Friday, February 5, 2016

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Robert Addobati-- Part 1

From the Jan. 31, 2016, Sacramento (Cal.) Bee  "Robert Addobati, Pearl Harbor survivor, aided fellow sailors after bombing."  A photo accompanies the article of him and two grand children at the USS Arizona Memorial on December 7, 1990.  This really brings the story home for me.

He died Jan. 15, 2016.

Joining the Navy the day after high school graduation, he was assigned to the hospital ship USS Solace.  The ship sailed from Brooklyn Navy Yard through the Panama Canal and arrived at Pearl Harbor about a month before the attack.

On the day of the attack he was nineteen and standing on quarterdeck watch.  he was quickly ordered to man one of two motor launches bringing injured back to the Solace.

Mr. Addoboti ferried injured and dead from the USS Oklahoma.

--GreGen

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Charles May

From the Jan. 31, 2016, (Chicago) Daily Herald "Suburban Pearl Harbor survivor dies at 92"

Charles May grew up in a small town in Missouri and joined the Navy at age 17.  He was on the USS Phoenix when the attack came.

He and a group of other sailors from his ship were waiting on the quarterdeck for a motor launch which was taking them over to the USS Arizona for Protestant services when they saw the Japanese planes.  When they saw the red ball on their wings, they scattered for their battle stations.  He manned a 50 caliber machine gun as an alternate loader.

It was then that they heard , "All hands man your battle stations.  This is no drill."

He was living in Huntley, Illinois at the time of his death.  He did not talk much about his war experiences until after he saw the movie "Pearl Harbor."



--GreGen

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Enemies In War, WWII Vets Bond As Seniors-- Part 6: Fought for Both German and U.S. Infantry

Gunter Burhdorf was promised accelerated  citizenship if he enlisted in the U.S. Army.  Less than two years later, not yet a U.S. citizen, he was sent to Korea to fight for the coubntry that less than a decade before, he'd fought against.

This was the story Gunter told the men sitting in the lobby of the assisted living facility.  George Williams extended his hand in friendship and said, "You've seen a lot.  You have experienced a lot.  Buhrdorf took it and said, "Let bygones be bygones."

It helped that they quickly deduced that Buhrdorf's anti-aircraft fire could not have reached Williams in his B-24 Liberator bomber.

Williams, now 96, said:  "Over there, the thing was, we were bombing from 25,000 feet and what I was interested in was how high  his artillery pieces would reach.  And the ones he was shooting would go to 10,000 feet.  He couldn't reach me.  But anything we dropped could have hit him."

Quite a Story.  --GreGen

Enemies in War, 2 Vets Bond As Seniors-- Part 5: Danced With Gloria DeHaven on Plane Flight

Gunter Buhrdorf was captured an taken to a British internment camp on a small island off the coast of England.  His clothes were covered with lice and the food he was given consisted of watered-down cabbage soup.  He found dandelions, sea gull eggs and frog legs to eat on the island instead of what he was given.

There wasn't much left of Germany after the war and he decided to go to the United States and join his brothers who were already living there.

On his flight over in 1949, he sat in the back of the DC-6 airliner drinking Canadian Club whiskey with a group of Norwegians.  They dared him to ask a pretty girl sitting up front to dance with him.  So he did and she agreed.  They slow-waltzed on the plane to music playing over the speakers.

When they deplaned; photographers were waiting at the gate.  He waved at them, thinking they were there to greet foreign visitors.  But his brother laughed at him and said they were there to photograph Hollywood starlet Gloria DeHaven, who was returning from a USO show.

--GreGen

Enemies in War, 2 Vets Bond As Seniors-- Part 4: Fought the Russians

a World War II photo of Buhrdorf accompanies the article showing him in a Kriegsmarine uniform so he was a sailor.  I thought that since he was manning an anti-aircraft gun that he might have been in the German Army.

Gunter Buhrdorf knew that the men (foreign laborers who were prisoners) secretly built the submarines poorly so they would not be effective, but there was little he could do about it.

When the air raid alarms would sound, sometimes everyone would sleep in the torpedo tubes for safety.In April 1945, the British captured Bremen.  After this, he fought with the infantry against the advancing Russians.

He suffered one injury on his retreat westward toward Berlin.  A 3-inch-long piece of shrapnel from a mortar shell clipped him in the back while he was dodging enemy fire.  It's his only war scar.

--GreGen

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Enemies in War, 2 Vets Bond As Seniors-- Part 3: Manned A.A. Gun and Worked on U-boats

As a teenager, Gunter Buhrdorf manned 20 mm anti-aircraft guns, but action was relatively calm until the United States entered the war.

He said:  "When America got into the war, that's when things changed.  The bombings changed, the size of the attacking force was increased from 50 to 500."

Bremen, the northwestern German town where his family lived, was leveled.

At age 18 Burhdorf was put in charge of a crew of foreign laborers tasked with building Hitler's ambitious submarine fleet.  The men were prisoners, but Burhdorf saw to it that they were fed.  "Hitler would not have liked that.  That was not to be advertised during the war."

--GreGen

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Enemies in War, 2 Vets Bond As Seniors-- Part 2: Joined German Army at 14

Gunter Buhrdorf found out that George Williams had been a bomb-dropping Allied pilot over Germany.  Gunter had been manning anti-aircraft guns for the Germans.

At first, he said nothing.

Then one evening in the spring of 2013, several weeks later, a few men were sitting in the lobby at Commonwealth Assisted Living Facility in Christiansburg, Virginia, and they began swapping stories.  Williams began reminiscing about the war and flying through heavy German flak.

Gunter Buhrdorf overcame his fear and started telling about his World War II experience for 45 minutes.

He had only been 14 years old when he joined the German Army in 1939.  His family hadn't supported Adolph Hitler.  Fighting for Germany was for love of country, not its leader.

During the war, Hitler's government kept what was happening with Jews in the concentration camps secret.  Buhrdorf clearly remembers the moment in August 1945 after the fighting had ended, when he first read a newspaper account of the horror.

--GreGen

Enemies in War, 2 Vets Bond As Seniors-- Part 1: Same War Different Sides

From the Jan. 10, 2016, Chicago Tribune "Enemies in WWII, 2 vets bond as seniors" by Colby Itkowitz, Washington Post.

Christiansburg, Virginia.

"On his first evening in his assisted living home, Gunter Buhrdorf ate dinner with another World War II soldier.

"He was, for the second time in his life, a stranger in a new land.  The assisted living facility staff gave him an open seat at George Williams' four-person table.  They hoped the men, veterans several years apart in age, would get along.  But, Buhrdorf, now 90, was reluctant to share wartime stories with his new dining companion.

"Yes, the men were both veterans.  But they had fought on opposite sides."

--GreGen

Monday, February 1, 2016

LCT's Lost

From Navy Department.

LCT 4's  Lost:  875 and 967

LCTs Damaged:  690, 921, 1035, 1037, 1124

LCT-5 (Mark V)  Lost:  25, 27, 30, 332, 294, 305, 362, 364, 458, 486, 2049, 2053, 2307, 2498

LCT-6 (Mark VI):  540, 593, 597, 665, 703, 711, 714, 777, 856

--GreGen

D-Day Sailor Recalls "Miracle" Survival-- Part 3: Cold Water Brought Him Around

"I was completely unconscious in the water with all my clothes on."  Disoriented, the cold water brought him around.  He swam to a raft about 30 feet away.  Taking account of his shape, he saw that he was badly bruised and his nose was almost cut off.  A PT boat threw him a line and towed his raft and a couple other survivors.  He pulled Nick Vasiliou and another soldier out of the water.

After recuperation and shore duty in England, he was assigned to a rocket equipped landing craft and sent to the Pacific, headed for Japan and the final invasion.  His ship was five days out of Pearl Harbor when the atom bomb was dropped and then came Japan's surrender soon after that.

Glen McClain is now 89 and twice widowed.  He has a 13th larger cross in his memorial, this one for his son Bob who died in a car accident in 1978.

--GreGen

D-Day Sailor Recalls "Miracle Survivor"-- Part 2: In the 14th Wave at D-Day

According to Glen McClain, "I was very fortunate, I call it a miracle."  He survived, but to this day carries internal scars such as the image of a shipmate who lost a lower jaw and half of his tongue who tried to speak to him.McClain also remembers a soldier calling for help but he couldn't reach him without drowning himself.

They were in the 14th wave going into the beach on June 6, 1944, and didn't expect much in the way of problems.  They were taking artillery in as well as a truck and its crew when they hit a mine designed to sink a battleship.

Mr. McClain was a seaman first class and had enlisted at age 17 and came to Waterloo after the war.  His battle station was a 20 mm anti-aircraft gun on his LCT  (Landing Craft Tank).

His ship had just passed the bow of the battleship USS Texas which was firing shells at the beach.  They were passing overhead.

--GreGen

Friday, January 29, 2016

D-Day Sailor Recalls "Miracle Survival"-- Part 1: His LCT Hit a Mine

From the June 6, 2014, WCF (Cedar Valley) Courier "Waterloo D-Day sailor recalls 'miracle' survival" by Pat Kinney.

Glen McClain has a memorial in the back of his desk.  A welder by trade, he has put together the yardarm of a ship with twelve rebar crosses.

He and his shipmates were sailing toward Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.  He is the only one left.  They never made it to the beach as their landing craft hit a mine and was obliterated.

Most of his men died that day.  One had his lower jaw blown away and died the next day.  The only other survivor, Nick Vasilou of Charleston, West Virginia, lost both of his legs.  McClain saved him.  They became lasting friends after that, but Nick died fifteen years ago of cancer.

Of the 100 soldiers they were carrying, nearly all of them died as well.

--GreGen

World War II Deaths in 2014

J.F. COLEMAN, 95.  (1918-May 13, 2014)  USMC 1941.  Fighter pilot, dive bombing missions in the Pacific Theater.  Became a test pilot in vertical take-offs and landings.

PETER AYERST, 93  (1920-May 15, 2014)  British World War II Spitfire pilot.  Eventually Wing-Commander.  Last surviving 73 Squadron pilot from Castle Bromwich.
 
Joined the RAF in 1938 and posted with 73 Squadron August 1939 and initially flew Hurricanes.  His first victory was in April 1940.  In 1942 transferred to North Africa.  Flew Spitfires as a bomber escort.  His war record was 5 Destroyed, 1 Probable, 3 Damaged and 2 destroyed on ground.

HIRAM MANN, 92  Army Lt.Colonel Tuskegee Airmen, 332nd Fighter Group.

--GreGen

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Higgins Boats and Copper Mines

MAY 26, 2014,  ARC STORY: 1942--  July 1942:  "An electric arc welder at a large Southern boatyard examines a bead he has just run on a steel ramp boat which will be used in military beach landings of men, tanks and other equipment on hostile shores, Higgins Industries, New Orleans."  By Howard Hollem, OWI.

The famous Higgins Boats so often used in the war and especially at D-Day.

MAY 22, 2014,  BINGHAM MINE: 1942--  November 1942.  "Utah Copper-- Bingham Mine.  Part of the open-pit workings f the Utah Copper Company at Bingham Canyon, Utah.  The steam locomotive is bringing empty cars from the Utah Copper mills at Magna and Arthur."  By Andreas Feininger, OWI

MAY 21, 2014,  WAR MACHINE: 1942--  November 1942.  "Floatation machine at one of the copper concentrations of the Utah Copper Company.  Its plants at Magna and Arthur in Utah are treating vast quantities of the copper so vital for war purposes."  By Andreas Feininger, OWI.

Reasons for Eventual U.S. Victory.  --GreGen

Shorpy Photos: Home Front-- Railroad Ladies and Meat Grinders

APRIL 25, 2014,  SISTER ACT: 1943--  May 1943.  Pitcairn, Pa.  "Twins Amy and Mary Rose Lindich, 21, employed by Pennsylvania Railroad as car repairmen, earning  72 cents per hour.  They reside in Jeannette and carpool with fellow worker."  By Marjory Collins.

APRIL 23, 2014,  GRINDER: 1943--  Moreno Valley, Colfax County, New Mexico.  Girl grinding meat at home.  By John Collier, OWI.    None of that store bought stuff here.  Several comments by people who remember using the old hand-cranked, stuff the meat into the cylinder, meat grinders.

--GreGen

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Shorpy Photos: Home Front Bombers

APRIL 29, 2014, NEW SHOE 1943--  Dec. 1942.  "A landing wheel with its huge rubber 'shoe' is trumbled out in a service tractor to a new B-17F (Flying Fortress) bomber awaiting completion at Boeing's Seattle plant."  Operated by a woman, who make up half the plant's workers.  By Andreas Feininger, OWI.

APRIL 27, 2014, LET'S BUILD A BOMBER: 1942--  Dec. 1942  "Production of B-17 heqavy bomber.  A skilled team of men and women workers at Boeing plant Seattle complete assembly and fitting operations of a fuselage section for a new B-17F (Flying Fortress)."  By Andreas Feininger.

Bombers, Oh My!  --GreGen

Shorpy Photos: Home Front Trains

MAY 1, 2014, SECONDS FAST: 1943:  March 1943.  More Marceline, Missouri "A dispatcher at work in the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Rail Road office."  By Jack Delano, OWI.  As I said before, Jack delano rode a lot of trains.

MAY 1, 1943  ANOTHER PHOTO--  Another photo of the above.

MAY 4, 2014, OIL + WATER: 1943--  March 1943  "Two trains passing on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad.  The above two by Jack Delano, OWI.

--GreGen


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Remains of Two Wisconsin USS Oklahoma Survivors Identified

From the Jan. 21, 2016, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Meg Jones.

When the USS Oklahoma sank at Pearl Harbor, 429 men died.  Many of them were entombed in the overturned ship for many months afterwards and their bodies were unidentified when it was finally uprighted.

The two Wisconsin people:

Petty Officer First Class Vernon T. lake, 43, of Green Bay

Chief Petty Officer Albert E. Hayden, 44, of Hudson.

In 2008, another Wisconsin sailor on the ship was identified, Lawrence Boxrucher, Fireman 2nd Class.

--GreGen

Pearl Harbor Survivor Jack Stoeber Dies

From the Jan. 21, 2016, Milford (Ct.) Mirror by Jill Dion.

Jack Stoeber, 98, died Jan. 16, 2016.  he graduated from Milford High School in 1936 and was on the USS Whitney during the attack.  Afterwards he was Chief Carpenter's Mate on the USS Pickens at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Philippines.

At Pearl Harbor, Mr. Stoeber was 21 and wasn't supposed to even be on board the Whitney as he was supposed to meet his uncle on Saturday night, but the plans changed and he returned to his ship.

He had just gotten out of the shower when the attack came.  The Whitney suffered no damage, but he said, "A loader got hit with shrapnel in the arm, but that was it.  They were going after the battleships."

Reporting to a gun on his ship, he said, "I hit one plane flying down low, and he crashed."

--GreGen

Monday, January 25, 2016

Shorpy Photos: Making Planes

MAY 8, 2014, SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED: 1942--  August 1942.  "Vultee Aircraft Co., Nashville.  using an electric drill on a fuselage in a sub-assembly section."  By Jack Delano, OWI.

MAY 8, 2014, DANNY THE DRILLER: 1942--  Another photo of the same plane as above.  Comment:  Appears to be A-31 Vengeance dive bomber which were built at Nashville at the Stinson plant.

They were not used in combat by U.S. forces, but saw action in the RAF, RAAF and Indian Air Force in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific.  Only used by U.S. to tow targets.

There was some question as to why the driller was not in the military.

--GreGen