Tuesday, April 15, 2014

USS Indianapolis Survivore John Heller Dies-- Part 1

From the April 12, 2014, Detroit Free Press "Michigan vet who survived naval disaster honored as hero with kind heart" by Robert Allen. //// After writing the last several entries on John Heller and his experiences on the USS Indianapolis, I decided to see if there were any other articles about him. I was very sorry to se that he had died on April 2nd. //// John Thomas Heller, 86, died of natural causes April 2, 2014. A memorial service was held at Big Beaver United Methodist Church in Troy, Michigan. //// In 1945, he was just 17 and the youngest crewmember of te heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis which was sunk by a Japanese submarine on July 30, 1945, after delivering the components for the atom bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. //// The ship sank in just 12 minutes. Of its crew of 1,197, 910 went into the sea. By the time they were rescued five days later, after dehydration and sharks, just 317 were still alive. Since the ship had been on a top secret mission, it was not noticed to be missing except by accident. //// --GreGen

Monday, April 14, 2014

USS Indianapolis Reunion 2014

I just found out that the next reunion for the survivors of the USS Indianapolis is set for July 24-27th, 2014, in Indianapolis at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. This is something I'm considering visiting. //// Unfortunately, of the 41 survivors mentioned by John Heller back in 2012, there will be at least one less as I just found out today. //// More on that tomorrow. //// --GreGen

World War II Vet Recounts Sinking of USS Indianapolis-- Part 3

John Heller remembers: "I was sleeping on deck near the guns and the deck got so hot that I burned my feet. I grabbed a life vest and ended up in the water as the ship began to list. We watched as she drifted away, listing heavily to one side. Then she went straight up and then straight down." //// No one noticed that the Indianapolis had failed to arrive at her station in Leyte Gulf. Days later, Navy planes hunting for subs followed a ship's oil slick and found the survivors scattered over 200 square miles of araea. //// Of the 60 survivors who went into the water in Heller's group, only 18 were alive five days later. //// Today, only 41 are still alive (probably fewer now since the article is from February 2012). They meet in Indianapolis for a reunion every two years. A book was written about the ship, "USS Indianapolis (CA-35): Only 317 Survived." //// --GreGen

World War II Vet Recounts Sinking of USS Indianapolis-- Part 2

Along with the huge boxes (the bombs) another container, four-times larger than a cigar box was kept on the floor in the captain's cabin. It had the components for the atom bomb. The Indianapolis delivered the cargo at Tinian and returned to the Philipines. //// Shortly after midnight July 30, 1945, the ship was hit by two torpedoes and sank in less than 15 minutes. At least 300 of the crew went down with the ship. //// Some 880 went into the water. Five days later, that number was down to 317. //// Sadly, the Indianapolis had been on a top-secret mission delivering the atom bombs, so its disappearance was not known for quite a few days, accounting for the long time before the survivors were found. //// --GreGen

Saturday, April 12, 2014

World War II Veteran Recounts Sinking of the USS Indianapolis-- Part 1

From the February 18, 2012, Detroit News by Tom Greenwood. //// John Heller, 84, of Clawson still remembers the tremendous explosion that woke him up. However, he can't remember how he survived his five days in the Pacific Ocean afterwards where he battled sharks, thirst and the delirium that killed so many of his shipmates. "I guess I was just lucky." //// He was just 17 when he convinced his mother to let him join the Navy in January 1945. He had an abbreviated training and was one of the 1,197 men assigned to the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis in San Francisco. //// Before the ship left port, he remembers two garage-size boxes loaded into the ship and guarded by heavily-armed Marines. The Indianapolis was carrying components for the two atom bombs. //// --GreGen

Battle of Atlantic Off NC Coast: April 1942

German U-boats were sinking lots of Allied shipping off the U.S. Atlantic coast. These are just the ships sunk off the North Carolina coast. //// April 16th-- ALOCA GUIDE, shelled and sunk by U-123, 6 killed. //// April 16th-- DESERT LIGHT-- freighter, torpedoed and sunk by U-572, 1 killed. //// April 18th-- AXTELL J. BYLES-- tanker, torpedoed by U-136. //// April 19th-- EMPIRE DRYDEN-- freighter, torpedoed and sunk by U-572. //// April 19th-- STEEL MAKER-- freighter, torpedoed and sunk by U-654, 2 killed. //// April 19th-- HARPAGON-- freighter, torpedoed and sunk by U-109, 41 killed. //// And Most People in the U.S. Didn't Even Know How Dire Things Were Going Along the Atlantic Coast. --GreGen

Friday, April 11, 2014

Getting Arrested in Wilmington During World War II

From the March 12, 2014, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then." //// MARCH 4, 1944: Even at war, crime continued on the homefront in Wilmington, BC, which was bustling during the war, having its population double with the influx of workers at the shipyard and soldiers and families at nearby Camp Davis. //// During the month of February, Wilmington police reported 537 arrests. For assault with a deadly weapon, 21; assault with a deadly weapon on a female, 22; //// drunk, 133; drunk and disorderly, 25; disorderly conduct, 18; adultery, 12; ; larceny and receiving, 27; operating a car while intoxicated, 13; occupying the same bedroom for immoral purposes, 15; speeding, 21; and vagrancy, 28. //// Kind of ineteresting to see people being arrested for adultery or occupying a room for immoral purposes. And, they had DUIs back then as well. //// Wilmington At War. --GreGen

Battle of Atlantic Off NC Coast: April 1942

Ships sunk by U-boat action. //// April 10th-- TAMAULIPAS-- tanker, torpedoed and sunk by U-552, 2 killed. //// April 11th-- HARRY F. SINCLAIR-- tanker, torpedoed by U-203, ten killed. //// April 11th-- ULYSSES-- freighter, torpedoed and sunk by U-160. //// April 12th-- STANVAC MELBOURE-- tanker, torpedoed by U-203, 3 killed. //// April 14th-- EMPIRE THRUSH-- freigher, torpedoed and sunk by U-203. //// April 14th-- U-85, submarine, depth-charged, shelled and sunk by US Roper, 45 killed. ( Of interest, near the end of the war, in 1945, the U-879 sank the freighter Belfian Airman on April 14th with one death.) //// --GreGen

Rockford's Camp Grant Museum

From the April/Easter Market Street Press. //// I picked this newspaper up at the Woodstock (Il.) Library at the Civil War Round Table Meeting this past Tuesday where we heard about embalming. //// In it was an ad for the Command Post Restaurant at 1004 Samuelson Road in Rockford, Illinois. The restaurant also has the Camp Grant Museum featuring Rockford Local History during a Military Camp from 1917-1948. //// I have already written about it, just hit the Camp Grant label. //// The ad goes on to say that the nuseum features displays, postcards, pictures and memorabilia. //// Evidently, the museum is open when the restaurant is open Tuesday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday from 7 to 1 and Sunday 9 to 2. Special hours can be arranged for groups. //// There will be a Friends of Camp Grant meeting May 15th from 7-9 p.m. //// More info at 815-395-0678 or at www.CampGrantMuseum.org. //// It was one really big camp used in both world wars and, if I remember correctly, essentially where the Rockford Airport is located today. //// --GreGen

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Herman Schleinhege: German War Ace Dies

Born 1916, died March 11, 2014. World War II Luftwaffe Ace credited with 97 aerial victories on the Eastern front against the Soviets. //// GreGen

Battle of Atlantic Off NC Coast-- April 1942: Another Big Day for the U-boats

On April 7th, the U-552 sank two ships and U-754 sank one off the North Carolina coast. Two days later, the 552, 160 and 203 added three more. At least six German U-boats (123, 754, 572, 552, 160 and 260) were operating. //// Ships sunk on April 9th: ATLAS, tanker, torpedoed and sunk by U-552, 2 killed. //// MALCHANCE, freighter, torpedoed and sunk by U-160. 1 killed. //// SAN DELFINO, tanker, torpedoed and sunk by U-203, 28 killed. //// Total ships sunk in the first nine days of April by U-boats: 11 ships. One each by the U-123, 203 and 572; two each by U-754 and 160 and four by the U-552. //// I sure don't think I would have liked to be on a torpedoed tanker, something about exploding cargo to have to worry about in addition to the torpedo. //// Big-Time War Off the Coast. --GreGen

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Battle of the Atlantic Off the North Carolina Coast, April 1942-- Part 2

April 6th: BIDWELL, tanker, torpedoed by U-160, 1 killed. //// April 7th: BRITISH SPLENDOUR, tanker, torpedoed and sunk by U-552, 12 killed. //// April 7th: LANCING, whaling factory/tanker, torpedoed and sunk by U-552, 1 killed. //// April 7th: KOLLSKEGG, tanker, torpedoed and sunk by U-754, 4 killed. ///// That is seven ships sunk in one day. Tomorrow I'll list the three ships sunk on April 9th, 1942, 72 years ago. //// --GreGen

The Battle of the Atlantic Off the North Carolina Coast April 1942-- Part 1

From the NC Wreck Diving site. //// Even though most Americans were unaware of it, German U-boats were waging an all-out war on maritime commerce off the entire U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts. These are just ships sunk off the coast of North Carolina. //// All dates are 1942: April 2nd: LIEBRE, tanker, shelledby U-123, 9 killed. //// April 3rd: OTHO, freighter, torpedoed and sunk by the U-754, 31 killed. //// April 4th: ENSIS, tanker, damaged by gunfire from U-572. //// April 4th: BYRON D. BEASSON, tanker, torpedoed and sunk by U-552, 10 killed. //// Many More to Come. --GreGen

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pearl Harbor Survivor Remembers-- Part 2

Then began the long and hard salvage effort. Five months later, John Reed was assigned to a destroyer/minesweeper and deployed to the island of Attu to sweep for mines. He later became a gunnery instructor. //// After that, he asked for reassignment to the aircraft carrier USS Essex and served off Okinawa. He says the ship had over 300 "kills" and the Essex received very little damage. He remembers one kamikaze flying into the ship, but the damage was so little that it only took two hours to repair. //// He was honorably discharged on Nov. 6, 1945, with the rank of Gunner's Mate 1st Class and returned to Oklahoma and has been back to Pearl harbor twice in 1987 and 1991. //// --GreGen

Pearl Harbor Survivor Remembers-- Part 1

From the feb. 20, 2012, Lincoln County (Oklahoma) Journal "Reed stationed at Pearl Harbor, remembers Japanese attack" by Kristen Watson. //// John Reed of Troy had just finished breakfast and was leaving when he heard a loud explosion. "I first looked toward the area of the harbor where the large gas tanks were located and then, something told me to look up. That is when I saw the Japanese bomber and I knew we were going to war. I locked my eyes on the pilot." //// He said that Pearl Harbor had been on high alert the previous two weeks which had just been lifted the day before the attack. "I remember rushing down to the armory with others to get rifles, shotguns and pistols to fire back." ////

Hitler Had Plans for a United Kingdom Headquarters

From the feb. 20, 2012, NOTV. //// Had Adolf Hitler's plans to invade England came to pass and been successful, he had plans to set up a headquarters in the English Midlands. Top-secret plans called for Apley Hall, near Norton, in the heart of Shropshire countryside in the Midlands to be it. //// Apley Hall was owned by Major A.W. Foster, a decorated hero of the Boer War and World War I who had lost a leg in battle. //// Geographically, it was in the center of England and with an air base nearby. The invasion was set for 1940, but was scrapped largely because of the efforts of the RAF during the Battle of Britain. //// --GreGen

70th Anniversary of Japanese Internment in 2012-- Part 2

At least the United States learned from this internment. Nothing like it happened to Muslims in America after 9-11. //// This 70th anniversary was marked in the San Francisco Bay area. with art exhibits, online photographs, displays and a "Day of remembrance" event. //// The art exhibit features art done by the internees at the Topaz War Relocation Center. The San Jose Morning News had 60 photos of the camps online, some of the photos by Dorothea Lange. San Francisco had a Day of Remembrance on February 19th. //// --GreGen

Saturday, April 5, 2014

70th Anniversary of Japanese-American Internment in 2012-- Part 1

From the February 19, 2012, San Leandro Patch " Today Marks 70th Anniversary of Japanese Internment in World War II" by Dixie Jordan and Tom Abate. //// Today, this is seen largely as a miscarriage of justice. //// On February 19, 1942, two months after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the evacuation of persons of Japanese descent from the West Coast. // More than 100,000 of them, many from the East Bay area, were held in ten remote camps far away from the coast. Some were held for as many as three years. Two-thirds of them were American citizens. //// More to Come. --GreGen

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fayetteville Man to Return to Belgium for Battle of Bulge Anniversary-- Part 5

In time, that parachute ended up in a box in the attic. Recently, Andrews heard about a group of World War II re-enactors who were planning to stage an anniversary drop over Bastogne as part of the 70th anniversary commemoration. //// "I pulled out the parachute," he said. "Of course, all the riggings were all fouled up, and I couldn't remember how to fix it. But I gave it to the riggers over at Fort Bragg and they fixed it." //// Andrews believes this may be the last of those origianl parachutes. "I plan to be there to see it. Maybe that's why I held onto it for so long, so we could both be back at Bastogne." //// Quite a Story Out of the Past. --GreGen

Fayetteville Man to Return to Belgium for Battle of Bulge Anniversary-- Part 4; Grabbing Parachutes

Some of the parachutes fell into German lines or were so close that they made it hot for anyone attempting retrieval. But, by Christmas Eve, all those parachutes were in American hands. //// The siege was lifted the day after Christmas and some soldiers like Andrews realized that the parachutes that had saved them also made excellent linings for sleeping rolls and as a result, Andrews was able to hang onto several of them. //// "I gave a blue one to the family we shared the house with," he said. "A year later I visited them. The mother had used the parachute to make blue silk dresses for her four little daughters." //// Another chute became his wife Margaret's wedding dress after the war. (A dress with a history.) After coming home, Andrews donated the yellow chute to the 101st Airborne museum and he kept the last one as he continued his military service around the world. //// --GreGen