The USS North Carolina (BB-55) My all-time favorite warship. As an elementary school student in North Carolina, I donated nickels and dimes to save this ship back in the early sixties.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

'Stocky' Edwards, Canadian Flying Ace Dies

From the May 23, 2022, Vancouver Sun "'Stocky' Edwards, flying ace in Second World War, dies at 100" by Phil  Davison, Washington Post.

He was heralded as Canada's "top gun" over the North African desert in 1942 and 1943.  he died May 13 in Comox.

With the rank of  wing commander, Mr. Edwards shot down a confirmed 19 Luftwaffe fighter planes and scored many more "probables."  He also destroyed at least  12 more enemy warplanes on the ground before they could take off.

Edwards flew U.S.-built P-40 Kittyhawk fighters, far heavier and slower than the German Messerschmidt's Bf-109, which made his accomplishments all the more remarkable.  Over Italy and  France later in the war, he would fly the  more nimble British Spitfires.

Physically, he was far from "stocky" and very skinny, but he got the name later in honor of his fortitude.

In all, he flew 373 combat missions, mostly over North Africa, but also flew over Allied landings in Italy in 1943 and 1944 and in Normandy on D-Day on June 6, 1944 --  a rare "triple" among Allied pilots.

--GreGen


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

USS Arizona Artifact Arrives in Vacaville, Cal.

From the May 21, 2022, Reporter by Kimberly K. Fu.

A sliver of this famous warship arrived in Vacaville, California,  on May  18 and soon will be exhibited at the Rowland Freedom Center in town.

Years ago, Paul Mirisch, the center's general manager, watched a documentary about the USS Arizona and learned that the battleship had been dismantled and most of it left  in a heap at Hospital Point in Pearl Harbor.  He later found out that the Navy allowed museums and veterans organizations to apply for pieces of it.

He sent in an application and hoped for the best.  "It was a shot in the dark," Paul remembered.  "We were pleasantly surprised."

They got a piece of the ship.  Various documentation came with the weighty salvaged artifact.  It is a square of metal burnished by heat, likely from the explosion that doomed the ship, featuring  a small circular bump in the middle that  probably is a nut that once held a  bolt.

It will be placed in the WW II area of the museum which features a picture of the Arizona on fire, a  Japanese flag found in the cockpit of a downed Japanese Zero, a Japanese headband and  news coverage of the attack.

Ultimately, the Arizona piece will be placed in a glass box with a hole at the top to allow people to reach in and feel the metal.

--GreGen


Monday, May 23, 2022

Ray Hilchey Survived the War, But Didn't Make It Home-- Part 3: His Last Days

Because of the severity of the crash, individual identification of the bodies of Ray Hilchey and two other crew members was impossible.

Hilchey had completed  26 operational sorties during his time with the Royal Canadian Air Force against targets in Germany,  and occupied France and the Netherlands.

Prior to joining the air force, he had worked at the maintenance department of Maritime Tel & Tel.  After enlisting in October 1941, he did his training in Manitoba and headed overseas  in April 1944.

Ray's brother Glyn served in the  merchant navy in the war and the other brother,  was in the Anglican ministry.

A look at Ray Hilchey's personal  effects reveals some details of his final days.  His last entry in his flight log book on April 30 simply says "food dropping Rotterdam."  His diary is a little more detailed, noting that there were showers over the Netherlands and the country was flooded that day.  The food was "dropped from 500 feet.  Dutch waving like mad."

The following days included a dance as well as  providing food and supplies to the Hague.  His final diary entry was on May 6.  "Nothing doing today.  Out with Dan & the boys tonight."

That Close to Going Home, and ....   --GreGen


Sunday, May 22, 2022

This Canadian Survived WW II, But Didn't Make It Home-- Part 2: Plane Crashed While Carry POWs

After that telegram, Stanley and Loretta Hilchey were devastated, says their grandson , Bruce Hilchey.  Bruce's father is  Glyn Hilchey, Ray Hilchey's only surviving brother.

Ray Hilchey, 22, served as navigator  with Royal Air Force Squadron 514.    While the war was technically over, on May 9 his squadron was in the sky as part of an effort to repatriate tens of thousands of prisoners of war in Europe, according  to the book "Nothing Can Stop Us:  The Definitive History of the 514 Squadron RAF."

Now with nothing left to bomb,  the massed fleet of planes in the Bomber Command was put to good use flying Allied POWs home.

This did not go completely smooth.  Under Operation Exodus, the squadron's first task was for ten aircraft to pick up liberated POWs in Juvincourt, France.

Hilchey, along with six other crew members and 24 POWs took to the air at 12:15 pm local time for RAF Waterbeach, about 100 kilometers north of London.  Within ten minutes,  a message was sent from the plane that they would have to make an emergency landing.  

It circled  the Roye-Any Airfield twice and then crashed.   Every one on board died.  Their bodies were buried at  the Clichy  Northern Cemetery, in the northern part of Paris.

--GreGen


Saturday, May 21, 2022

This Canadian Survived the War...But Didn't Make It Home-- Part 1: Ray Hilchey

From the May 7, 2022, CBC News "He survived  the Second World War, but this Nova Scotia  airman never made it home" by Richard Woodbury.

Ray Hilchey enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942 and died just days after the war ended in Europe at age 22 helping repatriate prisoners.

Stanley and Loretta Hilchey were on their way home from church on Mother's Day 1945 when they noticed somebody on their veranda at their west-end Halifax home.

The date was May 13, just six days after the city erupted in a two-day celebration of the end of the war in Europe after Germany surrendered that turned sour when more than 200 people were arrested when mas looting occurred.  Over 500 businesses were damaged.

They had three sons.  Two were serving as part of the war effort.  With the war over, they had felt that their sons were finally safe.  The person on the veranda  was there to deliver a telegram.  Stanley signed it and opened the envelope and read it and a stunned look came across his face.

It read:  "Regret to advise you that your son Flying Officer Ray Bertram Hilchey missing believed killed, result of flying  operations overseas May ninth."

--GreGen


Thursday, May 19, 2022

Japanese Atom Bomb Survivors-- Part 8: '...People Are Still Suffering'

Keiko Ogura was 8 when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.  Afterwards, her relatives and friends told her to hide her status as a hibakusha (blast survivor) or nobody would marry her.  She kept her past to herself for decades, until her husband, a peace activist, died, and she decided to continue his efforts.  She set up a group of interpreters for peace.

Her relatives don't want her to mention them in her speeches.  "Why?  Because people are still suffering," Ogura, 83, said in a recent online briefing.

"The impact of radiation, the fear of it and the suffering were not just felt at the moment of the blast -- we still live with it today."

Survivors are frustrated by their inability to see a nuclear-free world in their lifetime, and by Japan's refusal to sign or ratify a nuclear weapons ban treaty enacted in 2017.

"But no matter how small, we must pursue our efforts," said Ogura.  "I will keep talking for as long as I live."

--GreGen


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Japanese Atom Bomb Survivors-- Part 7: Another Survivor's Story

This year, the frustration of survivors is even greater because peace events leading up to the August 6, memorial have been largely canceled or scaled back amid the pandemic.  (This article is from August 6, 2020.)

For the first time in over a decade, Keiko Ogura won't provide guided tours of Hiroshima's Peace Park.

Ogura was eight when she saw the searing bright flash outside her house, about 1 1/4 miles from ground zero.  Smashed to the ground, she was woken by her little brother's wail.  The rubble of their house was burning.

Crowds of people with sever burns, their hair charred into curls, headed to a shrine near her home, grunting and asking for water.  Two people dropped dead after receiving water from her, a scene that has haunted her for years.  She blamed herself for surviving when so many others died.

--GreGen


Monday, May 16, 2022

Japanese Atom Bomb Survivors-- Part 6: Another Survivor

"I can't live for another 50 years," said Koko Kondo, 75,  who was an 8-month old baby in her mother's arms when their house collapsed from the blast about a half-mile away.  "I want each child to live a full life, and that means we have to abolish nuclear weapons right now."

Even after so many years, too many nuclear remain, Kondo said, adding, "We are not screaming loud enough for the whole world to hear."

Kondo, who survived is the daughter of the Rev. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, one of  six atomic bomb survivors featured in John Hersey's book "Hiroshima."  She struggled for decades until she reached middle age to overcome the pain she experienced in her teens and the rejection of her fiance.

She was almost 40 when she decided to follow her father's path and become a peace activist.  She was inspired by his last sermon, in which he spoke about devoting his life to Hiroshima's recovery.

--GreGen


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Japanese Atom Bomb Survivors-- Part 5: Was It Necessary to Use the Bomb?

The bombings set off a nuclear arms race in the Cold War.  The United States justified the bombings as a way to save lives by preventing an invasion of mainland Japan to end the war, a view long accepted by many Americans.

But, Gar Alperovitz, author of "Atomic Diplomacy:  Hiroshima and Potsdam and the Decision to Use the Atom Bomb," said at a recent online event that documentary records show wartime American leaders knew of Japan's imminent surrender and the bombings were not necessary militarily.

Myself, I am not so sure we knew for a fact that Japan was going to soon surrender.  Considering their mindset against surrender (and how they treated enemies who surrendered), I can't think that even with the odds so much against them that they would have surrendered without an extremely huge death and casualty toll n both sides.

However, I would have liked to see a little more time given Japan to surrender without using the atom bombs.  Or, perhaps picking a non -populated island to show the power of the bomb.

--GreGen


Friday, May 13, 2022

Japanese Atom Bomb Survivors-- Part 4: Assistance for Victims

Lee Jong-keun had been bullied at school because of his Korean heritage.

Revealing that he was also an A-bomb victim would have meant even more trouble.

So, Lee lived under a Japanese name, Masaichi Egawa, until eight years ago, when he first publicly revealed his identity during a cruise where atomic bomb survivors shared their stories.

Until then, he hadn't even told his wife that he is hibakusha.  "No ethnic Koreans want to reveal their past as Hibakusha,"  Lee said.

Japanese atom bomb survivors had no government support until 1957, when their years-long efforts won official medical support.  But a strict screening system has left many still seeking compensation.  Assistance for survivors outside Japan was delayed until the 1980s.

--GreGen


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Japanese Atom Bomb Survivors-- Part 3: Koreans Forced to Work in Japan During the War and, the A-Bomb

Some 20,000 ethnic Korean residents of Hiroshima are believed to have died in the nuclear attack.  The city, a wartime military hub, had a large number of Korean workers, including those forced to work without pay at mines and factories under Japan's colonization of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

On August 6, 1945, Lee Jong-keun (now 92), then 16 years old and a second-generation Korean born in Japan, was on his way to work at Japan's national railway authority in Hiroshima when the uranium bomb nicknamed Little Boy exploded.  The whole sky turned yellowish orange, knocking him to the ground, Lee said.  He suffered severe burns on his neck that took four months to heal.

Back at work, co-workers wouldn't go near him, saying he had "A-bomb disease."

Little was known about the effects of the bomb, and some believed radiation was similar to to an infectious disease.  Prospective marriage partners were also worried about genetic damage that could be passed to children.

--GreGen


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Remains of Pearl Harbor USS California Unknown Identified: Tceollyar Simmons

From the May 7, 2022, Monroe News (Michigan)'Remains of  Detroit WW II  veteran identified.

The Defense POW/MIA  Accounting Agency (DPAA)  announced that Navy Seaman 2nd Class Tceollyar Simmons, 18, of Detroit, Michigan,  was accounted for on November 18, 2021.

On December 7, 1941, he was on the battleship USS California, moored at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor.  The California sustained multiple torpedo and bomb hits which caused it to catch fire and slowly sink.  The attack resulted in the deaths of 104 of its crew members.

Simmons will be buried  on June 14, 2022, in Hacoda, Alabama.

--GreGen


Monday, May 9, 2022

May 8, 1945: Four Delaware Soldiers Liberated in Germany

Same source as previous post.

FOUR DELAWARE SOLDIERS LIBERATED IN GERMANY

Four  Delaware soldiers were liberated from German prison camps yesterday, according to reports received from Third Army  Headquarters in Europe.

**  Lt. Earle R. Allen of Bethel, a bombardier on a B-17 Flying Fortress, was reported missing  in July 1944 and as a prisoner in October 1944....

**  Sgt. V.G. Comegys, of Wilmington, was reported missing  April 13, 1944.  He had written frequently to his parents, urging  them to never give up hope if he were ever listed as missing....

**  Lt. Victor D. Ennis, of Wilmington, was reported missing in June 1944.  He was co-pilot of a Flying Fortress based in England....

**  Lt. Robert J. McCormick, pilot on a B-25, was captured after being shot down over Sardinia in May 1943....

--GreGen


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Germans Surrender May 8 Announcement of V-E Day

From May 7, 2022, Delaware News Journal "Pages of history:  From the News Journal archives, week of May 8" by Ben  Mace.

MAY 8 1945

NAZIS QUIT; TODAY V-E DAY

The war in Europe is over.  Complete and unconditional surrender papers were signed by Germany at 2:41 a.m. French time May 7 in the headquarters of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allies of the West, at Reims.

President Truman made arrangements to make a radio address at 9 a.m. today, presumably to proclaim the victory over Germany.

The crowning triumph came  just five years, eight months and  six days after Hitler invaded weak but proud Poland and struck the spark which set the world afire.

A Big Three agreement put off the formal announcement of V-E Day until it can be proclaimed simultaneously by the major Allies -- Britain, Russia and the United States.

--GreGen


Saturday, May 7, 2022

Japanese Atom Bomb Survivors Make Urgent Plea-- Part 2: Atom Bombs Ended World War II

According to a recent Asahi newspaper survey of 768 survivors, nearly two-thirds said their wish was a nuclear-free world is not widely shared by the rest of humanity, and more than 70% called on a reluctant Japanese government to ratify a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

"We must work harder to get our voices heard, not just mine but those of many other survivors,"  Lee said in an interview at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.  "A nuclear weapons ban is the starting point for peace."

***********************

The first U.S. atomic bombing killed 140,000 people in the city of Hiroshima.  A second atomic attack on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, killed another 70,000.  Japan, as a result, surrendered August 15, bringing to an end a conflict with the United States that began with its attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

--GreGen


Friday, May 6, 2022

Japanese Atom Bomb Survivors Make Urgent Plea-- Part 1

From the August 6, 2020, Chicago Tribune "A-bomb survivors make urgent plea" by Mary Yamaguchi, AP.

For nearly 70 years, until he turned 85, Lee Jong-keum hid his past as an atomic bomb survivor, fearful of the widespread discrimination against blast victims that has long persisted in Japan.

But Lee. 92, is now a fast-dwindling group of survivors, known as hibakusha, that feels a growing urgency -- desperation even-- to tell their stories.  These last witnesses to what happened 75 years ago Thursday want to to reach a younger generation that they feel has lost sight of the horror.

The knowledge of their dwindling time -- the average age of the survivors is more than 83 and many suffer from long-lasting effects of radiation -- it is coupled with deep frustration over stalled progress in global efforts to ban nuclear weapons.

--GreGen


Thursday, May 5, 2022

Merrill's Marauders OK'd for Congressional Gold Medal-- Part 4: About That Gold Star and Other Honors

"They're in a class all by themselves when it comes to to the things they endured," said Christopher Goodrow about the Marauders.

The Marauders join more than 160 war heroes, military units and civilians awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for outstanding achievements dating back to the American Revolution.  A single medal honoring the Marauders as a unit will be crafted and given to the Smithsonian Institution.

The medals are designed for each set of winners and came take more than a year before they're ready to be presented.

Time isn't on the Marauders' side.

Twenty of the unit's members who were living when they began petitioning Congress for the medal in 2016 have since died, said Jonnie Melillo Clasen.  Her father, Vincent Melillo, died in 2015.

Dozens of the Marauders were awarded individual decorations after the war from the Distinguished Service Cross to the Silver Star.  The Army awarded the Bronze Star to every soldier in the unit, and Hollywood paid its respects in 1962 with the movie "Merrill's Marauders."

--GreGen


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Merrill's Marauders OKd for Congressional Gold Medal-- Part 3: Quite the Story

Often outnumbered, they successfully fought Japanese troops in five major engagements, plus 30 minor ones, between February and August 1944.

Marauders spent most days cutting their way through dense jungle, with only mules to help carry equipment and provisions.  They slept on the ground, and rarely changed clothes.  Supplies dropped from planes were their only means of replenishing rations and ammunition.  Malnutrition and the wet climates left the soldiers vulnerable to malaria, dysentery and other diseases.

"These guys were subsisting on one K-ration per man, per day," said Christopher Goodrow, arms curator for the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia.  "You're talking about a can of tuna, some crackers, a chocolate bar and cigarettes."

At neighboring Fort Benning, the elite fighters of the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment consider themselves proud descendants of Merrill's Marauders, who are revered for their overall toughness.

--GreGen


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Merrill's Marauders OK'd for Congressional Gold Medal-- Part 2: A Top Secret Mission

Robert Passanisi enlisted his fellow surviving Marauders and the families of many who have died to begin lobbying for the honor four years ago.  A final bill approved in September was sent October 6 to the White House where it awaits President Donald Trump's signature.

"After many years, all the sacrifices, and the suffering, are now finally recognized," said Passanisi, of Lindenhurst, New York.  "It makes you feel like it was all worthwhile."

Inn 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed to have the U.S. Army assemble a ground unit for as long range mission behind enemy lines into Japanese-occupied Burma, now Myanmar.  Seasoned infantry and newly enlisted soldiers alike volunteered for the mission, deemed so secret they weren't told where they were going.

Merrill's Marauders -- nicknamed for the unit's commander, Brigadier General Frank Merrill -- were tasked with cutting off Japanese communications and supply lines along their long march to the airfield at the occupied town of Myitkyina.

An Honor Richly Deserved.  --GreGen


Monday, May 2, 2022

Merrill's Marauders OK'd for Congressional Gold Medal

From the October 14, 2020, Chicago Tribune "Merrill's Marauders of WW II OK'd for congressional medal" by Russ Bynum (AP).

They spent months behind enemy lines, marching hundreds of miles through the tangled jungles and steep mountains of Burma as they battled hunger and disease between firefights with Japanese forces during their secret mission.

In February 1944, the American jungle fighting unit nicknamed Merrill's Marauders set out to capture a Japanese-held airfield and open an Allied supply route between India and China.  Starting with 3,000 soldiers, the Marauders completed their mission five months later with barely 200 men still in the fight.

The journey of roughly 1,000 miles on foot was so grueling that fighting "was the easy part," said Robert Passanisi, who at age 96 is among just nine known Marauders  still known to be alive.

Now the Marauders, officially designated by the Army as the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), have been approved by Congress to be awarded its highest honor: the Congressional Gold Medal.

--GreGen