Thursday, November 30, 2017

"Be Prepared": A Clinton, Iowa, Pearl Harbor Survivor Remembers

From the November 10, 2017, Clinton (Iowa) Herald by Jacqueline Covey.

Daniel J. Kramer, 101, a resident of Prairie Hills Center was on the USS California that day at Pearl Harbor.

"Sunday in the Navy, back in those days, was called Holiday Routine.  You took it easy at liberty, other than the fellas that had duty.  This was before women were allowed on ships," he remembered.

"So, I had duty that day when general quarters sounded -- that means to man your battle station.  I thought it was some kind of nutty drill that the Air Force was flying in some planes from the States."

It was an 80 degree day and beautiful.

He grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, in the 1920s and 1930s and had turned 21 in 1940 when he enlisted.  Just months before the attack, he had married Mary Jane and honeymooned in California.  She was supposed to meet him in Hawaii, but that didn't happen after the attack.

Afterwards, he was sent to the West Coast and then reassigned to a base in key West where he trained pilots in catapult and recovery.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Underwood Family Mourns Second Son

From the June 23, 1944, Sycamore True Republican.

Pair of Gold Stars Added To Our Honor Roll.

Glenn Underwood and Ervin Burkart Taken.(I'll write more about Ervin Burkart later.)

Mr. and Mrs. Don O. Underwood were informed that their son, Corporal Glenn C. Underwood was killed in Italy on June 1.  He is the second son of the Underwoods who has made the supreme sacrifice during the present war.

Evidently, since the other two sons were not listed on the DeKalb casualty list, they made it home.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Glenn C. Underwood of Sycamore and His Brother Jay Killed in World War II

In the last post, I wrote about Glenn Underwood of Sycamore writing to his parents from Northern Ireland after his safe passage across the Atlantic Ocean.

Looking up DeKalb County, Illinois, World War II casualties, I am sad to see that Glenn C. Underwood never returned home.  He was killed.

In addition, his brother Jay D. Underwood, also was killed.

Glenn C. Underwood  Corporal, KIA
Jay D. Underwood, 2nd lt--  DNB  Died non-battle


Monday, November 27, 2017

Soldier Would Rather Be "Back in the Good Old U.S.A."

From the November 22, 2017, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Glenn Underwood of Sycamore, who is one of four Underwood boys withe the armed forces of the country has recently written his parents of his safe arrival in Northern Ireland.

"He says the trip across the water was without incident and while he is enjoying the sights of the foreign land, still prefers to be back in the good old U.S.A.."

Better to be Home.  --GreGen

Friday, November 24, 2017

Fingers Save a "Flying Fortress"

From November 8, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Lieut. Orval Huff of Waterman, a bombardier on the Flying Fortress, was one of the members of a crew who took turns plugging a hole in the fuel line with their fingers so the Flying Fortress could make its way back to England after a raid in Lille, France.

"The four-motored bomber had been damaged by machine gun bullets and cannon shells and each member of the crew was forced to keep the break in the fuel line closed with his fingers."

Plugging the Break, Finger-Style.  --GreGen

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"We've Lost Our Living History": No Pearl Harbor Survivors Found for Florida Event

From the November 14, 2017 Sun Sentinel (Florida) "'We've lost our living history':  No Pearl Harbor survivors found for South Florida Event"  Lisa J. Huriash.

The people of South Florida want to commemorate the event and honor survivors, but this year, for the first time, they can not locate any survivors.

One of the last-known South Florida survivors was Edward Hammond, 93, of Deerfield Beach, but he died in September.  Nationwide, it is believed that fewer than 2,000 of them remain.

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association was founded in 1958 and dissolved in 2011 because of declining membership.  There motto was "Keep America Alert!  Remember Pearl Harbor!"

The commemoration will be held December 3 at the Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale in Dania Beach.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

On the USS Vestal at Pearl Harbor

From the November 14, 2017, Kern Valley (California) Sun  Debbie Teofilo.

Bob Cunnigham and his brother both joined the U.S. Navy on the same day in 1941.  Bob was on the USS Vestal, tied up next to the USS Arizona that day at Pearl Harbor.  The Vestal was a repair ship and was working on the Arizona.

He was below deck and heard a loud explosion and went on deck where he found that the skipper and several sailors had been blown overboard by the Arizona's explosion.  The Vestal's executive officer ordered them to abandon ship.

As they approached the gangway, they met the skipper, covered with oil, and in the process of getting back on his ship.  he said, "Where are you guys going?  get back on board!  We're getting underway!"  The Vestal had been badly damaged, but got underway and was beached.

After Pearl Harbor, Mr. Cunningham served on minesweepers off the U.S. West Coast, but they never found any.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Sycamore Tops in United China Relief Drive

From May 24, 2017, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Sycamore went over the top in the United China Relief Drive that recently ended in this city.  It was announced that $560.10 was gathered in Sycamore and is to be sent to the national headquarters for United China Relief.

"The quota for Sycamore was $500."

Helping China As Well.  --GreGen

Friday, November 17, 2017

Funding the War With Payroll Deductions

From the May 24, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"The DeKalb-Sycamore division of the Central Illinois Light Company has been 100 per cent in payroll deduction plan since the first of February.  The light company was one of the first to have all their employees join the deduction plan.

"A certain amount is taken from the pay check every two weeks in equal amounts, with the consent of the employees, which is used in the purchase of United States War Savings Bonds."

Funding the War.  --GreGen

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hoarding Gasoline and Oil Will Not Be Tolerated

From the November 15, 2017, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Fire Chief Charles Butzow of Sycamore stated yesterday that although gas and fuel rationing is soon to come, hoarding of such will not be tolerated in the city.

"Gasoline or oil storage is dangerous, the chief pointed out, not only to the occupants of the property but to the fire department members as well, in case they are called to the property to fight a fire.


Making a List of DeKalb Residents Serving in Armed Forces

From the November 15, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"The children of the upper grades in the five elementary schools of DeKalb are starting their canvass of the city in an effort to learn the names and addresses of all DeKalb men and women who are serving in the armed forces of the United States.

"The children have been provided with forms which are to be filled out by members of families in homes where members are serving in the armed forces.  The children are to contact homes in their neighborhoods in an effort to secure all the names."


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Preparing For War This Date in 1940: Selective Service

In 1940, the first 75,000 men were called to armed forces duty under peacetime conscription.

In other words the draft.

The United States was preparing for way way in advance of December 7, 1941.

It Was Just a Matter of Time.  --GreGen

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Farm Security Administration-- Part 2: Photographers and Japanese-American Relocation

The Resettlement Administration's primary focus was California where migrant workers and farmers fleeing from the Dust Bowl were placed in 95 camps.  Some 75,000 people benefited from the services.

Thirty-four homestead communities were also established and agricultural education was given to 455,000 farm families.

Many of the Farm Security Administration's (FSA) photographers became photographers for the Office of War Information.  Some of them were Jack Delano, Dorothea Lange, Gordon parks, Arthur Rothstein (whose three photographs at Mercer G. Evans Camp were in yesterday's post) and John Vachon.

During World War II, the FSA was under the Wartime Civil Control Administration, a sub-agency of the War Relocation Authority (WRA).  This group was responsible for the relocation of Japanese-Americans to internment camps.  They also transferred Japanese-American farms to other operators.


Farm Security Administration-- Part 1: Grew Out of the Resettlement Administration

From Wikipedia.

In the last post, I wrote about the Mercer G. Evans Camp in Welasco, Texas, part of the Farm Security Administration.  This was an organization I knew nothing about, so good old Wikipedia to the rescue.

This was originally the Resettlement Administration (RA) established in 1935 as part of FDR's New Deal effort to combat rural poverty.  This later became the Farm Security Administration (FSA).

Its goal was to improve the lifestyle of sharecroppers, tenant farmers and poor farmers and resettle them into group farms on land more suitable for farming.  It was really an experiment into collectivization.

They had a small, but highly photography program for documentation that ran from 1935 to 1944.  These photographers showed the challenges faced by the program.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Shorpy Photos, Home Front: Farm Security Administration

From the Shorpy Photo site.

OCTOBER 31, 2017--  LIKE PULLING TEETH: 1942.  February 1942.  "Dental clinic, Farm Security Administration camp, Welasco, Texas."  Arthur Rothstein, OWI.

NOVEMBER 1, 2017--  WELDON & SLEEPY: 1942--  February 1941.  "Two members of the "Musical Drake Family" performing at a barn dance in the Mercer G. Evans Farm Security Administration camp in Welasco, Texas.  Our pickers are brothers Welson (1923-1977) and Jasper 'Sleepy' Drake (1926-1992)."
Arthur Rothstein, OWI.

NOVEMBER 6, 2017--  SWING YOUR PARTNER: 1942.  February 1942.  "Farm Security Administration Mercer G. Evans camp in Welasco, Texas.  Drake family playing for a Satyrday night dance."  Arthur Rothstein, OWI.

The couples are slow dancing and there is one male-female couple.  The other two are women couples.

A comment says that the reason for the women dancing is that so many men had joined the military.


U.S. Marines in World War II-- Part 2: Massive Expansion

Continued from November 10.

The Corps expanded from two brigades to six divisions, five air wings during the wart with 485,000 serving.  There were also 20 defensive battalions and a parachute battalion as well.

During the war, the Corps suffered nearly 87,000 casualties with almost 20,000 killed.  In addition, members were awarded 82 Medals of Honor.

In 1942, the Navy Seabees were established and they received their training from the Marines.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Five Great Places to Visit This Veterans Day 2017

From the Nov. 10, 2017, USA Today  "10 great places to honor military on Veterans Day" by Larry Bleiberg.

The other five can be seen in my Cooter's History Thing Blog for today.

6.  Alamo--  San Antonio, Texas

7.  Minute Man National Historic Park--  Concord, Massachusetts

8.  Normandy, France

9.  Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery--  San Diego, California

Support Your Local veterans.  --Cooter

The War Entering a New Phase in Europe in October 1942: Allies Go On Offensive

October 4, 2017, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"The war today appeared to be moving to the verge of a new phase in which the Allied war planes and Allied land forces will strike at Nazi Europe with unprecedented fury."

Better Than losing.  --GreGen

NIU's Enrollment Booms After the War

From the October 4, 2017, MidWeek.

1947 aerial photograph.

Northern Illinois State Teacher College (Northern Illinois University) showing the World War II barracks built to house veterans and married couples going to college under the GI Bill..

The barracks are north of the college buildings and Lucinda Avenue and consist of 15 individual single story structures.

Making Good Use of the GI Bill.  --GreGen

The Patriotic Use of Sugar in Restaurants

From the October 11, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Believing that restaurant patrons are patriotic enough not to use more sugar than necessary, most of the restaurants in DeKalb have placed the bowls on counters and tables again."

Just a Spoonful of Sugar Makes What Go Away?  --GreGen

Friday, November 10, 2017

U.S. Marine Corps in World War II-- Part 1: Many Engagements in the Pacific

Fom Wikipedia.

The United States Marine Corps played a central role in the War in the Pacific along with the U.S. Army.

Actions included Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Tarawa, Guam, Tinian, Cape Gloucester, Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The Battle of Iwo Jima began 19 February 1945.  The Japanese had constructed many fortified positions along with pillboxes and tunnels.  The Marines reached the summit of Mt. Suribachi on 26 February.  Fighting was fierce, but the island taken with 26,00 American casualties and 22,000 Japanese.


The Boy Scouts and Sportsmen's Club Cooperating in Paper Collecting

From the March 29, 2017, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

"For some time there have been two organizations, the Scout and Sportsmen's Club in Sycamore collecting waste paper as a war effort.

"Today the heads of the two groups issue a joint declaration in which they state that they are henceforth cooperating in the paper collections."


Thursday, November 9, 2017

How Well Do You Know Your WW II Slang- Part 3: "See the Chaplain"

9.  When someone said, "See the Chaplain,"  what did they mean?

10.  A know-it-all about military regulation was called a what?

11.  Canned or tinned food was called what?

12.  Why didn't men like to get a Dear John letter, even if their name was John?


9.  They didn't want to hear your problems.

10.  Barracks Lawyer  Also know as a Guardhouse Lawyer.

11.  C-Rats.  better than nothing, but didn't taste good  They were eventually put in a pouch and had goodies like a brownie added.

12.  It was a break-up letter from their women.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How Well Do You Know Your WW II Slang?-- Part 2: "GI Jesus"

Answers below.

5.  Who was a GI Jesus?

6.  When a person is "bucking for a Section 8" they were trying to get what?

7.  A person who gives his opinion on everything is a what?

8.  What do the letters "CB" mean?


5.  I guessed  it was a prayer.  That was wrong.  A "GI Jesus" was a chaplain.  Any military person, regardless of denomination, could confide with any chaplain.

6.    Discharged from the military.  They often would claim they were crazy or even shoot themselves in the foot.

7.  I guessed "Backseat driver" incorrectly.  It was an armchair general.  Whether informed on a subject or not, he gave his opinion.

8.  "CB" means confined to barracks.  There were usually two main reasons to get "CB."  The person was sick, but not sick enough for the infirmary or being disciplined.

How You Doing?  --GreGen

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

How Well Do You Know Your World War II Slang?-- Part 1: SNAFU

From Zoo. How Well Do You Know Your World War II Slang?

They give you options to choose.

1.  A letter from one's sweetheart (not a breaking up letter) was called?

2.  Becoming acclimated to the way a ship moved meant a sailor was getting his?

3.  What is a SNAFU?

4.  "Kilroy Was Here" was a type of ?


1.  Sugar Report    I guessed correctly on this.  "Dear John" would have been too easy.

2.  Sea Legs

3.  "Situation Normal, All F'd Up   The "F" word was used a whole lot during the war.

4.  Graffiti  It is engraved on the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C..  Kilroy was a bald man, sometimes shown with a few hairs, with a big long nose who peeked over a wall with his fingers own each hand clutching to the wall.

I Got Them All Right So Far.  --GreGen

Monday, November 6, 2017

Goodbye WW I Relic for the War Effort

From the October 11, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Tomorrow evening will see the scrapping of the relic of World War I and a huge pile of scrap that has accumulated during the week, when the American Legion disposes of the old cannon that had been in front of the Community Center in Sycamore several days.

"When the boys of the American Legion tugged and pulled and finally were able to remove the field piece from the west Community Park entrance to a prominent place on State Street in front of the Community Center building, they appealed to the public to contribute scrap metal to the drive."

Another Scrap Drive.  --GreGen

Second-Oldest Pearl Harbor Survivor Visits the USS West Virginia Bell

 From the November 5, 2017, Metro News West Virginia  "Second-oldest Pearl Harbor survivor finally able to ring the bell" by Brittany Murray.

Jim Downing, 104, served on the USS West Virginia for ten years, including the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He visited his ship's mast at the West Virginia University Friday.  He was only 27, when he last saw the bell and mast and his ship was sinking.

He summarized his experience at Pearl Harbor in five words:  surprise, scared, anger, resolve and pride.  Most of the damage to his ship was done in the first eleven minutes of the attack.  The ship had a weekly newspaper named "The Mountaineer."

Later he met Commander Mitsuo Fuchida who led the Japanese attack on the harbor.  During the Korean War, he was commander of the USS Patapsco.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

FBI Collecting Fingerprints-- Part 2: Even Info On Notorious Dead Criminals

By the end of 1943 the FBI employed  around 13,000 people in this endeavor.  Judging by the photos accompanying the article, most were women and might have lived at Arlington Farms complex across the river in Virginia.

One of the drawers of information was shown and was "Notorious Dead Criminals."  Some of the names of the files shown were Louis Alterie, Marvin Barrow, Clyde C. Barrow, "Legs" Diamond and Pretty Boy Floyd.

Since 1924, the FBI has been the single U.S. repository for fingerprints.


FBI Collecting Fingerprints During the War-- Part 1

In the last post, I wrote about the U.S. government wanting fingerprints of persons working in the milk industry in DeKalb County, Illinois.

From the July 8, 2015 History Daily   "FBI's Colossal Fingerprint Filing System During World War II" by John Titor.

A whole lot of photos of interest.  Out wartime government in big-time action.

During the war, the FBI collected over 23 million cards and 10 million fingerprint records and housed them in the Washington, D.C. Armory.  Every month around 400,000 cards were added to the collection.  It took huge resources to investigate potential defectors and spies in the United States.


Friday, November 3, 2017

Uncle Sam Wants Your Fingerprints, Or, Should We Say J. Edgar?

From the November 1, 2017, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Because Uncle Sam wants the fingerprints of all persons who handle milk for defense plants or destined for the consumption by the armed forces, Frank Freeman, manager of the Pure Milk Association plant in Hinckley, was forced to submit to printing."

The story ended here.  Not sure what he had to put to printing.  And, why would they want milk people fingerprinted?.


Esther Mae Nesbitt-- Part 4: Received the French Croix de Guerre Medal

Master sergeant and local artist.  Enlisted in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) in 1943.  Was an intelligence analyst and became custodian of all maps of the European Theater with the responsibility of keeping the war room maps up to date.

For this, she became DeKalb County's only recipient of the French government's Croix de Guerre medal.

After the war, she returned to Sycamore, except for a return to military service during the Korean War.  She lived in Sycamore until her death.  There is some confusion here between this and the previous post.


Esther Mae Nesbitt-- Part 3: Photographer and Artist

On October 1, 1942, she enlisted as an aviation cadet in the Women's Army Corps.  In her civilian life she had been a postal clerk and photographer.

During her years as a WAC, she served as an artist until shortly before her death.  (I am not sure about this as I think the WACs dissolved shortly after the end of the war.  Wikipedia said that the WACs dissolved in 1978 so she might have stayed in rthe rest of her life.

She never married.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Esther Mae Nesbitt-- Part 2: Member of the WACs

She was the third woman to step ashore on Omaha Beach which she did on July 14, 1944.  She was a master sergeant assigned the Allied forward communications.  Her WAC unit consisted of 49 enlisted women and six officers.

She was the only NCO in the European Theater of Operations to receive the French Croix de Guerre medal.

Born 21 July 1913.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Esther Mae Nesbitt-- Part 1: World War II Hero

From Find-A-Grave.

Esther Mae Nesbitt  1913-1971.

Sycamore, Illinois, woman.  World War II hero.

Buried Elmwood Cemetery, Sycamore, Illinois.

There is also a memorial located at her grave.


Sky Harbor Airport, Northbrook, Illinois-- Part 2

Shy Harbor Airport was located near Pal-Waukee Airport.  By 1939 it had four 'cinder-oiled" runways, the longest at 2,500 feet.    But by then, it had begun a decline because of the Great Depression and the airport had been abandoned and the once-glitzy clubhouse gutted by vandals.

In 1939, it was sold and started a comeback as a center for Navy fliers from the nearby Glenview Naval Air Station. And, it was also used by the Civil Air Patrol.

By 1950, its runways were paved but it was closed by 1974.  Just part of the hangar remains of it today.