Monday, February 29, 2016

Deaths: Ira Weinstein: Took Part in the Ill-fated Kassel Mission-- Part 1: 24 Bombers Shot Down

From the Feb. 5, 2016, Chicago Tribune by Joan Giangrasse Kates.

"The Battle of the Bulge and D-Day are landmarks of World War II, but less well remembered is the disastrous Kassel Mission of September 27, 1944, one of the great tragedies in U.S. military history."

Ira Weinstein survived that mission where 24 B-24 "Liberators" of the 445th Bomb Group were shot down over Kassel, Germany, in a matter of minutes.  Of the 230 men on those planes, 115 were killed or died of their wounds.  The rest, including Mr. Weinstein, a bombardier/navigator, became prisoners of war.

This is the first time I've heard of this mission.


Friday, February 26, 2016

USS Nevada Veterans Reunite in Boulder City, Nevada

From the feb. 17, 2016, Boulder City (Nevada) Review by Juan Diego Pergentili.

On February 10, Ansel Tupper, Les Putman, Byron McGinty, Richard Ramsey and Cliff Burks visited the Southern Nevada Veterans Home and the Nevada State Railway Museum.  They paid their respects to those who died during World War II at the Southern Nevada Veterans Cemetery.

Boulder City is considered the heart of veteran activity in Nevada.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Civilian Helicopter Crashes Near USS Arizona Memorial

From the Feb. 19, 2016, Navy Times.

A private helicopter giving Pearl Harbor tours crashed with five aboard, including a teenager, crashed at 10:30 a.m. local time near the Ford Island Bridge and the National Park Pearl Harbor visitor center.  Sad to find out yesterday that the teenager died, but the other four are alright.

This is the second mishap within a year in the area.  In 2015, the hospital ship mercy struck the USS Arizona memorial's dock, causing it to be closed for over a week.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Shorpy World War II Home front Photos-: New York and D.C.

Life went on back in the United States and the Office of War Information was there to take pictures of it.

JUNE 26, 2014:  HATTY'S HATS: 1943:  March 1943.  "Trucks in garment district.  By John Vachon, OWI.

JUNE 23, 2014:  EN ROUTE: 1943:  March 1943:  "Washington, D.C..  "Riding on a streetcar."  By Esther Bubley, OWI.

JUNE 22, 2014:  I FEEL FINE:  1944:  June 1944.  "Brooklyn, N.Y. Home nursing class held at community house of the Church of the Good Shepherd."  Howard Hollum, OWI.

JUNE 21, 2014:  RACING DAY PEOPLE: 1943:  March 1943.  New York, N.Y. Times Square on a rainy day by John Vachon, OWI.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Fewer World War II Veterans Now

The last blog entry got me to thinking about the passing of a generation of our warriors.

When I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, it seemed that everyone of my parents' friends were World War II veterans, either having served or been involved on the home front.  I didn't think much of it.

My father was too young to fight as he graduated high school in 1946.  His brother was in the 101st Airborne at the Battle of the Bulge and one of only two to survive from his company at that battle.

I have been noting how fast the Greatest Generation has been passing away, especially the Pearl Harbor survivors, who are our oldest World War II veterans since it was the very first battle for the United States.  I now will post about Pearl Harbor deaths as soon as IO come across the obituary.  Pearl Harbor is the battle in the war where I have my biggest interest and a big reason why I started this blog in the first place.

In my Cooter's History Thing Blog I kept watch as the last of the World War I veterans died.  Both my grandfathers were in that one as well as a great uncle.

Keeping sentinel.  --GreGen

Gunner From USS Maryland-- Part 2: Fewer Veterans Now

Scott Ott told Frank that his dad was at Normandy and fought through to the Battle of the Bulge.  he and his brother Bud were waiting in Paris for orders to ship out for the invasion of Japan when word that Japan had surrendered came through, something they were very happy to gear.

World War II veteran Frank said he was grateful for Scott's father's service and also those that served in the Korean War.

Recently the Navy commissioned a new USS California, a submarine, and Frank sat in the front row at it.  His California was scrapped in 1959 and had been used in the atom bomb tests at Eniwetok Atoll.

Scott related that Sunday, at church, they had a Memorial Day service and afterwards at the recepption, he went around the room talking to as many older veterans as he could.  None were from World War II. but some from the Korean War.

When his father was alive, he said he remembered that they still had Civil War veterans who visited schools and rode in parades.  Someday Scott will tell his grandkids that there were still World War and Korean War veterans around when he was young.


Gunner From USS Maryland-- Part 1

From the May 26, 2014, PJ Media "Gunner from a ship that sank at Pearl Harbor" by Scott Ott.

Scott met an 88-year-old man named Frank at a department store helping his wife shop for clothing.  He was wearing a cap and polo shirt that said "USS California BB-44."

He shook Frank's hand and thanked him for his service while his wife was in the dressing room.

Frank enlisted at age 17 in 1944.  he joined the crew of the California after some sailors were killed and injured in a collision with the battleship USS Tennessee (also at Pearl Harbor that day)

His ship was originally commissioned in 1921 and sank at Pearl Harbor.  It was raised and towed to Bremerton, Washington, where it was rehabbed, upgraded and put back into service.


Monday, February 22, 2016

USS Squalus (SS-192)

From US Naval Institute.

The USS Squalus (SS-192) sank off the coast of New Hampshire during a test dive on May 23, 1939.  Twenty-six died on the diesel-electric submarine and 33 survived.

The sub was raised and refitted and recommissioned as the USS Sailfish (SS-192) and took part in all of World War II.


USS Semmes (DD-189)-- Part 2: Helped Recover the USS Squalus

Now as the AG-24 auxiliary ship assigned to submarines, in 1939, it took part in the recovery efforts of the submarine USS Squalus.

During World War II, the Semmes served as a convoy escort, provided training services for the Key West Sound School and anti submarine work in the Atlantic.

After the collision with the Senateur Duhamel, the Semmes put into Morehead City, North carolina, for temporary repairs.  Permanent repairs were completed January 3, 1943 at Norfolk and she resumed her duties.

The Semmes can be seen briefly in the 1943 movie "Crash Dive."

The Semmes was decommissioned in Philadelphia in 1946 and sold for scrapping.


Friday, February 19, 2016

USS Semmes (DD-189)-- Part 1: Destroyer to Auxiliary Testing Ship Prewar

From Wikipedia.

This was the first ship named for Confederate Naval officer Raphael Semmes.  Laid down June 10, 1918, by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company.  Launched 21 December 1918, commissioned 21 February 1920, sponsored by Mrs. John H. Watkins, granddaughter of Raphael Semmes.

It was the first ship to navigate into New York City Harbor using the Ambrose Channel pilot cable in 1920.

It was decommssioned in 1922 and recommissioned in 1932 when it was transferred to the US Coast Guard.  In 1934, it was returned to the Navy and recommssioned as an experimental ship.

It was officially redesignated as auxiliary ship AG-24 on 1 July 1935.  As such it served as an experimental ship assigned to submarines.  It tested and evaluated underwater sound equipment into the 1940s.


HMT Senateur Duhamet

From  They also have a map of Cape Lookout wrecks.

15 April 1942, the HMT Senateur Duhomel tows the American tanker Harry F. Sinclair, Jr, to Morehead City, N.C. after torpedoed and damaged 11 April 1942, by the U-203, seven nautical miles off Cape Lookout.

In 1944 the Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant blasted the wreck of the Senateur Duhamel, sunk by the USS Semmes,  with two tons of dynamite as it was considered to be a navigational hazard.  The cutter also dragged the wreck to remove any remaining high spots afterwards.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Collision of Allied Ships Off North Carolina in 1942-- Part 2: Climbed Overboard

The destroyer USS Roper was called to assist.  When roll was called on the Semmes afterwards, everyone was present, plus they added added one.  J. Woods, of the Seneteur Duhamel had climbed aboard when the two ships were locked together.

The Semmes' executive officer and Wood took a boat to find the Duhamel and reached it just in time to see it sink.  The masts were still above water.

They picked up the Duhamel's crew and took them to the Roper.  There were no deaths from either ship.

There was a comment from Dan. L. Nichols saying that his father was on the Semmes (AG-24) a Clemens Class destroyer commissioned in 1918 as DD-184.  It served as a destroyer until 1935 when it was reclassified.  His father was a torpedoman's mate 1st class and served on the Semmes from Feb. 27, 1942 until Oct. 12, 1943, was at the collision.


Collision of Allied Ships Off North Carolina Coast in 1941-- Part 1: USS Semmes and HMS Seneteur Duhamel

From Ships Sunk Off North Carolina Coast  "Seneteur Duhomel-USS Semmes collision May 6, 1942.

The HMS Seneteur Duhamel was a trawler launched in 1927 and commissioned into the British Navy in 1941, 913 tons and one 4-inch gun.

It was lent to the US Navy in Feb. 1942 under contract to operate off the east coast of the United States.

It was accidentally rammed and sunk by the U.S. navy auxiliary ship USS Semmes off Cape Lookout, North Carolina.  It is 65 feet deep and 7 miles southeast of Beaufort Inlet.

The British ship had been sent out to protect a convoy.  On May 6, 1942, it was headed to Beaufort Inlet in a light haze when it spotted another ship about a mile away.  The Dahomet flashed its lights asking :"What ship?"

The light blinded the Semmes' crew and before a reply could be given, the bow of the Semmes rammed amidships.  The Semmes offered to take the crew off, but were refused.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Queen City "Ghost Ship"-- Part 3: Now a Derelict Off the Ohio River

The Circle Line formed in 1946 and bought the Sachem which became the flagship of their fleet, being renamed the Sightseer.  The company offered tours around New York City.  The ship was retired in the early 1980s and left at an abandoned pier in New Jersey.

In 1986, Robert Miller of Cincinnati was looking to buy an old steam yacht and found the ship in New York's Hudson River and bought it for $7,5000.  It took ten days to repair ity and get seaworthy.  While under repairs, pop singer Madonna used it in her "Papa Don't Preach" video.

Miller planned to bring the ship to a plot of land he had purchased in northern Kentucky along the Ohio River.  He navigated the ship through the Great Lakes, down the Missisppi River to the Ohio River and finally got it to a creek on his property, about twenty miles from Cincinnati and here it remains, rusting away but a big must-visit site for kayakers.

Lots of pictures accompany the article.

So If In the Area, See a Very Historical Ship.  --GreGen

Queen City "Ghost Ship" USS Sachem/USS Phenakite-- Part 2: Thomas Edison Accuses Navy of "Pigeon-holing"

The U.S. Navy gave the Sachem to Thomas Edison to develop a way to destroy enemy submarines.  he used it to conduct experiments in New York Harbor, then sailed it to Key West and the Caribbean..  Sadly, Edison did not get along well with the Navy, who he said "pigeon-holed" every invention he came up with through experimentation.

After World War I the Sachem had many owners and eventually became a recreational fishing vessel in Brooklyn, New York in 1932 after being bought very cheaply during the Great Depression.  The new owners charged $2 to board it to party or to fish.

During World War II the Navy reacquired it and commissioned it as the USS Phenakite (PYC-25) in July 1942.  Its duty included training and patrol.  During the day, sailors trained aboard it and at night it patrolled off Key West.

Eventually it was assigned to guarding Long Island Sound in New York  It was returned to Captain Martin after the war and its name returned to Scahem.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Queen City "Ghost Ship"-- Part 1: The USS Sachem

From the March 18, 2013, Queen City Discovery site.

Twenty-five miles from Cincinnati there lies the wreck of a ship that fought in both world wars, served as a yacht, was in a pop star's music video, carried on of the world's great minds and shuttled tourists around New York City.

Launched on April 12, 1902, at Wilmington, Delaware, as the Celt, it has had many names, most recently Circle Line V.The 186-foot long, steam-powered yacht was made for a railroad executive.

Later the name was changed to the sachem for a new owner.

During World War II, to counter the U-boat menace, the Navy began leasing small, fast private craft to patrol the U.S. east coast.  In July 1917, the Sachem was acquired and became the USS Sachem(SP-192) and fitted with depth charges and machine guns.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Monday, February 15, 2016

Standing in the Footprint of History

June 2014.

To mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Getty Images photographer Peter Macdiarmid went through archival images of identifiable landmarks of the campaign then "literally stood on the footprints of history," taking present-day images of the same ground walked on by Allied forces.


World War II Zero Fighter Flies Over Japan

From the Jan. 27, 2016, Military Times by Miki Toda, AP.

A Mitsubishi "Zero" fighter made a brief flight from Kanoya base in southern Japan.  It was flown by former U.S. pilot Skip Holm.

Zero fighters were considered one of the most capable fighter planes  of World War II, rivaling the British Spitfire and American Mustangs.  It was a long-range plane and only a few are still in operating condition.

It was the first flight for Model 22 of Mitsubishi's A6M fighter with round wing tips.

This particular plane was found decaying in Papua New Guinea in the 1970s and was owned by an American until Japanese businessman Masahiro Ishizuka purchased it and brought it back to Japan last September.

The Japanese see the plane as a symbol of their technological advances and a reminder of the war.  In the last phase of the war, the Zeros were used as kamikazes.  Kamikaze pilots took off from the same airfield as this one to try to stop the Allied advance on the home shore.  Kanoya Naval Air Base is located on the island of Kyushu.

With its American owner, the plane made an appearance in the movie "Pearl Harbor" and was seen in various events around the country.


USS Nevada Reunion Set for February-- Part 3: Held in Las Vegas

After repairs and overhaul in Bremerton, the USS Nevada was sent to the Aleutian Islands and from there to Europe where it bombarded Normandy on D-Day.  Back to the Pacific it got some payback at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  Eleven crew members were killed in kamikazes and two others killed engaging Japanese shore batteries.

Deemed obsolete at the end of the war, it was painted bright orange and became a target during Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll, atomic testing.  It didn't sink despite two atomic explosions.

On July 28, 1948, 85 miles southeast of Hawaii, it was used for target practice but again didn't sink.  Five days later, at 2 p.m., Navy and Air Force planes finally sank the plucky survivor ship.


Friday, February 12, 2016

USS Nevada Reunion Set for February-- Part 2: Ship At Pearl Harbor

The USS Nevada Reunion will be held at South Point Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Chuck Pride has made a 35-minute movie "Battleship Nevada" which took him two years.

After commission and sea trials, the USS Nevada went to Europe where it joined the battleships Oklahoma and Utah escorting Allied convoys during World War I.  It was home ported at Pearl Harbor in 1940.  Three officers and 47 men were killed and 5 officers and 104 men injured.  Two crew members won the Medal of Honor and 13 received the Navy Cross.

After Pearl Harbor it received preliminary repairs and sailed under its own power to Bremerton Navy Yard in Washington state where it underwent $23 million in repairs, refitting and modernization for eight months.


Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Roland Peachee-- Part 2

Two bombs were dropped near Roland Peachee on board the USS Rigel.  One was near the bow and went through a motor lifeboat, but didn't explode.  The second landed in the water between the Rigel and a nearby tanker full of high test aviation fuel.  The water spray and shrapnel from it injured two or three sailors and both ships were lightly damaged.  Fortunately, the tanker did not explode.

Members of the USS Rigel's crew helped save crew of the USS Oklahoma after it capsized.  They used their cutting torches to cut through the one-inch armor plate on the hull near the propeller shaft.

Later, Mr. Peachee was aboard the Rigel as it participated in the battles of Coral Sea, Guadalcanal, New Britain, Cape Gloucester and New Guinea.

Mr. Peachee died February 7, 2016, and will be buried Feb. 16th at the Northern Nevada Veterans' Cemetery.


Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Roland Peachee in Nevada-- Part 1

From the Feb. 11, 2016, Nevada Appael  "Ken bacon: 'Day Is Done, Gone the Sun" By Ken Beaton.

Roland Peachee joined the Navy because:  "I got tired of using a mule's rear end as a compass, and decided there had to be something better, so I joined the Navy (October 17, 1934).  After my training at Hampton Roads, Va., I was stationed on the USS Maryland, BB 46, for six years."

He reenlisted in 1940 and was reassigned to the USS Rigel at Pearl Harbor.  It was a repair ship with machine shop, above and below water welding equipment with divers and repair capability.

He was cutting meat for the crew at 7:55 a.m. under a gray-painted canvas covering a portable butcher shop when he saw puffs of smoke followed by several loud explosions.

"Thinking it was the Army (having practice), I went ahead with my work, and little did I know we were being attacked."


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Last Member of Bedford Boys Dies At Age 97

From the Feb. 10, 2016, Channel 13 ABC News, Lynchburg, Virginia  "The last member of World War II Bedford Boys has died" by Ashley Ann.

This is quite a coincidence as I just wrote about the Bedford Boys in yesterday's post and mentioned Allen Huddleston's name.  He died the same day.

Allen Huddleston died February 10, 2016, at age 97.  he was a member of the U.S. Army National Guard 116th Infantry, 29th Infantry Division., Company A.

Mr. Huddleston suffered a broken ankle two weeks before D-Day, but rejoined his unit afterwards and said he didn't recognize many on his return as so many had been killed.  Company A had had a 90% casualty rate on the beaches of Normandy.

Bach in action, he was wounded at the Battle of Auchea in Germany and sent back to England to recuperate.

Sad to Reach a Last Like This.  --GreGen

USS Nevada Reunion Set for February-- Part 1: Undoubtedly the Last One

From the Jan. 28, 2016, Nevada Appeal "USS Nevada reunion set for next week."

For five days, former shipmates who served on the battleship from World War I which was heavily damaged at Pearl Harbor, fought in World War II and was later a target ship for postwar atomic testing before being purposely sunk by U.S. Navy and Air Force gunfire in 1948, will renew old friendships.

They meet on February 5th in Las Vegas to commemorate the upcoming 100th anniversary of the commissioning of the USS Nevada on March 11, 1916, at Boston Navy Yard.

The last reunion was held in 2010 in Reno, Nevada and drew about a dozen crew members.  They expect five to attend this year, all between the ages of 87-93.  They will be coming from Wisconsin, Texas, Arizona and Florida.  This will be"undoubtedly the last reunion of the USS Nevada Association."

Another dozen are alive but too old or infirm to attend.

Sad.  --GreGen

Pearl Harbor Survivor Celebrates 85th Birthday

From the Jan. 29, 2016, Lake havasu (Az) News-Herald by Buck Dopp.

George Blake was an Army corporal playing basketball in the gym when the attack came.

He remembered:  "We heard a lot of noise and went outside and looked up.  There were about 150 planes.  We thought this was a drill.  Then we saw the big red ball on the planes.

"At first we were told to take cover in the barracks."

He helped carry ammunition and set up machine guns.

Afterwards, his three year enlistment was extended to six, or until the Japanese surrender.

Reading further on in the article, I would have to say he is quite a character.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bedford Boy's D-Day Loss Still Casts Shadow on Virginia Town-- Part 2: "Where Are My Boys?"

Several years later, her mother had a stroke and would say, "Where are my boys?  Lucille Bogess', their sister, told the reporter, "I want to cry telling you that."

The country's National D-Day Memorial is in Bedford, Virginia, because of the loss.

One of the 35 Bedford Boys is Allen Huddleston, but he wasn't at D-Day because of an ankle injury during training.  However, he did see action in Normandy later.

Sergeant Roy Steven and his twin brother Ray were in different boats at D-Day.  The boats landed, but only Roy survived.

This year the town dedicated a new sculpture to their "Bedford Boys."


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bedford Boys' Loss Still Costs Long Shadow in Virginia Town-- Part 1: They Grew Up Together and Went to War Together

From June 6, 1944, CBS News by Jan Craeford.

"They grew up together, and as America went to war, so did they.  Thirty-five men from the small southern town of Bedford, Virginia, were in the same company, including two of Lucille Boggess' brothers."

On June 6, 1944, they and 150,000 other young men stormed ashore on D-Day.  That day, 4,800 Allied soldiers died and 19 of them were from Bedford, Virginia.

"We were getting ready to go to church on Sunday, and the sheriff brought the first telegram.  The second telegram was delivered by a cab driver.

She was 14 when her brothers Bedford and Raymond Hoback were killed on DoDay.  Her parents never got over it.


British General Sir Miles Dempsey's Diary at Auction

From the June 3, 2014 Daily Mail On Line "Diary of Second World War general who wrote off the week of D-Day landings by scribbling a line through it."

General Sir Miles Dempsey, known as "Bimbo" was second in command to British General Montgomery scribbled through Mon. June 5th thru Sunday June 11.  For every day during the operations he marked in pencil "D+1," "D+2" and so forth.

It is up for auction along with other items, including letters from Gen. Eisenhower.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Robert Addobati-- Part 2

He boarded the USS West Virginia to extract the burned and injured.  After that he stayed on the motor launch for two days and nights bringing the dead and wounded to the Solace from other stations.  He didn't talk about these experiences for many years but eventually began speaking about it at many local schools.

"I remembered reaching out and pulling them up.  You'd grab a sailor's arm, and the skin would pull off from being burned.  The water was covered with oil from the ships, and it was burning.  I did that for ours," he recalled.

Mr. Addoboti spent the rest of the war in the South Pacific, including the Battle of Guadalcanal.  The ship he was on was torpedoed in the Admiralty Islands near New Guinea and he was injured the following day and flown back to Pearl Harbor where he had a leg amputated.  He spent a year recovering at Mare Island Naval Hospital and after that went back to sea with the Military Sea Transportation Service.  He stayed there for seven years, participating in the Korean War where he helped evacuate the 1st Marine Division at Hungnam, North Korea.

After the war, he moved to Sacramento in 1966 where he was a founding member of the Sacramento Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Association and returned to Pearl Harbor many times.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Robert Addobati-- Part 1

From the Jan. 31, 2016, Sacramento (Cal.) Bee  "Robert Addobati, Pearl Harbor survivor, aided fellow sailors after bombing."  A photo accompanies the article of him and two grand children at the USS Arizona Memorial on December 7, 1990.  This really brings the story home for me.

He died Jan. 15, 2016.

Joining the Navy the day after high school graduation, he was assigned to the hospital ship USS Solace.  The ship sailed from Brooklyn Navy Yard through the Panama Canal and arrived at Pearl Harbor about a month before the attack.

On the day of the attack he was nineteen and standing on quarterdeck watch.  he was quickly ordered to man one of two motor launches bringing injured back to the Solace.

Mr. Addoboti ferried injured and dead from the USS Oklahoma.


Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Charles May: On USS Phoenix

From the Jan. 31, 2016, (Chicago) Daily Herald "Suburban Pearl Harbor survivor dies at 92"

Charles May grew up in a small town in Missouri and joined the Navy at age 17.  He was on the USS Phoenix when the attack came.

He and a group of other sailors from his ship were waiting on the quarterdeck for a motor launch which was taking them over to the USS Arizona for Protestant services when they saw the Japanese planes.  When they saw the red ball on their wings, they scattered for their battle stations.  He manned a 50 caliber machine gun as an alternate loader.

It was then that they heard , "All hands man your battle stations.  This is no drill."

He was living in Huntley, Illinois at the time of his death.  He did not talk much about his war experiences until after he saw the movie "Pearl Harbor."


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Enemies In War, WWII Vets Bond As Seniors-- Part 6: Fought for Both German and U.S. Infantry

Gunter Burhdorf was promised accelerated  citizenship if he enlisted in the U.S. Army.  Less than two years later, not yet a U.S. citizen, he was sent to Korea to fight for the coubntry that less than a decade before, he'd fought against.

This was the story Gunter told the men sitting in the lobby of the assisted living facility.  George Williams extended his hand in friendship and said, "You've seen a lot.  You have experienced a lot.  Buhrdorf took it and said, "Let bygones be bygones."

It helped that they quickly deduced that Buhrdorf's anti-aircraft fire could not have reached Williams in his B-24 Liberator bomber.

Williams, now 96, said:  "Over there, the thing was, we were bombing from 25,000 feet and what I was interested in was how high  his artillery pieces would reach.  And the ones he was shooting would go to 10,000 feet.  He couldn't reach me.  But anything we dropped could have hit him."

Quite a Story.  --GreGen

Enemies in War, 2 Vets Bond As Seniors-- Part 5: Danced With Gloria DeHaven on Plane Flight

Gunter Buhrdorf was captured an taken to a British internment camp on a small island off the coast of England.  His clothes were covered with lice and the food he was given consisted of watered-down cabbage soup.  He found dandelions, sea gull eggs and frog legs to eat on the island instead of what he was given.

There wasn't much left of Germany after the war and he decided to go to the United States and join his brothers who were already living there.

On his flight over in 1949, he sat in the back of the DC-6 airliner drinking Canadian Club whiskey with a group of Norwegians.  They dared him to ask a pretty girl sitting up front to dance with him.  So he did and she agreed.  They slow-waltzed on the plane to music playing over the speakers.

When they deplaned; photographers were waiting at the gate.  He waved at them, thinking they were there to greet foreign visitors.  But his brother laughed at him and said they were there to photograph Hollywood starlet Gloria DeHaven, who was returning from a USO show.


Enemies in War, 2 Vets Bond As Seniors-- Part 4: Fought the Russians

a World War II photo of Buhrdorf accompanies the article showing him in a Kriegsmarine uniform so he was a sailor.  I thought that since he was manning an anti-aircraft gun that he might have been in the German Army.

Gunter Buhrdorf knew that the men (foreign laborers who were prisoners) secretly built the submarines poorly so they would not be effective, but there was little he could do about it.

When the air raid alarms would sound, sometimes everyone would sleep in the torpedo tubes for safety.In April 1945, the British captured Bremen.  After this, he fought with the infantry against the advancing Russians.

He suffered one injury on his retreat westward toward Berlin.  A 3-inch-long piece of shrapnel from a mortar shell clipped him in the back while he was dodging enemy fire.  It's his only war scar.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Enemies in War, 2 Vets Bond As Seniors-- Part 3: Manned A.A. Gun and Worked on U-boats

As a teenager, Gunter Buhrdorf manned 20 mm anti-aircraft guns, but action was relatively calm until the United States entered the war.

He said:  "When America got into the war, that's when things changed.  The bombings changed, the size of the attacking force was increased from 50 to 500."

Bremen, the northwestern German town where his family lived, was leveled.

At age 18 Burhdorf was put in charge of a crew of foreign laborers tasked with building Hitler's ambitious submarine fleet.  The men were prisoners, but Burhdorf saw to it that they were fed.  "Hitler would not have liked that.  That was not to be advertised during the war."


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Enemies in War, 2 Vets Bond As Seniors-- Part 2: Joined German Army at 14

Gunter Buhrdorf found out that George Williams had been a bomb-dropping Allied pilot over Germany.  Gunter had been manning anti-aircraft guns for the Germans.

At first, he said nothing.

Then one evening in the spring of 2013, several weeks later, a few men were sitting in the lobby at Commonwealth Assisted Living Facility in Christiansburg, Virginia, and they began swapping stories.  Williams began reminiscing about the war and flying through heavy German flak.

Gunter Buhrdorf overcame his fear and started telling about his World War II experience for 45 minutes.

He had only been 14 years old when he joined the German Army in 1939.  His family hadn't supported Adolph Hitler.  Fighting for Germany was for love of country, not its leader.

During the war, Hitler's government kept what was happening with Jews in the concentration camps secret.  Buhrdorf clearly remembers the moment in August 1945 after the fighting had ended, when he first read a newspaper account of the horror.


Enemies in War, 2 Vets Bond As Seniors-- Part 1: Same War Different Sides

From the Jan. 10, 2016, Chicago Tribune "Enemies in WWII, 2 vets bond as seniors" by Colby Itkowitz, Washington Post.

Christiansburg, Virginia.

"On his first evening in his assisted living home, Gunter Buhrdorf ate dinner with another World War II soldier.

"He was, for the second time in his life, a stranger in a new land.  The assisted living facility staff gave him an open seat at George Williams' four-person table.  They hoped the men, veterans several years apart in age, would get along.  But, Buhrdorf, now 90, was reluctant to share wartime stories with his new dining companion.

"Yes, the men were both veterans.  But they had fought on opposite sides."


Monday, February 1, 2016

LCT's Lost

From Navy Department.

LCT 4's  Lost:  875 and 967

LCTs Damaged:  690, 921, 1035, 1037, 1124

LCT-5 (Mark V)  Lost:  25, 27, 30, 332, 294, 305, 362, 364, 458, 486, 2049, 2053, 2307, 2498

LCT-6 (Mark VI):  540, 593, 597, 665, 703, 711, 714, 777, 856


D-Day Sailor Recalls "Miracle" Survival-- Part 3: Cold Water Brought Him Around

"I was completely unconscious in the water with all my clothes on."  Disoriented, the cold water brought him around.  He swam to a raft about 30 feet away.  Taking account of his shape, he saw that he was badly bruised and his nose was almost cut off.  A PT boat threw him a line and towed his raft and a couple other survivors.  He pulled Nick Vasiliou and another soldier out of the water.

After recuperation and shore duty in England, he was assigned to a rocket equipped landing craft and sent to the Pacific, headed for Japan and the final invasion.  His ship was five days out of Pearl Harbor when the atom bomb was dropped and then came Japan's surrender soon after that.

Glen McClain is now 89 and twice widowed.  He has a 13th larger cross in his memorial, this one for his son Bob who died in a car accident in 1978.


D-Day Sailor Recalls "Miracle Survivor"-- Part 2: In the 14th Wave at D-Day

According to Glen McClain, "I was very fortunate, I call it a miracle."  He survived, but to this day carries internal scars such as the image of a shipmate who lost a lower jaw and half of his tongue who tried to speak to him.McClain also remembers a soldier calling for help but he couldn't reach him without drowning himself.

They were in the 14th wave going into the beach on June 6, 1944, and didn't expect much in the way of problems.  They were taking artillery in as well as a truck and its crew when they hit a mine designed to sink a battleship.

Mr. McClain was a seaman first class and had enlisted at age 17 and came to Waterloo after the war.  His battle station was a 20 mm anti-aircraft gun on his LCT  (Landing Craft Tank).

His ship had just passed the bow of the battleship USS Texas which was firing shells at the beach.  They were passing overhead.