Saturday, September 20, 2014

Denver Veteran Saw Doolittle Takeoff from USS Hornet

From the April 18, 2012, Denver Post "Denver veteran aboard USS Hornet watched Doolittle Raiders take off for 1942 raid."

Russell Plybon will never forget April 18, 1942: "I stood right at the center of the flight deck and watched them take off.  One of the pilots forgot to put his flaps down, and when he went off the end of the ship, he sunk down, but pretty soon, here he come back up."

Plybon was a 24-year-old farm boy from Missouri who enlisted in the Navy immediately after Pearl Harbor and trained as an aircraft mechanic.  The men of the Hornet were not told the nature of the mission until at sea.

They had wondered why the sixteen B-25s were loaded on board at San Francisco, but just assumed they would be ferrying them to Hawaii. since these bombers were designed for land bases.

But....  --GreGen

Two Lincolnites Flew With Doolittle

From the April 18, 2012, Council Bluffs, Iowa, Daily Nonparell.

Two men from Lincoln, Nebraska, flew with Col. Doolittle on that famous mission in 1942.

1ST. LT. RICHARD O. JOYCE, pilot  Joyce died in 1983 and first met James H. Doolittle when he was seeking a B-25 crewmen for his raid while Joyce was flying anti-submarine patrols on the East Coast of the United States.

Joyce;s target on the raid was the Japanese Special Steel Company in South Tokyo.  he dropped his bombs and headed southwest, twice flying under Japanese fighters but found a cloud and lost them.

He couldn't reach China and had to bail out over water.  After his rescue, he returned to service, but recalled to the U.S. after his father died.


SGT. DONALD FITZMAURICE, gunner, believed to have drowned.

--GreGen

Friday, September 19, 2014

2012 Doolittle Raiders 70th Reunion

From the April 19, 2012, Army Times.

Twenty B-25 planes preformed a fly-over and the surviving Raiders had their annual private toast.

Lt. Col. Richard Cole, 96, "We honor the people we lost, and we remember them, and then we enjoy the camaraderie of being together again."

Cole is a Dayton native, now living in Comfort, Texas.  He was Col. Doolittle's co-pilot on the famous raid.  Cole later remarked, "We don't like being singled out.  We were just part of a big team."

The other four Raiders and where they live:

Griffin--  Cincinnati suburbs
Saylor--  Puyallup, Washington
Thatcher--  Missoula, Montana
Hite--  Nashville, Tennessee  (Couldn't make it to the 70th because of health issues.)

According to Hite, referring to Pearl harbor, "We were saying, 'You started it, and we're going to finish it.'"

He Shaoying, 76, daughter of Zhejiang, a Chinese provincial official who helped hide and take care ofDoolittle, Cole and other survivors was also there.

For the 71st Reunion in 2013, they are going to Eglin AFB in Florida by Fort Walton Beach (where they did some of their pre-raid training.

--GreGen

Wilmington At War: Rooms Needed for Workers, Building Moratorium

From the April 17, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then."

APRIL 1, 1942:  A page one story "Rooms Are Needed Here for Workers--  Residents Urged to List All Available Living Quarters at Once."

APRIL 9, 1942:  Headline: "Non-Essential Building Must Cease Today."  This was nationwide edict from the War Production Board.  No non-essential residences, roads or commercial buildings were to be built for the war's duration.

--GreGen

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wilmington At War: Camp Davis, Rationing, Price Controls and Income Tax

From the March 20, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then" by Scott Nunn.

MARCH 1, 1942:  Other than the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, the biggest impact on Wilmington during the war was the 26,000 soldiers stationed and training at Camp Davis located north of the city in Holly Ridge.  The camp covered 45,000  acres and had over 3000 buildings.  Anti-aircraft men were trained there.

MARCH 3, 1942:  Rationing and price controls were starting to have an impact.  In a front page story.  Wilmington was one of twenty "defense watch areas" nationwide ordered to keep 1941 levels on prices.

The government feared profiteering due to the high demand for housing for those coming to work in the growing defense industry.

MARCH 3, 1942"  The Treasury department asked Congress to double the income tax payments of most people to raise $9.6 billion for the war effort.

The Impact on the Homefront.  --  GreGen

Spitfires Buried in Burma to Be Returned to U.K. Back in 2012

From the April 14, 2012, Telegraph (UK).

It is believed that twenty Spitfires were buried 40-feet below the ground for near the end of the war in Burma.

David Cundell, 62, has spent 15 years searching for them and has made 12 trips and spent over 130,000 pounds looking for them.  He reports he found them in February.

This is a huge find as there are only 35 Spitfires of the 21,000 produced left in the world still capable of flying.

They were buried in July 1945 in their transport crates.  They were shipped to Burma unassembled.

The British government refuses to claim them.

--GreGen

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

While on the Subject of World War II Battleships

***  The USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) had two beam submerged torpedo tubes.  I didn't know battleships had torpedoes.

***  The USS South Dakota name resurfaces on a Virginia Class attack submarine.  The USS South Dakota was the most decorated battleship in World War II with 13 Battle Stars.  (April 14, 2012)

***  April 13, 2012.  The gun barrel from the USS Arizona was in East St. Louis, Illinois where it will be placed on the BNSF Railway.

Arizona is paying $100,000 to have it transported from Virginia to Phoenix.

--GreGen


USS Arizona Gun Barrel Headed for Arizona in 2012

From the April 11, 2012, Navy.Mil.  "USS Arizona Gun Barrel Begins Trek to Arizona Capitol Museum after 63 years at Virginia Naval Base" by John J. Joyce.

The huge gun was lifted onto a trailer that departed Navy Support Facility Dahlgren on April 10, 2012.

The 14-inch gun will join a 16-inch one from the USS Missouri at a dedication expected to happen in Phoenix, Arizona, on December 7, 2012.

The Arizona gun, however, was not on the ship that fateful day.  It had been removed to be relined before the attack came and was at Dahlgren the day of the event.  It was on the Arizona from 1925 to 1938.  It was later installed on the USS Nevada in 1942.

Between June 25, 1943, and August 26, 1944, it fired 224 rounds and was at D-Day.

In the 1950s, no longer having use for battleships, the Navy scrapped 38 of these barrels which were cit up and melted down.  The Navy now plans to do the same with eight more of them, one of which was the Arizona's, but now it has a new home.

The barrel weighs in at 147,000 pounds.

--GreGen

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

McHenry's "Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive"-- Part 3: The "Kiss" Statue

The life-size statue depicting the famous Times Square V-J Kiss, with the sailor kissing the nurse made a final appearance at the event.  It was there last year.  It is called the "Unconditional Surrender, the Kiss Seen Around the World' and it travels across the country, weighing in at 600 pounds.  Sadly, this is the last time as it now goes on permanent exhibit at a memorial in Branson, Missouri.

Buglers from Bugles Across America helped conclude the event by playing "Taps."  And, this is not your usual taps played by a single bugler.  There had to have been at least twenty of them positioned around the gazebo.  One would start, then the next would start, then the next and so on all around the place.  Sent shivers down my spine and brought a tear to the eye.  This is where I met the gentleman from the USS Wisconsin that I wrote about last month.

As "Taps" was played, 29 white doves were released and did several laps over Veterans Memorial Park, before getting their bearings and heading off for Crystal lake, I believe.

Planning On Being At It next Year.

Monday, September 15, 2014

McHenry's "Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive"-- Part 2

Stella Vogt was 16 when she started making equipment for the war effort, but said she didn't think much of it, it was just something you did to help.

The reported estimated that there were at least 500 people in Veterans Memorial Park.

This is Ron Bykowski's event and he was both the organizer and emcee of it.  He said he wanted to honor the oft-overlooked workers on the homefront.  Without their efforts, the military couldn't have fought.  "They are part of the greatest generation and without them, there was no way our military would have won the war," he said.

Each year the event honors area World War II veterans and this year around 35 were recognized.

I am hoping that next year, those who served in the U.S. Merchant Marine will be so recognized because of their perilous service.

--GreGen

McHenry's "Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive"-- Part 1

From the August 11, 2014, Northwest Herald (Illinois)  "Homefront heroes" by Stephen Benedetto.

"Aftre being recognized in front of hundreds Sunday, some of the people who helped furnish the equipment and supplies for the American soldiers fighting World War II were left nearly speechless.

"McHenry natives Bernice Etten and Stella Vogt were a part of the half dozen area homefront workers honored during the city's fifth annual 'Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive' event, intended to honor the many people from the generation that lived through the war."

Both of these women worked in area factories during the war.  Bernice Etten is 90 and started making tents for the Army at a McHenry factory in 1942 after her husband enlisted in the Navy.

I was at this event for the second time in a row and was impressed at the large turnout.  I posted several times about it in this blog.

--GreGen

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor in 2012

From the April 11, 2012, Panama City (Fl) News Herald:"Update: Pearl Harbor survivor dies."

Ronnie Everitt, 93, died April 11, 2012.

He was an Army radar technician at Hickam Field on Oahu and was having breakfast.  he thought the Marines were having exercises.

After the attack, day and night, he manned a machine gun in  a pit along with others spaced every 50-100 yards apart.

--GreGen

Noble House Pub Named After Second World War Pilot in England

From the April 8, 2012, Mail Online (U.K.)  "Pub named after Second World War pilot on spot where he was shot down" by Tara Brady.

Sergeant Dennis Noble, 20, was killed during the Battle of Britain, 72 years ago.  His Hurricane fighter plane crashed in a street in Hove, Sussex.  This weekend, a pub opened, named after him.  There is a large painting of him above the bar and even the beer taps feature his face.

He had been in his squadron just 27 days before a German Messerschmitt shot him down in August 1940.  Noble had been working in a London radio shop when the war broke out.

His plane hit the ground with such an impact that it left a 15-foot crater.  They couldn't recover the body so filled in the hole.  In 1996, his remains were excavated and buried in his home town of Retford Nottinghamshire.

--GreGen

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Salvage of the USS Oklahoma

From the New Weapons Forum.

The salvage of the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) took place between 1942 and 1944.

The main battery turrets were still in place and that was thought that they were held in place by their weight.

All the other turrets fell off.

--GreGen

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wilmington, N.C., At War-- Part 3: Gas, Huge Profits and Deferments

MARCH 19, 1942:  Wilmington gas stations could only be open 12 hours a day and customers had to cut their gas purchases by 20%.

MARCH 21, 1942:  The War Department announced that military service deferments were not to be based on family considerations, but rather on how critical their civilian job was to the war effort.

MARCH 25, 1942:  U.S. Representative Al Gore of Tennessee testified before the House Naval Affairs Commission that some companies doing business with the War department were reaping 700% profit margins and that top managers of some companies were making what he called were outrageous salaries and bonuses since the start of the war.

Some Things Just Don't Change for the Last Thing.  --GreGen

Wilmington, N.C., At War-- Part 2: All Together Now

MARCH 17, 1942: An editorial on page one of the Wilmington Star called for an absolute 40-hour work week during the duration of the war with around-the-clock production and no overtime.

Another story reported U.S. officials calling for a 6% cap on profits made on defense contracts and voiding all labor contracts during the war.

All for the war effort.  And, Wilmington with all its war industries, especially the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company was one of the biggest industrial centers of that effort.  Then, there were all the military personnel in and around the city.

--GreGen

Wilmington, N.C., At War-- Part 1: War Off the Coast

From the April 4, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then"  by Scott Nunn.

I really looked forward to reading Mr. Nunn's trip back through the newspapers of 70 years earlier and the interesting tidbits that he found about Wilmington's homefront.  Sadly, he rarely does these any more.  I'd like to volunteer to continue these posts, but live too far away.

MARCH 16, 1942:  The war really got close when a group of oil-stained and seared men were brought to Wilmington's Dosher Hospital.  they were eleven of twenty-six survivors of an oil tanker sunk of the southeast coast of North Carolina by a U-boat.

The Star noted that this story had been delayed 24 hours by Navy censorship rules.

--GreGen

Thursday, September 11, 2014

As Pearl Harbor Was, So Was 9-11

These were certainly generation benchmarks.  Everyone alive December 7, 1941, and old enough, remembers where they were when they heard.  Just as in my case and generation, the Kennedy assassination in November 1963.  And, so, September 11, 2001, as well.

"Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11."  President Barack Obama.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Deaths: Louis Zamperini, Hero of "Unbroken"-- Part 3

His plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean and for 47 days, Mr. Zamperini and two other crew members drifted on a life raft, fighting off sharks and starvation and thirst.  One of the others died.  When President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent Mr. Zamperini's parents a formal condolence note in 1944, he had no idea that their son was now being held captive in a horrific Japanese prison camp.

By the time of their capture, Mr. Zamperini had drifted 2,000 miles and weighed less than 100 pounds.  They were picked up by a Japanese patrol boat and the two survivors were tortured and beaten for more than two years.  He was among the prisoners forced to receive mysterious injections by the Japanese to test their reactions.

It is too bad that Mr. Zamperini did not live to see the movie about him released.

A true American hero.  Perhaps a Congressional Gold Medal is in order.

--GreGen

Deaths: Louis Zamperini, Hero of "Unbroken"-- Part 2

The film "Unbroken" has been planned ever since 1957 when Universal bought the rights to his memoir, "Devil at My Heels," with the idea of having Tony Curtis for the leading role, but then he became involved in "Spartacus."  After that, it just languished until the book increased interest again.

The son of Italian immigrants, he was born in New York and later moved to Torrance, California.  He surpassed more experienced runners to gain a place in the 1936 Olympics and ran the 5,000 meter race, finishing eighth, but his last lap was run so fast that it even impressed German leader Adolf Hitler.

After the 1940 Olympics were canceled because of the war, Mr. Zamperini enlisted as an Army airman and began flying missions as an officer and bombardier over the Pacific in late 1942.

His aircraft developed engine trouble and plunged into the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles south of Hawaii.

The heroic Story Continues.  --GreGen