Monday, September 1, 2014

Medal of Honor Winner Mike Colalillo Dies in 2011

From the Jan. 4, 2012, Washington Post "Mike Colalillo, WWII Medal of Honor recipient, dead at 86.

Mr. Colalillo died December 30, 2011.  He received his Medal of Honor during a machine gun assault near the end of the war in which the Germans sustained 25 casualties.

On April 7, 1945, 19-year-old Army Pfc Colalillo was on patrol outside Untergricsheim, Germany when his unit came under fire.  They were pinned down and he told others to follow him in a dash toward the machine gun nest.  He was holding a submachine gun until it was knocked out of his hands bu shrapnel.

He the  ran toward a American tank and took over the machine gun of the turret and he then killed or wounded ten Germans at one position and took out another machine gun nest.  That wasn't the end as he killed three more at another machine gun nest.

The turret machine gun jammed and he jumped off, grabbed another submachine gun and continued his assault on foot.  Altogether, he killed or wounded 25 Germans that day.

When ordered to withdraw, he stayed behind and carried a wounded comrade back over his shoulder.

The Medal of Honor was given to him in December 1945 in a White House ceremony.

Quite the Hero.  --GreGen

Army Flying Ace James B. Morehead Dies in 2012

From the March 12, 2012, Press Democrat "WWII flying ace from Petaluma dead at 95" by Lori A. Carter.

Retired Army Colonel James B. Morehead, flying ace and recipient of two Distinguished Service Crosses has died.

He mostly flew P-40 fighters and was in 20 dogfights, shooting down 8 enemy planes in Europe and the Pacific.  Other honors he received were the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and 15 other air medals.

As a 25-year-old 2nd Lt at Darwin, Australia, in 1943, he led a flight of eight P-40s toward 31 Japanese "Betty" bombers and their fighter escorts. returning from a raid.  He destroyed two bombers and a Zero.

--GreGen

U.S. Navy WWII Airport at Half Day, Illinois

From March 11, 2012, Chicago Tribune  "Pilot putting region's old airports on the radar" by Jon Hilkevitch.

Approximately 45 old airports in the Chicagoland area are no longer in existence.  Nick Selig is researching the histories of 76 airports in the area and among them is/was Chicagoland Airport, near the northwest suburb of Half Day in Lake County.

It was one of 15 airports the U.S. Navy built to train pilots during World War II.  An old farmhouse served as the airport office and it continued operations into the 1970s.

"Very few people know these suburban airports.  What I am trying to put across in my book is that at the beginning of World War II, if it had not been for these little dirt and sod airfields to train the pilots we needed for the war, it might have been a significantly different outcome." said Nick Selig.  He estimates that some 90% of U.S. Navy pilots trained at Chicago airports during the war.

Of interest:  Dick Lloyd bought the Sky haven Airport near Bensenville in the mid-1940s and operated it until 1955.  He had a wooden leg and in those days before post-it notes, used to thumbtack notes to his leg.

His book "Lost Airports of Chicago" has been published and is available on Amazon and other sites.

--Ouch!!  --GreGen


Back Then: SS Lane Victory to Escort USS Iowa

From the March 3, 2012, Contra Costa Times "SS Lane Victory to bring riders for USS Iowa arrival" by Donnie Littlejohn.

It will probably be another 2-3 months before the battleship USS Iowa arrives from San Francisco at the Port of Los Angeles where it will become a museum ship.  But, the SS Lane Victory, a World War II merchant Victory ship has plans to meet it.

And, for just $250, you can go along for the ride.

The Iowa, at the time was in the Port of Richmond, by San Francisco, being readied to be towed.

The USS Iowa Veterans Association was to have their annual reunion in Los Angeles July 2-6th.

--GreGen

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The USS Slater (DE-766) Gets Landmark Status

From the March 6, 2012, Wall Street Journal "Albany's WWII ship gets historic landmark status."

The USS Slater (DE-766) a World War II-era destroyer escort has been designated a s a National Historic Landmark.  The 68-year old (now 70) warship is now a floating museum.

It was launched in 1944 and served in both European and Pacific theaters of action.  After the war, it was in the Green Navy.

It is one of only two destroyer escorts left, and the only one in the water.  The USS Stewart (DE-238) is at Galeveston, Texas' Seawolf Park, but is on dry land.

--GreGen

Friday, August 29, 2014

"The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast": The USS Houston

From the Jan. 2012, Blue Bonnet, Vol. 70, Issue 69.

There now is a 14-foot long model of the USS Houston (CA-30) at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.

"Alert!"  The 70th Anniversary of the USS Houston Sinking to be held in 2012.  Make plans to attend:

USS Houston (CA-30)
2012 Reunion
Feb 29-March 4, 2012
Hyatt Regency Downtown
Houston, Texas

From November 17, 2011.

The USS Houston model installation ceremony was attended by 80 persons, including survivors David C. Flynn, Howard Brooks and Bill Ingram.  Also, former crew member (but not on the ship when it was sunk) Rau Kester.

The model is built at 1/48th scale.

Survivor Robert Hanley spent 7-8 hours in the water before he was picked up by a Japanese patrol boat and has been married 66 years to his wife Eilleen.

--GreGen

HMAS Perth Survivor

From 2012.

Charles William Ray, one of the 12 surviving crew members of the HMAS Perth said:  "We always come on the first of March every year for a service of remembrance to the ship, mainly to our shipmates.

"And all I hope is that if God's willing, that I'll live as long as I can to attend the yearly service.  That's my aim in life."

--GreGen

70th Anniversary of Japanese Attack on Broome, Australia Observed in 2012

From the March 1, 2012, ABC Radio Australia News "Japanese World War II attack remembered."

The Australian Parliament has marked the 70th anniversary of the Japanese raid in the West Australian town of Broome in which more than 80 people were killed in an attack over Roebuck Bay.  The attack took place March 3, 1942, and destroyed 24 aircraft, including several flying boats.

Between Feb. 1942 and November 1943, the Japanese bombed northern Australia 97 times.

Charles D'Aintone,  a local indigenous man, swam through burning fuel and wreckage to rescue two Dutch women.

--GreGen

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Survivors Remember HMAS Perth and USS Houston

From March 1, 2012.

More than 200 people gathered at St. John's Anglican Church in Freemantle, Western Australia to mark the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the two ships.

Three survivors: Arthur Bancroft, Norm Fuller and Fred Skeels were on the Perth.  Families of other crew members joined with them.  Members of the current HMAS Perth were also on hand.

Anthems of both Australia and the United States were played.

Of the Perth's crew, 350 lost their lives when it sank and another 106 died while they were POWs of the Japanese.  The Houston lost 638 when it sank and another 104 as POWs.

The wreck of the USS Houston has recently been found and identified.

--GreGen

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Some More on the Marine Raiders

From the August 18, 2014, Marine Corps Times "Name marks a token of distinction" by Hope Hodge Seck.

Both battalions of the Marine Raiders, the 1st and 2nd Marine Raider Battalions activated in 1942, and quickly took on the identity of their iconic leaders as they executed high-risk special operations missions behind enemy lines in the Pacific.

The 1st marine Raider Battalion was led by Col. Merrit Edson, who would receive a Medal of Honor for bravery at Guadalcanal.  the unit would become Edson's Raiders.  The 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, led by Lt. Col. Evans Carlson, who would coin the Marine term "Gung Ho," became Carlson's raiders.

According to the Marine Raider Association and Foundation, the Raiders earned seven Medals of Honor, 136 Navy Crosses and 330 Silver Stars.

One of Carlson's Raiders was Ellis Childers, a sergeant, who saw combat in rubber boats on Makin Island, fought at Guadalcanal and was in the first amphibious assault wave at Iwo Jima.  His son Mark Childers said his father, who died in 2011 at age 91, would be thrilled to see the Raider legacy brought back, "He loved the Marine Corps and was very proud to be one of Carlson's Raiders."

--Return of a Great Name.  --GreGen

The Raiders Live Again-- Part 2

During World War II, the Marine Raiders were renowned for mounting long-term operations deep behind enemy lines, with little or no logistical support from larger American forces  Like the Army's Long Range Recon Platoons of Vietnam, Marine Raiders were proficient at all types of unconventional warfare most often today attributed to Special Operations Command.

Activated in 1942, the Raider battalions were formally disbanded in 1944 after having fought at operations from Makin Island to Iwo Jima.

Even though MARSOC has adopted the Raider name, they will not be authorized to use the most famous Raider symbol: the blue-and-red emblem with stars and a menacing skull.

--GreGen

The Raiders Live Again-- Part 1

From the August 18, 2014, Marine Corps Times by Hope Hodge Seck.

STORIED WWII UNIT'S NAME TO BE CARRIED ON SHOULDERS OF MARSOC OPERATORS.

The fabled Marine Raiders are to be remembered as the Marine Corps Special Operations Command will be renamed and rebranded to honor the elite Marine World War II unit.

During MARSOC's change of command ceremony at its headquarters in Snead's Ferry, N.C., General Jim Amos said that all units in the command would now be called Marine Raider Battalions.  This is a change for Amos, who had opposed the name change in the past.

Outgoing MARSOC commander, Major General Mark Clark said: "I think it's a celebration in a lot of ways.  We're honoring the Marine Raiders that we felt served so honorably in World War II."  This will link the present MARSOC with the work of te elite group in Pacific missions of the Raiders seven decades ago.

--GreGen

Five Things to Know About German U-Boats-- Part 3

4.  WHAT'S IN A NAME:  The U-boat-- or "unterseeboot" in German-- was first used un World War I by Ger many and its ally, Austria-Hungary.  German submarine warfare on merchant ships was one reason the U.S. entered the war in 1917 on the side of the Allies.

The German Navy still designates its submarines as U-boats.  Their small, modern fleet of submarines are diesel-electric powered, not nuclear.  I didn't know the German Navy still had U-boats.

5.  U-BOATS IN POPULAR CULTURE:  Feared and hunted by the Allies, U-boats and their commanders became romanticized over time, especially in the Cold War years when a rebuilt West Germany was a U.S. ally.

Among film portraying them was 1957's "The Enemy Below," in which U.S. destroyer commander Robert Mitchum and U-boat commander Kurt Jurgens are cast as noble adversaries as their vessels duel to mutual destruction.

In 1981's "Das Boot" starring Jurgen Prochow, filmmakers offered a gritty portrayal of U-boat life.

Visitors to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry can see the U-505, a U-boat captured during World War II.

--GreGen

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Five Things to Know About Germany's U-Boats-- Part 2: Hard to Handle

2.  A FORMIDABLE FORCE:  As the U-boats took their toll on Allied shipping, they also played a role in Germany's propaganda effort.  An early success for Adolf Hitler came when the U-47 slipped into the British naval base at Scapa Flow, Scotland, and sank the battleship HMS Royal Oak.

The United States Navy, stretched out because of its losses at Pearl Harbor, was hard pressed to track down U-boats off the U.S. east coast in 1942.  Only after U.S. shipyards began turning out massive numbers of escort vessels along with patrol planes and new tactics did the Navy get the upper hand on them.


3.  THE U-166:  War records show that Germany built more than 1,000 U-boats during the war.  The U-166 joined the fleet in March 1942 and was prowling the Gulf of Mexico when it torpedoed and sank the passenger vessel SS Robert E. Lee.

An escort ship quickly moved in and dropped depth charges, sending the submarine to the bottom.

The U-166 was slow, traveling underwater at only about 9 mph, and vulnerable to quicker surface ships.  Modern U.S. nuclear-powered submarines can travel under water at more than 35 mph.

What's That in the Water?  --GreGen

Monday, August 25, 2014

Five Things to Know About Germany's U-Boats-- Part 1: Doenitz and the Wolfpacks

From the August 18, 2014, Marine Corps Times "A New Look" by AP.

1.  WOLVES OF THE SEA

Germany's war on the Allied supply lines focused mainly on the North Atlantic shipping lanes, but the U-boats also ranged into the Gulf of Mexico (the U-166), the Caribbean Sea, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.

The architect of Germany's submarine warfare plan was Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz, who deployed his submarines in groups known as wolfpacks for unrestricted warfare against merchant ships.

--GreGen

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Robert E. Lee and the U-166-- Part 2

The U-166 was deployed as part of the German war effort to cut off Britain and other U.S. allies from vital equipment, supplies and personnel.  The U-166 met its end about 45 miles southeast of of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The U-boats were the most effective German naval weapon in the Atlantic Ocean.  Quite a few Allied ships were sunk in the Gulf of Mexico and even more along the U.S. Atlantic coast.

--GreGen

No Allied Ships Sunk Off North Carolina in August 1942

The totals of Allied ships sunk off the coast of North Carolina dropped to two in July 1942 (along with two U-boats that were sunk).  This reflects improved Allied defense and convoys systems as well as Germany pulling their submarines off the U.S. coasts and concentrating to prevent convoys going to Europe and the Soviet Union.

In August, September and October 1942 no Allied ships were sunk off North Carolina.

However, from August 4-19th in 1918, during World War I, German submarines, the U-140 and U-117, sank seven ships, including the Diamond Shoals Lightship.

Until recently, I did not know that U-boats also operated off the U.S. coast during World War I.

--GreGen

The Robert E. Lee and U-166-- Part 1

From the August 18, 2014, Marine Corps Times "A New Look: Five Things to know about Germany's U-boats" by AP.

A film crew has been out in the Gulf of Mexico taking the clearest-ever images of two sunken World War II ships.  They have been using a pair of tethered, remotely controlled mini-subs and other cameras to film the American ship Robert E. Lee and the ship that sank it, the U-166, which in turn was sunk by depth charges from the Lee's escort ship on July 30, 1942.

These images will be used for a documentary about Operation Drumbeat, the German code name for their submarine campaign against shipping along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts in early 1942.  I have been listing ships sunk just off the North Carolina coast in the first half of 1942 in other posts, and it sure was a lot.

--GreGen

Friday, August 22, 2014

Veteran Finds Identity of Soldier Killed Next to Him in Philippines-- Part 5

On August 3, a ceremony was held at the Lake County Veterans Memorial at the College of Lake County in Grayslake to return the Purple Heart to Thomas Bateman's family.

It was attended by John Trinca, Zacharia Fike, Tom McAvoy, the Hettich family and members of Bateman's family, including his son, Thomas Bateman Jr. who lives in Memphis.

An overwhelmed Bateman Jr. said, "I never knew my dad, so I'm grateful for this opportunity.

Thomas Bateman, Sr. was born in 1920 and enlisted in the Army in the early 1940s, serving as an infantryman in the 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division.  His son was just ten-months old when his father was killed.

"I regret never having known him, but I knew he loved me and planned for my future," said Bateman Jr.

I sure wish I'd known about this ceremony beforehand as I definitely would have been there,  That is real history.

--GreGen

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Veteran Finds Identity of Soldier Killed Next to Him in Philippines-- Part 4

Zachariah Fike of Purple Hearts Reunited called John Trinca on June 3rd, the anniversary of Bateman's death, to let him know the Bateman family had been found, along with the the original Purple Heart, which Trinca had known nothing about.

Fike had learned of Trinca through an old newspaper clipping about his search for Bateman's identity.  "I couldn't sleep at all that night.  I was freaked out," said Trinca.

Medals like these turn up all over the country, said Fike.  Once a soldier's family is found, the medal is returned, along with the opportunity to have a return ceremony, which is where Trinca got to realize his dream of meeting Bateman's family.

Next.  --GreGen