Saturday, August 31, 2013

Small World: Aviators' Paths Crossed in War-- Part 2

Both Bill Hohan and Paul Tuck believe they are the last-surviving members of their plane crews.

Millville High School senior David Brewster has assisted in about a dozen interviews and has "a strong passion for history." A ninth grade teacher told him about the interviews being conducted with World War II veterans which have been going on for ten years. These inteviews will be turned over to the Library of Congress. I always like to find out about a young person with an interest in history like David.

Paul Tuck enlisted in the Army Air Corps at age 25 and was sent to an air base in Italy and served with the 767th Squadron, 461st Bombardment Group as an engineer and knew the workings of planes.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Small World: Aviators' Paths Crossed in War-- Part 1

From December 28, 2011, New Jersey Star-Ledger "WWII Vineland vet recalls war for interview with Millville High senior."

Paul Tuck, 90, was the top turret gunner and flight engineer on a B-24 Liberator and flew 22 daylight bombing missions over Germany and Austria during the war. He was shot down.

Bill Hogan was a tail gunner on a different B-24 and flew 16 missions in Europe before he too was shot down.

Both men met each other for the first time when they were being interviewed by Bob Trivellini, of the Millville Public School District.

Hogan lives in Millville and both men happened to be bombing the same target the day Hogan's plane was shot down and he ended up spending 11 months as a POW. (Trivellini's father was in the U.S. Third Army, 11th Armored Division which later liberated Mauthausen Concentration Camp which provided slave labor to Hogan and Tuck's target that day.)

Small World. --GreGen

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

That Horrible Thing Out in Washington

From the August 27, 2013, Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph Herald "Teenage held on $2 million bail in beating death of WWII veteran" by Nicholas K. Geranios, AP.

Demetrius Glenn, a black 16-year-old  is being held on $2 million bond and another black teen, Kenan Adams-Kinard, was arrested in the same case Monday. The two beat 88-year-old World War II veteran Delbert Belton to death in a parking lot at the Eagles Lodge in north Spokane while he was waiting for a friend.

It appears that Belton fought back, which increased the severity of the attack.

Mr. Belton was wounded at the Battle of Okinawa.

This Is As Horrible As You Can Get.  --GreGen

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Deaths: There When Gen. McAuliffe Made His Famous Reply-- Part 2

The 101st was essentially surrounded, outnumbered and running out of supplies and ammunition. McAuliffe's first response to the request was "Nuts!" Another officer present suggested he use it in his official written response.

McAuliffe wrote, "To the German commander. Nuts! From the American commander." and gave it to the Germans.

The 101st held on and the Germans were eventually forced to retreat but the arrival of the rest of the Allied Army.

Mr. Vicari on why the reply was "Nuts:" McAuliffe simply did not curse. He's the only general I came across, and I met them all--Patton, Eisenhower, Montgomery, Brradley-- and he was the only general who didn't use profane language."

Now that is some great history.

Mr. Vicari died December 5, 2011, at age 92.


Deaths: There When Gen. McAuliffe's Famous Reply Made-- Part 1

From the December 28, 2011, Lehigh Valley's Newspaper, The Morning Call "WWII veteran Vincent Vicari dies" by Frank Warner.

Vincent Vicari, 92, died. He was an aide to General Anthony C. McAuliffe when the famous reply for a German demand for surrender was made. That famous reply, "Nuts."

He was the past president of the McAuliffe Chapetr 101st Airborne Association and a big part of the campaign to name a 3.2 mile stretch of Route 33 in Bethlehem Township the General Anthony McAuliffe 101st Airborne Memorial Highway, which was approved in 2002.

Mr. Vicaro became the general's aide in 1943 and was at his side at the Battle of Bastogne (Battle of the Bulge) on December 22, 1944, when a white flag delegation of four Germans demanded the 101st's "honorable surrender" to avoid "total annihilation."

More to Come. --GreGen

Friday, August 23, 2013

Spirit of '45-- Part 1: The "Kiss"

From the August 12, 2013, Northwest Herald (serving McHenry County, Illinois) "Area keeps the Sprit of '45 alive" by Joseph Bustos.

There were 15 couples surrounding the statue of the famous sailor kissing the nurse photo taken on VJ Day back in 1945. They had all been married for over 60 years and were making their renewal vows.

The second Sunday in August ia the national day of remembrance. The paper had a great photo if Bill and Doris Schabow of McHenry doing their version of the "kiss" by the statue.

Of course, those married between 1945 and 1963 were quite involved in the Baby Boom.

The event included speeches, recognition of the couples and World War II veterans as well as a lot of U.S. flags (including a huge one hanging from the fire department ladder). Rolling taps were played and thirty or so doves released.

It Was a Touching Event. --GreGen

USS Ramsay (DD-124)(DM-16)-- Part 2

Eight days later, the Ramsay, escorting a merchant ship, had two more submarine contacts and made two runs over it dropping depth charges. This created another oil slick, but no definitive kill.

Later, the ship planted defensive mines off Samoa. After that, the ship served off the Aleutian Islands by Alaska and then more Pacific duty before being decommissioned in 1945 and sold for scrapping in 1946.

The Ramsay was 314 feet long, had a crew of 133 and carried four 4-inch guns, torpedo tubes and depth charges.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

USS Ramsay (DD-124) (DM-16)-- Part 1: At Pearl Harbor

From Wikipedia

The Ramsay was the ship one of the people at the museum at the Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive ceremony was on when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I hadn't heard of it. The person called it a destroyer, but a photo there called the ship a light minelayer.

The Ramsay was a Wickes-class destroyer commissioned in 1919, serving afterwards in the Atlantic and then the Pacific. In June 1930, it was reclassified as a light minelayer (DM-16) and homeported in Pearl Harbor.

It was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and fired its guns at the Japanese planes. It got underway at 0900 and made sound contact with a submarine at 1120. It dropped ten depth charges and saw an oil slick. It is believed that the Ranmsay either sank or damaged a mini-sub.

More to Come. --GreGen

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive-- Part 9: Rolling Taps, Doves and Old-Time Radio

At the close of the marriage renewals, we had what is called "Rolling Taps" where that song, which all by itself is sad, is played by bugles all the way around the park, each one starting several notes after the previous one, making for an echo and a real tear-bringer. I couldn't help but tear up. This is done by a group that calls themselves "Bugles Across America."

Thirty white doves were released, flew away and then came back as a flock.

After that, the band and a radio deejay from a Kenosha, Wisconsin, station did a radio show like you would have heard on the radio back during the war.

I'll Be There Next Year. --GreGen

Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive-- Part 8: The Greatest Generation

The main speaker opened the ceremony with the remark that it is important to keep the ideals and fortitude of The Greatest Generation alive and not to forget the sacrifices they made in the Great Depression and World War II.

Case in point was the closing of American embassies for fear of terrorist attack, something that he (and I) felt was unnecessary. Essentially, if you're dumb enough to attack us, be prepared for dire consequences. Just look at what happened to Japan after Pearl Harbor.

Again, excuse the short entries, but I still can not get the compose button to work on the blog and so can not do any paragraphs and I hate really long paragraphs.

The Greatest Generation is why I sign off with GreGen, short for it.

A Great Ceremony. --GreGen

Monday, August 19, 2013

Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive-- Part 7: The "Kissing" Statue

The "Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive" commemoration was passed by Congress in 2010 and the second Sunday of August is to be the date (close to the surrender of Japan ending the war).

This is the fourth observance in McHenry, Illinois. A life-size statue of the famous "Kiss" in Times Square was in front of the gazebo where the ceremony was held. It is one of only four of these statues. The other three are in New York City, USS Iowa and in Pearl Harbor.

There were also twenty couples there who had been married before 1953, and they renewed their vows. The announcer kept saying these people were responsible for the Baby Boom. Two of the couples were married during the war.

At this point, I couldn't help but think of my parents, who were married in 1950.

-- GreGen

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive-- Part 6" Army, Army Air Corps, Navy

It was remarkable to see this many World War II veterans together in one place. Most appeared to be in pretty good shape, especially considering the youngest are in their upper 80s now and most in their 90s.

John Bonato USN
Carl Abbug USN-SeeBees
James Patel USN

Frank Trenier USA Air Corps
William Kerskie USN
Bill Garish USA

Stanley Diedrich USA
Kenneth Gafert USA
Ed Peronic of McHenry USN-medic

Eugene ____ USA-Air Force
Ed Konzak USA
Chuck Butrick USA-- 3rd Army under Patton and Marion Messman USA-engineer.

The Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive-- Part 5

More World War II veterans:

Bill Murray USN, Bill Bolges USMC
Tony Gargona USA (of Spring Grove, Illinois and POW for four years. Probably captured at Philippines or Wake Island.)
Donald D. Doherty USA

Carl Brooke USCG,
Robert Schwille
Peter Lorea USA

Lattime Corea USA,
Jim Miller USA
Herbert Rowe USA

John Babbitt USN
John Bowienwski USN
Earl Gable USMC

Harry Smith USA
Red Touerville, USA

More to Come. --GreGen

Keeping the Spirit of 45 Alive-- Part 4

Here is a list of the World War II veterans in attendance at the event in McHenry, Illinois, on August 11th. I wrote them down as best I could as they were read:

Walter Eichman USN
Raymond Wojowowski, USA
Robert J. Smardgic USN

Charlie DeLutsie USN
Eddie Gepler USA
Eddie Buckle USMC

Robert Blake USN
Walter Thomas of Woodstock
Leonard Polokowski USA-dentist

Eleanor Polokowski (his wife) USA- nurse
Robert Blake of Peoria
Edward Hines

Robert Tiddle USA

A Lot of Stories Here. --GreGen

Deaths: Aubrey F. "Bud" Kriegmeier

Died August 10, 2013. Born Jan. 22, 1924 in Missouri.

During World War II, served as a submariner as Fireman First Class in Division 6 in the South Pacific and six months in the Atlantic theatre on Patrol E Scout.

I looked up both places he served and couldn't find anything about it. Too bad the names of his submarines were not included in the obituary.

-- GreGen

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ashore At Pearl Harbor-- Part 4: At the Hydrogen Bomb Tests

As postmaster of the USS West Virginia, he had to stay with the ship until it was salvaged. Most all of the rest of his shipmates were reassigned to other ships, but he ended up having to remain ay Pearl Harbor for a year-and-a-half.

In 1943, he was sent to gunners mate school in Washington, D.C., and ended up staying there for the rest of the war.

During the Korean War, he was commander of the USS Patapsco.

In 1954, he was at the hydrogen bomb explosion at Bikini Atoll where his ship was exposed to 20,000 times the recommended dosage of radiation. He retired from service in 1956.

Interesting Life. --RoadDog

Ashore At Pearl Harbor-- Part 3: Welcome to the "Mosquito Bowl"

Jim Downing then boarded the USS Tennessee, next to his ship, the USS West Virginia and, grabbing a fire hose, slid down the barrel of a gun to his ship.

"With one arm I tried to put out the fire so it wouldn't reach the ammunition." With the other hand, he fished for dogtags. After the battle, he visited the hospitals in the afternoon and wrote about fifty letters to parents of the wounded.

Unable to sleep aboard his ship, he and shipmates gathered mattresses and blankets and spent the next several nights at the newly-built boxing areana which they renamed "Mosquito Bowl" due to its lack of nets and abundance of the insect.

He spent his time volunteering anywhere he was needed.

-- GreGen

Ashore At Pearl Harbor-- Part 2: "So This Is War"

Continued from August 7th.

Jim Downing said that the USS West Virginia had just returned from a ten-day patrol on the Friday before the attack and he was looking forward to a good weekend, hoping to spend some time with his new bride. 

His wife, Morena, was cooking breakfast for a few friends at a friend's house close to the harbor shortly before 8 AM. He heard explosions, and then on the radio, local announcer Webley Edwards said, "The island of Oahu is under enemy attack. The enemy has been identified as Japan. All military personnel are to return to their military duty stations."

Rushing to put on his uniform, an anti-aircraft shell exploded in the backyard creating a crater 20 feet wide. "So this is war" he thought as he and three SeeBees piled into a car and headed for the base.

By the time he got to the West Virginia, he found his ship sunk and the first attack wave over.


Keeping the Spirit of '45 Alive-- Part 3: Pearl Harbor Museum

I was glad to see a large crowd on hand for the event. A huge U.S. flag was hanging from the ladder lift of a firetruck and American flags everywhere. The Lakes Swing Band was set up behind a podium at the gazebo.

There was a museum set up as well as food available from the Polish American Legion. I toured the museum which was primarily about Pearl Harbor. A man there said his father was on the USS Ramsay during the attack.

This is the fourth year McHenry has had an event for the "Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive" and this year, along with the World War II veterans, couples married before 1953 were being honored. That is sixty years or more of marriage.

I couldn't help but think of my parents who were married in 1950. Dad was too young to fight in World War II, graduating high school in 1946.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Keeping the Spirit of 45 Alive-- Part 2: Especially With My New-Found Interest In the War

Sunday was quite a busy day for me.

After visiting the Rally By the Lake classic car show in Fox Lake and watching New Odyssey play at the St. John's Parish Fest in Johnsburg, I drove over to McHenry for the "Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive" commemoration.

I had just found out about it last week and friend Jerry had also mentioned it. Since I have gotten very interested in World War II, especially since starting this blog, I knew I had to attend to honor The Greatest Generation.


Friday, August 9, 2013

"Keeping the Spirit of 45 Alive" in McHenry, Illinois

From the August 8, 2013, Northwest (McHenry County, Il) Herald.

WHEN: 5 P.M. August 11th

WHERE: Veteran's Park, Park and Pearl Streets, McHenry, Illinois

COST & INFO: Fourth annual National Day of Remembrance honoring all members of "The Greatest Generation."

Program will recognize couples married in the 1940s. World War II veterans will be honored guests. 

Entertainment provided by the Lakes Area Swing Band (playing Big Band and Swing music from the era). 

Radio broadcast by Lou Rugani.

White doves of peace will be released.

Honor Guard rifle salute and rolling taps. Free.

I'll Be There. --GreGen

Two Tall Ships With World War II Connections Visit Chicago-- Part 2

STV UNICORN (USA)-- Sails the seas with the only all-female crew since 2007. Partners with Sisters Under Sail Corp. to deliver an empowerment and leadership program for teenage girls and women.

This ship was not built until after the war, when it was constructed in Holland in 1947 from recycled metals from captured German U-boats (I have also read scuttled U-boats).

It trawled North Atlantic fishing grounds for 32 years before being converted to a sailing ship. I wasn't able to find out any information on the German submarines, but I'm sure it would have an interesting story.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Two Tall Ships With World War II Connections Visiting Chicago-- Part 1

From the July 28, 2013, Chicago Tribune "Tall Ships Chicago 2013."

Two of the 14 ships in Chicago August 7-11th have World War II connections.

HINDI (USA)-- Designed in 1925 by the famous William H. Hand Jr. who pioneered V-bottom power boats and first sailed under the name "Princess Pat." She was purchased and sailed to India in 1928 as a spice trader and her name changed one last time to Hindu.

In World War II, the Hindu was commissioned by the U.S. Navy to patrol the coast of the United States searching for German U-boats. After the war, she remained in Provincetown, Mass., as a charter vessel, helping pioneer the whale-watching industry before being restored in 2012.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ashore At Pearl Harbor-- Part 1: Jim Downing, Oldest Pearl Harbor Survivor

From the December 5, 2011, Colorado Springs (Co.) Gazette "Springs man has vivid memories on infamous attack."

The July 28, 2013, Colorado Springs Gazette reported that Jim Downing, 99, the oldest living Pearl Harbor survivor, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the minor league Colorado Springs Sky Sox baseball game. 

Jim Downing, then 28, thinks he may have been sitting down to a breakfast of eggs, bacon and tropical fruit when the attack came. He was a gunner's mate first class aboard the USS West Virginia, but not on his ship that fateful day.

He had joined the Navy in 1932 after graduating high school. With the Great Depression on, it was hard to get a job and this was a good start. In the meantime, he had become the West Virginia's postmaster, but his battle station was manning one of the ship's 16-inch guns.

Why Wasn't He Aboard? --GreGen

Back to HTML Run-Ons

Well, had one entry where I could use paragraphs. Back to the Same-Old, Same Old.-- Gregen

Destroyer Division Nine-- Part 1

From the Destroyer History Site.

Formed in 1937 and patrolled in the Pacific before moving to the Atlantic in March 1941.  At least some, if not all, of the destroyers were on the Neutrality Patrol.

As earlier reported, the destroyer USS Somers and light cruiser Omaha captured the German blockade-runner in November 1941 (considering the U.S. was not at war then).

Also in November, the Somers, Cincinnati and Milwaukee sank the German blockade-runner Anneliese Essberger and in January 1944, the Westerland.  On 7 January, the USS Davis intercepted the blockade-runner Burgenland.

The Squadron also sank two German submarines.  On 17 May 1943, the Moffett, Jouett and aircraft sank the U-128.    On 11 August, after a running battle off Trinidad, the Moffett sank the U-604.

The squadron was disbanded in the summer of 1944.

Stuff You Don't Know.  --GreGen

Saturday, August 3, 2013

U.S. World War II Destoyer Squadrons-- Part 2: Fletcher Class

From the Destroyer History Foundation.

During World War II, the 2,200 ton Fletcher-class destroyers were placed into squadrons as they were commissioned and fleeted in. The 175 ships of the class were placed into 19 squadrons (21-25) and (45-58).

Each had two divisions of destroyers (usually four ships) and was commanded by a captain who also commanded the lower numbered one. All 19 squadrons were listed, but I'll give you DesRon (Destroyer squadron) 21 which had the first five 2100-tonners from Bath and first four from Federal (builders).

DesDiv 41: DD-449 Nicholas (flag, DD 450 Obanion, DD 451 Chevalier, DD 467 Strong and DD 468 Taylor.

DesDiv 42: DD 445 Fletcher, DD 446 Radford, DD 447 Jenkins, DD 448 La Vallette.

Now You Know the DesRon from the DesDiv. --GreGen

U.S. World War II Destroyer Squadrons-- Part 1


While doing research on the USS Somers and Omaha, who captured the German blockade-runner Odenwald, I came across the name of a Destroyer Squadron Nine, which evidently took up duty in the Caribbean/South Atlantic area after the U.S. entered the war and there was no longer a need for a "Neutrality Patrol" which was what the Somers and Omaha were in when the capture was made.

According to Wikipedia, a destroyer squadron is a group of naval ships or flotilla usually consisiting of just destroyers. The U.S. Navy acronym for it is DESRON today, but during WWII, DesRon.

A Destroyer Squadron at full strength consisted of two Destroyer Divisions of four ships each and usually a flagship.


Vollis Simpson, 94, Dies: Served in the Pacific Theater

From the June 2, 2013, Goldsboro (NC) News-Argus "Vollis Simpson, renowned whirligig artist, dies at 94" by AP.

Vollis Simpson, of Lucama, North Carolina, died May 31, 2013. I wrote about him the last two days in my Cooter's History Thing Blog, but will tell some of his story here as he was also a World War II veteran.

He served in the Pacific Theater and, as a staff sergeant in the Army Air Corps, built a motorcycle while stationed on Saipan from a bicycle and a stolen motor. Even though he didn't have an engineering degree, he served as a combat engineer and built his very first whirligig while overseas as well, but it was stolen.

He also powered a washing machine with a whirligig.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Did the Odenwald Receive the Badge?

Looking at the criteria from the previous list, I am not sure whether or not anyone on the Odenwald received a badge or not.

They did not evade the blockade, they did unsuccessfully try to scuttle the ship, the ship wasn't destroyed by the enemy and I saw no mention of courage displayed by the crew.

And, there was no mention of getting the badge if your ship was captured.


Qualifications for the German Blockade-Runner Badge


 In order to be given this award, you would have had:

 1. To have evaded the enemy blockade and successfully brought a ship into Germany or German-held territory.

 2. To have scuttled a ship in order to avoid capture by the enemy.

 3. To have served on a ship that was destroyed by enemy action while at sea.

 4. To have displayed courage in combat in an effort to avoid the ship from being captured by enemy forces. 


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Deaths: Saved Jews-- Part 2

Born in 1913, during World War II, Bertold Beitz saved hundreds of Jews at the oil fields he managed in occupied Poland by keeping them from being deported to concentration camps. He sometimes even went so far as to hide Jews at his home.

In August 1942, he saved 250 Jews from being deported to the Belzec Concentration Camp by claiming they were indispensable to production. 

After the war, he said: "There was no anti-Fascism, no resistance. We watched from morning to evening as close as you can get what happening to the Jews.... When you see a woman with her child in her arms being shot, and you yourself have a child, then your response is bound to be completely different."

Quite a Man.

Deaths: Saved Jews-- Part 1

Bertold Beitz, 99 German Industrialist AP, Yahoo! News.

Bertold Beitz was honored for saving hundreds of Jews in German-occupied Poland during World War II and went on to become one of West Germany's prominent industrial leaders after the war.

Most recently, he was honorary chairman of ThyssenKrupp AG, a huge German industrial company. During both world wars, Krupp made the armament for the country.

Mr. Beitz became administer of the company in the 1950s and served in various positions for the next sixty years. But, he gained great fame after the war for what he did to save Jews from the concentration camps. 

Another Schindler's List, but not so well-known.