The USS North Carolina (BB-55) My all-time favorite warship.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

USS Princeton (CVL-23)-- Part 1: From Light Cruiser to Light Aircraft Carrier

From Wikipedia.

Earlier this week, I wrote about 101-year-old Al Oesterle recounting his memories of the sinking of this ship.  Here is some more information on the ship.

For part of this background information,  click on the USS Princeton label below and go back to my Feb. 23, 2013, blog entry.

The Princeton was laid down as the Cleveland class light cruiser Tallahassee (CL-61) by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation in 1941 and was reclassified  as the Independence class light aircraft carrier CV-23 on 16 February 1942. and renamed the Princeton a month later.

It was launched  18 October 1942, sponsored by Margaret Dodds (wife of Princeton President  Harold Dodds) and commissioned at Philadelphia 25 February 1943, with Captain George R. Henderson in command.

After a shakedown cruise in the Caribbean Sea and reclassification to CVL-23, the ship, with Air Group 23 got underway for the Pacific and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 9 August.  She sortied with TF 11 on August 25 and headed for Baker Island.  There she served as flagship of TG 11.2 and provided air cover during the occupation of the island and construction of the airfield there 1-14 September.

During that time, planes from the Princeton downed  the new Japanese Emily  reconnaissance planes and more importantly provided the U.S. Navy with photographs of them.


Friday, November 27, 2020

Tires. Who Needs Tires? Ex-Sgt. Schnorr Does

From the September 16, 2020, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1945, 75 Years Ago.

"Ex-sergeant Bernard W. Schnorr was issued two tires by the rationing board, borrowing others from family, and gone to work.   Schnorr left Shabbona in 1942 as a farm hand, came back a few days ago as a mechanic.

"Finding the tires on the car he left in the garage three and a half years ago, he had been informed by the rationing board that no tires were available.  To work as his new trade he had to have tires.  It develops that the board found it possible to give him a certificate for two tires, and that he was able to borrow two from his family.

"So, he has gone to work at his new army-given occupation of  engine mechanic."

So, then as now, you can receive occupation training in the military.

Tires?  Who Needs Tires?  --GreGen

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Forty Women Needed for Canning Jobs in DeKalb in 1945

From the September 9, 2020, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1945, 75 Years Ago. 

"With every effort being made to can  the tremendous amount of corn and beans growing in this vicinity, extra help is urgently needed at the DeKalb plant of the California Packing Corporation.

"Forty women are required at the present time to assist in the canning of beans and corn, which will last another four weeks.   The work is similar to that in a home kitchen, but is essential as the more food that is canned at the DeKalb plant during the present pack, the more will be available during the winter months on the shelves of the grocery stores."


Monday, November 23, 2020

Al Oesterle remembers Sinking of USS Princeton-- Part 3:

The Princeton's crew were ordered to abandon ship.  When it was Oesterle's turn to leave, he climbed down a cargo net only to find there was no boat at the bottom.  He climbed back up and discovered that he was alone on his burning, stricken ship.

"I came back onboard to help... nobody was there but me," he said.

Eventually, a boat did come back for him and took him to the Birmingham.  In all, 1,361 members of the Princeton's crew were rescued.

Two days later, he wrote his mother to let her know he was alright.  "All in all it was quite a day.  None the worse for wear & tear," he wrote.

He finished the war stationed on other ships.  Among his  service medals are a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, which he received for valor.

On September1, 1945,  he and Joan were married at the Philadelphia  Naval Shipyard.  During the rest of his naval career as a dentist, Oesterle was stationed at bases in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois and California as well as a stint at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Joan died in 1998.

Quite the Story.  --GreGen

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Al Oesterle Remembers USS Princeton Sinking-- Part 2: One Powerful Explosion

The explosion from the Japanese dive bomber's bomb started a fire that spread quickly across the ship.  Oeseterle and the other crew members scrambled to fight the fires as other American ships came to assist.  The USS Birmingham (CL-62) a light cruiser, pulled alongside the stricken Princeton.

The Birmingham's crew used high pressure hoses to pour water on the burning ship, but the fire reached  stored munitions and a massive  explosion rocked the Princeton.

The explosion shot out a storm of fire and debris.  On the Princeton,  108 men were killed.  On the Birmingham, where many of the crew were on deck or superstructure fighting the fire and assisting in rescuing,  233 men were killed and  another 426 wounded (out of 1255 crew).

Oesterle, who was standing on the deck of the Princeton next to Captain John Hopkins at the time of the explosion, suffered light burns on his neck, but otherwise was not harmed.    Captain Hoskins lost the lower part of a leg.


101-Year-Old Navy Veteran Al Oesterle recalls the End of the USS Princeton (CVL-23)-- Part 1

From the November 10, 2020, Coloradoan "101-year-old Fort Collins veteran remembers escape from ill-fated World War II carrier" by Kevin Dugan.

This story originally appeared in my November 11 Running the Blockade blog in honor of Veterans Day.  There was so much about this event (which I had never heard of) that I figured to write the rest of the story here.

Al Oesterle left the U.S. Navy in 1965 after a long career in it.   And, he had a near run-in with death that his family didn't learn about until nearly 40 years after it happened.  It was at a reunion of the crew that had served on the USS Princeton (CVL-23), a light aircraft carrier that was lost during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.  His wife, Joan heard that her husband might have been the last man to leave the stricken carrier before it sank.

Mr. Oesterle grew up in Joliet, Illinois and joined the Navy in 1939 at age 20 and attended the University of Illinois Dental School.   He graduated in 1942 and was appointed to the U.S. Navy Dental Corps.  After further training, he was assigned to the USS Princeton in December 1943.

The Princeton was operating in the Pacific Theater.

On October 24, 1944, east of  the Philippine island of Luzon, a lone Japanese dive bomber emerged from the clouds and dropped a bomb on the Princeton,  penetrating the flight deck and exploding  in the hangar bay, where aircraft were being armed and fueled.


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Working at the Hemp Mill and a Wound from a Kamikaze Attack

From the September 2, 2020, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1945, 75 Years Ago.

"The women employed at the hemp mill did not work Saturday as the day was used by the men  for some needed  repairing and cleaning of the boilers."


"For wounds suffered last May when his ship was hit by a Jap suicide plane off Okinawa  after 39 days in combat, Robert C. Helson,  pharmacist's mate  first class, of  206 Maplewood Avenue in DeKalb was awarded the Purple Heart medal."

Hemp, A Growing Industry in DeKalb County in 1945.  --GreGen

Friday, November 20, 2020

A Record Number of Telegrams Sent After Japanese Surrender: Great News, Big Changes

From the August 26, 2020, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1945, 75 Years Ago.

"Japan's surrender produced the largest volume of telegraphing in the nation's history as American business began work immediately to resume peacetime production and distribution, it was announced by R.S. Slack, Jr. of the DeKalb office.

"Here and throughout the nation, the volume of telegrams last week sent the 1945 volume line skyrocketing off the charts and  and exceeded even the busiest weeks of the war."

Western Union Telegrams.  --GreGen

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

DeKalb County Marine Brothers Meet and Catch Up on Home News in the Pacific.

From the August 26, 2020, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1945, 75 Years Ago.

"From somewhere in the Pacific comes  word that Marine Pfc Lawrence Braser and his brother, Marine Pfc Roy Braser, have seen a lot more of enemy action than they have of each other during the past two years.

"Recently the tide turned and for several days the brothers had an opportunity to swap yarns and catch up on home town news during Lawrence's visit to an undisclosed Pacific spot while enroute to another Pacific base."

Roy Braser died  November 25, 2007 was born July 22, 1922, the son of Ida and Valey Braser.  He was discharged from the Marines in 1945 and went on to become owner and cofounder of  Downtown Shoes in Sycamore, Illinois.

He was preceded in death by his brother Lawrence.  Mr. Braser was buried at Lutheran Cemetery in Hinckley.  Lawrence Braser ( 23 September 1925-26 May 1995) is also buried there.

Quite the Way To Meet Your Brother.  --GreGen

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Even License Plates in the War Effort

From the August 2, 2020, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1945, 75 Years Ago.

"Illinois automobile license plates in 1946 will have white figures on a maroon background, Secretary of State Edward J. Barrett announced today.

"As for the past three years,  the plates will be made of plastic to conserve war-needed metal."


Monday, November 16, 2020

Pearl Harbor Remembrance May Be Mainly Virtual This Year

From the November 14, 2020,  The Garden Island, Hawaii. 

On December 7, the National Park Service and U.S. Navy will host the 79th National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day to honor the 2,390 American lives lost that day when it was attacked in 1941. 

The ceremony will begin at 7:50 when a very small number of veterans and speakers  will be at  the Pearl Harbor National Memorial's Contemplation Circle with the keynote speech given by Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Most of the ceremony will take place virtually.

A moment of silence will be observed at 7:55, the exact moment of the Japanese attack.


Saturday, November 14, 2020

Honoring Our WW II Veterans on Veterans Day-- Part 2: 1st Lt. Walter Pettit, Ruth Snively and Howard Miller

On Veterans Day I wrote about these WW II veterans in other blogs.  Every veterans Day I write about something to do with our Armed Forces in all of my blogs.

If you want to read the entry in the other blogs, just go ton the right of this entry to where it says My Blogs List and click on the blog.  Then go to the November 11 entry.


1st Lt. Walter Pettit, 97, U.S. Army Air Corps and Ruth Snively, 95, a Rosie the Riveter.


Howard Miller, USMC  His remains recovered on Betio, Tarawa, and returned home.  See Nov. 11 and 13 entries.


Honoring Our WW II Vets on Veterans Day-- Part 1: A USS Oklahoma Unknown and Another One On the USS Princeton When It Was Hit by a Kamikaze

This past Wednesday was November 11th, the day where we always honor all of out veterans, those still here and those who are gone.

Every Veterans Day, I write about some aspect of the commemoration or about newly identified  remains or veterans still living, in all eight of my blogs.  It is that important to me.

Here are the WW II veterans I wrote about in my other blogs on Wednesday.  You can go to these sites by clicking on the My Blog List column to the right of this entry.  Then go to the November 11 entry:


Petty Officer 2nd Class James M. Flanagan, one of the newly identified USS Oklahoma Unknowns.


Al Oesterle who was on the USS Princeton in the Pacific when it was hit by a kamikaze


Friday, November 13, 2020

Oklahoma Family Honors Life of Sailor Who Died at Pearl Harbor on Board the USS Oklahoma

From Oklahoma 6, Tulsa by Sawyer Buccy.

Navy Fireman 1st Class Rex E Wise, of  South Haven, Kansas, was 21 when he met his death on December 7, 1941, on board the USS Oklahoma.    He was reburied on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Rex's 83-year-old niece Marilyn Weller, said her mother had sent DNA to the Department of Defense in 2015 and she died in 2017.  Two years later, the Defense department confirmed a match with her uncle among the USS Oklahoma Unknowns who had been buried in Hawaii.


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

World War II 'No Regrets Tour' by Sidney Walton, 101, Veterans Day

From the November 10, 2020, Pennsylvania Real-Time News "101-year-old World War II veteran embarks on Veterans Day motorcade tour" by Dan Gleiter.

On Tuesday, Harrisburg, Pa., provided a warm send-off for Sidney Walton where he received the Key to the City from the mayor.  Harrisburg police then escorted him in the first stage of his tour to Washington, D.C..

Mr. Walton is one of the last remaining World War II veterans and says he has always been sorry he did not get a chance to meet any pf the last surviving Civil War veterans before they too passed into history.  So, he launched his tour in 2018 with intentions to visit all fifty states and meet with all  fifty governors in his "No Regrets Tour."

He has already been to 35 states.

In 1941, he quit college in New York City at age 21 to join the U.S. Army and "fight Hitler."  That was nine months before Pearl Harbor.  During the war, he was with the  34th Infantry,  8th Division and fought in China, Burma, India Theater.

Out of 16 million WW II veterans, most recent estimates have  only 325,000 still alive with around 300 dying every day.  It is expected that all will be gone in the next 15 years.

Pennsylvania has around  18,000 still alive.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Not All Joy, Though, At V-J Day Celebration, the Injury of Martha Suknaich

From the August 19, 2020, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1945, 75 Years Ago.

"Condition of Martha Suknaich, 1114 Oak Street, who was injured when she fell from a car during the Victory celebration, was reported as being better this morning and she is resting much easier.

"Martha was riding on the running board of a car and fell to the pavement near the intersection of Lincoln Highway and First Street.  She suffered a head injury in the fall and may have a slight  skull fracture."

I looked her up and found that she recovered and died January 29, 2007, according to her obituary.  She was a 1945 graduate of DeKalb High School.  Her name at the time of her death was Martha N. Suknaich-Fulton.

It's Always Fun Until ....   --GreGen

Saturday, November 7, 2020

An Impromptu Celebration in DeKalb, Illinois, for V-J Day

From the August 19, 2020, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1945, 75 Years Ago.

"Quiet settled over the city today and all that remained of last evening's Victory Celebration was debris along main street.  From shortly after six o'clock, when the fire whistle signaled the Japs had accepted the peace terms, the business area was a beehive of activity.

"With horns blaring, cow bells ringing,  noise makers of all types sounding, and the occupants of the cars cheering  lustily, the crowd  grew by the minute nd within an hour after the announcement was received, the impromptu celebration was in full swing.  There was joy and thanksgiving in the hearts of all."


Labor Shortages Still Around and a Post Office Holiday in 1945 for V-J Day

From the August 19, 2020, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1945, 75 Years Ago.

"Appeals are being made for DeKalb community women to assist  in the pack of corn at the DeKalb plant."  Still having labor problems on the home front.

"Delivery of mail  was resumed this morning after a two-day holiday for postal employees."  (Celebration of V-J Day)"



Thursday, November 5, 2020

Still Knitting for the Troops in 1945

From the August 12, 2020, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1945, 75 Years Ago.

"Activities at the Red Cross production centers in DeKalb will be resumed tomorrow after a vacation period the past few weeks.

"There is a rush order for knitted items including V-neck sleeveless sweaters.  Women are asked to call for the yarn, 50 pounds having been received at the sewing center."

Still Knitting for the Troops.  --GreGen

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

When Will V-J Day Be Celebrated in DeKalb in 1945?

From the August 12, 2020, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1945, 75 Years Ago.

"A DeKalb retailers schedule has been prepared which will be followed by the stores in this city when V-J Day is officially announced.

"This schedule will be followed unless President Truman, by his proclamation, sets aside a specific period celebration, in which case the retailer schedule will be disregarded and the president's  proclamation will be followed.