The USS North Carolina (BB-55) My all-time favorite warship. As an elementary school student in North Carolina, I donated nickels and dimes to save this ship back in the early sixties.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

USS Maryland

From the February 19, 2024, National Interest.

The USS Maryland was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked and sustained damage, but not seriously.  It later played a significant role in the Pacific War.

The battleship featured eight 16-inch guns in four turrets and entered service in 1920.  As such, she was one of America's most modern battleships due to the Washington Naval Treaty's limitations on new battleships.

Post Pearl Harbor, the Maryland underwent a rapid refit to modernize for operations in the Pacific, including improved anti-aircraft capabilities and torpedo protection.

Throughout the war, she served primarily shore bombardment roles, terrifying defenders with her formidable firepower.  Despite taking a torpedo hit and suffering from kamikaze attacks, she continued to support U.S. advances, including the critical Battle of Leyte near the Philippines.

After the war, she was placed in reserve, and, despite her historical significance, efforts to preserve her as a museum ship were not pursued and she was scrapped.


Monday, February 19, 2024

What Did Our WW II Service Men Think?-- Part 3

**  "I'll fight of necessary to prevent racial equality.  I'll never salute a negro officer and I'll not take orders from from a negroe.  I'm sick of the army's method of treating these inferior swine as if they were human."

**  "Why do you induct us in the first place.  Even as a leopard cannot change its spots, neither can we curtail our homosexual inclinations....  I'll just try not to get caught."

**  "I have been in the jungles  26 months.  I was just wondering of they will take us back in the States before thus war is over.  This jungle life will wreck your nerves....  Of the people back home don't think the jungle is hell just let them come over and stay for a few years."

**  "Better food should be considered for men in combat.  Constant diets of Vienna sausage & spam tends to decrease morale, as well as ruin a man's stomach."


Friday, February 16, 2024

What Did Our WW II Service Men Think? --Part 2

Some of their comments:

**  You people can't care for us over here in the jungles ... you folks there at home have a good bed and plenty of chow.  We eat ours out of cans.  Powder eggs & milk.  Give us some of this King's stuff & let us enjoy our life.

**  The Army would be a better place to live in, and the morale higher, if the Officers and many non-coms would not think that they are so high and mighty.  Also that the privates are human.


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

What Did Our WW II Service Men Think?-- Part 1

From the April 2022 World War II magazine "Soldier Surveys Virginia Tech University has published the transcripts of 65,000 surveys made by American GIs for the U.S, War Department in the early days of the war.  Needless to say, they were anonymous and they didn't hold back with their thoughts.

Many times they were quite patriotic, but lamblasted everything from uninspired leadership to bad food.  Black soldiers complained about discrimination.  Whites often expressed a bitterly racist view as was common back then.


Friday, February 9, 2024

Marietta, Ga. Man Killed on USS Oklahoma to Be Buried at Arlington National Cemetery

From the February 2, 2023, Marietta (Ga) Daily Journal by Jake Busch.

John Donald, Shipfitter 3rd Class was serving on the USS Oklahoma when the attack came and was one of the 429 who died aboard the ship that day.

He was born in Ball Ground, Cherokee County on July 15, 1913, and grew up in Marietta and enlisted in the Navy in Nashville, Tennessee on July 6, 1940.  His duties aboard the battleship Oklahoma included metal work,  pipefitting and  repairing different parts of the ship.

He received three promotions.

His was one of the Oklahoma Unknowns.  After being buried in the Punch Bowl for many years, his body was disinterred and DNA testing done on his remains which resulted in his identification.

Burial will be this month at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Again, So Glad the U.S. Is Seeing to Identifying These Heroes.  --GreGen

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

New Fees at USS Arizona Memorial

From the March 29, 2023, Beat of Hawaii.

As of April 15, a new visitor fee will be implemented at Pearl Harbor to generate funds for the park's maintenance and provide further exhibits, new technology for visitors and security.

The fee for parking goes from free to $7 a day.  There willstill be no charge for admission and the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and USS Arizona Memorial program will remain free of charge.

To this day, the USS Arizona Memorail remains the number one in-demand destination for Hawaii tourists.

That Is Still Very, Very Reasonable.  --GreGen

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Families of USS Arizona's Unknowns Press for Identification

From the November 2021 Military History magazine.

I knew about the USS Oklahoma's unknowns but had never thought about the unknowns of the USS Arizona.  Everyone knows of the ones entombed in the hull of that stricken ship, but what about those whose bodies were recovered, but were too messed up to identify?

The remains of 85 USS Arizona sailors are entombed at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (aka Punchbowl Cemetery) in Honolulu.  They are buried as "Unknowns."

The Defense POW/MIA  Accounting Agency (DPAA)  has announced plans to reinter ths group's remains on the wreck of the ship.  What galls the families of the 85 is that there are no plans to attempt to identify  them like was done with the Oklahoma unknowns.


Monday, May 8, 2023

Minelayer Was Converted Into a Brewery During WW II

From the May 5, 2023, The WarZone "This minelayer was converted into a floating brewery during World War II" by Oliver Parken.

In 19544, the British converted the HMS Menestheus into an amenities ship for Allied forces in the Pacific, complete with a brewery.

The Menestheus was originally a Blue Funnel Line shipping company vessel launched in 1929 by the same name.  The British Navy requisitioned it for use as an auxiliary minelayer early in the war.

As conflict in the European Theater waned and ended, the war in the Pacific was going strong and it was determined that some of the now unneeded minelayers could be altered into so-called amenities ships to help with Allied morale in the Pacific.  One of those amenities was to provide freshly brewed beer.

Before this, beer often spoiled that came from Britain or Australia.

At the behest of Winston Churchill himself, the Admiralty ordered the Menestheus and sister ship Agamemnon be converted for such duty in 1944.  Both ships sailed to Vancouver, British Columbia where their conversion began.


Saturday, May 6, 2023

Newly Restored WW II Tower in Delaware

After 15 years and nearly $2 million in renovations and repairs a World War II-era  watch tower is now open to the public at the Delaware  Seashore State Park.

The newly rehabilitated tower, known as Tower  3, is  one of 15 fire control towers built as part of Fort Miles to defend Delaware Bay and River from German attack and ultimately Philadelphia.

There are elevenof these towers still standing.

Fort Miles had 16-inch naval guns, 12-inch and 8-inch guns as well.

These towers were expected to last just ten years.  Each tower took 8 days to complete.  They ranged in height from 40 to 90 feet.  They were built to keep watch on the ocean and direct gunfire in case of an attack (which never happened).


Thursday, May 4, 2023

USS Oklahoma Survivor George Coburn Dies at Age 103-- Part 2

George Coburn and those others that he escaped with were the luckyones of the battleship.  Because 429 of their shipmates remained trapped inside and died.

Coburn continued to serve in the Navy after that in many of the Pacific Campaigns  He was aboard the heavy cruiser USS Louisville afterwards and received a Purple Heart during a kamikaze attack on his ship during the Battle of Okinawa.

The Louisville was struck by two kamikazes on consecutive days.  The first one struck on 5 January 1945 and hit the No. 2 main battery (turret) of 8-inch guns, knocking it completely out of commission.  It killed one and injured/burned 17 others, including the ship's commander Captain Rex  LeGrande Hicks.

The second kamikaze hit the starboard side of the signal bridge 6 January 1945.  Rear Admiral Theodore E. Chandler, commander of Cruiser Divisin  4, was fatally injutred while helping the sailors to man fire hoses to put out the massive fires.  Forty-two were killed and 125 wounded.

George Coburn left the Navy in May 1946,  but then worked as a civilian with the Navy  doing contractor and electrician work.  He and his wife Jenny settled in San Diego.


Tuesday, May 2, 2023

USS Oklahoma Survivor George Coburn Dies at 103

From the April 29, 2023, Honolulu Star Advertiser "George Coburn, who served throughout  Pacific Campaign, dies at 103" by Kevin Knodell.

USS Oklahoma survivor, George Coburn died April 19 in Oceanside, California,  at age 103.

He was born in Mankato, Minnesota, on October 26, 1919, but his family moved to San Diego shortly after he was born and he grew up in Southern California.  Enlisting in the Navy in 1939, he was eventually assigned to the USS Oklahoma and was on board completing an inspection of the ship when the attack came

As he and his shipmates began climbing  to the ship's main deck, several torpedoes hot the ship.  The men became  trapped beneath a sealed hatch as the ship quickly listed  45 degrees to its port side.  The blast also ruptured onboard  oil tanks and they found themselves slipping in oil that had pooled on the floor.

The lights went out and Coburn could hear water pouring into the ship as sailors on the ladder tried frantically to open the hatch to the deck above.  They eventually got the hatch opened and he and the others managed to escape through a side porthole that by then was overhead.


Saturday, April 29, 2023

When Did It Become World War II (Second World War)?

From the September 1, 2018, History "Were they always called World War I and World War II?" by Elizabeth Nix.

We call it World War II in the United States.  England refers to it as the Second World War.

It is hard to pinpont exactly when the names came into use.   During World War I, of course, no one knew there was going to be a second one, so there was no reason to distinguish it.  Often, it was referred to as the Great War.

After initially calling the first one, the European War, U.S. newspapers adopted World War after the country entered the war.

The term "World War II" first appeared  in print all the way back to  February 1919, when a Manchester  Guardian article used the term, much in the same way people today refer to a World War III.  But in 1941, it was President Franklin D. Roosevelt who labeled the conflict the "Second World War."

Even so, in 1942, he asked for name submissions from the public and over the next several weeks, the War Department received 15,000 names ranging from "The War for Civilization" to "The War Against Enslavement."

However, it was World War II and The Second World War that stuck.

Now You Know.  --GreGen

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Death of Ken Potts, One of USS Arizona's Last Two Survivors-- Part 2

Several dozen USS Arizona surivivors have had their ashes interred on the sunken battleship so they could rejoin their shipmates.  But Ken Potts did not want that.

"He said he got off once, he's not going on board again,"  according to Randy Stratton,  son of Donald Stratton, another USS Arizona survivor.   Stratton said that many Arizona survivors shared a dry sense of humor.  

That included his own father, who was severely burned in the attack and also did not want to return to the ship as ashes in an urn.  "I've been cremated once.  I'm not going to be cremated twice," Donald Stratton joked, according to Randy Straton, before his death in 2020 at the age of 97.

"They had that all through their lives.  They had the sense of humor, and they knew sooner or later they would pass," Randy Stratton said.  "Our job now is to keep their memories alive."

A Passing.  --GreGen

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Ken Potts, One of Last Two USS Arizona Survivors, Dies at Age 102

From the April 24, 2023, ABC News.

Howard Kenton Potts died Friday, April 21 at his home in Provo, Utah, that he shared with his wife of 66 years, Doris.  The announcement was given by Randy Stratton, whose late father, Donald Stratton, was Potts' USS Arizona shipmate and close froend.

According to Stratton, Mr. Potts "had all his marbles" but lately was having a hard time

Potts was born and raised in Honey Bend, Illinois, near Litchfield and Route 66.  He had enlisted in the Navy in 1939

He was working as a crane operator shuttling supplies  to the Arizona that morning of attack.  He said that a loudspeaker ordered sailors back to their ships, so he got on a boat.

"When I got back to Pearl Harbor, the whole harbor was  afire.  The oil had leaked out and caught on fire and was burning," according to him.

Sailors were tossed or jumped into the oily muck below and Potts and the others pulled them to safety.

The only remaining survivor now of the USS Arizona is Lou  Conter, 101, living in California.


Saturday, April 22, 2023

How Many Are Left?-- Part 2

Currently, an average of 180 World War II veterans die each day in the United States.  Over the next year, the number of WW II veterans is expectted to fall by half (from 167,284) and by 2034,  a little more than 1,000 will still be alive.

These figures are according to projections by the National World War II Museum.

Number of  living WW II veterans in 2022 in selected states.  (To see the list of all states, go to this site in my April 18 post.)

California   15,946

Florida  14,823

Illinois   6,114

North Carolina  5,061

Wisconsin  3,700

Georgia  3,299

Iowa  1,767

Hawaii  672

Alaska  99

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Thursday, April 20, 2023

The Greatest Generation: How Many of Them Are Left?

Of the estimated 16.3 million  Americans who are estimated to have served in WW II, more than 400,000 were killed in action.  Today, only 167,284 American veterans who returned home are still alive.

According to the National  WW II Museum, there are an estimated 3,845  veterans living in Minnesota, the 16th most of all states.  World War II veterans comprise 1.4% of the state's total veteran population of 265,920.  

Nationwide, WW II vets account for 1% of the overall veteran population.

Nearly 80 years have passed since the war's end so that means even the youngest and latest joining members are in their 90s and 100s.

(Growing up, WW II veterans were everywhere among my parents' friends. I could never imagine them becoming so rare at the time.  My dad did not serve as he graduated from high school in 1947.)


Tuesday, April 18, 2023

'The Great Arsenal of Democracy' and American Mobilization

From the April 15, 2023, The Center Square: Minnesota "This is how many  World War Ii veterans live in Minnesota" by Samuel Stebbins.

Dubbed "The Great Arsenal of Democracy," the United States manufactured more than 96,000 bombers,86,000 tanks, 2.4 million trucks, 6.5 million rifles and billions of dollars worth of supplies in WW II.

The United States also mobilized more troops for the Allies other than the USSR.  In the final year of the war, the number of active -duty Americans totaled 12.2 million, up from 500,000 in 1940.


Monday, April 17, 2023

Why Was the USS Utah Never Raised-- Part 3: Expense and Obsolete

After the attack, efforts were made to salvage the USS Utah and return it to service.  However, it was quickly determined that the damage to the ship was too extensive and that raising it would be  difficult and expensive.

The Utah was an older battleship, having been commissioned in 1911, and its design and construction made it less suitable for  salvage than some of the newer battleships that had been sunk.  The ship's position on the bottom of the harbor also made it difficult to access and  work on.

In addition to the practical difficulties of salvaging the Utah, there were strategic considerations thast weighed against the effort.  In the early years of the war, the U.S. Navy was still building up its naval forces and was focused on  more pressing  priorities, such as building new ships and training new sailors.

The ship was already old and obsolete.  After all, it was a target ship by then.


Saturday, April 15, 2023

Why Was the USS Utah Never Raised?-- Part 2

Like with the article on why the USS Arizona stayed where she was, this article had a whole lot of pictures of the USS Utah from when it was being built, to its conversion into a target ship and Pearl Harbor.

Well worth going to the article and looking at them.

Also, there are a lot of pictures of the USS Arizona in the article.


Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Why Was the USS Utah Never Raised?-- Part 1

From Rebellion Research.

The USS Utah (BB-31) was an American warship (formerly a battleship) sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December7, 1941.

Despite efforts to salvage the ship after the attack, it was ultimately decided to leave it where it was.

This decision was based on a number of factors, including the extent of the damage to the ship, the cost of salvage operations,  and the strategic  priorities of the United States in the early days of the war.

The Utah was moored on the far side of Ford Island from Battleship Row and though just a target ship at the time, was attacked because of its large size.  Hit by two torpedoes it quickly began to list to one side and despite efforts to save her, capsized.  

Fifty-eight sailors died on her.