Saturday, January 31, 2015

I Do My Part for Keeping Pearl Harbor in Memory

I totally agree with Joe Triolo (last blog entry) in that it is important that Pearl Harbor not slip away from the public conscious.

Along with the Alamo, this battle has always fascinated me.

While I was teaching, I originally did not teach it as World War II was not in my curriculum as I taught geography mostly in my early years and when I did start teaching U.S. history, it was only up to the Civil War.

However, in my last 15 years, I started using an excellent article in the Junior Scholastic magazine for one period a year on December 7th, or nearest day if it was on the weekend.  That eventually expanded to a three-day unit my last ten years.

Plus, this blog grew out of my Cooter's History Thing blog when I found I was writing a whole lot of entries about Pearl Harbor which then expanded into World War II in general.  It became time to start a blog specific to World War II, and here it is.

Always of Great Interest.  --GreGen

Time Is Running Out for Pearl Harbor Survivors to Tell Their Stories

From the December 17, 2012, Daily Herald (Chicago suburbs).

Now in their 80 and 90s "an exclusive fraternity that shrinks with each passing year," it become more and more important that these people tell their stories and get them on paper.

Joe Triolo. 92, of Waukegan, Illinois, fears many people, especially school children, know little of it and that public ceremonies are becoming rarer.  This is why he makes it a point to visit classrooms whenever he can.

Financial problems, teaching to the standardized tests, No Child Left behind and emphasis on math and science are torpedoing knowledge of this important event in U.S. history.

The recent recovery of the World War II plane from Lake Michigan helps bring the war back to the public.  It will be restored and on display at the U.S. Navy Museum in Pensacola, Florida.  Chicago was a major training area for navy pilots.

"We cannot do the same with the survivors of Pearl Harbor.  We must hear their stories now," Triolo continued.  Unlike the plane, when the men die, so does their story unless it is on paper.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Then There Were Three Doolittle Raiders Left: Death of Edward Saylor

From 1-29-15 ABC News "1 of 4 Remaining World War II Doolittle Raiders Dies at 94" by Phuong Le, AP.

Lt.Col. Edward Saylor, 94, died January 28, 2015 in Sumner, Washington.

I am sorry to have to report this, but their deaths are inevitable at these advances ages.

Edward Saylor was a flight engineer-gunner, one of 80 volunteers who flew B-25 bombers from the deck of an aircraft carrier (something said to be impossible) on that April 18, 1942, mission that gave the United States and Allies hope during those desperate days after Pearl Harbor.

Saylor said simply, "It was what you do...."

Sixteen B-52s, each carrying bombs and five brave men took off from the deck of the USS Hornet.  Of them, 3 died on the mission.  Eight were captured by the Japanese of which three were executed and one died in captivity.

In a 2013 interview, he told AP that he was one of the lucky ones from his generation, "There were a whole bunch of guys in World War II, a lot of people didn't come back."

Lt.Col. Saylor grew up on a ranch in Montana and enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1939.  He served in the Air Force for 28 years, retiring as a Lt. Colonel.

One of the Greatest of the Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Twelve Little-Known Turning Points of World War II-- Part 3

4.  BATTLE OF SUOMUSSALMI:  Dec. 7, 1939, to Jan. 8, 1940.  Outnumbered Finland versus the Soviet Union.  Soviets were stopped.  Caused Hitler to go ahead and launch Operation Barbarossa.

3.  EVACUATION OF SICILY:  1944.  Axis evacuate 50,000 German and 75,000 Italian soldiers to mainland Italy.

2.  OPERATION MARS:  Nov. 25 to Dec. 20, 1942.  Soviet offensive during Battle of Stalingrad.  Over 300,000 Soviet casualties versus 40,000 German ones.

1.  BATTLES KHALKHIN GOL:  May 11 to Sept. 16, 1939.  Soviet-Japanese border war resulted in Soviet victory.  This kept Japan and Germany from being linked overland.

Definitely a lot of battles and offensives I'd never heard of before.


Twelve Little-Known Turning Points of World War II-- Part 2

8.  BATTLE OF THE SCHELDT:  Oct. 2, 1944 to Nov. 8, 1944.  Antwerp, Belgium, captured in early September, but Scheldt Estuary and its access to the North Sea were still in German hands.  First Canadian Army.

7.  BATTLE OF CREK: May 20 to June 11941.  German victory, but Germany lost 370 planes and many transports.

6.  YELNYA OFFENSIVE:  Aug. 30 to Sept. 8, 1941.  First successful counter-attack by the Soviet Union.  50,000 German casualties.

5.  BATTLE OF SAMAI:  October 25, 1944.  Part of a 4-day Battle of Leyte Gulf.  Planes from six escort sailors turned the tide.


Twelve Little-Known Turning Points of World War II-- Part 1

From the November 19, 2010, Listverse.

12.  BATTLE OF THE HAGUE:  May 10, 1941.  German attack to get the Dutch to surrender.  Germans lost 125 transport aircraft and had a serious shortage of them for the rest of the war.

11.  OPERATION ISKRA:  Jan. 12-30, 1943.  Attempt to break through to Leningrad

10.  SIEGE OF LILLE:  June 1, 1940.  Dunkirk.  40,000 British troops fought off Germans for five days, giving time for evacuation of troops.

9.  OPERATION DRAGON:  Aug. 15, 1944-Sept. 14, 1944.  Allied invasion of southern France.  Overshadowed by D-Day.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pearl Harbor Survivor Harry J. Hale, Sr. Dies in 2012

From the Dec. 19, 2012, WKTV NBC, Utica, New York.

Harry J. Hale, Sr., one of the area's last Pearl Harbor survivors died on December 16, 2012.

He was born in 1921 in Utica and joined the Navy after graduation from high school.  He was on the USS Travor when the attack came.

He later saw action at Guadalcanal, Midway, Iwo Jima and Okinawa and was a past president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.


Pearl Harbor 71st Anniversary in 2012

December 8, 2012: USS Nevada survivor Woody Derby, 94, helped unveil the new wayside exhibit at Hospital Point, Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor survivors soldier on with the annual reunion of the New Jersey Turnpike.

Ralph Jeffers, 92, was on the USS Curtiss, a seaplane tender fired a machine gun at the planes and took shelter in the stern.

Tom Mahoney was on the USS Curtiss also.

John Hanson was on the transport ship USS Argonne and threw potatoes at a low flying plane.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Only One Pearl Harbor Survivor Attends Observance in 2012

From the Dec. 8, 2012, Corvallis (Oregon) Gazette Times.

David Russell, 92, was the only survivor to attend the Friday ceremony on the north steps of the Linn County Courthouse.  he was on the USS Oklahoma that day and said that there are now only 67 sailors from that stricken ship still alive today.

The Oklahoma lost 429 of the 1354 aboard that day, the second highest loss on any ship.

"I remember the concussions from the bombs.  I came close to dying several times during the war."

Later in the Pacific, he was on the USS Mahan which was struck by three kamikazes on December 7, 1944.  Evidently, December 7th is not a good date for him.

He ended up serving twenty years in the Navy.


Wilmington At War: 1942

From the Dec, 11, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

NOVEMBER 4, 1942:  A bus transportation system for exclusive use of its many in-town employees in four southeastern North Carolina counties has been established by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company.

Ten modern tractor-trailer type buses were received by the U.S. Maritime Commission.  Each bus can carry 100 people.

In 1942, the company employed 18,000 workers.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

World War II Duck Boat Found in Italian Lake

From the Dec. 13, 2012, Yahoo! News Christian Science Monitor" by Nick Squier.

The amphibious vessel sank in Lake Garda, killing 23 U.S. soldiers just days before the end of the European fighting.  Amateur historians have been searching for it for months.

The 6-wheel, 2-ton amphibious DUKW sank April 30, 1945 while carrying supplies and ammunition to the American Army near the town of Torbole in Italy's north.  The vessel was hit with gale force winds,causing it to sink.

It had on board a truck carrying 24 American soldiers ages 18 to 25 from the 10th Mountain Division.  Only one survived from the 605th Field Artillery Battalion. as well as the driver from the Quartermaster Corps.

The Duck was found in 905 foot deep water.

The group next will try to find any human remains in the area, but it is too deep for divers.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Pearl Harbor Survivor Helps Identify Unknown Dead

From the Dec. 6, 2012, Port Clinton (Ohio) News Herald by Audrey McAvoy, AP.

Ray Emory, 91, couldn't accept the fact that nearly 25% of the Pearl Harbor dead were unidentified.

He survived the attack, and, using old documents, badgered the government into relabeling more than 300 gravestones of these men with the name of the ship they were on that day.  He has lobbied to have forensic experts unearth the remains and examine them.

Emory first learned of the unidentified twenty years ago when he attended the 50th anniversary commemoration.  The bodies of the Pearl Harbor dead are scattered around the Punch Bowl National Cemetery in Oahu.

He found one 1941 Navy record noting that one burned body was found floating in the harbor, wearing shorts with the name "Livingston" on them.  There were only two men at Pearl Harbor with that last name and one of them is accounted for, so it must be the other.

His body was exhumed and found to be Alfred Livingston, 23, a fireman first class on the USS Oklahoma.


USS Arizona Survivor Donald Stratton: "Maybe You Don't Know the Feeling..."

From the Dec. 7, 2012, KRDO Radio, Colorado Springs.

Donald Stratton has a momento of the USS Arizona, a part of a 20-foot gun section and is one of only a handful of survivors of the gallant USS Arizona who are still alive.

He has an action figured named after him.

He remembers his ship firing at the Japanese planes: "We couldn't fire toward the sub base because another ship was in the way.  We couldn't fire back in our direction because we would have fired on our own superstructure.  We fired at high altitude bombers.

"We got hit by a big bomb.  A little more than a million pounds of ammo exploded.  The explosion was horrendous.  A fireball went up for six hundred feet in the air.  It engulfed us where we were at.  The Arizona burned for about three and a half days."

Mr. Stratton received severe burns on his legs and arms and lost part of his ear and nose.  He was hospitalized for a year and returned to duty.

A few weeks ago, he was honored at a home Denver Broncos game.

He went back to the 70th anniversary commemoration in Pearl Harbor last year: "One of the things that hit me is to be back 70 years later and raise the flag over the ship with all my shipmates still aboard.  It was kind of, well you know.  Maybe you don't know the feeling, I do!"


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Brevard Pearl Harbor Survivors "Never Forget"

From the Dec. 7, 2012, Florida Today by R. Norman Moody.

Fred Robinson, 90, of Rockledge was in the Army on the island.

George Herold, 88, of West Melbourne was at the submarine base and said, "They didn't hit the sub base.  They hit all around us."

John Hatcher, 91, of Pembrook Pines was preparing pancakes for breakfast.

James Mitchell of West Melbourne.

Richard Jeffrey, 95, of Vicra.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day After Pearl Harbor

From the Dec. 7, 2012, Shorpy "War News: 1941.

December 8, 1941 "Corner of Montgomery and Market streets in San Francisco.  Monday morning after Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor."  Photo by John Collier.

A big group of men (no women) gather around a newstand, buying and reading papers.

The San Francisco News headlines "Navy Hunts Japs Off Pacific Coast."  Another one "War Extra "Enemy Planes Near New York From the Atlantic."

It was indeed a frightening time, especially with all the screaming headlines.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Day After Pearl Harbor, San Francisco-- Part 2

There are some movie pictures shown in the photo.  One is for "Blood Spray at Fuji River" from 1939.  There is also one with a woman from a 1940 romantic novel.

It is not known whether Dr. Uyeyama or his family were interned.  But they did find out he was a 1934 graduate and a clinical member at University California-San Francisco.  He left the U.S. Army as a Lt.Col. in 1949.

Census records show that he and his whole family were born in the United States.

Other military records show a USAF Lt.Col. Terry Uyeyama, born in San Francisco in 1937.  He was interned by the North Vietnamese 1968-1973 and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, legion of Merit, Silver Star and POW Medal.

The impact of war at home.


Monday, January 19, 2015

The Day After Pearl Harbor, San Francisco-- Part 1

From Shorpy Dec. 7, 2012, "Cafe Ginza: 1941"  Taken in San Francisco the Monday morning after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The picture had framed pictures on the side of the building with Japanese writing.  One looks like a samurai with a woman.  A sign next to the cafe is for Dr. Kahn Uyeyama" Phusician and Surgeon" with Japanese letters underneath it.  There is a big Coca-Cola sign also in the photo.

Comment: "Empires may crumble and Reichs turn to dust but the Coca-Cola Company endures."

Comment:  Many of the doctor's neighbors ended up in internment camps.  The 1940 census has Yaneo (age 39) and Shizuku (40), identified as proprietor and manager of the restaurant.  The names and ages match those of internees at Manzamar and Heart Mountain Relocation Centers.


Hitler's Plans to Destroy Paris

From the Nov. 14, 2014, Chicago Tribune "'Diplomacy' imagines how Paris was saved in WWII" by Kenneth Turan.

Hitler's plans for Paris in case he was forced out was one of massive destruction.  Thirty-three bridges over the Seine River were to be blown up.  That was to be followed by Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Opera and then submarine torpedoes were to be attached to each leg of the Eiffel Tower to bring it down.  "Paris as we know it was to be destroyed."

This was Adolf Hitler's command to his German occupying troops should Paris evacuation become necessary.  Only the decision of the commander of Paris, Gen. Dietrich von Cholitz to disobey the order saved the city.

Historians even to this day argue why he did this.  Now, there is a fictionalized movie "Diplomacy" to examine what went on between the general and Swedish Consul Raoul Nordling between August 24-25, to make such a decision.

It was never released around me, but I would have liked to have seen it.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Death of a Tuskegee Airman in 2012

Retired Lt. Col. Herbert Eugene Carter, 95.

An original Tuskegee Airman in the first group to be trained for the 99th Fighter Squadron.

Flew 77 missions and crash landed once.

A Hero in More Ways Than One.  --GreGen

Battleship North Carolina Curators Keep History Alive-- Part 2

Items in this storage area are divided into 2-D and 3-D classifications.  The 2-D collection has more than 4,000 photos and 25,000 blueprints of the ship.  Many of these were still on the ship when it arrived at Wilmington.

Since then, diaries have been donated (even though the crew was not supposed to keep them.  On April 6, 1945, a sailor described a "friendly fire" incident that killed three crew members.  He said how he was eating breakfast with one of the three that very morning and the man had joked that he didn't want insurance because the minute you get it, something bad happens to you.

There is a pilot's leather jacket among other items in the 3-D collection.  Others of this group were found on the ship like boxes of empty liquor bottles smuggled on board and hidden inside the bulkheads.  They have lots of dress uniforms and blue wool uniforms, but only two chambray shirts-- the blue work shirts enlisted sailors wore most of the time.

Worth Checking Out.  --GreGen

Friday, January 16, 2015

Battleship North Carolina Curators Keep History Alive-- Part 1

From the Nov. 11, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star- News by Ben Steelman.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the median age of World War II veterans is now 89.  Of the 16 million who served 1941-1945, only around 1.7 million remain.

The small staff pf curators on the battleship are taking care of what the men carried.  They have videos of oral stories from about 200 of the 7,000 plus sailors and Marines who served aboard the ship.  These are stored in the former chief petty officer's quarters, normally off limits to the public in rows of acid-free bankers' boxes.


Five Attacks on U.S. Soil in World War II-- Part 3

4.  OPERATION PASTORIUS--  Eight male German sabateurs, all naturalized U.S. citizens were to sabotage war industries and use terrorism on U.S. citizens.

In June 1942, U-boats dropped off two four-man groups.  One landed in Amagansett, New York, and the other at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  Each team had $84,000 cash.  One group turned themselves in and the mission failed.

5.  JAPANESE FIRE BALLOONS--  Balloon bombs called "Fugos."  Starting in 1944 there were 9,000 high-altitude balloons launched from Japan.  Each carried 50 pounds of explosives.  They drifted some 5,000 miles to the U.S. mainland, a trip of three days at the high altitudes.

Nearly 350 made it across with several being intercepted and shot down.  Balloons were spotted in 15 states, as far east as Iowa and Michigan.  The only fatalities were from one balloon which exploded in Oregon, killing a pregnant woman and 5 children.  These six are considered the only U.S. mainland fatalities during the war.

And Most Americans Think the U.S. Was Safe During the War.  --GreGen

Thursday, January 15, 2015

World War II Altered Fort Fisher

Today marks the sesquicentennial of the fall of Fort Fisher, North Carolina.  Its capture resulted in the closing of the Confederacy's last remaining port and the new country was no more less than 90 days later.

After the war, the huge fortification was abandoned until World War II, when the Army used it for training anti-aircraft gunners at the site.  A large landing strip was built and many of the fort's remaining traverses on the land face were destroyed to make it.  The strip was used by planes towing anti-aircraft targets.

It is too bad they didn't make the landing strip further north or south of Fort Fisher.

Today, the visitor center and parking lot are built on the landing strip.

There had been no need for any fortification there during World War I because New Inlet, which the fort had guarded during the Civil War was no longer there.


Five Attacks on U.S. Soil During the War-- Part 2

3.  BOMBING OF FORT STEVENS AND LOOKOUT AIR RAIDS--  The only attack on a military target on the continental U.S. took place on June 21, 1942, on the Oregon coastline.  A Japanese submarine, the I-25, trailed a fishing boat to avoid minefields to north of the Columbia River and surfaced by the Civil War-era Fort Stevens and fired 17 shells.  The fort did not fire back.

In September 1942, the same I-25 was back and launched a Yokosuku E14Y float plane which dropped 2 incendiary bombs on Brookings, Oregon, but there were no fires.  Later that month, there was another bombing.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Five Attacks on U.S. Soil During World War II-- Part 1

From the Oct. 23, 2012, History Channel by Evan Andrews.

1.  DUQUENE SPY RING--  Thirty men and three women under Frederick "Fritz" Joubert Duquene were able to gather much information on the United States before the war.  Their downfall came when a new recruit became a double agent.  All were arrested before Pearl Harbor, tried and sentenced to over 300 years in prison.

2.  THE BOMBING OF ELLWOOD OIL FIELD--  A group of Japanese submarines operated off the U.S. West Coast.  On Feb. 23, 1942, the I-17 surfaced and shot 16 shells at Ellwood Beach from its single deck gun.  Only minor damage done, though.

THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES--  The next day this 'battle" took place because of a mistaken aircraft sighting.  The people were very tense on the West Coast of the U.S..


Battleship North Carolina Had a Very Good Year in 2012

From the October 25, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

For the year, the USS North Carolina Memorial had 216,438 visitors (39% from out-of-state), its third best attendance since 1995.  That year the ship set its best-ever attendance at 232,000.

The keel was laid in 1934 and "The Showboat" was launched in 1940.  During World War II, it received 15 Battle Stars for action in the Pacific Theater.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pieces of Downed WWII Plane Piloted by Elgin Man Unearthed in Michigan

From the Nov. 12, 2012, Northwest Suburban (Chicago) Daily Herald.  AP.

Four men have unearthed pieces of a P-38 D Lightning fighter plane that crashed in a Michigan farm field.  They used metal detectors after researching records in St. Clair County's Casco Township just east of Richmond.

The pilot of that plane was 2nd Lt. Al Voss of Elgin, Illinois, of the 94th Pursuit Squadron stationed at Selfridge Air Base in Michigan.  Lt. Voss died after parachuting out of the plane that Oct. 15, 1941.  Of interest, this was before Pearl Harbor, but shows the buildup of the U.S. before entry into World War II.

The searchers had to wait until the soybean crop in the field was harvested before their search could begin.  They found pieces of metal with the same camouflage paint schemes on them as would have been used at the time.


World War II Vets Battle German Subs Off East Coast

From the Nov. 5, 2012, WTMJ 620 Radio, Milwaukee, Wis. by Jodi Becker.

The 16th Honor Flight for World War II veterans left Milwaukee to Washington, D.C. to visit the WWII Memorial.

Howard Popp was on a submarine in 1943 and said: "Two torpedoes, we took.  The top bunk came down and knocked me out of bed.  The ship went down for maybe a half an hour.  I got into a lifeboat with four men, had a big hole in it.  I had to bail from 12:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. the next day.

"Sharks in water and I had to shoot at them."

A boat finally rescued them 12 hours later.  Mr. Popp ended up in a hospital with pneumonia from his ordeal and received a medical discharge from service.

Bob Romanowski of Oconomowak was in the Atlantic patrolling for U-boats.  "I was an 18-year-old kid.  I forgot all about it until I saw this history detective thing" a TV show about a German sub sunk off the coast of Long island Sound.

"When they mentioned the date, my wife was setting there there and I said, 'Jean, that's the same day we sank a submarine in Long Island Sound."


Monday, January 12, 2015

Coded D-Day Message Found on Pigeon Remains

From the Discovery News by Rossella Lorenzi,

A small red cylinder contained a cigarette paper-sized encrypted message.  The message "is deemed so sensitive that code breakers at GCHQ are frantically trying to decipher it."

The bird's name was 40TW194) (first two numerals are for year of birth).  Everyone is almost certain that the pigeon was dispatched from Normandy on June 6, 1944, D-Day.

Winston Churchill had ordered a radio blackout so homing pigeons were used to relay messages back from the front.  Some of the pigeons were brought along by soldiers and others were dropped behind enemy lines for use by resistance fighters.

It is known that the message was sent to XO2 at 16:45 and contained 27 codes, each made of 5 letters or numbers.

XO2 is believed to be Bomber Command.

The signature at the bottom of the message is Serjeant W. Stot.


Veterans Day Service to Focus on Pearl Harbor in 2012

From the Nov. 6, 2012, Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune.

Bob Kerr, 92, of Atlanta, was originally from Punxsutawney, Pa., and wanted to play professional baseball, but was not good enough.  He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was happy to be assigned to the Pacific as the war was mostly being fought in Europe.

On Dec. 7, 1941, he was a company clerk and working on the duty roster when the attack began.  The sergeant standing next to him was killed.  For the rest of the war, he was a B-25 gunner and flew mor5e than 40 missions.  Mr. Kerr retired form the Army in 1962.

It is figured that less than 2,000 of the 48,000 Pearl Harbor survivors are still alive.

And This Was 2012.  Much Less Now.  --GreGen

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Wilmington At War: November 1942: New Liberty Ship Launched at the North Carolina Shipbuilding Co.

From the November 7, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then" by Scott Nunn.

NOVEMBER 2, 1942:  "Named in honor of Coltis Porter Huntington, founder of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, parent company of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company (NCSC), the 38th Liberty Ship launched in Wilmington yesterday afternoon at 5:30."

This marked the start of the the NCSC's 3rd contract for 53 Liberty Ships with the U.S. Maritime Commission.  The first contract called for 25 ships and the second for 12.

The NCSC was founded in Wilmington in 1940 with the government with the promise to deliver 25 Liberty Ships by March 15, 1942=3.  Obviously they were doing something right with their building process as they were just a little bit ahead of schedule.

During its five years of existence, the NCSC produced 126 Liberty Ships and 117 other large ships for the Navy,. a total of 243.

Twenty-eight NCSC ships were lost in the war with 23 to enemy action.  Four were scuttled to form part of the breakwater used during the Normandy invasion.

Others remained in commercial or Navy service, some until the early 1970s.


Remembering the USS Reuben James-- Part 2

After the sinking of the Reuben James, FDR issued a "shoot-on-sight" order against submarines, essentially an undeclared war.

Wilmington's connection to the Reuben James

James Chadbourn Stewart of Wilmington raised three daughters.  Elizabeth married Robert Ellis and Almeda married Heywood Edwards, both marriages in 1935.

Both Robert Ellis and Heywood Edwards were 1926 Naval Academy classmates.  In 1941, Ellis commanded the destroyer USS Schenck and Edwards the Reuben James.  Both ships were homeported in Newport, Rhode Island.

The sisters, mother and Elizabeth's daughter lived there.

The Schenck was patrolling near the James when it was sunk.

They later returned to Wilmington and joined the Red Cross.

Later in the war, the United States added the new destroyer Heywood L. Edwards to its fleet.  It served in the Pacific Theater.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Remembering the USS Reuben James and Its Wilmington Links-- Part 1: "My Heart Is Tearing in Pieces"

From the October 31, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News" by Wilbur D. Jones, Jr.

If there is anything at all you'd ever want to know about Wilmington and World War II, this is the man you want to talk to and perhaps even better, take a tour.

"Dearest Boy, It has been two days and still no one has told me that you are coming back to me.  I know you will though, because my heart is tearing in pieces and you wouldn't die because you'd know your going would do this to me."

This was written by Almeda Stewart Edwards to her husband Lt.Cmdr. Heywood L. "Tex" Edwards, commanding the destroyer USS Reuben James, on Nov. 2, 1941.

Seventy-one years ago today and five weeks before Pearl Harbor, southwest of Iceland, a German submarine torpedoed the Reuben James which was escorting a convoy bound for Britain.  It was the first U.S. ship lost in the war.

All the ship's officers and 108 crew were lost.  Forty-five were rescued.


Dedication of Memorial to New Hanover, N.C., War Dead and Two Medal of Honor Recipients

November 3, 2012, Hannah Block Historic USO Community Arts Building.

The dedication of a memorial to 248 New Hanover County World War II dead and two medal of Honor recipients was held at the building, located at 120 S. Second Street in Wilmington, N.C..

This was a project of the Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

College Veteran Center Named After WWII Hero-- Part 2: Threw Himself on Grenade

A protective mesh-wire fence kept all grenades off except one.  Maxwell knew there wasn't time to throw it back and with only a blanket for protection, he threw himself on it.  The following explosion knocked him unconscious.  The Germans were still advancing and his platoon leader helped him to safety.

Maxwell suffered a partially blown off right foot and an injured left arm and left temple, but survived.

Before teaching at Lane Community College, he taught at Central Oregon Community College in Bend.


College Veteran Center named for WWII Hero-- Part 1

From the Nov. 7, 2012, Corvalis (Oregon) Gazette-Times "Oregon college veteran center named for WWII hero" by AP.

Richard Maxwell smothered a grenade with his body during World War II and survived...and won a Medal of Honor for it.  The 92-year-old resident of Bend had a mild stroke last week, but attended a dedication ceremony for a student veteran center at Lane Community College.

He taught mechanical engineering at the school from 1966 until he retired in 1986.

During the war, he served in the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division as a Technician 5th Grade as "wire man" in the Army from July 1942 to June 1945.  His job was to set up phone lines between the front lines and command posts.  Because the wire cables were too heavy to also carry a rifle, he had a .45 caliber pistol.

He and three others defended themselves on September 7, 1944, in the Besancon, France, when the Germans attacked his unit.

More to Come.  --GreGen

FDR Reelected in 1940

November 5, 1940--  FDR reelected for an unprecedented third term, receiving 54.7% of the popular vote to Wendell Wilke's 44.77%.

FDR won even bigger in electoral votes, 449 to 82.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Memorial for 1943 Newbury Bomb Attack Victims

From the July 4, 2012, BBC News Berkshire.

On 10 February 1943 Newbury was bombed and 15 were killed and 41 injured.

The attack destroyed a school, a church and houses.

There is a plaque with information about the German bombing in a small garden opposite St. John's Church on the 70th anniversary.

The church was totally destroyed with only the altar left.  It has been rebuilt.

The Senior Council School, Saint Bartholomew's almhouse and the Southampton Terrace were also destroyed along with 265 other homes.damaged, many of which had to be demolished.

Fortunately, the school had only been out 20 minutes when the bombs hit and some students later said that they had seen planes above them earlier.

Three pupils and two teachers still in the school died.  Of the 41 injured, 25 were serious.


Death of Robert D. Tunnicliff, USS Lansdowne

From the Dec. 31, 2014, Chicago Tribune.

ROBERT D. TUNNICLIFF (1924-2014)  Died Nov. 21, 2014.

Longtime resident of Libertyville, Illinois, and athletic director and football coach at Libertyville High School.  Born in Burwell, Nebraska and moved to Kewanee, Illinois, about 50 miles southeast of the Quad Cities.

Graduated high school in 1942 and attended Monmouth College for two weeks before deciding to enlist in the Navy.  Served for more than three years on the destroyer USS Lansdowne, which U.S. officials used to ferry Japanese emissaries to the battleship USS Missouri for the surrender ceremony in 1945.

After the war he married Bette Seyller in 1952 and attended Western Illinois University for a year then graduated from Northwestern University under the G.I. Bill.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor William Lafabvre in 2012

From the October 20, 2012, Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph "Merrimack resident, Pearl Harbor survivor William Lafabvre Sr. remembered as family man" by Erin Place.

Willima Lafabvre, 92, died October 14, 2012.  he was a World War II and Korean War veteran.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in August 1941 and was on the battleship USS West Virginia that fateful day.  While looking for a ride to church, he remembered, "When they got close enough I could see they had the big red circle.  I couldn't believe it."

One of the first bomb blasts knocked him out of his clothes and into the oil-slick water.  Eventually he was able to locate some more clothes in a supply depot.

Three days later, he was transferred to the USS San Francisco where he served for the rest of the war in which he fought in 17 of the 21 major Pacific Ocean battles.

He also served in the Navy during the Korean War and was discharged in 1954.


"Unbroken"'s Louis Zamperini-- Part 4: The Book

Laura Hildebrand discovered Zamperini when she read a 1938 newspaper clipping while researching for her 2001 best-seller "Seabiscuit" about a Depression-era racehorse.  Over 7 years, she conducted hundreds of hours of interviews over the phone (she is unable to travel because of chronic fatigue syndrome).

Before this, Louis Zamperini had published two autobiographies of his own, but Hillenbrand wanted to tell the story of World War II in the Pacific through the eyes of one man.

It was a huge responsibility to have Zamperini and his fellow POWs recount their stories as she would hear them weeping over the phone.

After her book "Unbroken" was published, she began receiving thousands of letters and e-mails from family members saying often, "I never understood why my father or my husband or my grandfather, what he went through, why he was in so much pain, why he drank."

Zamperini, then 94, and Hillenbrand did meet once in 2011 in Washington, D.C..  "It was one of the best days of my life," she says.  "He threw his arms around me.  We talked and talked."  Later that afternoon, she walked him to his car and he said, "I know now the reason why I have lived this long--it was to see you write this book."

I would like to see a follow-up book and movie and his life after the war.


Monday, January 5, 2015

"Unbroken"'s Louis Zamperini-- Part 3: Found His Faith

On his return home, Zamperini became an out of control alcoholic and his marriage began to fail until he went to hear Billy Graham speak in Los Angeles in October 1949.  This completely changed his life.

He stopped drinking and repaired his marriage.  Even more, he forgave his Japanese captors for all the horrible things they had done to him.  The only one to refuse to see him was "The Bird."  Mr. Zamperini devoted himself to his new faith and founded the Victory Boys camp for troubled youth.

In 1998, at the Nagano Olympics in Japan, he carried the Olympic torch past one of his former POW camps.  He was active until the end of his life until he died this past July 2, 2014, of pneumonia at age 97.  Before his death, he had a special visitor, Director of his story "Unbroken" Angelina Jolie who showed him some scenes from her unfinished movie about him.

A True G.G..  --GreGen

"Unbroken"'s Louis Zamperini-- Part 2: Track Star and WWII Service

Louis Zamperini embodied the spirit of the Greatest Generation.  He was born in 1917 and grew up poor in Torrance, California.  He was kind of a juvenile delinquent until he found being a high school track star to his liking.  he was so good at it, he competed at age 19 in the 1936 Berlin Olympics in the 5,000-meter race.

In 1941 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and became a bombardier on a bomber.  In 1943, his B-24 malfunctioned and crashed into the Pacific Ocean.  he held on to life with another crew member for 49 days in an open rubber raft.  Unfortunately for him, it was the Japanese who found him and then things got even worse.

Zamperini became the special target of a brutal guard nicknamed "The Bird" who starved, humiliated and was savagely almost beaten to death.  He survived and remained a POW until the end of the war when he was freed.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

"Unbroken," You Need to See It: Louis Zamperini-- Part 1

From the November 2014 AARP Bulletin "Laura Hillenbrand on 'Unbroken'" by Deirdre Donahue.

"In a 21st century awash with selfies, sex tapes and Kardashians, readers have found inspiration and uplift in a book written about an American World War Ii hero named Louis Zamperini.  Written by Laura Hillenbrand, 'Unbroken' has sold almost 4 million copies in the U.S. since publication in 2010."

"Most of all, Zamperini's story of endurance, resilience and forgiveness after unspeakable torture has motivated people to get past their own troubles and grievances."

Of course, Mr. Zamperini was part of that group of Americans who persevered through the Great Depression and then the Great War, making him part of'The Greatest generation."

I was unaware of his story until his death in July and then i heard that there was a movie about his life about to be released.  I saw it this past Monday and may even go back to see it again.  Talk about overcoming tremendous odds.  And then on Thursday, I saw the Tournament of Roses Parade and there was a float dedicated to him and then the network cut away to do more on his story, especially what happened after World War II which I believe to be a good subject for a follow-up movie.


A World War II Poster: United We Will Win

The first poster for January in my 2015 Military Posters calendar is from World War II and features a whole bunch of cannons pointing and firing skyward with the flags of the Allies: U.K., U.S. China, Soviet Union, Australia, Mexico and others.  Lots of color and the words "United We Are Strong" at the top and "United We Will Win" at the bottom.

Text reads: "United We Are Strong, Henry Koerner, Office of War Information, 1943.

"Henry Koerner escaped from Austria in 1938 after it was annexed by Germany.  Soon after his arrival in the United States, Koerner began his career as an artist for the United States government creating numerous posters for the war effort."


2015 Calendar Featuring Military Posters

I am putting up my 2015 calendar today of the Smithsonian Military Posters.  It features 12 posters, 4 from World War II and 8 from World War I, both American and British.

The text that goes with the calendar:
"During World Wars I and II, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom used posters to motivate civilian involvement and military enlistment.  Often both nations used the same artwork, with only the text differing.

"Posters were considered a crucial component of Total War--war that is waged on all fronts using all available resources.  Civilians and members of the military were bombarded with posters encouraging participation in battlefield and home front war efforts.

"Contemporary popular artists were often commissioned to paint posters and many drew on popular culture references and images to increase recognition and, thus, effectiveness of such posters.

"Causes reflected in war posters ranged from recruitment for the military to not wasting food.  Some posters aimed to motivate people, while others employed guilt and fear to spur participation.

Regardless of the specific purpose, war posters were prominent in public and private spaces during both wars and significantly aided the war effort.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Local Pearl Harbor Survivor Passes Away in 2012-- Part 2: No Walk-In Freezer for Me and Staining the Uniforms

Fred Westford's commanding officer ordered the mess hall men to take cover in a large walk-in freezer.  Fred said, "I don't know about you, but I'm from North Dakota and I didn't come to Hawaii to freeze to death in a walk-in freezer.'

Instead, he ducked under a nearby steel table.

After the initial attack, his unit was ordered to boil a solution of strong coffee and tea and then the enlisted men were ordered to bring their white uniforms to the mess hall where they were placed in the solution.  It had been determined that the white uniforms made the men "sitting ducks" should the Japanese return.

The base shot down one Japanese Zero and the pilot was killed.  Eighteen military and two citizens were killed in the attack at his station.

Afterwards, a memorial was placed at the Japanese crash site, but there was nothing for the twenty Americans who were killed.  In the late 1970s, Fred Westford and several other Kaneohe survivors formed a group called the Kanoehe Klippers and raised funds for a stone memorial.

He was a long-time resident of Bremerton and died at age 92.


Local Pearl Harbor Survivor Passes Away in 2012-- Part 1

From the October 22, 2012, Kitsap (Washington) Sun.

Fred Westford was 21 and stationed at the major Navy seaplane base at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, on the east coast of Oahu on that day.  Only the three PBYs out on patrol were fit for service after the attack.  The base was a new facility with some of the buildings still under construction.

The base housed three Patrol Squadrons with 33 PBYs on the ground or floating just off shore.  All but six were destroyed and those were damaged.

Westford was working at the mess hall when the attack began.when he heard low-flying planes.  he thought the engines were real loud and stepped outside and saw the Rising Suns on the planes and knew they were under attack.  Then the strafing and bombing began.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

World War II Vet Dies After Casting His Last Ballot, Had Been in Internment Camps

From the October 25, 2012, Yahoo! News, AP by Aubrey McAvoy.

Frank Tanabe, 93,  died peacefully in the Honolulu home of his daughter where he had been under hospice care the last several weeks with inoperable cancer.

He filled out an absentee ballot with the help of his daughter.  During the war, hes erved in the mostly Japanese-American unit of Military Intelligence Service, (MIS) primarily interrogating Japanese prisoners in India and China.  He had volunteered for military duty from an internment camp.  He had been held at the camps in Tule Lake, California, and Minidoka in Idaho.

he had recently received the Congressional Gold Medal which had been awarded to all Japanese-Americans who had served in the MIS, the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Teams.


Battle of Britain Timeline

I accidentally put this entry in my Cooter's History Thing Blog for today's date.