From the C.B.I. Theater of operation Roundup newsletter came this poem of wisdom. Just something to keep in mind – no matter what theater of operations OR which war the veteran emerges from….
When bugles sound their final notes
Just think of some poor captain
Shed a tear for some poor colonel
So be kind to working people
Published 6 October 1944
Military Humor –
Farewell Salutes –
Daniel Barnett – Goodlettsville, TN; US Army, Korea, RHQ/187th RCT
George W. Biggs – Nogales, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII. Tuskegee airman / Korea & Vietnam, B-47 & B-52 pilot / US Customs Service
Harold L. Dick – Tipton, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Gunner’s mate 2nd Class, USS Colorado, KIA (Tinian)
Lloyd Gruse – Baltimore, MD; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea & Vietnam
Virdean (Davis) Lucas – Newton, KS; Civilian, USO, WWII
Ramon Maldonado (103) – Carriere, MS; US Army, WWII
Isaac Parker (17) – AK; US Navy, WWII, Mess Attendant, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)
Steve Stibbens – Dallas, TX; USMC, Vietnam, Gunnery Sgt. (Ret. 20 y.), Bronze Star, Stars & Stripes journalist
Andrew Vinchesi – Malden, MA; US Navy, WWII, pilot
Lloyd Wade – Westminster, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division
Her wounds had been grievous that morning in 1941, when Japanese torpedo bombers swept low over the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor and unleashed their deadly cargoes at the easy targets moored along Battleship Row. The surface might of the U.S. Pacific Fleet was virtually helpless against the onslaught, and those ships moored outboard received the brunt of the devastating attack.
Oklahoma capsized and West Virginia took 7 torpedoes into her port side, gouging huge holes in her hull. Two modified artillery shells, configured as
aerial bombs, struck aft. The ship’s captain, Mervyn Bennion, was cut down by a steel fragment but remained in command, perishing with courage and later receiving a posthumous Medal of Honor. Dorie Miller, a cook, manned a machine-gun and received the Navy Cross for heroism.
Alert counterflooding kept West Virginia from capsizing and the heavily damaged battleship settled to the bottom of Pearl Harbor upright and on an even keel. A total of 106 West Virginia sailors were killed that fateful morning.
At first glance, it appeared that the battleship might be a total loss. However, salvage and recovery efforts were quickly begun. West Virginia was refloated and pumped dry. The bodies of sailors entombed on the ship for days were recovered. The torpedo holes were patched, and the Colorado- class ship, first launched in November 1921, sailed for Puget Sound Navy Yard, in Bremerton, WA, for a substantial rebuild.
After 2 years of modernization, USS West Virginia was ready for combat duty. In October, she joined the shore bombardment group off of Leyte, P.I. Here, her main 16-inch guns barked at the Japanese. She gained another measure of revenge in the night Battle of Surigao Strait. Along with the Mississippi, and other Pearl Harbor veterans Tennessee, Maryland, California and Pennsylvania they pounded an enemy surface squadron.
West Virginia, affectionately known to her crew as, “Big Weevie”, later provided fire support for the amphibious landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, remaining to lend heavy artillery as the operations progressed. She was struck by a Kamikaze plane off Okinawa that killed 4 sailors, but she remained on station until her mission was completed.
When the news of the Japanese surrender reached her crew, the USS West Virginia was ordered to sail for Tokyo Bay. She arrived on 31 August, and her contingent of Marines went shore.
West Virginia was the largest ship of the U.S. Navy present at both Pearl Harbor and the 2 September surrender ceremonies. The only other U.S. warship that were at both events was the light cruiser USS Detroit.
After lending 5 musicians from her band to play during the surrender proceedings, she only had one more task to complete: transporting 25,554 fighting men from Pearl Harbor to San Diego, CA, during Operation Magic Carpet, the mammoth undertaking to bring American personnel home from the Pacific.
She was decommissioned in 1947, and put in the Pacific Reserve Fleet until 1959. After a storied career spanning 4 decades, she was towed to New York harbor to be broken up for scrap.
The West Virginia’s bell sits in the state museum at Charleston, her wheel and binnacle are at the Hampton Roads Museum, her mast at West Virginia University and an antiaircraft gun in a park at Parkersburg.
WWII History Network.
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Military Humor – Navy Style –
Farewell Salutes –
Frank Anthon – Cincinnati, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc, Co. A/1/6/2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, KIA (Tarawa)
Warren G.H. DeVault – TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt., Co. F/2/12/4th Infantry Division, KIA (Hürtgen, GER
Roland Fafard – Worchester, MA; US Navy, WWII, SeaBee
Bernie Lieder – Greenwood Township, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO / MN Representative
Douglas ‘Knute’ Nelson – Haynesville, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO
Marvin Pretzer – Bay City, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart
Donald Rusk – Clarks Hill, IN; US Army, Korea, Sgt.
Norma Schrader – Bridgeport, CT; US Army WAC, WWII
Donald Stouli – Robbinsdal, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot, 303 Bomb Group / US Air Force, Korea
Julian C. Wills (100) – Flingsville, KY; US Army, WWII, MSgt.
On V-J Day, thirteen Naval Construction Battalions (NCB), three Special Naval Construction Battalions (stevedores), and one Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) awaited assignment to Japan, where they were to aid naval forces at Hiroshima, Kabayana, Yokosuka, Omura, Nagasaki, Sasebo, and Kure. Their tasks included constructing, repairing, and maintaining Naval and Marine Corps bases throughout Japan to support US armed forces in occupying the country.
On 15 August 1945, Seabees with the 136th NCB embarked in 12 LSM’s at Guam headed for Iwo Jima and onto Yokosuka, Japan. They arrived at the badly damaged Yokosuka navy yard on 30 August 1945, where they established their camp at the Japanese navigation school. In preparation for the arrival of additional forces, the Seabees repaired housing, electric and telephone systems, and roads at the naval base; graded fields and remodeled buildings for the fleet recreation area; repaired housing and surfaced an airstrip at Kisarazu airfield.
Meanwhile, the 602nd CBMU arrived at Yokosuka to maintain runways and roads at the Marine Corps air base. They constructed a 2000-man galley, restored barracks and facilities for personnel, constructed a chapel and recreation facilities, completed a sawmill, public works shops, a cold-storage plant, and a chlorination plant for water treatment, and installed hot water showers in all barracks.
During the month of September, the 41st Regiment, consisting of the 9th, 28th, 62nd, and 90th NCB, and the 28th Special Battalion, joined the 136th NCB at Yokosuka. Among the major projects included repairing and maintaining the naval base at Kisarazu naval air station, which included overhauling the gasoline system and providing housing facilities for air station personnel and repairing and maintaining the airstrip. They also repaired buildings and erected Quonset huts for housing and messing facilities for port director activities at both Yokosuka and Tokyo, and loaded gravel from the Atsugi River for use in repairing roads and runways.
Sasebo on the island of Kyushu, not far from Nagasaki, was the other big center of Seabees activity in Japan. For some time, the 7th Naval Construction Regiment, consisting of 4 NCBs and the 31st Special, were working simultaneously at Sasebo to construct the naval base, clear the dock area in the navy yard and provide space for roadways and facilitating the unloading of ships. This required removal of large quantities of scrap metal, heavy marine equipment, and other debris. The Seabees used a Japanese floating crane and Japanese barges, together with some Japanese laborers, were used on the task.
In addition to repairing and maintaining the Marine Corps camp at Ainoura, the 116th NCB rehabilitated and constructed 5 miles of road from Ainoura to Sasebo, together with an alternate 5-mile stretch and operated two quarries to support road work construction. The Seabees also constructed a Quonset hut camp to house 400 men at the former aircraft factory at Sasebo. Seabees with the 72nd NCB constructed a 2000-man camp, two 200-bed hospitals, and recreational facilities in Sasebo to support naval forces.
Upon its arrival in Japan, the 31st NCB had been sent to Omura, about 28 miles from Sasebo. At Omura, the battalion was given a former Japanese hangar for temporary barracks, messing, and work space, and assigned a former Japanese garrison force compound for permanent barracks and work space. The area was deliberately destroyed in an attempt to inconvenience occupation troops; all the latrines were in disreputable condition, lighting fixtures had been torn out, and the general litter and debris throughout the area was so extensive that a 40-man cleaning crew worked for more than a fortnight removing debris and trash.
One of the most unique duties the Seabees undertook in Japan after the war ended was working on the Bureau of Yards and Docks Technical Mission to Japan to survey damage wrought by the atomic bombs and other aerial bombing attacks. This group consisted of structural engineers and Seabees sent to Japan to survey the damage inflicted by atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as damage caused by high explosive and incendiary bombs.
Unknowingly, these men exposed themselves to radiation and many died young of cancer, leukemia, and unknown illnesses all in an effort to assist the US in understanding the devastation atomic bombs leveled on a major city and industrial areas, and how to build facilities in the future to withstand atomic warfare.
By mid-1946, all Seabee units stationed in Japan were disestablished and the men were discharged from active duty. The Seabees were part of the demobilization plan, and by June 1946 their number had fallen from a peak strength of more than 250,000 men to approximately 20,000. The Seabees that served in Japan, during this time, played a key role in the construction of bases, roads, facilities, and infrastructure necessary to assist Japan in rebuilding their economy and country in the post-war years.
From the SeaBee Museum.
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Military Humor –
Farewell Salutes –
Scott Bumpers – TN; Tennessee National Guard, MSgt., 118th Wing/118th Intel Surveillance & Recon Group
Clayton Eldridge – Williamsville, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Dayton
Betty Gill – Madison, WI; US Woman’s Marine Corps, WWII
Shelli Huether – TN; Tennessee National Guard, Lt. Colonel, 118/118th Intel Surveillance & Recon Group
Russell McCauley (101) – Altoona, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO
Casey A. Popenoe – USA; US Army, Iraq, Chief Warrant Officer 3, 2/8/1/25th Infantry Division
William Rouch – Bangor, PA; US Army / WWII historian
Robert Salgado – Palm Springs, CA; US Army, WWII, 82nd Airborne Division
David Smith Jr. – East Walpole, MA; US Navy, WWII
Jessica Wright – TN; Tennessee National Guard, Captain, 118/118th Intel Surveillance & Recon Group
The President of the United States, in the name of Congress, awarded more than 3,400 Medals of Honor to the Nation’s bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard personnel, since the decoration’s creation in 1861!
This article was compiled from a variety of resources to honor one such person…
Desmond T. Doss:
Desmond T. Doss was born on February 7, 1919 in Lynchburg, Virginia, USA as Desmond Thomas Doss. He was married to Frances Duman and Dorothy Schutte. He died on March 23, 2006 in Piedmont, Alabama, USA.
Rank & Unit: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division
Place & Date: Near Urasoe Mura, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, 29 April-21 May 1945
He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion, 77th Infantry Division assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high. As the troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machine gun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them 1 by 1 to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On 2 May, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards of enemy forces in a cave’s mouth, where he dressed his comrades’ wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety.
On 5 May, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire.
On 21 May, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers’ return, he was again struck, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station.
While serving with his platoon in 1944 on Guam and the Philippines, he was awarded two Bronze Stars with a “V” device, for exceptional valor in aiding wounded soldiers under fire. During the Battle of Okinawa, he saved the lives of 50–100 wounded infantrymen atop the area known by the 96th Division as the Maeda Escarpment or Hacksaw Ridge. Doss was wounded four times in Okinawa and was evacuated on May 21, 1945, aboard the USS Mercy. Doss suffered a left arm fracture from a sniper’s bullet and at one point had seventeen pieces of shrapnel embedded in his body.
His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty. The movie, “Hacksaw Ridge” was made to honor this man and his actions.
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Current News – Honoring 9/11
My past posts to give tribute to those affected by 9/11 …
Military Humor –
Farewell Salutes –
Gladys Blum – Philadelphia, PA; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse
Joseph S. Forzley – Lemont, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 5th Air Force
Charles Herrmann – Cincinnati, OH; USMC, WWII
Joseph Kurata – Acampo, CA; US Army, Japanese Occupation & Korea, Counter Intelligence Corps, Col. (Ret. 32 y.)
Ian McKnight – NC; US Navy, USS Nimitz, 5th Fleet, Information Tech 2nd Class, MIA (Arabian Gulf)
Kathryn Phillips – Columbus, GA; Civilian, US Red Cross, WWII
Amy Ponech – Lethbridge, CAN; WRC Air Force, WWII
Philip Savage Jr. – Buffalo, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 505/82nd Airborne Division
Michael Wadeck – Bradenton, FL; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam (Ret. 27 y.)
On August 25, 1945, John Birch, an American missionary to China before the war and a captain in the Army during the war, is killed by Chinese communists days after the surrender of Japan, for no apparent reason.
When 22-year-old Birch, graduate of Mercer University and a Baptist seminary in Macon, Georgia, arrived in Shanghai in Japanese-occupied China in 1940, he’d come to be a missionary to the Chinese people and began by learning the world’s most difficult language in record time—no surprise to his family back in Georgia who always saw Birch as the smartest guy in any room.
The Chinese recognized his charitable heart as he preached the love of Christ, a message many had never heard except from the lips of an interpreter. And preach he did, as he covered much of occupied and unoccupied China—dodging Japanese patrols, dressing in native clothes, eating the same food, and taking the same risks as the people he quickly came to love.
From missionary to guide to spy…
As financial support from the World Fundamental Baptist Missionary Fellowship dried up, Birch realized he’d have to find some other source of income. He was sitting in a restaurant in Zhejiang province, eating the cheapest fare on the menu, when a man approached. “Are you American?”
Birch nodded. “Follow me,” the man said and led him to a sampan (flat-bottomed boat) on a nearby river where he could hear English being spoken inside. Birch called out, “Are there Americans in there?”
“Jesus Christ!” came a voice from inside. “No Jap could have that southern drawl.”
Birch answered, “Jesus Christ is a very good name, but I’m not he.” He stepped inside the sampan and looked directly into the eyes of Colonel James Doolittle. After bombing Tokyo, Doolittle and his men had bailed out over what they erroneously thought was free China. They needed help.
As things turned out, it became a question of who helped whom the most. Birch and many Chinese citizens risked their lives guiding Doolittle and his raiders to the safety of Chungking and Chiang Kai-shek; while Doolittle, impressed with Birch’s intelligence and knowing that the young man wanted to join the army, preferably as a chaplain, plugged him through military channels.
And so Birch became a second lieutenant in the famed Flying Tigers, commanded by General Claire Chennault, but not as a chaplain. Because of his command of the Chinese language, thorough knowledge of the countryside, mastery of disguise, mutual love for the Chinese nationals he worked with, and genius for gathering intelligence, Birch became … a spy.
But he had one request of Chennault—“Whenever I can, without neglecting my duties, can I preach?” General Chennault assented. Years later, the war over and Birch dead, this rough military man would remark with tears in his eyes, “John Birch was like the son I never had.”
In a last letter home to his mother who had asked him if he’d be getting a furlough, Birch answered that he would love to, but could not leave until the last Japanese had left. And indeed he stayed past Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945. On August 25 Birch, along with some American, Chinese, and Korean comrades, went on one last mission in a small town near Xuzhou. There Chinese Communists shot and killed Birch when he refused to surrender his revolver. After his death both the American and Chinese governments awarded him military honors.
This article is from Christian History magazine #121 Faith in the Foxholes.
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Military Humor –
Farewell Salutes –
Henry Baker (102) – Brooksville, FL; US Navy, WWII, Chief Petty Officer
Paul DiCiero Cincinnati, OH; US Navy, WWII & Korea
Johnny Kai – Honolulu, HI; US Army, 11th Airborne Div. / Vietnam, Major (Ret.), 5th Special Forces
John Langran – Columbo, Ceylon; Royal Navy, WWII, Lt. Commander (Ret.)
Warren O’Sullivan – Narberth, PA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, West Point grad, Corps of Engineers
John Pfeffer – Lebanon, IL; USMC, WWII
Albert Roe – Detroit, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 11th Airborne Division
Tom Seaver – Fresno, CA; USMC / MLB pitcher
Eugene, Smith – Norwood, MA; US Army Air Corps, 505/ 82nd Airborne Division
Dame Olivia Mary de Havilland, born 1 July 1916) was a British-American actress. Her career spanned from 1935 to 1988. She appeared in 49 feature films, and was one of the leading movie stars during the golden age of Classical Hollywood. She is best known for her early screen performances in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and (1939), and her later award-winning performances in To Each His Own (1946), The Snake Pit (1948), and The heiress (1949).
Born in Tokyo to British parents, de Havilland and her younger sister, Joan Fontaine, moved with their mother to California in 1919. They were brought up by their mother Lilian, a former stage actress who taught them drama, music, and elocution. De Havilland made her acting debut in amateur theatre in Alice in Wonderland. Later, she appeared in a local production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream, which led to her playing Hermia in Max Reinhardt stage production of the play and a movie contract with Warner Bros.
De Havilland became a naturalized citizen of the United States on November 28, 1941, ten days before the United States entered WWII militarily, alongside the Allied Forces. During the war years, she actively sought out ways to express her patriotism and contribute to the war effort.
In May 1942, she joined the Hollywood Victory Caravan, a three-week train tour of the country that raised money through the sale of war bonds. Later that year she began attending events at the Hollywood Canteen, meeting and dancing with the troops.
In December 1943 de Havilland joined a USO tour that traveled throughout the United States, Alaska, and the South Pacific, visiting wounded soldiers in military hospitals. She earned the respect and admiration of the troops for visiting the isolated islands and battlefronts in the Pacific. She survived flights in damaged aircraft and a bout with viral pneumonia requiring several days’ stay in one of the island barrack hospitals. She later remembered, “I loved doing the tours because it was a way I could serve my country and contribute to the war effort.”
In 1957, in appreciation of her support of the troops during World War II and the Korean War, de Havilland was made an honorary member of the 11th Airborne Division and was presented with a United States Army jacket bearing the 11th’s patch on one sleeve and the name patch “de Havilland” across the chest
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Farewell Salutes –
Mildred Baum – Venetia, PA; Civilian, US Army JAG (D.C. office), WWII
Billy Joe Hash – Whitley County, KY; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Purple Heart, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)
Jim Honickel – Summit, NJ; US Army, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division
Harold D. Langley – Amsterdam, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO / author, military historian
Jimmy Morrison – Hazelton, IN; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam
Robert Payán – Gallup, NM; US Army Air Corps, German Occupation, medic
Ronald Rosser – Columbus, OH; US Army, Korea, Medal of Honor
Salvador Schepens – Gulfport, MS; US Merchant Marines, WWII / US Navy, Korea, USS Wasp & Hornet, (Ret.)
Donald Terry – Apollo Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Cone (DD-866)
America’s entrance into WWII triggered the golden age of WWII Pin-ups — pictures of smiling women in a range of clothing-challenged situations. The racy photos adorned lonely servicemen’s lockers, the walls of barracks, and even the sides of planes. For the first time in its history, the U.S. military unofficially sanctioned this kind of art: pin-up pictures, magazines and calendars were shipped and distributed among the troops, often at government expense.
No history of any military unit would be complete without some info on its favorite pin-ups. Keep in mind that in the days prior to women being in every military unit, soldiers would be in the field or in combat for months on end, or years as in WWII, without seeing or hearing a female voice.
Although a little revealing at times, pin-ups were not what you would recall pornography. No one knows for sure when this trend began, but it is known that Napoleon’s soldiers carried pin-ups with them.
Usually pin-ups were wholesome American girls – movie stars, singers, dancers or just well-known celebrities, but occasionally, some of them were a bit on the “wild side”. Some pin-ups were not real women at all, but drawings, like the well-known ones by Vargas.
What would become the familiar pin-up began to take shape in 1917, when Wilson’s administration created the Division of Pictorial Publicity. The art form’s ever-growing popularity bled over into other mediums, such as Hollywood, who jumped onto the bandwagon and movie execs began using sexually-charged imagery to promote their films.
This had such a success, it came as little surprise in WWII that pin-ups were used in recruitment posters and war bomb purchasing material. Many considered this to be the pin-up’s “Golden Age” and thousands of images were commissioned to raise soldier morale while fighting overseas. A U.S. soldier couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a pin-up girl: in barracks, on submarine walls and carried in pockets – they were never far away from a reminder of why they were fighting.
Nose art for US aircraft regulations were eased and through WWII and into the Korean War, aircraft artistry would be in its ‘golden age.’ This not only helped the morale of the men, but it made a plane easier to identify rather than its serial numbers. Although the art would also be of cartoon characters (“Thumper”) or hometowns (“Memphis Belle”), the majority were of women like “Lady Eve”, Forbidden Fruit” “Miss Behavin” and “Little Gem”, for example.
The woman who became the champion pin-up girl was Betty Grable and winning that that title was a tough fight as she was up against such names as Hedy Lamarr, Dorothy Lamour, Ann Sheridan, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Esther Williams and many others.
For further research on pin-ups in aviation and nose art, Pierre Lagacé’s blog ‘Preserving the Past’ click HERE!
Or ‘Preserving the Past II’ article HERE!
This information was condensed from stories found in “The Voice of the Angels” 11th Airborne newspaper.
For the 11th Airborne Division, the main woman was Olivia de Havilland, whose story will be in the next post.
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Current News –
To watch the vintage WWII aircraft flyover in honor of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two, Please check here for the count down and link for you to watch!!
For my post concerning the 2 September 2020 flyover. Please click here!!
Military Humor –
Farewell Salutes –
Max Abram – Carthage, MI; US Army, WWII, Lt. Colonel (Ret. 37 y.)
Robert Butler – Lismore, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO, decoder
David Iggo (101) – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 415697, WWII, Flt. Lt., 457th Squadron
Wayne Kellog – North Hornell, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt.
Vincent P. Marketta – Brick, NJ; US Army, SSgt., 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (A)
Edward ‘Mike’ Reuter – Tacoma, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO
Tyler M. Shelton – San Bernadino, CA; US Army, Sgt., 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (A)
Margaret Shinners (100) – Middletown, RI; Civilian, US Naval photographer
Donald F. Wright – Coffeyville, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT-150/Ron 12
I thank Klausbernd for bringing this story to Pacific Paratrooper about the last German to surrender. Not wanting any part of war, Dr. Dege became part of Operation Haudegen….
Weather played an important role during the Second World War. It dictated the outcome of Naval battles and decided the routes of military convoys. Weather and visibility affected photographic reconnaissance and bombing raids. Much of D-day planning revolved around the weather, and the landing itself was delayed by 24 hours because of choppy seas. Weather information was so sensitive that it was transmitted encoded from weather stations.
By August 1941, the Allies had captured many weather stations operated by the Germans on Greenland and on Spitsbergen, in the Svalbard Archipelago in Norway. These stations were critical because the air over Svalbard told a lot about what was coming over the North Atlantic and continental Europe. Svalbard Archipelago lies in the Arctic Ocean about a thousand kilometres from the North Pole. When Norway came under German occupation in 1940, the Nazis took control of the oil fields and the weather stations there. The Germans made many attempts to set up weather stations on Spitsbergen, but all failed or fell to the Allies.
In September 1944, the Germans set up their last weather station, code named Operation Haudegen, on Nordaustlandet, one of the most remote and northerly of the main islands in Svalbard. A U-boat and a supply vessel deposited eleven men, along with equipment, arms, ammunitions and supplies on the island and hurriedly retreated back to Norway before they could be discovered by Allied warships. The men set up the weather station and erected two inconspicuous flat-roofed huts using wooden panels and camouflaged with white nets.
Operation Haudegen started in December 1944. Five times a day, the station transmitted encrypted weather forecasts to the German naval command at Tromsø. In addition, once a week, they sent a hydrogen-filled weather balloon to 8,000 meters to obtain data from the upper atmosphere. The remaining time was spent exploring the island and learning about science, geography, philosophy and mathematics from the leader of the expedition, Dr. Wilhelm Dege. The young men built a sauna and helped themselves to the ample food supplies, enjoying delicacies like reindeer meat which most Germans at that time could only dream of in their bomb cellars.
Siegfried Czapka, the 18-year-old radio operator, told the German magazine Der Spiegel in 2010: “It was an unforgettable experience; we had everything but beer.”
But of course, life in the Arctic was harsh. Temperatures went well below freezing, there were snow storms and daylight was scarce. Polar bears were another threat. The men had to carry rifles with them every time they went outside. The men had been given rigorous training to deal with the hardship. They learned to ski, rappel down cliffs, build igloos, cook and bake, pull teeth, attend to gunshot wounds, and even amputate frozen limbs.
On May 8, 1945, the men received a message from their commanders in Tromsø that Germany had surrendered and the war was over. They were ordered to dispose of explosives, destroy secret documents and send weather reports unencoded. Then there was complete radio silence. The men tried contacting base but there was no reply. They started transmitting their coordinates on the wave lengths the Allies used but no ship or aircraft appeared. The men had two years worth of ration, but the idea of getting stuck on ice for any amount of time held little appeal. The men worried about their families back in Germany, whether they were still alive or killed by air raids. In desperation, they started transmitting on Allied distress channels.
Towards the end of August, a reply was received. Norwegian authorities assured the stranded men that a ship would set sail for Spitsbergen in early September. Their joy was boundless when on the night of September 3rd and 4th, a vessel arrived in the fjord near the weather station. It was a seal-hunting ship that was chartered by the Norwegian navy in order to pick up the Germans.
The Norwegians came ashore and they all had a big celebratory meal together. Then the commanding officer of the Germans formally surrendered—four months after the war ended—by handing over his service pistol to the Norwegian captain.
“The Norwegian stared at it and asked ‘Can I keep this then?’, recalled Dr. Eckhard Dege, the son of Wilhelm Dege, the commanding officer. “My father explained that he could because they were surrendering.”
The men were taken to Tromsø where they became prisoners of war for three months. In December 1945, they returned to their homes, to a divided country. Some found themselves on East Germany, others on the West. The men of the unit tried to meet each other, but it became impossible due to the tensions between East and West Germany. It was only 60 years after the incident, that two of the survivors were reunited for a trip to the island.
Farewell Salutes –
Bernis Allardyce – Beaumont, TX; US Army, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 25 y.)
Harold ‘Ron’ Hawkins – Tempe, AZ; US Army, Vietnam, 6th Special Forces, Sgt.
Emil ‘Gene’ Jemail – Newport, RI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division / JAG office Austria
James A. McNeill – Brooklyn, NY; USMC, Afghanistan, SSgt., 3rd Marine Logistics Group, KIA (Okinawa, non-combat)
Mavis Poe – Topeka, KS; Civilian US Navy, WWII, driver
Pleasant Rourke Jr. – Charleston, SC; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart
Mark Sertich (99) – Duluth, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO / world’s oldest ice hockey player
James Weber Jr. – Louisville, KY; US Navy, WWII Corpsman
Catherine Young – Napier, NZ; WRNZ Navy # 234, WWII
It wasn’t always the enemy they had to contend with…
After the war started, I decided I had to get into the service, this didn’t make my folks very happy, especially my dad, but I just had to go. So, I enlisted in the Army Air Corps. They made me a gunner and sent me to the Pacific. I flew on A-20’s in the 417th Bomb Group, B-24’s in the 90th and B-25’s in the 38th. I was on the islands all through the western Pacific, New Guinea, the Philippines, the Ryukyus, and even up to Japan later on.
It was after the war had ended and we’d moved up to an airstrip on a little island called Ie Shima, right next to Okinawa. It was the island where Ernie Pyle was killed. We were living there in the usual primitive conditions that we’d put up with on all the islands – tents, C and K rations, nothing to do but fly missions. The airstrip there was right near the beach, well, the island was so small that everything was right near the beach, and of course our tents were close to the coast.
We got word that a storm was coming and the pilots flew our squadron’s planes off somewhere. The rest of us on the flight crews and the ground crews were left behind to fend for ourselves. The wind started blowing, the rain was coming down, and we were trying to hold on to our tents to keep them from blowing over,
Well, it turned out this storm was a typhoon and the wind blew stronger and stronger, and the rain was being driven horizontally. What a storm! I’d never experienced anything like it. After a while, we couldn’t hold the tents up anymore. First one of the tents blew down, then another, and pretty soon all the tents were down, and we were outside in the weather.
There was no other shelter – our bombing and the Navy’s shelling when we’d taken the island had flattened all the trees and it was just bare sand and rock. And the wind just kept blowing harder!
Next thing we knew the tents and everything inside them started to blow away, right off the island and out into the ocean. We just couldn’t hold on to them under those conditions – the wind just ripped anything out of our hands if you tried to hold on to it. So after the tents and everything was gone, all we could do was huddle together and try to protect ourselves. It was like we were just a bunch of wet, cold sheep huddled together – and the wind kept blowing even harder.
We’d rotate the guys on the outside of the huddle toward the middle because the rain was being blown so hard it hurt when it hit you. We all took our turns on the outside of the group. Some of us had bruises from that rain afterwards.
[ I was unable to locate le Shima photos of the storm, hence the Okinawa pictures. I suppose everyone’s camera went to sea. ]
This seemed to go on for hours, and the whole time we just stayed there huddled together, When the wind and rain finally started to let up, it dawned on us that everything we had was gone. I had a lot of photos from all the islands we’d been on, some souvenirs, and of course the rest of my clothes and personal effects, and they were just gone.
Our planes came back and they flew in more tents for us, but later when I shipped back to the States I didn’t have much more to take home with me that the clothes I had on the day the storm started!
CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.
Military Humor –
Farewell Salutes –
Bernice Cooke – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, nurse
Reynaldo ‘Chita’ Gonzolaz – Newton, KS; US Army, Korea, Sgt., 2nd Division
Peter Hanson – Laconia, NH; US Army, Vietnam, Captain, 101st Airborne Division
Christopher Knoop – Buffalo, NY; US Army, Desert Storm, 810th MP Co., communications
Donald Ottomeyer – St. Louis, MO; US Army, Lt., 101st Airborne Division
John D. Roper – Nashville, TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Westmoreland & Pontiac
Juan Serna Sr. – Pharr, TX; US Army, WWII / National Guard (Ret. 25 y.)
Michael Stickley – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam
Pansy Yankey (100) – Brashear, TX; Civilian, North American Aviation, WWII, drill press operator
By PFC. WILLIAMS LAND | STARS AND STRIPES May 22, 1945
Stars and Stripes presents these archive reports as they were written by the reporters in the field. The graphic and politically incorrect language used may be offensive to some readers.
Editor’s Note: A fortnight ago Bill Land, one of our battlefront reporters, learned that he was a father. Back to us by radio came this story of Oki’s orphans. Unable to go home to see his own daughter in Baton Rouge, La., Bill let himself go on Oki’s orphans – being left to die by the Sons of Heaven. But the GIs wouldn’t let the kids die…
OKINAWA – Here’s a story you could call “The Children’s Hour.” Ever since I got that radio about my new baby daughter I’ve had in mind writing a children’s story, especially since the material is so plentiful.
It is said that there are more children on Okinawa than there are goats, and, brother, that is some statement.
Very rarely does one see a woman who isn’t carrying either a born or unborn child around and most of the time it’s both.
For doughboys and leathernecks, the care of children started on the first day of the invasion, and from the way it keeps on, it looks as though “the Children’s Hour on Okinawa” will outlast Lillian Hellman’s play on Broadway.
Military government has even set up an orphanage, probably the first the island has seen.
“Since the natives showed interest only their own babies, we had to do something to care for children whose parents were killed or missing,” said Army Capt. W. W. McAllister of Iowa City, Ia., the officer in charge.
Nipples are made from surgical gloves and the orphans seem to take kindly to their new diet of canned milk through a glove.
In another part of the island, Chief Pharmacist’s Mate Hugh Bell of Iberia, La., found himself playing the role of a mother when his outfit, a Marine reconnaissance unit, was scouting for suspected enemy installations and suddenly came upon a whole colony of natives hiding in a cave. Most of them were starving and sick and 35 children required immediate medical attention.
Bell, being the only “doctor in the house,” had all of them on his hands. For 24 hours he treated them, giving them plenty of food and feeding them canned milk while his buddies drank their coffee black.
“The kids thought I had used magic to fix them up,” he said, “and followed me around whenever I went. The headman of the group of cave dwellers told the unit command later that Bell was called “Mother” whenever they referred to him.
It is not at all a strange sight to see kids running around in cut-off GI woolen underwear or rompers made of fatigues, but Sally’s diapers made of green camouflage cloth really take the cake. Sally’s one of the orphans.
Sitting on the hard coral rock playing with the ration can, it looks as if she selected a soft tuft of grass to place her little behind on.
Pfc. John J. Stroke of Olmsted Falls, Ore., found her. She’s a two-year-old girl, and Stroke supervised her bath and sprinkled her with anti-vermin powder. Then, with the help of marine fatigues, a jungle knife and couple of pins, he went into the diaper business.
With most able-bodied Japs in the Imperial army or navy there seems a definite shortage of obstetricians among civilians and therefore many deliveries have to be performed by American soldiers and medics.
Relating his first attendance at childbirth here, First Class Pharmacist’s Mate Richard P. Scheid of Napoleon, O., warned, “I knock down anybody who calls me a mid-wife.”
As in the play, “The Children’s Hour,” and everywhere else, for that matter, there are good little children and naughty ones.
The other day, Sgt. Elvis Lane, marine combat correspondent from Louisville, Ky., ran across a couple of them who didn’t want to take to the American way of life at first. Dressed in a ragged Jap soldiers’ suits, they kept hoping to fight the “American devils” who were soon to be blasted by superior Japanese power.
That night, enemy units attacked the camp in which the two boys were staying and the air was filled with screams of the Jap wounded, the rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire and explosions of hand grenades. When morning came, the boys stared in horror at the Jap bodies and one of them said:
“Jap is a big liar. I think my brother and I want to be like our father – farmers.”
CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.
Current News –
Live missile found at Lakeland, Florida airport.
Military Humor –
Farewell Salutes –
Michael Burke – Montreal, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, radar mechanic, attached to RAF 106th Squadron
Richard Gentz – Jackson, MI; US Navy, Admiral (Ret. 33 y.), pilot, Naval Academy grad ’57
Warren “Bud” Henke – South Bend, IN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 2 Silver Stars, Bronze Star
Harold Mendes – Cleveland, OH; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division
Bryan Mount – Parawan, UT; US Army, Iraq & Syria, Calvary scout/gunner, Sgt. KIA
John E. Norman – Powell, TN; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division
Patrick Tadina – Fayetteville, NC; US Army, Vietnam, CSgt. Major, 2 Silver Stars
Floyd Welch – Burlington, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Maryland, Pearl Harbor survivor
Henry Zajac – Elyria, OH; US Merchant Marines, WWII, Merchant Marine Academy graduate