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General Joseph May Swing – Intermission Story (30)

Major General Joseph Swing

As the intermission period closes, it is only fitting that I introduce the man who lead the 11th Airborne Division.  Many called him “Uncle Joe”, but on the back of this photograph, Smitty wrote “My General.”

“A hero is a man noted for his feats of courage or nobility of purpose—especially one who has risked his life; a person prominent in some field, period, or cause by reason of his special achievements or contributions; a person of distinguished valor or fortitude; and a central personage taking an admirable part in any remarkable action or event; hence, a person regarded as a model.”

Joseph May Swing was born on 28 February 1894 in Jersey City and went to the public schools there, graduating in 1911 and entered West Point Military Academy directly.  He graduated 38th in the class of the star-studded class of 1915, famously known as “The Class the Stars Fell On.”

The 5-star generals were Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley.  The four-star (“full”) Generals in the class of 1915 were James Van Fleet and Joseph T. McNarney. The three-star (Lieutenant Generals) Generals were Henry Aurand, Hubert R. Harmon, Stafford LeRoy Irwin, Thomas B. Larkin, John W. Leonard, George E. Stratemeyer, and Joseph M. Swing. This view was taken facing south around noon on May 3, 1915.

In 1916 Lieutenant Swing was part of the punitive expedition to Mexico against Francisco Villa under the leadership of General John J. Pershing. In 1917, shortly after the US entered the war in Europe, Major Swing joined the artillery of the 1st Division in France. When he returned to the US in 1918, he became an aide-de-camp to the Army’s Chief of Staff, General Peyton C. March. On 8 July 1918, he married Josephine Mary March, the daughter of General March. Later that year, he joined the 19th Field Artillery at Fort Myer, Virginia, and in 1921 sailed for Hawaii to command the 1st Battalion of the 11th Field Artillery at Schofield Barracks.

In 1925, he returned to the States and assumed command of the 9th Field Artillery at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.  He graduated with honors from the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, and in 1927 he graduated from the Command and Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. For the next four years, he was on duty in the Office of the Chief of Field Artillery in Washington, DC, and in 1933 he became chief of its war plans section. In 1935, he graduated from the Army War College in Washington and then joined the 6th Field Artillery at Fort Hoyle, Maryland.

Next, he went to Fort Sam Houston where he was the chief of staff of the 2d Division from 1938 to 1940. Later, he commanded the 82d Horse Artillery Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Bliss, Texas and then commanded its division artillery. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1941 and at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, organized the division artillery of the 82d Division, a move which was to project him into the brand new field of “airborne.”  In Camp Claiborne, General Omar Bradley was the 82d Division commander. General Ridgway was the assistant division commander, and Colonel Maxwell D. Taylor was the chief of staff.

General Joseph M. Swing

In February of 1943, as a newly promoted major general, General Swing was assigned the task of activating the 11th Airborne Division at Camp Mackall, North Carolina, the Army’s third airborne division. Thus began for General Swing a tenure of service which was unique then and still remains a record: division commander of one division for five years, during which he activated the division, trained it, and commanded it in combat and during its subsequent occupation of Japan. During this period, General Swing and the 11th Airborne Division became synonymous; the man was the division and the division was the man.

General Swing made his mark on the Army and on the thousands of men who passed through the 11th Airborne Division in a way which those of us who were fortunate enough to serve with and have known him will never forget. His subordinates and superiors have described General Swing with numerous adjectives: forceful, energetic, courageous, self-disciplined, purposeful, farsighted, innovative, just, sentimental, short-tempered, forgiving, sincere, considerate, demanding—and with it all, handsome, erect, prematurely gray, with a lean, tanned face from which steely-blue eyes focused with incredible sharpness either to find a mistake or an accomplishment of a subordinate. General Swing fitted all of those descriptive adjectives to one degree or another; illustrations to exemplify each trait abound, particularly in the lore of the 11th Airborne Division. And as the years go by and as the men of the 11th gather at reunions, the stories about the “old man” increase and take on a sharper and more pungent flavor.

Leyte, Gen. Swing and staff on Mt.Manarawat

There is no doubt that General Swing was demanding in training, insisting on excellence, and setting and requiring the highest of standards for the 11th Airborne Division so that when it entered combat, after months of grueling training in Camp MacKall, Camp Polk, and New Guinea, the division was ready to take on the Japanese in the mud and rain across the uncharted central mountains of Leyte. Early in its combat career, it was ready to thwart a Japanese parachute attack on the division command post and nearby San Pablo airfield at Burauen, Leyte.

General Swing demonstrated his courage and vitality on that occasion by personally leading a Civil War-like attack across the airstrip with engineers, supply troops, and a glider field artillery battalion armed with carbines and rifles against the dug-in Japanese paratroopers who had had the audacity to attack the 11th Airborne from the air. In short order, the Japanese paratroopers, the elite Katori Shimpei of the Japanese forces, were routed, and the San Pablo airfield was back in the hands of the 11th Airborne Division.

_____ Condensed from a biographical article written by Edward Michael Flanagan, Jr., Lt.General, Retired

also, “The Gettysburg Daily, Wikipedia and Smitty’s scrapbook.

And this is where we left off the day by day and monthly island-hopping offense of the Pacific War.  You will be hearing often of General Swing, you might even get to admire him almost as much as Smitty did.

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Military Humor – 

‘I think it’s about time McFergle retired — he remembers the Lusitania.’

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Ball – Sterling, AK; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lloyd Crouse – Columbus, OH; US Army, WWII, PTO, 251st Sta. Hospital, combat medic

Charles Dye – Flint, MI; US Army, WWII

Frank Forlini – Yonkers, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division. Purple Heart

Richard Gordon – Seattle, WA; US Navy, test pilot / NASA astronaut, Gemini 11, Apollo 12 & Apollo 18

Bill Jo Hart – Fort Worth, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Flight Instructor

Alfred Jeske – Seymour, WI; US Army, WWII

Bill Mesker – Wichita, KS; US Navy, WWII

Myra Mitchell – Upalco, UT; USMC, Women’s Corps, WWII

Sterling Wood – Omaha, NE; US Army, Colonel (Ret. 30 y.), 143rd Transportation Command

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Drones are not a new idea – Intermission Story (28)

The Reaper Global Hawk RQ-4

Unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly known as drones, are most often associated with airstrikes in modern warfare, but their history goes much further back than that. While drones came into the spotlight during the early years of the 21st century the idea of a remotely-operated flying machine was developed much earlier. A forerunner of what we consider today to be an unmanned aerial vehicle was an Austrian balloon used during the siege of Venice in 1849.

During WWI many eccentric weapons were developed on all sides of the conflict. One was the pilotless aircraft that operated with the help of Archibald Low’s revolutionary radio controlled techniques.  The Ruston Proctor Aerial Target represented the cutting edge of drone technology in 1916. Low, nicknamed “the father of radio guidance systems,” was happy for the project to be developed further and used in kamikaze-style ramming strikes against Zeppelins.

The Kettering Bug

Another project led the way for further research of UAVs.  The Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, also known as the “Flying Bomb,” or the “Aerial Torpedo,”  went from Britain to the USA in 1917, resulting in an upgraded American version named the Kettering Bug.  Although it was considered to be a large success, the war ended before it could be utilized.

Cruise missiles, which perform under similar principles as unmanned aerial vehicles, are single use weapons. Drones are carriers and users of armament, or other equipment, depending on their given role.

After WWI there was a lot of interest in producing and improving remote-controlled flying weapons. The US Army took the initiative in further exploring such concepts.

RAE Larynx on destroyer HMS Stronghold, July 1927

After the war, three Standard E-1 biplanes were converted into UAVs. While the Americans were laying the groundwork for drones, the British Royal Navy conducted tests of aerial torpedo designs such as the RAE Larynx. In 1927 and 1929 the Larynx was launched from warships under autopilot.

DH-82 Queen Bee

Pilotless aircraft were also made as aerial targets. Among the projects used for target practice was the “DH.82B Queen Bee”. It derived from the De Havilland Tiger Moth biplane trainer which was adapted to new radio technology.  She was the first returnable and reusable.

The name “Queen Bee” is considered to have introduced the term “drone” into general use. During the 1930s the term specifically referred to radio-controlled aerial targets. Once World War II broke out, it started to represent any remotely-controlled pilotless aerial vehicle.

Reginald Denny Hobby Shop

Reginald Denny went from England to the United States in 1919, intending to become an actor in Hollywood, but he also pursued another dream. Together with his partners, he opened Reginald Denny Industries and a shop that specialized in model planes, called the Reginald Denny Hobby Shops.

OQ-2A Radioplane

The business evolved into the Radioplane Company, and Denny offered his target drones to the military. He believed the drones would be very useful, especially for training anti-aircraft crews. Denny and his company produced 15,000 target drones for the US army just before and during WWII. His most famous model was called Radioplane OQ-2.

Curtis N2C-2 target drone 1938/39

Around the same time, during the late 1930s, the US Navy developed the Curtiss N2C-2. This unmanned aerial vehicle was remotely controlled from another aircraft, which made the design revolutionary. The US Army Air Force (USAAF) also adopted this concept and started improving it. The primary use of the technology was still as target practice for AA gunmen. However, as America was preparing for war, the UAV experiments were being redirected for combat use.

In 1940 the TDN-1 assault drone was capable of carrying a 1,000-pound bomb and was deemed fit for service. It was easy to produce and passed on tests. However, the drone was too hard to control, and as complications were expected once it entered combat conditions it never saw action.

During Operation Aphrodite in 1944, some modified B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator heavy bombers were used as enormous aerial torpedoes, but they also failed to see wider service. They proved to be ineffective. One of the reasons why the concept was abandoned was the death of Joseph Kennedy Jr, brother of the future president, who died alongside his crewmember during one of the raids as part of Operation Aphrodite.

Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy

TOP SECRET [DECLASSIFIED]:: ATTEMPTED FIRST APHRODITE ATTACK TWELVE AUGUST WITH ROBOT TAKING OFF FROM FERSFIELD AT ONE EIGHT ZERO FIVE HOURS PD ROBOT EXPLODED IN THE AIR AT APPROXIMATELY TWO THOUSAND FEET EIGHT MILES SOUTHEAST OF HALESWORTH AT ONE EIGHT TWO ZERO HOURS PD WILFORD J. WILLY CMA SR GRADE LIEUTENANT AND JOSEPH P. KENNEDY SR GRADE LIEUTENANT CMA BOTH USNR CMA WERE KILLED PD COMMANDER SMITH CMA IN COMMAND OF THIS UNIT CMA IS MAKING FULL REPORT TO US NAVAL OPERATIONS PD A MORE DETAILED REPORT WILL BE FORWARDED TO YOU WHEN INTERROGATION IS COMPLETED :: TOP SECRET [DECLASSIFIED]

The development of pulsejet engines enabled the Germans to produce the fearsome V-1 Flying Bomb which at the time represented the pinnacle of guided missile systems. The Americans also introduced the pulsejet engine during the war, but once again only to produce target drones like the Katydid TD2D/KDD/KDH. The real boom in the UAV industry was yet to come, during the troublesome years of the Cold War.

Sources of information:Fly Historic Wings; Reuters; Nova; War History online; and Ctie.monash.edu.au “The Pioneers”

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Juan Alvardo – Pawnee, TX; US Army, WWII

Harold Biebel – Belleville, IL; US Navy, WWII, USS Frybarger

Arthur Fain – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Trinidad Gameroz – Lincoln, NM; US Navy, WWII, ETO

John McNulty – Vancouver, CAN; RC Air Force, helicopter pilot

Donald Percy – Adams, NY; US Navy, radioman

George Purves – W. AUS; RAF; WWII, / RA Air Force, Mid-East & Vietnam

Norman Silveira – Alvarado, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 2/187th/11th Airborne Divison

William Walker – Hawkes Bay, NZ; RNZ Navy # DJX569685, WWII, ETO

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Veterans Day – 2017 – Thank You

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National Veterans Day Ceremony

The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces.

National Veterans and Military Families Month – November 2017

For 98 years, Americans have remembered those who served our country in uniform on 11 November – first as Armistice Day, and then, since 1954 as Veterans Day. In this 99th year of commemoration, the Department of Veterans Affairs is broadening that tradition of observance and appreciation to include both Veterans and Military Families for the entire month of November.

Veterans and Family Month Calendar 2017

Veterans Month Calendar 2017. Decorative only

For more information on Veterans Month acitivtes in your area – check out the calendar below or visit your local VA facility.

 

 

Remembrance Day around the world!

Remembrance Day (sometimes known informally as Poppy Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Following a tradition inaugurated by King George V in 1919,[1] the day is also marked by war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth countries. Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November in most countries to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”, in accordance with the armistice signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente between 5:12 and 5:20 that morning. (“At the 11th hour” refers to the passing of the 11th hour, or 11:00 am.) 

Information here today is from the US Veteran’s Administration and Wikipedia.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Albert Cheese – Hampstead, NC; USMC, 1st Sgt. (Ret. 20 y.)

Stephen Cribben – Rawlins, WY; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt., 10th Special Forces Group, KIA

Norman Dyke – Warwickshire, ENG; RAF, WWII

Adrien Einertson – Camas, WA; US Navy, WWII

Jack Gustafson – Athabasca, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO

Edward Keane – Warwick, RI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Louis Manci – Scranton, PA; US Army, Korea, 187th ‘Rakkasans’

Charles O’Neill Jr. – Cleveland, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Trudden – Broad Channel, NY; US Air Force, Korea

Tony Victor – Huntsville, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 gunner/radioman

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242nd USMC Birthday Message – 2017

mpfb-mcbday2016.png

10 November 2017 is the 242nd birthday of the United States Marine Corps, please listen to the message delivered from Guadalcanal by General Robert Neller, Commandant of the USMC and Sgt.Major Ronald Green as they address all Marines and Sailors around the world….

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Marine Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas Barclay – Duxbury, MA; USMC, Korea, 1st Marine Division, Silver Star

Robert Palmer Coles Jr. – Bronx, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Chief Petty Off. radioman (Ret. 30 y.)

James Conard – Lexington, SC; USMC, Vietnam, Major (Ret. 20 y.), Purple Heart

Ray Fenstemaker – Whitehall, OH; USMC, WWII & Korea

Orlis Kennicutt – Orange Park, FL, USMC, Captain (Ret.)

Nicholas Newell – Oceanside, CA; USMC, Sgt.

James Reynolds – Savannah, GA; USMC, SSgt. (Ret.)

Eric Thomas – Portland, ME; USMC & US Coast Guard

Carroll Vorgang – Jeffersonville, IN; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, Colonel (Ret. 29 y.)

Hank Williams – Princeton, WV; USMC, GySgt. (Ret.)

Kenneth Young – Tucker, AR; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

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WWII German POW returns to say Thanks – Intermission Story (27)

In an Oct. 3, 2017 photo, Günter Gräwe, a German POW held in Washington during World War II, bids farewell as he finishes touring a former barracks with Deputy Joint Base Commander Col. William Percival at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times via AP)

By HAL BERNTON, Seattle Times

SEATTLE (AP) — Gunter Grawe spent three years as a German prisoner of war in western Washington, a World War II incarceration he recalls not with rancor, but gratitude for the chance to “live and learn in America.”  Grawe always thought about returning to the state to say thank you.

In early October, the rail-thin veteran, now 91, did just that during a brief visit to this base, where guard towers and barbed-wire fences are long gone but some of the two-story wooden barracks that once housed German prisoners still stand.

He declared his capture by the Americans at the age of 18 “his luckiest day,” and reminisced about camp life that included English, French and Spanish classes organized by other POWs and a commissary stocked with chocolate, ice cream and Coca-Cola.

“I never had anything to complain about,” Grawe said. “No guard called us nasty names. I had a better life as a prisoner than my mother and sister back home in Germany.”

In a global conflict that resulted in the deaths of more than 60?million people — including 6?million Jewish Holocaust victims — Grawe was indeed fortunate to live to an old age denied so many others. Grawe was filled with patriotism as he went to serve in the German army but now denounces Adolf Hitler as “one arrogant, hypocritical dammed liar” who led his nation into disaster and shame.

Grawe’s trip to Joint Base Lewis-McChord was arranged with the help of HistoryLink.org, a Seattle-based online encyclopedia that chronicles the state’s past.   “We have a list of those who were pro-Nazi, and he was not on it,” said Duane Denfield, a historian who works as a JBLM contractor.

Grawe’s military career started in Latvia, where he went through training for what appeared to be an assignment to the Eastern Front to fight a resurgent Russian army. If Josef Stalin’s forces had captured him, he likely would have been sent to a labor camp, where harsh conditions killed many.

But then Allied forces invaded France, and the Germans scrambled to try to slow their advance toward Paris with fresh reinforcements.  Grawe was transferred to Normandy, where he served in a tank unit that was quickly overwhelmed by the U.S. and British armies.

“It was a terrible fight in Normandy — it wasn’t what we expected, and we were young and inexperienced,” Grawe said.

Grawe said he realized how well things had turned out as he was put on the ocean liner Queen Mary for the voyage to America. He had comfortable quarters and most important — ample meals — served on metal trays.  Next, he took a train ride across America to what was then Fort Lewis.  At the Army post south of Tacoma, barracks vacated by U.S. troops were turned into prison quarters for some 4,000 German POWs at five locations.

Fort Lewis (now part of the joint base) was part of a much broader POW prison-camp network of some 500 sites across the country that held 400,000 Germans. Overall, historians say these prisoners were treated well. Some Germans even referred to their camp as a “golden cage,” according to Michael Farquhar, who wrote a 1997 article about the POWs for The Washington Post.

German POW’s work on a farm.

 The POWs’ relative comfort angered some wartime Americans who had lost their loved ones to German troops. But they did have to work, providing labor at a time when the massive troop mobilization made it hard to find enough people to bring in the nation’s crops.

Grawe traveled by truck from Fort Lewis to help in apple, sugar-beet and potato harvests.  Later, he was transferred to Arizona to bring in cotton.  He recalled his farm labor as a real adventure that earned him an 80-cents-a-day salary to buy things at the commissary.

Through his years as a prisoner, Grawe says he came to love America.

But his first loyalties were to Germany. As a boy, he participated in Hitler Youth.  He joined the army as what he calls a “young idealistic soldier” who thought it “right to fight for an honest and upright fatherland” just like his father, a plumber turned soldier who died in the war in 1940.

Grawe says he first learned of the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps while a prisoner in America. He initially brushed off the news as propaganda because it was conveyed by a U.S. officer. When he wrote home to his mother and sister, they replied it was true.

In 1947, two years after Germany’s unconditional surrender, Grawe was released.  In the postwar era, as the German economy surged, Grawe prospered.  Through the decades, he returned to the U.S. several times to vacation. But only after his wife died in 2016 did he make up his mind to return to Washington state.

On Oct. 3, a brilliant fall day, Grawe arrived at JBLM. He brought his electric bike, determined to ride the final distance — a little over a mile — to the old camp site. On each side of his bike’s rear wheel hung a sign: “USA, the country and its people, you are my first and final love!”

At the blacktop by the barracks, he looked around somewhat uncertainly. He recalled a barren site. This place was full of fir trees that had grown up in the seven decades since the prisoners had gone home.

Gunter Grawe

He was greeted by the base’s deputy joint commander, Col. William Percival, who offered a handshake, and later a hug inside a building now empty and bare of furniture.

 “You remind us that . how you treat somebody defines who we are,” Percival said. “There are times, even today, when we may want to forget that.  And you let us know that’s a lesson not to be forgotten.”  Grawe then went for lunch at a base dining hall.

He piled his plate full of a noodle casserole, and sat down to eat one more ample meal served up by the U.S. Army. This time, as a free man.

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Military Humor – by: Bill Mauldin 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Michael Aiello – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII, SSgt., KIA

Robert Blakeley – Jacksonville, FL; USMC

Vincent Burns – Athol, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Richard Cavazos – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Vietnam, BGeneral

Walter Hackenberg – Middleburg, PA; US Army, Korea, POW, KIA

Duane Hackney – Flint, MI; US Air Force, Vietnam, (most decorated airman in U.S. history)

Charlie Laine – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

David McElroy – Brookline, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII, Yeoman

William Parham – Bedford, IN; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Jacob Sims – OK & Juneau, AK; US Army, Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer, KIA

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Trained as a Kamikaze – and lived – Intermission Story (26)

The airbase at Chiran, Minamikyūshū, on the Satsuma Peninsula of Kagoshima, Japan, served as the departure point for hundreds of Special Attack or kamikaze sorties launched in the final months of World War II. A peace museum dedicated to the pilots, the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots (知覧特攻平和会館 Chiran Tokkō-Heiwa-Kaikan), now marks the site.

The pilots filed into the room and were presented with a form that asked if they wanted to be kamikaze. It was multiple-choice, and there were three answers: “I passionately wish to join,” ”I wish to join,” and “I don’t wish to join.”  This was 1945.  Many were university students who had been previously exempt from service, but now Japan was running out of troops.

Hisashi Tezuka recalls that a few of his colleagues quickly wrote their replies and strutted away. But he and most of the others stayed for what felt like hours, unable to decide.

Hisashi Tezuka, trained Zero kamikaze pilot

He did not know then if anyone had dared to refuse. He learned later that the few who did were simply told to pick the right answer.  Tezuka so wanted to be honest to his feelings he crossed out the second choice and wrote his own answer: “I will join.  I did not want to say I wished it. I didn’t wish it,” he told The Associated Press at his apartment in a Tokyo suburb.

They were the kamikaze, “the divine wind,” ordered to fly their planes into certain death. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey and data kept at the library at Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo estimate that about 2,500 of them died during the war. Some history books give higher numbers. About one in every five kamikaze planes managed to hit an enemy target.

Books and movies have depicted them as crazed suicide bombers who screamed “Banzai” as they met their end.  But interviews with survivors and families by The Associated Press, as well as letters and documents, offer a different portrait — of men driven by patriotism, self-sacrifice and necessity. The world they lived in was like that multiple-choice form: It contained no real options.

First-born sons weren’t selected, to protect family heirs in feudalistic-minded Japan. Tezuka, then a student at the prestigious University of Tokyo, had six brothers and one sister and wasn’t the eldest.  He was given a five-day leave to visit his parents. He didn’t have the heart to tell them he had been tapped to be a suicide bomber.  There was one absolute about being a kamikaze, he says: “You go, and it’s over.”

He survived only because Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender on a radio broadcast, just as he was on a train headed to take off on his kamikaze attack.

 

A burly man with a quick wit, Tezuka hands a reporter a sepia-toned photo of himself as a Zero fighter, grinning in a helmet, the trademark white silk scarf at his neck.  “That’s to keep warm. It gets really cold up there,” he says.

“Do you know what a rainbow looks like when you’re flying?” he asks, his eyes aglow with childlike excitement. “It’s a perfect circle.”

Seventy years after the end of World War II, the runway that once stretched at Tsukuba is long gone. But the rows of cherry blossoms still stand.  In another corner of the Tsukuba grounds, an underground bomb shelter winds in pitch darkness through several chambers. It was designed to serve as an emergency command.  It’s a reminder of the illusory determination that gripped the imperialist forces, to keep fighting, no matter what.

In training, the pilots repeatedly zoomed perilously, heading practically straight down, to practice crashing. They had to reverse course right before hitting the ground and rise back into the sky, a tremendous G-force dragging on their bodies.

When they did it for real, they were instructed to send a final wireless message in Morse code, and keep holding that signal. In the transmission room, they knew the pilot had died when a long beep ended in silence.

Yoshiomi Yanai looks over the Last Will and Testament he wrote out before flying his kamikaze mission.

Yoshiomi Yanai, 93, survived because he could not locate his target — a rare error for a kamikaze operation. He visits the Tsukuba facility often.

“I feel so bad for all the others who died,” he says, bemoaning the fate of comrades who died so young, never having really experienced life.

Yanai still keeps what he had intended to be his last message to his parents. It’s an album that he keeps carefully wrapped in a traditional furoshiki cloth. He plastered the pages with photos of him laughing with colleagues and other happy moments. He got a pilot friend to add ink drawings of the Zero.

“Father, Mother, I’m taking off now. I will die with a smile,” Yanai wrote in big letters on the opening pages. “I was not a filial son but please forgive me. I will go first. And I will be waiting for you.”

Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, who wrote about the kamikaze in his 2008 book, “Danger’s Hour,” says the kamikaze were driven by nothing but self-sacrifice.

When he started his research, he expected to find fanaticism. He was stunned to find they were very much like Americans or young people anywhere else in the world, “who were extraordinarily patriotic but at the same time extraordinarily idealistic.”

Kennedy stressed that kamikaze have little in common with suicide bombers today. Japan was engaged in conventional war, and, above all, kamikaze had no choice, he said. Civilians were not targets.

“They were looking out for each other,” he says, in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “If he didn’t get in the plane that morning, his roommate would have to go.”

Yokosuka MXY7 Cherry Blossom suicide aircraft

Though the Zero was used in kamikaze missions, it was not designed for the task. The Ohka was. It was a glider packed with bombs and powered by tiny rockets, built to blow up. They were taken near the targets, hooked on to the bottom of planes, and then let go.  Americans called it the “Baka bomb.” Baka is the Japanese word for idiot. Because their cruise range was so limited, they were easily shot down.

Fujio Hayashi

The job of overseeing and training Ohka pilots, and ultimately sending them to certain death, fell to Fujio Hayashi, then 22.

Hayashi believes Ohka might never have happened if there had been no volunteers when the concept was first suggested.  He was one of the first two volunteers for Ohka. Dozens followed.  But he could never stop blaming himself, wondering whether his early backing helped bring it about. When he finally saw one of the flimsy gliders, he felt duped; many thought it looked like a joke.

Over the decades, Hayashi was tormented by guilt for having sent dozens of young men to their deaths “with my pencil,” as he put it, referring to how he had written the names for Ohka assignments each day. To squelch any suspicion of favoritism, he sent his favorite pilots first.

After the war, Hayashi joined the military, called the Self-Defense Forces, and attended memorials for the dead pilots. He consoled families and told everyone how gentle the men had been. They smiled right up to their deaths, he said, because they didn’t want anyone to mourn or worry.

“Every day, 365 days a year, whenever I remember those who died, tears start coming. I have to run into the bathroom and weep. While I’m there weeping, I feel they’re vibrantly alive within my heart, just the way they were long ago,” he wrote in his essay “The Suicidal Drive.”  “I think of the many men I killed with my pencil, and I apologize for having killed them in vain,” he said.

He often said he wanted his ashes to be scattered into the sea near the southern islands of Okinawa, where his men had died.  Until then, he said, his war would never be over.

He died of pancreatic cancer at age 93 on June 4. His family plans to honor his request.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – The Kunihiko Hisa Cartoon Album

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Farewell Salutes – 

Maynard Ashley – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

Charles banks Jr. – Salem, NJ; US Army, WWII, PTO

William Campbell – Hatfield, AL; US Army, WWII

Chilton Gates – Eminence, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Flight Instructor

Ann Jackson Huckaba – Rockvale, TN; USWMC, control tower

Mickey Kinneary – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, Korea

Ernest Laws – Columbus, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Logan – brn: Glasgow/Detroit, MI; US Army, Vietnam, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Joseph Schmitt – O’Fallon, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, / NASA

Michael Weber – Toronto, CAN; RC Army, WWII, LT., Corps of Signals

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1944 ending / 1945 opening

New Guinea and the Philippine Islands

CLICK ON TO ENLARGE.

Shortly before the invasion of Leyte began, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed MacArthur to invade Luzon on December 20, 1944, thus settling the argument as to whether Luzon or Formosa should be the next object of attack. It was not expected that Luzon would be easily reclaimed, but it was believed that the conquest of Formosa would be much more difficult and might require as many as nine divisions, more than were then available in the Pacific area.

While construction of airfields on the muddy terrain of Leyte moved slowly forward, and while the fleet recovered from the Battle of Leyte Gulf, MacArthur decided to occupy the island of Mindoro, directly south of Luzon, for the construction of additional airfields.

The attack on Mindoro began on December 15 and the invasion of Luzon was rescheduled for January 9, 1945. Both invasions were undertaken by the U.S. 6th Army under Lieut. Gen. Walter Krueger, supported by the 3rd and 7th fleets, and by the Army air forces in the area.

After the preliminary air attacks on Luzon at the turn of the year, the 3rd Fleet moved into the South China Sea to hit Formosa, Hong Kong and Chinese coastal points.

Barrage rockets during the invasion of Mindoro, Philippines, in December 1944. Launched in salvoes …

UPI/Bettmann Newsphotos

The U.S. troops encountered little opposition on the ground at Mindoro but they were subjected to heavy air attacks both en route and after landing. The Japanese had now begun to use kamikaze attacks on a regular basis and, although many such suicide planes were shot down, many others reached their targets. Before the end of the year new airfields on Mindoro were ready to handle planes supporting the larger invasion of Luzon.

On the way from Leyte Gulf to the landing site at Lingayen Gulf on the west coast of Luzon, the invasion armada suffered damage from repeated kamikaze attacks. One pilot plunged his plane onto the bridge of the battleship New Mexico, killing more than 30 persons, including the captain of the ship.

Yamashita Tomoyuki, 1945

The troops of the I Corps and the XIV Corps would go ashore at Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945, and be met with little resistance because the Japanese had not expected a landing at that point. The Japanese commander in charge of defending the island was Gen. Yamashita Tomoyuki, the conqueror of Singapore and Bataan, who commanded the Japanese 14th Area Army.

Realizing that the diversion of forces to Leyte and the inability of the Japanese High Command to send reinforcements to Luzon gave him little hope of defeating the 6th Army, Yamashita decided upon static defense aimed at pinning down Allied troops on Luzon for as long as possible. He established three principal defensive sectors: one in the mountains west of Clark Field in the Central Plains; a second in mountainous terrain east of Manila; and the third and strongest in the mountains of northwestern Luzon, centering initially on Baguio.   Manila was also strongly defended, though Yamashita at one time apparently had some thought of abandoning the city.

A Japanese kamikaze pilot aiming his plane at a U.S. warship in the Lingayen Gulf, off the coast of …

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph

Mindanao, second largest island in the Philippines, had been MacArthur’s first target before the change in plans made in September 1944, but as events turned out it was the last island to be retaken.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ronald Borm – Dayton, OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Wintle

Rhoderick Brown – Edmonton, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO

Samuel Ervin – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII

William ‘Jack’ Griffis – VillaRica, GA; US Navy, WWII, Destroyer Escort DE-702

Pauline Jensen – Huey, PA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Richard Kramer – E.St. Louis, IL; US Navy, Lt.Commander (Ret.), Purple Heart

James Norton – Boulder, CO; US Navy, WWII

John ‘Pappy’ Polythress – Rincon, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-23 radioman

Raymond Rechlin – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Nolan Stevenson – Brown’s Bay, NZ; RNZ Navy # 435119, 3891; WWII

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Douglas Munro, Coast Guard Hero – Intermission Story (24)

Painting of Doug Munro providing support from his LCP, by Bernard D’Andrea

The United States Coast Guard was founded on a tradition of taking small boats into dangerous conditions to save lives. This skill made Coast Guard coxswains an indispensable part of the Pacific Theater  and Smitty would whole-heartedly agree.  Coast Guardsmen proved their worth time and time again as they expertly handled small landing craft in and out of almost any situation. No man better exemplifies this prowess than Douglas A. Munro.

Signalman 1st Class, Douglas Munro

Born in Vancouver in 1919, Douglas Munro attended Cle Elum High School in Washington state.  He attended the Central Washington College of Education for a year before enlisting in the Coast Guard in 1939. He spent his first two years on board the Cutter Spencer,  a 327-foot Treasury-class cutter which patrolled out of New York, and later Boston.

While on the Spencer, Munro advanced quickly, making Signalman 2nd Class by the end of 1941. After the Spencer, he transferred to the Hunter Ligget, a Coast Guard-crewed landing craft patrolling in the Pacific. In 1942 he was made a part of Transport Division 17, helping to coordinate, direct, and train other troops for amphibious assaults.

The United States’ first taste of this warfare was at Guadalcanal.  After the initial Marine landings, a base was established at Lunga Point. Munro was assigned here along with other Coast Guard and Navy personnel to operate the small boats and assist with communications.  This base served as a staging point for further troop movements, consisted of little more than a house, a signal tower and a number of small craft and supplies

Lunga Point, Guadalcanal

After the Marines had moved west of Lunga point, they encountered an entrenched Japanese position on the far side of the Manatikau river. It was clear that an attack across the river would be fruitless, and a plan was devised to bring men down the coast, to land west of the Japanese position, allowing it to be attacked from both sides. To achieve this goal Marine Lieutenant Colonel Lewis “Chesty” Puller placed men from the 7th Marine Division onto landing craft and began an assault on September 27th.

These landing craft were led by Douglas Munro, who took the men into a small bay just west of Point Cruz and delivered the entire 500 man force unopposed. Meanwhile, the destroyer USS Monssen laid down supporting fire and protected the Marines’ advance.

Meanwhile, Munro and his crews returned to Lunga point to refit and refuel, leaving a single LCP(L) (a 36-foot landing craft, lightly armed and made mostly of plywood) to provide evacuation for any immediate casualties.

Marines landing on the beach from their LCP’s.

But less than an hour after the initial landing the operation began to deteriorate. First, a flight of Japanese bombers attacked the Monssen, forcing her to leave the Marines without fire support.   Then the Japanese launched an infantry attack on the Marines. The Japanese had stayed to the north of the Marine landing force, near a rocky cliff known as Point Cruz. Their attack to the southwest was designed to cut the Marines off from their escape route.

There the single LCP(L) still sat, manned by Navy Coxswain Samuel Roberts and Coast Guard Petty Officer Ray Evans. The men had gotten close into shore for a speedy evacuation. A sudden burst of Japanese machine gun fire  damaged their controls.  Roberts managed to jury rig the rudder but was fatally wounded in the process, Evans jammed the throttle forward, speeding back to Lunga Point.

The trapped Marines hadn’t brought their cumbersome radios with them, and couldn’t signal back to their support. In desperation, they spelled out “HELP” by laying out their undershirts on a hillside. Luckily this was noticed by a Navy dive bomber pilot who reported it back to the sailors at Lunga. Because of this, by the time Evans’ LCP(L) made it back Munro and his men were already aware that something wasn’t going right.

Marines on Guadalcanal

Thanks to Evans they now had the detailed information needed to make a plan of action. It was determined that a group of small boats and troop transports would have to return, under fire, to get the men out of the combat zone. Munro immediately volunteered to lead the operation and got ten boats readied and underway as soon as possible.

This small flotilla came into the bay under fire.  USS Monssen, which had returned , gave support.  Munro directed his landing craft to begin ferrying the men back to the Monssen, while he and the other LCP(L)s provided fire support.

USS Monssen

By this time the Japanese had taken up positions on all three sides of the bay, and were able to coordinate a devastating barrage of fire on the retreating men. Seeing this, Munro positioned his own craft between the enemy and the landing crafts to provide support by fire.

After the last men were coming off the beach, a landing craft became grounded.  Munro ordered another craft to tow it free while he provided support, again putting his own boat in harm’s way to help save as many men as possible. While Munro’s boat was taking position to do this, a Japanese machine gun crew was setting up on the beach.

Petty Officer Evans, saw this and called out for him to get down, but Munro couldn’t hear him and he was fatally wounded.  Evans pulled away, and along with the rest of landing craft, headed back to Lunga Point; with all of the Marines saved.

Marines crossing Matanikau River.

Thanks to Munro’s heroism, 500 Marines made it off the beach that day, and for this, Signalman 1st Class Douglas A. Munro was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal Of Honor.  The 500 men he saved went on to help capture the Matanikau River early in October, which meant the beginning of the end for Japanese forces on Guadalcanal.

The engraving on the back of Munro’s medal.

Munro’s body is interred in his hometown of Cle Elum, Washington, and his Medal of Honor is on display at United States Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, New Jersey, where it serves an everlasting example to new recruits about what it means to truly be a United States Coast Guardsmen.

Click on images to enlarge.

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 Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Donald Bender – Machesney Park, IL; US Navy, WWII

Catherine Brown – San Diego, CA; US Coast Guard SPARS, WWII

Edward Delaney – Boston, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII, LST 170

Raymond Edinger – Liberty, NJ; US Coast Guard/Navy, WWII, Meteorology officer

James Evans Jr. – Seattle, WA; US Coast Guard, WWII, Korea

Daniel Fite – Fort Worth, TX; US Coast Guard, WWII

Arthur Janov – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII

Arthur Peeples – Springhill, MS; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Alexander Strachan – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4210193, WWII, Sgt.

Robert Unzueta – Avalon, CA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

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Quartermaster Corps – Intermission Story (23)

I am always remarking on how the military operates as one large chain with every job having an important role in the smooth operations.  Most people concentrate on the front line combat soldier, sailor or Marine and forget what it all must take to not only put him/her there, but to keep their mission in operating condition.

The U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps was responsible for procuring and delivering various supplies to units in all those theaters. No other area proved to be more challenging than the war in the Pacific Theater with its lengthy supply lines.

The first step in the Quartermasters’ duties was procurement, which required more than simply calculating user needs and filling out the correct requisitions. Overcoming numerous hurdles, corpsmen were responsible for making victory possible. Their obstacles started on the home front, where shortages of all basic supplies originated. Further complicating matters was the fact that manufacturing and agricultural production had to be increased immediately.

Quartermaster corpsmen provided Class I, II, III and IV items to the war front.

Paratroopers with their ‘K-rations’

Class I: food

A steady supply of food and rations was most vital to the survival of the far-flung armed forces. During much of the war the Pacific Theater experienced heavy losses of food, resulting in random cycles of “feast and famine.” Food losses stemmed from a number of sources, the first being storage problems. Limited warehousing was available, and Class I items shipped to the Pacific were often stacked in big open food dumps with little protection from the elements. To rectify that problem, the corpsmen created portable warehouses called “Paulin Oases,” which resembled a native hut called a bures.

35th QM Pack Mule Train

Class II: clothing

Quartermasters in the Pacific had trouble getting sufficient reserves of clothing where it was needed, mainly because the U.S. clothing and textile industry could not easily obtain the necessary raw goods from scarce commodities. In addition, sometimes plants had to be completely retooled to accommodate full-scale production. Clothing took a lower priority compared to food and petroleum products. After the clothing did arrive, it usually went into base storage areas — sometimes disintegrating as a result of devastating environmental effects.

Naval Quartermasters

Class III: petroleum products

Essential to the war effort were gasoline, kerosene, aviation fuel, diesel oil, fuel oil and petroleum-based lubricants. Critical for the sustainment of war machinery and more vital even than clothing and general supplies, those Quartermaster supply items took high priority. The corpsmen excelled in the processing and delivery efforts, and because of easy accessibility from Australia, it suffered fewer hazards.

Class IV: general supplies

Such diverse items as rope, soap, candles, knives, forks and spoons rarely warranted “life or death” status. Those Class IV items usually shipped on a restricted basis. A procurement problem on the home front — the inability of the manufacturers to meet demand with supply — was the main reason for delays.

Quartermaster Corps on the beaches D-Day.

The Quartermaster Corps trained thousands of soldiers during World War II, filling specialized roles in every theater of operation from the Pacific and CBI theaters to North Africa, Italy, central and northern Europe. They willingly supplied more than 70,000 different items with more than 24 million meals each day going to the servicemen.

Pacific Paratrooper did a post on George Watson previously to honor the Quartermaster who won a Medal of Honor.

George Watson

Information derived from U.S. History.com

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Barbara Baker – Glen Burnie, MD; US Navy WAVES, WWII

George Curtis – Concord, NH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS McCracken

John Devitt – MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Troop Carrier pilot

Oscar Friedman – Hampton Bay, NY; US Army, WWII

Rubin Gansky – Wallingford, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, ‘Merrill’s Merauders’

La David Johnson – Miami Gardens, FL; US Army, Niger, Sgt., 3rd Spec. Forces Unit, KIA

Upson Kyte – Akron, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div. Recon Unit / Korea

Dwight McBride – Elida, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, APO, PTO, radioman, Sgt.

David Patterson Sr. – Rio Rancho, NM; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker

Norman Stobie – Nelson, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII

 

Women and Computers in WWII – Intermission Story (22)

Women with the ENIAC computer

 

Before the invention of electronic computers, “computer” was a job description, not a machine. Both men and women were employed as computers, but women were more prominent in the field. This was a matter of practicality more than equality. Women were hired because there was a large pool of women with training in mathematics, but they could be hired for much less money than men with comparable training. Despite this bias, some women overcame their inferior status and contributed to the invention of the first electronic computers.

In 1942, just after the United States entered World War II, hundreds of women were employed around the country as computers. Their job consisted of using mechanical desk calculators to solve long lists of equations. The results of these calculations were compiled into tables and published for use on the battlefields by gunnery officers. The tables allowed soldiers in the field to aim artillery or other weapons, taking into account variable conditions such as temperature and air density. Today, such calculations are done instantly in the battlefield with microcomputers.

One place where human calculators were busy at work was the Moore School of Engineering, a part of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Dozens of women worked there, cranking the handles on their calculators and producing column after column of numbers. Adele Goldstine and Mary Mauchly, both employees of the university and wives of professors involved in computing, helped recruit and train the women who, early in the war, were usually college graduates with math degrees. Later, high school graduates were used. A few highly trained workers, including one Lila Todd, operated what was called a differential analyzer, a machine that could calculate the path of a shell or bomb as it flew through the air. But engineers such as John Mauchly thought it would be better to design a machine to do other tasks such as calculating ballistic tables, and began working on what became the ENIAC, one of the first electronic digital computers. Some women were hired to assemble the circuits used in the ENIAC, although very little is known about who these women were.

When the ENIAC was nearing completion, six women were chosen from among the human computers to be trained as programmers. These were Kay McNulty, Frances Bilas, Betty Jean Jennings, Elizabeth Snyder, Ruth Lichterman, and Marlyn Wescoff. By this time, it was the autumn of 1945. The war had ended, but the computing program was not cancelled. Instead, the military remained interested in a machine that would calculate complex trajectory equations very rapidly, and support for the project continued. The six women chosen to be programmers devised the very first computer program, which was demonstrated when the ENIAC was unveiled in early 1946. A short time later, all the women were taken off the project when the machine was taken to a military base near Washington, D.C., but several of them found employment elsewhere as programmers, and five of the six are alive as of this writing.

Information and links supplied by ETHW.org

Click on images to enlarge.

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 Computer Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bryan Black – Puyallup, WA; US Army, Niger, SSgt., Green Berets, 3rd Spec. Forces Unit, KIA

Nannie Carr – Finleyville, PA; US Army WAC; WWII

Melvin Duck – Jackson’s Gap, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW

William Finger – Maryville, TN; US Army, WWII, PTO

Alfred hawkes – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, MSgt. (Ret.)

Jeremiah Johnson – Springboro, OH; US Army, Niger, SSgt., Green Berets, 3rd Spec. Forces Unit, KIA

Bernard Kurtz – Buffalo, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO

Bruce Miller – Papakura, NZ; RNZ Army # 458490 & Air Force # 43146, WWII

Raymond Sweet – Palm Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Dustin Wright – Lyons, GA; US Army, Niger, SSgt. Green Berets, 3rd Spec. Forces Unit, KIA

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