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Japanese Balloon Bombs hit USA & Canada

Avenging the Doolittle Raids – Project Fugo

November 1944 –  Young Japanese girls wore headbands that designated them as Special Attack Force members. Daily they would recite the Imperial Precepts for Soldiers and Sailors before they began a twelve-hour shift in a makeshift factory in Kokura, Japan. Here they were producing 40 foot balloons to carry a bomb package across the ocean as they were released to drift on the Pacific jet stream.

A total of approximately 9,300 of these weapons were made and about 342 reached land, some as far east as Ontario, Michigan and Nebraska. Some were shot down or caused minor injuries and one hit a powerline of the nuclear weapons plant at Hanford, Washington.

Three days before the end of World War II in Europe and just three months before the Japanese surrendered, spinning shards of metal ripped into the tall pine trees, burrowing holes into bark and tearing needles from branches outside the tiny logging community of Bly, Oregon. The nerve-shattering echo of an exploding bomb rolled across the mountain landscape. When it was over, a lone figure—Archie Mitchell, a young, bespectacled clergyman—stood over six dead bodies strewn across the scorched earth. One of the victims was Elsie Mitchell, the minister’s pregnant wife. The rest were children. Four of the children—Jay Gifford, Eddie Engen, Dick Patzke, and Sherman Shoeman died instantly; Joan Patzke, 13 years old, initially survived the explosion but succumbed to her injuries shortly afterward.

Rev. Archie Mitchell and his wife, Elsie

Forestry workers were running a grader nearby when the force of the explosion blew one of them off the equipment. Another dashed to the nearby telephone office, where Cora Conner was running the town’s two-line exchange that day. “He had me place a call to the naval base in nearby Lakeview, the closest military installation to our town,” recalls Conner. “He told them that there had been an explosion and people had been killed.”

Within 45 minutes, a government vehicle roared to a stop in front of the telephone shack. A military intelligence officer scrambled out of the car and joined Conner inside. “He warned me not to say anything,” Conner says. “I was not to accept any calls except military ones, nor was I allowed to send out any information.” The rest of the day proved difficult, as Conner struggled with lumber companies and angry locals who had been stripped of their phone privileges without explanation.

The U.S. government immediately shrouded the event in secrecy, labeling the six deaths as occurring from an “unannounced cause.” But in the close-knit atmosphere of Bly, many of the locals had already learned the truth: Elsie Mitchell and the five children were victims of an enemy balloon bomb, held aloft by a gigantic hydrogen-filled sphere and whisked from Japan to the western seaboard of the United States. The contraption had alighted on Gearhart Mountain, where it lay in wait until the fateful day when it found its victims—the only deaths from enemy attack within the continental United States during World War II.

bomb map

To help avoid similar tragedies, the government lifted the media blackout. In late May 1945, the headquarters of Western Defense Command, based at the Presidio in San Francisco, issued a cautious message entitled “Japanese Balloon Information Bulletin No. 1.” In an effort to avoid a media frenzy and quell public paranoia, the document was to be read aloud to small gatherings “such as school children assembled in groups.

Preferably not more than 50 in a group and Boy Scout troops.” The bulletin warned that many hundreds of Japanese balloons were reaching American and Canadian airspace. 

Balloon bombs

 For Archie Mitchell, who lost his wife, unborn child, and five members of his church on that fateful day in 1945, life eventually resumed its course. He remarried and in 1947 moved to Southeast Asia to continue the missionary work that inspired him. Unfortunately, fate would deal him yet another blow. On June 1, 1962, a wire report brought his name back into the news: “Today word came from South Vietnam that three Americans had been kidnapped by Communist guerrillas. One of them is Reverend Archie E. Mitchell, a former pastor at Bly in southeast Oregon.” Mitchell was never heard from again.

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Today’s Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How would you finish this caption?

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Farewell Salutes –

J.R. Brown – Henryetta, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 waist gunner, 2nd Bombardment Squadron

Adrian Cronauer – Troutsville, VA; US Air Force, Vietnam, (Armed Forces Radio D.J.), / DOD official

Steve Ditko – Johnstown, PA; US Army, (cartoonist)

Brian Dutton – UK; Royal Navy, Falklands, Lt.Commander, mine clearance expert

Robert Hagan Sr. – PA; US Air Force, Captain, pilot

Homer Myles – Dermott, AR; US Army, WWII & Korea

Paul Racicot – Detroit, MI; US Navy, WWII

Joseph Stanhope – Berlin, NH; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

James Shaw – Baird, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO, Korea, Major

Dale Wilson – Des moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, LT, B-25 pilot, KIA (MIA)

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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.

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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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1 April 1945 – Okinawa

Okinawa invasion map

Codenamed Operation Iceberg, this was a major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by U. S. Marine and Army forces against the Imperial Japanese Army.

The United States created the Tenth Army, a cross-branch force consisting of the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th infantry divisions of the US Army with the 1st, 2nd, and 6th divisions of the Marine Corps, to fight on the island. The Tenth was unique in that it had its own tactical air force (joint Army-Marine command), and was also supported by combined naval and amphibious forces.

On this day in 1945, after suffering the loss of 116 planes and damage to three aircraft carriers, 50,000 U.S. combat troops of the 10th Army, under the command of Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner Jr., land on the southwest coast of the Japanese island of Okinawa, 350 miles south of Kyushu, the southern main island of Japan.

Marine & Navy aircraft destroyed all enemy aircraft on land. Shown here is Yontan Airfield

Determined to seize Okinawa as a base of operations for the army ground and air forces for a later assault on mainland Japan, more than 1,300 ships converged on the island, finally putting ashore 50,000 combat troops on April 1. The Americans quickly seized two airfields and advanced inland to cut the island’s waist. They battled nearly 120,000 Japanese army, militia, and labor troops under the command of Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima.

See some of the action in this 4 minute video………

The naval campaign against Okinawa began in late March 1945, as the carriers of the BPF began striking Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands. To the east of Okinawa, Mitscher’s carrier provided cover from kamikazes approaching from Kyushu. Japanese air attacks proved light the first several days of the campaign but increased on April 6 when a force of 400 aircraft attempted to attack the fleet.

The high point of the naval campaign came on April 7 when the Japanese launched Operation Ten-Go.  It was during this operation that they attempted to drive their battleship Yamato through the Allied fleet with the goal of beaching it on Okinawa for use a shore battery.

Initial U.S. landings began on March 26 when elements of the 77th Infantry Division captured the Kerama Islands to the west of Okinawa. On March 31, Marines occupied Keise Shima. Only eight miles from Okinawa, the Marines quickly emplaced artillery on these islets to support future operations. The main assault moved forward against the Hagushi beaches on the west coast of Okinawa on April 1. This was supported by a feint against the Minatoga beaches on the southeast coast by the 2nd Marine Division. Coming ashore, Geiger and Hodge’s men quickly swept across the south-central part of the island capturing the Kadena and Yomitan airfields (Map).

US Army 77th Infantry soldiers trudge thru the mud & flooding on Okinawa

Having encountered light resistance, Buckner ordered the 6th Marine Division to begin clearing the northern part of the island. Proceeding up the Ishikawa Isthmus, they battled through rough terrain before encountering the main Japanese defenses on the Motobu Peninsula.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News –

The remains of five Australians who were murdered by the Japanese in World War II appear to have been discovered on the island of Nauru.  The five men were working as civilians on the island in 1943, not soldiers, so there is, unfortunately, no money available to repatriate them.

Frederick Royden Chalmers volunteered to remain on the island along with four other men in order to help the islanders deal with the Japanese invasion they knew was coming.  Chalmers was 62 years old when he was killed. The other four men were Bernard Quin, 48, Wilfred Shugg, 39, William Doyle, 47, and Frederick Harmer, 44. They were captured by the invading forces and eventually dragged onto the beach where they were killed on March 25, 1943.

The family of Chalmers wants his body returned to Australia. The Unrecovered War Casualties Unit of the Australian Army Defense Force and the Department of Foreign Affairs both claim to be unauthorized to bring the remains of the men back home.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Stevie Barnett – Matthews, MO; US Navy, Vietnam,Chief Petty Officer (Ret.)

Ira ‘Pete’ Chesley – North Platte, NE; US Army, WWII, ETO, 9th Armored Division

Thomas Eager – Watertown, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Princeton

Bob Funderburke – Rock Hill, SC; US Army, Korea, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

Jessie Gale – Tetonia, ID; US Navy, WWII, ATO

Michael Littrell Sr. – Louisville, KY; USMC, Vietnam

William Patterson – Santa Barbara, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Col. (Ret.), 42 Ordnance Div.

Lloyd Robertson – Cralk, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

John Siler – Banner, OK; Merchant Marine, WWII

Francis Weniger – Plankinton, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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Navy Diary for end of March 1945

USS Montpelier

From “Pacific War Diary” by James J. Fahey of the USS Montpelier

Friday, March 16, 1945 – We left Subic Bay, traveled to Mindoro and anchored.  We may be ordered to troops on the southeast side of Mindanao.  We had plane recognition every day as usual.  We have movies of our planes and the enemy’s so we can tell the difference.  Tonight many B-24 bombers returned after a raid on China.  One of the planes came in on 3 motors.

The Press News reported that the Japanese lost approximately 4000 airplanes in the Philippine campaign.  British Lancaster bomber loads were increased to carry 11-ton bombs for the first time yesterday.  They are capable of destroying 5 city blocks each, being the largest bombs in the world.

James J. Fahey

Tuesday, March 20, 1945 – B-29s dropped leaflets on Japan telling the inhabitants that the bombing would cease when they stopped fighting.  They also warned people to stay away from military areas,  Bomber from Iwo Jima will bomb Japan soon.

I left the ship today for recreation on the beach at Mindoro.  We received a ride from an Army truck and went to the town about 10 miles away.  HQ for the 5th Air Force was also accommodated on the island.  I saw a couple of Red Cross girls there.  Some of the men bought corn whiskey from the soldiers.  They paid $17 for one pint.  That must be some kind of record.

Sunday, March 25, 1945 – Today is palm Sunday, our third in the Pacific.  The Australian cruiser Hobart was here, but left yesterday with the Phoenix and Boise.  The Cleveland, Denver and Montpelier are the only cruisers here now.  The men would like to join Bull Halsey’s Third Fleet, but they are only letting the newer ships go with the 3rd.

The other night we were ordered to battle stations.  Around midnight, Jap bombers struck at Manila.  They did not attack the ships in the bay.

USS Franklin, in the Task Force, 60 miles off the coast of Japan. This is what Seaman Fahey was missing. One Japanese “Betty” bomber dropped 2 bombs. All planes on deck were lost as were 832 crew members.

The Press News reported that 274 tons of bombs have been falling on Germany every hour for the past 3 weeks.  This is more than England received during the entire war.  The Japs lost 10,000 aircraft in the past 7 months.

Sunday, April 1, 1945 – A British task force is now operating with the American Fleet off Japan.  Today at noon approximately 100 LCIs arrived.  Some action must be in store.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ted Brewer – Omaha, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, CM Sgt. (Ret. 26 y.)

Willie Cardin – Hartford, CT; US Army, 11th & 82nd Airborne Divisions

Robert Gilmour – Manitoba, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Wendell Hawley – Burlington, VT; US Army, WWII

Alan Konzelman – Patterson, NJ; US Navy, engineer, 6th Fleet

William Lynch – Washington DC; US Navy, WWII, Radioman 3rd Class

Mark Pitalo – Biloxi, MS; USMC, WWII & Korea

Harry Sergerdell – Broad Channel, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII

Thomas Turner – Gaffney, SC; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Willis Williams – Memphis, TN; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Commander (Ret.)

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Special Issue – MAY – Military Appreciation Month

May, marked officially as Military Appreciation Month, is a special month for both those in and out of the military.

Not only do we pause on Memorial Day to remember the sacrifice and service of those who gave all, but the month also holds several other military anniversaries and events, including Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Armed Forces day.

 

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Walter Black – Marion, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, navigator

George Casseb – San Antonio, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI / Korea, meteorologist, Captain

Charles Crittenden – Seattle, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Francis Fleck – Louisville, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 547th Fighter Squadron, Bronze Star

Richard Lowe – Northglenn, CO; US Army, WWII, CBI

Putnam McDowell – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, P-38 pilot, photo recon

Robert Mumford – York, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT 288, torpedoman

William Punnell – Flandreau, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt., Hellcat pilot, USS Wasp, KIA (Palau)

Ora Sharninghouse – Findlay, OH; US Navy, WWII, Aviation Ordnance, Avenger pilot, USS Intrepid, KIA (Palau)

Robert Welch – Byron, MI; US Army Air Corps, 187th/11th Airborne Division

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Japanese Soldier’s Remembrance of Iwo Jima – part one

In this painting by an unknown Japanese artist, Japanese soldiers, taking cover behind a wrecked U.S. plane, fire on Marines approaching from the beachhead.

This article from HERE was contributed by Nasuko.

My grandfather passed away in 1986. Since then, nearly 20 years have passed, but my grandfather left a note of “Battle experience record”. My grandfather was born in Meiji 45 (the first year of Taishō), was summoned four times from the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War, and was serving to “Iwo Jima”, one of the greatest fierce battles during the Pacific War. It seems that after the war, I remembered it based on the memories of that time and the records written in my notebook.

In Iwo Jima, about 21 thousand Japanese soldiers fought and crushed and survived by only about 1,000 people. My grandfather belonged to the hybrid First Brigade Engineer Corps and only 13 out of 278 people had survived.

Takahashi Toshiharu (74 years old who died in 1986) from Susaki city, Kochi Prefecture, who was assigned to Iwo Jima as a commander of the Army Engineer at the age of 31.
Being seriously injured while shoulder struck back at Iwo Jima, he was taken prisoner of the US military and returned in February of 1946 (Showa 21).
After that, he worked at the Shimizu station in Tosashimizu City, Kochi Prefecture.

We are engineers, making bombs is an expert. They made 20 km bombs at once. Put this on your back and infiltrate ourselves into enemy tanks. Wait for the night to come, carry the bombs on your own. I gave up my gun. No one says anything. It will not return to this position again. The war situation is a disadvantage, the division headquarters is also in danger. Now we are leaving.

There are many injured soldiers left in the position. Looking at our departure, we want to die together. You must destroy a tank that comes to Tianshan tomorrow morning. I never fail to fulfill my promises though I told my wife when I leave Japan that I should live and return. I was destined to die. Even if I live, there is no rice, there is no water, no bullets, no way I can live. Forgive my wife child I apologized with my heart that I could not return home alive. Now we are going to death with justice.

I know the topography. I enter a sideways hole position. . I will be absent until morning. I swear that our day will be our day. In turn and wait for the enemy’s coming at the exit of the hole. When I moved and looked at the enemy, my eyes flashed sharply. I heard a sound, I was buried in the earth and sand. The shell fell in front of me. It was a misfire. Every time I face death, something happens and helps. It is strange.

The tank that should come is still coming. The most terrible fellow, brown and large M4, came. It is 200 meters away. It protrudes a cannon, puts machine guns on the left and right, and also has a flamethrower. It is time for our eight people to die. There is no prospect of saving any thought. I am prepared for it. There is no fear, but the death is ever closer to us.

Yano, the sergeant watcher, ran to warn the others to prepare for the battle – the tank came. His complexion is pale. The enemy burns off the front with a flamethrower, sweeps with a machine gun, shoots with a cannon with a cannon and just goes on a slurp. This is repeated.

We have decided to jump out as the tank approaches 10 meters.  There are ten tanks and we have eight people, so only eight can be destroyed. The remaining tanks will pour into my army.

to be continued….

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Japanese Military Humor – from: Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album “Zero Fighter 1940-1945”

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Bennett – Bartlesville, OK; US Army, WWII, CBI, 2nd LT.

Floyd Carter Sr. – Yorktown, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Tuskegee / Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Col. (Ret.)

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

Koso Kanemoto – Chicago, IL & Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Japan Occupation, US 8th Army, G-2 MIS Interpreter

Bill Lundquist – Skagit Valley, WA; US Army, WWII, ATO, radioman

Thomas Martin – Huron, SD; US Army, Iraq, Ranger, West Point graduate, KIA

Austin McAvoy – Detroit, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Intrepid

Bernard “Wallie” Newport – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Navy # 8095, WWII, Sub-Lt.

Rose Puchalla – Minneapolis, MN; US Army Air Corps WAAC, WWII, ETO, 1202nd AAFB (Africa), Pfc., KIA

Robert Wood – Lady Smith, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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Current News – Iwo Jima Remembrance

Hershel “Woody” Williams, Medal of Honor, Iwo Jima

HONOLULU — Seventy-three years ago on the island of Iwo Jima, Hershel “Woody” Williams randomly chose several fellow Marines to give him rifle cover as he made a one-man charge with his flamethrower against a network of Japanese pillboxes.

He spent four hours unleashing flames into the pillboxes that had stymied advance for days, racing back to the Marine Corps lines to refuel the flamethrower, and then running again into battle — all while covered by only four riflemen.

Hershel Williams

Williams was ultimately awarded the Medal of Honor on Feb. 23, 1945, for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty,” as the official citation describes it. He “daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire” coming out of reinforced concrete pillboxes, on which bazooka and mortar rounds had no effect.

At one point, Williams mounted a pillbox, stuck the flamethrower’s nozzle through an air vent and killed the enemy within it.  Two of the Marines covering Williams died that day, but he never knew their names, and never knew where their remains rested until just a few months ago.

On Saturday, Williams, with the Medal of Honor hanging around his neck, stood over the Hawaii grave of Charles Fischer, one of those “guardian angels” who helped him survive that day and is buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, nicknamed the Punchbowl.  He saluted the Marine, who died a private first class that day, and then slowly bent down and placed a purple lei upon his headstone.

Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, then and now

“I have always said I’m just the caretaker of it,” Williams said later of the Medal of Honor. “It belongs to them. They sacrificed for it. I didn’t.”
Twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded to men who fought on Iwo Jima; Williams is the last still alive.
Williams was in Hawaii to dedicate a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe. The monument was initiated by Williams through the organization he founded, the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation. This is the foundation’s 33rd monument to be dedicated; they recognize the sacrifices made by families who have lost loved ones in the service of their country.

Punchbowl Cemetery, Honolulu, HI

After the Saturday morning dedication, the 94-year-old Williams visited the Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu, where the remains of hundreds of servicemembers who died during World War II are interred.  Patrick O’Leary, a foundation board member whom Williams has dubbed his “research guru,” sleuthed the identity of Fischer by poring through hundreds of military documents concerning the Iwo Jima campaign waged in February and March 1945.

Using five witness statements that had been given in the course of recommending Williams for the Medal of Honor, O’Leary was able to reliably pinpoint the company the riflemen were in and found that only a corporal and private first class had been killed that day.  “It just has to be them,” O’Leary said. “Nothing else fits.”

Hershel Williams

Last fall he tracked down Fischer’s gravesite in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The other Marine is buried in Long Island, N.Y.
Williams also visited for the first time the grave of Vernon Waters, a fellow Marine and close friend who died on Iwo Jima.
They had become very close in the lead up to the Iwo Jima campaign, fostering a feeling of devotion in Williams so strong that he ultimately risked court-martial.
While on the island of Guam, Waters and Williams had made a pact that should either of them be killed, the other would return their rings to family members.
William’s girlfriend had given him a ring with a “wee, tiny, little ruby” in it before he left for the Marine Corps.

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Personal Request –

Please visit Katrina’s site for honoring our veterans.  My father has been honored there and now a dear old friend.  Thank you.

Sgt Walter “Wally” Morgan Bryant

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eark Albert – McAlester, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, HQ/457th Arty/11th Airborne Division

Edward Cox – Tampa, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea

A soldier from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, the guardians of Arlington National Cemetery, waits amid the gravestones during funeral services for Army Spc. Sean R. Cutsforth, of Radford, Va., a member of the 101st Airborne who was killed in Afghanistan in December, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Frank Fazekas Sr. – Trenton, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Lt., P-47 pilot, KIA

Betty Flowers – Bristol, ENG; British Woman’s Air Force WAAF, WWII

William Morris – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII, Corpsman

Jack Mullins – Sydney, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII

Stanley Serafin – Surprise, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-29 technician

Jesse Traywick – Ft. Benning, GA; US Army WWII, PTO, Gen. Wainwright’s aide, POW

Donald Wesley Troy – Midland, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO & CBI, P-40 & P-47 pilot / Korea, P-51, Distinguished Flying Cross

John Zucco – Boston, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, USS Alaska

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The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier – Iwo Jima 15-19 February

 

Bombs from US Army 7th Air Force drop on Iwo Jima

The Battle of Iwo Jima was more than just another strategic island fight in the US military’s struggle with Imperial Japan during WWII. It was a key stepping stone for the planned invasion of Japan. It was a battle with heavy losses, great heroism, and eventual controversy.

By the start of 1945, the American military were planning an invasion of Japan, intended to take that country out of the war. In preparation, they began bombing campaigns against the Japanese mainland, softening it up ready for the attack. Everyone knew that it would be a brutal struggle – the Japanese were fighting tenaciously for every inch of ground, and would be even more determined in defending their homeland. But with the Manhattan Project still a closely guarded secret, to most people it looked like the only way to win the war.

Taking off from the Mariana Islands, B-29 Superfortresses took 3000 mile round trips to bomb Japan. It was a long journey, tough on the pilots, planes and fuel supplies. Flying so far from base, the Superfortresses lacked fighter protection, making them vulnerable to Japanese defenders.

Iwo Jima, regarded by the Japanese as an unsinkable aircraft carrier, lay only 760 miles from Japan. The Japanese were using its fighter base and radar to take out the American bombers. Capturing it would be a double victory for the Americans – taking out those defenses, and putting their own fighters close enough to support US bombers on raids over Japan.

USS New York firing 356mm guns on Iwo Jima, 16 Feb. 1945

Five miles long and two-and-a-half miles wide at its broadest, Iwo Jima was the best-defended spot in Japan’s Pacific empire. Its tough defenses were manned by 21,000 soldiers led by Lt.General Kuribayashi Tadamichi.  Delays in launching the invasion gave General Kuribayashi time to reinforce the defenses, despite bomber attacks.

Air strikes, rockets, napalm and the shells of naval guns pounded the defensive positions. Some bunkers and caves were destroyed, but the Japanese remained well dug in and determined. They had been preparing for this moment for nearly a year. They would not be easily broken.

On the night of 18 February 1945, Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, overall commander of the invasion, arrived at Iwo Jima along with Task Force 58, a vast carrier fleet.

As 19 February began, landing craft headed toward the beaches under a clear, bright sky. There would be no helpful gloom or fog to help the marines and soldiers hide from enemy guns.

The first troops, mostly marines  hit land at one minute to nine, welcomed by desultory fire from rifles and mortars, as you saw in the video.  Crossing the beaches, they hit fifteen-foot slopes of ash that had been spewed out by the island’s volcanic mountains. This soft black mass was tough to cross, forcing men to abandon equipment to continue their advance. It was impossible to dig foxholes in ash, the upside being that it absorbed some enemy shrapnel.

1st Battalion/23rd Marines burrow in on Yellow Beach

The slow rate of fire from the enemy made the Americans think they would face little opposition from a broken Japanese force, but  Kuribayashi had held back his men’s fire for an hour while the beaches became rammed full of troops and equipment – Then he unleashed the full fury of guns, mortars and artillery.

Under intense fire, the Americans pushed hard to get off the beaches and reach their objectives. Transport vehicles became bogged down in the ash, forcing men to slog through it on foot.

Japanese bunker on Iwo Jima

The Japanese held out in bunkers connected by a tunnel network. The Americans would clear out a bunker with grenades and flamethrowers then move on, only for the Japanese to reoccupy the bunker by underground routes and fire on them from behind.

By the end of 19 February, the 28th Marine Regiment had crossed the island at its narrowest point, where it was only half a mile across, cutting off the Japanese at Mount Suribachi. One of the two airfields had also been taken.

References: Hyperwar; WW2today; War Histor online

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Clyde Barth – McAlisterville, PA; US Army, WWII / USMC, Korea

Linda Campbell – Portland, OR; US Air Force (Ret.), Lt.Colonel

Michael Ferriolo – Corona, NY; US Army, Medical Corps

William Hartley – Macon, GA; US Army, Medical Corps, Captain

George Lagasse – Manchester, NH; US Navy, WWII, USS Essex

Basil Nickerson – Ketchikan, AK; US Navy, WWII, USS Broome

Ono ‘Peggy’ Olson – Ferryville, WI; US Navy WAVES, WWII, 12th Regiment

Billy Sheppard – Alamogordo, NM; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Hudson

Johnny Weidkamp – Bellingham, WA; US Merchant Marine, WWII

John Zucco – Boston, MA; USMC, WWII, USS Alaska

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COME ON BROTHER, I’M TAKING YOU HOME

Angel Flight

Angel Flights are the U.S. Air Force planes (C-130’s) used to fly home our Fallen Soldiers.  Angel Flight is also their call sign.  Angel Flights have top priority in the U.S. airspace – Towers will be heard to say, “Number One for landing/take off.”

The Air Force Angel Wing flare pattern is amazing to watch as the flares come out in the shape of an angel wing.  A fitting tribute to bring home our fallen with the respect they have earned.

Please watch and listen to Radney Foster sing the powerful message of “Angel Flight”

During January 2018, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), accounted for the following U.S. service members:

WWII

Willard H. Aldridge, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma

Warren H. Crim, Fireman 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma

Eugene P. Ford, 1st Lt., 765th Bombardment Squadron/461st Bombardment Group/15th Air Force

Leonard R. Geller, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma

Donald G. Keller, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma

Jack H. Krieger, Pfc, USS Oklahoma

Chester E. Seaton, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma

Lowell E. Valley, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma

Korean War

William C. McDowell, Cpl., Co. D/1st Battalion/32nd Infantry Regiment/7th Infantry Div.

Lamar E. Newman, Pfc, Co. B/1st Battalion/9th Infantry Regiment/ 2nd Infantry Division

Pete W. Simon, Sgt. 1st Class, Co. G/8th Cavalry Regiment

And the search goes on…

A Navy diver guides a salvage basket during an underwater recovery operation searching for World War II remains off the coast of Koror, Palau, Jan. 30, 2018.
TYLER THOMPSON/U.S. NAVY PHOTO

Divers in Palau recover remains linked to missing WWII air crews!

A joint underwater recovery team of soldiers, sailors, airmen and civilians recently completed an intense two-month excavation of sunken World War II airplanes in Palau, retrieving remains that could belong to long-lost American air crews, the Navy said.

Headed by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the team worked from aboard the USNS Salvor near Ngerekebesang Island, completing work on Feb. 25.

Above information from: “Stars and Stripes” magazine.

Angel Flight information from: 11th Airborne Division Assoc. newspaper, “The Voice of the Angels”

Identifying our missing information from: DPAA/ American Battle Monuments Commission; the DPAA identified 183 service members during the fiscal year of 2017.


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Brig. General Henry Muller – 101 years and still going strong

Henry Muller

This article is derived from “The Voice of the Angels”, the 11th Airborne Division Association newspaper.

It’s not every day that a US Army veteran gets to celebrate surviving an entire century while also being informed of an induction into the exclusive hall of fame for his combat achievements. That is the case with US Army brig. General Henry J. Muller will belong to the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame.

On his 100th birthday, about 40  gathered for the occasion.  They sat under the oaks n the front yard and thumbed through a photo album featuring pictures from past celebrations.  The celebration included a birthday cake bordered with 100 American flags.

Henry Muller with author, Bruce Henderson

“There’s nothing that could warn the heart of an old soldier more than on his 100th birthday than to be surrounded with family, friends and good neighbors… I feel especially blessed.”

Among those there that day was US Army Capt. Antoinette Deleon, to interview him for his induction into the Hall of Fame at Fort Huacheua, Arizona.  “It’s an honor for me to come here…”

Gen. Muller w/ the Capt. from Military Intelligence

Bruce Henderson, author of the best seller, “Rescue at Los Baños: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of World War II”, said, “Just think about it, I mean even today if there was a raid like that saving that many lives, it would be big news.  He (Muller) went beyond his duties as an intelligence officer – it was the real human being in him.”

Brigadier General Henry J. Muller was inducted on 22-23 June 2017 for his service as a Lt. Colonel, G-2 of the 11th Airborne Division during WWII.

Los Banos commemoration stamp

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Boas – brn: FRA; US Army, WWII, ETO, interpreter

Robert Cassidy Sr. – New Haven, CT; US Navy, WWII, ETO, LCVP Commander

Don Frazier – NV; US Army, WWII, gunnery instructor

Richard ‘Corky’ Holden – New Port Richie, FL; USMC, WWII, ETO, 2nd Division

Leroy Jones – Miami, AZ; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 1st Class

Judson Landers – Baton Rouge, LA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, corpsman

Richard Logan – Harrodsburg, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Sheldon Silverman – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Pvt.

Joseph Talbot – AUS; RA Air Force # 122912, WWII

Orville Thomas – Eldon, IA; US Army (Ret. 23 y.)

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