Monday, December 30, 2013

Hawaii's "Beacon" Beams Again

From the Dec. 2013 Diablo Magazine "The Beacon Beams Again" by Peter Crooks.

In June, a crane removed the beacon from the Mount Diablo State Park's Summit Building. For 85 years it has stood there and most recently it has been relit every December 7th to mark the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

The beacon is also known as "The Eye of Diablo."

The "Beacon Boys" oversaw the operation and have raised $100,000 for the 8-foot tall beacon's restoration. One of the "Boys" is CHUCK KOEHLER, 89.  He was 17 and typing a letter to his mother when the bombs began falling December 7, 1941.

The Mount Diablo beacon was lit in 1928 by famed aviator Charles Lindbergh. From 1928-1941, the beacon, atop the tower that was built by Standard Oil, was one of five major beacon towers built to help planes on the U.S. West Coast. The other tower sites were in Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego and Seattle.

In April 1941, the lookout tower of the Mount Diablo Building, a CCC project, was completed. On December 8, 1941, the day after the attack, the beacon was turned off for fear it would help the Japanese attack California. It stayed dark until the end of the war, then was no longer necessary due to the development of radar.

On December 7, 1964, it was relit by Admiral Chester Nimitz and from that year to 2012 relit every Dec. 7th at sunset and remain on until sunrise the next day.


Oldest-Living World War II Vet to Meet With Obama

From the November 11, 2013, USA Today by Greg Toppo.

RICHARD OVERTON, 107, s believed to be the oldest-surviving U.S. World War II veteran. He served in the Army's 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion and was in his 30s when he volunteered in 1942 and saw combat during the Pacific Island Hopping Campaign. This was an all black unit. He met Obama on Monday.
I always thought it was too bad President Obama was unable to go to the Doolittle Raisers Final Toast a few months ago, but am glad he is at least honoring a World War II veteran.


Wilmington, NC, in 1942-- Part 1

From the Feb. 14, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then."

FEBRUARY 8, 1942: Shipyard Road was extended to relieve congestion going to the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company.

FEBRUARY 13TH, 1942: Two areas in Sunset Park were designated for draft registration: the auditorium at Sunset Park School and the storage building on the North Carolina Shipbuilding grounds. Large numbers of workers at the shipyard were expected to register for the draft.

FEBRUARY 13TH, 1942: Thousands of new families had arrived in Wilmington every month for wartime jobs. The federal government spent $614,000 to help New Hanover County expand and improve public school buildings.

Impact At Home. --GreGen

Navy Pilot Sought and Destroyed Submarines

From the February 6, 2012, Canton (Ohio) Rep "World War II Then and Now: Navy pilot sought and destroyed enemy submarines" by Gary Brown.

MARVIN BLAIR FISHER was a 26-year-old graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and enlisted in the Navy a month before Pearl Harbor. He already had his private pilot's license.

He flew a torpedo bomber off aircraft carriers in the Pacific after getting his Navy Wings July 20, 1942 and flew off several carriers, including the USS Saratofga, before it was sunk.

His job was to protect the fleet and especially its aircraft carriers. Otherwise, he had nowhere to land. He dropped torpedoes and bombs and went after Japanese submarines. "We dropped a lot of depth charges" as well, he said. (Most often I regard depth charges as being dropped by surface ships.)

He added that once, "I actually saw two kamihaze planes hit each other before they could hit their target."

A problem faced by the crews of torpedo bombers was their slow speed and another was that they had to fly a straight course during attacks, making them easy targets: "They were huge planes...we were sitting ducks when we went that slow. And, you can't maneuver well with the load we carried." He recalls meeting Joe Kennedy, JFK's older brother, before he was killed.

Not All Fun and Games. --GreGen

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Casualties On the USS Dobbin at Pearl Harbor

From the Pearl Harbor Org.

Werner Klemm mentioned four deaths on the destroyer-tender USS Dobbin that day. Most, according to him, were serving on the gun crew, including his best friend, Roy Arthur Gross from Oak Park, Illinois.

According to the Pearl Harbor Organization, the four:

ANDREW MICHAEL MARZE GM1c, killed on the USS Pennsylvania.


Deaths: Ray Price-- Country Star, WWII USMC

I just wrote about Ray Price's death at age 87 in my Down Da Road I Go blog. He died Dec. 16th and was a member of the USMC from 1944-1946. Unfortunately, I was unable to find out anything about his service. --GreGen

Friday, December 27, 2013

Pearl Harbor Survivor Werner Klemm Recounts That Day-- Part 2

Werner Klemm's battle station was to get ammunition to the ship's anti-aircraft guns: "While rushing to my station, stuff started blowing up all over. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a plane coming right down on us." That plane was so close that he saw its pilot, "There was this Japanese with his head over the side, looking at me." He saw two bombs drop.

"I dropped the ammunition on the deck, put my hands on the deck and kind of prayed a little. The bomb on my side dropped in the water. All I did was get soaked and splashed."

The bomb on the other side blew up before it hit the water, "It took out the whole gun crew. It killed my best friend. His name was Roy A. Gross. He was from Oak Park, Illinois. He was a boilermaker striker like I was." Three others on the Dobbin were killed by that bomb.

Later, Klemm got on a 36-foot whale boat to rescue survivors while the water was on fire. They would pick up any person they came across, dead or alive, and pull them aboard hard. "Everything was slippery. Some were so badly burnt, their skin came right off their arm. Some would holler. Some would not holler."

Mr. Klemm served in the Navy in the Pacific until 1945.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pearl Harbor Survivor Werner Klemm Recounts That Day-- Part 1

From the Dec. 7, 2013, Tampa (Fla) Tribune "Pearl Harbor memories don't fade away" by Howard Altman.
WERNER KLEMM was an 18-year-old from New Jersey and had big plans for his Sunday day off. He was going to meet a friend on the USS California who had just arrived at Pearl Harbor and they were going to the Pali Trail on Oahu. They didn't get there that day.

Morning colors had just been presented and his ship, the USS Dobbin, a destroyer tender, was just a couple hundred yards away from Battleship Row.

Mr. Klemm is now 90 and living at Port Richey, Florida.

He saw planes but thought it to be a mock air raid even after seeing an explosion by North Island. He just didn't think anything of it. When he saw the two big red circles under the planes, he knew. This was for real. This was war.

The Dobbin's alarm went off, but there was no confusion as the men went to their battle stations.

More to Come. --GreGen

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Three Pearl Harbor Survivors Speak

From the December 15, 2013, Tampa Bay Tribune "Pearl Harbor survivors speak."

Just to see and hear one of these aging warriors is something else, but to have three at once? Wow.

On Dec. 7th,  Zephyrhills Museum of Military History had three of them:

GEORGE CASS on the USS San Francisco
WERNER KLEMM on the USS Dobbin

Sadly, the previous year, nine Pearl Harbor survivors were in attendance, but the other six could not attend for health reasons.

Sorry to See Them Go. --GreGen

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Reindeer Service in World War II

From the Dec. 23, 2013, Listverse "10 Wild Facts About Reindeer" by Alan Boyle.

I'll list all ten tomorrow in my Cooter's History Thing Blog, but this one was very appropriate for this particular blog, so here goes.

#7. REINDEER BATTALIANS: The Allies used camels in desert service, but in the Arctic region, the Soviet Union recruited some 6,000 reindeer. Reindeer can forage for themselves and could pull 110 pounds of equipment and supplies.

They were used to transport supplies, carry injured soldiers and, on occasion, even dragged damaged aircraft.

The Soviets also used 1,000 native reindeer herders to help.

Often, the reindeer were used to transport American supplies from the far north Murmansk to the frontlines. Throughout the war, the Red Army was often short on mechanical power and relied on that of animals.

The Arctic town of Naryan-Mar has erected a monument to the reindeer which were so essential for the Winter War.

Not Just for Santa Anymore.  Comrade Reindeer.  --GreGen

Monday, December 23, 2013

28 Crewmembers of U-85 Buried at Hampton National Cemetery in Virginia

From the Dce. 16, 2013, Hampton Roads (Vs.) Daily Press "A landmark graveyard filled with poignant stories of sacrifice and courage" by Mark St. John Erickson.

Mr. Erickson has also written quite a few interesting stories on the War of 1812 around Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Hampton National Cemetery in Virginia has more than two dozen World War II dead who were buried in secrecy in the dead of the night so as not to attract public attention. Not one of these men was over 30, and several were still in their teens and they died in the first months of what is called the Battle of the Atlantic off the U.S. east coast.

The secrecy was because they were on the wrong side. They were from a German U-boat.

Twenty-eight crew members of the U-85, a submarine caught on the surface by a searchlight on the old World War I four-stacker destroyer USS Roper. Gunfire and depth charges sank the German ship.

Nearly three decades later, the German-American Society began holding annual memorial services at the graves which are often attended by members of the Tidewater Chapter of U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II. Said one member in 1994: "We all went through the same thing even though we were on different sides."

Brotehrs of War Now. --GreGen

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Three Pearl Harbor Survivors Honored-- Part 2

Bob and Rich Miller are members of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors. Their father Clarence was on the USS Ramsay during the attack. They estimate that there are around 30 Pearl Harbor survivors still alive in the northern Illinois area.

Three of them: ED BLOCK, LYLE HANCOCK and JOE TRIOLO attended Friday's ceremony.

LYLE HANCOCK, 90, lives in Wheeling and was posted at the Navy Yard's dispensary less than a mile from his barracks but said he had to cross a seemingly endless field to get between the two places.

JOE TRIOLO, 93, of Waukegan, was on the USS Tangier, but his ship wasn't attacked. He believes the Japanese knew the base operations very well: "The church pennant was flying from the yard. The crews, instead of being at their guns, were at church or in their bunks. They knew it. They rehearsed it."


Three Pearl Harbor Survivors Honored-- Part 1

From the Dec. 7, 2013, Daily Herald (NW Chicago Suburbs) "So few Pearl Harbor survivors left; 3 honored in Des Plaines" by Christopher Placek.

ED BLOCK, 23, a Navy barber, was sleeping on the USS Medusa after a night on the town drinking beer "just like every other sailor." Now 93, he said, "I looked out the porthole and I saw the airplanes dropping their bombs. I said to the other two men that were there, 'It looks like a sham battle' And then a second later, I said, 'Oh God, no. It's a war."

Only about 1,000 Pearl Harbor survivors are still alive from the 84,000 American military personnel who were there that day. Their numbers have dropped so low that their Pearl Harbor Survivors Association disbanded two years ago.


Friday, December 20, 2013

That "Infamous" Morning on the USS Oklahoma-- Part 5: To the USS Maryland

Many of the Oklahoma survivors swam to the USS Maryland which had lost its electric hoist in the attack and the Oklahoma survivors formed a human chain to move munitionws from the armory to the boat deck. The Maryland's captain ordered them off his ship during a lull between the first and second waves of Japanese planes.

They swam to Ford Island where they were not allowed into barracks because they had no identification. They were forced to scavenge and steal food to survive and set up a signal tower.

Mr. Goodyear says he did not have a shower or enter a mess hall until December 15th when the captain of the USS Indianapolis allowed him on board for an hour.

Things were so confused in the aftermath of the attack, that it took the Navy until April 10th to put him back on the payroll and eventually restored all of his back pay except for $12, his pay for six days. The payroll officer told him "How do I know you didn't draw advance payment on December 1?"

Paul Goodyear is now 95 and his account definitely shed things I didn't know. It appears that the Navy wasn't so nice to its victims after the attack. Very surprising.

Thanks, Mr. Goodyear. --GreGen

That "Infamous" Morning on the USS Oklahoma-- Part 4: Trapped Below Decks and Father Schmitt

A total of 527 men died on the USS Oklahoma that day. Most of the survivors jumped off the deck or squeezed through 12-14-inch portholes. The men Paul Goodyear had relieved early so they could get breakfast before the mess closed all died.

The ship's chaplain , Father Al Schmitt, had an office with a 14-inch porthole and pushed 10-12 kids through it before being trapped himself and drowning. Goodyear is still angry that Schmitt did not receive a Medal of Honor for that.

Thirty-two men were rescued by cutting through the hull, but another 400 were trapped. Tapping continued from inside for three days before it stopped.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Battleship Torpedo Blister

From Wikipedia.

In the last entry, I wrote how Paul Goodyear had climbed out of the horrible waters of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and stood on the battleship USS Maryland's torpedo blister. This was not a term I was familiar with, so had to look it up (I couldn't find anything about a battleship's roll over bar, however.) however.)

Listed as an Anti-Torpedo Bulge, but also called an anti-torpedo blister, it is a passive defense against naval torpedoes used in battleship construction between the two world wars.

Essentially, it is an isolated compartment from the internal hull. Part of it is air-filled and free-floating. It is supposed to dissipate shock and absorb explosive fragments, leaving the ship's internal hull undamaged.

It was developed by the British and used during World War I. The HMS Grafton was torpedoed in 1917 and suffered only minor splinter holes, proving it a success. American naval architects adapted the design into their battleships as well.

It became obsolete when modern torpedoes were designed to explode under ship hulls.

Fish In the Water. --GreGen

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

That "Infamous" Morning on the USS Oklahoma-- Part 3: The Fate of the Book and USS Maryland

This is quite an interesting story. Personally, I think I would have not gone back for that stupid book. Continuing with the story.

By then the Oklahoma was listing 45 degrees and he crawled to the starboard side, grabbed the ship's life line and pulled himself over the hull "still carryiing that damned secret publication."

He then crawled over to the ship's roll bar where he saw the ship's executive officer and tried to give him the book. "He looked at it and said, 'I don't want it.' I looked at it and said, 'I don't want it either,' so I threw it in the water."

The ship continued to roll over and Paul Goodyear dropped 50 feet into the water and swam to the USS Maryland where he rested on a torpedo blister. A crew member threw him a line. As he was pulled up, Goodyear saw white spots between his face and arm, "Oh my God, those are bullets."

Japanese plaes were strafing the ships and he let go of the line and dropped back into the water, by now full of bunker oil and human waste, "It was not a very sanitary place to be swimming." (That's something you don't hear about, the human waste in the water.) When the strafing stopped, the sailor pulled him out.

More to Come. --GreGen

Monday, December 16, 2013

That "Infamous" Morning on the USS Oklahoma-- Part 2: Going Back for the Book

Unfortunately for the USS Oklahoma, the crew had opened all the watertight compartments the previous Friday in preparation for the admiral's inspection. Water poured in. Said Paul Goodyear, "We were just like an eggshell. One torpedo would have sunk us." The ship began listing quickly and was mast down in the harbor in 11 minutes.

When he saw a 36-inch long telescope slide across the bridge he decided, "Let's get out of here." They had gotten from the signal deck to the boat deck when he remembered the secret signal book still on his desk on signal deck. The Oklahoma was listing at 30 degrees by then, but even so, he went back to get it. After all, it was his responsibility.

And, it was a heavy book as it had lead covers so it would sink if necessary.

When he got back to the boat deck, he took a quick lean against a ladder to catch his breath when he saw the USS Arizona take its fatal blow. According to Goodyear, it was hit on the port side, not starboard as "psuado historians" say who weren't even born when it happened. He was right there looking down the length of the Arizona.

More to Come. --GreGen

That "Infamous" Morning: USS Oklahoma-- Part 1

From the Dec. 7, 2013, Casa Grande (Arizona) Dispatch "Infamous Morning" by Susan Randall.

Paul Goodyear was a 23-year-old petty officer third class on the USS Oklahoma that Dec. 7th morning. He and three signal men "strikers" were on the signal deck of the ship early so the previous watch could eat breakfast before the mess hall closed at 8 AM.

He saw a line of planes coming in but didn't think much of it, then he saw them drop what he took to be practice bombs. As the third one fell, the first one blew up the seaplane hangar. It was then that he saw the symbol of the Rising Sun on the planes.

He looked over his left shoulder and saw planes flying at them from the Southwest Loch. The first one dropped a torpedo. "Hang on, Red!!" he shouted to striker Red Luttrell. "Here comes a fish!" He saw at least nine more drop. When they went off, the Oklahoma lost at least 250 of its 583 feet portside. And, then things got really bad.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Other Man Who Tried to Shoot JFK-- Part 2

Continued from December 5th..

The Japanese had thoroughly terrorized the Solomon Islands so it wasn't too difficult for Reginald Evans to find locals to act as Allied spies.

One of them was Biuku Gasa, a fisherman.

JFK was seen by Gasa while looking for a spy to help him and his crew get back to American lines after his PT-109 had been sunk six days earlier. After his old rifle locked up, preventing him from shooting Kennedy, who he mistook from a distance as being a Japanese soldier, Gasa continued on and came across the PT-109's crew.

When Kennedy returned, Gasa instructed him to cut the famous message in the coconut "NATIV KNOWS POSIT/11 ALIVE/NEED SMALL BOAT."

That coconut was delivered by islanders to Evans via dugout canoe who radioed Allied forces the information which led to the crew's rescue.

That coconut is in the Kennedy Library in Boston.

I'd Sure Like to See It. --GreGen

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pearl Harbor Ceremony at Oahu

From the Dec. 7, 2013, Missourian "Pearl Harbor ceremony marks bombing anniversary" by Audrey McAvoy, AP.

About fifty survivors attended the ceremony marking the 72nd anniversary of the "Day of Infamy."

ALVIS TAYLOR, 90, was an Army medic who went to Pearl Harbor from his base, Schofield Barracks, about 18 miles north, with dozens of ambulances after he was left in charge when his superiors, who were doctors, rushed to the hospitals.

A crowd of some 2500 joined the survivors.

Taylor, who lives in Davenport, Iowa, returned to Pearl Harbor for the very first time since the war. Local chapters of Vietnam Veterans of America paid for him and his wife to make the trip.

DELTON WALLING, 92, was on the USS Pennsylvania, said, "I come back to be with my comrades-- meet the ones who are still alive, and we're going fast."

There was a moment of silence at 7:55 AM, the minute the attack began. The survivors and spectators sat on a grassy spot overlooking the USS Arizona Memorial. A 1944 North American SNJ-5B fighter flew overhead.

So Sad to be Losing These Proud Service People. --GreGen

Death of Aubrey F "Bud" Kriegermeir

From the Aug. 15, 2013, Northwest Herald (McHenry County, Il.) obituaries.

AUBREY F. "BUD" KRIEGERMEIR, Age 89, of Woodstock.

Died Aug. 10th.

Born Jan. 22, 1924, in High Hill, Missouri, and grew up in Moulton, Iowa.

During World War II, he served two years as Fireman First Class in Division 6 submarine service in the South Pacific, and six months in the Atlantic theatre on Patrol E Scout.

I tried to find out more information about Division 6 and Patrol E Scout, but didn't find anything.

The Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Natick, Mass. Observes Pearl Harbor Day

From the Dec. 6, 2013, Metro West (Massachusetts) Daily News "Natick to observe Pearl Harbor Day."

At 7 PM there will be a meeting at the Lebowitz Meeting Hall at the Morse Institute Library in Natick. Gerald Halterman, one of the few remaining Pearl Harbor survivors in the area is expected to attend and speak.

This marks the 40th anniversary of the library hosting it and the 15th anniversary of the Natick Veterans Oral History Project which started at the suggestion of Eugene Dugdale, a Pearl Harbor survivor from Natick.

Both his and Halterman's account of the Day of Infamy have been recorded among the 250 interviews in the project.

Dugdale was a bosun on the USS Raleigh and Halterman worked in the communications office in the harbor's main building after he, fortunately, had been transferred from the USS Oklahoma.

Not Forgetting. --GreGen

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

USS Finnegan (DE-307)

On yesterday's Michigan's Upper Peninsula at Pearl Harbor-- Part 1, I mentioned William Finnegan being killed at Pearl Harbor on the USS Oklahoma and that later in the war, a U.S. Navy ship was named after him. So, I did some research on that ship from Wikipedia.

The USS Finnegan was an Evarts-class destroyer escort that fought in the Pacific escorting convoys and anti-submarine operations. It was named for Chief Radio Electrician William Michael Finnegan who was killed at Pearl Harbor.

It was commissioned 19 August 1944 and decommissioned November 1945 and screened tansports at Iwo Jima. On 26 Feb 1945, while escorting empty transports to Saipan, radioman Robert R. Perry, on radar duty, made a surface contact on what turned out to be the Japanese submarine I-370 which was sunk after a four-hour battle. Perry was given $50 by his captain for catching the signal.

The Finnegan also supported the invasion of Okinawa.

The Story of a Ship With a Pearl Harbor Connection. --GreGen

Monday, December 9, 2013

Follow-Up on USS Dewey (DD-349)-- Part 2

The Dewey then joined TF-11 (Task Force) and sailed to relieve the Marines at Wake Island on December 15, but returned after finding out Wake had fallen on 23 December.

The Dewey then screened the aircraft carrier USS Lexington until it was lost at the Battle of the Coral Sea. Then, it provided cover for the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga through Guadalcanal and the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.

In 1943, the Dewey was largely in Alaskan waters. In 1944, it was at the Marshalls, Carolines, Marianas Islands and the battle of the Philippines Sea and was damaged in Typhoon Cobra.

It later provided support at Iwo Jima before being decommissioned 10 Oct 1945 and sold Dec. 1946.

The ship mounted five 5-inch guns, was 341 feet long and had a crew of 160.

One of thenm was Bud Cloud so he saw planty of action in the Pacific during his time in the Navy.

One of the Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Follow-Up on USS Dewey (DD-349)-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

On December 7th, I wrote about Bud Cloud in an entry "Pearl Harbor Survivor's Dying Wish Fulfilled" where he got to visit the new USS Dewey (DDG-105) as he served on the USS Dewey (DD-349) during World War II and was at Pearl Harbor.

So, I had to do some more research on Mr. Cloud's ship.

The original Dewey was a Farraugut-class destroyer launched in 1934 and commissioned 4 Oct. 1934, named for Admiral George Dewey of Spanish-American War fame and who had been at the Civil War Battle of Fort Fisher (another item of great interest to me). The ship served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. It was at Pearl Harbor that Dec. 7, 1941, but not damaged and got underway that afternoon.


Michigan's Upper Peninsula At Pearl Harbor-- Part 2

GERALD G. LEHMAN of Hancock on USS Oklahoma. His remains were returned to Houghton County for reburial in 2010. See my entry about the New Hampshire sailor's remains not being returned in my Dec. 7th blog.

FRANCIS R. McGUIRE of Wallace on the USS Arizona.

HERMAN C. REUSS of Menominee in 11th Bombardment Group at Hickam Field.

ROBERT L. SPREEMAN of Newberry on USS Arizona.

ROBERT H. THOMAS of Ironwood in 20th Air Base Group, Nichols Field at Luzon, Philippines. (Which was attacked by Japanese forces at the same time.)

LOWELL E. VALLEY of Ontonagon on USS Oklahoma.

Also killed, JAMES LONDON of Vulcan.


Michigan's Upper Peninsula At Pearl Harbor-- Part 1

From the Dec. 6, 2013, Iron Mountain (Mich) Daily News "Dec. 7 a day to rememember."

According to Larry Chabot of Marquette, author of "U.P. Goes to War: Upper Michigan and Its Heroes in World War II," these 12 U.P. residents died in the first hours of the war.

Saturday, I gave one name in each of my blogs but will list them all here:

MANFRED C. ANDERSON of Hancock, 18th Bombardment Group, Hickam Field.

JOSEPH BARAGA of Channing on USS Arizona.

DONALD CLASH of Iron Mountain on USS Arizona. Later in the war, his brother JAMES was killed in Germany March 1945.

KENNETH COOPER of Iron Mountain on USS California.

FRANCIS A. CYCHOSZ of Bessemer on USS Arizona. His brother RAYMOND was later severely wounded in Italy while a member of the famed 10th Mountain Division.

WILLIAM M. FINNEGAN of Bessemer and Dollar Bay on USS Oklahoma. Survived by his wife and five children. Later in the war, a U.S. Navy ship was named for him.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Commemorating Pearl Harbor

I didn't forget. I have flags out on the deck, mailbox and a banner by the front porch. All my blogs have entries about it as well. Each blog features the name of one American who died that day.

KENNETH COOPER, Iron Mountain, Michigan. On the USS California.


Manchester, New Hampshire's Pearl Harbor Connection

From the Dec. 5, 2013, New Hampshire Union Leader "Family wants remains of Swanzey sailor at PH returned for NH burial" by Paul Feely.

A ceremony in 2009 named the bridge across the Merrimack River into Manchester-Boston Regional Airport the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge. About 18 Pearl Harbor survivors from New Hampshire attended it.

Four Manchester natives were killed in the attack: Seaman 2nd Class JOE ROZMUS died on the USS Arizona. Army Sergeant MAURICE ST. GERMAIN and Private JOSEPH JEDRYSIK died at Hickam Field. Seaman 1st Class CROSSETT was shot twice by a Japanese plane as he headed to the crow's nest of the USS Utah.

There will be a memorial service today at 11 AM at the New Hampshire Veterans Home and another at 9 AM at Arms Park on the Merrimack River in Manchester.

-- GreGen

Family Wants USS Oklahoma Sailor's Remains Returned-- Part 2

Tom Gray says the anthropologist working the case back then refused to certify his cousin's remains and all were classified as unknown. Gray believes this is because only Hopkins' skull was recovered and that it could have been identified through dental work.

All 27 were reburied in the Punch Bowl as unknown. Hopkins is one of ten buried at the Section P, Grave 1003. Gray and the family first learned about his cousin through the efforts of Ray Emory, who was on board the USS Honolulu during the war. They want Hopkins buried next to his parents at Woodland Cemetery in Keene.

Hope That Edwin Hopkins Finally Comes Home. --GreGen

Family Wants USS Oklahoma Sailor's Remains Returned-- Part 1

From the Dec. 5, 2013, New Hampshire Union Leader "Family wants remains of Swanzey sailor killed at Pearl Harbor returned for NH burial" by Paul Feely.

On December 7, 1941, Third Class Fireman Edwin Hopkins, 19, was aboard the USS Oklahoma and died during the attack. Now, 72 years later, his second cousin is fighting to have his remains brought back to New Hampshire to be buried by his parents.

His remains have been identified according to Tom Gray of Guilford, Ct., and he deserves more than a co-mingled grave marked "Unknown" at the National Memorial Cemetery on Oahu, better known as the Punch Bowl.

In 1943, Hopkins' remains and 381 others were recovered from the stricken USS Oklahoma and buried in mass graves at Halawa and Nu'uana cemeteries on Oahu. In 1949, the Army Graves Registration Service disinterred the graves to id the remains. They recommended that the remains of 27, including Hopkins, be further researched for identification.


Pearl Harbor Survivor's Dying Wish Fulfilled

From the Nov. 25, 2013, Fox 5 San Diego "Pearl Harbor Survivor's Dying Wish Fulfilled."

Bud Cloud was in hospice care and his dying wish was to visit the namesake of the ship he was on that Dec. 7, 1941, the USS Dewey. He died just 13 days later.

The new ship is the DDG-105, a Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyer. The ship he was on that day in Pearl Harbor was the USS Dewey (DD-349) and was undergoing an overhaul to be a tender. His ship got underway that afternoon.

I imagine that was quite the experience for the new Dewey's crew, meeting their past like that.

Glad He Got To Do It. --GreGen

USS Arizona Survivor Speaks

From the Nov. 10, 2013, Santa Crus (Cal.) Sentinel "Pearl Harbor Survivor visits Santa Cruz" by Kevin Guzman.

Louis Conter was 20 an on board the USS Arizona that day.

"When the bomb exploded, it exploded over 1 million pounds of powder. The whole bow of the ship came out of the water thirty feet and was on fire, and settled back in the water."


Friday, December 6, 2013

A Follow Up on the U-168-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

Before the last entry, I had no idea that German U-boats operated in the Indian or Pacific Oceans. Now, I know better.

The keel of the U-168 was laid March 15, 1941, in Bremen, Germany. It was launched March 5, 1942, taking a full year to get to that point. (It certainly didn't take the U.S. that long to build a submarine, one reason for the Allied victory.)

It was commissioned on September 10th and commanded by Captain Helmuth Pich.

During the course of the war, the U-168 went on four patrols and sank three Allied ships totalling 8,108 tons. It also damaged another ship.

More to Come. --GreGen

German U-boat Discovered Off Indonesia

From the Nov. 23, 2013, Mail Online (UK) "Nazi U-boat sunk during Second World War is discovered by divers off of Indonesia-- complete with skeletons of its doomed crew."

The U-168 sank several Allied vessels before it was sunk in 1944. The wreck has a wealth of artifacts, as well as 17 skeletons.

The ship was launched in March 1942 and 23 died when it sank. German submarines were off Indonesia (and I always thought this was the area of Japanese sub operations) trying to cut Allied supplies from Asia to Britain.

Captain Helmut Pich commanded the sub for four missions. The ship sailed from France to the Far East in July 1943. He survived the sinking at 1:30 AM October 6, 1944, along with 28 others. And, here's another surprise to me, it was torpedoed by a Dutch submarine, the HrMs Zwaardvish (you never hear much about the Dutch Navy during the war).

Pich died in 1997 at age 83.

The U-168 was part of the Monsun U-boat pack operating around the Dutch East Indies, Jakarta and Sabang 1943-1945. Of the 14 U-boats sent out, only four returned.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Other Man Who Tried to Shoot JFK-- Part 1

From the November 22, 2013, Channel 4 NBC Southern California by Brian T. Brown.

Of special interest what with the recent 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination. Everyone knows of Lee Harvey Oswald, but few, including me, have ever heard of Biuku Gasa, a fisherman in the Solomon Islands, who, back during World War II was working undercover for the United States and saw John Kennedy from a great distance and thought he was Japanese.

He had a rifle that had been discarded in battle, but it had rotted and when he tried to fire it at Kennedy, it locked up and he was unable to do so.

Gasa fled from the scene and an unaware JFK returned to his crew who had arrived at the island after their PT-109 was sunk. Gasa was part of an Allied spy network headed by Reginald Evans.


USS Missouri Gets Its 500,000 Visitor

From the November 21, 2013, Hawaii Reporter "Mighty Mo Welcomes 500,000th Visitor in 2013."

The battleship USS Missouri achieved the goal it set for itself 15 years ago when it opened to the public.

Felix Garcia of Phoenix was that visitor, stepping aboard at 2 PM. The Missouri opened in 1998 at Pier Foxtrot 5 on Ford Island, just several hundred yards from the wreck of the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor. 

World War II began for the United States when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and sank the USS Arizona and ended when the same country surrendered aboard the USS Missouri, as fine a pair of bookends as you can get.

Admission to the ship is $22 for adults and $11 for children and it's open daily from 8 AM to 4 PM. Unfortunately, when I was in Hawaii we did not have enough time to visit the Mighty Mo, but did get to the memorial for the USS Arizona.

Next Time. --GreGen

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Death of Decorated World War II Pilot

From the Nov. 16, 2013, "Russell E. Morrow, 93, decorated World War II pilot" by Bonnie L. Cook.

Died Nov. 10th. Was on 31 bombing missions in a B-17 in Europe while in the 8th Air Force. Received his flight training at Turner Air Force Base in Georgia. Received an Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters and a Distinguished Flying Cross.

After the war, he was in the Berlin Airllift in 1948 and saw action in the Korean War with the 5th Air Force headquartered in Japan and with the Combat Cargo Command.

After the war, he remained in the Air Force and served at the Pentagon. --GreGen

Only One Posting In Two Weeks

I never know if I can post when I'm away from this 'pute on the laptop. Never any truer than this last couple weeks and I was only able to get it going for one post.

Oh, well, that's what happens when you're on the road.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

"Tutankhamun's Tomb of Aviation History": The Lost Kitty Hawk

From the Nov. 26, 2013, Perth Now "A World War II Kitty Hawk fighter has been recovered intact from the Sahara Desert,"

British Flight Sergeant Dennis Copling was returning a damaged P-40 Kitty Hawk fighter to repair center in Egypt and was never seen again. His plane was recently found and declared the "Tutankhamun's Tomb of Aviation History.

An oil worker came across it some 400 km from the nearest town, evidently uncovered by shifting sands. The pilot, Sgt. Copling likely set out on foot after the crash. Human remains were found a few kilometers away from the crash site.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Doolittle Raiders Final Toast-- Part 2

This past Saturday, November 9th, Liz and I watched the proceedings on a live stream from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright Patterson AFB, northeast of Dayton, Ohio. This was major history in my book. Early on, we saw a video featuring past Doolittle Reunions. It was sad to see fewer and fewer attendees, especially in the last ten years. Just four remain now.

Then there were a lot of speeches. I was surprised that the president was not there. Then they had a roll call by plane. The names of each five-man crew was called off and the three in attendance answered with "Here" when their name was called. Somewhere at home, I'm sure Col. Hite did the same (he was unable to attend due to health). Relatives of "Those Who Have Passed On" stood when their name was called.

I particularly enjoyed the talk about the first reunion in 1946 which must have been quite a party with all sorts of antics keeping guests at the Miami hotel up to the wee hours and a "Raid" on the hotel pool. Col. Doolittle paid $2,000 for it, but said that in the future, the Raiders had to pay their own way.

Then we heard the history of the toast and the bottle of 1894 Hennessy cognac given to Doolittle in the 1950s with the 1894 being his birthday. I always thought the bottle in the goblet case was the original, but it wasn't. The very original one disappeared while at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The replacement bottle was always kept at the homes of various Raiders, so this was the first time the public had ever seen the original, well replacenment.

Col. Cole, Doolittle's co-pilot, had some difficulty opening the bottle, but once done, the toast was made. Liz and I toasted right along with the Raiders, I with a shot of Rebel Yell and Liz with a Rumchata.

Like I Say, "The Greatest Generation." -- GreGen

Doolittle Raiders Final Toast, Nov. 9th

If that just doesn't really burn you. I had just finished a rather lengthy account of the Doolittle Raiders Final Toast and while setting my pop can down, managed to hit the stupid Escape button and gone it was. Even worse, the screen went to blank page mode so I had to shut everything down and that takes forever. That's a Real Burn. Stupid Can. --GreGen

Hoping to See the Doolittle Goblets and JFK's Air Force One This Friday

I'm leaving tomorrow for North Carolina and planning on being at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, northeast of Dayton this Friday. I'm going there because of the recent Doolittle Toast on November 9th and, of course, this Friday is November 22nd, the 50th anniversary of the JFK Assassination.

The museum is the repository of the Doolittle Raiders and it also has the Air Force One jet that carried the Kennedys to Dallas that day and then Kennedy's body back and where Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as the new president with Jackie Kennedy standing by his side in that famous photo. Plus, Kennedy was quite the war hero, especially with the PT-109 incident.

That Would Be Quite a Connection With the Date. --GreGen

Festung Guernsey and Channel Islands Occupation Society

From Festung Guernsey site.

I have been coming across the name Festung Guernsey quite a bit in my entries about the German occupation of the island during the war. According to their site, they are "Dedicated to Preserving Guernsey's German Fortifications."

Some of the sites include: Batterie Dollmann, MP3, Naval Signal HQ, 10.5 cm Jager Casemate, Telephone Bunker, Vale Castle, Batterie Mirus, MP4, Grantez, 4.7 cm Pak Casemate L'Eree, Batterie Scharnhorst, 2 cm Flak and Cobofels.

They offer tours, but not for individuals, but do have information packs for self-guided tours.

According to Wikipedia, there is also a Channel islands Occupation Society with two branches, one based on Jersey and the other on Guernsey.

It's Great That They Are Maintain Their Heritage. --GreGen

Flooded World War II Guernsey German Bunker Reopened By Festung Guernsey

From the BBC-Guernsey.

The Festung Guernsey organization pumped water out of four concrete structures built to house a 4.7 cm gun at Vazon Bay. There is also an identical bunker at L'Eree. They were a bit surprised to find a Congee eel and no one is sure how long or how it got there. After catching it, the eel was returned to the sea.

The bunkers were part of Hitlers Atlantikwall (Atlantic Wall) which ran from northern Norway to France and its border with Spain. It was built to defend occupied countries from the anticipated Allied attack.

No doubt German engineers determined that Vazon Bay would be a good spot to invade Guernsey.

Most Have Been One Thankful Eel. --GreGen

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Anti-Landing Devices Found on Guernsey

From BBC--Guernsey.

They were discovered by the group Festund Guernsey on the west coast during low water on Saline Bay near Grand Rocques. They were a part of German anti-landing defense. Four were found of the six needed to build the tetrahedron-shaped object. These were never removed after German withdrawal from the island.
The British Army disposed of these devices by cutting the wires that held them together and letting them fall to the beach and slowly sink into the sand.

Gales or tidal conditions exposed them. There are still ones at Fermain, Belle Greve and Fort Doyle. Germany placed them at mid-tide point, figuring that if there was an Allied attack it would be during rising tide. At mid-tide, their vessels/vehicles would hit the mines or obstacles and sink.


Missing Marines Laid to Rest-- Part 3

In 1949, Captain Henry White and S.Sgt. Thomas Meek were declared "non-recoverable," and their names were etched on the Tablets of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

On a separate recovery mission in Vanuatu in 2010, personnel from the military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command snapped aerial photos of Mavea Island. A year later, a team was on the ground interviewing residents, including Willy's son, who was a child at the time of the crash.

When excavation began in August 2012, the team found some bones along with old U.S. and Australian coins, White's rank insignia and Meeks ID card. They concluded they had enough evidence that the Marines had been found.

Too bad there was no mention of whether any relatives were found. --GreGen

Monday, November 18, 2013

Missing Marines Laid to Rest-- Part 2

Their plane was designated bureau number 06969, a line of planes that sank many Japanese vessels during the war. The crash occurred on a coral cliff less than two miles from the runway. A rescue party found its burnt wreckage and collected what they could of Captain White and S.Sgt. Meek, burying the remains in a nearby ravine, according to a 2012 report on the crash.

Four years later, after the war, a group of the Army's 604th Quartermaster Graves Company went to Mavea Island to investigate the crash, and also that of 2nd Lt. Bernard Jensen, whose aircraft had no identifying bureau number. They met two islanders known as Willy and Billy and "...Billy led the search party to an area of thick jungle and described what he saw there on the day of [Jensen's] crash. He explained to the [soldiers] that he and the Marine search party found only the pilot's body approximately 100 feet from the airplane. 

After a search of the crash site for any remaining evidence, the search team left Mavea Island without finding the BuNu 06969 crash site."

If At First You Don't Succeed.... More to Come Tomorrow. --GreGen

Turtle Bay Airfield, Espiritu Santo Island

From Wikipedia.

Following up on the last post.

Also called Fighter Field #1. Former World War II airfield on the island of Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides Islands. The first bases on Espiritu Santo were built to defend Efate and to support the Solomon Islands Campaign.

A group of SeeBees and a Marine anti-aircraft battery arrived at Turtle Bay 8 July 1942, to begin work on the airfield and were given twenty days to have the place up and running. Assisted by 296 infantry, 90 Marines and 50 islanders they had a 6,000 foot long runway cleared and surfaced with crushed coral.

They made their target date.

The first fighters arrived July 28, 1942, followed the next day by B-17 bombers from the 26th Bombardment Squadron. Planes were fueled from drums and the first attack against Guadalcanal was launched July 30th.

The base was disestablished 2 Jan 1945 and the same happened to NOB Espiritu Santo 12 June 1946. The airfield is now largely overgrown with vegetation.

According to the excellent Pacific Wrecks site, the airfeield was built in the middle of a coconut plantation with rows of plam tress lining both sides of the runway.

Never Heard of Turtle Bay Airfield Before. --GreGen

Missing Marines Laid to Rest-- Part 1

From the Oct. 28, 2013, Marine Corps Times by Andrew deGrandpre.

The remains of two Marines missing since World War II were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Oct. 18th. Captain Henry White and Staff Sgt. Thomas Meek were in a SBD-4 Dauntless dive bomber that crashed July 21, 1943, on Mavea Island in the South Pacific about 1,100 miles from Australia's east coast. It is part of the Vanuata Chain.

The two Marines had taken off from Turtle Bay Airfield on the Espiritu Santo Island, a staging point for Allied operations against the Solomon Islands.. They were on a nighttime training mission when they went down about three minutes after takeoff.

The pilot, Henry White, 23, of Kansas City, Mo., and his gunner Meek, 19, of Lisbon, La., were assigned to a Marine scout bomber squadron. White had been commissioned a Marine officer in 1942, having come up through the Naval Reserve. Meek was the great grandson of noted American explorer Kit Carson.

Always Glad to Find Them. --GreGen

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Russian Guns in German Battery On English Soil-- Part 3: The Imperator Aleksandr, From World War I to the Cold War

After rebuilding the guns to accept German ammunition, they were placed at Batterie Mirus in Guernsey. The Finns used four of the remaining 12-inch guns in coastal batteries and the last four were used to replace ones on Soviet Railway guns.

After the war, these last eight were handed over to the Soviet Union and kept in operation until 1991. One turret is now a memorial at Isosaan and one barrel is preserved at the Finnish Coast Artillery Museum in Kuivasaan.

When captured, the Nina was also carrying some of the Aleksandr's 13-cm guns. Some were used at the fort at Tangane on the island of Rugsunday. These guns engaged the British light cruiser HMS Kenya during Operation Norway Archery in 1941, but saw no other action.

So There You Have the History of the Guns of the Aleksandr. --GreGen

Russian Guns for German Battery on British Land-- Part 2: The Imperator Aleksandr III

The 551-foot long Imperator Aleksandr was interned at Bizerte by the French after it unloaded the White Russians (anti-Communist). It was later scrapped by them to pay for dock fees. Its guns were put into storage and later used by the Germans (at Guernsey Island) and Finns for coastal artillery. The Soviets and Finns continued to use the ship's guns into the Cold War.

The Aleksandr's main armament consisted of a dozen 12-inch guns mounted in four triple turrets.

These twelve guns were placed in storage in Bizerte. In June 1940, the French gave them to Finland. Eight made it safely to that country, but four were seized by Germany aboard the SS Nina when they invaded Norway April 1940.

About Those Russian-German Guns on Guernsey. --GreGen

Friday, November 15, 2013

Russian Guns for the German Battery On English Land-- Part 1: The Imperator Aleksandr III

Last week I wrote about the German battery on the British Channel Island of Guernsey that had its main 14-inch guns that had been on a Russian battleship. I decided to find out some more about that battleship.

From Wikipedia.

The Russian battleship IMPERATOR ALEKSANDR III had an interesting history. It was begun before World War I, completed in 1917 and served in the Russian Black Sea fleet during the war. There were several Russian ships by the name Imperator Aleksandr, but this is the one the guns came from.

It was later renamed Volia, or Volya, which means freedom in Russian. The ship was surrendered to Germany in 1918 who then turned it over to the British under terms of the Armistice. The British then turned the ship over to the White Russians in 1919 during the Russian Revolution. The ship helped evacuate the White Russian from Crimea in 1920 when the Red Russians took control of the country.


Women Marines-- Part 2: BAMs

From Wikipedia.

The first women Marines served during World War I. Opha Mae Johnson was the first woman to enlist in the USMC on 13 August 1918. At first, women were nicknamed Marinettes.

During World War II, the Womens Reserve was officially established 13 February 1943. By the end of the war, some 85% of all enlisted USMC personnel at headquarters were women.

They were often referred to as Lady Marines, though other branches had catchier names for their female personnel like WACs, WAVEs and WASPs. One female reporter came up with the name Beautiful American Marines, or BAMs. It didn't take long for regular Marines to start referring to them as BAMs, Broad Ass Marines.

Oh Well. --GreGen

Women Marines-- Part 1

From Women of World War II. I didn't know much about women Marines in the war until I met Madeline Weiner at the Marine Corps Birthday breakfast, so decided to do some more research on them. We had two active duty female Marine officers in attendance as well so women have come a long way in the USMC.

On July 30, 1942, the Marine Corps Womens Reserve was established as part of the Marine Corps Reserves. Their mission as stated was to provide qualified women for duty at shore establishments, releasing men for combat duty.

They were assigned to over 200 different jobs and here is a partial list: radio operator, photographer, parachute rigger, driver, aerial gunnery instructor, cook, baker, quartermaster, control tower operator, motion picture operator, auto mechanic, telegraph operator, cryptpgrapher, laundry operator, post exchange (store) manager, stenographer and agriculturalist.

And, More to Come. --GreGen

Marine Corps 239th Birthday Breakfast: Part 7: The Commandant's Message

Finishing up with General James F. Amos' annual birthday message: "Sergeant Major Michael Burrett joins me in congratulating each of you. Because of you, your selfless service, and your many sacrifices, our Corps remains strong and ready to respond to any crisis.

Throughout history, Marines have faced tough times and there will be tough times ahead, but there is no challenge we cannot overcome if we remain honorable and always faithful to our Nation, our Constituition and each other. Happy birthday, Marine!

Semper Fidelis

James F. Amos
General, U.S. Marine Corps
Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Congratulations USMC!! --GreGen

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Marine Corps 238th Birthday Breakfast-- Part 6

We had a 20-25 member unit of Young Marines present who were ages 8 to probably 16. They were being trained by two active-duty sergeants and were impressive kids. At one point, a middle school Young Marine accidentally bumped into me and said, "Excuse me, sir." I was impressed.

There was also a Marine at my table with a Survivor Tet Offensive patch. Altogether, we had six World War II veterans and 8 Korean War veterans. Each one was escorted to the breakfast table by the Young Marines.

I was sitting near the oldest Marine, Corporal Madeline Weiner who served from 1943-1945 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. She had a great sense of humor and referred to herself as a BAM. I'll get to that later.

Every breakfast, they walk around with microphones and everyone gets a chance to say something about their Marine service. When they came by me, I mentioned about the Doolittle Raiders Final Toast later today.

Ooh Rah!! --GreGen

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Marine Corps 238th Birthday Breakfast-- Part 5: Cake Cutting Ceremony

After the messages were read, the tradional cake cutting ceremony took place and, as in years past, the good folks at Lovin Ovens in Round Lake donated a magnificent cake with the Marine Corps emblem done in icing. This is where the oldest Marine present gives a piece to the youngest active duty Marine, signifying the passing on of tradition and knowledge.

This tradition was begun in 1925 in Philadelphia as a coming together of the old with the new.

Oldest Marine in attendance was a woman, Madeline Weiner, born in 1922. She received the first piece, then presented the second piece to Corporal Largent, who was born in 1990. This brought chuckles from the other, much-older, Marines in the room even though Corporal Largent was 23. Signifying warriors, the cake was cut with a sword.

After that, we had the retiring of the colors and introduction of guests.

Marines Are All About Tradition. --GreGen

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Marine Corps 238th Birthday Breakfast-- Part 4: The Commandant's Message

"This year, we celebrate the anniversary of several epic battles in our celebrated history: the 70th anniversary of the 2nd Marine Division landing on Tarawa, the 45th anniversary of the Battle of Hue City, and the 10th anniversary of the 'March Up' to Baghdad. Marines who fought in these legendary battles each made their mark upon the history of our Corps.

"They have passed a rich and illustrious legacy on to us, a much heralded reputation. It is ours to jealously guard and it is up to us to make our own marks and thus proudly pass it on to the generations of Marines who will follow."

Words to Be Proud Of and Continue. --GreGen

Marine Corps 238th Birthday Breakfast-- Part 3: The Commandant's Message

Marines of generations past built our reputation as the most disciplined and honorable warriors to ever set foot on a battlefield, and we have triumphed in every battle because our Corps has always focused on iron discipline and combat excellence.

This is who we are, this is what we do! It matters not whether you carried an M-1, M-14, or an M-16. It matters not whether you fought on a lonely island in the Pacific, assaulted a citadel in the jungle, or marched up to Baghdad. It matters not whether you are a grunt, pilot or a loggie (logistics). What matters most is that when the chips were down and things got down your fellow Marines could count on you to stand and fight...and fight we did!"


Monday, November 11, 2013

The Doolittle Raiders Final Toast-- Part 1

This past Saturday, Liz and I stayed home long enough to see the ceremony live from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base's National Museum of the US Air Force, featuring three of the surviving Doolittle Raiders and their Final Toast to "those who have gone on before."

This was major history happening right before our eyes and we got to see it. It streamed live on the National Museum USAF and you can probably still see it at the site. I have been keeping tabs on the surviving Doolittle raiders on this blog and on my history blog before this for three years now. I also kept up with the last survivors of World War I.

Dignitaries were there, but I have to wonder why President Obama, the vice president or Secretary of Defense weren't in attendance. What these men accomplished and the courage they displayed is what the Greatest Generation is all about and they took it to a new level. I WOULD have been there.

The Greatest of the Greatest. --GreGen

Marine Corps 238th Birthday Breakfast-- Part 2: The Commandant's Message

From James F. Amos, General USMC, Commandant:

"For 238 years, The United States Marine Corps has proudly served our great Nation with unfailing valor--bolstered by the enduring fortitude of our fellow Marines, our families, and our friends. This is why each year on November 10th, Marines from all generations gather together, in groups large and small, to celebrate the birthday of our Corps and to reflect on the proud legacy and warrior ethos we share. This is what unites us as Marines.

From our first battle at New Providence to today in Afghanistan, Marines have always shown that they were made of tougher stuff-- that when the enemy's fire poured in from all angles, and the situation was grim, Marines unequivocally knew that their fellow Marines would stay behind their guns, fight courageously, and drive the enemy from the battlefield.

We have always known hardship, fatigue and pain...but we have never known what it is to lose a battle."

The Few, the Proud....

Marine Corps 238th Birthday Breakfast-- Part 1

This past Saturday morning I attended the Tom Grosvenor Memorial Marine Corps Birthday Breakfast& Toys for Tots at the Fox Lake, Illinois, American Legion, Lakes Region Post 708. I've been doing this for at least the last 6-7 years and wouldn't want to miss it.

This event had its origin in 1970 when brothers Ken and Tom Grosvenor, both former Marines, would call each other on November 10th to wish each other a happy Marine Corps birthday. In 1982, Tom suggested they get together with other Marine friends and on November 10, 1983, they all met together at Hoff's Kitchen in Grayslake, Illinois, and it has been going on ever since, now in its 30th year.

That day, the Original Thirteen met: Jim Bissing, Tom Farm, Ben Floyd, Mike Gray, Ken and Tom Grosvenor, Ernie McClannahan, Jeff Ryham, Don Senger, Pete Tekampe, Jim Turnbull, Ernie Van Es and Steve Watkins.

Libby Collins of Milwaukee's WTMJ radio served as master of ceremonies. The Marine Corps League Color Guard posted the colors and then the birthday message of the Marine Corps Commandant and General Lejeune's message were read.

The Few....  --GreGen

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Liz and I Toasted Doolittle Raiders' Final Toast Yesterday

We watched the ceremony live from the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton, Ohio, yesterday. And, as three of the four survivors took that Final Toast of the 1894 Hennesy Brandy, we had a toast of our own. That was a moving ceremony and big-time history. --GreGen

World War II Marines At the USMC Birthday Breakfast Yesterday

Today marks the 238th birthday of one of America's best fighting forces, the United States Marines. Yesterday, I attended the Tom Grosvenor Memorial Marine Corps Bithday Breakfast in Fox Lake, Illinois. We had six World War II Marines in attendance, including one woman, most doing quite well healthwise. I'll be writing more about it here in the next week. Happy 238th, USMC. --GreGen

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Final Toast for the Doolittle Raiders Today

As I prepare to leave to go to the Tom Grovsner Marine Corps Birthday Breakfast (marking the 238th) and Toys for Tots Kickoff at the Fox Lake, Il., American Legion in a few minutes, I went to the National Museum of the USAF site and found a tag for the Doolittle Raider Final Toast at the upper left-hand corner and a short video reading "One Aircraft Carrier...16 Bombers....80 Men....One Incredible Mission."

That pretty-well sums it up.

I'll be watching the live feed at the site this afternoon at 5 P.M. CST. The Mission Officially Ends Today. --GreGen

Friday, November 8, 2013

It's the Final Toast for the Doolittle Raiders-- Part 2

The toasting tradition began in 1959 when the city of Tucson, Arizona, presented the Raiders with a set of 80 silver goblets, each with the name of a Raider. In the past reunions, a toast was made to those who had died since the previous meeting, then, that member's goblet would be turned upside down in the display case.  
Due to advancing age and health issues, it was decided that the reunion this past April would be the very last one. However, the surviving members wanted one last private toast and that is what will happen tomorrow.

Efforts are also underway to award a Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian award, to all the Raiders.

The Raid started off from Alameda NAS and was launched from the USS Hornet. The original Hornet was later sunk in the Battle of Santa Cruz Island in October 1942. The current USS Hornet was being built at the time as the USS Kearsarge but was given the name.

The final toast is not open to the public but will have a live feed at the Pentagon Channel at 6 P.M. EST. It is also going to be available at www.nationalmuseum/ and

I plan to be watching when this history takes place.

To the Raiders. --GreGen

It's the Final Toast for Doolittle Raiders-- Part 1

From the Oct. 30, 2013, Contra Costa Times "Doolittle Raiders to gather for a final toast" by Peter Hegarty.

"They carried off one of the most legendary attacks of World War II and boosted American morale when victory over Japan seemed far from certain."

But for the survivors of the Doolittle Raid, their mission will only truly end when they raise a final toast to those who were with them that fateful day and who have since died. Just four of the men are still living.

Richard Cole, Edward Saylor and David Thatcher will be at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, tomorrow, November 9th, to do just that.

Each will lift a silver goblet of brandy during the solemn ceremony. The fourth survivor, Robert Hite will not be in attendance due to poor health.

Some of the Greatest of the Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Guernsey World War II Battery-- Part 2

The fortification housed more than 300 German soldiers. Their mission was to attack Allied shipping in the English Channel and secure convoy routes for German ships.

The 12-inch guns came from the Russian battleship Inperator Alexandr Trety, commissioned in 1917. The 27,300 ton warship had its name changed to Volya, meaning liberty, after the Russian Revolution and it served with the German Navy in the Black Sea. It was renamed the General Alekseyev when it became a part of the Russian White Navy.

It was broken up in 1935 and its 12-inch guns placed in storage before being sold to Finland in 1939. The German Navy captured a steamer carrying the guns and they were reconditioned and installed in Guernsey.

The battery was operational in 1942 and named after Naval Captain Rolf Mirus, who was killed traveling between Guernsey and Alderney.

Fortification Architecture. --GreGen

Guernsey World War II German Battery May Be Opened to Public-- Part 1

From the March 10, 2011, BBC Guernsey.

Batterie Mirus was built by occupying German forces on high ground along the west coast of the island of Guernsey. It consisted of four 12-inch gun emplacements and is located on now-private land. The new owner of the land has now allowed the historical group Festung Guernsey access to the battery.

It is overgrown and its interior full of trash and soil. Its guns were originally on a Russian battleship and were scrapped after the war.

Each gun site had an undergroud area with barracks, ammunition storage, generators, heating and ventillation systems. The compound also had anti-aircraft guns, flamethrowers, mortars, machine guns, radar, smaller artillery and searchlights.

No Slouch of a Fortification. --GreGen

A "Rosie" Turns 105: Jennie Truncale

From the April 3, 2011, Fort Myer (Fla.) News-Press.

Jennie Truncale, 105, of South Fort Myers, Florida, is still on the go. During World War II she made bullets for the fighting men and was featured on the cover of "Woman Power Magazine" in 1942, shown cutting out cardboard fuse rings in the press room of Scovill Manufacturing in Waterbury, Ct.

She quit school at age 15 to begin working there. She and hundreds of thousands of other women replaced some two million men in uniform who were off to war. She ended up working there for 38 years.

She is a long-standing member of the Rosie the Riveter Association.

FOLLOW UP:  Since this story is over two years old and because of her advanced age, I did a follow up to see how she was doing. Jennie Truncale is now 107 "years young" and according to the 4-12-13 River Weekly News is living with her daughter and had a birthday luncheon at the Continental Women's Club in Fort Myers.

She was born April 11, 1906 when the average life expectancy was 50. She grew up on a farm.

The Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pearl Harbor Survivor's Ashes Committed to Sea

From the Oct. 31, 2013, Navy News.

The ashes of GALE MOHLERBRINK were scattered in Pearl Harbor near the USS Utah Memorial by Ford Island at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during an October 29th ceremony.

He was born in 1924 and entered the U.S. Navy at age 17 and stationed on the heavy cruiser USS Northampton CA-26, but had been assigned to work ashore on the Captain's Gig, a job entrusted to only the best sailors.

After the attack, he worked to rescue survivors and then went on patrol in Hawaiian waters looking for the Japanese Battle Fleet.

He held the rank of coxswain at Pearl Harbor and later in the war was at the Battles of Midway and Guadalcanal where his ship earned six battle stars before it was sunk at the Battle of Tassafaronga. Mr. Mohlerbrink survived that despite being in shark-infested waters until a destroyer rescued him and his shipmates.

Later, he served on the destroyer USS Edison (DD-439). //// He died July 7, 2013. //// Another of the Greatest Generation.


More Pearl Harbor Deaths

NELSON J. "FERGY" FERGUSON, 93-- Died Oct. 6, 2013. Was at Schofield Barracks during the attack and a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Association (PHSA).

JOHN RAUSCHKOLB, 92 Died Oct. 12th in Marion County, California. On the USS West Virginia during attack and led the local PHSA chapter. Four vintage WW II-era vehicles were displayed at his services.

The Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Britain's Guernsey Island in World War II

From Wikipedia.

This past week I posted two articles about German defense mines being found back in 2012 on the island of Guernsey and the opening of a German bunker. I have several other 2012 items to write about as well as I play catch up on my World War II articles.

I was completely unfamiliar with the existence of this island or its occupation by the Germans during the war before the blog, so here is a little background information.

In my War of 1812 blog, I found out that British war hero Isaac Brock, commander of British forces in Canada in the first year of the war, was also born there in 1769.

Guernsey is a British Crown Dependency, one of what is called the Channel Islands, in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. It includes the main island of Guernsey and several smaller nearby ones.

The Bailiwick of Guernsey was occupied by German forces during World War II. Before its occupation, most of the island's children were evacuated to Britain where they lived for the duration of German occupation. Some never returned. In addition, some Guernsey residents were sent to camps in southwest Germany.

The island was heavily fortified by the Germans "out of proportion to the island's strategic value."

With the war's 70th anniversary upon us, Guernsey has taken steps with its heritage.

Remembering. --GreGen

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Maui in World War II-- Part 4

From Wikipedia.

This last week I have been writing about the Hawaiian island of Maui during the war. Here is a general overview of its role in the war.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Maui airfields were militarized. In 1942, the military determined that Pu-unene airport was unsatisfactorty so condemned it and began building a new NAS. Even so, they continued to use Pu'unene and expanded it during the course of the war.

Maui served as a staging center, training base and point of rest and relaxation during the war. At the island's peak use in 1943-1944, 100,000 military personnel were stationed there.

Maui was the home base of the 4th Marine Division in Haiku. Its beaches were used for practice landings and for training in marine demolition and sabotage. The Maui Agricultural Company converted its kiln facility to a cement plant for the duration of the war.

After the war, thousands of ex-GIs settled in the Hawaiian islands, including Maui, and many returned as tourists which became a basis of Maui's modern economy.

An Island At War. --GreGen

World War II Air Ace Buried In an Unmarked Grave

From the Feb. 12, 2012, U.K. Telegram "World War II: air ace in an unmarked grave."

The remains of Flying Officer Derek Allen was found after being in an unmarked grave for 71 years. Over an eight-day stretch when he was 22-years-old, he was shot down twice and credited with four outright and three shared enemy kills.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down a German bomber that was wreaking havoc on Allied forces during the Battle of France in May 1940.

One day, his Hurricane fighter plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire. He bailed out and spent 24-hours walking through enemy-held territory to get to Allied lines. He went into battle two days later, but his plane was shot down again in northern France and this time he was killed. He was listed as MIA and presumed KIA.

Recently, Andy Saunders began researching on Flying Officer Derek Allen and discovered that a Hurricane plane had crashed the same day that Allen disappeared. His body was removed May 18th and buried in an unmarked grave in the village of Poix-de-Nord, near Cambra.

Some 40,000 RAF personnel were unaccounted for at the end of the war.

Let's Hope the Grave Is Now Marked, Or, Even Better, Moved Back to Britain. --GreGen

Follow Up from the 2-16-12 History Channel. Derek Allen's younger brother, Richard, now 81, will lead his family to his grave for a dedication.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Guernsey German World War II Bunker Opened

From the January 12, 2012, BBC Guernsey "Guernsey World War II German bunker opened at Cobo."

This past Saturday, I wrote about German mines being found on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel that had been occupied by the Germans during World War II. They also built fortifications to repell a possible attack.

The bunker on the west coast of the island was found flooded and is believed to have been untouched since 1947. It was empty with the exception of part of a weapon mount. Originally the structure housed a large armored turret with two machine guns.

After the war, it was destroyed for scrap. There is an identical bunker at Fort Hommet. A number of old German fortifications still exist around Guernsey and two have not yet been explored.

And, Before This Blog, I Never Knew the Germans Occupied a Part of Britain During the War. --GreGen

Maui's World War II Legacy-- Part 3

From the National Marine Sanctuaries site. Continued from Oct. 30-31.

Between June 5-18, 2011, the NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Maritime Heritage Program and the University of Hawaii's Marine Option program conducted a survey of sunken World War II-era aircraft and shipwrecks along Maui's southern coast.

Combat training impacted this area during World War II, especially coming in the months before major combined operations. Marine, Army and Navy personnel trained here from Ma alaea Harbor to Ahihi Bay.

Among items found: aircraft from the Marine Pu unene NAS; previously undocumented unidentified sailing vessel shipwrecks used in training; several carrier-based aircraft and three tracked amphibious vehicles.

Training could be dangerous as the numerous planes and assault vehicles attested. Lives were lost.


U-87: Sank Five Allied Ships


Last week and yesterday, I wrote about the sinking of the SS Port Nicholson by the U-87 off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and rescue by the Canadian warship HMCS Nanaimo.

The U-87 was commissioned 19 August 1941 and commanded by Joachim Berger for its whole career. In its career, it sank five ships totalling 38,014 tons.

Its most successful day came when it sank two ships, one the SS Port Nicholson, on June 16, 1942.

It was sunk 4 March 1943, west of Leix Oes off Portugal by depth charges from the HMCS St. Croix with the loss of all 49 crew.

Ships sunk by the U-87:

31 Dec 1941, SS Cardita, British, 8,237 tons
17 Jan 1942, SS Nyholt, 8.087 tons
16 June 1942, SS Port Nicholson, British, 8,402 tons
16 June 1942, SS Cherokee, U.S., 5,896 tons
11 October 1942, SS Agapenor, British, 7,392 tons.

The Story of a Submarine. --GreGen

Wilmington's Robert Taylor Housing / Chicago's Robert Taylor Housing

Back on October 8th, I wrote about public housing being built in Wilmington, NC, to accomodate the thousands of workers and military personnel who flocked to Wilmington during World War II. Indeed, Wilmington was very much involved in the war, despite being on the homefront for the United States. The city is actively pursuing the name of World War II City.

Some of the housing in those segregated days, was set aside for blacks, being the New Brooklyn Homes and later renamed the Robert R. Taylor Housing. I knew of a Robert R. Taylor Homes in Chicago and wondered if there were a connection.

There was.

I wrote about Robert Robinson Taylor in my Cooter's History Thing blog today.

Quite An Interesting Man, and Family. --GreGen

Monday, November 4, 2013

HMCS Nanaimo (K101)

From Wikipedia. Back on Oct. 25th, I wrote about the SS Port Nicholson being sunk by a U-boat and supposedly carrying one of the largest treasures ever in a sunken ship. The crew was rescued by the Royal Canadian Corvette Nanaimo.

It was named for Nanaimo, British Columbia, and commissioned 26 April 1941 and served until 28 September 1945. It was a Flower-class corvette, 205-feet long and mounting 4-inch guns, machine guns and depth charges.

After commissioning, it did escort duties from Halifax, Canada, for three months. In October 1941, it transferred to the Newfoundland Command and escorted convoys from St. John's to Iceland. In March 1942, the Nanaimo was assigned to the Western Local Escort Force and on June 10, 1942, picked up 86 survivors from the British merchant ship SS Port Nicholson which had been torpedoed by the U-87 northeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

In November 1944, it was ordered to Pacific Command and after the war was sold for commercial conversion and became the whale catcher Rene W. Viake. It was broken up in South Africa in 1966.

The Story of a Ship. --GreGen

Saturday, November 2, 2013

World War II Mines Found at Guernsey

From the Feb. 14, 2012, BBC Guernsey News "World War II mines found at Pembroke Bay."

During World War II, German troops occupied the British island of Guernsey. Two WW II German mines were found. One was discovered last week by a dog walker and destroyed by Guernsey police officers trained in bomb disposal. (Kind of strange in these days of terrorists to still have to worry about 70-year-old ordnance.

Two other German anti-tank mines were found nearby. The Germans were preparing for an anticipated Allied attack. The one discovered Monday prooved impossible to remove and authorities will attempt to remove it next week.

During the war, Germans heavily mined Guernsey's coasts. In bad weather, some of the mines fell off their barricades into the water. These mines are still live and after 70 years in the water are unpredictable.

It is unusual to find three mines together which probably came off the same barricade. Strong tides have shifted sand and brought the mines to the top.

Also on Feb. 7th, a flooded World War II bunker was reopened on Guernsey.

Be Careful in the Water. --GreGen

A Big Disappointment for Me Back in 2012

From the Feb. 15, 2012, WDTN NBC News "Doolittle Tokyo Raider Banquet Planned."

When I read about this back then, I was definitely planning to attend it in Dayton, Ohio.

It was announced that a limited number of tickets to a banquet and two luncheons were to be sold starting Feb. 15th for the 70th anniversary of the famous raid. The banquet was to be April 19th at the Air Force Museum and cost $70. Both luncheons were to be at the Hope Hotel's Richard J. Holbrooke Conference Center on April 19th and 20th. Cost for these were $35 apiece.

Sadly, when I looked into it Feb. 17th, all functions were sold out. I guess there are plenty of people aware of Doolittle's Raid and its significance.

Now, there is to be one final gathering of three of the remaining four survivors in Dayton on Nov. 9th that is not open to the public. Sadly, I wasn't invited.

Oh Well. Hats Off to These Members of the Greatest Generation. --GreGen

A World War II Connection

Yesterday, I wrote about Helen Wall of Massachusetts taking a ride in the 1941 Ford Super Deluxe convertible she and her husband Wally owned in 1941 before he shipped off to be a pilot during the war. This was in honor of her 100th birthday. From my RoadDog's Roadlog Blog.

Earlier this morning I wrote about Bosse Field in my Cooter's History Thing blog. This is loacted in Evansville Indiana, and is where the movie "A League of Their Own" was filmed, about the professional women's baseball league established to provide entertainment during World War II when so many ballplayers were serving in the military.

It's a Connection. --GreGen

Friday, November 1, 2013

USS West Virginia Survivor Setting Students Straight on Pear Harbor

From 2012 WJFW NBC NEWS "History Lives for Phillips Middle School Students."

Sylvester Puccio was a teenage pipefitter on the battleship USS West Virginia when it was torpedoed and sank at Pearl Harbor. His quick thinking made sure his shipmates had the opportunity to get off the ship when he fixed it so that the ship settled straight down instead of turning over like the USS Oklahoma.

Mr. Puccio is worried that today's students are getting the facts about the attack, but not the humanity of its history. He has the students write him, even though most are too young to have had a grandfather in World War II.

Students Getting Their History First Hand. --GreGen

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Maui's World War II Legacy-- Part 2

World War II related sites to see on the Hawaii island of Maui.

Camp Maui, near the town of Hai ku, today is a park. There are plaques and a monument commemorating the 4th Marine Division by "Giggle Hill" where many Marines spent time during the war with their girlfriends.

For Maui's civilians, "The war was not fought in a vacuum. Barbed wire lined its beaches and gas masks were required safety equipment. Black-out conditions were at night. Just three days after Pearl Harbor, martial law was declared on the island.

Liberties were curtailed and everything was under censorship. Photographers had to be registered and all film submitted to military censors.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Maui's World War II Legacy-- Part 1

From National Marine Sanctuaries "Maui's World War II Legacy."

There are reminders of the war submerged off the coast near the Hawaiian island of Maui which are ideal for divers.

During the war, NAS Kahului and Pu'unene were on the island. Kahului is now in civilian use as the Kahulai Airport.

NAS Pu'unene was closed in the 1950s and a raceway park is currently located there. There is also a runway for model airplane enthusiasts. Bunkers and revetments from the NAS are still there, however.

Also, submerged along Maui's south coast are tracked amphibious vehicles near where the Maui Amphibious Center at Kamalole Park is located. Today, there is a marker for the Underwater Demolition Teams.

And, More Stuff on Maui. --GreGen

American Rosie the Riveter Association

From the Feb. 11, 2012, Albany (Oregon) Democrat-Herald.

The American Rosie the Riveter Association (ARRA) is seeking women who worked in factories making war materials at the homefront during World War II. Thousands worked as riveters, welders, electrical, sewing clothing and parachutes and making ordnance.

The ARRA is collecting their stories. The association was begun in 1998 by Frances Carter in Birmingham, Alabama, and now has 4,000 members.

Glad to Have This Organization Saluting People Who Were Every Bit As Important As the People in the War Zones. We Would Have Lost the War But For Their Efforts. --GreGen

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Virginia Dare Receives the Gallant Ship Award

From the U.S. Merchant Marine site.

Over a 17-day period, the SS Virginia Dare, loaded with high explosives and en route to Murmansk, Soviet Union, repelled countless enemy bombs and torpedoes by accurate fire of its guns and skillful maneuvering.

Later in the war, the Virginia Dare and Liberty Ship SS Daniel Chester French were sunk when Convoy UGS 33 entered an Allied minefield 6 March 1944.


Guns From the USS Arizona Going Home?-- Part 3

Only one of the four main gun turrets remain on the wreck of the USS Arizona. In 1942, the Arizona's masts and superstructure were removed for scrap. The two aft turrets were removed and used as Hawaiian shore batteries. Turret one was left in place and the guns removed from turret two.

The state is also trying to get a 16-inch gun from the USS Missouri, also located at the Virginia site.


Guns From the USS Arizona Going Home?-- Part 2

Construction on the USS Arizona (BB-29) began March 1914 and was completed in 1915. The ship saw action along the U.S. eastern seaboard during World War I. In 1929 it began a 20-month refit.

At Pearl Harbor, the Arizona took eight bomb hits and 1,177 of its 1400 crew died. Three of the ship's officers received Medals of Honor as a result of their actions that day. Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd, the first U.S. flag officer to die in the war, was aboard. Captain Van Valkenburgh died as did Lt. Samuel G. Fuqua, the damage control officer.

Now, the ship's big 16-inch guns are in Virginia. Special permits are needed to move the guns, along with lifting equipment and transportation, this last being the biggest problem because of cost. Transportation alone, for the nearly 200 ton gun is expected to be $500,000.

That's a Lot of Gas. --GreGen

Monday, October 28, 2013

Guns From the USS Arizona Going Home?-- Part 1

From the Feb. 6, 2012, Arizonan.

The Arizona Capitol Museum has a popular exhibit of USS Arizona artifacts. Now, the Secretary of State, Ken Bennett, is leading an effort to bring the big 16-inch guns of the USS Arizona and USS Missouri to Arizona. This would represent the beginning and end of World War II for the United States.

He heard that the big guns were going to be sold for scrap. If the attempt to get the guns is successful, they will be put on display at the Wesley Bloin Memorial Plaza, one block east of the Capitol building. (Now we know the effort was successful and the guns are soon to be open to the public.)
Bringing 'Em Home. --GreGen

Peleliu "Dream Island" Littered With Deadly Relics-- Part 2

Continued from Oct. 24th.

Americans landed on the island's Orange Beach on September 15, 1944, and were caught in a major Japanese crossfire. An expected several day fight lasted almost three months. Some 10,700 Japanese troops were killed along with 2,300 U.S. Marines.

Peleliu's importance stemmed from an airstrip located there.

Today, Peleliu is becoming a tourist destination for Japanese and even American tourists. One Japanese man was seen putting sand from a beach into a plastic bottle as a souvenir.

The left-over ordnance is becoming very dangerous after nearly 70 years, especially as their safety mechanisms rust away.

There is a munitions disposal team that has, since 2009, removed 6,500 guns and other ordnance, 9 tons worth. Tourists are warned not to go roaming through the jungle.

A path has been cleared through Death Valley onto Bloody Nose Ridge where the heaviest casualties of the action took place.

Islanders were evacuated from Peleliu before the battle and when they returned, they didn't even recognize the place as it was so torn up by the fighting. Vegetation was burned to the ground and villages destroyed. At first, they sold war relics as scrap.

Some 500 people live on the island today and they would like to have an open-air air museum on it.

Remnants of War. --GreGen

Saturday, October 26, 2013

No More Sunday or Holiday Funerals in Wilmington

From the October 15, 2013, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then."

From the Oct. 1, 1943, advertisement in the newspaper: "Because of the limitations placed on delivery services, manpower shortages and the need for conserving equipment and gasoline, we, the cooperating undersigned florists and funeral directors, are forced to curtail some of the services rendered in the past.

Therefore it is our belief and decision to meet this problem by discontinuance of funerals on Sundays and legal holidays.

Signed: Lucy B. Moore, florist; Will Rehder, florist; Lena F. Westbrook, florist; Dorothy Owen, florist; Andrews Mortuary; Yopp Funeral Home; Harrell's Funeral Home."

Another Impact of the War At Home. --GreGen

Friday, October 25, 2013

Some Landlords Not Being Very Patriotic

From the Oct. 15, 2013, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then" by Scott Nunn.

From the Oct. 22, 1943, newspaper. From the 1930s to 1950s nationally syndicated newspaper columnist Ruth Millett discussed controversial issues in her column, We The Women, which ran in more than 400 papers, including the Wilmington Star-News.

Today she wrote about women and their children being turned away by landlords, even with their husbands fighting overseas or even killed. Wilmington's housing shortage was severe during the war and many public housing units were built.

These Landlords Certainly Weren't Showing Patriotism. --GreGen

SS Port Nicholson-- Part 3: Was There Treasure On It?

That is the big question. According to Wikipedia, it was reported in 2008 that the wreck of the SS Port Nicholson had been discovered by the Sub Sea Research company who believe the ship was carrying a cargo of platinum, gold and industrial diamonds as part of payment from the Soviet Union to the United States for Lend-Lease.

The company also believe that there were two Soviet envoys on the ship. Later, the Soviet Union reimbursed the United States for the lost payment on the Port Nicholson.

Then, there was something about the boxes being too heavy to lift.

Some maritime and World War II historians doubt that the ship was carrying this treasure, however. I was unable to come across any stories that the treasure was recovered.

It Will Be Interesting to See How This Story Plays Out. --GreGen

SS Port Nicholson-- Part 2

The Port Nicholson sailed from Halifax in June 1942 for Wellington (NZ?) in Convoy XB25, a route that ran from Halifax to Boston. It was carrying a cargo of 1600 tons of auto parts and 4,000 tons of military stores. (Whether it was carrying the treasure would probably have been kept secret.)

What they didn't know was that the U-87 was tracking the convoy. On a very stormy 16 June 1942, the submarine fired two torpedoes. One the Germans thought missed, but the other hit something, but they didn't know what ship.

It was the SS Port Nicholson. The first hit in the engine room and second on the stern. The ship began sinking immediately and the crew abandoned ship and were picked up by the Royal Canadian corvette Nanaimo. The ship did not sink immediately and was still afloat at dawn so it was reboarded to see if it could be saved. The storm worsened and the ship began sinking rapidly. The boarding crew left, but one of their boats were overturned and two drowned.

Worth a Try. --GreGen

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Peleliu: Dream Island Littered With Deadly Relics-- Part 1

From the Feb. 8, 2012, Spiegel On Line International "Pacific Battlefield Tourism: A Dream Island Littered With Deadly Relics" by Stephen Robert WeiBenboru.

Peleliu is an island paradise. Arriving on the island, you see a sign reading "Welcome to Peleliu-Land of Enchantment." Another reads "Remember that WWII ordnance is still dangerous and can injure or kill."

Peleliu is the site of one of the Pacific Theater's bloodiest battles between American and Japanese forces. There are rusty grenades and rifles strewn about as well as warplanes and tanks covered up in the vegetation.

Most of the debris was simply left where it was after the fighting.

Careful Where You Step on Peleliu. --GreGen

SS Port Nicholson-- Part 1: Treasure Ship?

From Wikipedia. Yesterday, I blogged about a 2012 article saying that treasure hunters had found this sunken vessel off Cape Cod which was loaded supposedly with several billion dollars worth (today's money) of Soviet payments for weapons during World War II. I had also written about it back in 2012. I was unable to come across anything about whether they found this treasure, however, and there is still some question as to whether it actually had the treasure in the first place.

The SS Port Nicholson was a British refrigerated cargo ship owned by the Port Line and completed 13 May 1919. Before World War II, the 481-foot long ship sailed between the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. During those years, it had several serious accidents.

More to Come. --GreGen

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Treasure Hunters Find Billions in Sunken Ship Off Boston

From the Feb. 8, 2012, Fox News.

They found the sunken ship off Cape Cod in 2008 after a three-month search but kept it quiet while resources and legal rights were obtained. The S.S. Port Nicholson was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1942. The stricken ship drifted before sinking 700 feet deep in George's Bank, a popular fishing channel with lots of shipwrecks.

The ship was carrying a cargo of precious metals from the Soviet Union to the United States with an estimated worth of $3 billion in today's dollars.

The site is divable but very difficult.

A Treasure-Hunting We Go. --GreGen

The Early Days of the War at Wilmington, NC

From the Feb. 1, 2012 Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then" by Scott Nunn. These are articles taken from the papers from back then.

JANUARY 18, 1942: Air warden McKean Maffit (one of the Maffitt family?) announced plans for sentries to stand guard on top of several tall downtown buildings to be on the lookout for fires or bombs set off by saboteurs. (This would not be surprising coming just over a month after Pearl Harbor was attacked. However, I notice they weren't on the lookout for enemy bombers.)

JANUARY 20, 1942: Herbert Frank Melton, 25, of Masonboro Sound (near Wilmington) was killed at Pearl Harbor. He was a B.M. 2nd Class on the USS Oklahoma and the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Melton. Graduating from New Hanover High School in Wilmington, he enlisted in the Navy in 1936. (His remains were never found.)

There was another sailor killed from the Oklahoma with the same last name, Edward Rudolph Melton, but evidently no relation. John Russell Melton died aboard the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor, also no relation.

The War Hits Home. --GreGen

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Old News, But Kind of Sad: Doolittle's Raiders

From the Feb. 2, 2012, Lancaster Eagle-Gazette.

The five remaining Doolittle's Raiders were planning to attend their group reunion at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton April 17-20th, for the 70th anniversary of their daring feat.

On April 18, 1942, just months after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, 80 flyers under Lt. Col. James "Jimmy" Doolittle gave the Japanese a taste of their own medicine.

This year's event features a banquet, memorial service, autograph sessions and they were also hoping for a massive fly-over by 25 B-25 bombers.

This year, they will also have the Chinese survivors who risked their lives in Japanese-occupied China, to save the flyers. Surviving crewmembers of the USS Hornet will also be on hand.

Then, the real sad part of the story: all five survivors of the Doolittle raiders are able to travel and will attend. Now, we are down to four with one unable to travel for health reasons who will be attending the very final get-together in Dayton, Ohio, November 9th.

Like I Said, the Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Monday, October 21, 2013

Wilmington, NC, at Pearl Harbor

From the January 18, 1942, Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

The battleship USS North Carolina was commissioned April 9, 1941, and the Star noted that there were 15 sailors aboard her from North Carolina, including Robert E. Cook of Wilmington.

The Jan. 9, 1942, Wilmington, NC, paper noted that there were many Wilmington area people serving in Honolulu on the day of the attack:

HENRY MELTON of Masonboro Sound, MARION JEFFORDS of Carolina Avenue, CONRAD LOTT of Leland, GEORGE LATHAN HARRIS of Masonboro Sound, A.L. JONES of Masonboro Sound,

Three Wilmington brothers: CLYDE MOORE, RALPH MOORE and ROBERT MOORE, ANDY WEBB of Wrightsboro, JOHNNY DAVIS of Carolina Beach, GEORGE THOMAS BORDEAUX of South 3rd Street,



Another Pearl Harbor Survivor Dies

From the Jan. 27, 2012, Onalaska (Wis.) Courier-Life "Pearl Harbor Survivor 'Dutch' Albitz dies" by Jessica Larsen.

Died at age 89. There are only about 40 Pearl Harbor survivors remaining in Wisconsin. He was a 19-year-old gunner on an anti-aircraft battery on the USS Oklahoma.

When it began listing over, he jumped into the fuel-oil covered waters where a small boat pulled him out and took him to the USS Maryland. Once there, he helped pass ammunition to an anti-aircraft battery.

After the battle, he was assigned to the light cruiser USS Helena. From there he served on the new battleship USS Indiana in the Pacific for the duration of the war.

Another of the Greatest. --GreGen

Singapore World War II Bomb Shelter Open Again

From the Jan. 27, 2012, Jakarta Globe "Singapore WW II Bomb Shelter Open for Tours" by Lim Yang Liang.

It is perhaps the last civilian air raid shelter in the city and on the ground-floor of Block 78 Guan Chuan Street, 1,500 square meters and used for up to 100 people.

It was used during the Japanese air raids in December 1941 and January 1942 until Singapore fell. Built in 1940 in public housing in response to mounting war pressure with Japan.

The National Heritage Board has opened it for the 70th anniversary. It is in good condition, though not original. Along with the tours, there are photos and oral accounts of the time. Japanese air attacks began December 8, 1941, and the city was not ready.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Britain's HMS Olympus Submarine

From Wikipedia. Continuing with the last blog entry.

The HMS Olympus was an Odin-class submarine. This class was designed for use by the Royal Australian Navy for use in long-range patrolling in the Pacific Ocean. The Olympus, however, was intended for British service.

Commissioned in 1930, it served on China Station from 1931 to 1939 and then off Ceylon for a year before redeployment in the Mediterranean in 1940. It was damaged in an air raid by Italian aircraft while in dock at Malta. It was repaired and sent to sea again.

When it was sunk, May 8, 1942, it was carrying members of the crews of three other submarines (the Pandora, P-36 and P-39) which had been sunk in aerial attacks at Malta. The nine survivors had to swim seven miles back to Malta.


HMS Olympus Submarine Found

From the January 12, 2012, Huffington Post "World War II Submarine HMS Olympus Found By Divers Near Malta."

The submarine was found and identified nearly seventy years after sinking after it struck a mine on May 8, 1942, near Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. Only seven of almost one hundred aboard survived.

Florida-based archaeology group Aurora Trust found it last year but were not allowed to tell about it until now. The submarine is sitting upright and in pristine condition other than damage sustained when the mine blew up. It is considered a war grave as crewmember bodies are still aboard.

The 80 meter-long Odin-class submarine was built in 1927 and is seven miles off Malta' coast. Many of the dead aboard her were survivors of the sinkings of three other submarines in the area because of German bombing as the British base at Malta was considered crucial.

Always Glad When a Lost Ship Is Found. --GreGen

Thursday, October 17, 2013

WWII's "Ship That Wouldn't Die" Survives Again-- Part 2

The USS Laffey is also the only surviving World War II destroyer that served in the Atlantic and took part during D-Day. It was decommissioned in 1975 and brought to Patriot Point in 1981.

Lee Hunt, 89, said, "It's where I spent my youth. I grew up on that ship." He is a Plankholder, meaning that he was a member of the original crew. "I was on it when I was 17 and spent my 18th birthday killing people in Germany in the invasion of France and right on to Okinawa and the Philippines and what have you."

Hunt was not surprised on that March 1945 attack. "We knew we were going to get hit. Every destroyer out there on picket duty knew they were going to be attacked."

Renovation of the Laffey was paid by a state loan which the museum intends to pay back from operating expenses.

Next Time in Charleston, I Know Where I'm Headed. --GreGen

World War II's "Ship That Would Not Die" Survives Again-- Part 1

From the January 23, 2012, Washington Post "WWII destroyer USS Laffey returns to SC home after 29 million in repairs."

"The Ship That Would Not Die" returned Jan 25th to its berth at the Patriot Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Charleston (SC) Harbor. It was towed doen the Cooper River after two years in drydock.

A group of fifty, including more than a dozen former crew members watched from the deck of another World War II ship, the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga.

The USS Laffey was built at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine in 1943 and got its nickname in March of 1945 when it was attacked by at least 25 Japanese planes, hit by four bombs and five kamikazes and suffered 103 casualties, but did not sink.

Quite a Valiant Ship. --GreGen

"No, I Have to be Able to Fly This Plane Back to England"

From the Jan. 22, 2012, My SA (San Antonio's Home Page.

Harry Seidel died January 20th at age 88.

At the onset of the war, he was working on B-17 bombers at Kelly Airfield and dreamed of flying a "Flying Fortress." He enlisted in the Army Air Force, became a pilot and flew 23 missions over Germany.

He received a Purple Heart on his final mission over Dresden. They had completed their run and were on the way back home when the plane was hit. The pilot was killed immediately. Mr. Seidel, as co-pilot, was hit in the stomach and elbow. Although losing blood rapidly, he took control. They were now down to two engines and the landing gear was damaged.

He was offered morphine for the pain, but replied, "No, I have to be able to fly this plane back to England." According to his son Sam Seidel, "He had one mission, and that was saving everyone's lives."

Mr. Seidel safely landed the plane in Molesworth, England.

It took him two years to recover from his wounds. Returning to the United States, he got lucky at poker and won enough to start Seidel Iron Works which does intricate welding on many historic structures, including the Joske Building, the River Walk ironwork and brass planters and railings at Trinity University.

America's Greatest. --GreGen

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Doolittle Raiders Gather One Last Time Next Month

From the Oct. 11, 2013, War History Online.

There are now only four remaining raiders from the 80 who took off with Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle that April 18, 1942, on a raid the Japanese didn't believe could happen. It did and provided a huge boost to U.S. morale and blow to Japanese pride.

Three of them: Lt. Col. Dick Cole, 98; Lt. Col. Ed Saylor, 93 and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, 92, will attend the last reunion in Dayton, Ohio, next month. Lt. Col. Robert Hite, 93, will not be attending because of health issues.

Only an additional 1,000 are invited to attend. Regrettably, one of those won't be me, but I sure would like to be there.

They will lift their glasses and sip some 117-year-old Hennessy Very Special cognac and say goodbye to a decades old tradition.

I'll sure be writing about the ceremony.

The Greatest Generation. --GreGen