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Another “Rosie” Story

Ruth & Ben Reise

When Ben Reise went to enlist in the military in 1942 during World War II, his future wife, Ruth Fern Gibb, went with him. The two had grown up together in Chicago, meeting in grammar school.

Ben Reise tried to enlist in the Navy, but they told him that he was too short at 5 feet, 4 inches, Ruth Reise said. Next, he went to the Army, which “took him right away.”

At the same time Ben enlisted, Ruth was also offered a job. Her height – 5 feet even – made her the perfect size to climb into airplane gas tanks to secure the rivets. Soon after, she began working at the Douglas Aircraft manufacturing plant, on the site where O’Hare International Airport is today.

From 1942 to 1945, Douglas manufactured 655 C-54 Skymasters, a military transport aircraft, at the Chicago plant. A photo from the Chicago Tribune’s archive shows that the opening of the gas tank on the C-54 was just 13 inches tall and nine inches wide.

“I told [the recruiters], ‘I don’t have any claustrophobia so that will be fine,’” Ruth Reise, now 92, said.

Each day, 15-year-old Reise would go to school, take two streetcars and arrive at her job at 2:30 p.m. She would work until 10 p.m. and head home on the same two streetcars. It was only as an adult that she realized just how young she was when she began working on the planes. Despite her age, she enjoyed the work she did at Douglas, and felt as if she was contributing something to the war.

Although she was called a “Rosie the Riveter” by many – representing the women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II – she said she was part of a two-person team. While the person on the outside of the tank used a rivet gun to shoot the rivet through the metal, she would secure the rivets from the inside.

“I had someone working on the outside of the gas tank, and the lady that was on the outside was a riveter,” Reise said. “I had a little block and gloves and as soon as she started drilling, I had to catch the rivet and make it absolutely perfect. They would come in and inspect, because if I didn’t get it perfect, it had to come out and they had to do it over. They never had to do mine over again,” she said.

While Ben Reise was in Paris, he would send her letters, photos and other pieces of memorabilia. He included photos of the gliders that he flew as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Forces, a picture of his bunk that included a portrait of her, and a photo of him doing a handstand on top of a plane.

She said he was “the most remarkable handstand person,” and before the war started, the two of them would enter gymnastics contests around Chicago on weekends. “We would do our act and we would always win.  It would be $10, so we thought we were millionaires,” she said.

In 1943, he sent her a cartoon that had been published in Yank, the Army’s weekly magazine that ran during World War II. The cartoon was part of George Baker’s series “The Sad Sack.”

Ruth Reise said that his friends would make fun of his dedication to her while he was overseas. “They had made a joke of the fact that he never dated at all when he was there.

On Sept. 2, 1945, the day World War II ended, she was still working in the gas tanks of planes at Douglas Aircraft. “They blew all the whistles and thousands and thousands of us were out on the grounds. I wish I had been taking photographs of it,” she said.

Throughout the war, she saw patriotism all around her. At school, she said, patriotism was encouraged among students, and with a job so closely connected to the war, she found that “somehow or other, it was acceptable to be that patriotic.”    The fact that people around her were drafted or enlisting in the military heightened her dedication to the United States’ cause.

“It was acceptable to be that patriotic, not just because [Ben] was gone, but my stepfather had the six of us and he was next on the roll,” she said. “We didn’t know what we would do if he went in.”

After Ben returned home safely in 1945, the two began making plans for their future. “When he got off the train it was just like I had said goodbye to him,” she said. “Right away, we knew that we were going to decide where we were going to get married.”  On Feb. 10, 1946, they got married at her aunt and uncle’s house in Illinois.

The two eventually settled in Wheaton, Illinois, where Ruth Reise still lives today. Ben Reise died in 2012 at the age of 89.

This story is partially from: “Stars and Stripes” magazine

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

While he was overseas in 1943, Ben Reise sent Ruth Reise a clipping of this comic strip by George Baker which had been published in Yank, the Army’s weekly magazine that ran during World War II. Ruth said that Ben’s friends would make fun of his dedication to her and compared him to the character in this comic strip.
COURTESY OF RUTH REISE

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Arsers – New Ulm, MN; US Merchant Marines, WWII

Frank Bennetti – Butler, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQS/187/11th Airborne Division

William Burr Jr. – Champagne, IL; US Army, WWII, West Point Class ’44, 101st A/B / Korea, 25th Infantry Div. / Vietnam, Col. (Ret. 33 y.)

Renaldo Jenson – Arco, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, air mechanic / National Guard, Sgt.

Theodore Masterson – Cleveland, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO, 11/5th Infantry Division

James Miller – Oakland, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pvt. C Co./1/24, Purple Heart

Dale Stoner Sr. – York, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Military Police, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

John Turnley – Martin, KY; US Navy, WWII

Donn C. Young – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Major, 90th BS/3rd BG/5th Air Force, KIA (New Guinea)

Jack Van Zandt – Danville, IL; USMC; WWII, Co, A/1/6th Marines, Pfc, KIA (Tarawa)

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Nisei – part 2

306th HQ Intelligence Detachment, XXIV Corps, Leyte, Philippines, November 1, 1944. Front row, l to r: George Shimotori, Saburo Okamura, Thomas Sasaki, Francis Yamamoto Herbert Nishihara, Warren Tsuneishi. Back row, l to r: Hiroshi Itow, Joe Nishihara, Lt. Richard Kleeman, TSgt George Takabayashi, Lloyd Shimasato.
(Signal Corps photo)

When the first graduates were sent to the Pacific and landed in Australia, they were part of the Americal troops. Many were sent to help with the fighting on Iwo Jima, which MacArthur felt was taking far too long to complete. Some stayed and worked with the Australian troops and others went to British or Canadian units. (Canada also had their own S-20 Japanese Language School in Vancouver, British Columbia to train interpreters.) Only the U.S. Navy rejected the linguists. Admiral Halsey did in fact understand their importance and requested some MIS’ers for his fleet, but as a whole, Nimitz and the rest of the navy wanted to continue using their own intelligence personnel. (A very serious mistake in Leyte Gulf.)

It was difficult to locate the Nisei that worked G-2 specifically for the 11th Airborne and when because the men were rarely ever put on the official rosters. A MISer could train with the 11th Airborne on New Guinea and by December he was in Burma or up in the Aleutians. They were as difficult to track as the 11th A/B themselves. One Nisei found himself stuck at the Panama Canal, not at all certain what he was supposed to do there.

Nisei at work in Manila, P.I.

But, I did manage to locate a fair number of fellow paratroopers from Smitty’s division: Clarence Ohta and John Nakahara jumped with the 11th on Luzon. George Kojima, Koshi Ando and James Harada were with the 503d Regiment. Harry Akune jumped on Corregidor without any training, injured his ankle and went to work translating immediately. He was later at Atsugi airfield with MacArthur. After the service he went back to college. There was also: Robert Kimura and Mitsuo Usui; Takeshi “Jim” Fujisaka (lived in Fresno, CA and passed away 7 Sept. 1996); Tetsuo Koga; Norman Kihuta (with the 511th G-2 was discharged 6 Jan. 1946); Mike Miyatake went back to his customs job after his discharge; Akira Abe took his parachute training, flew to New Guinea and continued with the 11th A/B throughout Leyte and Luzon. Jiro Tukimura and Eddie Tamada were also noted in the records.

Nisei, saving lives by flushing out the caves.

In February of 1943, the Taiyo Maru, a Japanese transport ship, was sunk and a lifeboat washed up on Goodenough Island, north of New Guinea;s eastern tip. On that boat was a document that included a list of 40,000 Imperial Army officers from Hideki Tojo on down. These papers, once translated, gave the rank of each officer, unit assigned, the order of battle and the amount of men in each of these units. This information along with documents previously acquired and translated established the exact location of all Japanese units. This work alone was worth the time and effort of forming the MIS.

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SHOUT OUT !!!

James South, 99 year old veteran, is about to turn 100 on 7 October.  He has asked for one thing for this occasion — to receive 100 birthday cards!!  Help him have his wish come true……

James South, 5800 North Park Drive, Watauga, TX  76148

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Military Humor – 

“Thank you, sir — all we needed was somebody blowin’ his horn.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Alvie Boles (100) – Rosedale, OK; US Army, WWII. Purple Heart

William Davis – Topeka, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-51

Dorothy Doerr – St Clair, MO; Civilian, “Rosie” at Curtiss Wright Aircraft, WWII

Robert Engel – E. Greenbush, NY; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Harold Hayward (101) – Lower Hutt, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 74142, WWII, Wing Commander

Herschel Mattes – Pittsburgh, PA/Avon, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot, 1st Lt., 525 FS/86th Fighter Group, KIA

W. Ray Painter (100) – Augusta, GA; US Army, WWII

John Runkle Jr. – Washington D.C.; US Navy, WWII, APO / Korea

Henry C. Smith – Manistee, MI; US Army, WWII, CBI; Sgt., Merrill’s Marauders, Silver Star

Maurice ‘Migs’ Turner – Winnipeg, CAN;  RCNVR, WWII, Sub-Lt., HMCS Guelph / NATO / RC Coast Guard

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How Donald Duck & Dumbo Helped to Win the War

Just one day after Pearl Harbor, Walt Disney received his first military contract and began creating promotional reels, war bond advertisements, short training and instructional films, and other WWII materials.  Also at this time, he received requests from military units all over the world requesting Disney-designed insignia’s and mascots.

David Lesjak, a former employee and Disney historian says, “Insignia helped build morale.  Having a cartoon character you grew up with on your plane or shoulder patch helped remind you of home.  In my mind it was a happy diversion from the horrors of war.”

Hank Porter @ Disney

One of the purest expressions of Walt Disney’s genuine patriotism during the war years was his decision to establish a unit devoted to producing customized military unit insignia free of charge for U.S. armed forces and their allies.  Headed by the talented draftsman, Hank Porter, whom Walt referred to as a “one-man department,” a unit of 5 full-time artists worked steadily throughout the war, turning out 1,300 insignia.

By far, the single most requested and used Disney character was Donald Duck, who was featured in at least 146 designs.  The numerous requests for Donald’s likeness resulted in a wealth of drawings that successfully channeled his irascibilty as patriotism and military zeal, often with a comedic flourish.

Next, the character that appeared most was Pluto in about 35.  Pluto was popular and his trademark facial expressions made it easy for the artists to incorporate him into a variety of insignia.  Goofy followed in popularity at 25 insignia and Jiminy Cricket appeared in 24.

B-29 Thumper nose-art

Sometimes a unit had a special design in mind and was seeking a Disney artist’s skill to bring it to life, attaching a rough sketch to their request letter for reference.

The bulk of insignia were designed for Army units and Navy vessels, but occasionally individuals requested their own personal design.  These requested were accommodated and executed with the same level of care as an insignia for an entire ship, bombardment group or battalion.

Mickey nose-art

The requested letters were often addressed simply: Walt Disney, Hollywood, California.  Once a letter was received in was placed in the queue of pending requests, and the turnaround time was usually 3-4 weeks, though a wait of several months was possible when the insignia unit was particularly swamped.

The procedure for the creation of the insignia design varied, but it typically involved a preliminary pencil drawing in which the image was established, then a full-color pencil version and finally a full-color gouache on art board that would then be forwarded to the requesting unit or party.  This would often hang in the unit headquarters and serve as a template for reproducing the emblem on aircraft, tanks, and other military equipment – as well as uniforms and letterheads.

War Bond by Disney

It is difficult today to fully appreciate how it felt for a serviceman to have his unit represented by a Disney-designed insignia.  For the generation that fought WWII, Disney character images possessed and iconic heft that has no analog in contemporary animation.

A Donald Duck insignia boosted morale, not just because it reminded soldiers of home, but also because it signified that the job they were doing was important enough to be acknowledged by Walt Disney.

The 127th Airborne Engineers/11th Airborne Division’s first insignia was Donald Duck with combat engineer equipment and aviation goggles.

This article and information was printed in the “Voice of the Angels” 11th Airborne Division Association newspaper.

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Military Humor – 

Tracking Guide

Disney Humor

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Bradshaw III – E. Greenwich, RI; US Army, WWII & Korea. Major (Ret. 45 y.)

Jimmie Calder – Pensacola, FL; US Navy, WWII / US Air Force, MSgt. (Ret. 22 y.)

Charles Graybeal – W. Jefferson, NC; US Army, WWII, ETO

Charles Hankammer – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, CSG2 cook

Clayton J. Horne – Atlanta, LA; Saudi Arabia, Specialist, 351/160th Military Police Battalion, KIA

Meredith Keirn – Niagara Falls, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO, Spl. / Korea, Sgt., Co F/2/7/1st Marine Division, KIA

Ralph Mayville – Windsor, CAN; RC Forces, WWII, ETO, 1st Special Forces (Black Devils)

Horace Ogle – Whangarei, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 44071, WWII

George Rash – Pulaski County, VA; US Army, WWII, POW / Korea

Martin J. Wurth –  Paducah, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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U.S. Marines in China – Part IV – conclusion

By early 1947, it was clear that General Marshall’s effort to reconcile the Nationalists and communists was an utter failure. As a result, President Truman ordered all U.S. military home, but the disengagement was going to be a long and tedious one. Units were shifted around and finally withdrawn. It was clear that Chiang’s government was going to fall.

The last and greatest clash between American Marines and the Chinese communists took place the night of April 4-5, 1947. Mao’s forces, now dubbed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), attacked an ammunition dump at Hsin Ho that was guarded by Marines. The Americans were heavily outnumbered; the attacking force was estimated at about 350 men.

The night’s quiet was broken by the shrill notes of a Chinese bugle call. It was the PLA’s style to blow bugles when launching an offensive. This same technique would be used later in the Korean War. Five Marines were killed in the initial assault, and the rest were hard pressed to keep the enemy at bay. The PLA commander had anticipated that American reinforcements would be sent, so he placed a mine in the road where relief would be expected at any moment.

The bodies of two dead communist soldiers killed in a skirmish at Hsin Ho in April 1947 attest to the ferocity of such incidents.

Sure enough, a truck bearing a relief force made its way up the road and promptly hit the mine. The relief men jumped off the truck, and a sharp firefight ensued. The issue was in doubt several times, but the Marines finally gained the upper hand. Once again communist forces broke off the action and faded into the darkness. The enemy did manage to make off with some ammunition boxes, which seemed to be one of their main goals in the raid.

Private Stevens also had his share of adventure. He joined a small mission—only a handful of Marines—to try and rescue some nuns and Chinese orphan children in a remote place called Loh Shan. The mission failed because the nuns refused to leave. But worse was to follow. Stevens and his party were captured by bandits. All were executed, but Stevens was spared apparently because he knew Chinese.

Stevens was promptly turned over to a communist officer from the 8th Route Army. He became a prisoner with a Chinese character tattoo ID inked on his arm. Before long he found himself in a work gang on a coal storage island. The prisoners’ main job was to shovel coal to flat-bottomed boats moored along the shore.

“Mao was preparing for a major naval assault against the Nationalists,” Stevens says today, “and his ships needed coal to run their steam engines.” It was backbreaking work, but luckily he was transferred to help fishermen work their nets. He had to escape, had to get back to his unit. After some careful deliberation, he hatched an acceptable if risky plan. He would skull out in a small boat, pretending to check the nets that were farthest out.

Once in position, he would dive into the water and hopefully get picked up by a passing junk. It all unfolded as planned, except the water proved bitterly cold.  A junk did indeed pick him up, and friendly Chinese crewmen pulled him out of the water half dead with cold. Later, the junk was intercepted by a U.S. destroyer. He was free!

In November 1948, the U.S. embassy issued a statement that declared any American citizen “who does not wish to remain in North China should plan to leave at once by United States Naval vessel at Tientsin.” By the end of the month, consular personnel, the remaining American civilians, and military dependents were being shipped out. The American presence in China, which dated to the first Yankee traders who sailed to Canton in the 1780s, was coming to an abrupt end. There would be no more contact with China until President Richard Nixon’s visit in 1972.

By the spring of 1949, the total withdrawal of American military forces was almost complete. In February of that year, the U.S. Marine Corps Air Facility at Tsingtao was disbanded. All the ground equipment was removed, and the planes of fighter squadron VMF-211 took off for their new home, the escort carrier Rendova. On May 25, 1949, Company C/ 7th Marines, the last remaining American unit on Chinese soil, departed Tsingtao.  It was truly the end of an era.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

“ONE OF THESE DAYS THEY’RE NOT GOING TO FINISH ON TIME.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jack Burnett – Seattle, WA; US Army, Korea, 1st Calvary Division

Charles Clement – Redmond, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Company B/511/11th Airborne Division

Josephine Hopp – North Olmstead, OH; US Army Air Corps WAC, WWII, Medical Tech.

Louie Jordon – Saratoga Springs, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee, USS Unimak (seaplane tender)

Paul Kelley – Evansville, IN; US Army, WWII, PTO, TSgt., Signal Corps

Leo Maroney – Kansas City, KS; USMC, WWII, 3/1st Marine Division

Robert Paynter – Mineral Point, WI; US Army, WWII, 139 Engineers/17th Airborne Division

Thomas Peatross – Mechanicville, VA, US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Cpl., 320 Bomb Group

Myron Stone – Orem, UT; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

John Tort Sr. – Newark, NJ; US Merchant Marines, WWII

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U.S. Marine Corps in China – part III

American officers of the 6th Marine Division inspect Japanese soldiers at Tsingtao airfield. As Japanese soldiers were repatriated from China after World War II ended, some remained to guard rail lines against sabotage or disruption caused by the reemergence of civil war in China.

Clashes between the Marines and communist Chinese insurgents started to occur and eventually became almost routine. The communists tried to sabotage the railroad tracks, and sometimes they would snipe at passing trains. In the clash later known as the Kuyeh Incident, the communists ambushed a train that was traveling from Tangshan to Chinwangtao. This was a special train carrying General Dewitt Peck, commander of the Marine 1st Division, and a Marine inspection team. The communists opened fire from the village of Kuyeh, only 500 yards from the railroad track.

A firefight erupted that lasted the better part of three hours. Air support was called in, but Marine pilots could not clearly distinguish where communist forces were lurking. There was a fear of hitting civilians too, so permission to open fire was denied. A relief force was dispatched from the 7th Marines, but when they arrived the communists had melted away into the countryside.

American troops and Chinese laborers who have been repairing a rail line take cover as they come under fire during an attack by communist soldiers between Tientsin and Chinwangtao in November 1945.

The train stayed overnight at Kuyeh, but when it started again the next day it was found the communists had torn up about 400 yards of railroad track. When Chinese railroad crews tried to repair the line, they were ambushed by waiting communist troops. General Peck gave up trying to reach Chinwangtao by rail. He turned back to Tangku and took a flight on an observation plane instead.

The incident showed how firm a grip the Chinese communists had on the province. General Peck felt a Nationalist offensive was needed to clear the vital rail links from communist interference. Peck contacted General Tu Li-Ming, who was in control of the Northeast China Command, to arrange such a sweep. Tu readily agreed but requested that Marines guard all large rail bridges between Tangku and Chinwangtao, a distance of about 135 miles. That way, more Chinese Nationalist troops would be freed up for the offensive.

Gradually the Marines began to realize their mission was morphing into something quite different than the original assignment. Private Stevens almost got into a fight when he mentioned that their main mission was to repatriate the Japanese. Hearing this, a fellow Marine exploded in anger. “Don’t give me that bullshit!” he said forcefully, “Marines are in North China to support Chiang’s regime.”

Many Marines also started to realize that Chiang’s government was so corrupt it was beyond saving. American servicemen were appalled by the extreme poverty they saw all around them, the careless indifference to human life, and practices like selling young Chinese girls into sexual slavery in brothels.  Almost anything seemed better than the current government.

In 1946, the Marine forces in China were substantially reduced. The 6th Marine Division was disbanded, and the forces in Tsingtao were whittled down to a reinforced brigade. The Japanese repatriation was going well, ironically “helped” by the growing communist presence. Japanese nationals, both military and civilian, had no wish to be subject to the tender mercies of any Chinese, but they particularly feared the communists. As communist forces like the 8th Route Army advanced, the Japanese packed up and headed for Tsingtao, the main embarkation port. 

During a meeting in China in 1945, Communist leader Mao Tse-tung climbs aboard a Jeep that is carrying U.S. Ambassador Patrick Hurley and American Colonel I.V. Yeaton.

The clashes between Marines and communist Chinese insurgents seemed to grow in number and seriousness. On July 13, 1946, communist raiders surprised and captured seven Marines who were guarding a railroad bridge. After some negotiations the leathernecks were released on July 24, but the communists adamantly demanded an “apology” from the U.S. government for “invading” a “liberated” area. The U.S. government ignored this posturing and issued its own strong protest in return.

Just a few days later, on July 29, 1946, a Marine convoy heading from Tientsin to Peiping was ambushed at Anping. The column consisted of cargo trucks, jeeps, and some U.S. Army staff cars carrying personnel bound for the Chinese capital. Second Lieutenant Douglas A. Corwin led the escort, which consisted of 31 men from the 1st Battalion and a 10-man 60mm mortar section from the 1st Marines. There were also some Marine replacements with the column.

The Marine convoy encountered a roadblock of oxcarts, so Corwin and an advance party went forward to investigate. Suddenly, a dozen hand grenades were thrown from some nearby bushes. Given no time to react or take cover, Corwin and the men immediately around him were all killed or wounded.

U.S. Marines in China 1946

The convoy truckers and other personnel immediately jumped out of their vehicles and took cover. The convoy seemed to be trapped and was taking heavy fire from the right, left, and rear. Platoon Sergeant Cecil Flanagan now took command and ably directed return fire. The communists were apparently surprised that the column had mortars, and their attack plans were thrown off balance by well-directed rounds.

Every time the communists tried to mount an attack on the convoy, their troop concentrations were spotted before they could get far. Once spotted, the 60-mm mortars went to work, lobbing round after round into enemy positions. The communists became so disoriented by this mortar fire that a Marine jeep from the rear managed to break through and go for help. The column did have radios, but unfortunately they had limited range.

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Military Humor –

NEWSPAPER FOR U. S. ARMED FORCES IN THE CHINA THEATER OF OPERATIONS OF WORLD WAR II

Issue published: 11 Sept. 1945

 

Issue published 18 Sept. 1945

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Roy Andrews – South Bend, IN; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt., Medical Tech

Bill Burdette Sr. – Tuppers Creek, WV; US Army,

William Errington – Edwn, NY; US Navy, WWII

Norman Honie – Second Mesa, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Robert Morgenthau – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII / Manhattan District Attorney

Bill Parham – Kingfisher, OK; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt., Corps of Engineers

James G. Sartor – Teaque, TX; US Army, Afghanistan (7 deployments), Sgt. Major, 2/10th Special Forces, KIA

John Paul Stevens – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, Naval Intelligence / Supreme Court Justice

Joseph Toth – CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 tail gunner

William Henry Webster Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Major, 8 SQ/3 AG/ 5th Air Force, Silver Star, 2 Purple Hearts

Cecil Williams – Baton Rouge, LA; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

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The U.S. Marine Corps in China – part I

Marines in China

On September 2, 1945, Japanese representatives boarded the battleship USS Missouri. World War II had been brought to a swift conclusion. To the men of the III Marine Amphibious Corps (IIIAC), already training for the proposed invasion of Japan, this was welcome news indeed.

The leathernecks knew that an invasion of the Japanese home islands would have been bloody.  Now the nightmare seemed over, and the Marines looked forward to returning to the States.

But instead of going home, the IIIAC Marines found that they were going to be sent to China instead. This was a bitter disappointment for many, but some actually looked forward to an adventure in the Far East. Private Harold Stevens of the 29th Marines was thrilled that he was not going back to his family’s farm in Pennsylvania. He was only 19 but was already a veteran of the bloody battles that secured Okinawa.

To many Americans of Stevens’ generation, China was still the land of mystery and romance, of exotic sights and beautiful women. It was a place that had enthralled Marco Polo. Now Stevens, a farm boy, was about to be sent there. He could hardly believe his good fortune.

Chiang Kai shek

The story of the postwar Marine involvement in China is interesting but anything but romantic. It began when Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, leader of China during World War II, requested American help in securing northern China. There were more than two million Japanese there who had to be repatriated to Japan, including a substantial number of soldiers. But Chiang was also thinking of his chief rival, Communist leader Mao Zedong. The communists were particularly strong in the north. With American help, directly or indirectly, Chiang hoped to seize the important cities of northern China before the communists could gain control.

While the U.S government did help transport Chiang’s Nationalist troops to various locations, in general the American military was to maintain strict neutrality. In October 1945, the U.S. Fourteenth Air Force airlifted 50,000 men of the 92nd and 94th Chinese Nationalist Armies to Peiping (Beijing) and other key strategic points. While “cooperating” with Chiang and the Nationalists, the Americans thought they could bring about a permanent peace in China.

In fact, on November 1945, President Harry Truman appointed Gen. George C. Marshal as a special representative to mediate the differences between the communists and Nationalists. Truman felt it was in the most “vital interest” of the United States and all the United Nations that the people of China overlook no opportunity to adjust their internal differences promptly through peaceful negotiation.

Gen. George C. Marshall

American foreign policy over the last 70 years has often been based on naïve thinking and well-meaning blundering. There is an underlying assumption that Americans have the “know how” to solve the insoluble. Deep cultural, religious, ethnic, and political differences are all too often downplayed or ignored in favor of an optimism that is almost always misplaced.

Such was the case in Vietnam, and such was the case in China from 1945-1949. The Truman administration was certain that General Marshall could negotiate a lasting peace between the bitterest of enemies, foes who mistrusted each other and who were stalling for time to gain a decisive advantage over their rivals. As a result, the Marine IIIAC was left “holding the bag,” trying to maintain a precarious neutrality in the face of a swiftly deteriorating situation.

A pair of communist soldiers read a broadside describing a plan for reconciliation in post-World War II China that has been put forward by General George C. Marshall, U.S. Army Chief of Staff.

In fairness, there were some “Old China hands” in the State Department who recognized that the Chinese government was riddled with corruption and warned the Truman administration accordingly. They were ignored. Though Chiang was no “prize,” he was anti-communist, and that’s all that seemed to matter. The Cold War was starting and with it a new “Red Scare” that communism would spread throughout the world.

The Marine IIIAC Corps headquarters together with the 1st Marine Division would occupy positions in and around Tangku, Tientsin, Peiping, and Chingwangtao in Hopeh Province. Air Support would be provided by the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing flying Grumman F7F Tigercats and other planes. The airmen would be stationed at airfields in the Tsingtao, Tientsin, and Peiping areas.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

It’s his discharge papers.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ernest Bernard – Ackley, IA; US Navy, WWII

“THE LAST TRIP”

Walter Brown Jr. – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

Adam Cho – Honolulu, HI; US Army, WWII & Korea

Leonard Gustafson – Columbia, SD; US Army Air Corps, WWII / US Coast Guard

Charles Hasper – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 tail gunner

Jerry Kaschak – Castle Shannon, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Robert Parker – MA; US Army, WWII, APO

Howard Reynolds – Fort Worth, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Recon/11th Airborne Division

Herman ‘Bud’ Schwabl – Canandaigua, NY; USMC, WWII

Douglas Willson – Markham, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, # 10 Squadron

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Personal Comment –

I have been under the weather, so please bear with me as I am trying to continue my on-line presence as usual as possible.  I seem to have had the need to become quite acquainted with my couch.

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CBI Rescue

Vol. IV No. 1. Delhi, Thursday, Sept. 13, 1945. Reg. No. L5015

 

Troop Carrier Non-Com Survives
Epic Parachute Drop In Burma

Drops Over 7,000 Feet With Only Arm In Ring

By PVT. W. E. CHILTON   Roundup Field Correspondent

SECOND TROOP CARRIER SQ., ASSAM – From the confusion that was war came a lot of stories of rescue and survival, but none can top the recent wild parachute ride of Sgt. John Stevens of Woodstown, N.J., over the tangled North Burma terrain.
Stevens is a crew chief in the Second Troop Carrier Squadron, veteran transport outfit which has seen two and a half years service in all three nations of the CBI Theater.   He was heading in a C-46 towards the foothills of The Hump when at  7,000 feet altitude the right engine commenced sputtering. Seconds later the radio operator tore past him, grabbed a parachute and opened half the cargo door.

General Stillwell talking with members of the 2nd Troop Carrier Squadron

BAIL OUT
Making his way to the cockpit in order to offer his service to the pilot, Stevens perceived there was nothing that could be done. The pilot was yelling at the top of his lungs, “Bail out! Bail out!” Stevens retraced his steps to the rear of the plane and pulled a parachute from its rack. However, the C-46 was being buffeted about so badly by the terrific up and down drafts that he was unable to remain on his feet.
Stretched full length on the floor of the heaving aircraft, the sergeant attempted wriggling into the chute. This, likewise, proved futile. In utter despair he hooked his arm through one of the loops which emanate from the seat of the chute and pondered vaguely the next step in this grotesque nightmare.
He hadn’t long to wait. One instant he was recumbent along the floor, and then, falling figure in space. It took a while to realize the only possible means of succor was hooked in the crook of his arm. Twisting and turning he groped for the ripcord release, found it, yanked, then miraculously, the chute slowly, slowly unraveled, and the slowness of the unraveling was yet another marvel, for if the big nylon blanket had blossomed forth in one grand jerking operation, as is generally the procedure, the tremendous pressure exerted would have torn Stevens’ arm from its socket.

BLOODY GASH
In his descent he helplessly watched blood stream from a wide gash in his leg.  As the ground rushed nearer, Stevens saw in dismay the skyscraper trees, the jungle grass, and the coarse and intertwining vines.  But in that wonderful bag of luck there was plenty left, for he was finally caught up two feet from the earth.  A simple turn and he was safe on the ground.
His leg needed immediate attention. Orientation in Burmese jungles would leave an Eagle Scout cold, but began climbing, stumbling and crawling.   He had gone half-way up a knoll, when the babble of a foreign language reached his ears.

Naga tribesmen of Burma, WWII

HEAD HUNTERS
Upper Burma was and still is the home of several fierce head-hunting tribes, but these people proved friendly, particularly after an ample distribution of American cigarettes had been accomplished. American cigarettes are in fact to these Hills men what the Coca-Cola advertisements purport to be with the inhabitants of South America.
After a relaxing smoke, followed by a round table discussion through the medium of sign language, the tribesmen motioned Stevens to follow them. The party soon stumbled upon a small clearing. Here, a lean-to was constructed and while one of the natives remained behind with the stranded crew member, the rest proceeded to their village.
Two days passed in the lean-to before the first group returned with a home-made litter, on which they carried Stevens to a more permanent abode on the outskirts of their jungle hamlet. The Naga hills men fed him their native food: boiled rice, eggs, cracked corn, chicken and large, thin pancakes made of an ersatz flour. It wasn’t the Blue-Plate Special at the Waldorf Astoria, but it kept the sergeant alive.

HUMOROUS SIDE
During Stevens’ 19 days in these simple, rustic surroundings there were many incidents bordering on the humorous side. Upon first arriving, the local witch doctor showed a great desire to practice his wizardry on the sergeant’s injured leg. Stevens had to use all his diplomacy to dissuade the Naga medic and at the same time retain his friendship. Another such instance cropped up when the local chieftain brought a pipe to his bedside. One puff convinced the sergeant that the pipe contained, among other things, a good deal of opium, and he hastily put it aside. The jungles do, nevertheless, have their saloons, and the sergeant quaffed saku or as it is termed by our soldiers, bamboo juice. Saku is a concoction similar to the atomic bomb, both in content and effect.
Though skilled in the jungle, it takes even the Nagas many days to travel in their dense tropical homeland, and despite a runner being dispatched to the nearest Army outpost immediately after Stevens’ first contact with his hill friends, it was almost two weeks later that two members from the ATC Search & Rescue Unit reached him. They were Pfc. Joseph Fruge of Aberlin, La., and Pfc. Marvin C. Roberts of Mobile, Ala. They had parachuted, in the prescribed parachute method, into a clearing in a village about 14 trail miles away. A two day trek brought them to Stevens.

Stevens receives congratulations from his two rescuers, Pfc. Marvin Roberts, left, and Pfc. Joseph Fruge, prior to being evacuated successfully from the Burma jungles

SLOW EVACUATION
The leg was still in poor shape, in fact, gangrene had set in, but the original treatment had tempered the infection. With the coming of these G.I. angels of mercy, skilled in the latest medical developments, new wonders of science were hastily applied.
A short convalescent period and the patient was ready for evacuation – at best a slow and lengthy process. It was decided to build a tiny landing strip in a rice clearing not far off. This field would be large enough for an L-5 to land and take-off.
Exactly 19 days after Stevens’ unexpected appearance in the woods, two L-5’s, piloted by Capt. Jacob F. Craft of Galesburg, Ill., and Lt. Harold L. Haviland of Glendale, Calif., arrived at the small airfield. Stevens was loaded aboard Craft’s plane and flown directly to Upper Assam, where he eventually wound up in the 234th General Hospital.

NAGAS REWARDED
The Naga Hills men, by whose devotion and loyalty the life of another American had been saved, were well rewarded for their efforts. Two hundred pounds of rice were dropped from the air to the villagers and Stevens own squadron contributed another hundred pounds of rice and salt, two staples highly prized by these primitive people.
What happened to his plane is not precisely known and probably never will be. It apparently exploded, and parts of the fuselage and wings were discovered by the same rescue party which came to Stevens.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Sad Sack from “YANK” magazine

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Farewell Salutes – 

Walter Bingaman – Everett, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, navigator

Evelyn Cookson – Natick, MA; US Army, WAC, WWII, ETO, 50th Field Hospital

Tsugio Egawa – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII

Joseph Fisher – Finksburg, MD; US Navy, WWII / USMC, Korea

Joseph Gallo – Corning, NY; US Army, WWII, 64/16th Armored Division, Bronze Star

Richard Halford – Pontiac, MI; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Helen McBride – Lancaster, PA; US Army WAC, WWII

Ross Perot – Texarkana,TX; US Navy / Presidential Candidate

Nicholas Sacharewicz – Pinsk, POL; Polish 2nd Corps, WWII, ETO, Medal of Valour

Douglas Vahry – Taupo, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 391204, WWII, Flight Photo Intel Officer

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U.S. Army 244th Birthday / Flag Day

 

244 Years Strong

THE U.S. ARMY

AMERICA’S FIRST NATIONAL INSTITUTION

 

Since its official establishment, June 14, 1775 — more than a year before the Declaration of Independence — the U.S. Army has played a vital role in the growth and development of the American nation. Drawing on both long-standing militia traditions and recently introduced professional standards, it won the new republic’s independence in an arduous eight-year struggle against Great Britain. At times, the Army provided the lone symbol of nationhood around which patriots rallied.

 

PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO VIEW THESE TWO (2) VERY SHORT VIDEOS.  THANK YOU

 

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Tomorrow 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.”

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Harold Amstutz – Deerfield, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 8/4th Infantry Division

Donald Buckley – Herkimer, NY; US Army, Korea, HQ Co./187th RCT

Thurman Childress – Stamford, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. E/188/11th Airborne Division

Valentine Ellis – Bothell, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Clyde Holcomb – Mobile, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 566th Anti-Aircraft Division, 3 Bronze Stars

Robert Mackey – North Bennington, VT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Chief Warrant Officer (Ret.)

Sam Ostrow – Cincinnati, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Milton Persin – Oak Brook, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Harold Sanders – Hayesville, NC; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Walter Shamp – NY; US National Guard / US Army, WWII, 109/28th Division

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September 1945 in Japan

Dai Ichi Building in Tokyo flying both the American and United Nations flags

Soon after the official surrender of Japan, General MacArthur moved his headquarters into the Dai Ichi building in Tokyo. At noon, 8 September 1945, on the terrace of the U.S. Embassy, he met an honor guard from the 1st Calvary Division; they held the Stars and Stripes that had flown over the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. on 7 December 1941 – Pearl Harbor Day. As the red, white and blue began to rise… MacArthur said, “General Eichelberger, have our country’s flag unfurled and in Tokyo’s sun let it wave its full glory as a symbol of hope for the oppressed and as a harbinger of victory for the right.”

 

Hideki Tojo

Immediately after the ceremony, Major Paul Kraus and his MPs and a throng of reporters, (including George Jones of the New York Times) surrounded the home of Hideki Tojo. The general shot himself in the chest before anyone could enter his office. The bullet missed his heart. At the 48th Evacuation Hospital, he told Gen. Eichelberger, “I am sorry to have given General Eichelberger so much trouble.” The general asked, “Do you mean tonight or the last few years?” The answer was, “Tonight. I want General Eichelberger to have my new saber.”

Prince Konoye – 3 times Premier of Japan lies dead

The night before Prince Konoye was to be sent to Sugamo Prison, he drank poison and died. (I personally feel that the prince might have been acquitted of war criminal charges at the trials. He had tried for years to bring peace, his mistake being, his having chosen the Soviets as mediators and Stalin blocked him at every step.)

In reply of Allied and liberated Japanese press opinions of the Emperor, MacArthur was determined not to humiliate him: “To do so,” the general said, “would be to outrage the feelings of the Japanese people and make a martyr of the Emperor in their eyes.” As a student of Asian cultures, he proved to be correct. It would take two weeks, but the Emperor requested an interview with the general himself.

MacArthur and Hirohito meeting

His Majesty arrived in his ancient limousine with Grand Chamberlain Fujita and was met with a salute from General Bonner F. Fellers. When Fellers’ hand dropped, the Emperor grabbed it. An interpreter quickly explained that the Emperor was happy to see him. Fellers replied, “I am honored to meet you. Come in and meet General MacArthur.” Nervously, Hirohito allowed himself to be escorted up the staircase to the general’s office.

Trying to ease the tension, MacArthur told him he had been presented to his father, Emperor Taisho, after the Russian-Japanese War and offered Hirohito an American cigarette. The Emperor’s hand shook as it was lit and the general then dismissed everyone except the interpreter. The conversation before an open fire was observed, unknowingly, by Mrs. MacArthur and their son, Arthur who hid behind the long red drapes.

Emperor Hirohito rides at the imperial palace in 1940 wearing the uniform of commander in chief of Japanese forces. Associated Press

The emperor had been forewarned not to assume any responsibility for the war, but he did just that.”I come to you, General MacArthur, to offer myself to the judgment of the powers you represent as the one to bear sole responsibility for every political and military decision made and action taken by my people in the conduct of this war.”

MacArthur freely admitted being moved “to the marrow of my bones. He was an Emperor by inherent birth, but in that instant I knew I faced the First Gentleman of Japan in his own right.”

The Japanese acknowledged, without reservations, the temporal power of the current shogun, but revered what was eternal. (The Imperial Palace)

Resources: U.S. Signal Corps; “The Rising Sun” by John Toland; Gene Slover’s US Navy Papers; historyinanhour.com

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

“Cover me Johnson… I’ve got to Tweet this.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Elton Barber – Buckley, WA; US Navy, WWII, ETO, USS Chester

Robert “Sam” Carlson – MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

THANKS Veterans for walking the walk!

Eugene Duffy – Beach Grove, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/127 Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Willard Dykes – Meridian, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Albert Green – Sandy, OR; US Army, Korea, Co. G/187th RCT

James Heflin – Memphis, TN; USMC, WWII, PTO

Alice Jefferson – Stoneham, MA; US Coast Guard SPAR, WWII, Commander (Ret. 25 y.)

David Kesler – Berthoud, CO; US Navy, WWII, Baker 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA, (Pearl Harbor)

Robert Spence – Montreal, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Benjamin Starr – Montgomery, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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Japanese Holdouts on Saipan

Anatahan Island surrender

 

On September 2, 1945, representatives from the Allied and Japanese governments signed the peace treaty that ended World War II.

Or did it?

In June 1944 American warships sank several Japanese troop transports. Survivors from the vessels swam to safety and reached the island of Anatahan, located approximately 75 miles north of Saipan. The island was uninhabited, and possessed steep slopes, deep ravines, and high grass.

In January 1945 a B-29 bomber from the 498th Bomber Group, returning from an air raid over Japan, developed engine trouble and slammed into a grassy field. The crash killed the entire crew.

The small group of Japanese who had survived the sinking of their transports quickly cannibalized the aircraft. They utilized metal from the wreckage to manufacture makeshift knives, pots, and roofing for their huts. The plane’s oxygen tanks held their potable water, clothing was fashioned from the silk parachutes, and cords were used to make fishing lines. The aircraft’s weapons were confiscated as well.

Surrender at Anatahan Island

Later in 1945, the Japanese were discovered by Chamorros who had gone to Anatahan to recover the remains of the missing bomber crew. The natives returned and testified to authorities that they had seen the Japanese soldiers and also one Okinawan woman.

Upon hearing this news, U.S. planes dropped leaflets on the island asking the soldiers to surrender. Fearing execution, the holdouts refused the request. With the small band of Japanese virtually isolated from the outside world, they were soon forgotten.

Then, after six years of this Spartan existence, Kazuko Higa, the Okinawan woman, got the attention of an American ship as she walked on the beach. When approached by a landing party, she asked to be taken from the island.

Upon her arrival on Saipan, Higa told U.S. officials that the Japanese did not trust the Americans. It was also learned that the woman had a busy love life while imprisoned there and her flirtations had caused some jealousy. It seems she would “transfer her affections between at least four of the men after each mysteriously disappeared as a result of being swallowed by the waves while fishing.”

Finally, the Japanese government intervened and contacted the families of the survivors, asking them to write letters telling their loved ones that Japan had surrendered.

In addition, a letter from the governor of Kanagawa Prefecture was sent to convince the “Robinson Crusoes” to give themselves up. It read in part: “Previously, in our country, a prisoner of war lost face. That is not so now. The Emperor ordered all our people, wherever they were, to surrender peacefully. I believe you have read letters from your family which said not to worry which will give you confidence to give yourself up to the Americans. In the box of new letters sent to you we are enclosing a piece of white cloth with which you can signal the Navy boat. You do not have to worry. The Americans will give you their best attention and kindness until you are returned to our country.”

This message was dropped on June 26, 1951. Several days later, the Japanese waved the white flag of surrender.

On June 30, 1951, the USS Cocopa, a U.S. Navy tug, appeared offshore. Lieutenant Commander James B. Johnson, the ship’s commanding officer, and Mr. Ken Akatani, an interpreter, made their way to the beach in a rubber boat.

Once ashore, Johnson and Akatani met with the Japanese to accept their formal surrender, now dubbed Operation Removal by the U.S. Navy. With their meager belongings wrapped in cloth, the survivors were brought aboard the tug and sent to Guam. Once there, they boarded a Navy plane and were flown to Japan to be reunited with their families.

Other stories of Japanese military personnel holding out in South Pacific locales continued for years.  We will discuss more in the following post on Thursday.

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Military Humor – 

This B-29 crew on Guam wasted no time in starting an enterprising venture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Beford Brown – Miami, FL; US Navy, WWII, Boatswain’s mate 2nd Class, USS Intrepid

John Cheesman – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII, PTO

Sherman Douglass – Gloucester, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Sgt.

Bruce Dowd – Howick, NZ; RNZEF #637275, WWII, Pte.

E.W. “Tony” Gehringer – St. Louis, MO; US Navy, WWII & Korea, (Ret. 21 y.)

Richard Haviland – Harvey, IL; US Navy, WWII

Joseph Milligan Jr. – Savannah, GA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Michael Ryan – New Orleans, LA; US Navy, WWII, Higgins boat duty

Erma Scott – Huntington, WV; US Army WAC; WWII, Corps of Engineers / Pentagon

John Walker Jr. – Weaver’s Ford, NC; US Army, WWII, ETO, Cpl., 84th Infantry Division

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