Tuesday, September 17, 2019

U.S. Vet Returns Captured Japanese Flag-- Part 4: Nearly half of Japanese Soldiers Killed Overseas Have Not Been Found

Marvin Strombo was not only able to return Sadao Yasue's flag, but could also provide the Yasue family with some answers involving his death.

He said that he found Sadao Yasue's body on the outskirts of Garapan, a village in Saipan, when he got lost and found himself near the Japanese front line.  He told them that their brother likely died of concussion from a mortar round.  That Sadao was lying on the ground on his left side, looking as if he was sleeping and without severe wounds.

Garapan is in the United States Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

And, importantly, with those details, the family can now hope that they might be able to find his remains now.

The remains of nearly half of the 2.4 million Japanese war dead overseas have yet to be found.  It is an increasingly pressing issue as bereaved families are reaching old age and memories fade.

In 2012, Marvin Strombo was connected to the Obon Society, an Oregon-based non-profit that helps U.S. veterans and their descendants return Japanese flags to the families of the fallen soldiers.

Tuesday's handover meant closure for Strombo, too.  "It means so much to me and the family to get the flag back and move on," he said.

A Great Story.  --GreGen

Monday, September 16, 2019

U.S. Vet Returns Captured Japanese Flag-- Part 3: "My Brother Came Out of Limbo"

The return of the flag brought closure to the Yatsue family.  "It's like the war has finally ended and my brother can come out of limbo," younger brother Sadao Yasue, 89, said.

Tatsuya Yasue last saw his older brother  the day before he left for the South Pacific in 1943.  he and two siblings had a small sendoff picnic for his oldest brother outside his military unit over sushi and Japanese sweet mochi.  At the end of it, his older brother whispered to him to take care of the parents as he was going to the the Pacific island s where chances of returning were minimal.

A year later, the Japanese government sent the family a wooden box with a few stones at the bottom -- a substitute or the body.  They knew no details of Sadeo's death until months after the war ended, when they were told he died somewhere in the Mariana Islands, presumably on July 18, 1944, the day Saipan fell.  The brother was just 25.

"That's all we were told about my brother," he said.


Sunday, September 15, 2019

America's Oldest World War II Veteran Celebrates His 110th Birthday in New Orleans

From Fox News by Nicole Darrah.

Lawrence Brooks, considered to be our oldest WW II veteran, celebrated his 110th birthday Thursday in New Orleans at the National World War II Museum  he was born September 12, 1909 and served in the 91st  Engineer Battalion stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines.  The 91st was predominately a black unit.

He served between 1940 and 1945 and his primary duty was as a servant to three white officers.  He attained the rank of private 1st class.

he is now considered to be the oldest veteran after the death of Richard Overton in December at the age of 112.  He has been returning to the museum for birthday celebrations ever since his 105th birthday.

One of the Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Friday, September 13, 2019

USS Arizona Survivor Lauren Bruner Dies at 98

From the September 11, 2019, Hawaii News Now  "USS Arizona survivor who was second to last to leave  the sinking battleship dies at 98"  by Lisa Kubota.

One of just four remaining survivors from that fated ship.  Died Tuesday, September 10 in California.

On December 7, 1941, he was a 21-year-old fire controlman third class.  Bruner, fellow survivor Donald Stratton, and four others narrowly escaped by pulling themselves along a rope connected to another vessel.

In the attack, he was wounded by enemy  fire and suffered burns over  more than 73% of his body.

His story is chronicled in the recently published memoir "Second to the Last to Leave USS Arizona."

One of the Greatest.  --GreGen

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Deaths of 9-11 First Responders Continue to Rise

Continued from my Not So Forgotten: War of 1812 and Cooter's History Thing blogs posted today.

Three hundred forty-three New York City firefighters died during the initial response on Sept. 11.  In July, NYC mayor Bill Deblasio announced that the 200th NYC firefighter had died from a Ground Zero-related illness, a number expected to continue to grow even to exceeding the original firefighter toll.  (The number of these deaths this date in 2018 was approaching 180.)

Tom Frey remembers a detective who sat at the desk next to his, who was one of the first to succumb to a pulmonary illness.  His friend and fellow NYC detective Luis Alvarez, who supported Frey through his cancer treatments and made news in June when he gave emotional testimony before Congress in support of extending the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, died two weeks after his testimony.

In July, the victim fund was extended through 2090 -- a necessary measure, says Dr, Greg Cosgrove, chief medical officer at the Chicago-based Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, because illnesses such as that will continue to be linked to ground zero exposure.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

"Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)"-- Part 1

Because of the anniversary of 9-11, I will again write about it in all seven of my blogs.

This song hit me hard back then.  By Alan Jackson.


Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?

Were in the yard with your wife and children?

Or working on some stage in L.A.?

Did you stand there in shock

At the sight of that black smoke

Risin' against that  blue sky?

Did you shout out in anger

In fear for your neighbor

Or did you just sit down and cry?


Eighteen Years Ago.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

U.S. Vet Returns Captured Japanese Flag-- Part 2: "It Meant Everything In the World To Her"

U.S. veteran Marvin Strombo reached over to Sayoko Furata's shoulder and gently rubbed it,.  "I was so happy that I returned the flag," he said.  "I can see how much the flag meant to her.  That almost made me cry.  It meant everything in the world to her."

The flag's white background is filled with signatures of 180 friends and neighbors in this tea-growing mountain village of Higashishirakawa, wishing for Yasue's safe return.  It was those signatures that helped Strombo find the flag's rightful owners.

The brother of Sadao Yasue, the slain Japanese soldier, Tatsuya Yasue said the smell of the flag brought back old memories.  "It smelled like my hood old big brother, and it smelled like my mother's home cooking we ate together.  The flag will be our treasure."

The return of the flag brought closure to the 89-year-old farmer and his 93-year-old sister, Sayoko Furuta.

A Very Touching Story.  --GreGen

Monday, September 9, 2019

U.S. Vet Returns Captured Japanese Flag-- Part 1: Taken From a Dead Soldier's Body

From the August 16, 2017, Chicago Tribune "U.S. vet: 'I was so happy that I returned the flag' by Mari Yamaguchi, AP.

Higashishi, Japan.  Tatsuya Yasue buried his face into the flag and smelled it.  Then he held the 93-year-old hands that had brought the treasure home, and kissed them.

Marvin Strombo, who had taken the calligraphy covered Japanese flag from a dead soldier during a World War II battlefield 73 years ago, returned it Tuesday to the family of Sadao Yasue.  They had never gotten his body or -- until that moment -- anything else of his.

Yasue and Tatsuya's sister, Sayoko Furuta, 93, sitting in her wheelchair, covered her face with both hands as Tatsuya placed the flag in her lap.

A Touching Story After All This Time.  Time to Heal.  --GreGen

Suspected Nazi Artifacts Found in Argentina

From the June 21, 2017, Chicago Tribune  "Suspected Nazi artifacts found in a hidden room in Argentina"

Police have found the biggest collection of Nazi artifacts in Argentina's history in a secret room of the home of a collector near the nation's capital, Buenos Aires  These include a bust relief of Adolf Hitler and magnifying glasses inside elegant boxes with swastikas.  Some 75 items in all.

Authorities believe them to be originals.

Among the items were toys that would have been used to indoctrinate children and a large statue of the Nazi Eagle above a Swastika, a Nazi hourglass and a box of harmonicas.  One of the most compelling pieces is a photo negative of Hitler holding a magnifying glass similar to the ones found in the boxes.

They did not release the name of the collector who is under investigation.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Leaving for the WAVEs

From the March 6, 2019, MidWeek   "Looking Back."

1944, 75 Years Ago.

"Mildred Byers of Kirkland has resigned her  position at the DeKalb Agriculture office.  She will leave this week to enter training in the WAVES."


Friday, September 6, 2019

Some More on Bernard Dargols-- Part 2: To the French People He Was a Liberator

**  A few hours after landing on Normandy, Bernard Dargols was on a jeep nicknamed "La Bastlle" and he found himself surrounded by  Frenchmen who couldn't believe their ears.

"What a feeling to hear French spoken, to be taken in the arms of all these people older than me, calling me their liberator," he recalled.

**  "If I had kept all the bottles of calvados brandy  they were giving me, I think I could have opened my own specialist shop!"

**  IN 2014, he told Time magazine how badly he wanted to fight the Germans after he saw newsreel footage of Adolph Hitler shaking hands with French leader Philipe Petain, whose government collaborated in deporting 73,000  Jews from France to Nazi concentration camps.

**  His mother survived the Nazi occupation by hiding in her building.

**  He later moved to Paris.

**  "Today we're seeing the signs of anti-Semitism, he told AFP in 2014.  "I want young people to fight back against it."


Thursday, September 5, 2019

Germany Apologizes to Poland for 1939 Invasion and Atrocities

From the September 2, 2019, Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune  WW II's start marked in Poland with German  remorse, warning about nationalism" by Monika Scislowska and Vanessa Gera.

Germany's President Frank Walter Steinmeyer told Poland's  top leaders and others that Germany felt great remorse for the suffering his nation inflicted on the people of Poland and the rest of Europe on Sunday, the 80th anniversary of the beginning of World War II.

"The war was a German crime," he said.  "I bow  in mourning to the suffering of the victims.  I ask for forgiveness for Germany's historical debt.  I affirm our lasting responsibility."

Two weeks after Germany's invasion of Poland, the Soviet Union did likewise.  Six years later, about six million Polish people were dead, more than half of them Jews.

About Time.  --GreGen

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

USS Arizona Memorial Reopens After 16 Months

From the September 3, 2019, Military.com  "USS Arizona Memorial reopens after repairs" the Honolulu Star-Advertiser by Rob Shakina.

"With the American flag billowing in the wind above and 'The Star-Spangled Banner'  playing on the loudspeakers from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Field, the first boatload of tourists and residents in nearly sixteen months stepped onto the USS Arizona Memorial on Sunday morning."

The 145 persons disembarked from the Navy boat and spent solemn minutes looking at the long list of names of the 1,177 men who died that December morning.  Among the dead were a father and son named Free and 23 sets of brothers.

The oil is still seeping up from the ship which to me is the most moving sight.  The life blood of the ship and those men.  That oil is from the million gallons of bunker oil aboard the ship when it blew up.

While the memorial was closed, Navy boats still gave tours by it with a narrated story.  But no one was allowed to go into it.

It was closed in May 2018 after park staff found major damage to the anchoring system for the boat dock at it.    This damage possibly came from king tides in 2017.  Originally the memorial, which is one of Hawaii's biggest tourist attractions with about 4,300 people a day, was supposed to reopen in October 2018, but that was pushed back to December, then March of this year.

It's been a long time, but glad it has reopened.  I know that when I went to Hawaii, that was number one on my list of things to see.


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Some More on Bernard Dargols-- Part 1

I have just finished writing five posts about this Frenchman's role in liberating his country as an American soldier during the war.

From 30 April 2019, Breitbart News "Bernard Dargols, Paris-Born GI who fought at Omaha Beach, dies at 98" by Simon Kent.

**  Paris-born Jew and only Frenchman to storm ashore at Omaha Beach in an American uniform.

**  Immigrated to U.S. in 1938 to work in Manhattan.

**  Became an American citizen.

**  Waded ashore as U.S. Army staff sergeant at age 24.

**  "If the Liberty Ship had been able to quickly ho into reverse, I think I would have asked them to do it."  He recounts coming to the shore.

More to Come.  --GreGen

One By One, D-Day Memories Fade-- Part 5

The road Bernard Dargols took from Omaha Beach inland now nears his name.

The battle to wrest Normandy from the Germans took longer than the Allies had figured, but, for Dargols, the final prize was invaluable.  When he made it to Paris, he went to his childhood apartment and found his mom -- unexpectedly alive.

For four decades, he didn't talk much about the war. But as more and more survivors died, and at his granddaughter's urging, he realized the importance of speaking out and sharing his stories with schools and journalists.

Dargols would have had a clear message for the D-Day anniversary had he lived, his granddaughter said:  "Never take democracy for granted.  Dictatorship is always a bad solution. Keep democracy alive.  Fight for democracy, for freedom, for peace."


Monday, September 2, 2019

One By One, D-Day Memories Fade Away-- Part 4: Bernard Dargols

Bernard Dargols might have made it back to Normandy this year had he not died in May.  It meant a lot to him.

His story is both unusual and emblematic.  He was born in France, but left Paris in 1938 for New York to learn his father's sewing machine trade.  He watched from afar as the Nazis occupied his homeland.  His Jewish relatives were sent to camps or fled in fear.

Determined to fight back, but skeptical of French gen. Charles de Gaulle's resistance force, he joined the U.S. Army instead.

With the 2nd Infantry Division, Dargols sailed from Britain on June 5 and only made it to Normandy on June 8, after three interminable days on choppy seas.

Then, he landed on Normandy on D-Day +2.


Saturday, August 31, 2019

One By One, D-Day Memories Fade-- Part 3: How Many Are Still Alive?

Normandy school teachers, veterans' families and military memorials are racing against time to record survivors' stories for posterity.

It was history's biggest amphibious invasion, on that fateful June 6, 1944, day, some 160,000 Allied forces came ashore to launch Operation Overlord to wrest Normandy from German control.  More than 4,000 Allied forces were killed that day alone.  Nearly a half a million people were killed on both sides by the time the Allies liberated Paris in August 1944.

It is unclear how many D-Day veterans are alive today.  The survivors are now in their 90s or 100s.

Of the 73,000 Americans who took part, just thirty are currently scheduled to come to France for this year's 75th anniversary.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

One By One, D-Day Memories Fade As WW II's Witnesses Die-- Part 2

An ever-smaller number of veterans will stand on Normandy's shores on June 6 for D-Day's 75th anniversary.  Many will salute fallen comrades from their wheelchairs.  As each year passes, more firsthand history is lost.

Bernard Dangols has outlived many of those men storming ashore June 6, 1944 and knows the importance of sustaining their memory.  "I'm convinced that we have to talk about the war to children, so they will understand how much they need to preserve the peace," he wrote in his memoir.

Even to his death, Dargols battled today's complacency, intolerance and those who think of D-Day as just a movie.

In recent years, "seeing any type of violence, of anti-Semitism and racism, either in France, in Europe or in the U.S." really upset him, said his granddaughter, Caroline Jolivet.


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Halloween Prank in 1958

Okay, not WW II, but an interesting story anyway.

From the October 3, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

A photograph of a Halloween prank at Northern Illinois.

Caption:  "Halloween prank in 1958.  A fully assembled car sits on the structure that will become the Neptune building on the Northern Illinois University campus in De Kalb.

The photo was taken by Perry and Edythe Larson from their home on Carroll Avenue where the Holmes Student Center now stands.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

One By One, D-Day Memories Fade As WW II's Witnesses Die-- Part 1

From the May 12, 2019, Chicago Tribune by Angela Charlton, AP.

Growing up, World War II veterans were everywhere so I never thought too much about them being around.  (I was born in 1951, just six years after the war.)  But, they are getting very rare these days as age claims so many daily.

"Paris --One more funeral, one fewer witness to the world's worst war.

"Bernard Dargols lived almost long enough to join the celebrations next month marking 75 years since the D-Day, 75 years since he waded ashore at Omaha Beach as an American soldier to help liberate France from the Nazis who persecuted his Jewish family.

"Just shy of his 99th birthday, Dargols died this month.  To the strains of his beloved American jazz, he was laid to rest Thursday at France's most famous cemetery, Pere Lachaise."