Saturday, March 30, 2013

Goldsboro, NC's Seymour Johnson Air Force Base

From the Encyclopedia of North Carolina.

Seymour Johnson Field, Goldsboro, was activated 12 June  1942 as Headquarters, Technical School, Army Air Force Technical Training Command,  In 1943 is began training personnel for deployment overseas as replacements.  It became the home of the 75th Training Wing.

The 326th Fighter Group as assigned to the beas October 1943 and trained pilots for P-47 Thunderbolt fighters from January 1944 until the end of the war.  The based also housed German POWs and, after the war, became an Air Corps separation center from September 1945 until it was deactivated in May 1946.

In the early 1950s, Goldsboro Mayor Scott B. Berkely, a WWI  aviator and John Dortch Lewis led a campaign to reactivate the base and on April 1, 1956, Sewymour Johnson Air Force Base reopened.

And That's How It Came to Be.  --GreGen

Friday, March 29, 2013

Served On Carriers Lake Champlain and Wolverine-- Part 2

The Lake Champlain was not finished so he had to wait.  In the meantime, he was assigned for a month to the aircraft carrier Wolverine in Lake Michigan.  New pilots from Glenview Naval Air Base on land would fly out to the Wolverine in practice landings and take offs.  Lake Michigan was safe from submarine attacks.

The Wolverine was a converted passenger ship fired by coal and he remembered men assigned to stoke the boilers would come up on deck completely covered in black soot.

Several planes ended up crashing into the sea while he was on board.  Planes are pulled up from Lake Michigan every so often now and in excellent shape.

He finally got on the Lake Champlain but never saw action but did participate in returning the Marines and GIs from overseas after the war.

These Stories Need to Be Written Down efore They Are Lost.  --GreGen

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Served on the Carriers Lake Champlain and Wolverine-- Part 1

Thursday, I volunteered to help the Goldsboro Salvation Army in their annual barbecue fundraiser and was assigned to go on deliveries.  The man I was to help was 90 years old and a member of the Golden Kiwanis.

While delivering, he mentioned that he was a World War II veteran, having joined the Navy in the last part of it.  He was a graduate of Goldsboro High School in 1939, the same year as my uncle with  whom he was a good friend.

Earlier in the war, he had worked at a war industry in North Carolina.  Training had been at Great Lakes in North Chicago, Illinois, about thirty miles from my house.  His training had been extended because he had been assigned to join the new aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain.

I had never heard of this ship and thought it might be one of the US light carriers, but it turned out to be (when I looked it up) one of the 24 huge Essex carriers.  It was being built at the same time and in the same place as the USS Shangri-La.  When we lived in Jacksonville, Florida during part of my 4th grade, the neighbors' father was on the USS Shangri-La.  That would be around 1960.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

L.A. Internment Camp Considered for Historic Status

From the Feb. 17, 2013, L.A. Times.

The Los Angeles city council reviewed an internment site for possible historical status.  Verdugo Hills Gold Course, a former CCC camp in Tuna Canyon Detention Station.  Civilians of Japanese, Japanese-Peruvian, Italian and German descent were sent here.

The site is threatened by development.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sydney Harbour, Canada, Played Role in Both World Wars

From the March 3, 1913, Cape Breton Post by Rannie Gillis.

Both Sydney and Halifax Harbours in Canada played important roles in the world wars as bases for wartime convoys which could easily accomodate 100 vessels.

The use of convoys in the First World War didn't start until the last year of the war.

During the Second World War, there were two distinct types of convoys.  "Fast Convoys" consisted of ships that could keep up with at least 10 knots and left from Halifax.  "Slow Convoys" left from Sydney Harbour.  Both harbors were also bases for escort ships.

A small naval facility was started at Sydney, HMCS Protector.

Never Heard of Sydney Harbour.  --GreGen

Monday, March 25, 2013

The USS Mason (DE-529): Mostly Black Crew-- Part 2

The USS Mason had 13 officers, only one of whom was black and 191 enlisted men, of which 160 were black.

On September 2, 1944, the ship arrived in New York to escort Convoy 119 which reached England on October 18th after encountering a huge storm on the way.  The little ship was in danger itself, but rescued crews from stricken ships and was critically damaged.  That damage was repaired at sea.

For thirty days the convoy battled record 50 foot waves and 70 knotwind.  Three tugs sank, 8 car floats and 5 cargo barges.

The crew never received letters of commendation for their efforts and heroism until 1994.

Charles Dana Gibson wrote the book "The Ordeal of Convoy NY 119" about the story.

There is now a USS Mason guided missile destroyer in the US Navy.

Sounds Like a Good Movie to Me.  --GreGen

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The USS Mason (DE-529): Mostly Black Crew-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

Back on January 5 and 9, I wrote about military tugboats constructed in Deland, Florida.  One, the ST-679, was a part of the "Infamous" Convoy NY-119, which encountered a horrendous storm in September 1944.  One of the ships mentioned in the convoy was the USS Mason.

I wasn't sure why this ship's name would be mentioned and others in the convoy were not.  So, of course, I had to do some more research, especially since I had never heard of the ship.

The USS Mason (DE-529) was an Everts-class destroyer escort and one of only two World War II ships manned almost entirely by a black crew.  The other was the USS PC-1264, a submarine chaser.

Ships being manned by black crews was the result of an NCAAP  to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

It was commissioned March 20, 1944, and decommissioned October 12, 1945, weighed 1140 tons and was 289-feet long.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Friday, March 22, 2013

Some More Pearl Harbor Deaths

Sad, but time is passing by.

March 15 St. Cloud Times (Minn)  Ralph Krafnick, 95, died Sunday.  On the USS New Orleans and getting ready to play a baseball game.  Spoke to classrooms about it.

Claude Anthony Sowada died Feb. 18th.  On the USS Maryland.

Leslie John O'Brien, died March 18th.  Attended USNA and became rear-admiral in 1965.  1938-1940 on USS Maryland.  Joined staff of commander-in-chief of US fleet in 1940.

Richard Nesbitt, 95.  Native of Nevada on USS Nevada at Pearl Harbor.  Graduate of USNA.  Served 23 years.  Retired as a captain.

Sad to See Them Go.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Deaths: Captured Tojo

From the March 4, 2013, Seattle Times "US WWII veteran who captured Japan's Tojo dies" by Chris Carola, AP.


Last surviving member of the U.S. Army intelligence unit that captured former Japanese Prime Minister Hidecki Tojo.  The five-man unit arrested him September 11, 1945, nine days after Japan's surrender.

While the soldiers were outside, Tojo attempted to commit suicide and shot himself in the chest.  Wilpers drew his pistol and threatened a Japanese doctor present into treating Tojo until an American one arrived.

Tojo survived and was convicted of war crimes and executed in December 1948.

There is a famous photo of Wilpers holding the pistol on the doctor.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Japanese Submarine I-70-- Part 1

From "HIJMS Submarine I-70: Tabular Record of Movement" by Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.

This being a followup to Dickinson sinking the I-70.

25 Jan 1933--  Laid down at Sasebo Navy Yard, Japan.
14 June 1934--  launched
14 June 1935--  completed

30 March 1941--  became flagship of SubDiv12.
12 May 1941--  the I-69 collides with I-70, damaging the I-70 badly with a long gash on starboard tanks.
15 May 1941--  SubDiv12 flag transferred to I-68.

November 1941 "Operation Z" brief for Pearl Harbor attack on light cruiser Katori.
11 November 1941--  departed Saeki with I-68.


Some More Lt. Dickinson and Submarine I-70 Information

Eighteen SBD planes arrived from the USS Enterprise during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and six, including Lt. Dickinson's plane were shot down.

As if in a postscript to Pearl Harbor, three days later, Dickinson, flying another SBD from the USS Enterprise, sank the Japanese submarine I-70 at 23 degrees 45' North, 155 degrees35' West.


Deaths: Last Survivor of Hitler Assassination Attempt


Died March 8, 2013.  As a 22-year-old German Army lieutenant. he volunteered to wear a suicide vest to a meeting with Adolf Hitler with plans to blow himself up and take out the German leader.  This plot did not come to pass.

He did play a key role in the attempt later that year, on July 20, 1944.

A member of a long-time military family, his father, Ewald von Kleist, was an opponent of Hitler who was arrested many times.  In 1938, he had traveled to England to determine if there was enough support for a coup attempt.

The younger von Kleist volunteered for the German Army in 1940 and was serving on the Eastern Front where he was wounded in 1943.  During his convalescence, he was approached by Col. Claus von Stauffenberg with a plan to kill Hitler.  This resulted in the suicide vest.

Then, came the July 20, 1944 plot as shown in the 2008 Tom Cruise movie "Valkyrie."  Von Kleist was to carry a brief case full of explosives, but von Stauffenberg ended up carrying it into the meeting himself.  Von Kleist remained in Berlin where he was supposed to arrest all officers and officials loyal to Hitler.

The bomb went off in the bunker, but had been moved behind a heavy table leg and Hitler was not killed.

Von Stauffenberg and others were arrested and executed.

Von Kleist was arrested, interrogated and sent to a concentration camp, but later released and returned to combat duty.

Quite An Interesting Story.  --GreGen

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Japanese Submarine I-70 Sunk Three Days After Pearl Harbor

From This Day in Naval History.

I was wondering about which Japanese submarine Lt. Dickinson sank on December 10, 1941, just three days after Pearl Harbor, so did a Yahoo! Search.

According to This Day in Naval History, on Dec. 10, 1941, aircraft from the USS Enterprise sank the Japanese submarine I-70 north of the Hawaiian Islands, the first Japanese combatant ship to be sunk in the war.

Also on December 10th:

A Navy PBY aircraft piloted by Lt. Utter shot down a Japanese Zero in the first US Navy air-to-air kill of the war.

Guam surrendered to Japanese forces.


Clarence Earle Dickinson Jr: Won Three Navy Crosses-- Part 2


After Pearl Harbor, Dickinson moved back to the USS Enterprise.  Just three days later, December 10, 1941, while searching for enemy submarines and ships, he sighted a submarine on the surface and dove through anti-aircraft fire and dropped a bomb.  The submarine "went down in a manner that indicated it had been damaged, or possibly destroyed..  There was no evidence of a dive, such as propeller wake, while a large bubble of oil and air came to the surface."


This one Dickinson received at the Battle of Midway June 4-6, 1942.


He also received an Air Medal for his actions February 1, 1942 at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Quite the Air Hero.  --GreGen

Friday, March 15, 2013

Clarence Earle Dickinson Jr: Won Three Navy Crosses-- Part 1

From the Military Times Hall of Valor.

This is a follow up to the March 12th blog entry.

Clarence Earle Dickinson Jr was born December 1, 1912 in Jacksonville, Florida and died October 4, 1984.  His home of record was in Raleigh, North Carolina.

He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1934 and became the first person in history to receive three Navy Crosses, something he did at the same time as fellow pilot Lt. Noel A.M. Gayler.


He returned to Pearl Harbor in a Scouting Plane from the carrier USS Enterprise.  he and his gunner engaged Japanese planes.  His gunner was killed and Dickinson was shot down in flames and parachuted near Ewa Airfield and proceeded to Ford Island where he was assigned to a post-attack 175 mile aerial search operation for the Japanese fleet.

And, That Was Just the First One.  --GreGen

World War II's Floating Docks

Until the March 11th entry, I had not heard much about floating docks.

From Wikipedia.

During World War II, more than 150 floating docks were constructed in the United States and 78 saw action in battle zones.  Of them, 44 were used for commercial ships, 21 for naval activity, 3 to the Army, 2 for the Coast Guard, 5 sent to the United Kingdom.

They were classified as PFDs, for floating drydocks.

One was lost in action and another sunk at the Bikini Island atomic tests after the war.

Now, You Know.  --GreGen

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The USS Shaw-- Part 2: Comebacks

The third bomb struck the bridge.  Fire broke out, attributed to a rupture in the fuel tanks.

The Shaw might have come under attack in the second wave because of the proximity of the battleship USS Nevada, which had gotten underway and ran aground nearby.

The flames were out of control and abandon ship was ordered.  Water was not available to fight the fires.When the fire hit the forward magazine, there was a huge explosion (the one often shown in battle photos)  It severed the bow off and sank the drydock.

The fire was made even hotter from the fuel oil and the wooden blocking under the ship in the drydock.

Twenty-four lost their lives.

temporary repairs were made in Pearl Harbor after the attack and the Shaw made its way to San Francisco where the bow was replaced and repairs made in June 1943, and the destroyer returned to service at New Guinea and the Philippines.

The YDF-2 was raised and restored to use, rejoining the fleet in May 1942.

The Story of a Dock and a Destroyer.  --GreGen

The USS Shaw-- Part 1: Floating Drydocks

Earlier this week, March 11th, I was writing about Clyde Moore from Wilmington, NC, who died aboard the USS Shaw at Pearl Harbor.  Here is a follow-up to the story.

From  the Time and Memory and Blood Blog.

The USS Shaw (DD-373) was in Floating Drydock YFD-2 when the attack came.  The drydock was also called New Orleans after where it had come from., Naval Station New Orleans.  It had arrived at Pearl Harbor August 23, 1940. 

Floating drydocks (the FD in YFD-2) were u-shaped drydocks that could be lowered by letting water into ballast tanks to allow the ship to enter while still afloat.  Then water in the ballast tanks would be pumped out and the ship would rise above the water.  These were very convenient as they could be towed anywhere.

Fortunately for the Shaw's crew, when the attack came, most were ashore as their services were not needed.

The first wave of Japanese planes concentrated primarily on the battleships, but the Shaw was hit in the second wave.  The first two bombs hit the machine gun platform, forecastle and main decks where they exploded in the crews' mess room.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wilmington NC's Role at Pearl Harbor-- Part 6

Here are some Wilmington civilians at Pearl Harbor that day.

Justus Sistrunk, Hickam Field, recently discharged from the Army Air Force.

Drexel High--  naval shipyard

Blanche Stewart, nurse, who airmailed her mother, "We are working day and night.  Everything has been orderly, and we are not expecting another attack."

Mrs. Emil (Rosa Bunch) Peterson

Mrs. Glenn Frazier whose husband was on the USS Arizona.

A North Carolina City Quite Involved In It.  --GreGen

Wilmington, NC's Role at Pearl Harbor-- Part 5

More Wilmington area residents at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941:

Seaman First Class William Wesley Troutman.

Lt. Col. Brooke E. Allen, a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot and graduate of New Hanover High School, took off from Hickam Airfield around 11:40 AM and circled Diamond Head and was in the air for seven hours looking for the Japanese fleet.

He tracked false reports the fleet was to the south before figuring the attack must have come from the north.  He said he "returned with a minimum of fuel and heart full of disgust that I had been unable to locate them."

Tech Sgt J.W. Thompson Jr
Marsden S. Ward Jr.

At the Army's Schofield Barracks:
Private William S. Smith
Harry Redrick


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wilmington, NC's Role At Pearl Harbor-- Part 4

Seaman 2nd Class Lawrence Homer Henderson from Hamstead was on the USS California.

Baker Taylor Marion Jeffords, New Hanover High School Class of 1939, was on the USS West Virginia.

Joseph C. Nesbitt, later long-time Wilmington Star-News photographer, was on seaplane tender USS Avocet.

Lt. Nelson Robinson was on a destroyer.

Lt. Benjamin Adams was on a submarine.  His wife, Catherine Cantwell Adams lives on Waikiki.

U.S. Mintz, New Hanover HS Class of 1939 was on the USS Oklahoma.

Conrad Lott of Leland was on the USS West Virginia.

Roscoe A. Cole, Jr was in a harbor defense unit.

M.C. Dobson was at a Naval Air Station.

Nelson Robinson was on a destroyer.

William H. Barry

More to Come.  --GreGen

Wilmington, NC's Ties to Pearl Harbor-- Part 3

There is no memorial to the USS Shaw at Pearl Harbor.  Survivors do not attend anniversaries and none were at the 70th anniversary in 2011.  The Navy still uses Dry Dock No. 2 (but this might be the regular drydock, not the one the Shaw was in which was a floating one, the YFD-2, which was raised, repaired and rejoined the fleet in May 1942.

There is, however, a Honolulu grave site for one Wilmington man, but he wasn't at Pearl Harbor during the attack.  Navy Pharmacist 2nd Class William D. Halyburton Jr gave his life to save another and is interred at the Punchbowl National memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Here is information on the Wilmington Pearl Harbor survivors:

LT. CLARENCE EARL DICKINSON JR.  was in Scouting Squadron Six from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and offshore.  He and other pilots were planning to land their planes at Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor and flew into the midst of the attack.

He was shot down after he shot a Japanese plane down and crashed into a sugar cane field near Ewa.  He made it to Ford Island and commandeered another aircraft and took off looking for Japanese planes.

For his actions that day and for sinking the first enemy surface ship of the war a few days later, he received the first of his three Navy Crosses.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wilmington NC's Ties to Pearl Harbor-- Part 2

Clyde Moore's remains were never fully identified and he is buried with other shipmates in the St. Louis National Cemetery in k49.

The first local man from Wilmington to die in the attack was Signalman First Class Harvey Howard Horrell on the USS Arizona who was stationed on the bridge when the ship was hit.  He died in the explosion at 8:10 AM.  His remains either vaporized, scattered or settled on the muddy bottom.

Bert Melton is reported to have died at his post, probably topside.  His remains were never recovered.  A total of 428 died on the Oklahoma that day.

Clyde Moore, 23, was a graduate of New Hanover High School and one of three brothers serving in the Navy at the time. Altogether, his parents, Mr. and Mrs J.R. Moore of Castle Hayne, had six sons in the Navy, considered the highest number of siblings to serve from one family in North Carolina.

Harvey Horrell was 30 and unmarried.  He had enlisted at age 18.

Bill Melton turned 25 on December 7th and was a New Hanover High School graduate who had enlisted in the Navy in 1926.

The Moore Family Sure Gave to Their Country.  --GreGen

Wilmington, NC's Ties to Pearl Harbor-- Part 1

From the December 7, 2011, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Wilmington historian explores ties during anniversary" by Wilbur D. Jones Jr.

At least 21 men and 5 women from the Wilmington area were there that day when the Japanese attacked.  Three died: one each on the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma and USS Shaw.  These were the first of over 400,000 Americans to die in the war.

Only one of the three who died did so instantly.  Radioman 2nd Class Clyde Carson Moore was on the destroyer  USS Shaw which was in the US Naval Shipyard's floating dry dock No. 2.  Three bombs set off the forward magazine, demolishing the ship's bow and killing 23.  This is probably the famous photo of the Shaw exploding.

Wilbur Jones' wife, Carroll Robbins Jones was seven at the time and at Pearl Harbor.  Her father, Lt. Berton A. Robbins Jr was the Shaw's Executive Officer and had departed from his residence ashore and was just starting to board his ship when the explosion occurred., but suffered no injury.  He eventually was able to retrieve the ship's ensign and turned it over to the US Naval Academy Museum.

A Close Call for Lt. Robbins.  --GreGen

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Pearl Harbor Veterans 70th Anniversary-- Part 5

December 7th Carolina (NC) News 14.

LESLIE HOLLENBACK was on the USS Pennsylvania: "I do not recall being scared, not scared, just angry that we were caught [off guard].  He described a "lucky" bomb hit near his ship: "If the bomb had hit just one or two feet from where it did we probably would have had the same fate as the Arizona."

December 6, 2011, Wassau (Wis) Daily Herald.

From the December 8, 1941 headlines:  "Native son DONALD PLANT, 22, killed at Pearl Harbor."  Plant had been a popular sports hero at the town's high school.

"US Declares War on Japan, American casualties heavy."


Pearl Harbor Survivors 70th Anniversary-- Part 4

From the December 8, 2011, Florida Today.

FLORENCE NEENER was there as a civilian working for the military in Hawaii.

JIM MITCHELL, 89, of West Melbourne in the Army's 251st Coast Artillery at the base hospital with tonsillitis.  He was sitting outside with other patients when the attack began, "We were out sunning ourselves."  They grabbed weapons and began firing.

December 8, 2011, New York Post.

DAN FRUTCHER, 92 "I had just completed breakfast and was waiting to be picked up by friends for a luau."

ROBERT EAKIN, 92, of Bayonne, NJ, there as well.


Pearl Harbor Veterans 70th Anniversary-- Part 3

From the Dec. 8, 2011, Booneville, Arkansas, Democrat.

BILL CHASE, 87.--  Apprentice seaman.  Had just completed boot camp and was recovering from the German measles and saw the attack from the base hospital.  "I had a ringside seat."

WALTER SMITH, 93.  US Army private was driving a truck near Pearl Harbor when the attack took place. 

Fifty-one Arkansans died that day and 21 are still on the Arizona

A ceremony was held and the names of five Pearl Harbor Survivors Association members who had died in the previous year was read.  It is believed that there are still 9 Pearl Harbor survivors living in Arkansas.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Pearl Harbor Veterans 70th Anniversary-- Part 2

Dec. 8th Dothan (Al) Eagle

Each year Enterprise High School students write thank you letters to local Pearl Harbor survivors.  Sadly, this year, there was only one to write to.

CHESTER FAULKNER, 93, joined the Army to get off the farm and out of the Great Depression.  He was asleep at Schofield Barracks and was awakened by a dull sound that got louder.  The sound of bombs was rattling the barracks' windows, "I was wondering what it was all about when I saw the big red balls on the planes."  He said the next several days he had real hard work digging fortifications for an anticipated attack.

Dec. 7th KCRG TV 9, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Robert Urich, then 18, was a Navy fireman, "There was a terrific explosion and the ship lurched and it takes quite a bit to make a battleship lurch."  He survived, his brother did not.  He checked hospitals looking for him.

Signalman Francis Riley, 89.

Pearl Harbor Veterans 70th Anniversary-- Part 1

From Dec. 7 Nick News

J.C. Alston on USS California
Konrad O'Hearn on USS Maryland.

Both speak at local schools.

Dec. 8th Florida Times-Union

Duane Reyetts, 89, was asleep in his bunk on the USS Oklahoma when the first torpedo hit.  He was 20 and in top shape and made the 600 foot dash from that bunk to his battle station in the stern in a few minutes despite all the confusion.  When the ship capsized, he did a chin-up to climb out a porthole to safety.

This is also the first I read that the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association was disbanding after 53 years of operation.

Dec. 7th Orange County Register.

Robert D. West on the USS Oklahoma which was struck by seven torpedoes and sank in just 18 minutes.

Charles K. Kohnow was a Marine and used fire axe to break into a weapons locker to get guns to shoot back.


Some Kids at Pearl Harbor

From the Dec. 7, 2011, Nashville Tennesseean.

You always hear about the military personnel at Pearl Harbor, but this is a story from a kids' view.

TOM McCREARY pulled his father's revolver out and shot at Japanese planes flying over his house.

His sister BEE BEE LEWIS remembers donning a gas mask. 

These two visited the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum's World War II exhibit on Wednesday.

Their father, Thomas McCreary, was raised in middle Tennessee and ran away from home at age 14.  He joined the Army and later served in the Navy and ended up in Hawaii where he married their mother and had three children.  They lived on Honolulu Street near Diamond Head Crater Park, about 20 miles from Pearl Harbor.

Thomas McCreary was a boiler master and had recently received orders to report to the USS Arizona on December 8th.  Had the attack come the following day, he would have been aboard.  At the time of the attack, Bee Bee was three and a half and Tom 15.  He remembers the Japanese strafing his neighborhood.

The Story From Another Angle.  --GreGen

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Patty Andrews Dies

From the January 31, 2013, Chicago Tribune.  The first part of the obituary appeared in yesterday's Down Da Road I Go Blog.

As I mentioned yesterday, they were a huge group during the war.

They began singing professionally in 1932 when Patty was just 14.  They had their first major success in 1938 with an English version of "Bei Mir Bist Du Shoen" which went to #1.

From 1938 to 1951, they had 19 gold records, dozens of top ten records and nearly 100 million in record sales.  They appeared as themselves in dozens of movies including Abbott and Costello's "Buck Privates" and "In the Navy."  Also, Bob Hope and Big Crosby's "Road to Rio" in 1947.

Patty was born in Minneapolis in 1918 and dropped out of junior high school to go on the road.


Memories of the Pearl Harbor Attack-- Part 2

On the 70th anniversary of the attack in 2011.

LESTER SILVA, 88 of Virginia Beach, Va..

He was on the quarterdeck of the USS Detroit, chatting with the ship's bugler and saw enemy planes.  Seconds later they were under attack.  Unable to get to his battle station at the forward machine guns, he donned a pair of headphones to help gunners fire at their targets.  Ships all around the Detroit were sinking.

"Sailors were flying through the air.  People are jumping into the water.  It was complete helter-skelter.

One plane came so close, if I'd had a monkey wrench I could have thrown it and hit it.  The pilot was wearing a red scarf.  I'll never forget it.  he waved at us!  So I waved back."

he was hit by pieces of shrapnel in his leg and carried to the sick bay.  By the time he got back, the attack was over and the Detroit underway.  It nearly collided with another ship getting out of the harbor.

Getting These Stories While I Can.  --GreGen

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Deaths: Patty Andrews

PATTY ANDREWS (1918-2013)

If there was a voice to World War II on the American side, it would have to be Patty Andrews and her siblings who made up the group Andrews Sisters.

I usually put music deaths in my Down Da Road I Go Blog or possibly my Cooter's History Thing Blog.  But this one really belongs in the World War II one.  I typed it all up and entered it, only to find it was in my Cooter's History Thing Blog of today's date.

I have some more to say so hopefully that will be here tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Doolittle Raider Tom Griffin Dies-- Part 3

At the ceremony for Raiders who have passed on, there will be a roll call.  When Griffin's name is called, Lt. Col. Richard Cole, 97, and oldest survivor, will give a report on Griffin.  At the end of the names, white-gloved cadets will pour cognac into the four remaining survivors' goblets and the toast, "To those who have gone" will be given.

The four remaining Raiders:

Lt. Col. Richard Cole of Comfort, Texas
Lt. Col. Robert Hite
Lt. Col. Edward Saylor of Puyallup, Washington
Master Sgt. David Thatcher of Missoula, Montana

Originally, the plan was to have the last two survivors toast, but with advancing age, it was decided to have it this reunion.

There will be another gathering later this year and a bottle of 1896 cognac will be opened.  That is the year in which Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle was born.

Tom Griffin was a native of Green Bay, Wisconsin and settled in Cincinnati after the war and opened an accounting business.  He was preceded in death by his wife and is survived by two sons.  Service will be March 9th at Green Township Veterans Park and there will be a B-25 flyover.

So Sad to be Losing Doolittle's Raiders.  --GreGen

Wilmington At War: Cigarette Advertising-- Newest Liberty Ship

From the Feb. 27, 2013, Wilmington (NC) Star-News Back Then.

Looking back at stories printed in the Wilmington, North Carolina papers back during World War II.

FEBRUARY 20, 1943

Many of the cigarette ads were linked to the war.  One in this paper featured a mother and a father sitting at a table with a soldier's portrait behind them.  The Mother says "I'd walk many a mile just to hand him these Camels."  The ad continues, "It's the most welcome gift you can give him...a carton of Camels- the soldier's favorite."

FEBRUARY 24, 1943

The latest Liberty Ship launched by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in Wilmington, the SS Woodrow Wilson,  was named for President Woodrow Wilson, who lived in Wilmington as a boy while his father was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.  His widow came to Wilmington to christen the ship.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Memories of the Pearl Harbor Attack-- Part 1

From the Dec. 4, 2011, Virginia Pilot.

Eugen Gorman, 90 of Virginia Beach saw a plane flying by while getting dressed and recognized it as Japanese.  Still unalarmed, he walked to the mess hall for breakfast when it struck him what was afoot and he shouted, "The Japs are here!"

He went to his battle station, an obsolete gun with no anti-aircraft capability and quickly realized it was useless.

He never joined the local Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, saying it was not the most important thing that happened in his life.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Doolittle Raider Tom Griffin Dies, 98-- Part 2

Of the Raiders, eight were captured and three executed.  A fourth died in captivity.

After rescue, he returned to planes and saw action in North Africa where he was shot down and spent nearly two years in a German prison camp.

His death comes less than two months before the final Doolittle Reunion in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, April 17-21.  He took part in last year's 70th Anniversary Reunion at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

A goblet with his name on it will be turned upside-down this April at a private ceremony at the reunion. 

What a Life Mr. Griffin Led.  --GreGen

Toledo's Pearl Harbor Survivors-- Part 3: John Fox and Tom Child


He was not at Pearl Harbor during the attack, but arrived in time to see a badly damaged ship sinking.  Heavy equipment operator and helped clean up and rebuild the base.  He had wanted to follow his two  brothers and join the Army, but wasn't allowed as the Army did not want three brothers from the same family together, so joined the Navy.


Was torpedo officer on the USS Cassin, a destroyer.  he abandoned ship when it was bombed.

Fox and Gilbert (yesterday's entry) returned to Pearl Harbor on vacation, but Kessinger never did.

Kessinger was on the USS Pennsylvania for five years and fought in 13 operations.  He got out of the service when his enlistment was up in 1946.

The Stories We Are Now Fast Losing.  --GreGen

Jim Landis' Pearl Harbor Plane-- Part 4

Continued from February 22nd.

After Midway, the shot up SBD-2 was sent back stateside, repaired and assigned to Carrier Qualification Training Unit at Glenview NAS in Illinois.  A lot of obsolete or heavily damaged planes were assigned to this site, which, along with pilot error (after all, they were learners) led to a large number of crashes into lake Michigan while attempting to land on the converted carriers.

On the morning of June 11, 1943, with Marine 2nd Lt Donald A. Douglas piloting, it too crashed into the lake during an errant approach to training carrier Sable (IX-81).

It was recovered from the lake in 1994.

This plane has a lot of history as a survivor of Pearl Harbor, two other air actions and the Battle of Midway and then training.  Without qualified pilots, the aircraft carriers were not of much use.

Its armament consisted of two forward-firing .50 inch machine guns and a rear-firing .30-inch machine gun.  Its crew consisted of a pilot and a gunner.  This would make sense of Jim Landis saying at Pearl Harbor that he had gotten a machine gun from the plane and used it to fire at the Japanese planes.

The plane can be seen at the Naval Air Museum at Pensacola NAS in Florida.

The Story of a Plane.  --GreGen

Friday, March 1, 2013

Doolittle Raider Tom Griffin, 96, Dies-- Part 1

From Yahoo! News, AP.  Always sad when I have to report that any World War II veteran died, but this man was a very special one.  He was one of the only five remaining Raiders still alive.  Now there are just four.

Mr. Griffin died February 26, 2013.  According to the news report, he was a B-25 navigator on the "audacious Doolittle Raid on the mainland of Japan."  This raid, although doing insignificant damage to Japan and losing every plane, was huge for American morale in those hard days after Pearl Harbor.

He was one of the original 80 volunteers for the April 18, 1942, mission reasoning "We needed to hit back."  Sixteen bombers took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.  Before that, it was believed that B-25 bombers could not take off from such a ship.  They did and mission accomplished.

Running out of fuel, the Griffin's crew were forced to parachute out over occupied China.  With the help of locals, they managed to evade Japanese patrols and eventually got back to the United States.

A Hero Among Heroes.  --GreGen

Toledo's Pearl Harbor Survivors-- Part 2: Jim Gilbert

Jim Gilbert, 91, enjoyed the Toledo Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, but it disbanded in 2004 when it got down to six members.

He had enlisted in the US Navy in 1940, after not getting into the Naval Academy.  In April 1941, he was stationed at Pearl Harbor on the USS MacDonough, a destroyer.  During the attack "our ship was torn down for overhaul, so a lot of us were ashore.  I was at the executive officer's house."

He heard gunfire from a nearby anti-aircraft battery and ran back to the base and was strafed by a plane, but didn't get hit.  Once back at his ship, he put on his uniform and took his position at an anti-aircraft gun.  There was no power so he was forced to fire as accurately and safely as he could.

He especially had to be careful of firing at civilian areas or other ships.

His comment on the attack was that he "was too busy to be scared."

Two More to Come.  --GreGen

Toldeo's Pearl Harbor Survivors: The Baseball Game That Never Happened

From the December 4, 2011, Toledo (Ohio) Blade "Day of Infamy vivid for those at Pearl Harbor" by Jennifer Feehan.

Charles Kessinger, 93, of West Toledo, was on the battleship USS Pennsylvania in Pearl Harbor that morning and thinking of nothing except the baseball championship game to be played later on December 7, 1941.  He was the team's centerfielder and they were slated to play the team from the USS Oklahoma.

Of course, that game was never played.

He is one of northwest Ohio's last Pearl Harbor survivors.

A 500 pound Japanese bomb hit the Oklahoma, in dry dock, killing 25.  However, he said he was on the other side of the ship and didn't feel or hear it.  Ordered to report to battle stations, he continued, "On my way to my battle station, I stepped over a dead sailor.  That's something I'll never forget in my life."  It is kind of hard to believe he didn't hear or feel the explosion, probably because of all the other explosions going on all over the harbor I suppose.

He married Ruth, who he met on shore leave in 1943.

Four Navy veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors will be honored Dec. 7th: Jim Gilbert of Toledo, John Fox of Sylvania, Tom Child of Findlay and Kessinger.  Only John Fox and Kessinger attended the event as the other two were not up to it, healthwise.

The national Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will be disbanding after this year.  Founded in 1958, it once had 29,000 members, but as of September, the number was down to just 2,708.

Sad to See the Greatest Generation Passing Away.  --GreGen