Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Empty Grave Now Has An Ending-- Part 1

From the May 27, 2012, Chicago Tribune "empty WWII grave holds a story that now has ending" by John Kass.

"There are many graves at St. Casimir Cemetery on the Far South Side of Chicago, and one belongs to Emil Wasilewski.

"Emil's coffin is there, but Emil isn't in the ground.

"The empty casket was buried after his family learned that Lt. Emil T. Wasilewski, a decorated bombardier, was killed in action in Germany in 1944.  Emil's body wasn't recovered, but his father, a Polish immigrant, wanted a place to grieve."

The Chicago Tribune had run a story on May 7, 1944, saying that Emil had recently graduated from Deming Army Air Field in New Mexico and that he had received silver bombardier wings after an 18-week course in high altitude precision bombing.

According to the Army, Emil Wasilewski was part of the crew of a B-17G Flying Fortress on a bombing run over Germany to take out oil refineries on September 13, 1944, when his aircraft was shot down by enemy fire and crashed.  Only one man survived.

The other eight died in the crash and were buried near the town of Neustadt.  For years, this area in what became East Germany was off limits to American forces by the Soviets.

And, Then, The Burial Site Was Found.  --GreGen

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Sgt. Rock" Co-creator Joe Kubert, Died in 2012

From the August 14, 2012, Chicago Sun-Times

JOE KUBERT, 85

Ground-breaking comic artist and educator died August 12th.

Founded the Joe Kubert School of Cartooning and Graphic Art in 1976

But, to me, he was the one who gave me those great old Sgt. Rock and Easy Company comic books that I religiously read back in my way-younger years.  I also see he helped create the Hawkman character.

Sgt. Frank Rock had a dangerously accurate shot and the uncanny ability to survive war wounds with his Easy Company.  And, he was a youthful hero of mine.Plus, I liked the haunted Jeb Stuart tank, the Indian Mustang pilot.

Sgt. Rock and his company sure killed a whole lot of enemy soldiers with all that "Rat-a-Tat" and "Ka-Pows."  "Kubert was known for his war comics, expressionist drawings of macho men, muscles rippling as they performed heroics."

He was born to a Jewish family in Poland in 1926 and came to the U.S. as a baby, growing up in Brooklyn.  He did his first work for D.C. Comics in the 1940s.

Sgt. Rock first appeared  in a comic book in June 1959 and was created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert.

With all the success that Marvel has had with their movies, I sure wish we'd get some Sgt. Rock ones.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Wilmington at War: "Y" Gun Becomes War Scrap, No More Civilian Typewriters

From the August 14, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then."

AUGUST 4, 1942:  The "Y" gun at the entrance to the New Hanover Count Court House, dropped depth charges on German subs during World War I.  It will become scrap metal for the war effort.

AUGUST 5, 1942:  Production of many items has been stopped or curtailed.  The latest order calls for production to cease on typewriters in all U.S. factories except the ones that are produced for the war effort.

The War Hits Home.  --GreGen

Wilmington at War: "The Chief" WWI Secretary of Navy Visits

From the August 14, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then" by Scott Nunn.

AUGUST 2, 1942:  The skipper of the U.S. Navy in World War I, Josephus Daniels, former secretary of the Navy and recently elected ambassador to mexico, is the only man FDR calls "Chief."  he is expected to be in Wilmington on August 8th to speak when the local Navy recruiting station climaxed its Eastern North Carolina Navy Day Drive to enlist 100 men.

Daniels was publisher of the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer.  The Navy recruiting publicist was the late Jesse Helms (later U.S. Senator).

--GreGen

V-J Day in Honolulu

From 2012 discovering hawaii.com. Richard Sullivan

VJ Day, Honoluly, Hawaii, August 14, 1945.

Sixty-seven years ago my dad shot this film along Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, capturing the spontaneous celebration that broke out upon hearing of the Japanese surrender.

--GreGen

Jim Gailey, Pearl Harbor Veteran, Dies-- Part 2

Gailey was a signal man on an anti aircraft mount and described the Japanese planes that day "as like a swarm of hornets attacking--you just fire your gun in the air and hit something."

He remained on the Helena at Guadalcanal and Okinawa.  He was transferred to the USS Chase and not aboard the Helena when it was sunk at the Battle of Kula Gulf.

Gailey retired as a senior chief quartermaster and joined his fellow Pearl Harbor survivors there for the 70th anniversary and earlier in June he went to Washington, D.C. to view the World War II Memorial on an Oklahoma Honor Flight.

Another of the Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Jim Gailey, Pearl Harbor Veteran, Dies in 2012-- Part 1

From the August 12, 2012 Tulsa (Ok) World by Tim Stanley.

James Russell Gailey, 88, of Muskogee, Oklahoma, was aboard the USS Helena at Pearl Harbor.  he kept looking at the battleship USS Oklahoma and thinking it was incredibly majestic, but it made him think of his home state of Oklahoma.

He saw many survivors of the Oklahoma swimming toward his ship where they climbed aboard and immediately took up fighting positions.

In June 2010, he was at the dedication of the Oklahoma's mast at the Muskogee War memorial Park.

A native of Commerce, Oklahoma, he enlisted in the Navy in 1941 and his ship, the Helena, arrice at Pearl in November.

--GreGen

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rare Naval Document Announcing War's End to Be Auctioned

From the August 10, 2012, Washington Post "Rare naval dispatch declaring war's end to be auctioned on the 67th anniversary of V-J Day" AP.

Chief Yeoman Robert W. York went to the commander of the USS Holland with a dispatch from the Secretary of the Navy dated August 15, 1945, reading: "All hands of the United States Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard may take satisfaction in the conclusion of the war against Japan."

It was on an 8-inch-by 6.5-inch piece of paper.

York died in February at the age of 91, and had kept that short message in a shoe box since then.  His son is auctioning it.  York enlisted in the Navy on August 25, 1942 and he was assigned as the personal secretary of Rear Admiral Francis Denebrink.  He later served on the ill-fated USS Ocelot that was wrecked in a typhoon.  Then he was on the sub-tender Holland, headquarters of Vice Admiral Charles Lockwood, Jr., commander of the Pacific submarine fleet.

A massive invasion fleet was being assembled in August for the dreaded invasion of Japan

Denebrink read it and then handed it back to York and told him to keep it as a souvenir.

The auction house had hoped to get $7,000 for it.  It ended up going for $20,000.

--GreGen


Wilmington at War: Maffitt Village

From the August 7, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News, "Back Then"

According to Wilmington's World War II expert, Wilbur Jones, the public housing project built near the shipyard in Wilmington was built in late 1942 and 1943.  It is now called Long leaf Park, but then was known as Maffitt Village.  The old Maffitt Village homes were cinderblock were torn down.  They had been built earlier in 1942.

There were dormitories on the east side of Carolina Beach Road, across from Maffitt Village.  They are located near an extended stay motel and the Frontier.

The barrack-looking building that still stands near the port on Burnett Boulevard was housing for the N.C. Shipbuilding Company's apprentice school and later was the USMC Reserve Center.

You can find out more about the World War II housing project at maffittvillage.com.

--GreGen

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Capture of German Blockade-Runner Odenwald-- Part 2

This took place even though the United States was not yet officially involved in the war.

An Admiralty Court ruled that since the ship was claiming American registration, this was grounds for confiscation and that the crews of the American ships involved, the USS Somers and USS Omaha had salvage rights because the German crew was attempting to scuttle it.

The court case was settled in 1947.  Members of the boarding party received $3,000 apiece and crewmen of the Somers and Omaha were entitled to two months pay and an allowance.  This was the last-ever official prize money issued by the U.S. Navy.  Quite a bit was given out during the Civil War.

The Odenwald was built in Hamburg, Germany, in 1923 and had set a record for speed between Honolulu and San Francisco in 1932 at 75 hours and 40 minutes.

At the time of its last capture, it had made four runs through the Allied blockade to Europe.

--GreGen

Friday, November 14, 2014

Capture of German Blockade-Runner Odenwald by U.S. Navy, Before the War- Part 1

After writing about blockade-runners during the Civil War for so long, it never occurred to me that the Germans would have needed blockade-runners of their own during World War II as they were also under blockade, much as the Confederacy was.

On November 6, 1941, on Neutrality Patrol, the destroyer USS Somers and light cruiser USS Omaha, spotted a suspicious ship near the equator.  Notice the date was a full month before Pearl Harbor.  This strange ship was in what was referred to as the American Security Zone.

The ship refused to identify itself  The ship was flying an American flag and had the name Wilmott on its stern

A boarding party was dispatched while the Wilmott's crew took to their lifeboats and left the ship.  The approaching Americans could hear explosions on boat the ship, but boarded anyway, facing great danger.  It then became a prize.

The Wilmott was taken to Puerto Rico and it was discovered the ship was actually the German freighter Odenwald and was carrying 3800 tons of scarce rubber.

--GreGen

Thursday, November 13, 2014

USS Hoga, WWII Tug, at Mare Island for Repairs-- Part 2

The Hoga served four years as an Oakland, California, fire department boat.  The Navy signed the Hoga to the N.L.R. in 2005 after two years of effort.  Fundraising problems delayed the move from Suisun Bay.

Parts for the 325-ton tug will be scavenged from two ex-Navy tugs in Richmond.  Seagoing tugs Lion and Tiger will be taken to Mare Island's Dry Dock 2 for dismantling.  They were formerly the USS Quapaw and USS Moctobi, built just a few years after the Hoga.

At 8, Mare Island-built submarine tender Nereus left for its final voyage to Akllied defense Recycling.  It is 67 years old.  --GreGen

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

USS Hoga, WWII Tug, at Mare Island for Repairs-- Part 1

From the August 1, 2012, Vallejo (Cal.) Times -Herald "Historic USS Hoga tug at Vallejo's Mare island drydocks for repairs" by Jessica A. York.

The USS Hoga will become a Mississippi River waterfront museum in Arkansas, but in 2012 was at Mare island for repairs before her trip there.

The Hoga is a 71-year-old ship that was in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet and was there at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked.

Its firefighting ability was put to use that day and it helped tow the USS Nevada out of the major channel it was partially blocking.  While doing it, the tug received a dent from the battleship which was kept as a "momento" of that day.

It will be joining the submarine USS Razorback at North Little Rock as capstones for the beginning and end of World War II.  The Razorback was one of 12 U.S. subs at Tokyo bay for  Japan's surrender on September 2, 1945.

--GreGen

Truman's Grandson Unapologetic for Atom Bomb Decision

From the August 3, 2012, RT.

Clifton Truman Daniel met Hiroshima survivors in Tokyo and said his grandfather decided to end the war as quickly as possible and that is why he decided to drop the atom bombs.

Just ask any of the surviving U.S. military personnel who were preparing for the invasion of Japan what they thought about the decision.

My opinion is that the decision saved probably millions of lives, both American and Japanese.  perhaps, he should feel regret that it was necessary, but in no way should he apologize for it.

--GreGen

German Sub, Ship It Sank Found Off N.C. Coast-- Part 2

On July 15, 1942, a convoy of 19 merchant ships escorted by ships from the Navy and Coast Guard were sailing to Key West, Florida, from Norfolk, Virginia, to deliver war cargo when the U-576 attacked them.

Alerted to the U-boat's presence, a Coast Guard cutter dropped depth charges but the German sub was able to get off four torpedoes, striking the Bluefields and severely damaging two other ships.

The Bluefields sank.

The U-576 was evidently surfaced at one point as it was struck by gunfire from an armed merchant ship and then it was straddled by depth charges dropped by escort aircraft.

The Bluefields and U-576 rest on the seabed less than 240 yards apart.

All 45 men aboard the U-576 died and the convoy had four dead.

The discovery of the two ships was because of a 2008 partnership between the NOAA and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to survey vessels lost during World War II off North Carolina.  The two vessels were located this past August by a NOAA research ship.

--GreGen

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day in College Station, Texas

There was an article about the new Civil War Memorial to be dedicated April 9, 2015, the 150th anniversary of Appomattox.

It will be joining other memorials along the half mile Lynn Stuart Trail.  Two of them honor World War II veterans.

One is the Day of Infamy, dedicated Dec. 7. 2011, the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and honors those who served and died in the Pacific Theater of World War II.  The other is Letters From Home and honors those who served in the European Theater.

Thanks, Veterans.  --GreGen

Monday, November 10, 2014

German Sub and Ship It Sank Found Off N.C. Coast-- Part 1

From the October 23, 2014, Chicago Tribune.  Reuters.

The wreck of a World War II German U-boat and a freighter it sank 72 years ago have been discovered off the North Carolina coast by researchers.

The U-576 and the Nicaraguan-flagged freighter SS Bluefields were found about 30 miles off Cape Hatteras in an area known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic for the many wrecks found there.

The discovery underscores how close the war and the Battle of the Atlantic came to the U.S. coast and is a rare view of an underwater battlefield.

NOAA sanctuary scientist and chief scientist of the expedition Joe Hoyt said, "These two ships rest only a few hundred yards apart and together help us interpret and share their forgotten stories."

--GreGen

Mission to Recover Sunken HMS Hood's Bell

From the July 30, 2012, BBC News.

U.S. philanthropist Paul G. Allen has offered to recover the bell of the HMS Hood, sunk in action with the German battleship Bismarck in 1941 at no cost to Britain.  He is co-founder of Microsoft and a yacht owned by him will be equipped with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

Blue Water Recoveries, which found the Hood 2,800 metres underwater in 2011 will coordinate and film the recovery.

The bell is lying on the sea floor away from the hull, which will not be disturbed during the operation.

The HMS Hood, based out of Portsmouth was the largest Royal Navy warship sunk during World War II.  When it went down there were 1,415 killed, the largest single loss of life ever suffered on a British ship.  It was the flagship of the fleet chasing the Bismarck which was sunk by the RAF on 27 May 1941.  When the Bismarck was sunk, it had a loss of 2.090.

If the bell is recovered it will go on display at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in 2014.

Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks is president of the HMS Hood Association and said the bell would be a fitting memorial.

--GreGen

Jock Moffat, 92, Fired Torpedo That Damaged the Bismarck's Rudder

From a 2011 interview.

A Swordfish biplane from the HMS Ark Royal, one of the ships pursuing the German battleship Bismarck, is credited with launching the torpedo that jammed the Bismarck's rudder which spelled the ship's eventual doom.  Jack Moffat is believed to be the last surviving member of the air attack that day against the Bismarck.

"Jock, we got a runner."  After dropping the torpedo, "I got the hell out of there as fast as I could go."

--GreGen

Ireland Pardons Soldiers Who Deserted to Fight Hitler

From the June 12, 2012,Reuters.

On Tuesday, the government of Ireland pardoned thousands of soldiers who deserted to fight for Allied forces after the Irish state decided to remain neutral in World War II.

About 60,000 Irish fought in British forces, including 7,000 servicemen who deserted from the Irish armed forces.

At the  time, the Irish government summarily dismissed them and disqualified them from state employment for seven years.  Many of these Irish men were stigmatized by this move for decades.

--GreGen