The USS North Carolina (BB-55) My all-time favorite warship. As an elementary school student in North Carolina, I donated nickels and dimes to save this ship back in the early sixties.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Two Brothers Who Died on the USS Oklahoma Identified

From the June 20, 2021, Albuquerque Journal "Brothers killed at Pearl Harbor finally at peace" by Rick Nathanson.

As if the three brothers from Wisconsin dying on the Oklahoma that day, here is another really sad story.  Two more brothers have been identified.

It took nearly 80 years, but brothers Harold and William Trapp were finally given a  formal burial last week at the National memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.  Carol  Sowar along with ten members of her family were at the ceremony for her uncles.

Harold Frank Trapp and his brother William Henry Trapp were both on the USS Oklahoma.


Three Brothers Killed on USS Oklahoma Identified-- Part 3: 'We Were At Peace'

After the attack, the parents had to wait two agonizing weeks "hoping and praying  that by some miracle their boys were still alive," according to a Post Crescent article from 1861.   But at 2 a.m. on December 21, they got the call.  Their three sons had been reported missing in action.

On February 13, the Barbers got a telegram:  "After exhaustive search it had been found impossible to locate your sons, who must therefore be considered  dead."

They later received  a letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, offering his sympathy.

A year after his brothers were lost,  17-year-old Clayton Barber enlisted in the Navy to avenge their deaths.

On October 10, 1943, Mrs. Barber  christened the USS Barber, a destroyer escort.  Clayton sailed on its first crew.

"We are not bitter," father Peter Barber said, "but we were at peace when the attack started."


Saturday, June 19, 2021

Three Brothers Killed on USS Oklahoma Identified-- Part 2: Malcom, Leroy and Randolph Barber

The article was longer than I thought and with more information.

All three of the brothers were on the USS Oklahoma that day on December 7, 1941, and were among the 429 who died on the ship.  It took some two years to get the capsized ship upright so that the bodies could be recovered, but by that time, there wasn't much left to identify them.

The three Barbers were the sons of Peter and Gertrude  Barber of New London, Wisconsin.

Malcolm and Leroy  joined the Navy in May 1940, with younger brother  Randolph joining in August.  Leroy was first to be assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma and he advised his brothers to request duty on that ship.

Because it was peacetime, the Navy made an exception to its rule against more than one brother serving on the same ship.

Gertrude Barber wrote "how grand they thought it was that they would all be on the same ship."  But, their father had other ideas and wrote the Navy two weeks before the attack requesting that his sons  be transferred to separate ships.


Three Brothers Killed at Pearl Harbor Identified

From the June 16, 2021, Appleton (Wi) Post Crescent "Three New London brothers killed at Pearl Harbor officially identified" by Larry Gallup.

Wednesday, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency confirmed the deaths of three brothers

Fireman  1st Class Malcolm J. Barber, 22

Fireman 1st Class Leroy K. Barber, 21

Fireman 2nd Class Randolph  H. Barber, 19

Too bad the article did not say what ship they were on.

Can You Even Imagine That Poor Family?  --GreGen

Friday, June 18, 2021

USS Oklahoma Unknowns:

**  June 8, 2021, DVIDS:  "Pfc Middleswart Funeral "

U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class John F. Middleswart, a native of San Diego, California,  will be laid to rest for the final time on June 8 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.

He was serving on the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941, when the attack came.  His identity was discovered  on February 4, 2021.

**  June 18, 2021, AP News

The remains of Navy Seaman 2nd Class Floyd D. Helton, 18, of Somerset, Kentucky, have been identified.

He was on the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941, and one of the 429 who died.

His remains will be buried  in Burnside, Kentucky, on July 31.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Another USS Oklahoma Unknown Buried: William Eugene Blanchard

From the June 15, 2021, Daily Reflector (Greenville, B.C.) "Killed in Pearl Harbor attack, sailor's remains finally laid to rest in Elizabeth City" by Chris Day.

Petty Officer 1st Class  William Eugene  Blanchard died December 7, 1941, when the battleship USS Oklahoma was sunk.  He was a boilermaker on the ship.  He was born in Tignall, Georgia, and was a blacksmith by trade before he enlisted in the Navy in  1936.  His wife, Laura  Ann, was from Bremerton, Washington, and he met her while in the service.  They were married in 1939.  

On Monday, June 7,  nearly 30 people, including several members of his family, attended a memorial service at  Twiford  Funeral Home in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.  The service began at 1:56 pm, which in Pearl harbor would have been 7:56 am, when torpedoes struck the USS Oklahoma.

His son lives in Elizabeth City.  He was buried at New Hollywood Cemetery.


Unknown USS Oklahoma Sailors Identified: Stanislaw F. Drwall and Raymond D. Boynton

**   June 15, 2021 WV News "World War II sailor from West Virginia who died on the USS Oklahoma identified."  

Navy Patternmaker  1st Class Stanislaw F. Drwall, 25, has been accounted for on March 25, 2021.  He was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma.  He will be reburied August 5 in his hometown.

**   June 15, 2021 9 and 10 News  "Michigan Navy  sailor killed in World War Two to be properly buried this year." 

Navy Seaman Second Class Raymond D. Boynton, 19, was assigned to the USS Oklahoma.  he will be reburied  September 8 at the National Memorial  Cemetery of the Pacific on Oahu.


Monday, June 14, 2021

USS Mobile (CL-63)-- Part 4: Operations in the Phillipines , Okinawa and the End of the War

In October the Mobile was detached with two destroyers to sink an enemy cargo ship which they accomplished.  Then the Mobile formed a division around two crippled American cruisers, the Houston and Canberra in a ruse to trick the Japanese fleet into attacking, but it was discovered by enemy scout planes and they didn't take the bait.

For the rest of 1944, the Mobile operated in the Philippines area.

On December 26, she left for the West Coast for overhaul and alterations.



Returning to operations, the Mobile joined Task Force 54 (TF54) in the invasion of Okinawa.  Arriving on April 4, the ship then spent the next two months providing fire support, anti-aircraft and anti-submarine patrols.

She operated in the Philippines for the rest of the war.

After that it was duties involving the occupation of Japan and later "Magic Carpet" runs returning service men to the United States.

Decommissioned in 1947, she entered the Reserve Fleet at Bremerton, Washington, and remained there until 1959 when she was struck from the Naval Registrar and sold for scrapping.


USS Mobile (CL-63)-- Part 3: Constant Operations


On January29, the Mobile bombarded Wojte Island.  She participated in two carrier strikes.  By her one year anniversary, March 24, the USS Mobile had steamed  over 70,000 miles and participated in 11 operations against the enemy.

From 29 March to 3 April, the task force the Mobile was in struck  Oalaus, Yap and Wolei.  After that it supported Allied landings at at Aitape,  Humboldt Bay and Tanah Merah Bay in New Guinea.

In June, they struck Saipan, Tinian.  Then came the Battle of the Philippine Sea in which three Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk.  All during this time the Mobile performed duty protecting the American carriers.

Later in August, the Mobile and the Cruiser Division made a sweep against Japanese shipping and sank a destroyer and a large cargo vessel.  Next came a bombardment of Chichi Jima.

Later in October came operations preparing for the Philippines operations.


Saturday, June 12, 2021

USS Mobile (CL-61)-- Part 2: Just the Facts


LAID DOWN:  14 April 1941

LAUNCHED:  15 May 1942

COMMISSIONED:  24 March 1943


STRICKEN:  1 March 1959


LENGTH:  610 feet 1 inch

BEAM:  66 feet 4 inches

SPEED:  32.5 knots per hour

COMPLEMENT:  1,225 officers and enlisted



Twelve 6-inch guns

Twelve 5-inch anti-aircraft guns

Assortment of anti-aircraft guns


Friday, June 11, 2021

USS Mobile (CL-63)-- Part 1

There is a new U.S. Navy warship named USS Mobile.  It was just commissioned on May22, 2021.  It is am Independence-Class littoral combat ship and it was even built by Austal USA in Mobile.  The ship just left Mobile for its homeport in San Diego.

Thousands turned out for its commissioning and is the fifth ship to bear the city's name.

There was also a World War II USS Mobile which I have never written about in this blog, nor have I ever even heard of it.

From Wikipedia

It was built in Newport News and commissioned  24 March 1943, arriving at Pearl Harbor  23 July 1943.  She was involved in the Gilberts Island Campaign and  screened the ships  in the attack on Tarawa Atoll in September.  In December, the Mobile  was in the attacks on Kwajalein and Wotje in the Marshall islands.


Thursday, June 10, 2021

77th Anniversary of D-Day-- Part 3: The Dead American Paratrooper in the Tree

"In France, people who remember these men, they kept them close to their hear," Charles Shay said.  "And they remember what they did for them.  And I don't think the French people will ever forget."

On Saturday morning, people in dozens of World War II vehicles, from motorcycles to jeeps and trucks, gathered in Colleville-Montgomery to parade down the nearby roads along Sword Beach to the sounds of a pipe band.  Residents, some waving French and American flags came to watch.

Henri-Jean Renaud, 86, remembers D-Day like it was yesterday.  He was a young boy and was hidden in his family home in Saint-Mere-Eglise when more than 800 planes bringing U.S. paratroopers flew over the town while German soldiers fired at them with machine guns.

Describing an "incredible noise" followed by silence, he remembers crossing the town's central square on the morning of June 6.  He especially recalls seeing one dead American paratrooper stuck in a big tree that is still standing by the town's church.

"I came here hundreds of times.  The first thing I do is look at the tree," he said.  "That's always to that young guy that I'm thinking of.  he was told:  'You're going to jump in the middle of the night in a country you don't know' ... He died and his feet never touched (French) soil, and that is very moving to me."

D-Day cost the lives of 4,414 Allied troops with 2,501 of that number Americans.


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

77th Anniversary of D-Day-- Part 2: Rapidly Dwindling Group of Survivors

Charles Shay regretted that the pandemic "is interrupting everything."  He is expected to be the only veteran at Sunday's anniversary day ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer.

"We have no visitors coming to France this year for two years now.  And I hope it will soon be over soon," he said.

Shay's lone presence is all the more poignant as the number of survivors of this epochal battle dwindles.  Just one veteran bow remains of the French commando unit that joined U.S., British, Canadian and other Allied troops storming Normandy's code-named beaches.

Some French and a few other World War II history enthusiasts from other European countries gathered in Normandy.

Driving restored jeeps, dressed in old uniforms or joyfully eating at the newly reopened terraces of restaurants, they're contributing to revive the commemoration's special atmosphere -- and keeping alive the memory of June 6, 1944.


Monday, June 7, 2021

77th Anniversary of D-Day-- Part 1

From the June 6, 2021, Chicago Tribune "D-Day spirit of remembrance lives on despite  pandemic" by Sylvie Corbet.

In a small Normandy town where paratroopers landed in the early hours of D-Day, applause broke the silence to honor Charles  Shay.  he was the only veteran attending a ceremony at Carentan, France, commemorating the 77th anniversary of the assault that helped bring an end to World War II.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, this year's D-Day commemorations are taking place with travel restrictions that have prevented the veterans or families of them from coming from the United States

Shay, who lives in Normandy, was a 19-year-old U.S. Army medic when he landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.  Today, he recalls the "many good friends" he lost that day and on other battlefields.

He is now 96-years old and originally from Maine and is a Penobscot Native American.  Throughout the ceremony commemorating the assault on Carentan that allowed the Allies to establish a continuous front joining nearby Utah Beach and Omaha Beach, he stood steadily while the national anthems of the Allied countries were played.


Saturday, June 5, 2021

USS West Virginia Unknown Identified and Buried May 31 in Kentucky: Wellborn Ashby

"Pearl Harbor  casualty arrives  in Kentucky 80 years later --  Honolulu, Hawaii"  June 4, 2021

Martha Christian once traveled to Pearl Harbor and dipped her feet in the water as she cried thinking about her long lost brother from that Day of Infamy.   His name was Wellborn Ashby.  His body was later recovered after the ship was raised, but was unidentifiable.

That is, until DNA and other testing became available.

All his family knew for sure was that some of the West Virginia's crew died instantly  and that as a Navy Firefighter he probably was involved in the effort to keep the ship from capsizing like the USS Oklahoma as it sank.


From Honor

Wellborn Lee Ashby

Born October 19, 1917  Died December 7, 1941

Fireman 3rd Class

Enlisted in US Navy September 24, 1940

Identified  20 November 2020.


Friday, June 4, 2021

USS Oklahoma Unknowns: Earl M. Ellis and Shelby Treadway

**  "USS Oklahoma sailor from Arkansas  accounted for."  June 3, 2021,.

Navy Radioman 3rd Class Earl M. Ellis, 23, of Hope, Arkansas.  Was accounted for on December  22, 2020 by the DPAA.

He will be buried July 15, 2021, in Eureka, California.


**  "He was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It took 79 years for the Kentucky sailor to be laid to rest."

Navy Gunner's Mate  3rd Class Shelby Treadway.    From Manchester, age 25.

He was given a full military funeral June 2, 2021, at the National Memorial Cemetery  of the Pacific (the Punch Bowl).

He was identified September 2020.


Thursday, June 3, 2021

Spam Wartime Facts-- Part 2: Even the Top General Ate It

**  One person wrote:  "Spam became  a substitute for real meat and, for years after the war,  one of my favourite foods.  We served it up as batter-fried fritters or just grilled thick slices of it and served it with chips.  Genuine Spam became a luxury compared with  cheaper substitutes, most of which came from Denmark."

**  In wartime Britain, a 10-ounce tin cost 12 ration book points or 1 shilling and sixpence in old money.

**  100 million pounds of Spam were issued as a Lend-Lease staple in rations to American, Russian and  European troops during the war.

**  GIs called Spam "ham that  failed the physical."

**  The Red Cross parcels that were distributed to POWs in Germany contained Spam.  A can of Spam could be traded for  three packs of cigarettes in the camps.

**  President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a letter acknowledging the role that Spam had played in the war, stated that he ate his "share  of Spam along with millions of other soldiers."

The letter was sent to retired Hormel president H.H. Corey in 1966.  A copy of the letter is on display  in the World War II section of the Spam museum.


Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Some Spam Wartime Facts-- Part 1: Uncle Spam and Spam and Salad

From the World War II Encyclopedia.

**  SPAM was used as a "B" ration -- to be served in rotation with other meats behind the lines overseas and at camps and  bases in the States.  However, at times, GIs were eating it two or three times a day.

**  SPAM was incorporated into the language of the war.  Uncle Sam became Uncle Spam.  Food supply depots were  Spam Canyons  One military base in the Pacific was called Spamville.  A photo of it showed the word Spamville written on its makeshift watertower.  There is a replica of the base at the Spam museum.

**  Throughout 1943m Hormel hired  448 women to replace men who had gone to war.**  Soviet Union leader Nikita Krushchev wrote, "Without  Spam we wouldn't have been able to feed our army.

**  The British really liked the Spam they received.  Margaret Thatcher, then a teenager,  remembered opening a  tin of Spam on Boxing Day (an English holiday observed the day after Christmas).  She stated:  "We had some lettuce and tomatoes and peaches, so it was Spam and salad."


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Spam Goes to War: Just the Numbers, Please

 From the World War II Encyclopedia   "Spam"

As America entered World War II, Spam luncheon meat (SPiced hAM) --  first introduced in 1937 -- played a crucial role overseas.  With Allied  forces fighting to liberate Europe, Hormel Foods provided  15 million cans of food to troops each week.

Spam immediately became an important part  of a soldier's diet and earned much praise for feeding starving  British and Soviet armies as well as civilians.  It needed no refrigeration and could be served cold or cooked in any number of ways.

It also became popular with British and American homefronts since all "real" meats were rationed.  Spam was not rationed.

World War II generated  a huge boost for Hormel Food sales.  Between 1939 and 1942, its net sales  doubled to almost $120 million and annual pork processing reached an all-time high  of 1.6 million head, mostly because of Uncle Sam.

By 1944, 90% of all of Hormel canned goods were going to military forces or military aid programs.  The following April of 1945, more than 100 million pounds of Spam luncheon meat had been shipped abroad.


Spam Goes to War, the Pacific, Hawaii and Even Korea-- Part 2: A 'Wartime Delicacy'

The writer of the article, Jim Willard, said his first acquaintance with Spam came during World War II.  he was still a child and meat was rationed, but not Spam.  As such, his mom included it in her meal planning.

He recalled her frying it, after which he covered it lots and lots of catsup.    He confessed that not only did catsup go on his Spam, but also on a lot of other things such as scrambled eggs, bread and butter sandwiches, etc..

The war put Spam on a lot of maps.  In the Pacific Theater, Spam was introduced to Guam, Okinawa, the Philippines and Hawaii, where it was a huge hit.

It remains especially popular in our 50th state.  Hawaii residents have the highest per capita consumption of Spam of all states.  Both McDonald's and Burger King outlets on the islands serve Spam (with catsup available).

The Lend-Lease Act also brought the stuff to the United Kingdom.  British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once referred to it as a "wartime delicacy."  Jim said he'd had British food before  and can understand why she felt that way.

And, what's more, the Korean War brought the 'delicacy" you-know-where.