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.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Remains of WW II Veteran to Be Reburied in St. Louis

From March 28, 2023 KSDK (St. Louis, Mo.) by Sam Clancy.

A World War II soldier from the St. Louis area will finally return home more than 80 years after he was killed.

The remains of Army Private James R. Tash will be interred  at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery on April 7.  Tash was a St. Louis  native and member of F Company, 2nd Battalion,  31st Infantry Regiment.

He was among the thousands of American and Filipino service members captured and taken prisoners of war when the Phillipines surrendered.  He endured the Bataan Death March.  After the march,  he was held at the Cabanatuan  POW camp and died  on July 19, 1942 at the age of 20.

Private Tash was buried in a common grave and his body was exhumed at the end of the war and eventually reburied at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial as an unknown.  In early 2018,  the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency moved the unidentified bodies to Joint Base Pearl Harbor for identification.    In September, his remains were identified.

Again, so happy the U.S. government and military is doing this.


Friday, March 31, 2023

World War II Veteran 'Dancing Chuck' Dies

From the March 30, 2023, WISN 12 ABC Milaukee, Wisconsin.

Waukesha, Wisconsin.

The World War II veteran known to many as "Dancing Chuck" Franzke has died.  He turned 100 years old two days before Christmas 2022.  He had begun dancing in his younger days, "When jitterbugging was the big thing, I was jitterbugging."

With his wife of 77 years, Bev, by his side, he just kept on dancing until earlier last year when a fall made him put up his dancing shoes.

He became a world-wide sensation in April 2020 when his dance on his front porch to Justin Timberlake's song "Can't Stop the Feeling" generated hope and optimism during the lockdowns.

Before his birthday last year, word got out that he was turning 100.  People sent him birthday cards from around the country.  Some schools even sent him videos of the students singing "Happy Birthday" to him.

"I'm the most fortunate old man in the whole world," Franzke said.


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Montana's Last Pearl Harbor Survivor Dies at Age 99: Charlie Dowd

From the March 21, 2023 7 KBZK, Bozeman, Montana.

Charlie Dowd of Anaconda, 99, died.  He was Montana's last-known living Pearl Harbor survivor.  He was just 17 years old when the Japanese attacked.

He recalled being ordered to duck under some tables, and when he heard volunteers were  requested to fight back and that he and another sailor grabbed rifles, climbed to the roof of a building and started shooting at the attacking planes.

He died Friday, March 17, 2023.


From the Helena Independent Record.

He was born in Rochester, New York, on December  23, 1923.  In March  1941 of his senior year in high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and trained as a radioman.  Stationed at Pearl Harbor, he reported to duty at 11:30 pm on December 6 and worked through the night at a radio-direction finder installation on Ford Island before returning to his barracks.

When he started shooting at the Japanese, he was about fifty yards from the USS California.

Afterwards, he served for 4 years and 10 minths in the Navy and earned two Bronze Stars.


Monday, March 27, 2023

Another USS Oklahoma Unknown Identified and Buried: Harvey Herber

From the March 25, 2023, Fox 25  "U.S. sailor laid to rest 81 years after dying in attack on Pearl Harbor"  by Mitchell Doening.

Lubbock, Texas.

Electrician's Mate 1st class Harvey Herber entered the Navy from Washington and served on the USS Oklahoma for eleven years before he died on his ship.

For decades his remains were at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.


Saturday, March 25, 2023

Kansas Man Killed in Germany in World War II Identified

From the March 18, 2023, AP News.

The remains of U.S. Army Sgt. Gregory V. Knoll, 22, of Hill City, Kansas,  were idenntified in january by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

He was assigned to Company M, 3rd Battalion,  112th Infantry regiment, 28th Infantry Division during the war.  In November 1944, his battalion was overrun by German forces as they tried to capture Schmidt, Germany, in Hurtgen Forest.

Surviviors of the attack withdrew to Kommerscheidt, where Knoll was reported killed in action on November 7, 1944.

The American Graves  Registration Command conducted several investigations  in the Hurtgen area between 1946 and 1950, but were unable to find his remains.  

His remains had been found, but unidentified and buried in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium  in 1949.  They were disinterred in 2021 and sent to the DPAA  laboratory  at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, where scientists used DNA and other analysis to identify his remains.

He will be buried on July 7 in Garden City.

I am so glad that the United States makes this effort to find our missing military people.


Friday, March 24, 2023

Pearl Harbor Sailor Coming Home for Burial in Monticello: Donald Stott of USS Oklahoma

From the March 20, 2023, Monticello Gazette (MIssissippi) by Dick Hogan.

Donald Stott died on December 7, 1941, on board the battleship USS Oklahoma.  He was 19 at the time.

He is returning home to Montcello for burial this Saturday, March 25.

At the time of his death he was  Seaman 1st Class.

He had joined the Navy at age 17 after his father agreed and signed the papers to allow him to do so.

His nephew,  Tom Brokaw, Jr., of Monticelloe said his remains were in Omaha, Nebraska, earlier this month waiting transport by hearse to Monticello.  The remains will be laid to rest March 25 at Oakwood Cemetery in Monticello with full military honors provided by the U.S. Navy.

Donald Stott was born February 27, 1922 in Monticello.


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Leslie George 'Bud' Hollenbeck, 90 (On USS Pennsylvania)

From the December 28, 2021, Port City (Wilmington, N.C.) Daily.

Died on September 16, 2021, in Massachusetts, formerly of Hamstead, N.C.

Born in Cooperstown, N.Y.  Enlisted in the Navy at age 18 and served during World War II as signalman on the battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) in the Pacific Ocean from 1940-1946.

He was at Pearl Harbor and told his stories many times.

The Greatest Generation.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Pearl Harbor Survivor Jack Holder Dies at 101-- Part 4: 'Two Scotch and Sodas Every Night'

Jack Holder was at Pearl Harbor for the 75th anniversary of the attack.  There he shared his thoughts about the event 75 years later.

"You relive the moments.  You're so grateful for our wonderful country in which we live," he said.  You regret the scarifices, but you also exhilirate from the victory that we made and how we're doing now."

Speaking about his longevity in life he attributed it to "good heart exercise and two scotch and sodas every night."

He also shared a message to today's youth of America:  "I tried to stress with them the need to stay in school, learn all the education you can and remember that we live in the greatest country in the world, learn to respect it, and be willing to protect it."

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Monday, March 20, 2023

Pearl Harbor Survivor Jack Holder Dies-- Part 3: Became a Pilot in Pacific and European Theaters

From where he was on Ford Island, he could see the damage wrought by the attack.  He saw the USS Arizona, USS West Virginia,  USS Tennessee, USS Nevada, USS Oklahoma and USS California, battleships all,  on fire and sinking to the bottom of Pearl Harbor.

He survived World War II in tact and as the war progressed, so did Holder's Navy career.  He went into training to fly aircraft and by June 1942, he was behind the stick of a fighter, meeting the Japanese approach to Midway Island where he got his vengeance for the Pearl Harbor attack.

Missions over Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands were next.  Then he trained to fly the B-24 Liberator bomber and was transferred to the European Theater.

For his distinguished Navy service, Holder was awarded two  Distinguished Flying Crosses, six Air Medals,  a Presidential Unit Citation and six commendaton medals before being honorably discharged  in 1948.

After the war, he became a commercial and corporate airline pilot and retired to Arizona where he died February 28, 2023.  He will eventually be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Quite A Life.  --GreGen

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Pearl Harbor Survivor Jack Holder Dies-- Part 2: Got Strafed

"I wondered if  this was the day that I  would die.  That morning I watched as Japanese  dive bombers  devastated Pearl Harbor.  I knew that we could no longer sit on the sidelines of the war ravaging Europe."

Holder began his naval career as a machinist's mate.  When he and his shipmates heard the explosions, they ran outside.  A Japanese pilot immediately tried to kill them.  As they dove into a ditch, a bomb hit a hangar by them.  The pilot then strafed the ditch.

"I could see him making his approach with the grinning white teeth and the leather helmet.  It's a memory I will never forget."


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Pearl Harbor Survivor Jack Holder Dies at 101 Years Old-- Part 1

From the March 8, 2023, "We Are the Mighty."

Jack Holder joined the U.S. Navy in 1940 at age 18.  Born in Texas to a farm family, he would become a naval aviator and fly more than 100 missions during World War II.  He flew these in both the European and Pacific Theaters of the conflict.  And, he also survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In December 7, 1941, he was on Ford's Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor when the attack came. He had to dive into a ditch to survive Japanese strafing.  He remembered praying, "God, please don't let me die  in this ditch."

"The first bomb that fell on Pearl Harbor was about 100 yards from me."  He later "saw guys swimming through burning oil in the water."  After the strafing, he took cover behind sandbags in a machine gun pit, a position he would maintain for the next three days.


Wednesday, March 15, 2023

About Those Unused Battleship 16-Inch Cannons-- Part 4

In addition to these successes, another USS New Jersey barrel was moved from St. Julien's Creek Annex to Trophy Park at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in the 1990s.


The final barrel at St. Julien's is #270 which was on the USS Iowa during World War II and the Korean War.    (This barrel is also the first production barrel of the Mark 7 series.)  The fate of this historical barrel is currently being decided as the USS Iowa  Veterans  Association and the CDsG have been fundraising the $150,000 needed to move and display the barrel at the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (to be placed near the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse) at Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The USS Iowa 16-inch Battleship Barrel Memorial will honor Navy veterans who homeported in Hampton Roads, Virginia,  as well as the Army troops who defended the Cheseapeake Bay during World War II at Fort Story.

Thos effort so far has rased $90,000  and corporate sponsorships are still being sought.

Let's Hope They Get It.  --GreGen

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

About Those Unused Battleship 16-Inch Cannons-- Part 3

**  Another USS Missouri barrel went by rail to the Arizona Capitol Museum to become part of its World War II Memorial.  It joined a 14-inch barrel from the USS Arizona.

**  A USS New Jersey barrel went by rail to the Hartshorne  Woods Park in Monmouth County Parks in New Jersey (location of the former Battery Lewis at the Navesink Highlands Military Reservation), to be placed in the battery's casemate.

**  Another New Jersey barrel went to the Philadelphia Navy Yard in Pennsylvania for display on its parade ground.

**  Yet another USS New Jersey barrel went to the Battleship New Jersey  Memorial in Camden, New Jersey, to be on display next to the ship.

**  Another New Jersey barrel went to the Mahan Collection Foundation in New Jersey where it will be displayed with a transportation truck and trailer that was used during World War II to move barrels to coast defense batteries.


Monday, March 13, 2023

About Those Unused 16-Inch Battleship Cannons-- Part 2:

As these barrels  also saw wartime service in World War II and the Korean War, organizations that might want to preserve them were approached.

These barrels were placed at St. Julien's Creek in the 1980s as replacements when the four Iowa-class battleships were brought back into active service.

Now, in 2022, we have good news. Seven of the barrels now have found a new home despite the challenge of raising the money to do so.  The remaining barrel hopefully will be preserved soon.

Here are relocations since 2011:

**  A USS Missouri barrel to Cape Henlopen State Park (location of the former Battery Smith at Fort Miles) in Delaware to be part of the Fort Miles Museum

**  Another USS Missouri gun to the U.S. Fish  and Wildlife Refuge at Cape Charles, Virginia, (location of the former Battery  Winslow at Fort John Custis) to be placed in the battery's casemate.


Thursday, March 2, 2023

About Those Unused 16-Inch Battleship Cannons-- Part 1

From the December 2022 U.S. Naval Institute  "Homes for the big guns:  Preserving U.S. Navy Heritage" by Terrance McGovern.

In June 2011, the Coast Defense Study group (CDSG) was asked to find homes for  eight historic 16-inch Mark 7 barrels located at St. Julien's Creek Naval Annex in Chesapeake, Virginia, or the barrels would be auctioned off  through the internet with the requirement that they be cut into six-foot sections.

At the time, the Navy was purging all the Iowa-class materials in its inventories.  They had already liquidated another 14 similar 16-inch barrels in storage at Hawthorne, Nevada.

The CDSG was able to convince the Navy to allow more time to find homes for the barrels who would pay for the cost of relocating each of the  68-foot long objects weighing in at about 119 tons.

As these barrels were similar to the ones that were once located in World War II coast defense sites, the owners of those sites were first approached.


Wednesday, March 1, 2023

USS Arizona

From the February 14, 2023,  KTAR News.  "5 things you should know about Arizona as it celebrates 111 years of statehood."


Almost half the casualties suffered at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, occurred in the USS Arizona.  The battleship took four direct hits from Japanese bombers.  The last bomb ignited stored gunpowder.  When it blew up, the ship split into two and sank.

It became the final resting place for 1,777 officers and crewmen.

The USS Arizona was commissioned in 1916, but had been ordered to be built in 1913, a little over a year from when its namesake state was admitted to the Union.

The ship did not see action in World War I, but was eventually stationed in Hawaii in April 1940 as war with Japan became a real possibility.  It had been in drydock for repairs shortly before the attack.

Fuel still leaks from the wreckage, spilling into the harbor from the memorial site built over the ship.

The Tears of the Arizona.  --GreGen

Monday, February 27, 2023

The Akutan Zero-- Part 8: What Happened to the Akutan Zero and Koga's Body

Nine wrecked Japanese Mitsubishi Zeros were recovered after Pearl Harbor and were studied as well.

Sadly, the Akutan Zero was destroyed in a  training accident in February 1945.  While it was taxiing for a takeoff, a Curtis Helldiver lost control and rammed into it.   The Helldiver's propeller sliced the Zero into pieces.

From the wreckage, several gauges were salvaged and donated to the National Museum of the United States Navy.  The Alaska Heritage Museum and Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum also have some pieces of it.

A search was led to Akutan Island in 1988 in an attempt to find Ensign Koga's remains.  It was found that the remains  had been exhumed by an American Graves Registration Service team in 1947 and reburied at  Adak Island, further down the Aleutian Chain.

The team, unaware of Koga's significance or identity, marked him as unknown.  The Adak cemetery was excavated in 19553 and the 236 bodies returned to Japan.  The unidentified remains were cremated and it is likely that is what happened to Koga.


Saturday, February 25, 2023

The Akutan Zero-- Part 7: Testing Its Capabilities

Data from the captured Zero showed that the United could match or surpass Zeros in most respects except  range without sacrificing pilot armor, self-sealing tanks and fuselage  structure.  The new  F6F  Hellcat would compensatefor the extraweight with additional power.

On September 20, 1942, two months after the Zero's capture, Lt. Commander  Edie R. Sanders took the Akutan Zero  up for its first test flight.  He made 24 test flights between September 29 and October 15

The important thing was that knowledge was gained in how to fight the Japanese plane.

In early 1943, it was transferred to Anacostia Naval Air Station for more tests, including a wind tunnel.


Wednesday, February 22, 2023

The Akutan Zero-- Part 6: Recovery and Reconstruction

The crash site remained undiscovered for over a month.  On July 10, 1942, an American PBY piloted by  Lt. William Thies spotted the wreckage accidentally.  They returned the next day and recovered Ensign Koga's body from the plane and buried him in a shallow grave.

It took several attempts to get the Zero uprighted and to get it off the muddy land before they were able to get it to a barge and transported to Dutch Harbor where it was loaded onto the USS  St. Mihiel and transported to Seattle.

From there it went to the Naval Air Station near San Diego where repairs were carefully carried out.  The Zero's red Hinomaru roundel was was repainted with American insignia.  The Zero was fit to fly again on September 20. (Imagine had they left the red ball on the plane and a civilian saw it being flown over the U.S. mainland.)

The whole time the plane was under heavy guard.

The United States now had a flyable Zero to test.


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Akutan Zero-- Part 5: The End of Koga

Continued from February 14, 2023.

The Japanese claim the shot that caused Ensign Tadayoshi Koga's plane to crash came during the attack on Dutch Harbor.

The fatal shot severed the return oil line and Koga's plane  immediately began trailing oil.  He  reduced speed to keep the engine from seizing for as long as possible.

The three Zeros flew to Akutan Island, 25 miles east of Dutch Harbor which had been designated for emergency landings.  Waiting near the island was a Japanese submarine assigned to pick up downed pilots.  

At the island, they circled until they found a fairly flat piece of ground, but as Koga began his descent they saw there was water on the ground and it was too late for him to pull up.  The landing gear mired in the mud and the plane flipped over and skid to a stop.  

Although the arcraft survived nearly intact, Koga was killed instantly, either due to a broken neck or blunt force to his head.  Koga's wingmen circling above had orders to destroy the plane to prevent its capture, but did not know if Koga was alive or not so did not strafe it.

They left and later the Japanese submarine was driven off by the USS Williamson.