Friday, September 28, 2018

Three More USS Oklahoma Unknowns Identified

These are from June 2018.


USMC  His recovered remains consist of a jawbone, a piece of his shoulder and a shinbone.

He will be buried in Utah.


Of Port Edwards, Wisconsin.  Navy Pharmacist's Mate 1st Class, age 39.

His funeral will be at Naval Air Station Pensacola later this month.


He was 22 when he died on the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941.  He will be buried June 21 at Fort Logan National Cemetery  in Colorado.

Born and raised in Caney, Kansas and was a Storekeeper 3rd Class.

So far, 135 of the USS Oklahoma's Unknowns have been identified and 70 reburied.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Pearl Harbor

1.  May 8, 2018 CNY  "CNY native Pearl Harbor survivor passes away at 97-years-old"

Larry Parry.  Was playing football when he saw the Japanese planes.  He spoke of his Pearl Harbor experiences at many schools and went back there for the 73rd anniversary.

2.  Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise  "Christensen served on the Tennessee at Peal Harbor."

Alvin H. Christensen.


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Railroad Repairs in DeKalb in 1943

From the May 16, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"The Chicago and North Western Railroad will start the repair work on its crossings in this city within a short time it was announced.  Some of the crossings are badly in need of repair, especially the one at Fourth Street and the Lincoln Highway.

"The railroad, like most others is short of help at present and it also difficult to secure the necessary materials.  The city has received many complaints on the condition of the crossings and has been doing everything possible to have the necessary repairs made as soon as possible."

More Wartime Shortages.  --GreGen

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

USS Cumberland Sound: Seaplane Tender and Operation Crossroads

From Wikipedia.

In the last post, I mentioned that Pearl Harbor survivor Ludwig "Lou" Radil was on this ship during the nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll.

Was a Kenneth Whiting-class seaplane tender  launched 23 February 1944 and commissioned 21 August 1944, Captain E. Grant in command.492 feet long, 69.6 beam, crew 1,077.

In October it sailed to Pearl Harbor and then to Enitowek and Ulithi where she tended the seaplanes of the  Patrol Bomber Squadron 22.  Then, the Cumberland Sound rendezvoused with the 3rd Fleet at Okinawa and sailed to Tokyo Bay, arriving 28 August 1945.  returned to the United States in November and was converted to carry returning U.S. military home.

She departed Seattle 28 December 1945 and embarked returning servicemen at San Pedro, California,  12 January 1946.

The Cumberland Sound was then assigned to "Operation Crossroads" nuclear testing. and on 19 January entered Long beach  Naval Shipyard for conversion to a laboratory ship.  She served during the atomic tests until 12 September 1946 when she returned too San Diego.

Placed out of commission in naval reserve 27 May 1947.


Monday, September 24, 2018

Pearl Harbor Survivor Ludwig Radil Dies in Nebraska

From the May 8, 2018, Omaha (Neb) World-Herald  "Navy veteran among last of Pearl Harbor survivors in Nebraska, dies at 98"

Ludwig "Lou" Radil was in the Navy for six years.  He was a yeoman on the USS California when the Japanese attacked and later he witnesses the nuclear testing after the war.

Joining the Navy in 1941, he arrived in Pearl Harbor in August and was the ship's librarian on the California. At the time of the attack he was setting up deck chairs for church services and remembered, "We got a torpedo hit, then another, and then a bomb hit.

"We started listing to one side.  We got word that the ship was sinking and might capsize.  So, the captain ordered a call to abandon ship.."

He jumped into the water and swam 200 yards to Ford Island, soaked with oil but uninjured.  The next day he helped remove bodies of the nearly 100 who died on his ship.

After the war he was assigned to the USS Cumberland Sound, a seaplane tender and was at Bikini Atoll in the spring of 1946 and observed the first of two post-war tests of nuclear weapons.

He was buried at Graceland Park Cemetery in South Omaha.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

The USS North Carolina Rides Out Hurricane Florence, It's Visitor Center Not So Well

From the September 19, 2018, Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

The battleship USS North Carolina, anchored at Wilmington, North Carolina, weathered Hurricane Florence as it came ashore last week.

But two-thirds of the roof of the visitors center is gone and some of the administrative offices were flooded.

Captain Terry Bragg, the battleship director said that repairs were already underway, but the ship will be closed to the public until further notice.

Let's hope the cofferdam and ship are able to handle the flooding Caper Fear River as well.


Some More Oklahoma Unknowns Identified:


Age 22.  Radioman from Rushford, North Dakota.  Enlisted in Navy April 23, 1940 at a salary of $54 a month.  The first torpedo hit the Oklahoma near the radio room so it is likely he was killed immediately.

A service held for him on July 7, 2018.

There are still 79,000 service personnel unaccounted for from World War II.


Age 23.  Seaman 1st Class.  Born December 28, 1918, in New London, Minnesota.  Joined Navy May 7, 1940, for a four year tour of duty.  Basic training at Great Lakes  Naval Base assigned to USS Oklahoma as a cook, specifically as a baker.

The day before the attack, he had been on shore leave and had purchased and sent Christmas presents home..  The presents arrived the same day as the telegram saying he was missing in action.  The family received official notification of his death in February 1942.

It Is A Great Thing Our Government Is Doing.    --GreGen

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Kids Getting Into the War Effort in DeKalb, Illinois, in 1943

From the August 15, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Five DeKalb youngsters have been putting part of their summer vacation to good use by helping with war work.  For the past several weeks they have been collecting much needed waste kitchen fats from homes  about DeKalb, these valuable fats  being needed in making explosives.

"In this period of time they have collected nearly 60 pounds, a record of which they will be proud.  The waste kitchen grease has been sold to the meat markets and the money derived from the sales was turned over to the Red Cross."

Even the Kids.  --GreGen

A Practice Blackout in Kirkland, Illinois

From the August 15, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"A practice blackout will be staged in Kirkland and vicinity Friday night between 9:30 and 10:00 o'clock.

"One long blast of the whistle will be given for the alert signal and another long blast for all clear."

Just In Case.  --GreGen

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Joe Gaspar, Pearl Harbor Survivor Honored on 100th Birthday

From the May 8, 2018  "Ellwood City helps Pearl Harbor survivor celebrate 100th birthday

Joe Gaspar was on maneuvers on a hill above Pearl harbor when the attack came.  He remembered:  "At first we didn't know what was going on, but the planes came over so low we could see the faces of the Japanese.

"There were three waves of planes.  Bombs were dropping everywhere.  My command car was hit, and I was thrown down a 70-foot cliff.

Mr. Gaspar was in the 21st Infantry and served from August 1839 to August 1945.  During that time he received three Bronze Stars.


Wakako Yamauchi, Japanese-American Writer Imprisoned During WW II

From the September 14, 2018, Chicago Tribune by Emily Langer, Washington Post.


Wakako Yamauchi was living behind barbed wire, poring over books in a tar paper-covered barrack that doubled as a library when she discovered the depth of her love of literature.

She was at the time a 17-year-old Nisei, or first generation Japanese-American confined with her family to the Poston Internment camp in Arizona.  They were among the 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government in such centers during World War II.

Her most famous work was "And the Soul Shall Dance" which grew from her youth as the daughter of itinerant migrant  farmers in California.  The work is sometimes described as a Japanese "Grapes of Wrath."


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Ideal Commutator Dresser Co.-- Part 2: Moved to Sycamore in 1924

Ideal Industries was founded in 1916 by J. Walter Becker as the Ideal Commutator Dresser Company in Chicago, Illinois, manufacturing commutator dresser stones.  In 1924, he relocated the company to where it is now in Sycamore, Illinois.

By 1949, it had become  the leading producer of wire nuts in the United States.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says a commutator is a series of bars or segments connected to the armature coils  of a generator or motor so that the rotation of the arm will in conjunction with a set of fixed brushes convert alternating current to direct current.

I still don't know what this is.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Ideal Commutator Dresser Company-- Part 1: What They Make

In the last post I mentioned the name of this company.  I had no idea what they made or did, so had to look it up and I found an article about it in good ol' Wikipedia.

From Wikipedia  Ideal Industries

An American company that today produces connectors, hand tools, testers and meters for electrical and telecommunications industries.

The company makes many of its products in the United States.  It also owns Western Forge and Pratt-Read, the largest and second-largest  American-made producers of screwdrivers at the time of their acquisitions.  Its tools are sold at Lowe's and Ace  Hardware stores as well as many independent distributors.

Oh, They Make Those.  --GreGen

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Ideal Commutator Dresser Company Doing Its Part

From the July 11, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Manufactured articles of the Ideal Commutator Dresser Company pertaining to the war effort, have been placed on display at the offices of the Chamber of Commerce, and attracting considerable attention.

"The Ideal is one of the industries in this city working night and day for the war effort and the many articles shown at the Chamber  office depict in a small way, what is being done at the west side plant."

Working Day and Night for the War Effort.  --GreGen

The Dogs of War in 1943

From the August 8, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Among the fourteen dogs which left Rockford today for war service were two from DeKalb, their owners being Wilbur C. Watson and C.B. Watson.  W.W. Dorwood, Rockford area director of Dogs for Defense the group today runs the count to 78 dogs which have been sent from the district.

"The recruits must be purebreds or mixed breeds that is a cross of not more than two breeds.  The heavier breeds, particularly farm collies, Doberman pinschers and German shepherds make the best recruits."

The dogs were probably trained at Camp Grant in Rockford.

Fido Goes to War.  --GreGen

Friday, September 14, 2018

September 14, 1940: Selective Service Act Passed

On this date in 1949, Congress passed the Selective Service Act.

This was the first time in U.S. history that a peace time draft was enacted.  The United Staes, of course, was preparing fir entry into World War II.


John S. McCain, Jr.-- Part 3: Lackluster USNA Career, Then, Subs

John S. McCain, Jr. entered the United States Naval Academy at age 16 in 1927 and accumulated many demerits and had just mediocre grades.  He was also known as a drinker and quite the partier, very dangerous during Prohibition.  He graduated  in 1931 #423rd out of 441.

Upon graduation, he was appointed ensign and assigned to the battleship Oklahoma.  (His father had also spent time on the doomed cruiser USS San Diego which was sunk by a mine during Wold War I.)  The USS Oklahoma was sunk at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

While stationed on the USS Oklahoma, based in Long Beach, California, he met Roberta Wright and when her parents objected, they eloped and were married in Tijuana, Mexico.

He managed to get into Submarine School at Naval Submarine Base New London in Connecticut.  There he placed #28 out of 29.

Next came service on the  old World War I-era submarines S-45 and R-13.  In 1940 and early 1941, he was on the more modern Skipjack.  In April 1941, he received his first command, the World War I submarine O-8.  This ship had been decommissioned in 1931, but with WW II imminent, was called back to duty as a training ship with McCain in command.


John S. McCain, Jr.-- Part 2: Strong Family Presence in the U.S. Navy

His father, John S. McCain  Sr. was an admiral in the U.S. Navy and a naval aviator, and the two became the first father-son pair  to achieve the four-star rank of admiral.

His son, John S. McCain III, was a former naval aviator (and USNA graduate as was his father and grandfather) who was a prisoner of North Vietnam during his father's time as CINCPAC  who retired with the rank of captain and became a U.S. senator from Arizona and was the 2008 Republican nominee for president.

Two grandsons are now in the U.S. Navy and Marines.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

John S. McCain, Jr.-- Part 1: Senator John McCain's Father

From Wikipedia.

(January 17, 1911 to March 22, 1081)

He was the father of Senator John McCain.  I have been writing about Sen. McCain's grandfather, John McCain Sr. in my Cooter's History Thing and in this blog as he was in both wars.  As you'll see, John McCain Jr. also played a big role in World War II.

United States Navy admiral who served in conflicts from the 1940s through the 1970s, including Commander, United States Pacific Command.

The son of a Navy officer, he grew up in Washington, D.C..  Graduated from the USNA in 1931, after which he entered the submarine service.  During World War II he commanded submarines in several different theaters of action and was responsible for sinking several Japanese ships and received a Bronze Star.

After the war, he held command in several commands, specializing in amphibious warfare.  In 1965, he led the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic.  A staunch anti-Communist and an advocate of a strong  naval presence, he became known as "Mr. Seapower".

During the Vietnam War, McCain was Commander-In-Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC), commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam from 1968 to 1972.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Motorists, Check Those Tires

From the May 9, 2018, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"The DeKalb War Price and Rationing Board urges all motorists to check their tires closely at frequent intervals so as to not let them get by the recapping condition.

"There is a shortage of tires and the board has only been able to fill but a fraction of the eligible applications to date.  With the shortage expected to remain motorists are being urged to have their tires recapped."


Adm. John McCain-- Part 2: World War II Service and Family

Admiral McCain held several commands during World War II's Pacific campaigns.  He was a pioneer of aircraft carrier operations which proved to be the turning point of the war in the Pacific.

In 1942, he commanded all land-based aviation operations in support of the Guadalcanal Campaign, and in 1944-1945 he aggressively led the First Carrier Task Force.  His operations off the Philippines and Okinawa and air strikes against Formosa and the Japanese home islands caused tremendous destruction of Japanese naval and air forces in the closing months of the war.

Sadly, the  stress of his war service took a drastic toll on his health, and McCain died of a heart attack four days after the formal Japanese surrender.  His death was front page news across the United States.

Several of his descendants also graduated from the USNA at Annapolis.    He and his son, John S. McCain Jr.  were the first father-son pair to achieve four-star admiral rank in the U.S. Navy.  His grandson, John S. McCain III also graduated from Annapolis and became a U.S. senator from Arizona and was the Republican candidate for president in the 2008 election.

Two great grandsons have also graduated from the USNA and both are currently serving.

I'll have to research Senator John McCain's father.

What A Family.  --GreGen

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Algonquin's 9/11 Memorial: WTC Beam a Donation From the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

From the site.

Whereas, Tinley Park has evidently not done anything with their piece of the World Trade Center wreckage, Algonquin, Illinois, has.

The Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Firefighters Association is building a memorial on the north end of Riverfront Park.  Construction on the memorial started last week after agreements were approved by the Village of Algonquin and fire protection district and is on track to be finished  in time for a September 11 dedication.

The memorial will consist of a brick paver circle 40 feet in diameter with the World Trade Center beam in the middle and landscaping around it.

Dan Teson said the association got the beam from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  He and two other firefighters flew to New York City in November to accept the donation and were met there by one of the firefighter's fathers, who drove his truck.  They picked up the beam at a hangar outside LaGuardia Airport, and the father and son drove it to Illinois.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Admiral John McCain, Sen. McCain's Grandfather-- Part 1: World War I Service and Interwar

From the United States World War I Centennial Commission  "Remembering the World War I service of John "Slew" McCain" by Chris Isleib.

A few weeks ago, our country lost one of our greatest heroes, Senator John McCain.  He was in the U.S. Navy and his father and grandfather were both admirals in the Navy and both fought in World War II.  All three men were named John McCain with the senator being the III.

This is his grandfather's role in World War I and the interwar:

After his service in World War I, which was primarily convoy duty in the Atlantic Ocean aboard the USS San Diego (which was sunk by a mine placed by a U-boat off Long Island, New York two months after he transferred off it) he advanced in rank and became an expert in the budding field of Naval Aviation.

These skills would prove critical to American efforts when World War began.


Chinese Pirates Plundering British War Graves-- Part 4: The Other Four Ships


Sunk in the Battle of Java Sea on March 1, 1942  Eight died.  Eighty percent of the ship has been removed.


Sunk at the Battle of Java Sea on March 1, 1942.  Loss of 40 crew members.  Nothing remains of this ship.


Sunk three days before the HMS Encounter.  Fifty-four dead.  Almost half of this ship has been removed.


Sank near Endau, Malaysia on January 27, 1942.    It is now "broken Up."

A Horrible Thing.  --GreGen

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Chinese Pirates Plundering British 'War Grave' Ships-- Part 3: Ten All Together

Besides the HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales, the other eight ships:

SS LOCH RANZA--  Seven crew members died after this merchant ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft before sinking off Indonesia in February 1942.

HMS TIEN KWANG--  Sunk with the HMS Kuala south of Singapore on February 14, 1942.    298 lives were lost, many civilians being evacuated from Singapore.

HMS KUALA--Newly plundered.  This patrol vessel and the HMS Tien Kwang were hit south of Singapore as they headed for Jakarta  Around 200 men, women and children died.

HMS BANKA--  Newly plundered.  This minelayer sank off the coast of Malaysia on December 9, 1941, with the loss of 38 lives.  Previous looting means nothing of its remains are left.

And, there are four more.


Chinese Pirates Plunder British Shipwrecks 'War Graves'-- Part 2

The battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse were both sunk 10 December 1941. This incident is often referred to as Britain's Pearl Harbor.  These two ships were part of Force Z which also included four destroyers sent out to stop the Japanese invasion of Malaya.  They had no air cover.

Earlier in 1941, the Prince of Wales had participated in the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck and had also ferried Winston Churchill across the Atlantic for a secret summit where he and FDR signed the Atlantic Charter, a document that paved the way for the United Nations.

The HMS Repulse was a World War I battle cruiser.


Friday, September 7, 2018

Chinese Pirates Plundering British Shipwrecks-- Part 1: HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales

From the August 18, 2018, Daily Mail (UK)  "Desecration of British war graves:  Chinese pirates plunder ten shipwrecks carrying remains of UK's Second World War heroes."  Abul Taher and Nick Craven.

**  Ten ships
**  Final resting place of more than 1,000 British sailors
**  Defence (British spelling) Secretary Gavin Williamson demands an immediate investigation

The ten ships are off the coasts of Malaysia and Indonesia.

HMS Prince of Wales
HMS Repulse

These two ships were part of Britain's Force Z.

835 men died on these two ships

Half of the Prince of Wales' hull has been plundered, mostly in the past two years.  Some 327 died on this ship, including Admiral Tom Phillips, the highest-ranking British military figure to die in the war.


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Three Shifts At Sycamore War Plant in 1943

From the August 29, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"The south mill of the Anaconda  in Sycamore is now on a three-shift basis.  The mill is engaged in filling an important war contract and is engaged in nothing else at this time.

"More help is needed there.    Not only because of the war time shortage but because several younger workers are planning to return to school this fall.  Many women are on duty in all three shifts.  They are of all ages, from young to gray haired."

My Answer:  Dead Pirates.  --GreGen

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Mission Regensburg-- Part 3: They Mission They Almost Did't Make It Back

The B-17 bomber called Just -A-Snappin is one of the better known planes in 100th lore.

She is best remembered for bringing her crew back from Bremen on October 8, 1943, as is described in this account by Lt. Harry H. Crosby:  "Leading a large formation of B-17s, we were hit hard over the target, spun out of control and saved from crashing by the superb efforts of our pilot and command pilot.

"With two engines knocked out, we were forced to head home alone at low altitude, our plane riddled by over 1,200 shell holes by actual count, one crewman mortally wounded and five severely injured.

"When we were attacked repeatedly by Luftwaffe fighters along the way, our gunners shot down ten of them.  Unable to ditch in the North Sea because of our wounded or to make it over our own airfield, we crash-landed at a 'dummy' airfield on the English coast."

Quite An Accomplishment.  --GreGen

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Mission Regensburg-- Part 2: North Africa Instead of England

After being postponed several times by unfavorable weather, "Mission No. 84" was a strategic bombing attack by B-17 Flying Fortresses led by the 4th Bombardment Wing commander Colonel Curtis E. LeMay on August 17, 1943.

The Regensburg attack group was able to successfully hit their targets, and then, to fool the Germans, they flew on to Africa instead of doubling back through Germany to return to England.

After a week in North Africa, the bomber group returned to England on August 24.  They bombed Bordeaux, France, en route home.


Monday, September 3, 2018

Mission Regensburg-- Part 1: Bombs Away!!

From the Paralyzed Veterans of America 2018 Calendar Heroes of the Air featuring the aviation artwork of  Gil Cohen.

And his artwork is spectacular.

Inside the somewhat claustrophobic nose compartment of Just-A-Snappin, Bonbardier Lt. Jim Douglas, the lead bomber of the 100th Bombardment Group, signals Navigator Lt. Heuropeaarry S. Crosby with a thumbs-up after releasing his salvo of bombs on the Messerschmitt factory in the city of Regensburg, Germany.

Crosby then records the time of the bomb release in his log before charting a course for North Africa.

With quiet heroism and amid the tumult of the deadly flak bursts just outside the plane's windows, these men are simply doing their job.


War on the Weeds in Sycamore in 1943

From the August 8, 2018, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Again, it was proven beyond all reasonable doubt that if the business men or any other group  of Sycamore, make up their minds to do something in a big way, they do it, and with a vengeance too.

"About 40 business and factory men went to Sycamore Park after work, armed with hand sickles, sycthes, rakes, and mowers and after a last minute meeting strategic meeting between the generalissimos, Emil Cassier as superintendent of the par, Vernon Weitzel, Ed Boies and a few more, the attack on the tall grass, obnoxious weeds and other objectionable began with a vim that meant a decided victory for the attackers, and a noticeable improvement in the grounds."

Don't Mess With Those Sycamore Guys.  Must Have Been Axis Weeds.  --GreGen

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Access to USS Arizona Memorial Still Closed in May

From the May 15, 2018, Hawaii News Now  "Access to USS Arizona Memorial remains closed as repairs continue.."

These are short term repairs.  They are hoping the memorial will reopen by the end of the week.

Tour boats still go by it, but don't let passengers off.

Rhonda Householder had an uncle who died on the Arizona and said, "We're from Ohio, so we're a little disappointed."

Imagine going all the way to Hawaii from the mainland and not being able to visit the memorial.

Authorities are looking for long term solutions to the problem.


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Gordon Jones Pushed for A USS Pearl Harbor-- Part 2: And He Got It

He died August 24, 2018 in Chula Vista, California, at the age of 96.

Mr. Jones was at Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii tending  PBY Catalinas (flying boats) on December 7, 1941, when the attack came.  Looking forward to liberty, he was in his dress whites when the first plane came swooping in very low.  At first, he thought it was a Marine pilot harassing the Navy.  That is, until the bullets started flying and bombs going off.

Most of the 30 PBYs at the base were destroyed and almost 20 of the men were killed.  There were dozens wounded, including his brother Earl, who was hit in the back by bomb shrapnel and disabled.

Afterwards, he island-hopped across the Pacific and kept a diary.

That would be interesting reading.