Saturday, July 4, 2015

America Turns 239

Not bad for an old country.

Congrats.  --GreGen

There Are Only 77 American Aces Still Alive

From the June 2015 Veterans Site Blog.  "There Are Only 77 Left?  We Need to Honor These Vets Before It's Too Late" by Brian Doyle.

Recently two American Aces from Washington State went to meet up with more than three dozen other Aces in Washington, D.C. to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest U.S. civilian award.

To reach Ace status, the pilot has to have shot down five or more enemy planes in aerial combat, otherwise known as Dogfights.Only 77 remain from the past.  Air Force Brigadier general Steve Ritchie of Bellevue, Washington, became an Ace during the Vietnam War by flying 800 hours of combat on 339 missions.  He shot down five MIG-21s.

Navy Commander Clarence Borley, of Olympia, Washington, was actually shot down himself in the South Pacific where he floated for five days before being spotted and picked up by an American submarine.  While on that sub, he also experienced submarine combat when it was attacked twice by Japanese vessels.

On a day like today, July 4th, it is good to remember these men who risked their lives for us.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Donald Allen, WWII "Nose Art" Artists Died in 2013-- Part 2

Donald Allen, a Cleveland native, graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1941.  His job in the air force was to ready planes for sorties.  he avoided painting nude women, unlike many others doing "Nose Art."

He painted more than fifty designs on P-47 Thunderbirds and P-51 Mustangs.  Reproductions of his "Nose Art" are on display at Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro, N.C., where a street is named for him.

He volunteered as a waist gunner on a B-17 shuttle of bombers from England to Italy to Russia in 1944 to service aircraft on each stop and was awarded the Air Medal for his role.


Donald Allen, World War II "Nose Art" Artist Died in 2013-- Part 1

From the September 21, 2013, "Donald Allen, 'nose art' artist of World War II, dies at 93" by Brian Albrecht.

Died August 15 in Rocky River, crew chief with the 4th Fighter Group, 334th Fighter Squadron, based in England.  he was commissioned by pilots to paint depictions of their wives, girlfriends, favorite cartoon characters and other subjects on the noses of their planes.

A Golden Gloves champ from Missouri got a boxing mule.  A pilot from Idaho flew the "Bosie Bee.  The practice of painting the noses of airplanes was common in the Army Air Force and came known as "Nose Art" for its location on the planes.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Port Chicago Explosion-- Part 2

Two hundred and fifty-eight surviving black sailors from the stevedore teams refused orders to go back and continue loading and offloading ships, demanding improved safety procedures.

A mutiny was declared and most were arrested and 208 court martialed.


Local Men from Wilmington Casualties in Port Chicago Explosion in 1943-- Part 1

From the July 16, 2013, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Local men among casualties of epic World War II disaster" by Wilbur D. Jones Jr.

On July 17, 1943, the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in California exploded, obliterating ships and killing 320 naval, maritime and civilian personnel.  Almost 400 were wounded.  Damage from the blast extended out to 50 miles.

Two hundred and two blacks were among the dead.  The deaths from this one event accounted for 15% of all black military personnel killed in the war.  Two of them were from Wilmington.  Seaman First Class James Henry Nixon and Seaman second Class James Jackson.

The explosion had a lot to do with the military's racial policies of the time.  Most of the laborers were black sailors who received little training and they had to work under very unsafe conditions.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Okinawans Still Haunted by Horrors of War-- Part 2

Over 100,000 Okinawans died along with 80,000 Japanese troops.  Almost every family suffered at least one casualty during the U.S. bombardment by air, sea and on land.

The island's lush green landscape was turned into a scorched wasteland.

More than 12,000 Americans also died, the worst bloodshed suffered by them during the War in the Pacific.

Many felt this slaughter and bloodshed foretold of what would happen should the U.S. be forced to invade Japan itself.

Yoshiko Shimabukure lost two older siblings and was told that should she be captured by the Americans that she would be raped and burned alive.


Okinawans Still Haunted By the Horror of War-- Part 1

From the June 22, 2015, Yahoo! News/ARP by Alastair Hummer.

Yoshiko Shimabukure still has nightmares of watching friends and Japanese soldiers die as they hid in caves to escape the American shelling.  She was one of 222 female students mobilized as a battlefield nursing unit for the Imperial Army in March 1945.

They had only basic training putting on bandages, but the Japanese soldiers they tended "has legs ripped off, their intestines were falling out, faces missing."  She was just 17 at the time.

many of her friends died when they were ordered by Japanese soldiers to leave the caves under fire.  Others jumped off the cliffs as Americans approached. Others blew themselves up with grenades.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Eastern Defense Command

On Saturday, I mentioned the Eastern Defense Command prohibiting photography along the North Carolina coast as a war measure.  This was an organization I had never heard of before.

From Wikipedia.

The Eastern Defense Command (EDC) was established as the Northeast Defense Command on 17 March 1941, one of four U.S. Army continental defense commands to plan, prepare and execute defense against enemy attack (if needed) along the Atlantic coast before the U.S. entered the war.

Its main job was to coordinate Army forces and installations.  It replaced the New England Defense Section.

With the U.S. entry into the war on December 8, 1941, the Northeast Defense Command was placed in the Eastern Theater of operations.  Its first commander was Lt. Gen. Hugh A. Drum, commander of the First Army with headquarters at Fort Jay on Governor's Island, New York City.  Its operational area included every state along the eastern coast.

As prospects of enemy attack all but diminished, the EDC merged into the Central Defense Command on 15 January 1944.

Other Defense Commands during the war:

Western Defense Command
Central Defense Command
Southern defense Command
Alaska Defense Command
Caribbean Defense Command


Monday, June 29, 2015

Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Survivor Sails On

From the Sept. 19, 2013 Times.

Edward L. Wentzlaff went to the USS Arizona Memorial in 2011 for the 9th time.  He died at age 95 on September 10, 2013,  His ashes will join 35 others on December 7, 2013, on the USS Arizona.

In 1941, he was a 24-year-old on the deck of the USS Arizona waiting for church service to begin.  he had joined the Navy in 1939.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

German U-boats Off East Coast of U.S.: Photography Limitations

From the August 28, 2013, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then."

AUGUST 10, 1943:  German U-boats were off the East Coast.  The Eastern Defense Command banned civilian photography along much of the beaches in North Carolina.  Only the southeastern portion of the N.C. shore was allowed.

Also, it was illegal to take photographs from planes and illegal to make paintings or drawings of beach landmarks.

Although by now, most U-boat activity had ceased after hitting its peak the previous summer.


Friday, June 26, 2015

The Office of War Information

From the Sept. 28, 2013, "Amazing Colir Photos of the U.S, Home Front During World War II."

FDR issued an executive order creating the Office of War Information (OWI).  They were tasked with taking photographs releasing war news, promoting patriotic activities and providing news outlets audio, film and photos of the government's activities during the war.

Thousands of photographs were taken and approximately 1600 were in color.

The Shorpy site sure has a lot of OWI photos, especially of trains.  I wonder if anyone has written a book about this organization?

Smile for the Camera.  --GreGen

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Oldest Pearl Harbor Survivor Honored

From the May 25, 2015, CBS 8 News.

Monday, Ray Chavez, 103, was honored.  He was serving on the minesweeper USS Condor that day.  he was one of four Pearl Harbor survivors to speak at the memorial Day event at National City.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 1941, his ship spotted the periscope of a Japanese mini submarine which was attacked and blown up by the destroyer USS  Ward.  He served on transports for the remainder of the war.


70th Anniversary of Danish Jews in 2013

From the September 29, 2013, Fox News "Denmark marks 70th anniversary of World War II rescue of 7,300 Danish Jews."

The ceremony was held at a Copenhagen synagogue.

They dodged German patrol boats across a waterway to neutral Sweden and survival.  Some 481 elderly and sick Danish Jews were unable to leave and were deported to a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia where 53 died.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Partying With the Young Folks in Wilmington at Club Poinsettia

FROM THE OCTOBER 6, 1943, Wilmington (NC) Star- News.  Many young people were working at the shipyard and Camp Davis.  This led to big business keeping them entertained when off work (and also provide a place to drink).

One of these places was Club Poinsettia at 814 Market Street in Wilmington.  This dare they advertised Key Scales and his 12-piece orchestra.  (Remember, this was still the era of Big Bands and Swing Music.)  Admission was $1.25 (quite a lot back then).

Club-style tables were promised for everyone.  However, stags (men without dates) were not allowed except if they were in a party with ladies.

I tried to find out more about this club and band.  I could find nothing about Key Scales and his 12-piece orchestra or anything about Club Poinsettia other than its address at 814 Market Street which is today the site of the Cape Fear Museum.

Party On.  --GreGen

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wilmington, N.C., at War

From the October 1, 2013, Wilmington (N.C.) Star News "Back Then."

SEPTEMBER 17, 1943--  Lt. Frank C. Adens, former reporter of the old Wilmington News-Dispatch and a member of the War Shipping Administration Overseas Correspondents had a long article in the Newsweek magazine.

SEPTEMBER 17, 1943--  Advertisement, "hear exclusive news from Walter Winchell tonight on WMFD at 9 p.m..


Monday, June 22, 2015

First USS Oklahoma Remains Exhumed

From the June 10, 2015, KFOR 4 News.

In April the Defense Department announced that the remains of up to 400 unaccounted USS Oklahoma crew will be exhumed and examined with the process starting June 8.

The first set of remains was exhumed.  Altogether, the bones are buried in 65 caskets at 41 grave sites with a total of 388 sets of remains.

As each set is disinterred there is a special ceremony held to honor them.

The remains will undergo months of DNA and forensic work.



Stevens Point Pearl Harbor Survivor to Be Honored

From the June 12, 2015, WSAW TV News, Wisconsin.

Will Lehner, 94, was on the USS Ward which fired the first U.S. shot in the war at a Japanese mini sub is one of only two men from that ship alive today,

Sixty years later, he, along with the National Geographic magazine and well-known undersea discoverer Bob Ballard spent 14 days looking for the submarine with no success.  Two years later, divers from the University of Hawaii found it right where Lehner said it would be.

There will be a ceremony to honor him.


Deaths: Dr. Alan Green: Followed Patton Across Europe and Delivered 10,419 Babies

From the June 7, 2015, Chicago Tribune.

DR. ALAN GREEN, 102  (1913-2015)

Died May 21, 2015.  Paid his $100 per semester tuition at the University of Illinois Medical School by waiting on tables at fraternity houses and at the 1933 Century of Progress World's Fair in Chicago.  During his career, he delivered 10,419 babies during his long career.  Born and raised in Chicago, attended Crane Technical High School, the Univ. of Illinois and U of I Medical School.  Graduated in 1936 and started medical practice in Chicago.

Drafted into Army.  In 1942 shipped to England and there until the invasion of Normandy.  As a captain of a medical company attached to the 6th Armored Division, followed Gen. George S. Patton across France and into Germany, operating a field hospital responsible for the care and triage of the wounded.

Dr. Green was with the first troops to enter the Nazi concentration camp in Buchenwald, Germany.

Quite a Life.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Quad-City Vets Return to Pearl Harbor in 2013

From the Oct. 7, 2013, Quad-City (Iowa) Times by Barb Ickes.

Alvis "Al" Taylor, 90 and Eldon Baxter, 93 are two of the three-known Quad-City Pearl Harbor survivors and they are flying back there on December 4 for the 72nd anniversary commemoration.

Baxter remembers more about Pearl Harbor than anything else he's ever experienced.  He was in the USS West Virginia when he saw a torpedo coming at him.  A rescue boat pulled him out of the water.

Al Taylor was in the Army and in charge of dozens of ambulances used to transport the wounded.