Friday, December 28, 2012

U.S. Senator and War Hero Daniel Inouye Dies

From Dec. 18, 2012, AP

Died Dec. 17th at age 88.

On December 7, 1941, he and his Japanese-American friends on Hawaii, knew they were in trouble.  They wanted to go to war and fight for their country and be accepted.  "I felt that there was a need for us to demonstrate that we're just as good as anybody else," he said.

He had a dream of becoming a surgeon, but that was lost in Germany along with his right arm in 1945.  His platoon came under fire.  He was shot in the stomach while drawing a grenade.  Even wounded as he was, he climbed up a hill and took out two German machine gun bests and was getting ready to throw a grenade at a third one when a rifle grenade fired by a German just ten yards away hit his right elbow.

He grabbed the grenade, pulled the pin, tossed it back and it blew up in the German's face.

He later served thirty years as U.S. senator from Hawaii after it became a state.

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fred Led Quite a Life

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to meet and talk with Fred from Arizona.  He is the boyfriend of one of our friend's mother.  They met in Arizona, where they live and were here visiting for Christmas.

Fred is 92 and a veteran of World War II and the Cold War as a member of the FBI.  Now, that is one interesting life.

He was in the tank corps and was on a half track under Gen. George Patton.  He met the general on several occasions and said the guy was definitely crusty, but rough on soldiers as his casualties can attest.  He did most of his fighting in Italy.

After the war, using the GI Loan, he went to college in his home state of West Virginia and got a law degree at Washington and Lee and joined the FBI where he met J. Edgar Hoover many times.  He remembers tracking Soviet spies many times in the New York area.

I stayed after him the whole time to please write down his memories before they are lost forever.

Sure Hope He Does.  --GreGen

This Blog Is Dedicated to Frank Curre-- Part 2

After the military, Mr. Curre worked as a pressman for the Waco (Tx) Times-Herald, now Tribune-Herald, for 42 years and continued to work part-time for another 18.  He had been bed-ridden the last days of his life.

He was president of the local Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and returned to Pearl Harbor four times, the last for the 69th anniversary in 1940.

In November 2010, he told the Times-Herald, "There's a lot of stuff I don't remember much in my old age.  But that day? Everything that happened that day is tattooed on your soul.  It never leaves you.  You carry it with you the rest of your life."  This of course, is where I got that quote from as part of the blog title.

Curre was also a member of the William B. Moody VFW Post 2034.

Curre used to visit local schools and talk to the students about World War II.  Many mornings you could find him at the local McDonald's for coffee and talk with fellow veterans.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

This Blog Is Dedicated to Frank Curre-- Part 1

From the December 8, 2011, Waco (Tx) Herald Tribune "Texas survivor of Pearl Harbor dies on anniversary" by Regina Davis.

Frank Curre is the veteran for whom this blog is named.  He was at Pearl Harbor that December 7th as a mess cook on the USS Tennessee.  He survived and later served aboard the USS Petrof Bay and was at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. 

Mr. Curre died December 7, 2011, seventy years to the day of the attack.

His daughter, Linda Lee, said, "It's like he held on for today, which is his special day.  He was very much a family man.  He taught us family values, patriotism and love for our country."

He was exposed to asbestos when his ship was bombed and set afire.

Lee and her sister Peggy Hunt have been his caregiver for the past year.

Quite a Man.  --GreGen

Monday, December 24, 2012

PHSA Chapter in Santa Clara, Ca., Disbands-- Part 1

From the Sept. 28, 2011, Contra Costa (Ca) Times.

Seven Pearl Harbor survivors lunched together for the last time as an organization at a Cupertina restaurant.  "They had outlived almost everyone and everything--their shipmates and ships--and felt no need for drawnout goodbyes or speeches."

"It's already been said!" Ken Butts, 90, declared.  He was on the USS West Virginia, "I'm not supposed to be here."  His station was at the ship's boilers, deep down.  The boiler crew said they didn't need him and he went to a higher deck.  Minutes later, the "Wee Vee" took seven direct torpedo hits.

He managed to scamper up to the deck and swim to shore.  Weeks after the attack, the bodies of 66, many from the boiler, were recovered.  By notes left, three had lived until December 23rd.

Sad to Be Losing These Men and PHSA (Pearl Harbor Survivors Association) Chapters.  --GreGen

SS Gairsoppa Sunk With 136 Million Pounds of Silver Ingots

From the September 22, 2011

Someone is going to get rich off this. 

The SS Gairsoppa had sailed from Calcutta, India with a cargo of tea and 12 million ounces of silver ingots.  It was nearing its Liverpool destination when it encountered a storm and was running short of fuel so its captain decided to make for Galway, Ireland, which proved to be a mistake.

On Feb. 16, 1941, Ernst Mengersen, Captain of U-boat 101, torpedoed the starboard side of the British merchant ship, 412-feet long and constructed in 1919.

The ship's wreck was found 300 miles off the coast of Ireland at 13,400 feet by Odyssey Marine Exploration and is going to be the largest-ever haul by a marine salvage operation.  The ship is intact and sitting upright with hatches wide open and that 240 tons of silver.

At the time, those 12 million ounces were worth 600,000 British pounds.  Today, about 225 times more than that.

The Odyssey is to get 80% of the money.  In 2003, the company found the SS Republic, a Civil War-era ship that sank carrying over 50,000 gold and silver coins.  They've also recovered 500,000 silver and gold coins from a Colonial-era shipwreck code-named the Black Swan.

Finding Those Sunken Treasures.  --GreGen

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Soviet World War II Submarine Found

From the Dec. 19, 2012, Yahoo! News--Reuters "Sweden finds Soviet submarine wreck in the Baltic Sea."

I must admit that I didn't know the Soviet Union even had submarines, but obviously they did.

The submarine was believed lost on patrol in late 1941.  It was found southeast of the Baltic Sea island of Oland in an area heavily mined by the Germans during World War II.  There is evidence that the sub was on the surface when it entered the minefield, struck one, and was blown into two pieces which have been found at the bottom.

It was first discovered by civilian divers.  Several Soviet submarines were sunk in Swedish waters and have been found.

Of course, getting the Soviet Union to ever admit to a defeat or loss was always difficult and this sinking was no doubt covered up.

It is believed to be the S6, which was sunk in September.  Photos taken at the wreck show Russian text and the hammer and sickle symbol of the Soviet Union.

Soviet subs often sailed on the surface either to flee or to recharge batteries and were nicknamed "Stalinets."

In 2009, divers found the S2 which was also sunk by German mines with 50 aboard in Jan. 1940.

Soviet Submarines.  Really?  --GreGen

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor, Clarence "Bud" Boner

From the Dec. 7, 2012, Lake County (Ca) News"Lake County loses another Pearl Harbor survivor; Boner served aboard the USS Tennessee" by Elizabeth Larson.

A photo with the article featured Boner at far right.

Died Nov. 21, 2012 at age 90.

Mr. Boner was born April 22, 1922 in Dodge City, Kansas and was 17 when he enlisted in the Navy and 19 that Dec. 7th.  Another Pearl Harbor survivor, Henry Anderson, was also on the Tennessee that day, but remained with the ship until repairs in Washington.  Boner was assigned to the USS Waller (DD-466).

Losing the Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Friday, December 21, 2012

Blackout Darkens St. Louis Skies

From the Dec. 16, 2012, St. Louis (Mo) Post-Dispatch "A Look Back:  World War II blackout drill darkens St. Louis" by Tim O'Neal.

Police sirens and factory whistles went off at 10 PM and lights went out all over the city.  Mayor William Dee baker was on top of the Civil Courts Building, viewing the now-dark city, called it a success.  Only a few alley lights in the neon sign on the Kessler Fur Co. at 1008 Locust Street were still lit.  The date was Dec. 14, 1942.

For weeks earlier, 7,500 local air raid wardens wearing "CD" armbands had been going door-to-door explaining the rules.  Newspapers and radio stations had also been hammering the message home.  This drill was part of a larger National Civil Defense program that was happening concurrently across seven Midwest states.

This happened even though an attack by German bombers in the hinterlands was essentially impossible.  German Heinkel bombers could just barely make it to Iceland from European bases.  And, Germany did not have any aircraft carriers.

The drill was signalled by five second blasts broken by three seconds of silence.

People at home turned out their lights, motorists pulled over and pedestrians even put out their cigarettes.

It Was War.  --GreGen

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sailor Says Decision to Write Letter Probably Saved His Life-- Part 2

The USS Porter won four Battle Stars for its war service.

The following is from an interview with World War II veteran Edward Rasmussen, 88.

WHY DID YOU ENLIST:  After Pearl Harbor, "I was in my third year of high school and I dropped out to go into service.  I was living in Chicago."  "You were either going to be put in the Army or Marines.  I wanted to be in the Navy.  I went to school and got to be a torpedo man.  I was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Station and had about three months of training."  Great Lakes, in North Chicago, Illinois, is still training sailors.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST VESSEL?  "I went on the Kearny DD 432 in October 1942.  We went from Boston all the way down to Brazil through the Atlantic Ocean.  We rescued a lot of planes, pilots--anyone who had been torpedoed by German submarines.  Then  I got transferred off of that one onto the Porter.  Overall, I was on about four ships.  Two were wartime ships and the others were rescue ships."  1941 was the zenith of the Battle of the Atlantic off the US coast.

HOW MANY MEN WERE ON THE PORTER?  "We had 273.  Some were my age and some might have been five years older.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE AT SEA DURING WARTIME?  "When you're that age you don't think about things. You think, 'I'm a sailor now.'  You stay out of trouble.  My battle station was a trainer and a five-inch gun.  We did a lot of shooting.  We went through 8,500 five-inch shells.  We were in battle  on the water all the time."

More to Come.  --GreGen

Sailor Says Decision to Write a Letter Probably Saved His Life-- Part 1

From the Lake County (Il) Journal "World War II Navy veteran recalls days at sea" by Cassandra Dowell.

Edward Rasmussen, 88, of Gurnee, Illinois, is sure that his decision to write a letter rather to go up on deck probably saved his life.  He was aboard the destroyer USS William D. Porter (DD-578) when the ship was almost hit by a kamikaze on June 10, 1945. However, the plane exploded by the ship and caused it to sink. "If I was sitting on the deck I'd probably have my spine broke," said Rasmussen.

His ship sank, but all aboard were able to get off safely.

He enlisted in the Navy on Feb. 13, 1942 and first served aboard the destroyer USS Kearny (DD-432) docked in Boston and served there until transferred to the Porter in July 1943.


Before the kamikaze, the Porter was assigned to escort the battleship USS Iowa across the Atlantic while it was carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Cairo and Teheran Conferences.

During a torpedo drill, the Porter accidentally fired one toward the Iowa on Nov. 12, 1943.  No one was injured, but the Porter's captain and entire crew were put under arrest until Roosevelt intervened that it had been an accident.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Keeping the Battleship Open: Beach Music Festival

From June 8, 2011, Encore Online, Wilmington, NC.

The Battleship North Carolina, moored in Wilmington, NC, since 1961, is a self-supported museum, using no tax money.  All of its money comes from admissions, the gift shop and donations.  It is an expensive proposition.  Just painting the ship costs $200,000 and then there all the other costs involved with operations.

To keep it self-sustaining, all sorts of events take place on the ship or the surrounding grounds.  Of course, since it is a memorial to North Carolina's dead and veterans of World War II, there are some who say this not a fitting thing to happen, but the ship must go on.

Back in June of 2011, a Beach Music Festival was held at it.  Beach Music is a staple of North Carolina music, so it is fitting from tat stand point.  And, they had some mighty good Beach bands: Mark Roberts and the Breeze Band, Jim Quick and Coastline, the Band of Oz, the Tams, Chairmen of the Board and the Embers.

Gates opened at 10 AM, with the first band at 12:30 PM.  Visitors could park at the Cape Fear Community College for free with a shuttle to the battleship.  Tickets in advance were $18 and $22 at the gate.

I would have gladly paid to see those bands and a battleship, too.

Whatever It Takes.  --GreGen

Selfridge Army Air Base-- Part 2

Continued from Monday.

In 1920, the land was purchased from Henry Joy and Congress also issued funds to turn the rather basic site into a premier airfield.

On June 27, 1919, it became the home of the 1st Pursuit Group, currently the oldest combat group in the Air Force  They had organized in France during the First World War.  They remained at the field for twenty years.  At one time, James Doolittle was stationed there.

On October 27, 1940, the 17th Pursuit Group Consolidated deployed from there to the Philippines and it became Selfridge Army Air Field of the First Air Force.  On March 29, 1943, the 332nd Fighter Group moved to the field.  They were better known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

The 477th Composite Group formed on June 15, 1944 to train the Airmen with the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighters and North American B-25 Mitchell bombers.  On May 5, 1944, segregation and racism caused the Airmen to move to Godman Field in Kentucky.

Like I said, I'd never heard of the place before the fragments of the plane were dug up in the Michigan field.

Now We Both Know a Little.  --GreGen

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Battle of the Atlantic Right Off U.S. Coast

From the July 8, 2011, Baltimore Sun by Frank D. Roylance.

After the U.S. entered the war, German U-boats shifted operations to off the American coast and were winning the Battle of the Atlantic in that area until July 1942, when they moved to attacking the North Atlantic Convoys.  Some 397 ships were sunk off the U.S. coasts.

Ships sunk by U-boats (and one by accident):

W.L. STEED--  Unarmed tanker sunk Feb. 2, 1942, with 66,000 barrels of crude oil, 90 miles off Ocean City, Maryland.  Only a few of the crew survived.

JOHN MORGAN--  Liberty Ship built in 1943 by the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards in Baltimore.  On its maiden voyage, it collided with another vessel off Cape Henry and sank with a cargo of fighter planes, tanks, arms and ammunition.  Sixty-seven crew members and guards died.

VARANGER--  Norwegian tanker torpedoed Jan. 25, 1942, with 12,750 tons of fuel oil.  As the crew took to the lifeboats, the U-boat fired three more torpedoes..  Sank 28 miles southeast of Atlantic City, NJ.  The lifeboats were spotted and fishing boats towed them to shore.

INDIA ARROW--  Oil tanker.  Torpedoes and sunk Feb. 5, 1942, 20 miles southeast of Cape May, NJ, with 88,369 barrels of crude oil.  None officers and 29 crew abandoned ship.  Only 12 survived.

The reason for the article is the danger of the fuel the ship's carried getting out into the sea with the ocean's corrosive elements.

In Hawaii, the USS Arizona had 1.1 million gallons of fuel when it was sunk December 7, 1941, and about half is still on board and slowly leaking to the surface, "The Tears of the Arizona."

Most Americans Don't Even Know About the Battle Off Our Shore During World War II.  --GreGen

Monday, December 17, 2012

Selfridge Army Air Base-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.  I'd never heard of the base before the previous entry so went to good ol' Wili.

The base, now called Selfridge Air National Guard Base is located in Harrison Township Michigan near the town of Mount Clemmons, near Detroit.  It houses the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard.

The Selfridge Military Air Museum, where the chards of the 1941 plane are destined, is located there as well.

It has two connections with people I have written about in other blogs and of interest to me.  It is named for Lt. Thomas Selfridge, the first U.S. military officer to die in an aviation accident while flying with Orville Wright at Fort Myer, Virginia on September 17, 1908.  Selfridge was the grandson of Admiral Thomas O. Selfridge, who commanded the USS Cairo when it was sunk 150 years ago this month.

The U.S. Army leased 640 acres from Henry Bourne Joy, president of the Packard Motor Car Company, and Lincoln Highway pusher.  Joy also had Joy Aviation Field on the site where he tested Packard airplane engines.

The field opened for pilot training July 1, 1917 and closed down temporarily in March 1918, when the Clinton River flooded the base.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Pieces of World War II-era Plane Found in Michigan Farm Field

From the November 13, 2012, Northwest (Il) Herald, by AP.

Four men have unearthed pieces of what they call a WW II-era fighter plane that crashed into a southeastern Michigan farm field Oct. 15, 1941, about six weeks before war started for the U.S..  Jim Clary, his brother Ben--an 88-year-old World War II veteran and two others made the discovery using metal detectors just east of Richmond in St. Clair County.

Several chards were recovered about 8 inches deep in the dirt.  Clary grew up in Richmond and remembered hearing locals tell about the crash.  He studied copies of the investigation reports, old news articles and Google Earth and talked to a 92-year old woman who witnessed the crash.  The search had to wait until the soybean crop was harvested.

The recovered fragments are from a P-38D Lightning which had been piloted by 2nd lt. Al Voss, a native of Elgin, Illinois, who was assigned to the 94th Pursuit Squadron stationed at Selfridge Air Base in Michigan.  he was killed trying to parachute from the diving plane.

Proof the chards were from the plane was in the camouflage patterns that matched the ones used by the squadron.

They plan to give the artifacts to a museum at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

Even though our country was not at war, preparations for one were everywhere in those years before Dec. 7th.

Always Great When History Is recovered.  --GreGen

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"It Rained Death" Pearl Harbor Survivor Remembers

From the Dec. 7, 2012, Des Moines (Iowa) Register.

John Danaher, 94, was on the USS Nevada that day, a yeoman waiting for Mass on the main deck.

Hearing machine gun fire, he at first thought the Army was doing test firing.  His battle station was at the ship's bow and he recalled, "Your training was so good that it became automatic.  You did your job the best you could, and you kept going."

The Nevada wasn't moored next to another battleship and was the only one to get underway during the attack.

The Nevada lost 57 dead that day.


Another World War II Plane Pulled From Lake Michigan-- Part 2

Taras Lyssenko estimates that there are still 70-80 airplanes in the lake.  The Wildcat retrieved Dec. 7th was one of many used to train pilots for landing and taking off from aircraft carriers.  This one rolled off a converted steamship on December 28, 1944, and crashed into the lake about 45 miles southeast of Waukegan after engine failure after its third takeoff.

Pilot Edward Forbes was rescued and continued his training.  He died in 2008 t age 85. I would imagine he served in the war.

During the war 15,000 to 18,000 pilots would leave Glenview Naval Air Station to practice landings and takeoffs from two steamships in Lake Michigan that had been converted into makeshift aircraft carriers, one being the USS Wolverine.

The reason for aircraft carriers in Lake Michigan was the threat of enemy submarines off the coasts.  The large number of planes that crashed into Lake Michigan was partly due to pilot error, which is understandable in training.  Also, part of the problem was that they were flying planes near the end of their active flying, many having already been used in war zones.

Glenview Hangar One Foundation operates a small museum at 2040 Lehigh Avenue.  The air station closed in 1995.

Still More Planes Out There Under the Waves.  --GreGen

Friday, December 14, 2012

Another World War II Plane Pulled From Lake Michigan-- Part 1

From the Dec. 8, 2012, Chicago Tribune by Jonathan Bullington.

A failed training mission left it on the bottom of Lake Michigan 68 years ago, but Friday morning (Dec. 7th), crews pulled the fighter plane from Waukegan Harbor where it had been pulled.  It is the first leg of a journey that will hopefully end up at a Glenview naval museum.

The date last Friday was not lost on the crew either.  Stacy Greenhill, a pilot and oldest child of Charles Greenhill, who paid for the recovery, said, "These are the airplanes that helped us win the war."

Charles Greenhill, 78, a pilot from Mettawa sponsored the recovery of another plane from Lake Michigan two years ago that currently is on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

The plane recovered Friday is an FM-2 Wildcat and will be taken to Pensacola for a five-year complete restoration.

Crews from A&T Recovery towed the plane underwater Sunday to Waukegan Harbor, arriving on Tuesday.  The process also involves getting the approval of various state agencies, the Navy and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Thirty-one World War II planes have been recovered from Lake Michigan so far.

Always Great to recover a Relic.  --GreGen

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On the USS Pennsylvania

From the Dec. 6, 2012, Florida News-Press.

BILL RANEY, 90, of Fort Myers was on the USS Sacramento.

RUSSEL WINSETT, 92, was on the USS Pennsylvania and was a 21-year-old 3rd class gunnery mate.  He'd just finished breakfast and dressed to visit his Hawaiian cousin for a tour of the island.

He found himself 50-feet above the deck firing a .50 caliber machine gun.  "I was not so scared until it was all over.  Then I was shaking like a you-know-what."  The Pennsylvania suffered 24 killed, 14 MIA and 38 wounded.

According to Winsett, the Pennsylvania fired more rounds at the Japanese than any ship that day.  He later fought at Bougainville, Okinawa and Iwo Jima.


Survivors Commemorating Pearl Harbor's 71st Anniversary

From the 12-8-12 Bay News of Tampa Bay, Fl.

GEORGE KAASS--  on the USS San Francisco

From 12-8-12 News 14 North Carolina.

MIKE RUBISH, 86, stationed at Pearl Harbor and remembers seeing the eyes of the Japanese pilots.

From 12-7-12 WECT Wilmington, NC.

ED CLAY remembers after the attack "Ships still burning, bodies coming out of the deep and everyone in a state of shock."

As We Lose Them to Age.  --GreGen

The Catalina Flying Boat Canadian Connection

From the June 23, 2011, Windsor (Can) Express.

The Catalina Flying Boat was a long-range reconnaissance plane used as a search and rescue and light attack aircraft.  It was armed with up to five machine guns.

More than 3,000 were built in Canada during the war.

There is only one fully operational Catalina in the UK and only twelve still flying regularly in the world.

One built in 1943 will be flying  from Duxford to White Waltham Airfield for a Catalina Day celebration.

The Sea As a Runway.  --GreGen

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

National World War II Museum Receiving Segments of Germany's Famed Atlantic Wall-- Part 2

Around 156,000 servicemen from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and other Allied countries took place in the invasion of France.  Offshore, there were 5,000 ships and Higgins landing crafts.

After a huge bombardment, the Allies landed.  The U.S. lost 2,499 dead that day.  Total Allied losses were 4,414.

By June 11th, the beachhead was declared secured.

That day and over the next several months, ships ferried 326,000 troops and more than 100,000 tons of equipment to France.

Paris was liberated August 25th (see the Christmas card above) and Germany surrendered May 8, 1945.

Something Worth Seeing.  That Ranks Right Up There With the Berlin Wall in History.  --GreGen

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

National World War II Museum Receiving Segments of the Famed German Atlantic Wall-- Part 1

From the June 5, 2011, PR Newswire.

On its 11th birthday, the National World War II Museum in New Orleans is receiving three large sections of Hitler's supposed impregnable Atlantic Wall, built to keep the Allies out of France.  It is being donated by the Utah Beach Museum at Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, France.  Each piece is 5.5 feet tall, 18-inches thick and 35-feet in length.  Also, each weighs 22 tons and all are pock-marked with the fire of incoming Allied shells and rifle fire.

Completed in 1944, the Atlantic Wall was a series of fortifications to protect Europe's west coast from Allied attack.  Stretching some 3,200 miles long, it consisted of concrete wall, mines, pillboxes, tank traps and the famous "Rommel's Asparagus."  (I'll have to look that one up.)

Something I'd  Sure Like to See.  --GreGen

Major General John R. Alison, USAF (Ret) Dies

From the June 6, 2011, PR Newswire.

Major General John R. Alison, a World War II combat ace and veteran of the Korean War died June 6th at the age of 98.

During World War II he had seven confirmed and numerous probable kills flying with and later commanding the 75th Fighter Squadron. "The Flying Tigers."

He also co-commanded the Air Commando Force which fought behind Japanese lines in Burma and is referred to as The father of Air Force Special Operations.

In 1943, he led a top-secret mission with 9,000 troops. 1300 mules and moved 250 tons of supplies behind Japanese lines in Burma over a six-day period.  He also piloted the first group of Waco CG-4A glider planes towed by C-47 transports and released to a risky jungle landing.  Of 64 gliders that first night, 32 arrived, 20 were lost en route and 15 turned back.

He returned to service during the Korean War.

Quite the Man.  --GreGen

The USS Oklahoma's Clock

From the Dec. 12, 2012, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Clock from sunken battleship to be displayed at Soldiers & Sailors" by Torsten Ove.

The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum is getting a clock that was once aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma that was sunk at Pearl Harbor on that fateful day.

The heavy bronze clock was made by the Seth Thomas Co. and inscribed "CS Okla" and "galley."  It is believed that it was mounted in the kitchen and one of thirty or so clocks on board the ship.

Dan Heller of Marionville, Pennsylvania, an infantryman who was at World War II's Battle of the Bulge donated it.  Although not a Navy man, his first wife worked at an Army-Navy surplus store in Altoona and when it closed in the 1960s she was asked if she wanted anything.  She didn't, but her her husband had his eye on the clock, so she got that.

Neither the Navy or the Seth Thomas Company could provide proof that it was on the Oklahoma. The Navy did say the dates etched in the back did correspond with an overhaul on the ship that took place before the war.

The Oklahoma turned turtle during the attack and remained that way until 1943 when it was uprighted and refloated.  Its guns and superstructure were sold for scrap.  The hull later sank while under tow to San Francisco in 1947.

Here's Hoping That It Is From the Oklahoma.  --GreGen

Monday, December 10, 2012

Service Aboard the "Wee Vee"-- Part 3

The West Virginai was at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines took place in October of 1944 and involved 34 aircraft carriers, 36 battleships and cruisers, more than 140 destroyers and escorts and 1500 planes.

He and his wife wrote each other everyday.  Letters from her would arrive in a pile and then he'd receive none for weeks, depending upon where and when the letters caught up with the ship.  His mail was read by an officer who literally cut out censored news about where he was and anything that could be used by the enemy.  Some letters were cut out nearly 90 percent.

For recreation, the crew got to occasionally see movies on the quarterdeck and they had concerts.  The "Wee Vee" was especially fortunate to have two former members of the Glenn Miller Orchestra on board.

The ship was at Iwo Jima and at Okinawa, a kamikaze crashed into the ship, killing four and wounding seven.  Fortunately, its bomb did not explode.  Said Reiter, "It was Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945.  I was in the bow of the ship in the shower.  All of the ship's major compartments were locked down and he and others trapped there had ample time to reflect on what must have been going through the minds of those on the West Virginia who were caught there at Pearl Harbor.

He was also on the ship when it led the American fleet into Tokyo Bay for the surrender.  The ship was decommissioned in 1949 and scrapped in 1961.

Reiter journeyed to Charleston, West Virginia the past September for a crew reunion.

The Story of a Ship.  --GreGen

Service Aboard the "Wee Vee"-- Part 2

Reiter was one of seven brothers (and one sister) who had spent many days boating on the nearby St. Croix River.  He wanted to join the Coast Guard right away after Pearl Harbor, but they wouldn't take anyone younger than 18.  The Navy took boys as young as 16.  He joined the Navy in January 1944, at age 17.

He married Jan. 9, 1944 and left for boot camp at Farragut Naval Station in Idaho.  (Really, a naval station in Idaho?)  After training he went by train to Bremerton, Washington, in May 1944.  He recalled that his assignment to the USS West Virginia was quite random.  On arrival, the man in charge of placement pointed his arm at newly-arrived sailors and would say, "From you over to you, the West Virginia."

Tony Reiter became a Seaman First Class and his battle station assignment was to the lower handling room of the powder magazine where he loaded 16-inch shells onto an elevator to the turret.  To this day, he can still go through the loading procedure.
The West Virginia and its new 2,700-man crew sailed to Pearl Harbor in October 1944.  He said that on the way they crossed the equator many times as they zig-zagged to avoid Japanese submarine attack.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Service Aboard the "Wee Vee"-- Part 1

From the December 4, 2012, St. Paul (Minn) Review "Harrowing days aboard the 'Wee Vee'" by Vonny Rohloff.

At Pear Harbor, the USS West Virginia, referred to as the "Wee Vee" by its crew, was struck by two bombs and six torpedoes, sinking to the bottom with the loss of two officers and 103 enlisted. 

That day, 15-year-old Anthony "Tony" Reiter first heard about the attack when he arrived at the Arms Plant in New Brighton where he held a job while attending Mechanic Arts High School.  Even though the US was not at war, the plant was operating at full capacity, seven days a week.

He later served aboard the 1920s ship.

Although badly damaged, the West Virginia was raised May 30, 1942. to the horror that seventy dead sailors were in it who had been trapped below deck.  They had scratched messages on the inside of the ship and the last one had lasted until December 23rd.

It was sent back to the United States and refitted at Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Washington.  By July 4, 1944, it had arisen like a phoenix.

The "Phoenix Rising."  --GreGen

Friday, December 7, 2012

My Visit to "the Tears of the Arizona"

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Oahu thanks to Mom.  Of course, the biggest thing I wanted to do was to go to Pearl Harbor and out to the Arizona Memorial.  And this was considerably before I ever considered having a blog devoted solely to World War II.

I am a huge history buff, especially of all things military, and of all the battles, I am probably most interested in Pearl Harbor.  I was probably one of the few teachers in the country who observed the Pearl Harbor attack.  What began as a 15-minute talk, eventually morphed into a three-day lesson, even when i was teaching geography.

When we got to the old museum (a new one has since been built) there was an unbelievably long line.  I don't do lines as a rule, but definitely did this one.  Admission was free and we had time to see a film and walk around the museum which had many items of interest.  I especially was impressed by the scale model of the Arizona.  There was also a submarine tied up by the museum, on whose land it sat did not exist at the time of the battle but was created by fill.

Next, the Arizona.  --GreGen 

"The Tears of the Arizona"

From the Dec. 4, 2012, Issaquah (Washington) Press "USS Arizona Memorial inspires photographer to capture Pearl Harbor images" by Warren Kagarise.

Jerry Kauman, a photographer and resident of Issaquah, created a book of images dedicated to the steady release of oil from the USS Arizona lying on the bottom of the harbor.  These are sometimes referred to as "The Tears of the Arizona."

For years he has made the journey to the ship and taken photos for his book "Renewal at the Place of Black Tears."  The multi-colored patterns are formed by the intermingling of water and oil and always are different.  The oil comes from the 500,000 gallons of fuel that went down with the ship.

Probably One of the Most Striking Things You'll Ever See.  --GreGen

Four Critical Mistakes the Japanese Made That Day

From the previous post.

Clyde Combs said the Japanese made four mistakes during the attack:

1.  Not bombing the fuel tanks.

2.  Only skeleton crews were on the ships because it was Sunday morning.  US casualties could have been a lot worse had full crews been there.

3.  Not destroying the floating dry dock.

4.  The aircraft carriers were not there.  As it turned out, it was to be the aircraft carriers that won the war.

Something to Think About.  --GreGen

Pearl Harbor Survivor Reported As Dead to Parents

From the Dec. 5, 2012, Cleveland (Tx) Advocate "Pearl Harbor remembered at USS Texas ceremony" by Louis Roesch.

There were 84,000 service members on the island of Oahu that day; most survived and some were killed during the war.  However, it is estimated that there are fewer than 8,000 remaining today, most in their late 80s to early 90s.

On December 1st, the 27th consecutive observation of the event took place on the USS Texas at the San Jacinto Battlefield Historic Site.  The USS Texas participated in both world wars.

Among the honored was 90-year-old Lewis Lagesse of Houston who was a telephone talker on the USS West Virginia that day and knocked unconscious after the second of nine torpedoes hit the ship.  Later, his body was being removed for burial when the Chief Boatswains Mate noticed his eyelash move and he was quickly transported to the hospital ship USS Solace for treatment.

A telegram was mistakenly sent to his parents in Waco December 16, 1941, informing them of his death.  A memorial service was held and a week later they received a second telegram arrived saying he was still alive.  That had to have been very hard on his parents.

After recuperation, he was assigned to the cruiser USS Salt Lake City and participated in the Battles of Guadalcanal and Battle of Komandorski Islands (off Alaska).  The ship was also part of the force escorting the Doolittle Raid that dropped the atom bomb on Japan.  (This has to be a mistake as the Doolittle Raid was in 1942 and they did not drop the atom bomb..

The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated.  --GreGen

This Being the 71st Anniversary of the "Day of Infamy"

Seventy-one years ago today, about this time, Japanese planes and mini submarines attacked U.S. Naval and Army forces on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands.  The heaviest damage was done at a place called Pearl Harbor, ever to live in American hearts from then on.  This plunged the United States into World War II, the next day with a declaration of war from the U.S. Congress after FDR's famous "Day of Infamy" speech.

In honor of it, I will be posting four entries about the attack.  We still have survivors, but, sadly, that number is dwindling rapidly.  I have also written about it since December 2nd.

A long time ago now, and ten years before my time, but never to be forgotten.

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The USS Reid (DD-369)

From Wikipedia.

The last blog entry wrote about the death of Sam Maynor, Jr, at age 92, who had been at Pearl Harbor aboard the destroyer USS Reid.  The ship was named for Samuel Chester Reid, a War of 1812 officer who also took part in the design of the US flag.  (I'll be writing about him in my War of 1812 blog.)

The USS Reid was a Mahan-class destroyer commissioned in 1936 and sunk by kamikazes in 1944.  It weighed 1500 tons, was 341 feet long and mounted five 5-inch guns and had twelve torpedo tubes.

From 1937 to 1941, it served in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and was at Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, where it shot down one plane.  After that, it patrolled the Hawaiian Islands for a couple of months before doing convoy duty.  It participated in the Aleutian Islands Campaign and then in most of the operations in the Pacific Theater.

On December 11, 1944, it shot down three kamikaze planes before being hit by three others, blowing apart and sinking in 600 fathoms within a minute, taking down 103 crew members.  One hundred and fifty survived the sinking and strafing.

The Story of a Ship.  --GreGen

Pearl Harbor Survivor Sam Maynor Dies

From the Nov. 30, 2012, Herald Online.

Sam Maynor, Jr., was on the destroyer USS Reid that fateful day in Pearl Harbor and had to break the lock off a mounted machine gun because the sailor who had the key was ashore.  The ship was able to stream out of the harbor.

He died Thursday, November 29th.

He later fought in the battles of Coral Sea and Casablanca.  Besides the enemy gunfire, he also survived five typhoons.

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

USS San Francisco Pearl Harbor Survivor

From the Dec. 5, 2012, Lomorinda Weekely "Pearl Harbor Survivor Left His Heart on the USS San Francisco" by Cathy  Dansman.

Richard "Johnny" Johnson turns 90 this tomorrow.  You'd never know it to look at him.  He was just 17 when he joined the Navy with his mother's permission after dropping out of high school.  That date was Dec. 6, 1940.  He said he joined, as the Navy promised "Join the Navy.  See the World."

On April 1941, Seaman Thrid Class Johnson boarded the USS San Francisco at Pearl Harbor and worked in its galley the entire time of his enlistment.  He said Honolulu was so ctowded with young sailors, as the nation prepared for war, that they would have to walk in the street when on leave.

The San Francisco was supposed to be in dry dock that December day, but wasn't because it was being painted.  Half the food and ammunition had been unloaded.

On December 7th that morning, he was on the fantail of the ship drinking coffee and thinking about his planned day on Waikiki Beach when he saw planes approaching.  Not knowing they were enemy planes, he remembers waving at them until the bombs and torpedoes started dropping.  Fortunately for him, the San Francisco was not attacked.

Just One More Story of the Day of Infamy.  --GreGen

Five Fewer Pearl Harbor Survivors in California

From the Dec. 3, 2012, Santa Rosa (Ca) Press-Democrat "This Dec. 7,  5 fewer Pearl Harbor vets" by Chris Smith.

More than one/third of the known Pearl Harbor survivors in Sonoma and Lake counties died during this past year.  All five were ages 88 to 94 and will be honored by the tolling of bells at the veterans memorial Building in Santa Rosa on Friday.

FRANK SENNELLO--  90, submariner, died Jan. 3rd
DICK STEELE--  94, in boiler room of the dry docked destroyer USS Downes.  Died Jan. 29th.

GENE OLIVER--  Then 20, on destroyer USS Dale.  He was ordered to take a small boat across the harbor to pick up their captain and came across many wounded sailors in the water, but his orders prohibited him from aiding them.  He always felt bad about that.  Died March 6.

WALT URMANN--  88, on destroyer USS Blue.  Died March 25.
BUD BONER--  90, on USS Tennessee.  Always said he woke up that day a boy and went to bed a man.

Never Forgetting.  --GreGen

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pearl Harbor: Blown Overboard-- USS West Virginia Sailors Honored

1.  BLOWN OVERBOARD--  From the Nov. 30, 2012, Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Lawrence Sofia was setting up chairs on the deck of the USS  West Virginia that day when the attack took place.  He was wounded and blown overboard.

2.  USS WEST VIRGINIA SAILORS HONORED--  From the Dec. 3, 2012, WBOY 12 News.  Sailors who served aboard the battleship USS West Virginia, both at Pearl Harbor and afterwards, were honored at the West Virginia state capitol Monday (Dec. 3rd).  They received certificates and later had a brunch at the state's Department of Veterans Affairs.


As We Lead Up to the 71st Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

We're just three days away from that fateful Sunday that launched the United states into World War II, although we had been preparing for it for quite a few years already.  It was more a matter of when as opposed to if, we would join the war.

It was a mighty sucker punch and one we should have been much more prepared. 

Anyway, I will be writing about it over the next several days.

Never Forgetting.  --GreGen

Hunt on for U-boat Sunk Of North Carolina

From the June 4, 2011, Virginian Pilot "Hunt is on for sunken WWII vessel off N.C. coast" by Erin James.

The search was to continue in the summer of 2011 off the Outer Banks, looking for the remains of a U-boat that attacked a 1942 convoy of 19 container ships and 5 military escorts, from Hampton Roads, bound for Key West to deliver a cargo for the war effort.

Convoy KS-520, escorted by the Coast Guard Cutter Triton was attacked soon after leaving Virginia in July 1942.  The U-576 sank the Norwegian tanker Bluefields causing the convoy to stray into a minefield off Hatteras Island and three other vessels sank. 

Research has been done on the Battle of Convoy KS-520 over the past four years.

The first phase of search is to locate the U-576, Bluefields and the three other ships using multi-beam sonar system beginning this week southeast of Cape Hatteras.

Wonder If They Found It?  --GreGen

Sunday, December 2, 2012

USS Arizona Artifacts to Kansas

From the May 20, 2011, Kansas City (Mo) Fox 4.

Artifacts from the USS Arizona would be moved across the United States on October 13, 2011, to the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association chapter in Kansas City.  \\

Once there, they will be put on permanent display at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Park in Mission, Kansas.

Unfortunately, they didn't say what the artifacts were.


"Hump Pilots" Hold Final Reunion

From the May 4, 2011, Charleston, SC, 4 ABC.

World War II "Hump Pilots" held what might be their last reunion in Charleston back then when five men between the ages of 89-91 met in the city.One was Tex Rankin and another was Bill Thomas, 91, of Charleston.

In the 1940s, they flew support missions over the Himalayas (the Hump) between India and China.

Their first reunion was in 1946 in Detroit, Michigan.

The reason for disbanding, of course, is age and death.

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Work to Begin on RAF War Memorial

From the April 21, 2011, United Kingdom Press Association.

Work on the Bomber Command Memorial will begin in central London next month.  Donations from two high profile donors put the effort near its monetary goal.

The memorial is to honor the 55,573 RAF  airmen who died defending the island.

It is located in Green Park and scheduled for completion around May of 2012.  So far, some 5.6 million pounds of the $6 million goal have been raised, thanks to the generous donations of John Candwek and Lord Ashcroft.

Always Fitting to Honor the Dead.  --GreGen