWs were guaranteed the right to receive mail and packages from the Red Cross.  The Allies saw this opportunity to smuggle useful objects to the prisoners.

map cards

This led to a top secret mission producing a deck of cards that included a hidden map, showing escape routes, directions and valuable tips and information which could help an escapee reach friendly lines or cross a border into a neutral country.

The map was concealed between 2 layers that formed the playing card.  Once it was submerged in water, the POW could peel off the layers and find part of the map on each card.  The cards were distributed at Christmas via the Red Cross Christmas parcels.  Being as cards were always included in their packages, these special decks went unnoticed by the camp guards.

The now famous but once top-secret map deck helped 32 people escape from Colditz Castle.  Very little is known about the clandestine decks, even today, for it was kept a secret after the war – as their use was a violation of the Geneva Convention.

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Did you know… ?

  1. The 4 suits in a decks represent the 4 season
  2. the 13 cards to each suit represent the phases of the lunar cycle
  3. 52 cards to a deck is for the 52 weeks in a year and
  4. There are 365 symbols in a deck for the days of the year

These items were condensed from those found in “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Division Association.

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13 October – U.S. Navy Birthday     246 Years 

U.S. Navy Birthday

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Marvin D. Actkinson – Palo Pinto County, TX; US Army # 18347542, Korea, Cpl., Co B/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Victor E. Barrett – Westminster, SC; US Merchant Marines

Withold “John” Brazinskas – brn: Flatow, GER; US Merchant Marines, Vietnam

Charles H. “Chubby” Damsel Jr. – Columbus, OH; US Army, counter-intelligence

Donald E. Farry – Lake Worth, FL; US Army

Jeffrey B. Faivus – Huntington, NY; US Army, Captain

Harvey C. Fruehauf Jr. – Grosse Pointe, MI; US Navy

Wayne F. Galloway – New Castle, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/11th Airborne Division

Denis H. Hiskett – Nebraska City, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Lyman R. Sisney – Benton, IL; US Army, Korea, Co A/187th Regiment Airborne

Jack K. Wood – Wichita Falls, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 344/98/9th Air Force, navigator, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

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Leyte continued

LST’s # 66,67,18,245,102 on 20 October 1944

While the Imperial Navy was floundering in their attempts to halt the persistent invasion of Leyte, Gen. Yamashita was in his headquarters at Fort McKinley on Luzon.  He was receiving very little information from his own people and upon hearing of the US landing, he was heard to say, “Very interesting.  But where is Leyte?”  [The Japanese general had only just been transferred from Manchuria.]

Yamashita did not feel that the Japanese all-out standing defense should be on Leyte and he refused to supply more troops to the island.  But he was overruled.  Gen. Terauchi, knowing that the island’s occupation by the Americans would divide their bases, so reinforcements would be sent in.

Yamashita Tomoyuki, 1945

21 October – Most of the Japanese beach defenses had been shattered by bombing and strafing and a majority of the 1st Battalion/16th Division had been wiped out.  Parts of Tacloban had been liberated by the US troops and Gen. Makino was now forced to split the remainder of his 16th Div. in half, North and South Defense Forces.

As the ground forces continued fighting, Japanese aircraft from all other bases in the Philippines arrived on Luzon to support the plans for a counteroffensive.

airfield construction

25 October – Gen. Sosaku Suzuki, in charge of defending the Central Philippines, still was receiving inferior or misleading intelligence and remained confident of Japanese victory because:  He still expected support from the Navy; he had glowing reports concerning Formosa; he was told that ALL US carriers had been sunk and no American aircraft were flying over his headquarters on Cebu.  Suzuki told his Chief of Staff, Gen. Tomochika, “…we are about to step on the center of the stage.  There is no greater honor or privilege.”

Two Japanese units were on en-route to Luzon:  the Japanese 1st Division [the Gem Division] to land at Ormoc on the west coast and the 26th Division at Carigara in the north.

MacArthur surveys Leyte beach, 1944

MacArthur’s summary:

“The assault continued after a rapid consolidation of the first few days  objectives.  Numerous enemy counterattacks were beaten off in all areas during the next few days as advancing forces reported increased resistance on every front.  By the end of the third day, over 2,000 Japanese had been reported killed…

“On 24 October, elements of the XCorps began a drive up the Leyte side of San Juanico Strait, while farther south other units of the Corps pushed westward.  At the same time, the XXIV Corps directed attacks northward and westward.  The 96th Div., moving inland from Dulag, met heavy opposition from fortified positions on Catmon Hill, a terrain feature dominating the division’s zone of action and giving protection to enemy mortars bobbing shells toward the assault shipping in Leyte Gulf.  Catmon Hill was initially by-passed, then neutralized by naval guns and field artillery and finally cleared of the enemy by 31 October.”

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Military Humor – 

“You’re doing it wrong.”

Practice aircraft carrier??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Keefe R. Connolly – Markesan, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Hospital Apprentice 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Daniel Coons Jr. – Fort Madison, IA; US Army, WWII

Joe Chadwell Tullahoma, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Charles A. Day – Redwood, CA; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Colonel (Ret.)

Stanley L. DeWitt – Royal City, IN; US Army, Korea, Sgt., Medical Detachment/57th FA/ 7th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Robert C. Martin – Lakemore, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, radio/gunner, Putple Heart

Mortimer Goodkin – Short Hills, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ATO (Adak, AK)

Robert Killey Sr. – Elmira, NY; US Coast Guard

Reuben Klamer – Canton, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, V-7 program  / boardgame developer

Michael T. MIles – Wikes Barre, PA; US Army

Joe R. Nightingale – Kalamazoo, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Elizabeth Thew – Hopeswell, VA; Civilian, WWII, Corsair cockpit construction / military librarian

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Leyte, Philippines begins

Leyte, Oct. 1944

20 October – the X and XXIV Corps of the 6th Army, under General Krueger, made their amphibious landing on a 25-mile (40 km) stretch of coastline between Dulag and Tacloban on the eastern side of Leyte.

At 0945, the 1st Cavalry went ashore on White Beach, the 24th Infantry Division went on their left at Red Beach and the 96th Infantry Division landed further south on Orange and Blue Beaches.  They all moved inland for about a mile, hitting stiffer resistance as they went.

MacArthur observing the beach at Leyte

The 7th Infantry Division at Violet and Yellow Beaches had the lightest opposition, but Dulag was taken by the following day.  MacArthur described the view he witnessed from the flag bridge of the USS Nashville:

“Landings are explosive once the shooting begins and now thousands of guns were throwing their shells with a roar that was incessant and deafening.  Rocker vapor trails criss-crossed the sky and black, ugly ominous pillars of smoke began to rise.  High overhead, swarms of airplanes darted into the maelstrom.  And across what would have ordinarily been a glinting, untroubled blue sea, the black dots of the landing craft churned towards the beaches.

“From my vantage point, I had a clear view of everything that took place.  Troops were going ashore at Red Beach near Palo, at San Jose on White Beach and at the southern tip of Leyte on tiny Pansom Island…”

Gen. MacArthur walking into the Philippines.

MacArthur became impatient and ordered a landing craft to carry him and President Osmeña to Red Beach for a dramatically staged arrival back to the Philippines.  But the boatload of VIP’s and press were caught in a traffic jam of vessels making an effort to the same makeshift pier.  The harassed beachmaster directed the VIP’s away and said, “Let ’em walk!” This more and likely is the reason for his surly expression in the famous photograph, despite him trying later to create a better one.

Mac went into the 24th’s area and sat on a log with Osmeña and a Signal Officer gave the general a microphone.  The “Voice of Freedom” was back on the air and Mac gave his speech, “People of the Philippines, I have returned…”  His aides noticed that the speech left him shaken and visibly moved.

By evening, a 17-mile beachfront was taken with only light casualties, but a serious enemy counter-attack came with Japanese torpedoes bombers that scored a hit on the USS Honolulu.  Approximately 22,000 enemy troops were dug into their positions in the hills behind Tacloban.


The X Corps had unfavorable conditions in terrain and sporadic mortar and artillery fire which caused them to take 5 days to complete unloading.  This however did not prevent them from the establishment of their beachhead.

MacArthur’s summary:

“The enemy’s anticipation of attack in Mindanao caused him to be caught unawares in Leyte and the beachheads of the Tacloban area…  The naval forces consisted of the 7th US Fleet, the Australian Squadron and supporting elements of the 3rd US Fleet.  Air support was given by naval carrier forces, the Far East Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force.  The enemy’s forces include the 14th Army Group under Field Marshall Count Terauchi, of which 7 divisions have been identified – 16th, 26th, 30th, 100th, 102nd, 103rd and the 105th.”

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Current News – Happy 74th Birthday to the U.S. Air Force 9/18/1947 

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/?s=air+force+birthday

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Military Humor – 

“The situation in Iraq appears to be going well, gentlemen. THAT however, is a map of Staten Island.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

James C. Barnhart – Somerset, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart / Korea, Purple Heart

A. Charles Casadonte Jr. – Herkimer, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co. B/111 Medical Battalion

Keith Dunker – Dayton, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Pt., pilot

Lester Flack – Guest, KY; US Army, WWII, 22 Infantry Division

Richard Gartee – Monroe, MI; US Navy, WWII

David M. Hardy Jr. – Tucson, AZ; US Navy, WWII, USS Louisville

Richard G. Hudak – Elizabeth, NJ; USMC, Vietnam, Captain

Teppo K. Jokinen – brn: Hyvinkää, FIN/ Everett, WA; Finnish Air Force

Paul Mazal – Loomis, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-47 pilot, Lt.  # O-763693, 513/406th Fighter Group, KIA (GER)

Andrew Pellerito – MI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Cpl. # 355031, Co. K/3/2nd Marine Div., KIA (Betio, Tarawa)

Joseph C. Rouse – Riverside, NC; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 2624770, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Helen Scallion – Birmingham, AL; Civilian, WWII, B-24 & 25 electrical system construction

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WACs in New Guinea + current news

WACs in New Guinea, 1944

In June 1944, about the same time that Smitty landed in New Guinea, Gen. Kenney of the 5th Air Force started building up a WAC detachment in Australia. He had nearly 200 women in the HQ doing the secretarial duties.  They must have been originally scheduled for Alaska, because they arrived with heavy woolen skirts, coats and shirts.  The quartermaster re-equipped them with cotton G.I. clothing and the tailors of Brisbane were kept busy making alterations.

They were told of the deplorable conditions on New Guinea, but not a one backed off from the ‘hard knocks’ assignment.  So, General Kenney handed the women over to their commanding officer, Captain Blanche Kline.

US Army WACs, New Guinea

The women were warned that eggs would be nothing but a memory, so they purchased 30 hens from an Australian poultryman.  The WACs talked about the bacon and eggs, omelets and soufflés they were going to eat.  Some wanted to raise the chickens and thoughts of fried chicken dinners swirled through their heads.

One thing began to worry the ladies – the hens hadn’t laid one single egg since they landed in New Guinea.  Among the men there were several “experts” who were called upon for assistance.  The diet was changed as they brought in feed from Australia.  Still –  No eggs.

WAC in New Guinea in front of her “apartment”

One person observed that there were no roosters.  Of course! they thought, that had to be the answer!  In the nearest village, the WACs bartered with cosmetics and clothing in exchange for 3 slim roosters placed in the chicken enclosure.  The hens displayed enthusiasm, but their attraction was not reciprocated.  It turned out that the roosters were fighting cocks that now refused to eat.

The WACs decided to go out of the chicken business.  The roosters were returned to the village, and the ladies had a dinner that became part of their history.  It was now a fond memory to look back on when rations were worse than usual.

The story was taken from “General Kenney Reports”.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Current News –   Lawrence J. Hickey

IHRA

Lawrence J. Hickey

RIP Lawrence J. Hickey, founder of the IHRA, researcher extraordinaire went on his final mission 14 August 2021.

https://irandpcorp.com/about-ihra/

Lawrence J. Hickey

To reach the IHRA blog and express your condolences…

https://airwarworldwar2.wordpress.com/

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Current Veteran News – 

For those who are having difficulty coping with the Afghanistan situation, the VA is providing assistance for veterans …

Veterans Affairs Provides Resources for Veterans Coping with Recent Events Related to Afghanistan Withdrawal

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Military Humor – 

“What makes you think the WACs are coming to this camp?”

“It’s some game she learned in the Army.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Alden Allen (100) – Ironwood, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Lt.

Helen Beeching – Nelson, NZ; WRENs, WWII

Biacio Casola – Long Beach, CA; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 1st Class # 2232399, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Jow Galloway – Refugio, TX; Civilian, war correspondent, Bronze Star / author “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young”

Gerald R. Helms – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt., # 36306478, Bronze Star, Co E/325/82nd Airborne, KIA (Katerbosch, NETH)

Martin ‘Bobby’ O’Gara – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, Korea

Bill Overmier (101) – Albuquerque, NM; US National Guard/Army, WWII, PTO, POW

Herman Schmidt – Sheridan, WY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class # 3683763, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

William K. Shafer – Alhambra, CA; WWII, PTO, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Jonathan Taylor – Augusta, GA; US Army, SSgt.

Larry S. Wassil – Bloomfield, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt. # 32245879, 13/8th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (BELG)

James C. Williams – Portland, OR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 4143915, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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Letter XI “Java at 2100”

503rd Regiment at Noemfoer, 2 July 1944

Off New Guinea, the resistance on Biak and Noemfoor Islands was crushed as 2,000 paratroopers of the 503rd jumped and the land forces of the 158th RCT overtook the airfields.  Operation Cyclone was a success.  The 503rd A/B would soon be incorporated into the 11th Airborne Division.

In a radio broadcast by Pres. Roosevelt, he made clear the final decision that troops would be attacking the Philippine Islands and not Formosa.  Now the Japanese were also aware.  It was seen by White House observers that FDR had timed the invasion to make headlines for the end of his re-election campaign.

Smitty near Lae, New Guinea in front of his tent

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Letter XI                            Java at 2100                                       Thursday 8/10/44

Dear Mom,  Java at 2100 is nothing more or less than a good old-fashioned gabfest or the same as women folk back home call a “Koffee Klotch.”

There are a few differences though that need a little explaining.  At home, the girls gather and talk, generally about the one who isn’t present; including in this conversation, her husband and his family, also hers and then down the line to her most distant relatives.  Also, they will gab for hours about the gossip of the neighborhood and of course add a little more to it.  At times, arguments amongst themselves will ensue and that ends the present meeting and the next few to come.

With us there are a few differences and variations, such as: we don’t care whether the person being talked about is present or not; although his absence is preferred and appreciated.  Of course we have our little gossip circles, but they mostly run toward the rumor side and therefore no one puts much stock in them.  Invariably we always talk of home, such as what we did before the President greeted us, also what we intend to do when we get back.  This home talk most always leads into a lively debate as to whose state, city or county is the best.  Arguing that topic is just like arguing religion; no one is ever impressed or convinced.

The officers are always good for a good 20 to 30 minute razing, with no one pulling their punches.  At times though you must be careful, as there might be someone present who is bucking like the devil and the talk will go back.  Never is there a good word said in the officers’ defense and I doubt if there ever will be.

a sample koffee klotch

Another colorful period is spent when someone brings up non-coms.  What is said at this time is unprintable.  Surprise to say that if I was visited by the seven plagues, I wouldn’t be as bad off as the non-coms, if even half the things wished upon him should ever befall him.  I sometimes wonder if ever in their own conceited way they know just how the private feels toward them.

At home, the girls are all gathered around strictly  talking, but here again we vary.  Some may be playing cards with every now and then some player adding his say, much to the consternation and anguish of the others.  Over in another corner are the die-hards who always listen for rumors and continue on talking about the latest one long after the others have dropped it.

All this time the water is being boiled outside in a large five gallon can.  Every now and then, someone will go out to see if it is time to add the coffee.  When once the coffee is added, there comes over the tent a lull and then everyone shuffles out to get his cup, which he will dip into the can of coffee before coming back in.  Conversation for a while is a combination of talk, loud sips and the blowing of the hot Java.  We manage also to provide milk and sugar and at times, crackers.  The last is generally present only around paydays.

I don’t know whether it is the effects of the hot coffee upon the vocal chords or not, but always right after the coffee, some would-be Crosby or Sinatra starts singing some old favorite and that is when music conquers over all.  They say music has its charms, but after listening to it here — I have my doubts.

Some nights the conversations are really good and so is the coffee, on those occasions, talking lasts after taps has blown and then you are sure to hear the mournful wail of the company charge of quarters meekly saying, “Aw fellas, put out the lights.”  Never has it happened that the request was heeded and I doubt if it ever will be.  It isn’t long after though that the first sergeant comes barging in bellowing, “Get those blankety-blank lights out and get the H–l to bed!”  Lights immediately go out and good-nights can be heard throughout the company area as Koffee Klotches all over break up.

Peace and quiet prevails until all one can hear is the not too soft patter of feet heading out to the place where, at some time or another, we all must frequent.  Bits of conversation can be heard drifting through the night, but generally isn’t worth listening to, as it is only the rumor mongers at work again in their office.

Before I close this chapter, allow me to say that the evening coffee, sugar and milk are all donated cheerfully by the fellow most unfortunate enough to have had K.P. the day before.

Having nothing more to gab about and also having to pay a visit down to the end of the company street, I’ll close before I have to make a run for it.

Gabbingly yours,  Everett  (The Donator of This Evening’s Coffee)

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

William Billeaux – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 2-Bronze Stars

Eric Carter (101) – Worcestershire, ENG; RAF, WWII, ETO + CBI, pilot

Courtney (Anderson) Couch – Lane County, OR; US Army  /  Sheriff’s deputy

George Gonzalez – Brooklyn, NY; US Army  /  Pentagon Police Force

Harold W. Hayden – Norwood, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., Co A/1/6/2nd Marine Division, KIA (Betio, Tarawa Atoll)

Tresse Z. King – Raeford, NC; US Air Force, Kuwait, Chief Master Sgt.

George Miller – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam

Frank A. Norris – Quinlan, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, TSgt., pilot-engineer, 345/98/9th Air Force, KIA (Ploesti, ROM)

Rex Prisbrey – Washington, UT; US Army Air Corps, CBI

Daniel Sullivan – Groton, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO, radar operator

Royal L. Waltz – Cambria, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., Co A/1/18/2 Marine Division, KIA (Betio, Tarawa Atoll)

Byron S. Wise –  Newalla, OK; US Army, Co. B/88th Artillery, 11th Airborne Division

Dale W. Wright – Flint, MI; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co C/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

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4th of July 2021

SEEMS WE DON’T SAY IT ENOUGH – SO, I’M TRYING TO FIX THAT RIGHT HERE – GOD BLESS THE USA!!!

We can rant and we can complain, but we should thank the troops for giving us the right to do so!  Today we celebrate our country’s birthday.  Traditional BBQ’s, fireworks, family and friends, we have a day off and have a ball!  – and to whom do we owe it all?  You guessed it_____

THE SOLDIER’S POEM

When this is over

And we come home again,

Forget the band

And cheers from the stand;

Just have the things

Well in hand –

The things we fought for.

UNDERSTAND?

_____Pfc C.G. Tiggas

ONLY A SAILOR

He’s only a sailor on the boundless deep,

Under foreign skies and tropical heat.

Only a sailor on the rolling deep,

In summer rain and winter sleet.

Fireworks and cookouts
And time spent with friends.
Swimming and playing
The good times never end.
But lest we forget
The reason for today
Let’s all say it now
Happy Independence Day!

Freedom’s Price!
Today we celebrate freedom
thanks to those who came before.
Those brave men who fought and died
in each and every war.
Freedom always comes at a price,
And while we celebrate
We should tip our hats to the heroes
who made our country great.

Red White and Blue
Hamburgers and hot dogs
cooked on the grill,
Fireworks in the night
giving us all a thrill.
The country all decked
in red white and blue.
Friends all saying
‘Happy 4th of July to you.’

Where does your state rate in its patriotism? 

https://wallethub.com/edu/most-patriotic-states/13680

Comic hero from the 1940’s , courtesy of Balladeer…

https://glitternight.com/2021/06/18/first-fighting-yank-stories-from-the-1940s/

FUN FACT:

Denmark is the only country outside of the United States that holds an official 4th July celebration.  Celebrated annually since 1911, thousands of people from across the country gather in Rebild National Park in Jutland for picnics, speeches and to sing some American classics.  Known as Rebildfesten, its organizers claim that it is is the biggest celebration of US independence outside of the USA.

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4TH OF JULY HUMOR –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Walter S. Belt Jr. – KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

James Cummings – Minneapolis, MN; US Atmy, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Jack DeTour – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-25 pilot and instructor

Max Foster – Brownstown, IL; US Army, WWII, radio operator

Philip T. Hoogacker – Detroit, MI; US Army, Korea, Pfc # 16315593, 1/29th Infantry Reg.; POW, KIA (Pyongyang, NK)

John E. Hurlburt – Madison, CT; US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt. # 20126929, 105/27th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Saipan)

James A. Kilgore – El Paso, TX; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 187th RCT, Pvt. > Colonel (Ret. 30 y.), Bronze Star, Silver Star

Frank Kokernak (101) – Dudley, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO, medic

Rogene Laut – Minister, OH; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

Jerome Lerner (100) – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, Lt. JG

Chad Peyton – Chandler, TX; US Army, Iraq, Captain, pilot, Bronze Star

Donald H. Rumsfeld – Taos, NM; US navy, pilot  /  60 years of public service

Bernard J. Sweeney Jr. – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt., # 32645733, Co I/330/83rd Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Hürtgen Forest, GER)

James C. Willis – Albuquerque, NM; US Air Force, Qatar, Lt. Col., 557th Expeditionary Red Horse Sq/Heavy Construction Engineers

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The Neptune Society – Letter IV “Still At Sea In A Quandary” – GP Interview

Pacific Ocean, rough seas off New Zealand

When Smitty and the other troopers passed the equator, as per naval tradition, the ship’s crew donned their apparel of King Neptune and his court in preparation of handing the “Pollywogs” (the soldiers) their certificates of crossing.  The Royal Barber tried to cut the hair of the crew-cut troopers and the Royal Executioner paddled a backside with an oar if the receiving line moved too closely to a snail’s pace. (which one can imagine was every G.I. derriere that went by!) Smitty was one to really enjoy this sort of tomfoolery — even if it was with the navy!  The water damage you see to Smitty’s certificate (pictured below) is one of the reasons I began to make a facsimile of his scrapbook onto the computer.  I have re-typed the contents of the certificate to show the humor involved — despite a war.

IT Read….

To All Sailors, Marines, Whatever Ye Maybe: Greetings: and to all Mermaids, Whales, Sea Serpents, Porpoises, Sharks, Eels, Dolphins, Skates, Suckers, Crabs, Lobsters and all other Living Things of the Sea: Know ye, that on this June 15 ’44 in Latitude 00000 and Longitude Cape Mendacia there appeared within Our Royal Domain the bound Southwestward for the Equator, the South Sea Islands, New Zealand and Australian ports.

BE IT REMEMBERED That the said Vessel and Officers and Crew thereof have been inspected and passed on by Ourselves and Royal Staff: AND BE IT KNOWN By all ye Sailors, Marines, Landlubbers, Soldiers and all others who may be honored by his presence, that Pollywog Everett A. Smith 32816491  Having been found worthy to be numbered as one of our Trusty Shellbacks he has been duly initiated into the SOLEMN MYSTERIES OF THE ANCIENT ORDER OF THE DEEP  Be It Further Understood:  That by Virtue of the power invested in me I do hereby command all my subjects to show honor and respect to him wherever he may be.  Disobey the Order under Penalty of Royal Displeasure. (bottom left) Given under our band and seal this Davey Jones, His Majesty’s Scribe – (bottom right)  Neptunus Rex, His Servant – the signature appears to be Gregory Cullen

equator crossing certificate

Smitty’s Letter IV

Letter IV                                                                                    Still at sea in a quandary

Dear Mom,  Well, here I am again as promised.  Yesterday we had a little something different to sea besides the sea.  Notice that I’m getting so that I can only spell  the sea when I mean to write see.  Early in the morning we had the pleasure of seeing another ship and must say it sure made one feel good.  Why it should though I can’t say unless it is the thought that someone else is having it just as tough.  Guess there is some truth in the saying, “Misery loves company.”  We also had the pleasure of watching some islands in the far off distance.  I won’t try to describe them to you, as that would be too much to expect to pass. (Censorship)  You will kindly take notice that I used the words “pleasant” and “pleasure,” if I keep that up you might get the idea this is getting to be that kind of voyage.  Some amusing things do happen though, such as the boys sleeping out on the deck getting caught in the rain or some clumsy ox slipping and sliding his way along the boat.  By the way, I forgot to tell you that we get the regular news everyday in a printed form resembling a newspaper.  Also music by record sounds tinny, but anything out here is good.

You can readily see I haven’t much ambition for writing today, which reminds me    Matter of fact, the way I feel right now, I don’t care much whether I do or not.  Well, that is all for today’s report on nothing, so with all my love, I am your ever obedient son,  Everett

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Smitty and his mother in artwork courtesy of, Priorhouse.wordpress.com/

From GP – Yvette, from Priorhouse, was kind enough to ask me for an interview for Memorial Day.  I was flabbergasted and honored!

I do hope you will go on over and take a peek, I would greatly appreciate it!  Priorhouse

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Burkle Carmichael – Ocala, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO,POW Stalag IV-B

Alex Coran – brn: ITL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Carl M. Ellis – Hope, AK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Myles W. Esmay – Utica, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI, !st Lt., Co B/236th Engineer Battalion w/ Merrill’s Marauders, KIA (Myitkyina, Burma)

Gavin MacLeod – Pleasantville, NY; US Air Force  /  Actor

Theresa Morris – Fairfield, CT; Civilian, WWII, Remington munitions inspector

Brian T. O’Connor – Rahway, NY; US Army, Vietnam, 5th Special Forces

Ralph Palmer (100) – Florence, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 450/15th Air Force, B-24 bombardier, DFC

Jennings “Bill” Rich – Bainbridge, GA; US Navy, WWII, Korea + Vietnam, USS Boxer, Pickaway + Hornet, MChief Petty Officer (Ret. 20 y.)

Clarence A. Robinson Jr. – Vienna, VA; USMC, Korea, Sgt. / Vietnam, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart (Ret. 20 y.)

Matsuo “Jack” Tominaga – Shelley, ID; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT

John D. VanPatten – Ft. Wayne, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Lester E. “Tosie” Wawner (101) – Clifton Forge, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO + ETO, Machinist 1st Class, USS Morris / US Coast Guard (Ret.)

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MEMORIAL DAY 2021

Our nation marks Memorial Day to honor and pay tribute to brave Americans who gave their life for this country. Many generations have sacrificed in defense of our nation, our liberty, and our desire to improve our country. On Memorial Day, we humbly honor these incredible patriots and have a solemn duty to uphold their legacy.

At its core, Memorial Day speaks of personal sacrifice for a greater good. It resonates in the stories of ordinary Americans, who fought for a better world and were willing to lay down their lives. Our way of life is shaped by those who have served and those who were lost. We have benefited from their positive influence on our world. It is our solemn duty to honor for our fallen brothers and sisters in arms and their families. This day reflects on heroes from historically distant wars passed and current operations. We honor their legacy and work toward a peaceful future, in which wars are a faded memory.

I encourage you all to keep the legacy of our fallen brothers and sisters in arms alive within your communities. Take time to reflect together with your friends, neighbors, groups, and communities, so those stories and sacrifices are never forgotten.

Respectfully, Colonel Christopher K. Lacouture 913th Airlift Group Commander

The image of the poppy is from: Marylou at natuurfreak3 click on image to enlarge.

I know that many are looking forward to their bar-b-ques and celebrations, especially after a year and a half of lockdowns, and quarantines, but Please take a moment to remember why we have this commemorative weekend.

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Also from Marylou is this wonderful Memorial Day ecard…

https://www.jacquielawson.com/ecard/pickup/r84d51b776ded4f769f2bacd6c8e9f2b4?source=jl999&utm_medium=pickup&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=receivercontent

From: Lt. Colonel Sam Lombardo (Ret.) _____

 “This is our Memorial Day/ In our land of the free/ It’s because of those who sacrificed/ Whose graves you’re here to see/ They fought on foreign lands/ And across the open sea/ And paid the ultimate price/ To keep you and I free/ So put all things aside/ And honor this important day/ Which we have dedicated/ As our Memorial Day.”

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NOT YOUR USUAL MILITARY HUMOR    –    PLEASE click on each to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Wayne L. Adams Sr. (102) – Dolton, IL; US Army, WWII

Carl D. Berry Jr. – Hinsdale, IL; US Army, WWII  /  US Air Force, Korea

Carl M. Bradley – Shelly, ID; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Wayne M. Evans – Hamilton, MT; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pvt., Battery G/59th Coast Artillery Reg., POW/KIA (Cabanatuan Camp, Luzon, P.I.)

Charlton H. Ferguson – Kosciusko, MS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Musician 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Nicholas H. Hamilton – Las Vegas, NE; US Air Force, pilot

Brenda McDaniel – Springfield, VA; US Army, Nurse Corps

Edward McDaniel Jr. – US Army, Colonel, Medical Corps (MD)

Joseph R. Mooradian – Union Grove, WI; US Merchant Marines, WWII  /  US Army, Korea

Burl Mullins – Dorton, KY; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Heavy Mortar Co/ 3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

William D. Tucker – Bedford, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

John Warner – Alexandria, VA; US Navy / USMC, Korea / Secretary of the Navy / 30 y. US Senator

The Army Airborne and the start to Camp MacKall

Airborne, Camp MacKall

The original idea for an American airborne came from Gen. Billy Mitchell in 1918.  His  commander, Gen. Pershing agreed, but once the WWI Armistice was signed, the plan was terminated.  In the late 1920’s, Germany began training parachute units and in the 1930’s, they led the world in gliders.  Russia created the Air Landing Corps in 1935.  Japan started in 1940 with German instructors.  The U.S. did not take note until Germany was successful on Crete in 1941.

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

The American tradition was born when 48 men jumped at Ft. Benning on Aug. 16, 1940, where  Private Eberhard, promised to yell to his buddies below, was the first to shout out “Geronimo”.  General William Lee is considered the “Father of the Airborne.”  My father, Everett Smith or “Smitty” (as you’ll get to know him),  did not care for heights or jumping, so I asked him – “Why volunteer?”  He shrugged and said, “They pay you more in the paratroopers.”  Smitty had a dry sense of humor which you will see more of in the letters he wrote to his mother in future posts.  He did however accept his boot camp, sharp shooting, glider & parachute training as a way  of learning new things he would otherwise have never experienced. [One of his statements driven into me – ” Like any job, always try your best.”]  Since he was 27 and much older than other recruits, he was often referred to by the nickname of “Pops.”

Camp MacKall postcard

The 11th Airborne Division was formed on Feb. 25, 1943 and their conditioning was so severe that most of the men felt combat would be a breeze.  They were the first A/B division formed from scratch, so instead of following the manuals – they were writing their own.  The camp was under construction 24/7 and they took classes sitting in folding chairs and easels were used for map reading, first-aid, weapons, foxholes, rules of land warfare, communications, field fortifications, and so on.  Between May and June one battalion at a time went to Fort Benning for jump school.

glider jumping

When the time came for Stage A of jump school, it was scratched since the men were already as fit as possible.  Stage B, was learning to tumble, equipment knowledge, sliding down a 30′ cable and packing a parachute.  In Stage C, they used a 250-foot tower, forerunner to the one at Coney Island, to simulate a jump.  Stage D, they earned their jump wings and boots.  In June, the units began training in every circumstance that might arise in combat.

The gliders used were WACO CG 4A, boxlike contraptions with wings.  The skeleton was small gauge steel covered with canvas; a wingspan of 84 feet, length of 49 feet and carried 3,700 pounds = two pilots and 13 fully loaded soldiers or a jeep and 6 men. The casualty list developing these appeared endless to the men.  Smitty could not listen to “Taps” without tearing up, even in his later years.

WACO glider in take off from Camp MacKall field.

21 June, the division entered the unit training program.  During July, all units went on 10-day bivouacs and to Fort Bragg.  Glider formal training occurred at Maxton Air Base.

In July, in Sicily, Operation Husky went terribly awry, due to the weather conditions –  3,800 paratroopers were separated from their gliders and each other.  The casualty rate was exorbitant.  This created serious doubts about the practicality of a division size airborne.  Proof would rest on the shoulders of the 11th and their commander, Gen. Joseph May Swing.  A demonstration called the “Pea Patch Show” was displayed for Sec. of War, Stimson.  He gave Swing a positive review, but it did not convince Gen. Marshall or McNair.  The fate of the Airborne Command rested on the upcoming Knollwood Maneuvers.

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Smitty’s hometown of Broad Channel sent out a free issue of their newspaper, “The Banner”, to every hometown soldier and this became another source of back front info, along with news from his mother and friends:

News that Smitty got from home at this point:  Broad Channel was getting their own air raid siren.  (Broad Channel is one-mile long and about 4-blocks wide).  His neighbors, the Hausmans, heard from their POW son in the Philippines.  And – his divorce papers were final, Smitty was single again.

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Military Humor –

‘I dropped out of Parachute School.’

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Ashby – Sun City, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Carl Bradley – USA; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Leo Brown – Lima, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, USS Colorado,3rd Marine Division

Benjamin Goldfarb – Toronto, CAN; US Army, WWII, PTO, Surgical tech, 54th General Hospital, Philippines

Daniel C. Helix – Concord, CA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, MGeneral, Purple Heart / Mayor

Denis H. Hiskett – USA; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Robert L. Moore – Queens, NY; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, Gunnery Sgt.

Thomas O’Keefe – Washington D.C.; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT  /  CIA

George Semonik Jr. – Sewickley, PA; US Army, Chief Warrant Officer, 82nd Airborne Division (Ret. 20 y.)

Shelby Treadway – Manchester, KY; US Navy, WWII, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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Adm. Nimitz – 136th Birthday & USMC Raiders

Pacific War Museum, Nimitz statue

Chester W. Nimitz was born on February 24, 1885 – and today would have been his 136th birthday. The National Museum of the Pacific War is located in Fredericksburg. Texas because Nimitz grew up here and he was a major figure in the U.S. victory over Japan in WWII. 

Nimitz reached the pinnacle of naval leadership when he was promoted to the 5-star rank of Fleet Admiral in late 1944. As the Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Area, he led more than two million men and women, 5,000 ships and 20,000 planes in the Pacific Theater. 

Adm. Nimitz at the “Old Texas Roundup”


He was known to be a congenial and accessible leader and that sailors loved and respected him. He is pictured here at the “Old Texas Roundup” speaking to his guests –  sailors, soldiers and Marines who hailed from Texas. The barbeque was held on January 1944 on Oahu, Hawaii, and Nimitz reportedly invited 40,000 Texans to celebrate their heritage.

 

The following video may be too long for some to watch, but I do recommend a little scanning through it.  The original films are included, and I’m certain you will enjoy that.

 

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Maj. Gen. James F. Glynn, commander of Marine Forces Special Operations Command, addresses MARSOC personnel during the rededication ceremony at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Feb. 22, 2021. On Feb. 24, 2006, the Marine Corps combined several of its specialized and uniquely trained units, gave them a name and a commander and directed them to become pioneers in a new chapter of Marine Corps history. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt Jesula Jeanlouis)

Fifteen years ago, the Marine Corps combined several of its specialized and uniquely trained units to become pioneers in a new chapter of Marine Corps history within Special Operations Command. While MARSOC can still be considered a relatively young unit, the history of Marine Corps specialized forces can be traced back much further than 2006.

The original Marine Raiders date back to World War II when the Marines were called on to solve complex problems posed by our nation’s adversaries. These specially trained Marines helped turn the tide in the early stages against the imperial Japanese Army. In honor and recognition of those that came before, the Marine Corps officially re-designated those serving with MARSOC as Marine Raiders in 2015.

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Military Humor – Navy style – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Scot Ames Jr. – Pekin, IN; US Air Force, 50th Flying Training Squadron, instructor pilot

Tanner W. Byholm – Ashland, WI; US Air Force Reserve

Joseph Couris – Philadelphia, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Captain, pilot B-17 “Rose of York”

B. Paul Hart – Williams, AZ; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman

Harry Lord – Farmingham, MA; US Navy, PTO, Chief Boatswain’s Mate (Ret. 30 y.)

Paul Mitchem – McDowell County, WV; US Army, Cpl. Korea, Co K/3/34/24th Infantry Division. KIA (Ch’onan, SK)

John Osgood – Claremont, NH; US Army, WWII, ETO

Lada Smisek – Cleveland, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Chief Machinist’s Mate, POW, KIA (P.I.)

William D. Tucker – USA; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Michaux Turbeville – SC; US Army, Korea, Pfc., HQ Co/ 3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

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