Thursday, December 31, 2015

Draft Hits DeKalb County, Illinois December 1940-- Part 1

From the Dec. 29, 2015, MidWeek "Looking Back."

December 1940, 75 years ago.

"Reuel Hovland of Waterman, Clyde Mischler of Pierce, Wilbur Matson of DeKalb and Robert Blair of Claire were the first four draftees to be called from DeKalb County in the first peace time draft in the history of the county."

Getting Ready for War.  --GreGen

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Dinner for the 101st Infantry Battalion, HQ Company

From the History Rat site.

Yesterday, we saw what the president was eating for Christmas dinner.  Today, we take a look at what the lower officers and enlisted men were having.

Blue Point Oysters
Celery, Olives
Cream of green Peas
Mock Turtle Soup
Lobster American Style
Roast Turkey With Stuffing
Cranberry sauce
Giblet gravy
Fresh Stringbeans
Baked Squash
Mashed White Potatoes
Green Salad, Dressing
Plum Pudding With Rum sauce
Mince Pie, Pumpkin Pie
Vanilla Ice Cream
Coffee, Nuts, Dates, Raisins, Figs
Cider

Not Bad.  I'm Sure a Bit Nicer than the Soldiers Had at Bastogne.  --GreGen

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Dinner at the White House

From the History Rat site.

Unfortunately, no date given.

WHITE HOUSE MENU

Clear Soup With Sherry (not sure what clear soup is)
Celery, Assorted Olives
Thin Toast
Roast Turkey, Chestnut Dressing, Sausage
Giblet Gravy
Beans
Cauliflower
Casserole of Sweet Potatoes
Cranberry Jelly
Rolls
Grapefruit Salad and Cheese Crescents
Plum Pudding and Hard Sauce  (not sure about the sauce either)
Ice Cream and Cake
Coffee
Salted Nuts and Assorted BonBons

Kind of Like My T-Giving Dinner This Year.  --GreGen

Monday, December 28, 2015

World War II and Christmas: Transforming Traditions-- Part 2: Songs and Santa

SONGS--  Many of our favorite songs like "White Christmas,"  "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" also come from the war.

SANTA--  The look of Santa Claus changed.  Prior to the war, he had more of a European look.  But during the war he took on more of an American persona.

--GreGen

Saturday, December 26, 2015

World War II and Christmas: Transforming Traditions-- Part 1

From the History Rat site.  I found this of interest.

Many of today's Christmas traditions came into being as a result of the war.

EARLY CHRISTMAS SHOPPING which came about because of the need of shipping items overseas to American troops.  The precursor to Black Friday.

GLASS ORNAMENTS--  Before the war many were made in Japan and Germany.  Of course, these supplies soon dried up and Corning Glass Company in New York transormed their light bulb machines to making glass ornaments.

RIBBONS AND BOWS  They changed their makeup because of shortages.

ARTIFICIAL CHRISTMAS TREES  Trees and lumber were needed for the war effort.

--GreGen

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Christmas Bombing Over Germany

From War Tales site  "He was a tail gunner in a B-24 over Germany on Christmas" by Don Moore.

Stanley Niemczura of Gardens of Gulf Cove was a tail gunner in a B-24 Liberator in the 15th Air Force.

On December 25, 2015, he and the nine other members of his crew joined a couple hundred other B-24s to stage a raid on Drux, Germany.  (I was unable to find a Drux, Germany, but one source mentioned the name along with Munich.  Perhaps it is part of that city?)

Instead, they ended up bombing Villach, a railroad marshaling yard.  (I was also unable to find this city).

The bombers made two runs over the site before dropping their bombs but missed it by about two miles.  Most of the bombs landed in a farmer's field and house.

Because it was overcast at their home base, they ended up landing at Foggia, Italy, and hedgehopped their way back to home base at Cerignola, Italy.

Once back, the mess halls had to reopen so they could have their Christmas dinner.  They finally got to eat their turkey at 1900 hours   Mr. Niemczura remembered, "Everybody was PO-ed."

He eventually flew 26 missions and was almost shot down on several occasions.  His crew was one of the first to be shipped back home upon germany's surrender because they were amongthe first deployed.

--GreGen

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Some Bizarre World War II Plans-- Part 1: Dying the River Yellow and Nazi Gold

From the March 8, 2014, Listverse "10 Totally Bizarre Plans to Win Wars" by Marc V.

Several dealt with World War II.

10.  The OSS almost dyed an entire river yellow.

In Burma, people believed that if their largest river, the Irrawaddy, turned yellow it would mean the end of foreign rule.  It was hoped that dying it would cause locals to rise up against the Japanese forces occupying their country.

However, a test run on the yellow dye failed and the idea was scrapped.

6.  The Nazis attempted to make gold

Before World War II word got out that substances found under the Izar River in Munich could be made into gold.  Karl Malchus conned SS leader Heinrich Himmler into believing it.

--GreGen

Teachers in Iowa Honor Pearl Harbor Veteran

From the March 2, 2014, Omaha World-Herald "Teachers to honor vet who shares Pearl Harbor story with students" by Andrew  J. nelson.

Coon rapids, Iowa:  Clarence Pfundheller, 93 of Greenfield, Iowa, has spent thirty years telling local schoolkids about that day.

In April the Iowa State Education will award him the Friend of Education Award recognizing all of those years.

Mr. Pfundheller was on the USS Maryland and had just eaten breakfast and was preparing to swab the deck when the attack came.  He was gun captain of a 5-inch anti-aircraft gun which fired a 75-pound, 3-foot-long shell designed to explode and spread shrapnel but the Japanese were too close to have much success.  The Maryland was able to shoot one plane down.

After Pearl harbor, he fought in the Pacific Theater.

--GreGen

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Volunteers Building a Vintage B-17 Bomber in Ohio

From the  March 2, 2014, Register Guard "Museum volunteers building vintage WWII plane" by Mitch Stacy.

Urbana, Ohio.

One part was found under an elderly woman's front porch and another part was hanging in a Colorado bar after it had been a prop for a 1960s TV show.  The tail section was salvaged from a wreck deep in the Alaska wilderness.

None have been built in nearly 70 years, that is, until now.

Volunteers at the Champaign Aviation Museum will buy or barter for parts and even build parts if necessary, but they intend to build a B-17 bomber they call the "Champaign Lady."

Completion is years away, but even now, it has the familiar lines of one of the famous World War   II bombers being built in a hangar.  It is 74 feet long and has four engines.

Volunteer Frank Drain designed the nose art which features a leggy 40s pinup girl against an outline of Ohio.

More than 12,700 B-17s were built.  There are around 40 left in the world and of those, fewer than a dozen are in flying condition.

The volunteers are designing the "Champaign Lady" so that it will fly.  The initial parts are from five different planes and about  100 volunteers are working on it.

Go "Champaign Lady."  --GreGen

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Death of Heroine Jacqueline Morgan in 2014

From the March 1, 2014, KTRE 9 TV "East Texas WWII heroine Jacqueline Morgan dies" by Francesco Washington.

Jacqueline Morgan, 94, died in Lufkin, Texas.  She was one of 1,174 WASPs (Women Air Force Service Pilots."  She joined in 1943 and towed targets for anti-aircraft practice, mostly flying  AT6s and BT-13s.

She joined because an older brother, already in the military, had been killed in a training accident.

WASPs were considered civilians and their records were classified for 35 years and were not offered military status until 1977.

In 2009, the group received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award.  they also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

--GreGen

World War II

From the Feb. 20, 2014, Fort Hood (Tx) Sentinel "World War II in America, Asia, Pacific: Part 2" by Eric Rogers.

Fredericksburg, Texas, has the National  Museum of the Pacific War and the Admiral Nimitz Museum in the historic Nimitz Hotel.

**  Iwo Jima Flagraising-- Three of the six were dead a month later.

**  Sullivsan Brothers--  Five brothers died on the USS Juneau when it was sunk in 1942.

**  Life-sized replica of the "Fat Man: atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945.

**  An actual rusted orange door from the USS Arizona with visible lines from fuel oil floating in the harbor and an egg-shaped hole cut by divers searching for survivors.

--GreGen


Monday, December 21, 2015

Veteran Reunited with His Lost D-Day Helmet

From the Feb. 20, 2014, Canada TV News Atlantic "Second World War veteran reunited with lost D-Day helmet."

Nearly seventy years ago, George Johnston, a member of the North Shore Regiment's "B" Company, was one of thousands of Canadians storming Juno Beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944, D-Day.  His helmet got bent during the battle and it was replaced with a new one.  After the war, he lost it.

On Tuesday, the phone at his Norton, New Brunswick home, rang.  After some questions, a woman said somebody had it and wanted to return it.  Jordan Chaisson had bought it at an Army surplus store in Monkton and saw the Army ID 22694 and used that number to track George Johnston down.

--GreGen

Back in 2014, Battleship North Carolina Gets State Help

From the Jan. 21, 20143, Raleigh (NC) News & Observer "Battleship North Carolina getting state help" by AP

The USS North Carolina will be receiving $500,000 from the state repair fund to repair the hull which has been stationary in the Cape Fear River opposite Wilmington since 1962.

In 2009, the U.S. Navy reported that the battleship was in serious need of being drydocked for repairs.

--GreGen

Saturday, December 19, 2015

World War II U.S. Numbers

From the June 5, 2013, CNN U.S. "By the numbers:  U.S. war veterans."

I am doing this for all U.S. wars in my Cooter's History Thing Blog right now.

WORLD WAR II (1941-1945)

Total in Service:  16,112,566

Casualties:  Dead--  405,399 (291,557 in battle)   Wounded--  670,846

Estimated Living (as of June 2013):  1,711,050

--GreGen

Friday, December 18, 2015

D-Day Research an Emotional Journey-- Part 4

When Brunson and Holtgrieve arrived in Normandy, France, they walked on Omaha and Utah beaches and then went to the American Cemetery so that each student could visit the final resting spot of their soldier.  When it was Brunson's turn, she carefully washed Eugene Mlot's marker with a bucket of sand and water carried from Omaha Beach, stuck small American and French flags in the grass and left a letter to Mlot under a rose.

Then, she stood behind the grave and thought about the man who had never returned to Milwaukee and had not gotten to celebrate even his 21st birthday.  She paid the ultimate tribute to that veteran from so long ago.  She remembered him.

This is an excellent way to get today's youth to connect with history.

--GreGen

D-Day Research an Emotional Journey-- Part 3: Eugen Mlot's Dogtags

Julia Brunson used census records and documents from the Milwaukee Public Library and Milwaukee County Historical Society to put together his story.

Eugen Mlot worked as an electrician, shipping clerk and milliner before he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in April 1942.  Bruner did not know what a milliner was (neither did I) and had to look up the occupation, finding that Mlot made hats.

Brunson kept a journal, blogged and updated her teacher during this.

Her initial research led to several dead ends, but once she discovered that his unit was the 328th Bomb squadron, 93rd Bombardment Group, she found the name of the Victory Belle's pilot and then could track Mlot's missions.

In Washington, D,\.C., she found flight log books and handwritten maps of Victory Belle bombing missions.

Then, she hit the jackpot.  A researcher told Brunson she could see Mlot's dogtags, which had been taken to Berlin by the German troops, was found by American troops at the end of the war, and were stored in the National Archives.

--GreGen

Thursday, December 17, 2015

D-Day Research an Emotional Journey-- Part 2: Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute

That program Maggie Holtgrieve applied for was  the "Normandy"  Sacrifice for Freedom Albert H. Small  Student and Teacher Institute," which chooses 15 students across the country to research a military member who lost his life in the Allied invasion of France.

The program, sponsored by real estate developer and philanthropist Albert Small, paid for Julia Brunson and Maggie Holtgrieve to travel to Washington, D.C., for research at the National Archives and then to France to visit the cemetery and D-Day beaches.  Last summer the program was filmed by PBS.

Brunson started with a long list of Wisconsin names buried in France and was intrigued by Mlot's name.

She found out Eugen Mlot  was raised in Milwaukee's southside by a poor mother who emigrated from Poland.

--GreGen

D-Day Research an Emotional Journey-- Part 1: Eugen Mlot

From the Nov. 19, 2015, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Meg Jones.

"Before the B-24 bomber nicknamed Victory Belle crashed into Nazi-occupied France shortly after the D-Day invasion, several parachutes were seen as frantic crew members tumbled to safety from the flaming aircraft.

"Nose gunner Eugene Mlot was not among the lucky.  His remains stayed inside the plane until German troops removed the Milwaukee man's dog tags and buried him in a nearby cemetery.  A year later, Mlot was reinterred in the bucolic American cemetery overlooking the sea where thousands of men lost their lives on Omaha Beach."

There was probably no memorial service for him.  He was survived by his mother in Milwaukee who spoke only Polish and an older sister who worked as a hairdresser.

More than seven decades later, a 17-year-old girl walked up to his simple white marker with his name, military unit and date of death.  That girl was Julia Brunson.  How she ended up in Normandy, France, last summer to eulogize a hero whose death wasn't even mentioned in his hometown newspaper began when her history teacher at Ronald Reagan High School, Maggie Holtgrieve, applied to a unique program.

--GreGen

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Death of California Pearl Harbor Survivor Warren Taylor, 95

From the Dec. 15, 2015, Davis (Cal.) Enterprise "Legal community mourns loss of retired judge, Pearl Harbor survivor" by Lauren Keene.

Judge Warren Taylor, 95 spent 21 years on the Superior Court bench in Yolo County, California.

He died December 6, 2015,, one day before the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  That day, he was on the USS Sumner.  Mr. Taylor remembered: "Everything I could see was exploding, shrapnel was falling on the harbor like rain, the harbor was covered by oil, some of it on fire.

"I was knocked on the deck numerous times, and at 8:03 a.m., when we shot down a Japanese torpedo plane, preparing to lay its torpedo about 200 yards off our fantail, I thought the Sumner was going to capsize from the explosion."

Warren Earl Taylor was born June 7, 1920, in Independence, Iowa.  His family moved to Ventura County, California and he graduated from UC-Berkeley in 1941.  He served in the Navy until 1944.

--GreGen


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

December 2015 Military Posters Calendar: Dish It Out With the Navy!

From the Smithsonian calendar.

"Dish It Out With the Navy!  Choose Now While You Can...U.S. Navy"

The poster shows a five man crew manning an open deck gun.  Two are wearing helmets.A very muscular swabbie is shirtless and cradling a huge shell he is about to put into the breech of the barrel as the gun fires off a shot.

McClelland Barclay, 1942.

"Poster artist McClelland Barclay served in the U.S. Navy in the War Arts Corps during World War II drawing navy recruitment posters.  In July 1943 the Navy reported Barclay missing when the ship he was in was torpedoed."

Just In Time to recruit After Pearl Harbor.  --GreGen

Monday, December 14, 2015

Pearl Harbor Survivor Wetzel Sanders, 92: "He's Been Dead for Two, Three Minutes"

From the Voice Herald "Oswego pays tribute to victims and survivors of Pearl Harbor attack."

Wetzel Sanders, 92, is one of approximately ten Pearl Harbor survivors still alive in West Virginia.

He says, "Every two or three days I think of something that happened to me or something to my buddies."

In 1970, former governor Arch Moore honored Pearl Harbor survivors with special license plates.  At the time there were still 137 alive.

"We were shooting this one plane.  It come down and I believe it tried to hit the hospital to kill us, as many as they could, but when he crashed, he missed the top of the hospital and crashed into an empty house.

"Me and two of my buddies run around and it cut him in two right at the bottom of his ribs.  He kicked him in the mouth laying there and I said, 'I don't think you need to do that.  He's been dead for two, three minutes.'"  he said with a lauch.

--GreGen

Pearl Harbor 74 Years Later

From various Sources.

**  Seven Pearl Harbor survivors were honored aboard the USS Midway Museum in San Diego.

**  Dunham Porcari is a 94-year-old survivor on the USS Phoenix.

**  There were 23 sets of brothers killed on the USS Arizona, out of 37 confirmed pairs.

**  The Arizona also had  a father-son pair, Thomas Augusta Free and his son William Thomas Free.  Bioth were also killed.

**  The entire 21-member USS Arizona band were also killed.

**  Another still-living Pearl Harbor veteran is Paul Wasniewski, 96.

--GreGen


Saturday, December 12, 2015

USS Tennessee Survivor, Adolph Hengl, Remembers-- Part 2: Looking for His Brother

Even more important to Adolph Hengl was finding his younger brother, Virgil, who was also serving on the USS Tennessee.

Mr. Hengl continued, "Unknown to me Virgil had gone aboard the USS West Virginia (moored alongside the Tennessee) to make plans with a friend he'd gone to high school with.  I couldn't find him for the longest time,

"I finally  saw him coming across the gang plank back to the Tennessee.

"The West Virginia was starting to go over, but they sank it straight down so it could be salvaged."

December 26, 2015, will be Adolph Hengl's 99th birthday and he is believed to be the oldest living Pearl Harbor battleship survivor.

--GreGen

USS Tennessee Survivor, Adolph Hengl, Remembers-- Part 1: "Get a Hose!"

From the December 10, 2015, Livermore (Calif.) Independent "Survivor Recalls the attack on Pearl Harbor" by Carol Graham.

Adolph Hengl, 98, was the aircraft maintenance officer on the battleship USS Tennessee at Pearl Harbor that day.

"I couldn't see what was happening outside.  When there seemed to be a lull, I came out of the compartment and stepped onto the quarterdeck to see what was going on.  A bomb hit and sent me back through the door, slamming me into a metal wall.

"I stood up and saw tiny fires all over the linoleum floor.  I wasn't hurt, although I guess I might have been out momentarily.

""Then men came running and said, 'Boy, oh boy, you did a pop!'  I hollered at them, 'Get a hose and let's put these fires out.'"

--GreGen

Friday, December 11, 2015

Nebraskan Sailor Haunted By Burned Sailors at Pearl Harbor-- Part 2

Melvin "Bud" Kennedy was at the Battles of Midway, Coral Sea and took supplies to embattled Marines on Guadalcanal.

In 1944, his ship, the USS Clark, escorted a convoy of ships from New York to Londonderry, Northern Ireland.  Mr. Kennedy said there were 800 ships in it and that "There were ships as far as the eye could see."

Soon after that, he was in a convoy to Cherbourg, France after the Allies had captured.  He said "there was nothing left of the harbor but piles of rubble."

At the end of the war, the Clark was 100 miles north of Australia and he and his friends celebrated its conclusion in Sydney.

--GreGen

Nebraskan Sailor Helped Rescue Pearl Harbor Men in the Water-- Part 1

From the December 9, 2015, Omaha.com "Nebraskan, 92, who helped rescue Pearl harbor survivors is haunted by memory of sailors drowning in oil" by Jeff Bahr.

Melvin "Bud" Kennedy found himself on a forty-foot launch that fateful day along with three others.  It became their mission all day and into the night when it was too dark to continue to rescue as many from the burning and oily water as possible.  He remembered that by then "we were just black as tar."

Veteran of six years in the Navy, Mr. Kennedy enlisted in Omaha in 1940 and was discharged in Philadelphia in November 1946.  He served on the repair ship USS Regal and the destroyer USS Clark during the war.

Actually, the actual name of his first ship is the USS Rigel and it was a destroyer tender.The ship was at Pearl Harbor that day but without armament as it was being converted to a destroyer tender.  It received slight damage.  The Clark wasn't.

Much of his duty was with lifeboats, but his battle station was one of a four-man crew on a four-barrel 37 mm anti-aircraft gun in front of the Clark;s bridge.  His station consisted of a trainer (who aimed the gun) , two loaders and he was the pointer.

--GreGen

Thursday, December 10, 2015

North Texas Pearl Harbor Survivors Mark Anniversary

From the Dec. 8, 2015, Dallas Morning News.

A ceremony was held at the Dallas Veterans resource Center.  These three survivors attended:

Robert Tanner, 94, an Army Air Corps pilot stationed at Hickam Field.

John Edward Lowe, 95, on the fleet oiler USS Neosho.

William Hughes, 94, USS Utah

--GreGen


"Man, This Is Not a Drill" Pearl Harbor Survivor Remembers the Attack

From the Orange County (California) Register by Scott Bosco.

Howard Bender, 93, was on the USS Maryland that day.

"There was this plane coming around with this big meatball on it.  I saw (bombers) going up and some guy's shoes going through the air.  I just thought, 'Man, this is not a drill.'"

His worst memory was watching the crew of the USS Oklahoma burning to death in the water.

--GreGen

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

U.S. Declaration of War Against Japan, December 8, 1941-- Part 3: The Actual Declaration

"JOINT RESOLUTION Declaring that a state of war exists between the imperial government of Japan and the Government and People of the United States and making provisions to prosecute the same.

"Whereas the imperial government of Japan has committed unprovoked acts of war against the Government and people of the United States of America.

"Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and Imperial Government of Japan which has thus been thrust upon the United States is formerly declared, and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial Government of Japan, and, to bring the conflict to a successful i, all the resources of this country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States."

War on Gerrnany and Italy was declared on December 11, 1941.

--GreGen

U.S. Declaration of War Against Japan, December 8, 1941-- Part 2

The Joint Session of Congress began at 12:30 p.m. on December 8.  President Roosevelt delivered his famous "Day of Infamy" speech.  Then the War Declaration quickly passed in the Senate by an 82-0 vote and then the same happened in the House of Representatives by a 388-1 vote.

Jeannette Rankin, a noted pacifist, was the only nay vote.  Hers is a really interesting story in itself.

President Roosevelt signed the declaration of war at 4:10 p.m. the same day.

--GreGen

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

U.S. Declaration of War Against Japan, December 8, 1941-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

On December 8, 1941, the U.S. Congress passed this an hour after FDR's Day of Infamy speech.  Immediately following our declaration of war against Japan, its allies, Germany and Italy declared war against us.  Japan had already declared war on the United States the day before.

The Japanese declaration was supposed to be delivered thirty minutes before the attack on Pearl Harbor, but the 5,000-word notification  (known as the "14-Point Message") transmitted to the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C., had to be transcribed which took too long to deliver it in time.

The United Kingdom had declared war on Japan nine hours earlier due to attacks on Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

--GreGen

The Japanese Declaration of War on the United States

From Wikipedia.

Largely forgotten in the day of the attack and following was the Japanese Declaration of War on the United States.  Many felt the attack on pearl harbor pretty well announced it.  But this is the formal declaration as delivered through diplomatic channels.

'We, by the grace of heaven, Emperor of Japan, seated on the Throne of a line unbroken for ages eternal, enjou upon ye, Our loyal and brave subjects:

"We hereby declare a war on the United States of America and the British Empire.  The men and officers of Our army and navy shall do their utmost in prosecuting the war.  Our public servants of various departments shall perform faithfully and diligently the appointed tasks, and all other subjects of Ours shall pursue their respective duties; the entire nation with a united will shall mobilize their total strength so that nothing will miscarry in the attainment of our war aims."

It went on for a long further, but a big reason for the declaration was "To insure the stability of East Asia and to contribute to world peace."  It also mentioned the American support of the Chinese government in Chungking as a reason as well as" economic and military pressure against Our Empire."

"The 8th day of the 12th month of the 16th year of Showa."

--GreGen

Monday, December 7, 2015

USS Arizona Survivors Meet Again-- Part 2: Ship Outline at University of Arizona

However, at the banquet last year, the four survivors who attended decided that they would continue to meet as long as they were able.

Both Mr. Hand Mr. Bruner used wheel chairs to get around, but stood when the colors were posted and shook hands with everyone who approached them.

The University of Arizona has a concrete area on its central campus with the outline of the USS Arizona.  At intervals there are medallions with the names of the sailors and Marines who died aboard the ship.

USS Arizona Survivors Meet Again to Commemorate Their Ship-- Part 1: "The Reunion That Wasn't Supposed to Be"

From the December 7, 2015, AZ Central "USS Arizona survivors meet again and ring their old ship's bell" by Shaun McKinnon, The Republic.

Two of the remaining USS Arizona survivors met in Tucson for "the reunion that wasn't supposed to be."  The Survivors of the ship have in the past met every December in either Pearl Harbor or Tucson but decided last year in Hawaii that that reunion would be the last one.  Back then there were just nine survivors, most in their nineties, and many unable to travel due to afflictions.

The two were Lauren Bruner of La Mirada, California and Claire Hetrick of Las Vegas.

The names of crew members who died that day were read as well as the names of eight Arizonans who died

The two men pulled on a rope to ring their ship's bell.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

USS DeKalb County LST-715-- Part 2: Korean War

It was reacquired by the US Navy for the Korean War 25 July 1950 and participated in the North Korean Aggression, Communist China Aggression, Inchon landing, U.S. Counter Offensive, second Korean Winter and Korean Defense.

It earned a total of eight battle stars during its career: two in World War II and six during the Korean War.

It was transferred to the Military Transportation Service in 1965 and was later part of the National defense reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay, California.

The DeKalb County was sold in 1984 for scrapping.

A Ship With a Long career.  --GreGen

USS DeKalb County, LST-715-- Part 1

The ship was named after the DeKalb County located in six different U.S. states, including Illinois.  Most LSTs, Landing Ship tanks, were not given names.

It was laid down 7 June 1944, at Jeffersonville, Indiana, by the Jeffersonville Boat & Machine Company and launched 20 July 1944 (in 43 days).  Commissioning took place 15 August 1944.

Assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater, the ship was at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  It performed Occupation duty until September 1945 and was decommissioned 17 April 1946 in the Philippines and transferred to the U.S. Army on 28 June 1946 where it was commissioned USAT LST-715.

--GreGen

Current Photos of Abandoned Second World War Fortifications

From the October 20, 2015, Daily mail "Photographs capture eerie image of abandoned Second World War fortifications slowly reclaimed by nature" by Mark Duell.

The photographs are by Marc Wilson who traveled 23,000 miles across 142 locations to put in his new 170-page book.

A lot of the pictyres are in the article.
Interesting Pictures.  GreGen

Friday, December 4, 2015

Ann Gilmore Tamny, Wife of Pearl Harbor Survivor, Dies

From the December 2, 2015, Raleigh (NC) News  & Observer.

Ann Gillmore Tamny died Nov. 28, 2015, in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

She was born in 1921 in New York and moved at an early age to California.  She attended the University of California at Berkeley at age 16, but left after just one year after meeting the love of her life, Ensign Lewis David Tamny.  They were wed in 1939.

An early duty station for him was Pearl Harbor where he was assigned to duty on the USS West Virginia and he was aboard it when Japan attacked.  He survived the attack but earned a Purple Heart

Ann had awakened early to pack a picnic lunch for their young son and heard the Japanese planes flying in for the attack.  It took her two days to find out if her Lewis was alive.

She will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery next to her husband of 42 years.

I usually write about the deaths of the men, but their wives stories are just as poignant.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ace and Guadalcanal Hero "Fritz" Payne Dies at 104-- Part 2

Museum director Fred Bell said,  "Fritz came along at a time when we were essentially losing the war,: adding that he and others, "stood their ground at Guadalcanal."  The battle was one of the turning points of the war in the Pacific.

For his service, Fritz received the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and other medals during a long military career.

Earlier this year, Congress decided to honor all of the nation's fighter aces with a Gold Medal, Fritz was too frail to attend the ceremony in Washington, D.C., and Rep. Paul Ruiz brought it to him at the museum.

The title fighter ace is reserved for those who have shot down at least five enemy aircraft in battle.  Technically, Payne was awarded 5 1/2 kills as another pilot helped him down one plane.

--GreGen

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ace and Guadalcanal Hero "Fritz" Payne Dies at 104-- Part 1

From the August 20, 205, Goldsboro (NC) News-Argus by AP.

Payne Shot Down Six Planes During Bloody Battle.

Frederick R. "Fritz Payne, a World War II fighter ace who left his mark by shooting down six Japanese warplanes during the Battle of Guadalcanal which helped change the course of the war in the Pacific has died.

The retired Marine Corps brigadier general died August 6th.  He was honored  last Memorial Day at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

Between September and October 1942 he took to the skies in his F4F Wildcat and shot down four Japanese bombers and two fighters.

--GreGen

Goldsboro, N.C., USO Club-- Part 3: After the War

After the surrender of Japan in 1945, Seymour Johnson Filed became a separation center for returning personnel and by January the personnel were so reduced that the USO club closed, bur since their were rumors that the base might reopen, the lease was not given up then.

In January 1947, the building was formerly turned back to the Woman's Club.  The furniture and equipment used by the USO were sold to the club for $1,000.  Later the USO gave a cash settlement that was used to pay off the last $5,000 of the twenty year mortgage on the building.

In 1986, the Woman's Club turned the building over to the Wayne County Historical Society and today it continues as the Wayne County Museum.

--GreGen

Monday, November 30, 2015

Goldsboro, N.C., USO Club-- Part 2: Activities and Volunteerism

For four and a half years the USO was a round-the-clock haven for thousands of service men with time on their hands.  It was often their last stop before shipping off overseas.  Alterations to the building's structure became necessary.  Then, as today, the exterior resembled that of "an old southern mansion," which was how the soldiers referred to it.

Attendance reached as high as 12,000 a month.

Dances were held, picnics organized, crafts and and wives had a club of their own.   In the music room, a snack bar was provided and a comfortable furnished lounge with an open fireplace was available when needed.

My grandmother chaperoned many dances and my mom, then 12-15 during the war years, often danced with the soldiers (under "close" supervision of my grandmother, of course.

Woman's Club members acted as volunteer hostesses, chaperons, and even sewed on chevrons as well many other acts of kindness.

Special mention is made for Mrs. Henry Bartholomew, who gave over 6,000 hours of volunteer service time to the USO work and at the Traveler's Aid Housing Desk.  This is thought to be a record for any USO across the nation.

--GreGen

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Goldsboro, N.C., U.S.O. Club-- Part 1: Goldsboro Woman's Club Building

From "A History  of the Goldsboro Woman's Club" by Emma R. Edwards and Ovelia  D. Rockwell.

The Goldsboro Woman's Club erected their own building in 1927.

During World War II, the Woman's Club went all out for the effort.  They sold war bonds among many things, but by far their biggest effort was when they "enlisted their beautiful building for the duration."  They inconvenienced themselves by doing so and had to find other places to meet.

One week after Pearl Harbor, the building became a defense center and later a city and county headquarters for rationing.  Red Cross Air Raid classes were also held there.  But, by far the biggest effort involved becoming the recreational headquarters of the newly established Seymour Johnson Field, a major Army Air Force Base.

The Woman's Club offered its building to the U.S.O. on a nonprofit basis, giving it the privilege of making interior alterations as needed.  Six agencies of the United Services Organization started using the building in August 1942.

--GreGen

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Jack Carson, 92

From the Nov. 24, 2015, Kansas City Star "Kansas City area  Pearl Harbor survivor dies" by Brian Burnes.

Died Monday at 92.

Was a member of U.S. Army Air Corps with a tow target detachment at Hickam Field.  Was awakened by a droning noise and went to his balcony and saw a Japanese plane pass overhead.

He never talked much about it until he attended a survivors commemoration in Pearl Harbor in 2006 and then became very active.

Born 1923 in Keokuk, Iowa and retired fro Air Force after 30 years.His death leaves just three Kansas City area survivors.

--GreGen

Monday, November 23, 2015

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Charles Ebel in 2014

From the Nov. 27, 2014, Albany (NY) Times Union "Pearl Harbor Survivor from Guilderland dies at 95."

Charles Ebel died Tuesday.  he enlisted in the Navy in 1940 and was on the USS Curtiss having showered and eaten breakfast and was waiting for a friend to go surfing with him when the attack came.

He remembers looking up and seeing a Japanese pilot so close by that he could see him grinning, something that he will never forget.  Several of his shipmates died in the attack.  Later service in the war was on the USS Hornet.

Mr. Ebel was among the last three Pearl Harbor veterans in the area.

--GreGen

Last Living USS Arizona Survivors Toast Lost Shipmates

From the November 15, 2014, Hawaii Star Advertiser "Last living Arizona sailors to share a toast" by William Cote.

Four of the eight remaining survivors of the USS Arizona will be sharing a toast to their comrades still entombed on the ship as well as the ones who have since passed on the 73rd anniversary of that fateful day.

The four who will be attending are John Delmar Anderson, Lauren Fay Bruner, Louis A. Conter and Donald Gay Stratton.

They will drink from an original champagne glass from their stricken ship and do it at the USS Arizona Memorial.

This is especially sad in that one of the four, John Anderson died recently.

--GreGen

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor John Schleicher

From the December 8, 2014 Herald Tribune (Florida) "Pearl Harbor survivor dies at age 93."

John Schleicher, 93, died Saturday night.  he waited 73 years to tell his family about his experiences that day.  he was being interviewed for an oral history and suffered a stroke while doing it last Wednesday.  he was sharing his story for the first time.

He was on the USS Pennsylvania which suffered 15 dead, 38 wounded and 14 missing.  He was a storekeeper First Class and later served on the battleship USS New Jersey and participated in many big actions in the Pacific including the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

--GreGen

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Marion Kesler-- Part 2

Mr. Kesler was standing on deck of the USS Hulbert talking with the cook when he saw planes.  One was so close he could clearly see its pilot.  The ship's alarm didn't work and he ran below to alert the men eating breakfast who didn't believe him.  They said, "You're crazy.  Go get us more hash browns and eggs."

The cook, Wally Martenson, manned the 50-caliber machine gun and shot down a Japanese bomber.

Marion Kesler  was born September 21, 1919 in Parowin and was a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps before enlisting in the U.S. Navy for six years to avoid being drafted into the Army.  After Pearl Harbor, he remained on the Hulbert for the rest of the war, including the Aleutian Islands.

He was a cook's helper and a cook.  A train trip while home on leave from Delta to Tooele enabled him to meet his wife, Viola, and they married September 10, 1944 in Los Angeles.  Viola was a Rosie the Riveter and placed control panels on aircraft being manufactured in South Dakota.

--GreGen


Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Marion Kesler, 93-- Part 1: On USS Hulbert

Fr5om the April 14, 2015, Salt lake City Tribune "Marion Kesler, Utahn who survived Pearl Harbor, dies at 93" by Nate Carlisle.

He was a cook's helped on the USS Hulbert who warned his shipmates and then helped load cartridges into machine guns, died Friday at home in Taylorsville.  His wife, Viola, had died on February 17th.

Mr. Kesler  was one of seven Utahn Pearl Harbor survivors honored at the state Capitol on the 70th anniversary of the attack in 2011.  At least three of them still remain alive.

He was 22 and on the destroyer built at the end of World War I and converted to maintain Catalina amphibian patrol bombers.  His main duty was to take food from the galley to 125 men at mess below.

--GreGen

Friday, November 20, 2015

USS Arizona Survivor John Anderson Dies-- Part 2

John Anderson reported to his turret when the bomb hit the top of it, bounced off and penetrated the deck.  The resulting explosion killed many.  Shortly afterward,the forward magazine blew up with 1.5 million pounds of gunpowder.  This was killed the Arizona.

He was forced to board a boat to Ford Island, but came back to his ship to search for Jake.  After not finding his brother and now wounded, he swam back to the island.  Once there, he grabbed a rifle and two bandoliers of ammunition, jumped into a bomb crater and thought to himself, "Let 'em come."

A Marine patrol told him that survivors of the USS Arizona were to gather ar a nearby dock for a head count.  "Everybody I saw there had rags around their heads."  Bandages covered their arms, skin was scorched and hair burned off.  "Beat up something awful."

He spent the rest of the war on the destroyer USS MacDonough, which earned 14 Battle Stars.

I see the correct spelling of the destroyer USS MacDonough is Macdonough, named after the hero of the War of 1812's Battle of Lake Champlain. This ship was also at Pearl Harbor during the attack.

The Huffington Post has an extended video of Mr. Anderson going into greater detail of his Pearl Harbor and World War II experiences.

--GreGen


USS Arizona Survivor John Anderson Dies-- Part 1: On the Ship with His Twin Brother

From the Nov. 18, 2015, Twin Cities.com (Minnesota)  "former Minnesotan, oldest survivor of USS Arizona attack, dies at 98" by Helmut Schmidt.

John Anderson was born in Verona, North Dakota and had a twin brother named Jake.  The family moved to Dilworth, Minnesota, where they grew up.  John was one of 355 survivors of the Arizona that day.  His twin brother Jake was one of the 1,177 who did not.  He is also one of the 900 still entombed in the ship.

John began his Navy career on the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, then served on a destroyer.  In 1940, he was transferred to the USS Arizona where he joined his twin brother Jake.  Both were turret gunners, though on different turrets.  John also had the additional duty of setting up chairs for Sunday morning worship and had just finished and was eating breakfast when the attack began.

--GreGen


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Now, Just Seven USS Arizona Survivors Remain

From the previous two posts.

The seven remaining survivors:

Lauren Bruner, 95  La Mirada, California
Lou Conter, 94  Grass Valley, California

Connie Cook, 94  Morris, Oklahoma
Raymond Haerry, 93  West Warwick, Rhode Island

Clarendon Hetrick, 93  Las Vegas
Ken Potts, 94  Provo, Utah

Donald Stratton, 93  Colorado Springs, Colorado

Dwindling Numbers.  So Sad.  --GreGen

John Anderson, One of Last USS Arizona Survivors, Dies-- Part 2

John Anderson was eating breakfast on the Arizona when he heard an explosion and then one of the mess cooks yelled, "A bomb hit the island!"  (Ford Island by where the ship was docked)

He then headed to his post and then looked for his brother as the ship sank after the explosion.  An officer shoved him onto a boat and he was taken to nearby Ford Island, but he found his way on another boat and went back to the Arizona to look again for his brother but was never able to find him.

After the attack, he was transferred to the destroyer USS McDonough and took part in Pacific battles for the rest of the war.

--GreGen

John Anderson, One of Last USS Arizona Survivors, Dies at 98-- Part 1

From the November 16, 2015, AzCentral by Shaun McKinzie.

John Delmar Anderson, the oldest surviving crew member of the fated USS Arizona, died November 14th.  Less than a year earlier, he had returned to Pearl Harbor with three other survivors of that ship to toast the sailors and Marines who died that day which they did on the Arizona Memorial.

Just seven Arizona survivors now remain.

Mr. Anderson was well-known in Roswell, New Mexico as deejay "Cactus Jack" who met Elvis Presley before he made it big.  Later he was a weather meteorologist.

He was born on August 26, 1917 and had a twin brother named Delbert "Jake".  The family had another four sons and four daughters.  They grew up in Minnesota.  In 1937, John and his twin Jake decided to enlist in the Navy.

John reported to Bremerton, Washington, where he was assigned to the USS Arizona and later transferred to an aircraft carrier and then a destroyer before going back to the Arizona where he joined Jake in 1940.

--GreGen

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pearl Harbor Survivor James Downing, USS West Virginia

From the Dec.7, 2013, Denver Post "Pearl Harbor survivor James Downing, 100, shares story of that fateful day" by Ryan Parker.

James Downing was then 28.  No one asked him as he hurried and memorized the names on the dog tags of men on his ship who had been killed or injured.  This was with the intention of notifying their families which he did.

He was gunner's mate 1st Class and postmaster on the USS West Virginia, which had just returned from a week long patrol off the coast of Hawaii.

Downing was off the ship and at his house where his wife of five months, Morena, was cooking Sunday morning breakfast for him and some other service members.  That was when they heard explosions off in the distance.  Then an anti-aircraft shell landed in the yard and, according to Downing, blew a hole about 25-feet across.  he and the others jumped into a truck and sped back to Pearl harbor.

He got out to his ship, which was sinking and was there when a Japanese plane opened fire on it, but wasn't hit.  Afterwards, he began gathering the names.

Downing joined the Navy after high school for financial reasons and ended up spending 24 years in it, commanding the tanker USS Patapsco during the Korean War.

--GreGen

University Honors Oldest Living Pearl Harbor Survivor in 2014

From the Dec. 4, 2014, Daily Athenium (West Virginia University) by Courtney Gaffo.

Lt. James Downing, 101, was postmaster on the USS West Virginia the day the Japanese attacked.  Afterwards, he memorized the names of ever crew member killed or wounded and wrote notes to their families and explained what happened to their sons.

--GreGen

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Two Members of Famed Tuskegee Airmen and Best Friends Die on Same Day

From the Jan. 12, 2015, Star-Tribune by John Rogers.

Clarence E. Hunley and Joseph Shambrey grew up running track in the same Los Angeles neighborhood in the 1930s.  They both enlisted in the U.S. Army and then joined the famed Tuskegee Airmen together.  They were mechanics

After the war, they came home and married their respective sweethearts and got together almost once a month.

Around 19,000 men were in the Tuskegee Airmen counting pilots and ground personnel.

Quite a Story of Friendship.  --GreGen

One of Last Pensacola Pearl Harbor Survivors Dies, James Landis

From the Jan. 7, 2015, Pensacola (Fla.) News-Journal "One of the last Pearl Harbor survivors passes" by Troy Moon.

James Landis was 21 and a Navy machinist mate on Ford Island and about 500 yards from the planes parked near the USS Utah, the first battleship sunk in the attack.

He ran to a plane but jumped in the wrong side.  A bullet went through his hand as he reached to open the canopy, but he managed to return with weapons from it and began firing.  He didn't even know he was wounded.  Mr. Landis went on to serve 30 years in the Navy, serving also in the Korean and Vietbnam wars  and received three Purple Hearts.

He died Nov. 24, 2014, at age 94.

--GreGen

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pearl Harbor Survivor's Death in 2014: Steve Jager

From the Dec. 16, 2014, Pennsylvania TribLive "Pearl Harbor Survivor, Steve Jager, 'kept their memory alive'" by Mary Ann Thomas.

Steve Jager, 94, died Sunday.  Regularly spoke at schools although he didn't speak about his wartime experiences until late in life.

He was a sergeant in the Army in the Hawaiian Department of Defense-Communications Division stationed ar Schofield Barracks when the attack started.

--GreGen

Pearl Harbor Survivor's Death in 2014: Rich Cmeyla.

From the Dec. 20, 2014, Green Bay (Wis) Gazette " Pearl Harbor Survivor gets deserving final salute" by Scott Cooper Williams.

Rich Cmeyla, 96, was 23 that day and died last week.  He was among perhaps the last 20 Wisconsin survivors and was the last survivor of the attack from Kewaukee County.

He was from Luxembourg, Wis. and after graduating from Algoma High School, enlisted in the Navy and was transferred to Hawaii just a few months before the attack.

He was getting ready for church when it started and remembered looking up and seeing a Japanese pilot waving at him.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

World War II Re-enactors Preserve History-- Part 5: Battle of the Bulge

Kyle continued, "Interacting with veterans helps us in what we are trying to portray.  My grandfather, a Pearl Harbor survivor, never really talked about it.  I regret I never sat down and picked his brain about it, but by the time I was older, he had Alzheimer's disease."

If you're interesting in watching a World War II re-enactment, it is not too late this year.  The Battle of the Bulge, the last great offensive of the German Army in the war, will be re-enacted at Sommer Park in Peoria by the Central Illinois WWII Reenactors.

--GreGen

World War II Re-enactors Preserve History-- Part 4: Living History the Public Can See

Most people know about Civil War re-enactors but not so many know about the ones for World War II.  However, this group is growing rapidly.

"This is living history that the public can see up close and touch.  It's an experience that they can not get from movies or books," said Kent Berg.

Both Russo and LeTourneau had relatives who fought in World War II but died before their stories could be fully told.  Since there are so few WWII veterans around these days (an 18-year-old in 1941 would be 92 today) it is a race to preserve their memories.  reenactments can bring out this hidden side of history, especially when veterans attend.  It is also an opportunity for veterans to connect with each other.

Kyle, a 31-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan veteran from Rockford has been reenacting since he was 16.  He says the best part of it is the camaraderie among his unit and the connections they make with the veterans who attend.

For example, at a 2012 event he witnessed a German veteran who was a tank commander meeting a former Russian tank commander.

"They were both involved in the Battle of Kursk, one of the largest tank battles ever fought before desert Storm.  Atone time they were locked in deadly combat.  To see them come together now and share laughs and stories is one of my best memories," said Kyle.

--GreGen

Friday, November 13, 2015

World War II Re-enactors Preserving History-- Part 3: Of Pigeons and Cigarettes

Rich Russo says reenactors and collectors love to share their memorabilia, restored vehicles and research with the public at re-enactments and living history presentations.

In the past 21 years he has learned about everything from the role of carrier pigeons in WW II to German battle whistle commands to the different ways American and German soldiers held their cigarettes.  "It is amazing how many individuals are willing to spend their own time and money acquiring, restoring and transporting these things to events," said Russo.

This is especially tricky when it comes to 30-ton tanks which must be brought in on tractor trailers and cost thousands to transport.

So why bother to repeat history?  Reenactors say they are preserving it-- both physically in artifacts and culturally through stories and research.

--GreGen

Thursday, November 12, 2015

World War II Re-Enactors Preserving History-- Part 2: A Local Mecca

There are several World War II reenactment groups and locations in the Chicago region.  They include the WWII Historical reenactment Society and the Central Illinois WWII Reenactors.  Midway Village and Museum in Rockford and the Lockport Township Park District hold WWII reenactments.

World War II reenactors have a larger array of large "props" to draw upon than those of the revolutionary War or Civil War because of the sheer number of automatic weapons and war vehicles that are available.  It has the infantry combat aspect like the others nut also the mechanical aspect in what Russo calls the "Wow Factor" that so impresses first-time spectators.

A recent event featured battles between 400 German and American infantry as well as working ta and other rare war vehicles such as a German Horch (similar to a Humvee), authentic weapons such as a 50-caliber machine gun, and a vintage military aircraft flying "bombing runs" over the battklefield.  A pyrotechnics team provided live gunfire and explosions.  This event drew 10,000 spectators.

--GreGennks

World War II Re-enactors Preserving History-- Part 1

From the Nov. 6, 2015, Chicago Tribune "Preserving History."

While it may seem like a modern-day hobby, reenacting is a tradition that dates back to the Roman Empire.  Today, the Civil War reenactments are the most popular here in America, especially during the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

However, World War II reenactments are becoming more popular here in the Midwest.  Kent berg of the Living History Reenactment Association estimates that 5,000 people participate in World War II reenactments in the U.S. and even more around the world.

I have been seeing ads for more and more World War II reenactments in the Midwest.

--GreGen


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

In Honor of Veterans: Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial-- Part 2

In a semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial is the Walls of the Missing inscribed with 1,557 names.  Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified.  The memorial is a semicircular colonnade with a loggia at each end containing large maps and narratives of the D-Day landing and operations.  At the center is the bronze statue "Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves."

Facing west at the memorial is the reflecting pool in the foreground, beyond is the burial area with a circular chapel and at the far end is a statue representing the U.S. and France.

Nearby on Omaha Beach is the striking stainless steel sculpture called Les Braves that honors all the men who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day to liberate France.

Open to public display except Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.  Hours vary by season, but always from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m..

--GreGen

In Honor of Our Veterans: Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France-- Part 1

Former U.S. General Colin Powell said, "We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years...and put wonderful men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in."

The Normandy American Cemetery and memorial in France is the embodiment of this quote.  It is located on the site of the American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S. First Ar,y on June 8, 1944, the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II.

According to the American Battle Monuments Commission, a federal agency and guardian of America's overseas commemorative cemeteries and memorials, the cemetery site is 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 American dead, most of whom lost their lives on the D-Day landings and subsequent operations.

--GreGen

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Former Senator Robert Dole Recounts War Experiences-- Part 2

Q:  How do you describe World War II to young people who know little about it?

A:  Four hundred thousand Americans gave their lives, and hundreds of thousands were seriously wounded.  Because of that, we're a free country.  I wish they'd teach a little more history so young people understand the sacrifices made by their forebearers that gave them the possibilities they have today.

Q:  Tom Brokaw has described your generation as the "Greatest Generation."  What do you think of that term.

A:  We've passed it on to the people who fought in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.  We were honored to be called the "Greatest Generation," but now we're a disappearing generation.  We're all in our late 80s and early 90s; some are over 100.

Q:  Why do you still go to the World War II Memorial every Saturday?

A:  I've always loved veterans and did a lot of work in Congress on veteran's' issues.  Having played a major role in raising $170 million for the memorial, I go down and take pictures, visit with the veterans.  I meet a lot of great men and women.

--GreGen


Former Senator Robert Dole on His Service-- Part 1

From the July/August AARP Bulletin "Robert Dole" by Charles Green.

"At 91, the former senator goes to his Washington law office nearly every day and visits the World War II Memorial every week.'  He is interviewed by Charles Green.

Q:  World War II in Europe ended just three weeks after you were severely wounded in Italy.  You must have wondered why it couldn't have ended a little earlier.

A:  Right.  We were supposed to start our push to get the Germans out of Italy and then when President Roosevelt died, we were in tears.  We were all young kids.  They had to delay our takeoff one day.  I've often wondered if we had done it on the day we should have, maybe that would have made a difference.  But things happen and you just turn the page and move along.

Q:  Have you ever visited Po Valley, where you were injured?

A:  Several times.  In fact, they have a plaque on a tree over there that says this is where Lt. Robert Dole was wounded.

Q:  What lessons about life did you learn from your wartime experiences?

A:  Dr. Hampar Kelikian, an American, operated on me half a dozen times and wouldn't let me pay him..  He said, "I'll get the money from my next rich client I have."

But, he told me, "You've got to make the most of what you gave left.  You just can't sell pencils on a street corner."  I couldn't use my arm very well, so I decided I'd use my head.  I went back to school and became a lawyer.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Monday, November 9, 2015

Presidential Yacht Mayflower in World War II-- Part 2

The ship wasn't scrapped, however and was sold to the War Shipping Administration in 1942 and converted to wartime use by the Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock, Co. of Portsmouth, Virginia from October 1942 to August 1943.  It was renamed the USS Butte but sent to the Coast guard where it became the USCGC Mayflower and was commissioned 19 August 1943.

As such, it patrolled the Atlantic coast in search of U-boats and escorted coastal shipping.  Later it served as a radar training ship.  it was decommissioned in 1946 and sold to private owners   It later ended up belonging to Israel and was broken up in 1955.

Quite an Interesting History.  --GreGen

Presidential Yacht Mayflower in World War II-- Part 1

I started writing about this ship in two entries in my Cooter's History Thing Blog today.  Since it was in World War II, I decided to post about it here as well.

The reason I wrote about it in the other blog was because seaman Leon D. Robinson of Sycamore, Illinois, was stationed to it after he was wounded at the Occupation of Vera Cruz, mexico, in 1914.

The ship had an interesting history and you can read about it in the history blog.  But, this is the ship's history immediately before and during World War II.

From the Jan. 25, 2011, Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News "My Reporter: Whatever happened to the Presidential Yacht Mayflower, once moored in Wilmington?" by Amy Hotz.

The Mayflower was a 273-foot steam yacht of 2,690 tons with a speed of 17 knots manned by a crew of 171, drawing 13 feet 2 inches of water.

After it stopped being the presidential yacht because of costs, it caught fire and sank at its berth in Philadelphia Navy Yard.  It was raised on sold to a private party who then sold it to Broadfoot Iron Works in Wilmington, North Carolina.

It was there either for repairs or to be broken up.

--GreGen




Saturday, November 7, 2015

Pearl Harbor Attack Jolts Michigan Men-- Part 2" "Got Drunk and Never Paid for Anything"

December 7, 1941

"It was hell.  We didn't hear any guns and all the planes were lined up nice and neat.  All our guns and the ammunition was in the No. 6 barracks and that was the first place to get hit."The car survived the attack at Wheeler Air Field, but Johnson later had to sell it.

"I had six hours to sell it after we got orders we were going to the Solomon Islands.  I sold it for next to nothing and that night I played poker and lost it all anyway," said Johnson.

SSgt. Leo V. Johnson spent the rest of the war in the Solomon Islands maintaining fighter planes.  "We got bombed and strafed all the time.  It was different (from pearl Harbor) because we were ready for it."  Over the course of time, he became really good at machine gun maintenance.

After the war, he said that on his way back to Michigan, he never paid for a meal, drink or bus ride.  "People gave us doughnuts, coffee, pies, whatever.  In Chicago, the street cars didn't cost us anything.  I was there for four days, got drunk and never paid for anything."

--GreGen

Pearl Harbor Attack Jolts Michigan Men-- Part 1: The Case of the Gas Cans

From the December 3, 2012, Michigan Live "Look back: Pearl Harbor attack jolts Michigan area servicemen into World War II action" by Dave LeMieux.

On December 6, 1941, S. Sgt. Leo V. Johnson, now 92, was 21 and stationed at Bellows Field, Oahu, Hawaii, had been alert for a long time, but now he had gotten a weekend pass.  he was quite the card shark and had won a car playing poker.

He put 100 octane (aviation) gas in the car and loaded a couple 5-gallon gas cans in the trunk.  The military police didn't like him and checked his trunk and turned him into the provost marshal.

Provost marshal, "What do you plan to do with that gas?"

Johnson, "Burn it in my car, just like an officer."

The provost marshal let him go and he drove to Wheeler Field, about 40 miles away.

--GreGen

Friday, November 6, 2015

Loss of USCGC Escanaba

From the June 17, 2013, M Live  "Look back: Grand Haven USCGC Escanaba lost during World War II" by Dave LeMieux.

Seventy years ago, Grand Haven, Michigan learned of the loss of "its" ship, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba.  The 165-foot-long ship was sunk at 5:10 a.m. June 13, 1943, on convoy duty off Greenland, resulting in the death of all aboard but two.

The cause is still unknown.  Perhaps it was sunk by a submarine or hit a mine or maybe even an internal explosion.  The two survivors were picked up by the Rariton.

At one time, most of the crew lived in Grand Haven, where it was stationed.  the ship was built at a cost of $550,000 after a series of marine tragedies in 1929 that claimed the lives  of men with the sinking of four vessels.  The Escanaba underwent extensive renovation for war in late 1940 and 1941.  The hull was strengthened, ammunition lockers installed, machine guns, anti-aircraft guns and depth charges mounted.

No one still knows what caused it to sink.

Its 60-foot tall mast was removed in a 1940 refit and is today a memorial along with a life raft on Grand Haven's waterfront.

A third cutter named Escanabia was commissioned in 1985 and is stationed in Boston.

GreGen

The Long History of the USS Muskegon-- Part 2

The USS Muskegon was a Tacoma-Class patrol frigate which was much faster than its Navy cousin, the destroyer escort.

It was originally designed to combat submarines, but by 1944, when the Muskegon went to sea, the U-boat threat along the U.S. coasts was essentially over.  The Muskegon escorted an occasional convoy to Boston and sometimes went out on anti-submarine patrol.

It remained on duty in the Atlantic for years after the war.  At one point it was kind of a marker buoy for planes flying across the Atlantic.  After that, it went to the Coast Guard, the French Navy where it served as an unarmed weather ship, the Mermoiz until the late 1950s when it was sold for scrap.

There is still a USS Muskegon in the U.S. Navy, a harbor tug launched at Slidell, Louisiana, in 1962.

--GreGen

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Long History of the USS Muskegon-- Part 1

From the July 22, 2013, M Live "Lookback: The long history of the USS Muskegon" by Dave LeMieux.

The USS Muskegon was launched July 25, 1943, in Superior, Wisconsin, and had a crew of about 130.  It was launched in record time, cost $1.7 million, was 310 feet long and could cruise at 20 knots.

Muskegons first Gold Star mother of World War II, Mrs. David Hopkins, christened it.  her son, Homer David Hopkins had died on the USS Arizona that day Pearl Harbor was attacked.

It was Patrol Frigate 24 and was commissioned February 1944 in New Orleans.  Her crew referred to their ship as the "Mighty Musk" though the ship had never been to Muskegon, Michigan, its namesake.  Many of its crew was from the Grand Haven Coast Guard Training Station.

Seaman 2nd class Paul Meyers remembers, "Life on board out patrol frigate follows the pattern of every Navy ship, no matter where-- lots of watches, lots of work and the general alarm clanging in he middle of the night to send all hands to battle stations on the run."

--GreGen

Britain Recalls Pain, Triumph at Anniversary of End of War

From the August 16, 2015, Chicago Tribune.

As relatives of the fallen dabbed tears from their eyes, Queen Elizabeth II led ceremonies Saturday marking the 70th anniversary of the victory over Japan during World War II, recalling the triumph and pain of Britain's experience.

The monarch and other members of the royal family commemorated the event at a church service at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London and were joined by veterans and former prisoners of war.

--GreGen

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Japan's Emperor Conveys Rare "Remorse" Over World War II

From the August 16, 2015, Chicago Tribune by Mari Yamaguchi, AP.

Emperor Akihito expressed rare "deep remorse" over his country's wartime actions in an address Saturday marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender.  This occurred a day after Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe fell short of apologizing in his own words to the victims of Japanese aggression.

However, Abe did stay away from the contentious Yasukuni Shrine that honors war criminals among other war dead.  he laid flowers at the nearby national cemetery to honor unnamed fallen soldiers.

The ceremony started with a moment of silence to mark the radio announcement by Emperor Hirohito, Akihito's father, announcing Japan's surrender. on August 15, 1945.

--GreGen

Bombs Linger Decades After a War is Over-- Part 6: Problems in Laos left Over from the Vietnam War

According to the Mines Advisory Group, nine people a day are killed by land mines and unexploded ordnance. worldwide.    Nowhere is the threat greater than in Laos which has the distinction of being the most heavily bombed country per capita in history.More than two million tons of ordnance was dropped on the country by the United States during the Vietnam War.

In the four decades since, more than 8,000 people have been killed and 12,000 wounded. Much of the harm is caused by cluster bombs, which spew dozens of smaller bomblets when detonated and can rip apart an area as large as a football field.

The tennis-ball-sized explosives known as "bombies" are often triggered by farmers or playful children.  One 9-year-old boy was killed when his hoe struck one.  here is another story of two children tossing one around, thinking it was a ball.  When it burst, one child was killed instantly.

Advocacy efforts have convinced the U.S. to quadruple its spending on bomb removal in Laos.  That sum is now $12 million.

--GreGen


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bombs Linger Decades After a War Is Over-- Part 5: Increasingly Brittle Detonators

After World War II, international agreements began to require warring countries to deal with the problem of unexploded ordnance.  But efforts are not always effective.  According to a 2008 article in Der Spiegel, discoveries of unexploded ordnance are a weekly occurrence in Germany.  And, even worse, the buried bombs become even more dangerous as their detonators erode.

"In the past few years we've found that the detonators we take out of such bombs are increasingly brittle," bomb disposal expert Hans-Juergen Weise told the German paper.  "Recently we've had three extractors go off with a pissssh sound while they were being transported away; all it took was a bit of vibration.  One day such bombs will be so sensitive that no one will be able to handle them.."

--GreGen


Bombs Linger Decades After a War Is Over-- Part 4: Fearing the Toxic Ones

The demineurs (de-miners) said that the most-feared unexploded ordnance they come across from World War I were the toxic ones.  They are the ones filled with now-banned poisons like mustard gas.

"You never know how solid their skins are.  They are often very rusty, so they make leak gas and kill you as you lift them," Henry Belot said.  Belot was later seriously injured when poison leaked from the shell and into his gas mask.

"Every day you can die.  It's something you remember each morning," he said.  "You can't anticipate it.  Out there is a shell with your name on it.  Today, if you lift it, you are in the past."

--GreGen

Bombs Linger Decades After a War Is Over-- Part 3: The Civil War and World War I

Explosives often aren't still potent a century and a half after they were made, but not always.

Union and Confederate forces lobbed an estimated 1.5 million artillery shells and cannonballs at one another during the war. and as many as 20% failed to detonate.  Some still pose a threat.

In small farming towns in France and Belgium, undetonated World War I shells turn up during each year's spring planting and autumn harvest.  This is referred to as the "Iron Harvest."

According to BBC, more than a billion shells were fired during this war and as many as a third failed to explode.  In 1996, the French Interior Ministry estimated that there  were at least 12 million shells still posing a danger near Verdun (site of major battles) alone.

And, of course, there are those World War II shells and bombs as France was a major scene of fighting again.

Since 1946 when France's Department du Deminage was established, more than 630 demineurs (de-miners) have been killed in the line of duty.

--GreGen

Monday, November 2, 2015

Bombs Linger Decades After a War Is Over-- Part 2 "Unexploded Ordnance"

Despite the distance of years and international protocols aimed at preventing them, still-active bombs, called "unexploded ordnance", linger underground for years after the conflicts are over.

This was the third such device the British Army has had to detonate or defuse in London this year.  And this problem isn't just a British one or even from World War II.

The oldest unexploded ordnance still being discovered these days dates back to America's Civil War, the first conflict where explosive shells were actively used.  Some of the  shells recovered from the CSS Georgia wreck site have been discovered to still be active.

In 2008, Sam White, a Virginia Civil War buff who often looked for war relics, was attempting to restore a cannonball when it exploded, killing him and sending shrapnel through his home and a porch a quarter mile away.

The fatal blast was unusual for a Civil War relic, especially when someone like White was working on it.  White had previously disarmed an estimated 1600 shells for other collectors and museums.

--GreGen

Bombs Linger Decades After a War Is Over-- Part 1: Wake Up and get Out!!

From the August 16, 2015, Chicago Tribune by Sarah Kaplan and  Nick Kirkpatrick, Washington Post.

"The knock came after residents of the east London apartment complex had already gone to bed.  They opened  their doors to see a police officer, a firefighter and a member of the army.

"A 500-pound bomb had been found a few hundred feet away, the officers said.  They needed to get out.

"How did an explosive wind up below this leafy London neighborhood?"

It was likely dropped by a German bomber more than 70 years ago.  Unlike hundreds of others that exploded, this one didn't, and instead sank deep into the London clay or was covered by debris.  It lay dormant for 70 years.

The disposal experts worked through the night and were able to defuse the device the next morning and residents were allowed to return home.

And this is not a rarity.  It happens fairly often and not just in London but in many places in England, France and Germany.

A New Way to Get Bombed.  --GreGen

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Ongoing Red Cross Cross Charging for Doughnuts Story: The Cost of Free Doughnuts: 70 Years of Regret

From the July 13, 2012, National Public Radio "The Cost of Free Doughnuts: 70 Years of Regret."

There is a lot of talk nowadays about inline companies trying to find ways to charge people for their now free services.  But, NPR wants them to take a look back into the past before they make a move.  This is a precautionary tale.

Many World War II veterans still don't like the Red Cross because of something that happened way back during the war years.  And this story had to deal with doughnuts.

During the war, the Red Cross had comfort stations for American soldiers overseas featuring free coffee and doughnuts.  But in 1942, they started charging money for them.

This is a true story.

But, the Red Cross didn't want to do this.  The U.S. Secretary of War asked them to start charging.  British soldiers had to pay for theirs at their places and the free one for the Americans were causing tension.  After protesting, the Red Cross complied, but just for a short time and then went back to free.

It is still free, but those old veterans haven't forgotten.

My uncle Delbert was in the war and I had often heard him talk about that.  But never heard him mention that paying for the doughnuts ceased very soon after it started.

--GreGen

Shorpy's Home Front in Manhattan

Two recent photographs from the Shorpy site.

OCTOBER 25, 2015 MANHATTAN: 1942:  September, 1942.  New York, New York.  Looking north from Ninth Street station at the Third Avenue elevated railway as a train leaves on the local track."  By Marjory Collins, OWI.

OCTOBER 24, 2015 THE CAUTIOUS COMMUTER 1942:  September 1942.  "New York, New York.  Waiting for the Third Avenue elevated railway at 89th Street about 8:45 a.m."  By Marjory Collins, OWI.

You still had to get from point A to Point B and public transportation was the way to go with all the rationing.

--GreGen  (Greatest Generation)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Berlin's Jewish Museum Closed as WWII Bomb Defused

From the Oct. 25, 2015, CTV News "Berlin's Jewish Museum closed as experts defuse WW II-era bomb found nearby" AP.

A 250-kilogram American bomb was unearthed during construction work.  Some 11,000 residents were forced to be evacuated during the defusing, as well as the museum closing.

Meanwhile, in Kobienz, 5,000 more people were evacuated for the removal of another 250-kilogram bomb found four meters under ground during the construction of a school.

Those Bombs Are Still There.  --GreGen

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pearl Harbor Survivor Recalls Day of Infamy

From the August 18, 2015, Rockdale (Ga.?) News "Veteran's Story: A Pearl Harbor Story: Centenarian recalls day of infamy" by Peter Mecca

Wayne Shelnutt, 100, had a special ceremony for himself in Rockdale County.

He was on the USS California that fateful day and nursing a hot cup of coffee after breakfast when he heard someone yell, "What is that airplane doing up there?"  He walked a few steps to the door and looked up and saw a plane with big red balls on its wings pass over the California and drop a bomb on Ford Island.

General Quarters sounded and everyone ran to their battle stations.  One hundred of the crew died and sixty-two were wounded..

Mr. Shelnutt was born in 1915 and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933 and served for a year before joining the Navy in 1934.

The  California had been at sea for exercises and was just returning to Pearl Harbor on December 5 when someone had said they'd seen a submarine.  They stayed up all night searching for it but didn't find anything.. They entered Pearl Harbor and tied up at Fox Birth One.

The ship opened all hatches and the double bottom of the hull for an inspection by the admiral on Monday so the ship's water tight integrity had been compromised.  he was the only one from his gun crew to survive.

It is so good to write about Pearl harbor survivors and have them still be alive these days.

--GreGen

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Army Ship Nevada Lost During World War II-- Part 2

The Nevada now had a 30 degree list when the Comanche arrived.  They found the Nevada's lifeboats gone and circled the stricken ship before seeing two red flames go off in the distance.  Investigating, they found 32 men from the Nevada in a lifeboat.  One moment, the lifeboat would be  way below the Comanche and the next, way above it.  Many attempts were made and three men were lost getting the Nevada's men aboard.

Another raft with six men was found.  Several of the Comanche's crew donned rubber suits and jumped into the water and rescued five others, including the ship's mascot, a dog named Grondal.

The Nevada's other lifeboats and rafts were never found.

The 28-year-old ship was too damaged and plans were made to sink her but the storm died.  On December 18, 1943, the USAT Nevada, 950 tons, carrying a military cargo, sank by the bow.

Twenty-six survivors and Grondal were transported to Narsarssuak, Greenland, and transferred to the USAT Fairfax.

Ten months earlier, the Comanche has helped rescue passengers and crew from the USAT Dorchester which had been torpedoed and sunk by the U-223 off the coast of Newfoundland.  The story of the Four chaplains came from this.

--GreGen

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Army Ship Nevada Lost During World War II-- Part 1

From the August 16, 2015, Nevada Appeal by David Henley.

Mr. Henley is a columnist whio has written the combat histories of World War II ships with Nevada-related names:  USS Nevada, USS Churchill County, USS Carson City, USS Douglas County, USS Minden, USS Reno, USS Washoe County, and USS Las Vegas Victory.

The U.S. Army Transport Nevada was sunk in the Arctic Ocean December 15, 1943, about 200  miles south of Greenland.  It became separated from Convoy 5G-36 during a bad gale that had 20-foot high waves, snow squalls and 60 mph winds.

Visibility was near zero and the ship began taking in water.  The pumps couldn't keep up with it.  Captain George P. Turiga of the Nevada radioed "Mayday!"  The 165-foot long Coast Guard cutter Comanche was the closest ship, but it took seven hours to arrive at the scene.

--GreGen

Monday, October 26, 2015

Battleship USS Missouri Commemorates End of World War II

From the August 17, 2015, Travel Weekly "Battleship Missouri to commemorate end of World War II's 70th anniversary" by Shane Nelson.

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) will deliver the keynote address September 2.  The ship will feature an exhibit of rare artifacts from the proceedings including two pens used by Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz to sign the Declaration of Surrender.  There will also be a pen used by Douglas MacArthur.

--GreGen

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Chester Jankowski

From the October 23, 2015, Belleville (Illinois) News-Democrat "Pearl GHarbor survivor from Swansea dies at 93."

Chester Jankowski was on the USS Oklahoma during the attack and regularly attended veteran events and spoke at schools of his experiences.  He stressed it is important for people to know about Pearl Harbor and the importance of being ready so it doesn't happen again.

After Pearl Harbor, he served on ships off North Africa, Guam and Okinawa.

--GreGen

Saturday, October 24, 2015

DeKalb County Selective Service Board

From the Sycamore/DeKalb County, Ill., Oct. 20, 2015, MidWeek "Looking Back."

October 1940--  "Charles Townsend of Sycamore has been named by the Illinois Selective Service officials to serve as one of the draft boards of DeKalb County.  He will serve with Thomas F. Courtney of DeKalb and Frank McKinley of Sandwich and these three new men will have jurisdiction over the draftees of DeKalb County District Number One which includes the townships of Franklin, Kingston, Genoa, South Grove, Mayfield and Malta.

"To serve on the draft board of DeKalb County District Number Two, which includes the City of Sycamore, are Ed E. Gallagher of DeKalb, Otto Babcock of Warterman and A.M. Thompson of Sandwich."

Even though the United States wasn't in World War II yet, the country was certainly getting ready for it.

--GreGen

Friday, October 23, 2015

WWII Cubs Fan Finally Gets Chance to See Team: "...the Hell With That"

From the Oct. 21, 2015, CBS Chicago "World War II Vet Who Turned Down '45 World Series Tickets Gets Chance To Cheer On Cubs" by Brad Edwards.

Bill Madden is from South Bend, Indiana,  and said, "I'm here to provide a miracle for the Cubs.  I was shot twice and buried once."  He fought at Iwo Jima the day after his 19th birthday.

"They played Detroit in 1945 they lost in 7 games."  This was when he returned to the U.S. and was in a Chicago naval hospital.  "The Cubs sent over free tickets to the wounded veterans no strings attached.  They got to the hospital.  The hospital official said you can't go have the tickets unless you work for them.  We said the hell with that."  So, he didn't get to see the Cubs then.

But Wednesday, he was at what ended up as the last game of the NLCS as a guest of the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes.

Sadly, he Didn't Provide That Miracle.  --GreGen

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Shorpy Photos of America's Home Front: Swimming and an Early Form of Point and Click

10-21-15:  Modern Photography: 1943.  July 1943.  Glen Echo, Maryland.  "Climbing the ladder to the sliding board at Glen Echo swimming pool on a hot day."  By Esther Bubles.  Although the caption didn't say it, probably for OWI.    Even with war on, life at home continued.  Kids went swimming.

10-14-155  Family Business: 1943.  April 1943.  "San Augustine, Texas. Clyde Smith, grocer, with his two daughters."  By John Vachon, OWI.  You still had to eat.  Apparently one of the old grocery stores where items were behind counters.  An early form of point and click.

--GreGen

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Death of Ben Kuroki-- Part 2: "I Had to Fight Like Hell for the Right to Fight for My Own Country"

Born in Gaithersburg, Nebraska, to Japanese immigrant farmers, Mr. Kuroki said, "I had to fight like hell for the right to fight for my own country."  The Army Air Corps tried to keep him out of action because of his heritage.

He was shipped to England with his unit and was a clerk but applied for the post of aerial gunner and got it.

After serving in the European Theater, he was sent back to the United States and was one of the first ethnic Japanese allowed to enter the Pacific Theater of the war.  He was sent to internment camps to persuade Nisei to join the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

Then, he wanted to actually serve in the fighting in the Pacific Theater, but there was a ban against Japanese-Americans serving there.  Friends of the Commonwealth Club lobbied for his getting to serve and he got the job.

Most of his missions in the Pacific involved the bombing of Japan.

--GreGen

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Death of Ben Kuroki-- Part 1: Nisei Received Three Distinguished Flying Crosses

From the September 17, 2015, Nichi Bei "'Legendary' World War II veteran Ben Kuroki passes."

"Legendary aerial gunner" Ben Kuroki died September 1, 2015, in California according to the Japanese-American Veterans Association.  He was 98.

A total of five Nisei served as aerial gunners during the war, but he was the only one to serve in the  Asia-Pacific Theater.  he also flew in the African and European theaters.  Kuroki received three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the second highest medal for air combat.

He flew a total of 25 missions against Germany and was in the Ploesti Raid.  In addition, there were another 28 missions in the Pacific.

--GreGen

Pearl Harbor Survivor Deaths in 2014-- Part 2

June 13, 2014, CBS 6 "Pearl Harbor survivor from Crockett dies."

William Jaspar "Bob" White, 94.   Was on the USS YO44, a fuel ship where he manned a machine gun. "The Japanese plane came right down on the side of the deck and he saw that fella driving the plane," said his widow.

May 29, 2014, Times Record News Wichita Falls "Pearl Harbor survivor dies at 93."

Gordon Brown of Graham, one of two brothers from Young County to survive the attack on Pearl Harbor has died.  Gordon Brown and his brother John were both on the USS West Virginia.  His family said that it took them a month to find out if the brothers survived.

After Pearl Harbor, he served on the USS Minneapolis, a heavy cruiser, which was in every major Pacific battle except Iwo Jima.

Brother John died in 2002.

--GreGen

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pearl Harbor Survivor Deaths in 2014-- Part 1

5-2-14 Toledo (Ohio) Blade "Charles E. Kessinger; 1914-2014: World War II vet survived attack on Dec. 7, 1941" by Mark Zaborney.

That morning he was to play center field for the USS Pennsylvania's baseball team vs. the one from the USS Oklahoma.

He served on the USS Pennsylvania during the rest of the war and fought in 13 operations.

5-4-14 My San Antonio "Brooks was Pearl Harbor survivor."

Harry William Brooks died May 2, 2014, 93.  Enlisted straight out of high school, planning to leave the Navy in February 1942.   On USS Pennsylvania at Pearl harbor and the war canceled his plans to leave.  Also served during the Korean War.

--GreGen

Shorpy World War II Photos: Agnes the Operator

10-8-15  AGNES THE OPERATOR, 1942--  July 1942. "Production Machine guns of various calibers.  Agnes Mahan, bench lathe operator at a large Eastern firearms plant, makes oil drills for .50 caliber machine gun barrels.

Photo from Colt's Patent Firearms Mfg. Co. Hartford, Connecticut."  Photo by Andreas Feininger, OWI.

Showing a "Rosie the Riveter" hard at work producing the weapons of war for the U.S. military on the Home Front.

10-2-15 SLOW TRAIN COMING, 1943.  John Delano, OWI.  Another in a large series of pictures of trains.  This, of course, was a very important part of our war effort.

--GreGen

Friday, October 16, 2015

Accidental Sinking of HMS Hussar Off Normandy By Friendly Fire-- Part 2

After D-Day, the Hussar, Britomart, Jason and Salamander were assigned to the 1st Minesweeping Flotilla to clear German minefields north of Normandy to open additional ports to supply Allied forces ashore.

On the afternoon of 27 August 1944, the flotilla was sweeping off Cap d'Antifer in preparation for the battleship Warspite and monitors Erebus and Roberts to engage the German coastal artillery at Le Havre which had been delaying the advance of Canadian troops to that port.

The headquarters officer assigned to minesweeping had neglected to inform the British officer in charge of the area of the flotilla's operations.  There was a huge fear of attack by German E-boats operating out of Le Havre.

The minesweepers were spotted and thought to be those E-boats since no one knew they were there.  The Allied staff requested that No. 263 and No.255 Squadrons RAF to attack the ships.  Sixteen Typhoons were sent out and realized they were not E-boats, but were told there were no Allied ships in the area and to go ahead and attack.

The British planes came out of the sun at 13:30 and sank the Hussar and Britomart and damaged the Salamander so much it was written off as a total wreck.

Eighty-six British seamen lost their lives and another 124 were injured.

--GreGen


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Accidental Sinking of the HMS Hussar by Friendly Fire Off Normandy-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

In my War of 1812 blog, I have been writing about the HMS Hussar which was sunk in 1780, but two of its cannons mark the site of Fort Clinton in New York City's Central Park.  I also looked at the names of other HMS Hussars and found this one, whose end is of interest.

The HMS Hussar was a Royal Navy minesweeper of the Halcyon-class.  Commissioned 16 January 1935, it was 245 feet long with a 33.5 foot beam and crew of 80.

It was sunk by RAF Hawker Typhoons on 27 August 1944 when it was mistakenly identified as a German ship.

--GreGen


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Great War Ends!-- Part 7: Rescuing Our Men Held Captive

Once Germany was defeated and divisions and bombers began redeploying to Asia was the first time the United States was able to bring the full weight of its war machine on Japan.  Early in the war, GIs in the Pacific were often outnumbered, even as they fought the tropical heat and disease, and tens of thousands were taken prisoner.

At the same time Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, they also landed troops in the Philippines which eventually was forced to surrender.  Those who did were forced on the Bataan Death March and spent the rest of the war in horrible Japanese prison camps.  Among them were members of a National Guard unit from Maywood.

When Japan surrendered there began a frantic effort to find and supply our troops being held by them.  These camps were all across Japan and on the Asian mainland.  The locations of some of the camps weren't exactly known.  What was known, however, were the inhumane conditions and starvation being forced on our troops.

On August 25-- eleven days after the surrender, a U.S. search plane charted a prison camp 70 miles north of Tokyo.  Some 120 prisoners were naked, but all delirious with joy when they saw Lt. Roy Bean's fighter plane.

"I had no supplies but threw over my package of cigarettes," Bean said.  "In all the hell we have been thru, it did my heart more good to see those men than to go home."

--A Great Day, the Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Great War Ends!-- Part 6: Overlooked China-Burma-India Theater

Another Chicagoan in Paris suggested sending a thank-you gift to his fellow GIs in the Pacific and sought donations standing in front of a giant tree in front of the Red Cross facility.  Within an hour, hundreds of dollar bills and thousands of franc notes had been pinned to the tree.

Another Chicago GI lamented, however, that military in the China-Burma-India theater were the "forgotten" boys of the war.

This was true as shortly after America's entry into the war, American and British leaders had decided that the first priority of the war was to be the European Theater and the Pacific second.

You rarely hear of the China-Burma-India Theater of the war.

--GreGen

Great War Ends!-- Part 5: V-J Day Celebrated in the Loop and Chinatown

On Guam, Sgt. Francis Hoban of Chicago had fought in several island campaigns and told a Tribune correspondent, "I'd rather have been in the Loop when peace came but any place is a good place to hear the Japs admit they are whipped."

V-E day had been marked solemnly by Chicagoans aware that the fight would shift to the Pacific.  For V-J Day, the joy was unshackled.  Enormous crowds flocked to the Loop and celebrated with abandon.

In Chicago's Chinatown, fireworks and a ceremonial dragon dance marked China's liberation from a long and brutal occupation.  The Tribune reported:  "The firecracker stockpile was brought from China before the Japanese invasion and stored against the day of victory."

In Paris, Corporal Robert MacKinnon told a Tribune reporter that he hated to miss the Chicago celebration.  "At home, I'd have taken my fiancee to Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street where there would surely have been a crowd throwing confetti," he said.  "There's have been hugging and kissing and yelling too.  Anyway we're all thinking hard about home today."

A Time to Celebrate.  --GreGen

Monday, October 12, 2015

Great War Ends!-- Part 4: "Rebel Yells and Cowpoke Hoots"

As Japan and the United States continued negotiations, the public was kept in the dark.  On August 13, the Chicago Tribune reported:  "With nerves a little frayed from an overlong period of expectancy, Chicago continued yesterday to wait and wonder about the result of Japanese peace negotiations."

The war had been on for the U.S. ever since Pearl Harbor had been bombed in 1941.  The war would end with a frantic effort to drop supplies and medical supplies to GIs held in the horrible conditions of Japanese prison camps.  In between, there had been the savage battles on remote Pacific islands that few gad ever heard of: Midway, Guam and Iwo Jima.

So, when Japan's unconditional surrender was announced August 14, it unleashed a flood of pent-up emotion.

On U.S. aircraft carriers, the news elicited "rebel yells and western cowpoke hoots."

--GreGen

Hats at the Ranger Inn in Chicago-- Part 2: Some More Facts

The original hat was hung by the relative going into the United States Army Air Force.  The hats were hung from the bar's rafters and eventually there were 420.  Sixty of them were left by women.

At the hat reclamation party, several hundred people didn't want their dusty old hats, but were there for the free drinks. Three of the unclaimed hats were from those who were killed in action.

After the Fact:

Military hats recalled or disposed in 2001 from China by the United States: 618,000.

Illinois residents killed during the war: 22,283.

--GreGen

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hats at the Ranger Inn in Chicago-- Part 1: Go Off to War, Leave Your Hat

From the August 16, 2015, Chicago Tribune "10 things you might not know about Chicago Taverns" by Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer.

I listed all of them on my Cooter's History Thing blog the last several days.

In 1941, the Ratcliffe family threw a party at its Rogers Park bar, the Ranger Inn, for a relative who was going into the Army.  That GI left his civilian hat at the bar, saying he would reclaim it when he was out of the service.

For the next four years, more than 400 people hung their hats there as they went off to war.  When peace came, the bar held a hat-claiming party.  Those hats that went unclaimed were disposed of in a bonfire.  The American Legion held a memorial service for three hat owners who never returned from the war.

--GreGen

Great War Ends! Japs Will Surrender to Gen. M'Arthur-- Part 3: Not So Easy

On August 10, 1945, the day after the Nagasaki bombing, Col. William Black was telling a reporter that he and his men were headed to what was expected to be an especially bloody campaign when a troopship's loudspeaker announced that Japan had surrendered.  Black told the reporter, "Scratch that line out about redeployment.  Make it read, 'We have been reprieved.'"

That surrender news proved a bit premature.  President Truman had warned the Japanese that if they didn't surrender right away, other Japanese cities would suffer a similar fate.

Japan and the U.S. had differing ideas as to what the surrender entailed.  And messages between the two governments had to pass through quite a series of hoops.  U.S. response to Japan's offer was transmitted by the Radio Corporation of America to neutral Switzerland where it was decoded, given to Swiss authorities, who handed it over to Japanese diplomats, who recoded it and radioed it to the foreign office in Tokyo.

The American public was kept in the dark about what was happening the whole time.

--GreGen

Friday, October 9, 2015

"Great War Ends! Japs Will Surrender to Gen. M'Arthur"-- Part 2: Japan Was Holding On

Today, many younger Americans believe World War II ended immediately after the atom bombs were dropped.  It didn't.

Japan had held on for three months after Germany's surrender against increased Allied attack and most believed that the only way to bring Japan to its knees would be a massive invasion.  American casualties were estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands and Japanese, including civilians would be astronomical.

Throughout the spring of 1945, troopships landed in east coast ports carrying soldiers from Europe who were to be redeployed in the Pacific.  General Homer Groninger, commander of the New York port observed, "This is the start of the big parade to the Pacific."  he said this on the arrival of the famed Blackhawk Division, the first arriving contingent.  Seven hundred of them were from the Chicago area.

--GreGen

"Great War Ends! Japs Will Surrender to Gen. M'Arthur"-- Part 1

From the August 9, 2015, Chicago Tribune. "On V-J Day, Chicagoans celebrated with abandon" by Ron Grossman.

The newspaper ran a copy of the top of the August 15, 1945, Chicago Tribune's Two-Star Final.  Three Cents--  Pay No More.

The banner headline at top of this blog entry.

Other headlines on the page:

U.S.S. Indianapolis Sunk; All Aboard Casualties: Lost in Action After Delivering Atom Bomb Parts.

Army To Free Millions; Cut Draft Quotas.

Jury Asks Execution of Petain.

Words That Ended War.

Hirohito Accepts Role of Puppet; Agrees To carry Out Allied Orders.

Truman to Proclaim V-J Day After Emissaries Complete Signing of Formal Terms.Emperor Says Atom Bomb Made Nippon Give Up.

--GreGen

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The USS North Carolina Floats Again

I came across mention in the Wilmington (NC) Star-News that the latest round of rain in the state has put the Cape Fear River in flood stage and that as a result the battleship will actually float above the mud it is mired in at some point today.

It last floated in 2010 as a result of heavy rains and high tide.  This also happened during Hurricane Floyd and the March storm of 1993.

Go, You Old Battleship.  --GreGen

Gold Hunters Blocked from the Site of Alleged Nazi Train-- Part 2

From the September 9, 2015, CNBC "WWII tunnel found in search for Nazi gold train" by Matt Clinch.

Gold rush fever intensified Wednesday with the confirmation that a tunnel was found near the suspected site of a lost German gold train.  The trainis believed to have been carrying billions of dollars in gold and disappeared in the closing days of the war in Europe..

Now, officials in the city of Walbrzych in Poland report the finding of "a railway tunnel with a multi-level complex of underground corridors from the days of World War II."

It is possible that the train, fleeing the advancing Red Army, was carrying 300 tons of gold, precious stones and firearms.  One death has been attributed to this new gold rush.

--GreGen

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Gold Hunters Blocked From Site of Alleged Nazi Train-- Part 1

From the Sept. 1, 2015, Chicago Tribune.

Polish authorities have blocked off a wooded area near a railroad track after scores of treasure hunters swarmed southwest Poland looking for an alleged Nazi gold train.

The city of Walbrzych and its surrounding hills are experiencing a gold rush after two men, a Pole and a German, informed authorities through their lawyers that they have found a Nazi train with armaments and valuables that reportedly went missing in the spring of 1945 while fleeing the advancing Red Army.

--GreGen

Dane Saved Chinese Lives During the Rape of Nanking-- Part 6: A Refuge

Bernahrd Sindberg, now in charge of the plant, with Karl Guenther, a German, painted a Danish flag and German Swastika flag on the factory to keep the Japanese from bombing or attacking it.  Japan was not at war with either of those countries.

When Chinese civilians realized that the building was safe, they began flocking there.  Bernhard and Karl set up a makeshift hospital on the grounds and started providing shelter.  They would risk their lives leaving the compound to go to the Red Cross to get food, supplies and medicine.

Meanwhile, conditions in the factory started failing.  The Chinese suffered from hunger, disease and the cold.

The Japanese were aware of what was going on, and after three months, forced Sindberg to leave and sent him to Shanghai where he took a ship to Europe and arrived in Italy where his father picked him up and they drove home.  On the way, they stopped at Geneva where he was honored and thanked by the Chinese delegation.

Later, Sindberg moved to the United States and lived there the rest of his life.

--GreGen

A Dane Saved Chinese Lives During the Rape of Nanking-- Part 5: China

Bernhard Sindberg arrived in China in 1934, once again as a stowaway on a Danish merchant ship, but this time he was caught, but escaped.  He then held several different jobs, including one where he demonstrated Dutch rifles to the Chinese.

One job that he held for awhile probably had a huge impact on his later days in Nanking.  He was the chauffeur for English journalist Penbroke Stephens after the Japanese occupied Shanghai.  The Daily Telegraph reporter covering the Sino-Japanese War was noted for his front line style of reporting until he was killed doing just that.

The Danish company F.L. Smidth was building a concrete factory in Nanking and hired Sindberg as a guard.  It was dangerous, but well-paid work.  He arrived in Nanking on December 2, 1937.  Eleven days later the Japanese occupied the city and the atrocities began.  Sindberg documented them with his camera and wrote extensively about what he was seeing.

--GreGen