Thursday, May 21, 2015

Here's My Thought on Johnson's Silver Star

General Douglas MacArthur was always one to play politics, especially should it advance his career.  And, getting a Congressman a medal surely wouldn't hurt that.

I think Lt. Robert R. Hatch probably had orders to return to base in the event any enemy planes were spotted.  It sure wouldn't do to have the life of a Congressman ended under your orders.

Unfortunately, Lt. hatch was killed a short time later, so we will never know what he had to say about it.

Johnson got his Silver Star and MacArthur had a valuable ally in Congress.


LBJ's Silver Star: The Mission That Never Was-- Part 2

"His gallant action enabled him to obtain and return with valuable information."

LBJ's biographer, in his book "Means of Ascent" takes umbrage at Johnson's receiving his nation's third-highest combat medal for what amounted to taking an airplane ride and spending a few minutes under fire.

The fact is that LBJ never got within sight of Japanese forces.  His mission, like so much of his life, was a lie.

If Johnson received a Silver Star for simply riding along on the plane, shouldn't the crew, which included Lt. Robert R. Hatch, pilot, also have received the award?


LBJ's Silver Star: The Mission That Never Was-- Part 1


Lt. Cmdr. Lyndon B. Johnson, Texas Congressman temporarily serving in the U.S. Navy, received the nation's third highest combat decoration for a 1942 fact-finding mission.  He was so proud of that Silver Star that he wore a silver lapel pin for the rest of his life.

But, did he really deserve it?

It was issued by General Douglas MacArthur's chief of staff and reads in part: "While on a  mission obtaining information in the Southwest Pacific Area, Lt.Cmdr. Johnson, in order to obtain personal knowledge of combat conditions, volunteered as an observer on a hazardous aerial combat mission over hostile positions in New Guinea.  (The plane was piloted by Robert R. Hatch of Goldsboro, N.C.)

"As our planes neared the target area, they were intercepted by eight hostile fighters.  When, at this time, the plane in which Lt.Cmdr. Johnson was an observer developed mechanical trouble and was forced to turn back alone, presenting a favorable target to the enemy fighters, he evidenced coolness in spite of the hazard involved.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Two Who Died on the USS Benjamin Franklin and on the USS Arizona

ROBERT E. ABELL JR.  On te list of deaths on the USS Benjamin Franklin (CV-13).  Many were killed when the kamikazes hit the ship on March 19, 1945.  he is listed on the Benjamin Franklin site as KIA.  Son of Dr. and Mrs. Robert Abell of Chester, S.C..

CLAUDE HERBERT HOLLAND  Seaman 2c, killed on the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941.

WILLIAM Z. HOLLAND  I also came across this man's name and mention that he was at Pearl Harbor that day but evidently not killed.   He was the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Milford Holland of Kenly, N.C..


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Deaths: Sheldon Sternberg: Ran best's Kosher Sausage Co. and Participated in Operation Chowhound

From the April 13, 2015, Chicago Tribune "WWII navigator ran Best's sausage" by Lee V. Gaines.

SHELDON STERNBERG, 92   (1923-April 9, 2015)

He started working for his wife's family's company Best's Kosher Sausage Co. in Chicago soon after returning from World War II.

The company was founded in Cincinnati in 1886 and later served hot dogs at Wrigley Field and other landmark Chicago venues.  He was president when the company was sold to Sara Lee in 1993

While a sophomore at DePaul University in 1942, he, at age 19, enlisted in the Army Air Force and joined the 390th Bombardment Squadron and was sent to Europe where he served as a navigator on bombing missions.

Starting in March 1945 Mr. Steinbberg was on w=eight bombing missions over Germany.  A few weeks after that, in May 1945, he was in Operation Chowhound, a series of humanitarian missions including food drops over the Netherlands to assist starving civilians. He remembered looking down and seeing the Ditch had written "Thank you, boys" in tulips.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

V-E Day in Chicago-- Part 10: "Where Is the Joy, the Ecstasy We Visioned?"

But, even with all the relief over the end of the fighting in Europe, there still loomed Japan and even though American victory by now was fairly-well guaranteed, bit at what cost?  Most figured it would be high as the Japanese were preparing to fight to the last person.  However, no one knew about the secret weapon that the United States had developed that ended the war in the Pacific just three months later.

A reader captured the nation's sentiment in the Tribune's popular "In the Wake of the News" column.  First he asked, "Today the headlines read as we long visioned ... but what is the strange something that is missing?  What is the heaviness that still remains, where is the joy, the ecstasy we visioned?"

And, he gave the answer:  "it is that thru each mind flickers ...  White crosses in those far off lonely islands, gleaming in the moonlight, row on row."

And, of course, there were all those white crosses in Europe as well.


V-E Day in Chicago-- Part 9: "On Second Base"

A Chicago Cubs official said: "The unconditional defeat of Germany has put out armies on second base.  One more hit against the Japs and we can send all the boys home."

Yet, for some families, the end of the war would be bittersweet, a son or father would never come home.  Others would return with medals and wounded.

Former North Park College teacher, Captain Elem "who lost his leg while helping a wounded soldier from a mine strewn field, has been awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and a citation of merit."

Tribune war correspondent Robert Cromie reported from another troop ship: "One youngster just released from a German prison camp was taken suddenly ill half-way across with spinal meningitis.  He died not long after crying through the delirium which made him think he was once more in Nazi hands: 'I knew I was never really going to be liberated.'"

Cromie was later hired by WGN radio to tell Chicagoans about the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps which had just been liberated.


V-E Day in Chicago-- Part 8: Lots of Happy Folks

The Tribune photo at the top of the Chicago Flashback page shows a large crowd of smiling and laughing celebrants showing their reaction to the end of the war  Of interest, most of them were wearing suits and hats.

Many are holding extra editions of papers.

EXTRA:  Germany Surrenders

Nazis Surrender

Allies Make It Official: V-E.


Cause for Celebration!!  --GreGen

Monday, May 18, 2015

V-E Day Arrives-- Part 7: Welcome News

May 8th, the Tribune's big headline said simply "V-E Day - Today!

This news was greeted with smiles and the city's mood was definitely upbeat.  The paper's society columnist reported that after years of austerity, "Next Winter's debut Parties Expected to Be More Festive."

The editorial board assured readers that there could be "Prosperity Without war."  Kind a frightening thing to say to my thinking.  The first Sunday after V-E day, the paper reported the city's highways were crowded after years of gas rationing and tire shortages.

Families of servicemen in Europe were especially happy as there would be no more fighting there, but in the back of their minds was still the impending invasion of Japan which would doubtless result in thousands of American deaths and casualties.


V-E Day in Chicago-- Part 6: Newspaper Headlines

May 3rd Chicago Tribune front page headlines:


Berlin Falls to Russians; 70,000 Captured

French Hedge on Giving U.S. Pacific Bases

Truman Asks 7 Billion Cut In war Budget

Goebbels Also Dies, Chief Aid Says; Nazi Capital Won in 12 Day Battle

May 8 Chicago Tribune headlines.


Chicago Turns to next Step: lick the Japs

Big 3 Proclaim Victory at 8 A.M.;  Unconditional Surrender Signed

Truman to Address Nation by Radio This Morning

AP Tells How It gave The World Historic Story

Britain to celebrate With Two Day Holiday


V-E Day in Chicago-- Part 5: Fears and Optimism as End Nears

There were definitely anxieties fostered by V-E Day and the coming of V-J Day.  The Chicago Tribune ran articles alternating between pessimistic to cautiously optimistic peace prospects.

The president of Borg-Warner, a major defense contractor told the Tribune: "The gradual transition to peacetime production after V-E Day will be the most difficult period we have yet faced.  Secretary of State Edward Stettinius reminded farmers of what happened after World War I when the market for wheat nosedived and thousands of farmers lost their homes and farms.

Tribune front page headlines:


Munish Falls; Patton Frees 27,000 Captives

Mussolini Shot and Dumped in a Public Square

Capture Nazi Party's Beer Hall Shrine

The last headline might be of interest.  I imagine it is where Hitler's Beer Hall Putch took place.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

V-E Day in Chicago- Part 4: Coming Out of the Great Depression

When the war vegan in 1939, the United States was deep into the Great depression.  For a decade the American economy was in bad shape with nearly a quarter of the people unemployed.  President Roosevelt's New Deal programs brought some hope, then Europe went to war.

The United States first began to aid beleaguered Great Britain, then turned to itself to rearm and prepare for war.  Even before Pearl Harbor, out military was being built up and our factories began turning out amazing amounts of war munitions.  Jobs were now plentiful, if not in factories, definitely in the military.

Now, with the end of the war looming, the prospect of millions of ex-servicemen suddenly returning and competing for jobs made many wonder if victory was going to set the stage for another depression.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Operation Faust: Feeding the Dutch at End of War

From the Free Library.

Operation Faust was the "massive ground delivery of food" to the Dutch population at the end of World War II in Europe.  It went along with Operations Manna and Chowhound.

Trucks of the RCASC (Royal Canadian Army Service Corps) were used starting 2 May 1945 and by May 3, there were 30 vehicles crossing the truce lines every 30 minutes.  Twelve transport platoons (8 Canadian and 4 British) were involved with 360 vehicles delivering 1000 tons of supplies each day until May 10.

This food was delivered to a roadside dump in "No man's Land" between the towns of Wageningen and Rhenen.  Sadly, the actual distribution of the food did not begin until May 10th.


The German Role in Operations Manna and Chowhound-- Part 2: Seyss-Inquart's Plan Didn't Work

Continued from may 5, 2015 entry.

It was suspected that the big reason the Nazi Governor of the Netherlands, Arthur Seyss-Inquart was so agreeable to the airdrop was that he was hoping to get some credit against his policies as the war was winding down in Europe with : Germany going to be on the losing side.

If it was the case, it didn't work.

He was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity for the deportation of Jews and shooting of hostages.  (Was he the person in charge when Anne Frank was arrested and sent to the concentration camp?)

He was put on trial in Nuremburg, found guilty and sentenced to death.  Execution was by hanging in Nuremburg on October 16, 1946.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

V-E Day in Chicago Cause for Celebration and Worry-- Part 3: Not As Big a Celebration

Surprisingly, however, the mood on State Street, where it was figured the biggest celebration would take place, was quite subdued.  "It was a street of families -- men and women and their children plodding up and down," a Tribune reporter observed on May 8.

Though thousands of people milled about, it was not a joyous riot.  "As the hours wore on, the spontaneous good fellowship, the dancing in the street of Nov. 11, 1918, never materialized."  On that occasion, a million people had poured into Chicago's Loop to celebrate the end of World War I, and the authorities were expecting a similar crowd to mark the end of World War II in Europe.

However, the war continued on in the Pacific with thousands more deaths expected with the planned invasion of Japan.


V-E day in Chicago Cause for Celebration and Worry-- Part 2

Many of the city's wartime plants and factories stopped their machines so workers could hear President Harry Truman's announcement of Germany's surrender on the radio.  At the corner of Washington and Wabash, a well-dressed man invited a passing sailor to lunch, saying, "I just wanted to say 'thanks' some way to the guys who are fighting."

On the West Side of the city, a candle-maker prepared to light an 18-foot-tall, red, white and blue candle he had started making when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.

The city stationed 800 police officers downtown, mobilized the entire fire department and even prohibited sales of liquor.  Stores were closed and windows boarded up along State Street.  Even bowling alleys were closed.  All this in fear that the celebration might get out of hand.

One incident where exuberance got out of hand was when the manager of the Liberty Inn shot off a revolver inside his Clark Street tavern.  In penance, he promised a judge he would donate $10 to the Chicago serviceman's center.  Lake Forest cops arrested five New Trier High School students who were celebrating by breaking streetlights.

Cause for a Celebration, Though.  --GreGen

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

V-E Day in Chicago Cause for Celebration and Worry-- Part 1

From the May 10, 2015, Chicago Tribune "Chicago Flashback" by Ron Grossman.

The war against Germany was ending, but only very, very slowly.  Everyone knew it.  V-E day, Victory in Europe, was coming, but when.  then came a week of really bug headlines: April 30 was the death of Benito Mussolini; on May 2, the death of Adolf Hitler, May 3rd the Soviet Union taking Berlin.

The Chicago Tribune observed, "World War II European phase is not ending in a single, clear cut surrender like World War I, but is rushing toward its close in a series of smashing climaxes."

V-E day finally did arrive on May 8th, 70 years ago.  Chicagoans celebrated in their own ways, but with the knowledge that the war still continued in the Pacific, although clearly won there as well by this time.  And, there were uncertainties about what the post-war world would be like.

But, At Least Part of the War Was Over.  --GreGen

Samuel Hurd, Pearl Harbor Survivor Dies in 2013

From the April 4, 2013, Downey Patriot by Henry Veneracion.

Died at age 91.  A Downey resident since 1960.  from a Dec. 2012 article about him.

Mr. Hurd was a cook attached to Battery F, 251st Coast Artillery as part of the California National Guard permanently stationed at Camp Malakole, a couple miles north of Barber's Point, Oahu.

Enlisted in the Army at age 18 to avoid the draft and because of it was able to opt for an anti-aircraft unit.

he worked at a mess hall on Ford Island.  he said that on December 7, 1941, nearly 90% of base personnel were on leave.  That morning three of his buddies rented an airplane for sightseeing.  As soon as they took off, they spotted seven Japanese Zer who shot them down.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

V-E Day Memories Fly in Europe-- Part 4: The Spoilsport

Marie-Jeanne Delannoy was then 20 and studying for her teaching certificate in the small town of Macon, 250 miles southwest of Paris, when news of the victory reached the students at 8 a.m.

The young women declared "school's out."  They rushed for the exit and a rendezvous to dance the day away with the local college boys -- only to find that the director had locked them inside the building.  At noon, when the cafeteria served spinach, they went on  a hunger strike.

The director finally gave in and afternoon classes were canceled. and they were allowed out for a walk -- topped by a round of lemonade for everyone.  This was "the victory celebration, she recalled.  The next day, we got back to work."


Monday, May 11, 2015

V-E Day Memories Fly in France-- Part 3: Celebrating, Then Theft

On May 5, 1945Robert Lion received orders to report to the French Air Force headquarters on May 9 to begin training as a translator.  Lion had been born on Metz, on the French-German border was was fluent in German.

But, trains were not then running in Germany so he stuffed a dagger of the Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth) in his backpack and hitched a ride to Paris.  (He said he used that dagger for many years as a letter opener.)  He arrived in Paris on May 8, just in time to join the huge crowds in their revelries.

"But our festive mood got spoiled," he said.  "We had parked our jeep in front of the 1st French Army EM Club for dinner.  When we came out, there was no more jeep.  My friend had forgotten to remove the distributor cap from the engine -- a routine anti-theft procedure."

His buddy had to go back and report the heist to his superiors.  In the meantime, Lion continued to party until time to report to his translation course.

Happy Days.  --GreGen