Monday, February 27, 2012

US Comes Under Attack

From the Feb. 24th Daily Sound (Ca.) "Sign remembers 1942 beach attack near Elwood Mesa" by Nick C. Tonkin.

This anniversary largely passed by with little note from the press. I was happy to come across this article. I knew that at one point a Japanese submarine had shelled the US mainland, but not when.

This event and the "Battle of Los Angeles" the next day served as the basis for that hilarious John Belushi movie "1941." Well, I liked it anyway.

On February 23, 1942, seventy years ago, the Richfield Oil Field near Ellwood Mesa became the site of the first foreign attack on US soil since the War of 1812. This area is by Santa Barbara, California.

The Goleta Valley Historical Society is commemorating the event with an exhibit and the placement of a new sign at the site, which is next to what is now the Bacara Resort.

It was 7 PM and President Roosevelt was on the radio giving one of his Fireside Chats, when the Japanese submarine I-17 surfaced and began shelling the US mainland, firing around 25 shells from its 5-inch deck gun. They destroyed the rigging and pumping equipment at a well 1,000 yards inland. A few of the shells overshot and hit farmland.

The I-17 was one of Japan's most advanced submarine and was part of a sub pack bringing the war to America's front door on the West Coast as they had been attacking US merchant ships for several months. It was about the length of a football field.

Minimal damage was done to the oil field, but it did provide reasons for the earlier internment decision for Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast.

One of the shells missed the oil field and flew over Wheeler's Inn, whose owner contacted the local police.

Just imagine if something like that happened today. The price of gas would immediately zoom up as speculators would be trying to make money.

I'll Have to Do an Entry on the "Battle of Los Angeles." --GreGen

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Survived 22 Days in Life Boat

From the Feb. 22nd Grosse Point (Mi) Today "Grosse Pointe FYI: Remembering Ray Laenen: World War II lifeboat survivor, beloved Rotarian" by Ben Burns.

Ray Laenen died Feb. 19th at age 86. During the war, he spent 22 days on a 26-foot long, 10 foot wide life boat that was so crowded the survivors had to sit shoulder-to-shoulder as there was no where to lie down. The feat was written about in Joseph N. Mazzra's 2005 book "Liberty Ship Survivor, Why Ray Laenen Is So Proud To Be An American."

Mr. Laenen was aboard the Liberty Ship SS Peter Silvester when it was torpedoed by German U-boat 862 at 9:00 PM on February 6, 1945, in the Indian Ocean and the ordeal began.

Water was rationed the first day. All the men had for food were small cans of pemmican, a little chocolate, some hard crackers and a few days' worth of malted milk tablets.

But, they survived.

Fifty-five years later, Mr. Laenen attended an annual reunion of the U-262 in Germany as a gesture of "friendship and forgiveness."

One of the Greatest Generation. --GreGen

A D-Day Ship Returns to Britain: HMCS Stormont. Christina O.-- Part 2

The River-class frigate Stormont was commissioned Nov. 27, 1943 and served until 1945. Its length was 283 feet, had a 36.5 foot beam and crew of 157. It did convoy duty in the Battle of the Atlantic.

It was also one of 57 Canadian ships that participated in Operation Neptune, the crossing of the English Channel that was part of D-Day on June 6, 1944. One of the ship's extended wartime cruises took it from Gibraltar to Murmansk and to Halifax, a total of 63 days at sea, the longest of any Canadian ship during the war. It was decommissioned Nov. 9, 1945.

In 1954, it was sold to Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis who gave it a $4 million makeover and named it after his daughter Christina. Featuring a full-sized swimming pool and 19 lavishly decorated staterooms, it was regarded as the fanciest luxury yacht ever built.

In 1956, Prince Ranier of Monaco and film star Grace Kelly had their wedding reception there.

For roughly $23.50 Canadian, you too can tour this historical vessel.

Kind of Puts My 19-foot Bayliner to Shame. --RoadDog

Friday, February 24, 2012

A D-Day Ship Returns to Britain: HMCS Stormont/Christina O.

From the February 24th Calgary (Can) Herald "Famous luxury yacht with Canadian past open for tourists: Christina O. hosted world's rich and famous" by Randy Boswell.

This ship participated in the D-Day armada across the English Channel and returned to British waters this week and will be open for tours.

The ship definitely has a World War II past what with its U-boat patrols and war stories, but, no doubt, most folks will be more interested in its history as the yacht belonging to Greek businessman Aristotle Onassis bought it in the 1950s and transformed it into one of the most luxurious craft ever to sail.

Built in 1943 at the Canadian Vickers shipyard in Montreal, Canada, it was named after a former county south of Ottawa. The vessel participated in the dangerous Murmansk Run convoys to that port in the Soviet Union bringing in vital supplies to enable that country to continue fighting in the war.

The ship also escorted troops and supplies across the North Atlantic and hunted U-boats.

More to Come. --GreGen

USS Peary (DD-226)-- Part 3

There is a memorial to the Peary in Darwin. One of the ship's 4-inch guns was recovered and today has plaques and points directly at the Peary's final resting place in the harbor. President Obama visited the memorial Nov. 17, 2011.

The Peary rests 27 meters deep.

Some facts about the USS Peary (DD-226)

1190 tons
314 feet long
31.9 foot beam
4X4-inch guns
1X3-inch gun
12X21-inch torpedo tubes

And I Was Completely Unaware of the Ship Until Now. --GreGen

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Death of Another Tuskegee Airman: Clarence Dart, 91

Clarence Dart, flew 95 combat missions, battling both Germans and racial prejudice. He was one of the last living Tuskegee pilots (the Tuskegee Airmen also included ground support personnel).

Died Feb. 17th in Saratoga Springs.

Last month, despite frail health, he attended the opening day matinee of the movie "Red Tails" about the Tuskegee Airmen. The audience gave him a standing ovation. He enjoyed the movie but did not have much to say about it.

For his World War II service, Mr. Dart received an Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 2007, he received the Congressinal Gold Medal, the country's second highest honor.

A Hero of the Greatest Generation, As All of Them Were. --GreGen

USS Peary (DD-226)-- Part 2


January 1, 1942, found the Peary in Darwin, Australia. By any measure, this ship's first three weeks at war were very eventful.

In Darwin, the ship operated primarily on anti-submarine patrols.

February 15-16th the Peary was transporting reinforcements to Dutch Timor, but a huge Japanese air attack made them return to Darwin.

Then came that day in Darwin Harbor, February 19, 1942.

At 1045, the Peary was attcked by Japanese dive bombers and struck five times:

First exploded on the fantail

Second, an incendiary, exploded on the galley deck house

Third did not explode

Fourth hit forward and set off forward ammunition magazines

Fifth was an incendiary as well and exploded in the after engine room.

Even as the ship burned and was sinking, two machine guns continued firing as the bombers were leaving.

Of the crew, 88 died and 13 were wounded (out of 101 officers and men). The ship sank, stern first at 1300 and was struck from the US Navy List 8 May 1942.

A Gallant Ship and Crew. --GreGen

USS Peary (DD-226)-- Part 1

From good old Wikipedia.

A Clemson-class destroyer named after North Pole explorer Robert Peary, launched in Philadelphia and commissioned 22Oct1922, serving whole career in the Far East from 1922-1942.

This ship sure had a short and hard World War II career.

The USS Peary was at Cavite, Philippines when Pearl harbor was attacked and was caught in a raid which practically destroyed the entire base Dec. 10th. The Peary was tied up at a pier and received one bomb hit, killing eight sailors.

On Dec. 26th, there was another attack and several bombs exploded near the Peary, but no damage.

Dec. 27th, the ship was by Negros Island and camouflaged fortunately, as five patrol bombers passed overhead without seeing it.

The Peary left that night and was spotted the next morning and shadowed by one Japanese bomber until it was joined by three others and attacked. Five hundred pound bombs were dropped, but missed. Two torpedoes were launched just 500 yards from the Peary which immediately backed one engine and the torpedoes barely missed. Seconds later, two more torpedoes missed the stern by just ten yards.

Quite a Story, But It's Not Over Yet. --GreGen

70th Anniversary of Japanese Attack on Darwin

From Feb. 19th Sky News Australia "Darwin remembers World War II bombing."

About a thousand people gathered at Darwin, Australia's cenotaph for a memorial ceremony. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Gov.-General Bryce and veterans were there.

Shortly before 10 AM, air raid sirens sounded at the same moment they did back on Feb. 19, 1942, one minute before the attack began.

That attack was the first of two Japanese air strikes on the city that day and the first of 64 between then and November 1943.

Altogether, there were 100 air attacks on towns inthe Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.

Before the Movie "Australia" I Had Never Heard of the Attack on Darwin. --GreGen

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

70th Anniversary of Japanese Attack on Darwin

From the Feb. 18th 7 News "Australia marks 70th anniversary of World War II bombing of Darwin."

This is one of two major WWII events over this past weekend that marked 70th anniversaries, the other was the beginning of Japanese Internment in the United States and I now know that the same thing took place in Canada.

This event is often referred to as Australia's Pearl Harbor. A Japanese surprise air attack on an unsuspecting harbor and military base. As a matter of fact, it was the same Japanese battle group that attacked Pearl Harbor. This was featured in the movie "Australia."

The attack took place February 19, 1942, and resulted in the deaths of 243 and hundreds more were injured. It came right after the fall of Singapore.

A museum dedicated to the event opened this past weekend.

The USS Peary was also in the harbor and 89 sailors died. There is a memorial to the Peary in Darwin.

Another Sneak Attack. --GreGen

Monday, February 20, 2012

KLB Club

From Wikipedia.

The KLB Club, which stood for Konzentrations lager Buchenwald Club, was formed October 12, 1944 of 168 Allied fliers imprisoned there. Two died of disease, but the others managed to make it out alive.

Of the 168, 82 were American, 48 British and 26 Canadian.

They were held between August 20 and October 19th.

They were there because Hitler had ordered the execution of Allied fliers shot down and caught wearing civilian clothing. Many were turned in after being shot down by traitors in the French Resistance which might have been how Joe Moser ended up being captured.

Never Heard of This Group before. GreGen

One of the "Lost Airmen of Buchenwald" Joe Moser, 89

From the Jan. 30, CNN.

Joe Moser was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after flying 44 combat missions. But, he doesn't remember much about the July 30, 1944, mission when he got it. Ten weeks later, on August 13th, he was attacking some German anti-aircraft batteries when his P-38 Lightning fighter was hit and broke up.

His boot got caught on the canopy and after a struggle, he got free and parachuted. By his estimation, it opened about 100 feet off the ground.

French villagers helped him, but a German patrol came by and captured the whole group and took them away. The following morning, two of the French people were taken away and he heard shots and thought they had been killed for helping him. He later found out that the shots were fired at them while they were escaping.

In 1944, he was sent to Buchenwald Concentration Camp with 168 fliers where he saw a steady stream of bodies being carried into the crematorium. Allied pilots and airmen were usually not imprisoned in concentration camps. This group became known as "The Lost Airmen of Buchenwald."

A Horrible Thing. --GreGen

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Boy, Just When I Was on a Roll, Blogger Says No

Blogger tells me they no longer supports my browser so no more blog entries for me until I found out why and they're not saying anything. The reason is a secret, I guess. Thanks a Lot. --GreGen

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Body of USS Colorado Sailor Identified

From the Jan. 30, 2009, WKBL News, El Paso, .New Mexico.

The body of a teenage sailor, 19-year-old Moyses Alfonso Martinez, killed July 22, 1944, off the island of Tinian in the Pacific Ocean, has at long last been identified.

The battleship USS Colorado was bombarding the island when a Japanese hidden battery opened fire on it, striking the ship 22 times with 7.7 shells, killing 42 and wounding another 198, one of the heaviest losses sustained by any US ship battling shore batteries during the war.

Martinez's body was one of several unidentified. Four days later, his family received news of his death and that he was probably buried at sea.

It was found that the 42 were buried on Saipan and later, his body and two other unidentified from the ship were moved to Fort mcKinley near Manila in the Philippines.

Raymond Emory identified Martinez's body last summer using dental records. It is believed that both his parents and all siblings are deceased so DNA confirmation is not to be done.

At Least His Grave Will Now Be Marked. The Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Death of James E. Swett, Medal of Honor Winner, USMC

Died January 18, 2009. Shot down seven Japanese bombers over the Solomon Islands April 7, 1943.

Then 22, Swett was on his first combat mission and led F4F-4 Wildcats against 150 Japanese bombers and fighters. He led his four fighter group against 15 enemy planes and shot down three of them himself with his accurate fire. Even though hit by friendly anti-aircraft fire, he continued fighting.

Swett came in behind a group of five bombers and quickly took out four. Running dangerously low on ammunition, he closed in on the fifth and got in close enough to see the face of the tail gunner at which time he was shot down.

He crashed into the sea, breaking his nose and was picked up by a US patrol boat.

Now, that is as much action as anyone should ever have in just one day. He became an Ace for that and received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

But, that is not the end of his story.

he recuperated from the crash and began flying F44 Corsairs off aircraft carriers. In July 1943, he was shot down again, this time near New Guinea, and spent four days on a raft before rescue.

During the war, he took part in more than 100 missions and was at Iwo Jima and Okinawa and was credited for 15.5 confirmed kills. Along with the the Medal of Honor, Swett received a Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and Air Medal.

Quite a Hero. --GreGen

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gun Mount 4 at Fort Miles, Delaware

From the Jan. 15, 2009 Delaware OnLine by Molly Murray.

Volunteers were cleaning sand and vegetation from Gun Mount #4 at Fort Miles on Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware.

Harold Knowles, 87, served here in the 251st Coast Artillery during World War II.

At that time, there were four guns installed which could fire a 6-inch diameter, 100-pond shell 13 miles. In addition, the battery also had an 8-inch gun mounted on a rail car.

Their purpose was to defend the coast against an attack by the German Navy. Knowles said the view today was much the same as during the 1940s except obstructed by sand dunes.

The gun mounts of reinforced concrete are called Panama because the technology for them was developed there.

The Delaware River and Bay were a prime target during the war with its shipyards at Wilmington, Philadelphia and Trenton.

There were four gin installations at Cape Henlopen and four at Capr May. Their guns were fired regularly in practice, but never in battle.

Coast Defense in the War. --GreGen

Pearl Harbor

From Dec. 8, 2008, Northwest Arkansas News Source.

Gene Prescott, 84, was 17 and had been a Marine for five months when he was strafed.

Fifty-one Arkansas men were killed in the attack and 118 survived. In 2008, that number was down to only about 25.

Marvin Kauffman of Sheridan, was an engineering, munitions and communications officer.

Bill Chase of Pearcy, was at the Naval hospital.

Al Dunham of Conway, was on the USS Raleigh.

From Dec. 8, 2008, Lake County (Ca.) News.

The numbers of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Chapter 23 North are dwindling. In 2008, there were eight members left and they had lost 29 since 1988. They are:

Henry "Andy" Anderson, 90, of Lockport, on USS Tennessee
Clarence "Bud" Boner, 86, of Glenhaven, on USS Tennessee
Chuck Bower of Clearlake Oaks, at the submarine base
Floyd Eddy, 85, Kelseyville, on USS Trever, a high-speed mine sweeper
Jim Harris, 84, of Lucerne, on USS Dobbin, a destroyer tender
W.K. "Bill" Slater, 84, of Lakeport, on USS Pennsylvania
Walter Urmann, 85, of Clearlake, on USS Blue, a destroyer

I Wonder How many of These Men Are Still Alive? --GreGen

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just in Time for Valentine's Day, the "Unconditional Surrender" Kiss

From the Feb. 13th Los Angeles Times "Statue of famous kiss at end of WWII may stay longer in San Diego."

It is called the "Unconditional Surrender" sculpture and has been on display at the Port of San Diego since 2007 and is scheduled to leave at the end of the month, but that departure may be extended three months. Right now, it is near the aircraft carrier museum USS Midway.

It is modeled after the famous VJ picture of a kiss between a sailor and a nurse that I'm sure you have seen many times.

The 25-foot-tall sculpture is owned by the Santa Monica, California, based Sculpture Foundation. In the years since its arrival in San Diego, it has been a favorite photo op for tourists and lovers alike. It is set to be dismantled and shipped off to a park and sculpture garden in New Jersey come the end of the month, but the opportunity for a three month extension has arisen has come.

That kiss took place in 1945 in New York's Time Square after Japan's surrender.

And, speaking of "Unconditional Surrender," 150 years ago, Union General U.S. Grant, was about to get his "Unconditional Surrender" nickname in just a couple days when Confederates at Fort Donelson, Tennessee, wanted to know what his surrender terms were. That also fit well with his initials.

My Advice to San Diego...KEEP IT. --GreGen

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bits of War: Amazing Rescue-- Plane Recovered from Lake Michigan

Bits of War.

1. AMAZING RESCUE-- British tea planter Gyles Mackrell organized one of the most remarkable rescue missions by using elephants to evacuate hundreds of Burmese refugees trapped by a rain-swollen river as Japanese forces approached in 1942.

For the effort, he got the name "Elephant Man." There is a video on YouTube.

2. PLANE RECOVERED FROM LAKE MICHIGAN-- From Nov. 8, 2010 Chicago Tribune.

Yet another World War II plane has been pulled out of Lake Michigan. Though rusted and covered with zebra mussels, the F4U-1 Corsair, had been under 250 feet of water since 1943.

Navy ensign Carl Harold Johnson crashed it after missing a warning to slow down during aircraft carrier qualification training. He eventually qualified, but was killed in combat.

Chuck Greenhill of Mettawa, Illinois, donated the money to pay for raising the plane. The plane is still property of the US Navy. It will be sent to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida where it will be restored.

A year ago, a F6F-3 Hellcat fighter was also raised from Lake Michigan.

Just Some News. --GreGen

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Some More On James Wines, "Devil's Brigade"

From the Feb. 10th Helena (Mt) Independent Record.

The Devil's Brigade was the forerunner of military groups like the Army Green Berets and Navy Seals.

Some, 2,200 men arrived in Helena to become members of the new group. James Wines was from Kansas. While training, he met his wife, Dora, and married her before shipping off to war. They were married for 50 years.

The other two Montana survivors of the Devil's Brigade are Joe Glass and Mark Radcliffe, both of Helena.

The Greatest generation. --GreGen

"Devil's Brigade" Veteran Passes Away

From Feb. 10th KTVQ Billings, Montana, "World War II 'Devil's Brigade' veteran passes away" by Mike Powers.

James "Stoney" Wines died in Helena at age 91, one of just three surviving members of the "Devil's Brigade" still living in Montana. Nation-wide, just 230 survive of the 1800 who volunteered for the elite unit during the war. The unit has a big Montana-connection, as they trained at Fort Harrison in Helena. They were a predecessor for modern special ops forces in the military

Montana Senators Max Barcus and Jon Tester have sponsored a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the unit, known officially as the First Special Services Force.

They were a top secret group, trained in mountain combat, amphibious landings, sky diving, demolition and other unconventional tactics. They never failed any of their operations and received much credit for "Operation Avalanche" in ital where they battle German troops heavily entrenched in the mountains.

After his service, Mr. Wines later became a police officer and captain in Helena.

Another of the Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Death of Rear Admiral Harry John Patrick Foley: Served on the Blue Ghost

February 10th U-T San Diego "Rear Adm. Harry John Patrick Foley; fought in the Pacific in World War II" by Linda McIntosh.

Died after a fall Jan. 27, 2012, age 95, in San Diego.

Thirty-three-year Navy career that began with a handshake from President Franklin D. Roosevelt at his 1938 graduation from the USNA. Fought in seven major Pacific World War II battles as well as in the Atlantic on U-boat patrol.

At one battle, he came under fire from Japanese planes while being transferred between ships on a boatswain's chair.

He began his World War II career on anti-U-boat operations with Destroyer Division 66 in the Atlantic and Caribbean. After that, he served for two years on the USS Lexington CV-16 in the Pacific. Guns under his command were given credit for shooting down 14 Japanese planes.

At the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, he was control officer for an entire 40 mm battery of 64 guns. The Lexington was badly damaged, so much that the Japanese thought it was sunk on at least two occasions, causing Tokyo Rose to give it te nickname "Blue Ghost."

In 1944, he returned to the United States and held several stateside jobs until the end of the war.

He retired in 1971 and was born June 7, 1916, in trenton, NJ.

A Great One. --GreGen

Friday, February 10, 2012

War on the Homefront: Wilmington Goes to War-- Part 2

From the Feb. 7th Wilmington (NC) Star News.

FEBRUARY 3, 1942--

Due to sugar shortages, area soft drink bottlers announced they would begin rationing their wares.

FEBRUARY 4, 1942--

The Virginia Dare, named for the first English child born in America (at the Lost Colony) became the third freighter launched by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in Wilmington.

FEBRUARY 5, 1942--

The Plantation Club on Carolina Beach Road, south of Wilmington, had an ad telling of "dancing, swell food and jolly crowds. No cover. $1.50 minimum.

Well, Folks Had to Let Off a Little Steam. --GreGen

Thursday, February 9, 2012

War on the Home Front: Wilmington Goes to War-- Part 1

From the Feb. 7th Wilmington (NC) Star News.

The newspaper runs a great weekly column called Back Then where they look at events taking place 100 and 50 years ago. They now have expanded it to include 150 years ago (for the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War) and 70 years ago for the anniversary of World War I. They use Wilmington papers for the information.

For World War II, they are staying away from war reports and concentrating on events happening in the Wilmington area.

From Feb. 2, 1942-- The new war quotas were in effect and being felt. In January, only 44 new tires had been sold in Wilmington with half of them going to commercial interests. New Hanover County was allowed just 108 new tires and 90 tubes for its fleet of trucks and buses.

The federal government also prohibited the purchase, sale or delivery of new cars and trucks and announced that they might have to seize private vehicles for the war effort.

It's War, Baby. War!!! --GreGen

Just Finished the Book "Danger's Hour"-- Part 2

The first ten pages are devoted to an excellent look back at relations between the US and Japan all the way back to the 1850s.

Then, Kennedy jumps back and forth between the life of Kiyoshi Ogawa, the Japanese kamikaze pilot who did the most damage to the Bunker Hill that day (another kamikaze also crashed into the ship). Then, there was the day-to-day activity of the men on the ship. If you ever want to know how sailors lived and operated on an aircraft carrier during World War II, this would be the book.

Then, there was the horrendous day when the realities of war, what the pilots were doing to the Japanese was brought home.

How two fairly untrained young Japanese pilots would be able to crash their outdated planes into the Bunker Hill and take out one of the most powerful ships (and flagship at that) in the US fleet is amazing. Even though the ship did not sink, it was taken out of the war for the duration.

Then, there is the story behind the famous photo on the front cover of the book taken from the deck of the Bunker Hill that day.

Well Worth a Read. --GreGen

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Passing of the Last World War I Veteran

Even though this blog is devoted to World War II, it should be noted that the very last veteran of World War I, as far as is known, Florence Green, has died at age 110, just two weeks short of her 111th birthday.

I have followed the passing of the last of the World War II veterans, including the death of the last actual combatant, Claude Choules of the Royal Navy and the last US one, Frank Buckles, and others for the last three years.

You can find accounts of them, including more information on Mrs. Green on my Cooter's History Blog. Look up the World War I labels, particularly World War I survivors. Click on it on My Blogs.

The Passing of a Generation. --GreGen

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Some More On Darrel Christopherson, Pearl Harbor Survivor

From the South Dakota Argus-Leader.

Darrel Christopherson, who died Jan. 29th at age 87, dropped out of 11th grade and enlisted in the USS Navy on his 17th birthday, Feb. 12, 1941.

In an interview, he said, "All hell broke loose" when the Japanese attack came. Seven sailors on his ship, the USS Vestal, lost their lives in the attack. He and others used fire axes to cut the lines between the Vestal and the Arizona and then spent the rest of the attack run aground on a mud flat in the harbor.

"Mostly the only thing we seen once we got away from alongside was just smoke and explosions."

He had considered his Pearl Harbor posting as a sweet assignment for a boy from South Dakota before the attack.

He had just returned home from a trip out to Pearl harbor and the Arizona Memorial on Jan. 17th. Family members said it was on his bucket list.

Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Death of Another Pearl Harbor Survivor

From the Feb. 1st Yankton (SD) Press and Dakotan.

Darrel Christopherson, 87, died Jan. 29th. He was one of South Dakota's five remaining Pearl Harbor Survivors. He had just returned from the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.

On Dec. 7, 1941, he was on the USS Vestal, a repair ship, moored next to the Arizona when it blew up.

The Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Fooled Me Until I Saw the Dates

I came across an article in the Feb. 6th LaCrosse (Wi) Tribune about Chief Petty Officer Troy M. Olafson retiring from the US Navy after having served on these ships:

USS Pittsburgh
USS Helena
USS Maryland
USS North Carolina

I'm thinking World War II, until I saw the dates. He graduated from hish school in 1991 and joined the Navy the same year. He retired November 11th.

Turns out, the vessels he served on were all submarines, instead of the cruisers and battleships I at first thought (and there were Navy ships in World War II by all of these names. And, they were all nuclear subs.

USS Pittsburgh SSN-720
USS Helena SSN-775
USS Maryland SSBN-738
USS North Carolina SSN-777

Oh Well. --GreGen

Monday, February 6, 2012

Just Finished the Book "Danger's Hour"-- Part 1

I am not a fast reader, especially of non-fiction books where I constantly stop to think about what I have just read. So it took me quite awhile to finish this very interesting book by Maxwell Taylor Kennedy.

I had bought it last April, when my local Borders Book Store was closing down. For some reason I find myself buying more and more World War II books and I don't need to be buying any more books as I am getting old and really should be getting rid of stuff, not buying more.

The book is 513 pages so is not a short one. I just now saw as I was looking to see how many pages there were, a really great diagram of the ship at the very end of the book, which anyone reading will find helpful. However, the author does a great job of explaining the ship in words, so I was able to picture where every place was in the huge aircraft carrier on my own.

This book, as Kennedy tells it, is a micro-history of one event of World War II, one of the most devastating kamikaze attacks to take place in the last year of the war. What I initially liked about the book, besides its being about the Naval War in the Pacific where my Main interest has always been, but, as the subtitle says: "The Story of the USS Bunker Hill and the Kamikaze Pilot Who Crippled Her."

After I bought it, I also saw that Maxwell Taylor Kennedy is the son of former US Senator, Attorney General and presidential candidate, Robert Kennedy.

Another Kennedy with some real talent.

More to Come. --GreGen

Saturday, February 4, 2012

At Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941

From the Dec. 8, 2008 San Francisco Chronicle.

ED SILVEIRA, 86, was on the USS San Francisco and thought, "Good mock battle until I saw a plane drop a torpedo at the West Virginia. Then I said, 'Goddamn, this is the real thing.'" His second scariest time was at the Battle of Guadalcanal.

MICHAEL STECZ, 87, was in his bunk on the USS Oklahoma, "All of a sudden,the ship lurched like we were firing our guns. My first thought was, 'Why are we firing our guns in port?'

He barely crawled out of a porthole as the ship was rolling over. He got into boat and picked up others and took them to the infirmary.

"In fact, I keep dreaming about how I got out of that 12-inch porthole. Of course, I only weighed 130 pounds and was as fit as a fiddle."

From KIVI, Boise, Idaho. BON CHOATES was on overnight liberty and returned to see his ship, the USS Nevada, under attack. His local chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is disbanding.

That Day of Infamy. --GreGen

Friday, February 3, 2012

All Five Remaining Doolittle Raiders to Attend 70th Anniversary Reunion

From the Feb. 2nd Lancaster Eagle Gazette.

All five of the surviving members of the 80-man April 18, 1942, raid on Japan are able to travel and will be attending the 70th anniversary reunion April 17-20 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton Ohio.

The raid, led by Lt. Col. James "Jimmy" Doolittle shored up US resolve and morale in the aftermath of the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor.
A banquet, public lunch, memorial service and autograph session are among the activities planned for the event. There is also hope that funding will be found to have a fly-in and landing of 25 B-25 bombers as a highlight.

In addition, surviving Chinese citizens who helped the Raiders after they crash landed in China as well as surviving crew of the USS Hornet from which the raid was launched will be attending.

I Am Seriously Thinking About Attending This Event. --GreGen

Some Other Wilmington Men at Pearl Harbor During the Attack

Besides the three aforementioned Moore brothers, two other brothers were serving aboard the USS Helena (in my history blog, I wrote about a person who served on the USS Helena that replaced this one during the Korean War.

The two brothers were Bryant and Frank Potter.

Another Wilmington man, Charles Coatsworth Pinckney was at Schofield Barracks Dec. 7,1941.

A Pearl Harbor-Wilmington, NC, Connection. --GreGen

Robert H. Moore: Another of the North Carolina Moore Family

According to Wilmington, North Carolina's World War II historian, Wilbur Jones, besides Clyde Moore and Ralph Moore being at Pearl Harbor, there was one more brother, Robert H. Moore, who was on a submarine.

What I have written about these brothers so far is true. But whether they're the ones from the family with the six serving is something I haven't been able to find out for sure so far. However, with the coincidences, they might very well be.

I did come across the name of a Robert H. Moore who was the chairman of the Wall of Honor Executive Committee of the US Submarine Veterans of World War II. Could he be one of the six Moore brothers.

A total of 3617 US submariners died in the war and the wall to honor them was dedicated in 1995.

An Interesting Family Trip. --GreGen

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lt. Gen. Harry W.O. Kinnard

This man led quite a history during WW II. He was at Pearl Harbor and fired a machine gun at Japanese planes. Later, he parachuted into France during D-Day as a member of the newly formed 101st Airborne, but became the most famous for his role in the Battle of the Bulge.

Born sometime in 1915, he died Jan. 5, 2009, at the age 93. He graduated from West Point in 1939 and retired from the Army as a Lt. General in 1969.

At the Battle of the Bulge, he was present at US hq at Bastogne, Belgium, when 4 German couriers arrived with the demand to surrender in two hours or be annihilated. Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, upon hearing the demand, laughed and remarked, "Us surrender! Aw, nuts," and then was wondering how he should respond.

Kinnard suggested, "Why don't you just say nuts!" McAuliffe then scribbled the reply, "To the German commander. Nuts!! The American commander."

On the way back to their lines, American officers explained to the puzzled Germans that "Nuts!" meant "Go to Hell."

The 101st then held out for four more days before the siege was lifted.

In the 1960s, Kinnard developed the Army's helicopter air assault concept at Fort Benning which was used so successfully in Vietnam.

One of teh Greatest. -GreGen

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

North Carolina's Moore Family: Ralph E. Moore-- Part 2

During the course of the rest of the war, Ralph Moore served on the se vessels:

USS Cummings
USS Raleigh (a good one for a North Carolina boy to serve)
USS Dobbin
USS Whitney
USS Rigel

He was discharged in 1947 and died in 1965.

On his discharge papers, his place of birth is listed as Kannapolis, North Carolina.

A Greatest Family of the Greatest Generation. --GreGen