Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Death of Navy Man John Howard Fuss

From the September 16, 2016, The News (S.C.)

John Howard Fuss, 95, died in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

He was born in 1921 in Boston, Massachusetts and attended the University of Kansas and Lamar University where he studied mechanical engineering.

On January 18, 1942, he joined the U.S. Navy and served until January 4, 1946.  Ships he served on were the USS Pennsylvania, USS Orletta, USS APL-11 and the USS YTB.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Looking Back At 1941: Knitting Sweaters for Servicemen

From the November 23, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1941, 75 Years Ago.  "Knitters in DeKalb, who are willing to supply pull over sweaters for the young men in service, will be provided yarn without charge, according to an announcement made this morning.

"A supply of olive drab yarn has been received by the DeKalb Chapter of the Red Cross and will be given out to those who desire to knit sweaters, which are to be returned to the Red cross."

Getting Ready for War.  --GreGen

Friday, November 25, 2016

Deaths: US Army Air Force Felix Michael Rogers in 2014

Felix Michael Rogers, 92  Born July 6, 1921.  Died April 23, 2014.

United States Air Force general.  Enlisted as a private in April 1942 and became an aviation cadet in August of that year.  Completed pilot training and commissioned second lieutenant in 1943 in Yuma.

Served as a P-39 Airacobra pilot.with the 353rd Fighter Squadron.  Also flew the P-51 Mustangs and became a squadron commander.  Credited with 12 kills flying out of England, Italy and France.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

World War II Veteran Dies One Month After Remarkable Flight: Col. Frank Royal

From the November 21, 2016, KKTV News.  Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Colonel Frank Royal, 101, died over the past weekend.  He was able, one month ago, to visit the P-38 fighter plane he flew during the war and actually went up in another plane and flew beside his old one.

This took place at the Museum of World War II Aviation in Colorado Springs.  Back then he flew the P-38 named "White 33.

It was damaged in a dogfight over Papua New Guinea.and is now at the museum.  Frank Royal's son happened to be at the museum and saw the name "White 33" and knew it was one his father had flown.

Col. Royal went up in a chase plane, but said, "Mentally I was flying it."

Glad He Got To Revisit His Past.  --GreGen

Hero Lost At Pearl Harbor Comes Home: John Charles England

National Geographic "Hero Lost at Pearl Harbor Comes Home After Years in an Unknown Grave" by Gabe Bullard.

John Charles England was an ensign on the USS Oklahoma and disappeared after returning to his stricken ship to save fellow crew members.

He was one of the 388 Oklahoma Unknowns buried in the Punch Bowl in Hawaii.

Thirty of the Unknowns have been identified so far.

He was featured in the PBS TV show "Pearl Harbor:  USS Oklahoma - The Final Story on November 23, 2016.

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Of Cars and Of Women

Oct. 22, 2014:  PARKED FOR THE DURATION: 1942--   1942  "Effect of gasoline shortage in Washington, D.C..  Albert Freeman, OWI.  The photo and caption makes you think these cars will not be driven as long as the war and gas rationing remains.

Comment:   The person thinks they just might be parked for a workday as many have their windows open.

Oct. 17, 2014:  GINGHAM STYLE: 1942--  June 1943.  "Arlington, Virginia.  Girl getting food at the service shop at Idaho Hall, Arlington Farms, a residence for women who work for the U.S. government for the duration of the war."  Esther Bubley, OWI

I have written about the Arlington Farms often.  The war effort required a large amount of written work in these days before computers.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pearl Harbor Veteran Clarence Lux Honored At Senior Center

From the Nov. 9, 2016, Hi-Desert Star "Pearl Harbor survivor honored at Senior Center" by Leah Swanson.

Clarence Lux, 95, was on the USS Tennessee that day and had only been in the Navy for a year.  He was in the engine room and didn't know what was going on or the severity of the attack.  He remembers, though, that people would occasionally call down to tell them what was going on.

It is always nice to write about a Pearl Harbor survivor who is still alive.  On November 21,  I wrote about Art Gruber, 93, who was also in the engine room of the USS Tennessee that day so it is very likely that they knew each other.  Mr. Gruber also wrote about not knowing what was going on during the battle.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Shorpy Home Front Photos: A Jewish Shop and A Magazine Rack

From the Shorpy photograph site.

Oct. 29, 2014--  ROMANCE OF A PEOPLE: 1942:  August, 1942:  New YorkWindow of a Jewish religious shop at Broome Street."  There is a banner in the window reading:  "Equality * Liberty * Justice / God Bless America.   /  We Are Proud Americans."  By Marjory Collins, OWI.

Oct. 23, 2014--  READ ALL ABOUT IT (COLORIZED): 1942:  May 1942.  "Southington, Connecticut.  Woman looking at a huge magazine rack."  Fresno Jacobs, OWI.  Quite a few of the magazines have military pictures on the cover and many comic books.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Pearl Harbor Survivor Addresses Norman Schoolchildren

From the November 12, 2016, Oklahoman by Tim Willert.

Art Gruber, 93, was on the USS Tennessee that day and leaning against a wall far below deck when he was blown about four feet into the air.  He was waiting for the Tennessee's boilers to heat up when the USS Arizona exploded.

"I thought, 'Oh my gosh, we've run aground.'"  More than four hours later he learned that the Japanese had attacked.  The Tennessee was the only battleship in the harbor not sunk.

He later found out that the ship's commander had ordered the boilers turned on to get the propellers moving to move the oil floating in the water away from the ship.

Mr. Gruber gave his talk at the Cleveland Elementary School along with 40 other veterans.

It Is Always Great When School Kids Get to Hear a Veteran Speak, Especially a Pearl Harbor Survivor.  --GreGen

Friday, November 18, 2016

95th Anniversary of Christening of the USS West Virginia on November 19th

From This Week in West Virginia History--  Huntington Junior College.

NOVEMBER 19, 1921  The battleship USS West Virginia was christened.  It was one of six battleships at Pearl Harbor and suffered massive destruction from torpedoes and bombs.

It was raised, rebuilt and rejoined the 7th Fleet for the invasion of the Philippines.


World War II-Era Bomb Exploded in Tallahassee, Florida

From the November 17, 2016, Sun sentinel (Florida)  "Bombs Away!  WW-II-era munition found, detonated near Florida State University" by Brendon Farrington, AP.

The big explosion was heard several miles away and the force very evident closer.  The bomb was found in a construction area near campus less than a mile from the Florida State Capitol.  It is in a trendy area of stores and restaurants.

The 325th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight from Tyndall AFB in Panama City identified the bomb and detonated it at 9:30 p.m. after digging a large hole, placing the bomb inside it and covering it.

No one is sure how it came to be there, but Tallahassee had a training airfield during World War II.


Shorpy Home Front Photos

NOVEMBER 14, 2016  "Tots in Transit: 1943."  September 1943.  "Washington Court House, Ohio.  Mothers with their babies waiting at the Greyhound bus depot."  Esther Bubley, OWI.

With gas rationing and no new cars, buses were a way to get around during the war.  Two young  women with a baby each waiting in seats.  You have to wonder where they're going?  perhaps to see their husbands home on leave from the military?


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pearl Harbor Survivor Raymond Salsedo Planning to Return for 75th Anniversary

From the "Pearl Harbor survivor plans to return to Hawaii 75 years after attack" by Mark Glaugun.

Raymond Salsedo was a civilian worker in Pearl harbor that day, working in the drydock where the destroyers USS Cassin and Downes were being repaired.

He recalled: "All I hear was these boys in the drydock.  Nineteen, 20-year-old boys, sailors.  They were just hollering, 'Mother, mother, mother.'""

He had trained as a diver and underwater welder and was assigned to cut holes in the USS Oklahoma's overturned hull.  Eleven men were rescued out of his hole of the 32 total saved that way.

At home that night, he worried about another attack and built a small bomb shelter.  The next day he began work on removing the Arizona's guns.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Bits of War: On USS Pennsylvania-- USS Arizona Memorial in Arizona

1.  ON THE USS PENNSYLVANIA AT PEARL HARBOR--  U.S. Navy veteran and Oakland, Ca., native Mickey Ganitch was on the USS Pennsylvania during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

2.  USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL IN ARIZONA--  The USS Arizona Memorial at the University of Arizona Mall is expected to be completed this month, just in time for the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 12: After the Series

Upon returning to Boyceville, Andy Pafko was greeted by an airplane trailing a banner proclaiming:  "Our hero is back home."  The town honored him with a banquet, and then he changed into overalls.  "The cows had to be milked," he recalled.

Shortstop Lennie Merullo was determined that his memories wouldn't fade.  For the World Series, he was replaced with a more experienced player, Roy Hughes.  But he got into the sixth game and was spiked by a Tigers player, leaving him with a 3-inch gash on his forearm.  In the clubhouse, a doctor had no sooner sewn him up than Merullo started pulling out the stitches.  For weeks he picked at the scab, determined to have a flesh-and-blood souvenir.

"Even now, 50 years later, I'll stare at that scar, Merullo told a Trib reporter in 1995.  "And, I'll say to myself: 'You were there, Len.  You played in a World Series."

Lenny Merullo died May 30, 2015.  Probably one of the last members of the 1945 Chicago Cubs.


The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 11: The '45 Series

The Cubs took two of the three games played in Detroit as they returned to Chicago.  The Tigers then took two games in a row.  The Cubs won the sixth game in extra innings.

But, in the first inning of the final game, the Tigers exploded for five runs and went on to win the game 9-3, making them the 1945 World Series Champions.

The Cubs were left with regrets for what might have been -- and memories of having almost made it to baseball's mountaintop.

But, considering how good the team was and past National League Championships, surely, there was next year and likely another shot at the championship.

Little Did Anyone Know....  --GreGen

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 10: Prim Does It

On the next to the last day of the 1945 season, the Cubs clinched the National League title with a 6-5 win over the Cardinals.  (I love it when we beat the Cardinals.)    The Tribune reported:  "Ray Prim, whose relief pitching restored order in a threatening eighth inning, was mobbed by manager Charlie Grimm and the Cubs when the last Card was out.

"There were more congratulations for the 38-year-old southpaw after he and the other Cubs had been cheered hysterically by hundreds of fans lining the ramp to the clubhouse."

In the World Series that followed, the Cubs took an early lead over the Detroit Tigers, winning two of three games played in Detroit.

Joy in Chicago.  --DaCubter

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 9: Andy Pafko Walking to Help Dad Pay Mortgage on Farm

Cub players Andy Pafko and Claude Passeau lived at Sheridan Plaza Hotel and walked to the ballpark, attracting fans.''"Sometimes, fans would keep us company for a block or two," Pafko told a Tribune reporter.  "I liked to save streetcar fare because I was sending money home to help Dad pay off the mortgage on the farm."

Pafko's parents had emigrated from Slovakia to Boyceville, Wisconsin.  Hard-working, they had never seen their son play -- until one day that season, neighbors insisted they would milk the cows at the Pafkos and they should go down to Chicago.

That day, Pafko hit a grand slam and screaming fans leaped to their feet.  Pafko's parents didn't know if the fans were yelling for or at their son until a man in the next box leaned over and explained:  "Your son did the best thing a ballplayer can."


Friday, November 11, 2016

1945 Chicago Cubs, Last Trip to the World Series Before 2016


Some of the names I've been mentioning are familiar, others aren't, so I went to this site and found out the names of the starters for the 1945 Cubs.

Main Position Players and batting averages:

Catcher--  Mickey Livingston .254
First Base--  Phil Cavarretta--  .355
Second Base-- Don Johnson--  .302
Shortstop--  Lennie Merullo--  .239
Third Base--  Stan Hack--  .323
Outfield--  Peanuts Lowery--  .283
Outfield--  Andy Pafko--  .298
Outfield--  Bill Nicholson-- .243

Main Pitchers with win-loss and ERA:

Hank Wyse--  22-10  2.68
Claude Passeau--  17-9  2.46
Paul Derringer--  16-11  3.45
Ray Prim--  13-8  2.40
Hank Borowy--  11-2  2.13

Imagine What Some of These Guys Would Be Making Today With Their Stats.  --GreGen

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 8: Long-Time Cubs

Stan Hack spent his whole career with the Cubs.  So too did Don Johnson, the second baseman.  First baseman Phil Cavarretta was a Cubbie for twenty years.  He came to the team from Lane Technical High School, just west from Wrigley Field  on Addison Street.  After his playing days, he worked in a clothing store on Cicero Avenue.  "You know, taking shoulder measurements and pants lengths," he said.

Given their modest salaries, players had to be penny-pinchers.  Pitcher Claude Passeau and center fielder Andy Pafko both lived at the Sheridan Plaza Hotel at Wilson Avenue and Sheridan Road.  Both were farm boys and walked to and from Wrigley Field.  That allowed admirers a close-up view.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 7: "Batting First and Playing Third Base, Stan Hack"

By then the Americans had overcome whatever reservations they had about watching baseball while others were fighting and dying.  Fans and players were closer then, physically and financially.  Megamillion-dollar contracts and thousand-dollar game tickets were unknown.  A player was lucky to earn $12,000 for a season.  Bill Nicholson had delayed joining the team because he made more in the defense plant where he worked than he would have earned for spring training.

Beseball's "reserve clause" made it difficult for players to move from team to team as they now.  Cub fans heard pretty much the same names from one year to the next, when Pat Pieper, the Wrigley Field announcer intoned his famous mantra:  "Have your pencil and score cards ready, and I'll give you the correct lineup for today's ballgame.  Batting first and playing third base, Stan Hack...."


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 6: V-E and V-J Days

Things began to look up when the Nazis surrendered on May 7, 1945.  James Gallagher, the Cubs vice president hailed V-E Day with a baseball metaphor:  "The unconditional surrender of Germany has put our armies on second base.  One more hit against the Japs and we can send all the boys home."

When the Japanese surrendered on August 14, the Cubs were on a roll, playing the Brooklyn Dodgers that day.  "We didn't get to bed until 3 or 4 in the morning, but we beat the Dodgers by maybe 16 runs," Don Johnson remembers.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 5: The Deaf Veterans

Bill Nichiolson, a slugging outfielder, didn't join the team until opening day.  He wanted to hang on to his job at a defense plant for as long as possible, given the uncertainty of the times.  Second baseman Don Johnson had a draft exemption as a father of three.  But he didn't get the hero worship that fans accorded players before the war, as he later recalled.

"When we traveled, there would be lots of troops on the trains,"  Johnson said.  "GIs would come up and ask why you weren't in the service -- some jocularly, others not."

Though he never saw a battlefield, Johnson did get a close-up view of the war's toll when the Cubs played an exhibition game at a military hospital.  The stands were unnaturally quiet.  War had left many of the patients deaf.


The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 4: Draft Board Blues

Even with the presidential go-ahead, only a dozen Cubs showed up in French Lick for spring training.  Others were still in the military.

Hiram Bithorn, a pitching ace serving in the Navy didn't get back until September.  Outfielder Dominic Dallessandro, who hit .305 in 1944, was in limbo, his status having been changed from 4-F, medically deferred, to 1-A, fit for service.

Pitcher Hank Borowy, acquired from the Yankees in midseason, had a similar problem with the draft board.

That was worrisome in a year when the Tribune announced in headlines:  "Majors Expect 4-F Players To See Them Through."


Monday, November 7, 2016

The Cubs, World War II, Chicago, in 1945-- Part 3: French Lick, Indiana, and FDR Gives Go-Ahead

In 1945, the Cubs had their preseason drills in French Lick, Indiana, because of wartime travel restrictions that prohibited the usual training on Catalina Island in California.

Indeed, the 1945 season, as were the others during the war years, almost didn't happen.  Fortunately for fans, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had overruled any cancellations who wrote Kennesaw Mountain Landis, Commissioner of Baseball:  "I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going," in what became known as the "Green Light Letter.

"Everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before.  And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before."


The Cubs, World War II, Chicago, in 1945-- Part 2: Gold Stars in the Windows

The spring of 1945 brought good news for Chicagoans.  It was beginning to appear that World War Ii was about over and, also surprising, the fact that the Chicago Cubs were already favorites to win the National League pennant.  The last time the Cubs had made it to the World Series was during the depths of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Then came Pearl Harbor and over the following years, many a bungalow window had a Gold Stat in its window, marking the home of dead hometown hero.A homemade memorial plaque on the 4900 block of South Princeton Avenue listed six names of 48th Precinct servicemen who had died defending their country.

One small part of the South Side had sent 139 off to fight.


Friday, November 4, 2016

The Cubs, World War II, 1945-- Part 1: Military Service

From the October 30, 2016, Chicago Tribune "From battlefield to playing field" by Ron Grossman.

Military service, work demands took priority over baseball as Cubs started 1945 season; the year ended in military victory for U.S., World Series loss for Chicago.

Photo of Cubs coach Kiki Cuyler, left, and shortstop Lennie Merullo, tear, watch outfielder Dominic Dallessandro man a machine gun on an M-7 tank at Camp Campbell in Kentucky.

Photo of Hiram Bithorn, center, is welcomed back to the Cubs pitching staff in 1945 after service in the Navy by Claude Passeau, left, and manager Charlie Grimm.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Wrigley Field Might Have Had Lights Earlier, But for World War II

From the October 28, 2016, Chicago Tribune "Wrigley Field's transformation."

As we try to get over the late night/early morning celebrating for the Cubs winning the World Series yesterday.


Owner P.K. Wrigley assigned Bill Veeck to look into lighting for Wrigley Field.

The team ordered parts in 1941 but Wrigley donated the steel to the World War II effort after Pearl Harbor.

So, there might have been lights as early as 1941, but for a war.


Looking Back to August 1941: Collecting Waste Aluminum for National Defense

From the August 24, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Ill.)  "Looking Back."

"Sycamore, in its participation in the collection of waste aluminum which will be taken to smelters for use in national defense manufactures, will deposit the waste metal in a large bin which is being located on the lawn of the court house yard.

"The bin will be guarded the entire week."

Hard to believe that anyone would be stealing it.  But this does show war preparations being made before Pearl Harbor.


Looking Back to August 1941: Looking for World War I Vets

From the August 24, 2016 MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back.:

1941, 75 years ago:  "Members of the old 'A' Company that fought in World War No. 1 and who reside in this area are urged to write to other members whose addresses they know and tell them that the annual company reunion and picnic is to be held in August.

"It will be held at Annie's Woods in DeKalb."

Kind of interesting to see how they were referring to the Great War now that there was another one going on in Europe.  I wonder if it was already being called World War II?


The USS North Carolina Pulled Through Hurricane Matthew

From the October 24, 2016, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Cape Fear historical landmarks weathered the storm" by Hanna Dela Court.

The battleship, anchored opposite Wilmington had delayed opening October 12-14 because of flooding and high tide.  Much of the park, especially the parking lot, is still under water as of the date of the article.  However, the big ship is floating as a result of the rainfall from Matthew, the higher than normal tides this time of the year and the super moon on October 16.

This is the second time in two years that the North Carolina has floated.  The first time was during heavy rains and flooding in October 2015 when it floated for the first time in five years.

The only damaged sustained by the ship was from downed trees limbs and trees floating ashore.  One museum piece, a bomb, fell off the seaplane, bounced on the deck and was washed overboard, but it was located on the shore by the ship.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

List of Japanese-Cubans Sent to Cuba Internment Camps Found-- Part 2

About 359 Japanese-Cuban men over the age of 18 were relocated to a jailhouse in Isla de la Juventud in southern Cuba.

Women and children under the age of 18 were generally exempt from internment, but three women suspected of having connections to Japanese military officers were also arrested and sent to jail in the suburbs of Havana.

All were detained after the war until March 19, 1946.  Some died in the camps due to the horrible conditions.


Exhibit Traces Events before, After '41 Attack-- Part 3: Airraid On Pearl Harbor X This Is No Drill"

A glass display holds a piece of a Japanese plane shot down in the battle, as well as a copy of the first typed message sent from Pearl Harbor:  'AIRRAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NO DRILL" it reads.

Other items on display include a large pair of binoculars from the bridge of the USS Arizona.  This being the ship in which so much carnage took place and over 1000 killed.

The exhibit also reflects on the heightened fear and anger over Japanese living in America, and the experiences of Japanese families forced to live in internment camps.

At the end of the exhibit are buttons, pins, stamps and other keepsakes produced in the wake of the attack.

All bear the national rallying call:  "Remember Pearl Harbor."


Exhibit Traces Events Before, After '41 Attack-- Part 2: Japanese Ambitions Vs. Island Paradise

The exhibition runs through January 7, 2017, and features artifacts showing Japanese ambitions.  These are contrasted with the Hawaii island paradise of hula girls in photos taken by U.S. servicemen stationed there

Then ,there was the attack involving more than 300 Japanese fighter planes and bombers that killed more than 2,000 Americans and wounded more than 1,000 more.  It destroyed or damaged scores of U.S. ships and planes.

In effect, it almost single-handedly knocked us out of the war in the Pacific in one deft stroke.


Massachusetts Exhibit Traces Events Before, After '41 Attack-- Part 1: "Underestimated the Japanese Terribly"

From the October 16, 2016, Chicago Tribune by Philip Marcelo, AP.

An exhibition commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack which drew the United States into World War II is opening at a private, non-profit museum west of Boston that is open to the public by appointment.

The exhibit, "Why We Still remember" is at the Museum of World War II and chronicles the mood in the U.S. and Japan leading up to and after December 7, 1941.

Themes include nationalism in Japan and  complacency in the United States.

"We underestimated the Japanese terribly.  Everyone was paying attention to Europe, no one was paying attention to Asia," said museum founder Kenneth Rendell.  "It explains a lot about why we were caught flat-footed.  That's the importance of learning from history."


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

List of Japanese-Cubans Sent to Cuba Internment Camp Found-- Part 1

From the October 29, 2016, Japan Times "List of Japanese-Cubans sent to internment camps during World War II found."

i was completely unaware that there were also Cuban internment camps.  I knew about the ones in the United States and Canada.

Three hundred and fifty Japanese-Cubans were sent to internment camp by the Cuban government in 1942.  Effort was made to contact these, mostly men, in the 1980s and 100 former detainees were found.  In the U.S. President Roosevelt authorized the interment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans.

The pro-American administration of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista followed suit.


Yet Another USS Oklahoma Sailor Comes Home: Lewis L. Lowell

From the September 26, 2016, KFDI FM 101.3 (Kansas) "After 75 years, seaman's remains will return to Kansas" by Wil Day.

Seaman 2nd Class Lewis L.Lowell was on the USS Oklahoma that fateful day.  His remains will be flown into McConnell Air Force Base on October 7 where they will then be escorted to Smith Mortuary in Haysville for a service and then laid to rest at the family plot in Whitewater on October 8.