Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Larry Parry

From the May 7, 2018, Syracuse (NY).com.

Balwinsville's Larry Parry, 97, one of the last Pearl Harbor survivors, has died.  He died May 5, 2018.

During the attack, he was 21 and an Army mechanic delivering ammunition and remembers seeing the USS Arizona blow up.

In 2014 and 2016 he returned to Pearl Harbor with about 100 other Pearl Harbor survivors.

2016 was the 75th anniversary of the attack.

So Sad to be Losing Them.  --GreGen

Monday, July 30, 2018

Another USS Oklahoma Unknown Identified


Gunners Mate 2nd Class, 20.

A December 20, 1941, letter from Rear Admiral Randall Jacobi, Chief of Bureau of Navigation, to his parents:   "The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your son, William Francis Hellstern, Gunners Mate 2nd Class, U.S. Navy, is missing following action in performance of his duty and the service of his country."

His parents received another letter in February 1942"  "After exhaustive search it has been found impossible to locate your son."

He was reburied May 18, 2018 in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.


Friday, July 27, 2018

The Sycamore Laundry Had to Close Down for Awhile Until Parts Are Obtained

From the May 2, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"C.W. Buress, of the Sycamore laundry, while apparently having more than his share of troubles in securing necessary repair parts for the boiler and other machinery at the place, has every hope of being able to resume business this coming week.

"The proprietor was obligated to close the place this week until replacements could be made, and the parts necessary were difficult to obtain anywhere because of priorities."

And, of course, the "priorities" were the war effort.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Restaurant Reducing Hours Because of Lack of Help and Food

From the May 2, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Due to a shortage of help and also the inability to secure sufficient food, the restaurant operated by the Niewolds announced that it will closing daily from 2:00 to 5:00 o'clock.

"Inability to secure competent help seems to be one of the biggest problems with the restaurant people.

--War Shortages At Home.  --GreGen

Sycamore Department Store Closes For Lack of Merchandise

From the May 2, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"The doors of the Sycamore department store, one of the largest in the city and which has been a part of the mercantile interest of this city, for some time, were closed yesterday.

"For several days the owner of the place has been disposing of all the merchandise left and did a successful  piece of work as there was but very little to be hauled away.  Inability to secure merchandise to successfully operate a general variety store of this nature was given as the reason for closing."

More Wartime Shortages.  --GreGen

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Jeep on the DeKalb Post Office Steps

From the May 2, 2018, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

A photograph for World War II propaganda.  It shows an Army jeep on the steps of the DeKalb post office.

A sign on the jeep reads:  "The Willys Overland Go-Devil Quad;  U.S. Army Mobile Machine Gun West; Same Motor As Willys Americar."

Nothing Beats A Willys Jeep.  --GreGen

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Main Weapons At the Battle of the Coral Sea

From the May 2018 We Are the Mighty  "Here's a run down of the main weapons at the Battle of the Coral Sea."

The number after the plane denotes how many were at the battle.

In 1942, fleet carriers had three types of planes:  fighters, dive bombers and torpedo planes.

**  F4F Wildcat  (42)--  One of the Navy's most successful fighter planes of all time.

**  Mitsubishi ALM Zero  (54)  Called the "Zeke" by Americans.  Japan's best fighter.

**  Douglas SBD Dauntless (74)  The U.S. Navy's most lethal ship killer.

**  Aicha D3A  (41)  Called "Val" by Americans.  Japan's primary dive bomber.

**  Douglas TBD Devastator  (25)

**  Nakajima B5N  Called "Kate" by Americans.  Japan's ship killer.


Monday, July 23, 2018

More USS Oklahoma Unknowns Identified

CLIFFORD GEORGE GOODWIN, 24  Oo Diamond, Missouri.   Enlisted in the Navy in 1940.  Duty on the Oklahoma a few months later.  He chose the Oklahoma because his brother Don was on it.  Navy recovered his remains in 1944 but were unable to identify him.

I was unable to find a Don Goodwin on the USS Oklahoma at the time of the attack.  I did find a George M. Goodwin as being killed on the ship, but also couldn't find out anything about him either.  He might have been confused with Clifford George Goodwin.

WILLIAM HELLSTERN  Gunner's mate 2nd class, 20.  From Peoria, Illinois.  Buried Friday May 18, 2018, in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

HOWARD BACKMAN  Petty Officer 2nd Class.  Buried Memorial Day in Batavia, Illinois.  Born in Wilton, North Dakota.  Family moved to Batavia after he enlisted.

So Happy These Identifications Are Happening.  --GreGen

WAACs To the Pea Rescue in Rochelle

From the July 11, 2018, MidWeek   (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Former farm girls, now WAACs (Women's Army Auxiliary Corps) at Camp Grant, Illinois, volunteered to help get in the peas on farm near Rochelle, when labor shortage threatened crops.

"The girls drove machinery and took drinking water to the men in the field."


Friday, July 20, 2018

Fort McHenry, Baltimore, During World War II

From Wikipedia.

I have been writing a whole lot about this fort in my Not So Forgotten War of 1812 blog.  Of course, this is "The Rockets Red Glare" fort.

The fort became a national park in 1929 and in 1939 was redesignated "National Monument and Historic Shrine.A national tradition now has the first time a new American flag flies, it does so at Fort McHenry.  The first 49-star and 50-star flags flew here and are still located on the premises.

During World War II, Fort McHenry was a Coast Guard base for training and for fire control and port defense.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Fort Kamehameha-- Part 3: Pearl Harbor

During World War II some of the fort's anti-aircraft guns were used against the Japanese planes during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  A Japanes Mitsubishi  A6M2 model 21 Zero was shot down and crashed near the fort.

I am sure that George Stevens and the other men were manning the guns in case the Japanese Navy came into sight.

In 1942, concrete shielding was added above the big guns to protect against air attack.

None of the large caliber guns were ever fired except in practice, about once a year.  They were salvaged after the war.

Some of the fort's area is used todayf or the Hawaii Air National Guard.  Batter Closson is now the Mamala Bay Golf Course.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Fort Kamehameha-- Part 2: The Batteries

The batteries:

SELFRIDGE--  Constructed 1907-1913.  Two 12-inch guns on disappearing carriages.

JACKSON--  Constructed 1913.  Two 6-inch guns on disappearing carriages.

HASBROUCK--   Constructed 1909-1915.    Eight 12-inch coastal mortars

CHANDLER--  Two 3-inch guns

BARRI--  Two 4.7-inch guns.

ADAIR--  Two 6-inch Armstrong guns.  On Ford Island

BOYD--  Two 6-inch Armstrong guns on Ford island.

CLOSSON--  Had massive 20-foot thick concrete reinforced walls behind 3- feet of earth.  The earlier guns had becme obsolete and these replaced them.   Two 12-inch guns.  Anti-aircraft guns.


Fort Kamehameha, Hawaii-- Part 1: Built to Protect Pearl Harbor

From Wikipedia.

In the last post I mentioned that George Stevens of Shasta County, California, is the lone remaining Pearl Harbor survivor.  He was stationed at Fort Kamehameha in Hawaii during the attack.  I'd never heard of this installation so looked it up.

The fort was a U.S. Army base with several coastal artillery batteries set up to defend Pearl Harbor.

In the early 1900s, Secretary of War William Howard Taft headed up a group to review coastal fortifications and decided on this location.  It was originally named Fort Upton, but local citizens objected and it was renamed to honor King Kamehameha, the first king of the unified Hawaiian Islands.

The fort consisted of eight batteries built at different times.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Last Shasta County Pearl Harbor Navy Survivor Laid to Rest

From the July 13, 2018, Redding (Cal.) Record Searchlight  "Last Shasta County Navy veteran who survived Pearl Harbor laid to rest" by Jim Schutz.

Mel Fisher, 96, was buried at Northern California Veterans Cemetery.  He died June 17 and was the one of the last two last living members of Shasta County's Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Chapter 28.

Mr. Fisher enlisted in the Navy in 11940 and was aboard the USS Whitney, a destroyer tender on December 7,1941.    He remembered, "It was like watching the Fourth of July fireworks.  I could see explosions and lots of smoke."

Afterwards, he was in nine engagements in the Pacific, including Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Marianas on the battleship USS Indiana.

Now, the only Shasta County survivor is George Stevens, 98, U.S. Army.  He enlisted in 1938 and was stationed at Fort Kamehameha when the attack came.  During the course of the war, he was awarded four Bronze Stars and fought at the Battle of the Bulge.


One Who Survived Pearl Harbor and One Who Didn't

**  Ed Johann joined the Navy at age 17, was at Pearl Harbor and just turned 95.  He was on a hospital ship's water taxi when the attack came and spent most of rest of the day rescuing the wounded from the battleships.  Lincoln City, Oregon

**  W. Francis Roberts was ion the USS Arizona and died that day.There is a new exhibit at the Berman Museum of World History in Anniston, Alabama,and a letter of his to his parents on December 5, on USS Arizona stationery is in it.   He was to be temporarily part of the Arizona's crew.  He did not survived December 7, 1941.

This museum also has a piece of the USS Arizona, a large metal piece with rivets.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Kamikaze Strike on USS Tennessee, April 12, 1945

From Wikipedia.

In the last post, I gave Henry Cannon's account of the kamikaze hit on the battleship USS Tennessee.

On the afternoon of April 12, 1945, the Tennessee was one of the fire support battleships when she was attacked by five kamikazes.  Four were shot down, the last three within hundreds of yards of it.  The fifth one, an Aichi D3A Val dive bomber got through and flew at the Tennessee's bridge.

It ended up crashing into the signal bridge. and began sliding aft along the superstructure, crushing anti-aircraft guns and their crews.  It was carrying a 250-pound bomb went through the deck and exploded.

Twenty-tow men were killed or mortally wounded and another 107 wounded.

However, it did not put the ship our of action.  The dead were buried at sea and wounded transferred the following day to the casualty-evacuation ship USS Pinkney.  The ship's crew then did emergency repairs and by April 14, the ship was back in service.


When Kamikaze Hit the USS Tennessee, Henry Cannon Jumped Into Action

From the July 6, 2018, TPR Org.  by Danielle Trevina.

"People throw a rag doll into the air," said Henry Cannon.  "That is how I flew into  the air.  I was hurt pretty good."

After only a few weeks of basic training, Mr. Cannon was assigned to the battleship USS Tennessee (BB-43).  The Tennessee had been repaired and modernized after Pearl Harbor was attacked.  A few days into the Battle of Okinawa, on April 12, 1945, a kamikaze crashed into his ship.

He rushed to help wounded friends, but an officer told him to seek cover because Henry was also badly wounded.  All in all, he helped eight wounded to the medics.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Mr. Luxton Closes His Cafe One Day for Lack of Help

From the July 11, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"For the first time since his restaurant was remodeled, Ernest Luxton closed up for the day because of lack of help.

"Mr. Luxton posted a sign on the door of the cafe that the place was closed to allow the help a little rest.

A Severe Labor Shortage Everywhere It Would Seem.  --GreGen

Friday, July 13, 2018

Rabbits Being Unpatriotic

From the June 27, 2018, MidWeek "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Following reports coming from residents in some parts of DeKalb that rabbits are destroying much produce in Victory Gardens comes information the animals are raising havoc in the forest preserves.

"Harley Renwick, game warden, was in the south end of the county the fore part of this week and in talking with the custodian of the Simonauk preserves, learning of considerable damage done there."


Thursday, July 12, 2018

The DeKalb Township Honor Roll Dedicated in 1943

From the June 27, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Yesterday afternoon at 5:00 o'clock the DeKalb Township Honor Roll which was erected on the Lincoln Highway near Fourth Street was unveiled at a dedication ceremony.

"The ceremony was planned as a part of the Army salute to this country and an honor guard from the 740th Military Police Battalion took part in the dedication."

This was a list of names of those serving in the Armed Forces from DeKalb Township.  The military police were in DeKalb County to guard the war industries.


Soldiers From Camp Grant Come to Sycamore to Help in Canning

From the June 27, 2018, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Approximately 40 soldiers from the Camp Grant (Rockford) area arrived in Sycamore early this morning to work in the fields of the California Packing Corporation in an effort to assist the canning company in putting up what produce is ready at this time and avert heavy spoilage."

Still, the Manpower Shortages on the Home Front.  --GreGen

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

How Well Do You Know Your WW II Slang-- Part 5: What Was a Pecker Checker?

16.  WHAT WAS A POSTER OF A SEXY MOVIE STAR IN A SWIMSUIT CALLED?   Pin-Up.  Some of the more famous ones were Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake, Betty Grable.

17.  A PECKER CHECKER CHECKED SOLDIERS FOR WHAT?  Venereal Diseases.  Done by a doctor or medical assistant.  Also known as a Pricksmith.

18.  WHAT WAS R&R?     Rest and Relaxation.  Also known as Rest and Rotation.

Lookin' For A Little R&R Myself.  --GreGen

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Jamaicans Arrive to Help in the Fields and Factory of the Sycamore Preserve Works

From the July 4, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"An appeal for help to the United States employment agencies by J.W. Thuma, of the Sycamore Preserve Works was answered when a group of about 60 Jamaicans arrived for work in the fields and factory of the canning factory."

Those Manpower Shortages.  --GreGen

Monday, July 9, 2018

Military ID's 100 Sailors and Marines From the USS Oklahoma

December 3, 2017

The military has now identified the remains of 100 sailors and Marines who died December 7, 1941, aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma.  Their remains were recovered when the ship was finally uprighted a couple years after it capsized, but, due to the length of time underwater and the nature of identification process being so poor (before DNA), not many were identified.

Two years ago the the remains of nearly 400 men were exhumed from the Punch Bowl Cemetery ion Oahu Island in Hawaii.  Officials expect to have 80% of them identified by 2020.

Most of the newly identified have been reburied in their hometowns.  Others have been reinterred back in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (The Punch Bowl).  Only this time, their names are given and they are buried in individual graves.

Again, Thanks Military.  --GreGen

Saturday, July 7, 2018

More USS Oklahoma "Unknowns" Come Home

It is so great seeing these brave sailors and Marines who were entombed when the battleship USS Oklahoma capsized being identified through DNA and now coming home.

Here is a partial list of them:

WILLARD ALDRIDGE, Seaman 1st class, from Kansas.  To be buried at Highland Cemetery, Ashland, Kansas.  Born August 26, 1921.

QUENTIN J. GIFFORD,  Radioman 2nd class,  Declared officially Lost In Action in February 1942.  Funeral held at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.  He is the 4th Minnesotan to be identified from the Oklahoma.  There will be a 5th one later this year.

HOWARD W. BEAN,  Radioman 3rd class.  From Everett, Massachusetts.  Buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Thank You U.S. Government.  --GreGen

Friday, July 6, 2018

Trucks From Distant Cities Helping Haul the Peas

From the July 4, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Observation along the highway disclosed that many truckers are making extra money hauling peas for the California Packing Company.

"The need of trucks is almost as great as that for man-power, and machines are seen here from cities a long distance from DeKalb."

Wartime Shortages.  --GreGen

DeKalb Township Honors Those Serving in 1943

From the July 4, 2018, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

Since the dedication of the DeKalb Township Honor Roll and the unveiling of the beautiful new board which was erected to honor those from the township which are in service, many more names have been received.

"Every effort was made to secure all the names before the Honor Roll was unveiled but through various misunderstanding some failed to call in the names and a number are not on this board at the present time."

Honoring Those Who Serve.  --GreGen

"Last Man Standing" Honors the Whiskey Pact-- Part 2:

Fred Spencer poured a shot of Crown Royal into a bucket of sand in honor of his deceased comrades.  As the name of each was read off, he pored another shot into the bucket.

Mr. Spencer was just 16 when he enlisted in the Army.  Her needed the permission of his parents to join the National Guard.  Just two years later he was under Japanese fire in New Guinea.  He was hit by a Japanese sniper with a shot that went through his right lung and exited his shoulder blade.

He survived but fifteen members of his unit didn't.  However, he spent a year in the hospital.

When Wheeler Bowman, 97, died in April, Mr. Spencer became "The Last Man Standing."

There is still a Company C in the 126th Infantry Regiment.


Thursday, July 5, 2018

"Last Man Standing" Honors Whiskey Pact-- Part 1

From the July 3, 2018, CBS  "Last survivor of World War II unit finishes its whiskey pact."

Fred Spencer, 93, was honored July 1 in Kalamazoo as "The Last Man Standing" from a group that hailed from Kalamazoo during the war when he was presented with a bottle of whiskey.

The 126th Infantry Regiment was largely composed of men from Southwest Michigan.  And the members of Mr. Spencer's Company C were made up of 94 men from Kalamazoo County.

All of them were under the age of 20 when they left Kalamazoo for training in 1940.

They made the whiskey promise nearly 80 years ago and it was carried out on Sunday.


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

When Did Independence Day Become a Federal Holiday?

The other day, I went into our local bank and did some transactions.  They always have a question up on a board and I like to guess the answer.  The question was, "In what year did the 4th of July become a federal holiday?"

Answer possibilities:  1776, 1870, 1938, 1941

I thought and thought.

Hard question.

I thought perhaps 1870, but, maybe not   That was about the time we were getting into Decoration Day, now memorial Day.

I knew it wasn't 1776.

That left 1938 and 1941.  A real hard call.

In 1870, it became a federal highway, but unpaid.  In 1941 it became a federal holiday with federal emplyees being paid.

So, the answer was 1941, just before we went to war.


The Odyssey of the Utah Man and Ploesti-- Part 4: Many Awards

Steward was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his role in the bombing, one of more than 30 bombing raids during his five years of active duty in the Air Force.

Other military awards he holds are the Silver Star and five awards of the Air medal.  He was also awarded the coveted "Bronze Minute Man" awarded by the Utah National Guard after serving more than 30 years in the Air Force Reserve.

His full story of the Ploesti, Romania, bombing is told in the television documentary "Wing and a Prayer."


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Odyssey of Utah Man and Ploesti-- Part 3: Bullet-Riddled

Walter Stewart's plane was so seriously damaged and leaking fuel that he was going to belly land  it.

But then his other crewmen discovered they had bombs still aboard that had gotten hung up in the bomb bay. They pried those loose and dropped them over open areas before continuing the flight home, expecting to run out of fuel at any moment.

He then nursed his four engine B-24, bullet-riddled and perilously low on fuel, back across Yugoslavia and over the Mediterranean to its home base in Libya, landing safely after 1,200 miles and 14 hours in the air.


The Odyssey Of Utah Man and Ploesti-- Part 2: We'd Sing "God Bless America"

The commander saw the target and made a 90-degree turn.  But then both the commander and his right wingman were shot down, leaving Stewart to lead the bombers behind him to the target.

The bombers flew 50 feet off the ground to devastate three of the five refineries, which seriously hurt Germany's war effort.  The victory did not come without sacrifice, however.  Of the 154 bombers that crossed the target area, 54 were shot down.

Years later, Stewart still remembered the event with absolute clarity.  "When we hit a target we would all sing 'God Bless America', he said, adding, 'We really sang it that day."

He also remembered how emotions ran from excitement to extreme fear during the operation.  "We were scared to death, but you really don't let that bother you," he recalled.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Odyssey of Utah Man and Ploesti-- Part 1: The 31st Mission

From the 2018 Paralyzed Veterans of America calendar.

In the scene, the exhausted crew of the B-24 Liberator Utah man, has returned to their base near Benghazi, Libya, on August 1, 1943, after bombing the great oil refineries around Ploesti, Romania.  The pilot, 1st Lt. Walter Stewart, is describing his mission experience to Major Ramsay D. Potts, who had returned earlier that day.

Stewart had already flown his required 25 missions and could have returned home, but he decided to stay to carry out his 31st mission.  he was appointed deputy leader as the group of bombers approached Ploesti.  With few ground features, the target was difficult to pick out and radio silence was mandatory.

Then, one of his crewmen spotted the refineries "at 9 o'clock."

It's On.  --GreGen