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Col. Hiromishi Yahara on Okinawa

Lines of defense on Okinawa. Top Japanese officers were in the bottom line of bunkers.

Colonel Hiromishi Yahara was third in command of the Japanese defenses on Okinawa. Read all about his story below.

It was Colonel Hiromishi Yahara who designed and implemented the jiykusen, or the yard-by-yard battle of attrition that cost the American forces so many casualties in the three-month battle, and he was the highest ranking officer to survive the battle and make it back to Tokyo. Before the overall commander on the island, Lt. Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima, committed ritual suicide in the battle’s final days, he instructed Yahara to escape to Tokyo to make a final report to the emperor.

Yahara was captured by the Americans, which bothered him immensely—to be captured or to surrender was considered a disgrace to one’s family—but eventually he did return to Japan.  In 1973, Yahara still felt strongly that the garrison at Okinawa, as well as the people of Okinawa themselves, had been betrayed by Imperial Headquarters in Tokyo.  Because he faced personal attacks for surviving the battle, Yahara decided to write a book to set the record straight.


The result is a fascinating and unique look at the last, decisive battle of the Pacific War, written by a surviving member of the defeated Japanese command on Okinawa.  Yahara was a gifted and meticulous strategist, highly respected by his peers. Because he had spent two years in the United States as an exchange officer prior to World War II, he knew his enemy better than did his superiors at Okinawa, Ushijima and Maj. Gen. Isamu Cho.

Yahara makes a startling revelation in the book regarding the events surrounding the American landing on Okinawa on April 1, 1945.  According to Yahara, the plans drawn up in Tokyo called for Japanese air power to play the decisive role in the battle for Okinawa prior to the actual landing.  Japanese planes flying from the mainland along with aircraft launched by the Japanese Combined Fleet—conventional fighters and kamikaze suicide attackers—were supposed to strike the U.S. Fifth Fleet offshore prior to the landing and annihilate the American landing forces while they were still in their ships.  The 32nd Imperial Army entrenched on Okinawa was to play a minor role, mopping up the survivors of the American landing forces as they struggled ashore.

Giretsu Commandos on Okinawa

To Yahara, the failure to launch the promised air attack on April 1 sealed the fate of the island’s garrison—it never had a chance for victory. Hundreds of thousands of Okinawan citizens had been betrayed as well, Yahara believed, sacrificed to the whims of the Japanese high command.

Although his love for his country never wavered, Yahara was unique among his peers.  He fully recognized the flaws in traditional Japanese military thinking—the Bushido code, or way of the warrior—and he was disgusted as he watched his superiors repeat the errors of previous eras.  The Imperial Army had a “blood and guts” mentality; it had been undefeated since winning the Sino-Japanese War in 1895.  To the Japanese militarists’ way of thinking, the combination of Japanese spirit and the willingness to die for the emperor would overcome any material advantage enjoyed by an enemy.

Japanese bunker

Yahara was convinced that the initial Japanese strategy for Okinawa—depending on air power—would fail.  Japan’s air forces were seriously degraded by early 1945, and it had lost many experienced pilots. American aircraft were now technically superior, and Japan’s Navy was down to just a few surviving carriers.  Yahara believed that the only chance for his country’s survival lay in the proper use of its remaining ground forces.

After the promised air assault did not materialize, he went ahead with his planned defenses on the ground.  He would fight for time, making the invaders pay dearly for every inch of ground, to allow Japan to prepare its defenses on the main islands for the Allied invasion that was sure to come.  Yahara’s tactics on Okinawa would utilize the island’s terrain, which was perfectly suited for defense, to wage an ugly war of attrition. His soldiers would go underground in caves and concrete bunkers to survive air, artillery, and naval gunfire, and then battle American ground forces for every inch of island real estate. His intricate, multi-layered defensive positions and the tenacity of the 110,000-man 32nd Army combined to prolong the battle for three long and exceedingly bloody months.

Col. Hiromishi Yahara

In his book, Yahara admits that he despised both the self-delusion practiced by his superiors and the false propaganda foisted upon the Okinawan people, who were told that capture by American troops would result in rape, torture, and death, to which suicide was preferable.

Condensed from an article by John Walker.

Click on images to enlarge.

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 Military Humor – BOOT CAMP 

‘Sign me up for swing shift basic training! I don’t think I could handle early morning hours.’

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bathurst – Madison, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Frank Conger – Poughkeepsie, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Bennington

Missing Man formation

Warren Foss – St. Louis, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO

James Gavette – Bradford, PA; US Army, WWII

Samuel Tom Holiday – Kayeta, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, Purple Heart

Norman Jackson – Watertown, NY; US merchant Marine, WWII

Francis McCormack – Rutland, VT; USMC

Irving Press – Windsor, CT; US Army, WWII

Raymond Rzepecki Sr. – Central Falls, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Pfc, B-24 tail gunner, 370th

Omar Shaffer – Linden, VA; US Navy, WWII, gunner

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Home Front – Missouri POW’s

The main camps supported a number of branch camps, which were used to put POWs where their labor could be best utilized.

As author David Fiedler explained in his book “The Enemy Among Us: POWs in Missouri During World War II,” the state was once home to more than 15,000 German and Italian prisoners of war (POW).

Many of the camps where they were held have faded into distant memory as little evidence remains of their existence; however, one local resident has a relic from a former POW camp that provides an enduring connection to the service of a departed relative.

“Established at Weingarten, a sleepy little town on State Highway 32 between Ste. Genevieve and Farmington, Missouri, (Camp Weingarten) had no pre-war existence,” wrote Fiedler. The author further explained, “The camp was enlarged to the point that some 5,800 POWs could be held there, and approximately 380 buildings of all types would be constructed on an expanded 950-acre site.”

Camp Weingarten quickly grew into a sprawling facility to house Italian POWs brought to the United States and, explained Jefferson City resident Carolyn McDowell, was the site where one of her uncles spent his entire period of service with the U.S. Army in World War II.

Working POWs earned 80 cents a day and could buy beer at the canteens.

“My mother’s brother, Dwight Hafford Taylor, was raised in the community of Alton in southern Missouri,” said McDowell. “His hometown really wasn’t all that far from Camp Weingarten,” she added.

Although her uncle passed away in 1970, records accessed through the National Archives and Records Administration indicate he was drafted into the U.S. Army and entered service at Jefferson Barracks on November 10, 1942.  After completing his initial training, he was designated as infantry and became a clerk with the 201st Infantry Regiment.

Shortly after Taylor received assignment to Camp Weingarten, Italian prisoners of war began to arrive at the camp in May 1943. Despite the challenges of overseeing the internment of former enemy soldiers, the camp experienced few security incidents and conditions remained rather cordial, in part due to the sustenance given the prisoners.

There were four main base camps, each holding between 2,000 and 5,000 POWs.

It was noted that many of the Italians were “semi-emaciated” when arriving in the United States because of a poor diet. The Chicago Tribune reported on October 23, 1943, that the prisoners at Camp Weingarten soon “put on weight” by eating a “daily menu … superior to that of the average civilian.”

Pfc. Taylor and his fellow soldiers, most of whom were assigned to military police companies, maintained a busy schedule of guarding the prisoners held in the camp, but also received opportunities to take leave from their duties and visit their loved ones back home.

“During one of my uncle’s visits back to Alton, he asked his mother for an aluminum pie pan,” said McDowell. “He then took it back to camp with him and that’s when he gave it to one of the Italian POWs.”

Cigarette case cover

When returning to camp, one of the POWs with whom Taylor had established a friendship was given the pie pan and used it to demonstrate his abilities as an artist and a craftsman by fashioning it into a cigarette case. The case not only had a specially crafted latching mechanism, but was also etched with an emblem of an eagle on the cover with barracks buildings and a guard tower from the camp inscribed upon the inside.

“My uncle then gave the cigarette case as a gift to my father, who was living in Jefferson City at the time and working as superintendent of the tobacco factory inside the Missouri State Penitentiary,” stated McDowell. “It is a beautifully crafted cigarette case, but the irony of it all is that my father never smoked,” she jokingly added.

Inside of the case.

As McDowell went on to explain, her uncle remained at Camp Weingarten until his discharge from the U.S. Army in December 1944. The following October, the former POW camp was closed and many of the buildings were dismantled, shipped and reassembled as housing for student veterans at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

In the years after the war, McDowell said, her mother kept the cigarette case tucked away in a chest of drawers but since both of her parents have passed, she now believes the historical item should be on display in a museum.

Italian POWs

Little remains of the once sprawling POW camp located approximately 90 miles south of St. Louis, with the exception of a stone fireplace that was part of the Officer’s Club.  McDowell notes the cigarette case is not only a beautiful piece that serves as a link to the past, but represents a story to be shared of the state’s rich military legacy.

“I will someday donate the cigarette case to a museum for preservation and display, and I believe my brother, Harold McDowell, would agree. However, I want to ensure it is recognized for the treasure that it is and it is not simply thrown away,” said McDowell. “That’s why I want to tell the story of its creation … its history, so that its association to Camp Weingarten is never forgotten.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Wishing all in New Zealand a memorable Maori New Year!

 

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bealle – Tuscaloosa, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-47 pilot

Percival Blows (100) – Summerset Karaka, NZ; RNZ Army #20590, WWII, 21st Battalion

David Chappell – Pueblo, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea

Murray Fromson – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Korea, Stars and Stripes journalist

Robert Greer – Stanford, KY; US Army, 11th A/B & 82nd A/B Divisions

Melvin Korman – Providence, RI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

L.G. ‘Butch’ Lemons – Phoenix, AZ; USMC, WWII, SSgt.

Donald McIntyre – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Army # 388853, WWII, Maj. (Ret.), 7th Rajput Reg, So. Lancaster Reg.,Royal West African Frontier Force Intelligence Corps

John Strouf – Altoona, IA; US Army, WWII

Byron Wrenn – St. Helens, OR; US Navy, WWII & Korea

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U.S. Army Birthday & Flag Day 2018

243RD Army Birthday

Headquarters Department of the Army is celebrating the Army’s 243rd birthday during the week of 10-16 June 2018 with numerous ceremonies and events. Highlighted celebrations are Army Day with the Nationals on 10 June; Twilight Tattoo hosted by the Sergeant Major of the Army on 13 June; a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on 14 June; the Pentagon Army Birthday Celebration also on 14 June; and culminating with the Army Birthday Ball on 16 June 2018.

 

 

Today is also Flag Day, an annual observance of the Second Continental Congress’ official adoption of the stars and stripes in 1777. At the time, they “resolved that the flag of the 13 United States” be represented by 13 alternating red and white stripes and the union by 13 white stars in a blue field, “representing a new constellation.” Now, more than 200 years later and with an updated design, the flag is an American icon.  Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is the only state to recognize it as a legal holiday.

As national treasures go, it was a bargain: $405.90 was paid to Mary Pickersgill of Baltimore, who fashioned it from red, blue and undyed wool, plus cotton for the 15 stars to fly at the fortress guarding the city’s harbor. An enormous flag, 30 by 42 feet, it was intended as a bold statement to the British warships that were certain to come.  And, when in September 1814, the young United States turned back the invaders in a spectacular battle witnessed by Francis Scott Key, he put his joy into a verse published first as “Defense of Fort M’Henry,” and then, set to the tune of a British drinking song – immortalized as “The Star Spangled Banner.”

 

STOP IN AND HEAR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM !!

 

 

If you live outside the U.S., and you also live free – display your flag as proudly as I do mine and enjoy your day!!

 

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Military Humor –

 

‘And this one’s for humor in the line of duty.’

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Farewell Salutes –

Alexander Conrad – Chandler, AZ ; US Army, Somalia, SSgt. 1/3rd Special Ops Forces Group, KIA

James Furcinito – Syracuse, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Paul Gilman – Belen, NM; USMC, WWII, M/3/8th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Leonard Grossman – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII

Delbert Hawkins – Augusta, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Jack Kill – Yorktown, VA; US Army, WWII

Emil Lake – Great Falls, MT; US Army, Vietnam

Herbert ‘Mac’ McDaniel – Malvern, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Capt., / Korea, Lt. Col.

Gordon Schofield – Montreal, CAN/FL; US Air Force

Edward Thomas – Minneapolis, MN; US Army, “Bird Dog” pilot

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IJN Yamato

IJN Yamato

By early 1945, Japan’s strategic situation was grim. Japanese conquests in the Pacific had been steadily rolled back since the Allied landings on Guadalcanal in August 1942. The Philippines, Solomons, Gilberts and Carolines had all been lost and the enemy was now literally at the gates. Okinawa, the largest island in the Ryukyu island chain was the last bastion before the Home Islands itself. The island was just 160 miles from the mainland city of Kagoshima, coincidentally the birthplace of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

 From: Kyle Mizokami

In early 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy made a difficult decision: it would sacrifice the largest, most powerful battleships ever built to protect Okinawa, the gateway to Japan’s Home Islands. The decision sealed the fate of the battleship Yamato and its crew, but ironically did nothing to actually protect the island from Allied invasion.

Yamato under construction

The battleship Yamato was among the largest and most powerful battleships of all time. Yamato has reached nearly mythical status, a perfect example of Japan’s fascination with doomed, futile heroics. Built in 1937 at the Kure Naval Arsenal near Hiroshima, it was constructed in secrecy to avoid alarming the United States. Japan had recently withdrawn from the Washington Naval Treaty, which limited battleship tonnages, and was free to build them as large as it wanted.

Unfortunately for Yamato and its crew, it was obsolete by the time it was launched in 1941. The ability of fast aircraft carriers to engage enemy ships at the range of their embarked dive and torpedo bombers meant a carrier could attack a battleship at ranges of two hundred miles or more, long before it entered the range of a battleship’s guns. Battleships were “out-sticked,” to use a modern term.

At 0800 hours on April 7, scout planes from Admiral Mitscher’s Fast Carrier Force, or Task Force 58, located IJN Yamato, still only halfway to Okinawa. Mitscher launched a massive strike force of 280 fighters, bombers and torpedo planes, and the fight was on.

IJN Yamato

For two hours, the Surface Special Attack Force was subjected to a merciless aerial bombardment. The air wings of 11 fleet carriers joined in the attack—so many planes were in the air above Yamato that the fear of midair collision was real. The naval aviators were in such a hurry to score the first hit on the allegedly unsinkable ship plans for a coordinated attack collapsed into a free-for-all. Yamato took two hits during this attack, two bombs and one torpedo, and air attacks claimed two escorting destroyers.

A second aerial armada consisting of one hundred aircraft pressed the attack. As the Yamato started to go down, U.S. naval aviators changed tactics. Noticing the ship was listing badly, one squadron changed its torpedo running depth from ten feet—where it would collide with the main armor belt—to twenty feet, where it would detonate against the exposed lower hull. Aboard Yamato, the listing eventually grew to more than twenty degrees, and the captain made the difficult decision to flood the starboard outer engine room, drowning three hundred men at their stations, in an attempt to trim out the ship.

Yamato in battle, artist unknown

Yamato had taken ten torpedoes and seven bomb hits, and was hurting badly. Despite counterflooding, the ship continued to list, and once it reached thirty five degrees the order was given to abandon ship. The captain and many of the bridge crew tied themselves to their stations and went down with their ship, while the rest attempted to escape.

At 14:23, it happened. Yamato’s forward internal magazines detonated in a spectacular fireball. It was like a tactical nuclear weapon going off. Later, a navigation officer on one of Japan’s surviving destroyers calculated that the “pillar of fire reached a height of 2,000 meters, that the mushroom-shaped cloud rose to a height of 6,000 meters.” The flash from the explosion that was Yamato’s death knell was seen as far away as Kagoshima on the Japanese mainland. The explosion also reportedly destroyed several American airplanes observing the sinking.

Yamato at the end, artist unknown

When it was all over, the Surface Special Attack Force had been almost completely destroyed. Yamato, the cruiser Yahagi and three destroyers were sunk. Several other escorts had been seriously damaged. Gone with the great battleship were 2,498 of its 2,700-person crew.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Beasley – Athens, OH; US Navy, corpsman

Ainslie Boyd – Marlborough, NZ; RNZ Navy # 7544, WWII & Vietnam, K Force

Francis Drake Jr. – Springfield, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, KIA (Tarawa)

David Douglas Duncan (102) – Kansas City, MO; US Army, WWII, PTO, combat photographer / Civilian, Korea & Vietnam Wars, Life Mag. photographer

Donald Freeman – Mobile, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Howie Judd – Rensselaer, NY; CIA (Ret.)

Harvel Moore –  Chatham, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO, KIA (Tarawa)

James Robinson – Leavenworth, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Mustin

Dee (Berglin) Robinson – Fairmount, ND; VA hospital nurse, WWII

Robert Southall – Cleveland, OH; US Army, WWII

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HAVING TROUBLE DEALING WITH MONDAY?

HAVE A GREAT DAY, FOLKS!!

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CBI Theater – April 1945

400,000 PAY TRIBUTE TO DEPARTED LEADER IN SIMPLE LAST RITES

Roundup Staff Articles from 19 and 26 April 1945 issues


The body of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 31st President of the United States, was lowered to its final resting place in the soil of his Hyde Park, N.Y., home this week as 140,000,000 Americans from Washington to New Delhi paid tribute to their leader.
The last rites at the White House and at Hyde Park were of extreme simplicity to follow through to the end the Lincoln-esque democracy that has characterized the 12 year and 80 day duty of President Roosevelt as head of the Republic of the United States.
A special train brought the body from Warm Springs, Ga., where he died of cerebral hemorrhage last week, to Washington, D.C., thence on to his native State of New York.
As the President’s casket was carried into the White House the Marine Band played Lead, Kindly Light.

General Stratemeyer

HUMOROUS TIMES IN WAR!

Cpl. Joan Reidinger was a “little scared,” she admits, when Maj. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, Eastern Air Command commanding general, invited her to tea recently.
It seems that Joan had written a poem entitled The Army Goes to Tea for Yank, and although the verses went on to “rib” the brass for their take-off on the British customs in India, Stratemeyer liked the poem; hence the invitation. Here is The Army Goes to Tea:

I should like to see the captain,” said the colonel to the WAC,
“I’m sorry, sir, he isn’t here, but he will soon be back.”
“But come, we’re going on a flight; the plane, it leaves at three.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” the WAC replied, “the captain’s out to tea.”
The telephone it jingled, and the WAC with voice of cheer
Said, “Colonel Doodle’s office, but the colonel isn’t here.”
“This is General Snipe,” the answer came, “so tell me, where is he?”
“I’m sorry, sir,” the WAC replied, “the colonel’s gone to tea.”
“I’ve got to get an order through,” the irate major said.
“If we don’t get some rations soon, my men will be all dead!
Please take me to Lt. Snoot, I know my point he’ll see.”
“I’m sorry, sir, Lt. Snoot has just stepped out to tea.”
And so it goes across the world, wherever tea they serve,
This strange civilian custom that the officers observe.
But if you’re just a poor G.I., you’re frowned upon, you see,
If you should try, at four o’clock, to stop your work for tea!

 

Handling snakes, Army style

AIR SERVICE COMMAND BASE, INDIA – The guide books say, “If a snake crawls onto your body, freeze in your tracks! The snake will not harm you and will soon go away.”
Cpl. Pleasant C. Templeton, photo lab wallah of an Air Service Group, had the unpleasant opportunity to test this theory while on guard duty one recent night.
Stooping over to avert the icy wind and blinding rain of the winter monsoon, Templeton felt a “sizeable” snake creep up into his lap. Remembering the advice, he remained perfectly still while the reptile playfully investigated such curiosities as his luminous-dial wrist watch and shiny overcoat buttons.
Friend snake apparently had read the same guide book and behaved accordingly. Fifteen minutes later, he wriggled off into the grass. Templeton still can’t comb his hair down. – Cpl. RAY LOWERY.

 

Partial view of the P-61 Pierre Lagace made for me.

10TH AIR FORCE USING P-61 PLANE IN THEATER 

HQ., 10TH AIR FORCE, BURMA – Presence of the P-61 Black Widow in the India-Burma Theater has been officially announced by the 10th Air Force.
During the past months, this deadly night fighter, operating under a blanket of security restrictions, has practically wiped out all nocturnal Jap raiders from Burma skies. Today, for lack of its particular type of target, the Black Widow has been transformed into a fighter-bomber, blasting retreating enemy forces with 500-pound bombs.
With its twin engines and twin tails, the Black Widow resembles the P-38 Lightning although much heavier and carrying a three-man crew – pilot, observer and crew chief. Its climbing power, tremendous speed and special radio detection equipment enables the P-61 to achieve great tactical surprise on enemy aircraft.
The 10th Air Force’s Black Widow squadron is commanded by Lt. Col. James S. Michael, veteran of North Africa and Italy campaigns. His operations officer is Maj. Thomas N. Wilson.
Capt. Walter A. Storck, who, at 38, is probably one of the oldest active fighter pilots in the service, is flight leader of the Black Widows. In the past 16 years, Storck has accumulated more than 6,000 hours in the air, flying everything from an L-5 liaison plane to the newest jet-propelled aircraft.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – CBI style – 

“AND JUST WHERE IS THAT GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL I WAS SUPPOSE TO GET?”

“THIS IS THE OUTFIT I BOUGHT TO GO ON A DATE WITH AN ENLISTED MAN.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leonard Applebaum – Bronx, NY; Merchant Marines / US Army

Robert G. Buchert (100) – Cincinnatti, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Sgt. Major, 152nd AAA/11th Airborne Division

Frank C. Carlucci III – Scranton, PA; Defense Secretary to Pres. Ronald Reagan

William Clark – Canberra, AUS; RA Air Force, 692 Squadron

William Flowers – Topeka, KS; US Navy, WWII

Walter Kane – Ware, MA; US Army, WWII

Fred Love – Delray Beach, FL; US Army, Medical Corps

John McIntyre – NZ; New Zealand Army # 477617, Vietnam

Carolyn Losee Spears – Westfield, NJ; US Navy WAVES, WWII, Chief Petty Officer

Harold Wilkerson – Clinton, IA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1277 Engineers, Bronze Star

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USS Laffey & the American Flag

Bill Kelly keeps a photograph in his room at the Claremont Center nursing home where he lives. The picture is of him in a football uniform on Thanksgiving Day, 1942 at Manasquan High School where he was an outstanding football. He says that the very day after the picture was taken, he went to New York and enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17.

A few years later, Kelly was photographed holding the tattered remnants of a flag. The flag is the US flag that flew over the USS Laffey during the Battle of Okinawa. It is tattered because of the damage received from the kamikaze attacks, some of the worst in history, that took place on April 16, 1945.

Kelly says that the Japanese “knocked the hell out of it,” but the ship stayed afloat.

Now 94-years-old, Kelly sits in a wheelchair, but his mind is still sharp. While some details of that fateful day have faded from his memory, his bravery has been chronicled by historians. Last month, he received a flag that had flown over the US Capitol from US Representative Chris Smith.

Kelly with Rep. Smith.

“Bill Kelly’s brave, selfless and outstanding service to this nation aboard the U.S.S. Laffey stands as a shining example of the best our country has to offer,” Smith stated

Kelly worked as a signalman, with expertise in Morse code, on the starboard side of the ship.

Ship historian Sonny Walker said that a Japanese plane flew into the mast and knocked down the American flag. Kelly went out and retrieved the flag from the main deck and headed back to the signal room with it.

On the way back, he found a sailor with his leg missing. It turned out to be Kelly’s good friend, Fred Burgess. He was leaning against a gun mount on his good leg with blood pouring out his missing leg. He cried for Kelly to help him, so Kelly and some other men rushed Burgess to the sick bay.

Once there, Burgess asked Kelly for the flag and Kelly gave it to him. He died, still clutching the flag, before a doctor had a chance to see him.

The Laffey was attacked by 22 Japanese planes that day. She was struck by six planes and four 400-pound bombs. Kelly narrowly missed being crushed by a falling 2-ton antenna. Another blast tossed him fifteen feet in the air.

A shipmate hung a new flag on the deck – “so the Japanese knew who they were fighting,” Kelly remembered, 32 men were killed on the Laffey that day and 71 were wounded. Kelly is amazed that anyone was able to walk away from that attack.

After the war, Kelly worked as a milkman and started a cleaning service while raising five children. He never spoke of the war. His daughter, Margie Moore, only learned of his bravery five or six years ago.

Today, there are just four surviving crewmen from the Laffey. The ship, known as “the ship that would not die,” is a floating museum off the coast of South Carolina.

Kelly was just 20 years old when the attack occurred but he remembers it like yesterday. His room holds mementos of that day: the tattered second flag raised by the shipmate, a photo of the Laffey badly damaged after the attack, his medals which include the Purple Heart.

Laffey after the attacks.

And now the folded congressional flag. When asked about what this flag meant to him, he was humble. “I take this for my shipmates, not me,” he said.

The USS Laffey was present at the D-Day invasions of Normandy where she fired on shore defense locations with her two five-inch gun turrets. She was then moved to the Pacific to help with the attacks on the Japanese where she provided support for the US troops in the Battle of Okinawa, which is when the kamikaze attacks took place.

Patriot’s Point, Laffey and Yorktown

After the war, the ship was repaired and went on to serve in the Korean War and the Cold War before being turned into a museum. It rests at Patriot’s Point, South Carolina next to the aircraft carrier Yorktown and the submarine Clamagore.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

“ALL RIGHT, SAILOR! LET’S GET THAT HAT SQUARED AWAY!!”

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Clifford Black Sr. – Commerce, GA; US Army, WWII, Korea, Bronze Star

Kern Lum Chew – Courtland, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

William Donnellan – Massapequa, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Tony Duva – Lake Worth, FL; US Army, WWII

William Harth Jr. – Columbia, SC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt., 329th Bomber Squadron/93rd Bombardment Group, KIA

Fred “Dipper 19” Kovaleski – NYC, NY; Cold War, CIA

Randall Mosher – Bolivar, MO; US Army, Vietnam

Jimmy Simoneaux – LA; US Navy, WWII, USS Spearfish & Snook

Ray Smith – RI; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Arthur Wells – Paw Paw, IL; US Army, Vietnam, Col. (Ret.), 1st Armored Div., 11th Airborne Div., 24th Div.,& 1st Div. District Adviser, West Point grad, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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U.S. MEMORIAL DAY

“Taps”   Please take a moment for them before you begin your holiday.

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“Hymn To The Fallen”       Support the troops.

Not every country holds Memorial Day on this date, many are in November when we hold our Veteran’s Day, and I’m certain you have your own ceremonies to display gratitude to your troops.  Shake the hand of a veteran today!

Memorial for Fallen Soldier

 

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Military Family Remembrance –  

courtesy of fellow blogger, Patty B.

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Walter Backman – Aurora, IL; US Navy, WWII, Radioman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Alan Bean – Fort Worth, TX; US Navy, NASA, astronaut

John C. England – Colorado Springs, CO; US Navy, WWII, Ensign, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Paul Etchepare Jr. – LaGrange, IL; US Army, Vietnam, 2nd LT.

Paul A. Nash – Carlisle, IN; US Navy, WWII, Fire Controlman, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Charles R. Ogle – Mountain View, MO; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Richard Prior – Reese, MI, US Army, 11th Airborne Division, Medical Unit

Philip Roth – Newark, NJ; US Army (author)

Dominick Santoro – East Meadow, NY; US Army, WWII

Lowell Valley – Ontonagon, MI; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

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…and a Soldier Died Today…

Koji Kanemoto has started our Memorial Day weekend off with the proper remembrance and respect that our deceased veterans deserve.

Masako and Spam Musubi

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ARMED FORCES DAY

19 MAY, 2018, BEING ANOTHER PART OF MILITARY APPRECIATION MONTH, IS CALLED ARMED FORCES DAY.

THE FIRST ARMED FORCES DAY WAS CELEBRATED 29 MAY 1950 (one month before the start of the Korean War).  ARMED FORCES WEEK BEGINS ON THE 2ND SATURDAY OF MAY AND ENDS THRU THE 3RD SATURDAY.  Due to their unique schedules, the NATIONAL GUARD & THE RESERVE units may celebrate this at any time during the month.

 

PRESIDENT DWIGHT DAVID EISENHOWER, 1953 –  “Today let us, as Americans, honor the American fighting man.  For it is he or she – the soldier, the sailor, the Airman, the Marine – who has fought to preserve freedom.”

 

If you do NOT normally fly your flag everyday, make this day one that you do!  Even a small one sitting in your window shows your heartfelt feelings toward our troops.

If you are not from the U.S., tell us about the days you honor your military in the fight for freedom – help us to learn by sharing.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lloyd Backart – Albuquerque, NM; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Donald Carr – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Vietnam, Major, Team 3 Special Forces, KIA

Mildred Eaton – New Orleans, LA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

John Gobbi – Bodega, CA; USMC, WWII, Purple Heart

Michael Healy – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea, Major (Ret.), 187th RCT

Joseph Mills – Lebanon, KY; US Army, Vietnam (Ret. 22 y.)

Joseph Ranke – Apple Valley, MN; US Army, WWII

Richard Surbaugh – Meadow Creek, WV; US Navy, WWII

Thomas Tight – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Army, LT.

Jim Wilke – Griffin, GA; US Army, WWII, 3rd Infantry Division

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Communiques from the Pacific

Okinawa, 1945, taken by: W. Eugene Smith

CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 334, APRIL 16, 1945

Supported by carrier aircraft and by naval gunfire, elements of the Twenty Fourth Army Corps landed on le Shima, an island west of Okinawa, on the morning of April 16 (East Longitude Date). Advancing inland rapidly against resistance which was initially light but later stiffened, our troops captured the enemy airfield and secured most of the area west of that point. The greater part of the enemy defense force has been driven back to defensive positions in the pinnacles southeast of the airfield.
Marines of the Third Amphibious Corps continued to attack groups of the enemy on Motobu Peninsula, Okinawa, on April 16. Marine forces continued to advance northward in the rugged terrain of the island north of the peninsula.
There was little change in the lines of the Twenty Fourth Army Corps in the southern sector of Okinawa. Naval guns and carrier planes attacked enemy positions in the south.
At the end of April 13 our forces on Okinawa had killed 9,108 of the enemy and captured 391 prisoners of war. About 85,000 civilians had come under jurisdiction of the U. S. Military Government on the island by the end of April 15. Our Military Government authorities have constructed one large camp and have taken over thirteen villages for use of civilians. Civilian foodstuffs are being salvaged and used. Our medical facilities have proved adequate for treatment of civilians thus far.

Okinawa, April 1945, taken by: W.E. Smith

CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 340, APRIL 22, 1945

The Twenty Fourth Army Corps continued to attack the enemy’s fortified positions in the southern sector of Okinawa on April 22 (East Longitude Date) meeting bitter resistance in all areas of the fighting. Our troops were supported by heavy artillery, naval guns, and carrier and landbased aircraft. No substantial changes had been made in the lines by 1700 on April 22. A total of 11,738 of the enemy have been killed and 27 taken prisoner in the Twenty Fourth Corps zone of action.
Elements of the Marine Third Amphibious Corps occupied Taka Banare Island east of Okinawa on April 22 and landed on Sesoko Island west of Motobu Peninsula on the same date. Our troops on Sesoko were reported to be half way across the island in the early afternoon.

Corpsmen race under fire to the wounded, Okinawa

During the night of April 21-22, a few enemy aircraft approached our forces around the Okinawa area and four were shot down by carrier planes and aircraft of the Tactical Air Force. On the afternoon of April 22 a substantial group of Japanese planes attacked our forces in and around Okinawa causing some damage and sinking one light unit of the fleet. Forty-nine enemy planes were shot down by our combat air patrols and antiaircraft fire.
Carrier aircraft of the U. S. Pacific Fleet attacked airfields and other installations in the Sakishima Group on April 21 and 22.
Army Mustangs of the Seventh Fighter Command attacked Suzuka airfield 32 miles southwest of Nagoya on April 22 inflicting the following damage on the enemy:

9 aircraft shot out of the air

Japanese land-based aircraft destroyed

One probably shot down
17 aircraft destroyed on the ground
20 Aircraft damaged on the ground

A 6000-ton ship exploded in Ise Bay south of Nagoya
Two small oilers sunk
One small tanker sunk
One coastal cargo ship damaged

Carrierbased aircraft of the U. S. Pacific Fleet attacked airfields and ground installations in the Amami Group of the Northern Ryukyus during April 18 to 20 inclusive, damaging or destroying numerous airfield structures. On April 21 and 22 carrier planes operating in the Northern Ryukyus shot down 16 enemy planes and burned 10 more on the ground.
A search plane of Fleet Air Wing One attacked a small cargo ship east of the Ryukyus on April 22 leaving it burning and dead in the water.
Runways and installations on Marcus Island were bombed by Liberators of the Seventh Army Air Force on April 21. Helldiver bombers of the Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing attacked the airstrip on Yap in the Western Carolines on April 21.
During the twenty four hours ending at 1800 on April 20, 60 Japanese were killed and 64 were captured on Iwo Island. A total of 23,049 of the enemy have been killed and 850 captured since February.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military ‘Office’ Humor – 

Incognito office duty

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Derek Barnsley – Coromandel, NZ; Royal Navy # FX705461, WWII, Sgt., 580 Squadron/RAF

Wayne Chapman – Burlington, VT; US Army, Korea

Norbert Gilly Jr. – New Orleans, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Howard Hermance – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Ted Leslie – Jensen Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 82nd Airborne Division

Ernest L. Medina – Montrose, CO; US Army, Vietnam, Captain, Silver Star

Dennis Odom – St. Louis, IL; US Army, Vietnam

Jack Rotolo – Rome, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, 118th Combat Engineer Battalion

Crosbie Saint – Philomont, PA; US Army, Vietnam, General (Ret. 30 y.), West Point grad, Cmdr, of the U.S. Army Europe, Silver Star & DFC

Fred Williams – Springfield, OR; US Navy, WWII & Korea

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