Thursday, May 31, 2018

Not Likely That Acie Shaffer and Vernon Clark Both In 84th Infantry

I looked up the 84th Infantry Division in Wikipedia.

The unit was called "The Railsplitters" and their patch showed an axe on a tree.

However, the unit fought in Europe and Vernon Clark dealt with the Japanese.


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Vets Celebrate Soldier's 100th Birthday-- Part 3: WW II Vet Acie Shaffer

The day of the party, the Golden Rule facility had a total of 21 World War II veterans living there.

One of them was 94-year-old Acie Shaffer, who served in the same outfit, the 84th Infantry Division, known as "The Railsplitters," as Clark.

Their paths never crossed at the time though, but they've become good friends at the facility.

Mr. Shaffer had his own brush with death.  While fighting to turn back the last major German offensive in the war in the winter 1944-45, he found himself in the middle of heavy fire.  Said Mr. Shaffer:  "About 4 o'clock in the morning, they moved a bunch of stuff in on us.  And one of them 60 mm mortars dropped right beside me.

"If it hit just two or three inches over, it would have, it would have blown my rib cage, but that old elbow saved me."

That "old elbow" never healed properly and the day of the party it remained under wrap.

Then, Shaffer talked about how he and his brother joined the Army and his brother was recruited into the 101st Airborne.  "That rascal made 17 jumps and never got a damn scratch," he laughed.


Vets Celebrate Soldier's 100th Birthday-- Part 2: Almost Killed Twice

Vernon Clark was almost killed twice in World War II.

Once he was at a meeting on a boat carrying troops when Japanese planes suddenly appeared.  One of the planes caught fire and then the pilot came directly at his ship.  They said they had to hit the deck.  While there, they could feel the heat of the plane across their backs as it passed over.

The second time he survived when a sniper's aim was just off, putting three bullets into the wall behind him.  His son remembers him telling him that he was lucky the guy was such a bad shot.

Vernon Clark's grandsons interviewed him and his answer to whether he had ever killed anyone was quite frank:  "When it happens it's something that you realize you had to do.  You wish you you hadn't had to do it, but it was where you were at and what was going on.  It was what had to be done.  But it will make you like -- even though you know you had to do it --  that you don't ever have want to have that feeling again, but you know you will."


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Vets Celebrate Soldier's 100th Birthday-- Part 1: Fought in Two Wars

From the May 28, 2018, Indy-Star by Jason Truitt, Richmond Palladium-Item.

On Monday afternoon in mid May a crowd gathered at the Golden Living Center in Richmond, Indiana.  They were there to celebrate World War II veteran Vernon Clark's 100th birthday, even though it really isn't until August 2.

However, he survived two wars and nearly a century of living.  Vernon served twenty-eight years in the U.S. Army, Army National Guard and Army reserve.

He did two tours of duty during World War II and then as a medical technician in Korea, "just like you see in MASH units" doing triage, minor wound dressing and minor surgeries.

He almost died twice in World War II.


Monday, May 28, 2018

USS Detroit-- Part 5: At Pearl Harbor and Japanese Surrender

After repairs, the Detroit patrolled off the west coast of South America.

Then it acted as the flagship of the support group for a fast carrier group which she did until the end of the war.

The Detroit entered Tokyo Bay September 1, 1945, and was one of just two ships to be present at both the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as well as the Japanese surrender.  (The other ship was the battleship USS West Virginia.)

Then, the ship stayed for the occupation of Japan and then returned U.S. servicemen home in Operation Magic Carpet.

She was decommissioned in Philadelphia 11 January 1946 and sold for scrap 27 February.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

USS Detroit-- Part 4: Action in the Aleutians

In September 1942, the USS Detroit escorted two convoys to American Somoa and on one of those rescued the crew of a downed PBY.

On 10 November 1942, the Detroit was sent to Aleutian islands in Alaska to prevent Japanese invasion.  While there, she served as the flagship of the fleet.  On several occasions the ship bombarded Japanese positions.

It remained there until 1944 and then went to Bremerton, Washington, for needed repairs.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

USS Detroit-- Part 3: Looking for the Japanese

Only nine of the crew members were injured in the attack.

Once clear of Pearl Harbor, the Detroit joined the light cruisers Phoenix and St. Louis and two destroyers and began patrolling Oahu's west coast for a possible Japanese invasion.''Later, they joined ships advancing against the Japanese fleet as it returned home.

The Detroit returned to Pearl Harbor December 10 and then did convoy duty between the harbor and the U.S. West Coast.  On one voyage the USS Detroit took nine tons of gold and twelve tons of silver which had been evacuated from the Philippines.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

USS Detroit-- Part 2: Able to Get Underway at Pearl Harbor

It spent its first eight years as part of the U.S. Scouting Fleet in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.  It assisted the USAAS's first aerial circumnavigation of the world in 1924 and transported Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg in 1927 from Ireland to France for negotiations which eventually led to the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

It was homeported in San Diego from 1931 to 1941 when it was moved to Pearl Harbor for home base.

It was moored next to her sister ship, the USS Raleigh and the ex-battleship USS Utah when the Japanese attacked.  The other two ships were hit the hardest and the Detroit was able to get underway.and downed several Japanese planes.


Monday, May 21, 2018

USS Detroit-- Part 1: Was At Pearl Harbor

I have been writing about the six ships named USS Detroit in the U.S. Navy in my Cooter's History Thing Blog.  One of the ships was from the War of 11812, another from the Civil War and another from the War of 1812.  The fourth one was in World War II so I will go into more detail about it here.

This on is of particular interest as it was one of only a few ships at Pearl Harbor able to get underway during the attack on December 7, 1941.

From Wikipedia.

The fourth USS Detroit was an Omaha-class light cruiser, originally a class designated as scout cruisers.

It was 555-feet long, has a 55-foot beam with a speed of 35 knots.  Its main armament varied much during the ship's career, but at one time the main battery was ten six-inch guns.  During peace-time, the ship had 29 officers and 429 enlisted.


Some More on the 2017 Pearl Harbor Ceremonies

From the December 8, 2017, Military News.  Hampton Roads.  "Pearl Harbor services remembrance ceremony."

The Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story held their annual Pearl Harbor service.

Paul Moore, the last remaining local member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Tidewater #2 attended.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Oldest World War II Veteran Turns 112: Richard Overton

From the Greatest Generation Foundation.

Richard Overton, the oldest U.S. World War II veteran, turned 112 on May 11 (born 1906).  He is the oldest verified World War II veteran and also the oldest man in the  United States.

He was inducted into the Army at Fort Sam Houston on September 3, 1940, and served in the South Pacific from 1940 to 1945.  Since he is a black man, he served in a segregated unit during the war.

He lives in Austin, Texas, and cites cigars, Dr. Pepper and coffee for his longevity.  He also likes his coffee whiskey-infused.

Sounds Like Quite a Character.  Happy Birthday Mr. Overton.


Pearl Harbor Day Ceremony-- Part 3: Sinking of the USS Luce Still "Branded In My Soul"

This took place December 7, 2017, in Ocala, Florida.


On May 4, 1945, his ship, the USS Luce. was "sunk in five minutes" by a kamikaze attack while on picket duty near Okinawa.  Mr. Phillips recalls his shipmates dying.

He was 21 at the time.

"(The sinking) is branded in my soul.  I can still hear the cries of the wounded."

Also honored at the ceremony was HEMMETT BOWEN JR.

He was a Medal of Honor winner who died saving his comrades by throwing himself on a grenade in the Vietnam War.


Pearl Harbor Day Ceremony-- Part 2: One At Pearl Harbor, One in France

Continued from May 17.

JACK EDGE was in sick bay of the USS Pelias (AS-14), a submarine-tender.  Instead of getting an emergency appendectomy, he went on the deck and used a phone to direct gunfire from his ship.

DOUG OSWALD, 94, a native of Marianna, graduated from Marianna High School in 1942 and went to the University of Florida for one semester then joined the Army.  he trained as a combat engineer but when he arrived in England his outfit's equipment had been misdirected and he ended up serving as an infantryman.

He was six miles from the Rhine River in fox holes near Strasbourg, France, in the December 1944 Battle of the Bulge.  Their outer jackets were frozen and they were pinned down by mortar fire during the day.

He was sent out as part of a five-man patrol at midnight February 5, 1945.  The moon shone between parted clouds and one of the patrol was shot and killed and another stepped on a land mine.  Mr. Oswald was wounded in his shoulder and was sent to Paris for surgery.  Later, he was transferred to Belgium.

He served as Ocala.s mayor in 1976 and 1977.


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Fort Eustis, Va., in the War

I wrote about Fort Eustis in my Not So Forgotten Blog: War of 1812, because it was named after War of 1812 veteran Abraham Eustis who eventually became a brevet brigadier general and was the first commander of Fort Monroe.

To find out about it, click on the Not So Forgotten War of 1812 in the My Blogs section to the right of this.


WW II Vets Honored At Pearl Harbor Day Ceremony-- Part 1

From the December 9, 2017, Ocala (Fla.) Today by Andy Fillmore.

The ceremony was held Saturday.  JACK EDGE, 93, is a Pearl Harbor survivor.  he was in the U.S. Navy from 1941-1950.

Three other World War II vets were also honored.

Navy Chief JAMES PHILLIPS survived his ship being sunk by Japanese kamikazes though 200 of his crew mates died.

Former Ocala Mayor DOUG OSWALD  survived freezing conditions and was wounded on a night patrol.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Pearl Harbor Survivors Recognized in Nebraska and Iowa

From the December 6, 2017, Omaha (Neb) World Herald  "Pearl Harbor Survivors, Heroes Recognized At Events in Nebraska, Iowa" by Steve Liewer.

There living Pearl Harbor Survivors:

William Barsell, of Wahoo, was at the Navy barracks ashore.

Ed Guthrie, of Omaha, was on the USS Whitney

Melvin Kennedy, of Grand Island, was on the  USS Riegel.

The family of Lt. jg Aloysaus Schmittm, a Catholic chaplain from Dubuque, Iowa, will receive a posthumous Silver Star.  He was below deck on the USS Oklahoma as it capsized and let 12 other sailors go before him and escape through a small porthole.  This cost him his life.

He was one of the Oklahoma unknowns until DNA identified his remains and he was buried in Dubuque 14 months ago.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Quincy Pearl Harbor Survivor Says People Shouldn't Forget

From the December 7, 2017, Patriot Ledger (Mass.) "People shouldn't forget says Quincy survivor of Pearl Harbor" by Zane Razzaq.

Bill Keith, 95, is among the last Pearl Harbor survivors in the state of Massachusetts.  One Dec. 7, 1941, he was a 19-year-old on the USS West Virginia.  he managed to escape his sinking ship when sailors managed to open a hatch.

He was supposed to spend the day relaxing, but didn't get much of it.

After the attack, he attended corpsman school in South Dakota.


Three Pearl Harbor Survivors at Dec. 7 Commemoration in Wilmington, N.C.

From the December 7, 2017, Wilmington (NC) Star-News  "Locals salute veterans, remember Pearl Harbor" Ben Steelman.

Twenty-five World War II veterans were in attendance at the USO/Community Arts Center Building in Wilmington.  Wilbur D. Jones, Jr., noted Wilmington World War II authority was there as well.

Three Pearl Harbor veterans were also there:

Harold Garrish who was an ensign with the Fleet Gunnery Party on Ford Island.

William Hendley was on the USS Oklahoma.

Leslie "Bud" Hollenbeck was a signalman on the USS Pennsylvania.

Jones also recognized three Wilmington residents who were killed in action December 7, 1941:

Signalman Harvey Howard Horrek on the USS Arizona

Boatswain's Mate Herbert F. Melton on the USS Oklahoma

Radioman 2nd Class Clyde Carson Moore on the USS Shaw.

Jones was seven years old on December 7, 1941.


Monday, May 14, 2018

More USS Oklahoma Unknowns Identified

**   May 6, 2018  U.S. Navy Seaman 1st Class EDWARD F. SLAPIKAS,  24    The Newport Township High School 1942 yearbook was dedicated to him and to Petty Officer 3rd Class Keith Jeffries who died on the USS Arizona that day.

**   May 3, 2018    HENRY GLENN TIPTON,  20.   His service will be June 8 at the Wings of Honor Museum in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.


Hemp For the War Effort in DeKalb County

From the April 25, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Secretary of Commerce Jesse Jones announced that the Defense Plant Corporation had authorized eight contracts with the Commodity Credit Corporation to provide eight hemp processing plants, two of which will be built in DeKalb County.

"The two plants which will be built in this county will be located in Kirkland and Shabbona."

Hemp for the War Effort.  --GreGen

Collecting Guns For the War Effort

From the April 25, 2018, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Guns for the navy club received an additional impetus when Otto Babcock, chairman of the committee at Waterman for the collection of firearms, reported at police headquarters in DeKalb with 30 weapons and most of them very fine specimens."

Collecting Gubns For the War Effort.  --GreGen

Friday, May 11, 2018

World War II Vet Gets Wish to "Dance With a Pretty Girl"

From the April 25, 2018, Fox 5 News  "Sorority grants World War II veteran's final wish to dance with a pretty woman."

The Iota Mu Sorority at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg held a dance for Paul Sonnier who is bedridden and near death.

Nice Thing to Do.  --GreGen

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Statue Controversy in North Carolina-- Part 3: To Honor Five Who Died in Crash

One night in 1943, three Russians, one Ukranian and a Canadian were killed when a seaplane bound for the Soviet Union crashed in the Pasquotank River.  Since this was top secret, their sacrifice was never publicly recognized and forgotten for decades.

After Project Zebra was declassified in 2013, efforts to honor these men and the others in the project got underway and a monument was designed to include three figures, one each of a Soviet, United States and United Kingdom aviator.

Back in 2017, the Elizabeth City, North Carolina, city council unanimously approved the statue.  But the new one voted against it.

Myself, I think they are over reacting.  There is nothing wrong with the statue which should be erected.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Statue Controversy in N.C.-- Part 2: Training Soviet Aviators for Anti-U-boat Operations

One council member who voted against it believes it could be a Trojan Horse from which the Russians could disrupt the internet or electrical system in the United States.  Plus, Russians are known for their hacking now.

A Russian-American joint commission on POWs and MIAs wanted the monument in Elizabeth City because of a top-secret World War II operation at a U.S. Coast Guard station located there.  Recently declassified documents say that "Operation Zebra" helped train about 300 Soviet aviators to find German submarines and bomb them.

The U.S. east coast was always under threat of German U-boat operations, and, of course, the U.S. was supplying weapons and food to the Soviet Union along the Murmansk Arctic convoy run, which often was under U-boat attack.


Statue Plan Starts Mini-Cold War in N.C.-- Part 1: "Operation Zebra"

From the March 30, 2018, Chicago Tribune "Statue plan starts mini-Cold War in one U.S. city" by Martha Waggoner.

During World War II, the United States and Soviet Union were allies and hundreds of Soviet aviators were trained on the North Carolina coast as part of a secret spy project, but now an effort to honor this project has set off a mini-Cold War in a small American city.

The Russian Ministry of Defense wants to pace a 25-ton bronze monument in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

Much of the now declassified "Project Zebra" was carried out nearby.  Russia will pay for the 13-foot tall monument and the city will pay for the development of the park on the bank of the Pasquotank River.

But with the international tensions and fears of Russian hacking of U.S. elections, Elizabeth City officials have rejected the plan.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

World War II Marriages

Harry "Red" Madsen met his wife, Betty Kaplan, while in the Army.  She was from Brooklyn.  He was from Iowa.  It is not likely they would have met had it not been for World War II.  I wrote about him April 3 and 4  "Hoist One for Red."

Last month I wrote about the Liberty Ships and the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in Wilmington, N.C., and the first ship launched, the SS Zebulon Vance, eventually ended up carrying war brides back from Europe.  Again, not likely these new wives would have met their husbands had it not been for the war.

My wife's father, Ambrose, grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Her mother, Frances, grew up in Kansas.  Amby was stationed in Kansas which is where they met.

The War Taketh Away and Giveth, I Guess.  --GreGen

Shattering the Martini Glass Ceiling-- Part 4: Bar Maids or Bar Guys?

In 1950, the Tribune picked up an AP story from Detroit with the headline "Grandmas fight to keep jobs -- as bartenders."  It described the plight of a barowner who was being pressured by the local bartenders union to fire "his elderly barmaids."

One was 50 and the other 51.

He said: "I don't want to put the girls out of work.  They are the best help I've ever had and they've been with me since 1942.

"But, if I don't sign the contract, the union will keep picketing my place and I won't be able to get any beer.  I have to sign it or go out of business.  Ah, me!!  Such a business!"

Hey, Let's Face It, Bar Maids Are Much Easier On the Eyes Than a Bar Guy.  --GreGen

Monday, May 7, 2018

Shattering the Martini Glass Ceiling-- Part 3: Losing Their Jobs After the War

After the war, most of the female bartenders lost their jobs, bit about 30 were still working.  The Chicago bartenders' union set April 30, 1946, as the deadline for tavern owners to fire the women.  But, it id say that a woman could continue to work behind the bar is she either owned the tavern or was the wife of an owner.

Union rules and laws stayed on the books until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 led to the lifting of most bans.


Shattering the Martini Glass Ceiling-- Part 2: "Barmaids-For-The-Duration"

These barmaids-for-the-duration" as they were called in 1945 were hired on the condition that they resign as soon as the men came home.  That year, the local bartenders union admitted 123 women who "already have donned the apron and taken to swabbing the mahogany."  They worked under union rules and earned the Chicago minimum wage of $45 weekly.

And, the women did just fine at their new jobs.  They seemed to have the touch.  One union boss declared, "When it comes to mixed drinks they appear to have the touch."  A man from Decatur said: "Maybe it's their instinctive food mixing ability.  Anyway, they can shake or stir up a whiskey sour or cocktail as if they were at home stirring up a cake."


Friday, May 4, 2018

Shattering the Martini Glass Ceiling-- Part 1: Rise of Women Barmaids in World War II

From the October 16, 2016, Chicago Tribune  "Raise a glass to barmaids of WW II era"  Chicago Flashback by Lara Weber.

"Call it the shattering of the martini glass ceiling -- that moment when bar and tavern owners decided that a woman could pour a pint or mix a Manhattan as well as a man."

And, it took a war to get women there.

For much of U.S. history laws and local customs prevented women from working as bartenders.  But when the U.S. entered World War II and thousands of men shipped overseas for military service, women went to work in the bars.


WASP Special Delivery-- Part 3: Ferried Aircraft, Target Practice and Transporting Cargo

During World War II, the WASP organization was largely made up of the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAF).  It was formed to free male pilots for combat duty overseas..

Of the 25,000 women who applied, fewer than 1,900 were accepted.  In addition to ferrying aircraft from factories, their duties included towing targets for anti-aircraft practice (such as the ones at Camp Davis and Fort Fisher, N.C.), simulated strafing and transporting cargo.

During the course of the war, they flew nearly every type of aircraft.

Many of their planes were not exactly in good shape.  In the course of performing their duties, 38 brave women lost their lives.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

WASP Special Delivery-- Part 2: Aircraft Plants Camouflaged

The flight leader is kneeling and pointing to a specific rendezvous point on an aerial map, reinforcing the path of the WASP flight plan.

Their mission is to ferry five P-38 Lightning fighters to a port of embarkation where the planes will be shipped to bases overseas.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, several defense plants on the U.S. west coast, including Lockheed, were heavily camouflaged with netting and artificial foliage to resemble farmland as seen from the air.

You can see the camouflage overhead in the picture.

WASP Special Delivery-- Part 1: WASPs Flying the Planes

From the 2018 Paralyzed Veterans of America calendar, May.

Picture of five women in flight gear looking at a map on the ground with a bomber behind them.

WASP SPECIAL DELIVERY  "This is not a time when women should be patient.  We are in a war and we need to fight it with all our ability and every weapon possible.  Women pilots, in this particular case, are a weapon waiting to be used."  --Eleanor Roosevelt.

It is late Autumn 1944.  On the tarmac of the Lockheed Aircraft Plant in Burbank, California, a group of four Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) are gathered around the flight leader.  She is kneeling and pointing at a map.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

U-858 Becomes First German Warship to Surrender to U.S. Forces in 1945

In the last post, I wrote about the surrender of this submarine off Delaware in 1945.

From Wikipedia.

The U-858 was commissioned 30 September 1943 and scuttled by the U.S. Navy in 1947.

Near the end of World War II, the U-858 was sent to the east coast of the United States with orders to destroy as much Allied shipping as it could.  However, it never sank or damaged any ship.  Instead, it surrendered to two destroyer escorts at sea on May 14, 1945 and was taken to Fort Miles, Lewes, Delaware.   Germany had surrendered May 7, 1945.

Afterwards, the submarine was used for publicity to raise war binds and then used for torpedo practice in the New England area before being scuttled near the end of 1947.

It was the first German warship to surrender to U.S. forces.

The War's Over, Man.  --GreGen

Coastal Defense As "Delaware Goes to War"

From the April 26, 2018, Delaware Online  "Coastal defense on display as Delaware 'Goes to War' this weekend"  Maddy Lauria.

Saturday the Fort Miles Historical Association will present their annual "Delaware Goes to War" program from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..

They will recreate the surrender of the German submarine U-858 in May 1945.  That was the first foreign surrender on American soil since the War of 1812.

Fort Miles was a very active military base during the war.

They have installed lights on the observation tower Tower 3, one of eleven fire control towers at the fort.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Did War Work in Both World Wars

From the April 25, 2018, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 100 Years Ago.

"His activity this year will mean an important help in the war work.

"During the last war, Mr. Eckhardt held the vital post of corn administrator for Illinois and had supervision over the state's huge effort in supplying this vital crop."

Both wars.  --GreGen

Two More USS Oklahoma Unknowns Identified

In April, 2018.

**  Seaman 1st Class Henry Glenn Tipton.  Buried at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.

**  Fireman 2nd Class Joseph D. Wheeler will be buried in Arkansas as well.