Friday, August 31, 2018

Pearl Harbor Survivor Who Pushed for a USS Pearl Harbor Dies-- Part 1: Gordon Jones

From the August 28, 2018, San Diego Union-Tribune "Gordon Jones, Pearl Harbor survivor who pushed Navy to name ship after the attack dies" by John Wilkens.

Gordon Jones, a naval aviation mechanic who was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked sent letter after letter to the Navy over a 15 year period of time, requesting they name a ship after the attack was turned down over and over again, but persisted until he got his wish, has died at age 96.

The Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship was commissioned in 1998 and is still in use.

He was born in 1922 in Philadelphia and went to high school in New Jersey and joined the Navy while still in school.  At his graduation, he wore his uniform.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Pearl Harbor Survivor Dies at 101: Alton Lee Stone


Died July 19, 2018, 4 days short of his 102nd birthday in Monroe, North Carolina.  He was born July 23, 1916, and grew up in Broadway, N.C..

He and his younger brother James joined the Navy and both survived Pearl Harbor.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find out any specifics about their experiences or where they were during the attack.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

My Take on Japanese-American Internment

I agree that it was not one of our finer moments and was extremely unfortunate, especially with how much they lost of their possessions during the internment.  But those who completely condemn what was done are looking at what happened from a long distance in the future.

Unless you were there and experienced what happened at the time, you should not put your feelings on the case on top of theirs.

You gave to remember, the United States suffered a huge sucker punch.  Pearl Harbor was not expected, though it should have been.  I still have questions about that aspect of the attack.  How could you not look at Japanese living in the U.S. without some modicum of suspicion?

I am sure that I would have and would have probably favored the relocation.

Again, Put Yourself In Their Shoes.  --GreGen

The Census Bureau and Japanese Internment-- Part 5: The Bureau's Role

In 1988, President Reagan signed legislation issuing a formal apology for the wartime internment of Japanese-Americans.  Former internees also received $20,000 in reparations for property seized during the roundups.

The mass incarceration of them, the majority of whom were American citizens is now considered a major stain on American history.

The Census Bureau obviously had a part in this roundup.  They came under scrutiny again after 9/11 when the bureau gave information to the Department of Homeland Security about neighborhoods that had large percentages of Arab-American populations.


The Census Bureau and Japanese-American Internment-- Part 4: A threat to FDR

Under the March 1942 Second War Powers Act, which suspended the confidentiality protections for census data, the chief clerk had the authority to release census data to other agencies.  According to researchers, then the information released  was not illegal, but ethically questionable.

On August 4, 1943, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau requested the names and addresses of all individuals of Japanese ancestry living in Washington, D.C..  The request was to aid in a Secret Service investigation of threats made against President Roosevelt.

That request was triggered by an incident that had taken 17 months earlier when a Japanese-American man  being forced from Los Angeles to the Manzanar Internment Camp had said, "we ought to have enough guts to kill Roosevelt."

The man was later committed to a mental hospital for schizophrenia.

Information about 79 people in the D.C. area was released.  This request was filled in just seven days, very fast for a Washington bureaucracy.

The confidential provisions were reinstated in 1947.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Willard C. Aves, USS Arizona Victim, Kingston, Illinois Resident

From the  August 1, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Charles T. Aves, well-known Kingston resident, received an Order of the Purple Heart citation, posthumously  awarded his son, Willard C. Aves, member of the crew  of the U.S.S. Arizona."

A DeKalb County Casualty Right At the Beginning of U.S. Involvement In World War II.--  GreGen

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

LST-325 Comes to Dubuque, Iowa, This Weekend

The famed World War  II LST-325 is coming to Iowa this weekend and will be at Dubuque and is currently moored there.  It will be open for tours from Thursday, Aug. 23 to Monday, Aug. 27.

Then it will visit Bettendorf, Iowa, from August 30 to Sept 3 and then to Chester, Illinois, September 6 to Sept. 9.

Hoping to visit it in Dubuque.

This ship, the LST stands for Landing Ship Tank, for one of its major jobs,  and was at D-Day and the follow up.  6 June 1944, it carried 59 vehicles,  30 officers and 396 enlisted men to the beach at Normandy, and then returned with 38 casualties.

Over the next nine months, the ship made more than 40 trips across the English Channel carrying thousands of men and pieces of equipment.

Then, later it was in the Greek navy.

The ship is 327 feet long and has a 50-foot beam.

A Lot of History Here.  --GreGen

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Census Bureau and Japanese-American Relocation-- Part 3

According to the researchers, the FBI and military intelligence agencies began pushing in 1939 to relax census confidentiality rules, but that was opposed by Census Bureau Director William Lane Austin.

After the 1940 presidential election, Austin was forced to retire and he was replaced by J.C. Capt, who backed efforts to remove confidentiality provisions..  His efforts helped clear the way for other agencies to access information on Japanese-Americans.

Documents were found that the Census Bureau provided information on where those of Japanese ancestry lived in California, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Arkansas.  (Why Arkansas?)

Then, it was found that the Bureau gave out micro-data about individuals and their addresses.


Monday, August 20, 2018

Census Bureau and Japanese Internment-- Part 2: 120,000 Relocated

Information from the 1940 Census was secretly used in one of the worst violations of constitutional rights in U.S. history --  the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

In papers presented by historian Margo Anderson in 2000 and 2007, evidence was found that census officials cooperated with the government providing data to target Japanese-Americans.

The Japanese-American community has long suspected that the Census Bureau played a role  in banishment of 120,000 of heir people, mostly living along the West Coast to nearly a dozen internment camps following the bombing of Pearl harbor on December 7, 1941.

Former U.S. Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta was one of those people banished to internment camps. He was 11 and living in San Francisco when his family was sent to live in an internment camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming.

For decades, census officials had denied they had supplied information.

This was not a great day in American history, but in war all sorts of things happen.


The Census Bureau In On Japanese-American Internments-- Part 1

From the April 12, 2018, Chicago Tribune  "Disclosure count against Census Bureau" by Lori Aratani, Washington Post.

The Census Bureau plans to ask people in the 2020 count if they are U.S. citizens, bringing about fears that the information might be used to target those in the country illegally.

This has not been done since 1950.

It is illegal to use that information that would identify individuals or families for target purposes.

And target is exactly what the government did at the beginning of U.S. involvement in World War II.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Three Destroyers Named for Civil War USS Marmora Sailors Awarded Medals of Honor

I have been writing a lot about the USS Marmora from the Civil War in my Running the Blockade Civil War Navy blog.  Also, I have been writing about three of its sailors awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their action on land at the March 5, 1864, Battle of Yazoo City in Mississippi.

The three sailors names were  William J. Franks, Bartlett Laffey and James Stoddard.

It turns out that all three of them had World War II destroyers named after them.

USS Franks  (DD-554)

USS Laffey  (DD-459)  Sunk at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942

USS Laffey  (DD-724)

USS Stoddard   (DD-566)

I'll have to write about these ships.

You can read about the Civil War USS Marmora and what these three sailors did in my Running the Blockade Civil War Navy blog.


USS Marmora (IX-189)-- Part 2: Action in the Pacific

Now back in U.S. service, the USS Marmora was assigned to the Service Force, United States Pacific Fleet and departed Pearl Harbor 28 January 1945 and went to the Marshall Islands and arrived at Eniwetok on 13 February for duty as a mobile floating storage ship.  Four days later she went to Saipan in the Mariana Islands and began unloading aviation.

On  31 March, the Marmora departed for the Caroline Islands and reached Ulithi on 3 April.  Then it was on to  the Ryukyu Islands, operating out of Okinawa to the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945.

She continued operating out of Okinawa until  1 November 1945, when she went to the U.S. Gulf Coast via Pearl Harbor and the Panama Canal.  The Marmora arrived at Mobile, Alabama  4 January 1946 and was decommissioned in February and delivered to the War Shipping Administration and her first name restored.

She was scrapped after that in 1947.

There is a rown named Marmora  in New Jersey which must be where the name originated.


Friday, August 17, 2018

USS Marmora (IX-189)-- Part 1: Lend-Leased to Soviet Union

From Wikipedia.

I have been writing about the Civil War USS Marmora a lot in my Running the Blockade Civil War Navy blog.this past week.  There was one other USS Marmora which served during World War II.

From Wikipedia.

U.S. Navy tanker serving between 1944 and 1946.  Saw service as a mobile floating warehouse in the aftermath of the war.  Built as the SS Montrolite in Seattle, Washington in 1918.  Renamed  the SS J.S. Fitzsimmons in 1926 while involved in commercial service.

Standard Oil of California chartered her to the U.S. government in 1942.  Under the Lend-Lease Act the ship was transferred to the Soviet Union on 14 October 1942. and was renamed the SS Valerian Kuybyshev in their service.

Transferred back to the U.S. 13 December 1944 and name changed to USS Marmora (IX-189).


Camp McCoy, Wis.-- Part 7: Other WW II Activities

In addition to training, other specialized groups received instruction at Camp McCoy.

The nation's first ordnance regiment, the 301st came to Camp McCoy after basic training in North Carolina.  Also, an induction and basic training center for Army nurses was set up there.

A Limited Service School was set up to train physically disabled soldiers in several specialist fields.

Building of new recreational and welfare facilities continued at the base throughout the war.  Also, a bakery was set up.  Other activities went on at auxiliary sites like a radio school at Tomah, Wisconsin.  There was also Camp Williams in Juneau County (now Volk Field Air National Guard Base).


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Camp McCoy, Wis.-- Part 6: Trained the 100th Infantry Battalion

The first unit to train at the new base that was Camp McCoy was the 100th Infantry Battalion.  This unit was comprised of Hawaiian National Guard who were of Japanese descent.

They served with distinction in Italy, suffering severe casualties while compiling one of the most remarkable  battle records of any U.S. unit during World War II.  More than 9,000 Purple Hearts were awarded to its members.

Shortly after they received their training at Camp McCoy, they were followed by the  2nd and 76th Infantry Divisions.

From Wikipedia.

The unit was unofficially called "The Purple Heart Battalion" and had as a motto "Remember Pearl Harbor."  Twenty-one received the nation's highest honor, the Medal of Honor.  In 2010, the whole battalion received the Congressional Gold Medal.

One Great Fighting Group.  --GreGen

Camp McCoy, Wis. --Part 5: Prisoner of War Camp

In addition, the previous CCC  discharge and reception center on South Post, was converted into a relocation and prisoner of war camp.  The camp was the largest Japanese prisoner of war camp in the Continental United States and also housed several thousand German and Korean prisoners.

Camp McCoy is unique in American history because it was both a relocation camp for West Coast Japanese Americans as well as European and Japanese prisoners captured in World War II.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Camp McCoy, Wis.-- Part 4: Preparing for War


Following World War I, a Citizen's Military Training Camp was set up at Camp McCoy to provide men of high school and college age military training.  This would primarily prepare them for National Guard or Reserve duty.

In 1933, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was set up at the post.  This operated until 1939.

In August 1940, the site was used for the Second Army Maneuvers involving 65,000 soldiers from seven states.  In the summer of 1940, the last horse-drawn artillery left the post.

More than 45,000 acres were added to Camp McCoy between 1938 and 1942.  Construction of facilities to house, train and support 35,000 troops began.  Some 8,000 local workers built over 1,500 buildings at a cost of $30 million.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin-- Part 3: Served As a POW Camp and In Korean War

The South Post of the Camp had served as a Civilian Conservation Center before the war, but during World War II, that was converted into a prisoner of war and Japanese-American relocation camp.  It was the largest holding facility for Japanese POWs in the Continental United States and also housed several thousand German and Korean prisoners.

I had never heard of Korean prisoners of war in World War II.  Koreans who fought for Japan.

The camp was briefly deactivated after World War II, but the Korean War saw its reactivation as a training center until 1953 when it was again deactivated.  In 1973,  the Army reactivated Camp McCoy  as a permanent training center and the following year officially redesignated it as Fort McCoy.

So, it was Camp McCoy until 1974.  Today, it trains some 100,000 troops a year as a Total Force Training Center. It is also the headquarters of the Navy's Mobile Construction Battalion- 25  (Spades and Clubs).


Friday, August 10, 2018

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin-- Part 2: Role in World War II

During World War II, Fort McCoy was used early on as a detention camp for 170 Japanese and 120 German and Italian-Americans arrested as potentially dangerous "enemy aliens" in 1942.  After they were transferred to other camps, McCoy was used a s a training facility for soldiers from across the country preparing to enter combat.

One of these units was the segregated all-Nisei 100th Infantry Battalion.

The post was also used as a prisoner-of-war camp, holding 4,000 German and Japanese prisoners.  Fort McCoy's prisoners were featured in the 2001 movie "Fort McCoy."  This movie was not widely released.


Camp McCoy, Wisconsin-- Part 1: Named for Robert Bruce McCoy

In the last post I mentioned DeKalb, Illinois, resident Stephen J. Mikez being promoted to first sergeant at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.

From Wikipedia.

Now called Fort McCoy.  Army installation of 60,000 acres between Tomah and Sparta, Wisconsin.  It got its start in 1909 a 14,000 acres in the Sparta Maneuver Tract.  In 1910 it was renamed the Camp Robert Bruce McCoy.  In 1926 it was shortened to Camp McCoy.

He served during the Spanish-American War and the Pancho Villa Expedition into Mexico and World War I.

As the United States was ramping up its military before World War II, in 1938, an additional  45,00 acres were added, increasing the capacity to 35,000.  Many additional structures and barracks were also built at this time.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Sergeant Stephen J. Mikez Promoted

From the May 9, 2018, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Word received from Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, states that Stephen J. Mikez, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Mikez of North Eleventh Street, was recently promoted to the rank of first sergeant.

"He is connected with a medical detachment."

Hugh Rossman Alexander Receives Silver Star Posthumously

From the April 2, 2018, DVIDS  "World War II-era Navy dental officer posthumously awarded th Silver Star for heroism during Pearl Harbor attack."

Lt. Cmdr. Hugh Rossman Alexander's Silver Star was accepted by his daughter Gloria Alexander Rogers on April 2.

He was the senior dental officer on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  While trapped in a small compartment, he assisted many sailors in escaping through a very small 14-inch porthole as the ship turned over.  He personally selected slender men to escape.

Lt. Cmdr. Alexander has already received the Navy and Marine Corps Medals and the Purple Heart. The Silver Star is the military's third highest medal.

His body was buried with the Oklahoma Unknowns and evidently hasn't been identified yet.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Two USS Laffeys

From Wikipedia.

USS Laffey  (DD-459)  Named for Bartlett Laffey, a Civil War Naval Medal of Honor winner (see my Running he Blockade blog August 9, 2018, for more on him).

Commissioned 31 March 1942.  Sunk at the Battle of Guadalcanal 13 November 1942.  This was quite a remarkable ship.  Her final battle was something else.

USS Laffey  (DD-724)  Commissioned 8 February 1944  Decommissioned 30 June 1947.  Recommissioned 1951.  Decommissioned 1975.  Served in the Korean War.  Today is a museum ship at Patriots Point, Charleston, South Carolina.  This is "The Ship That Would Not Die" after receiving multiple strikes from kamikazes, the one they will star in a movie.

Another Remarkable Ship.  --GreGen

There Were Two Ships Named the USS Laffey

In the last post, I said that Mel Gibson would be directing the movie "Destroyer" about the the USS Laffey.  I have written about it before, and one man said he was on it when it sank, only there is now a USS Laffey at Patriot Point in Charleston, South Carolina.

How could it be there if is sank?  Unless, of course, they raised it.

Then, I found out that there were two destroyers named USS Laffey.

The first one was sunk and then a second destroyer received the name and the second one is the one the movie will be about.  My March 24, 2016, post was about the death of Bob Flaherty who was at Pearl Harbor during the attack and then on the first USS Laffey which was sunk.

Question Resolved.  --GreGen

Mel Gibson Asked to Direct Movie "Destroyer"

From the April 30, 2018, Variety"Mel Gibson asked to direct World War II drama 'Destroyer'" David McNary.

The movie will be based on the book "Hell From Heaven:  The Epic Story of the USS Laffey and World War II's Greatest Kamikaze Attack" by John Wukovits.

The Laffey was known as "The Ship That Wouldn't Die."

Mel Gibson directed the movie "Hackshaw Ridge" about the Battle of Okinawa.


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A Bumper Hemp Crop and A New Hemp Mill

From the July 18, 2018, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Construction work has started on the new hemp mill to be erected at Kirkland, cement has been poured and the surveyors are finishing up their end of the work at this time.

"It was stated that at the present time there is hemp to the north of Kirkland that is outstanding and is seven feet in height.  Any number of acres that are planted to hemp in the north end of the county measure five feet  in height."

Don't Bogart That Hemp for the War Effort.  --GreGen

Monday, August 6, 2018

Donald Blakeslee-- Part 2: Joined the RCAF

Blakeslee was born in Fairport, Ohio, in 1917. and became attracted to flying while watching the Cleveland Air Races as a young boy.  In the mid-1930s, he and a friend bought a plane, but his friend crashed it. Donald Blakeslee decided the best way for him to continue flying was to join the Royal Canadian Air Force.

He trained in Canada and arrived in England May 15, 1941, and was assigned to No. 401  Squadron RCAF, part of the Biggin Hill Wing.  They flew sweeps over France.  His first combat came November 18 and first kill on November 15.

He prroved to be not so good at shooting, but excelled as a flight leader and on the ground, receiving a British Distinguished Flying Cross on August 14, 1942.


The Pea Emergency Is Over

From the July 18, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Workers at the Sycamore Preserve Works from J.W. Thuma, general superintendent, down to the extra help hired in the emergency are resting a little easier as most of the pea crop has been harvested.

"The peas have been prepared, canned and barreled and the plant is now getting ready for the corn pack, which it is understood is next on the docker."


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Donald James Matthew Blakeslee-- Part 1: Flying Ace with 15.5 Victories

This hero was featured in the Paralyzed Veterans of America's August calendar.  My last four posts were about him and the Fourth Fighter Group.

From Wikipedia.

Born  September 11, 1917  Died  September 3, 2008

United States Air Force pilot whose military career began with the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II.  He then became a member of the Royal Air Force Eagle squadrons before transferring to the  United States Army Air Force in 1942.

He flew more combat missions against the Luftwaffe than any American pilot and by the end of the war was a flying ace credited with 15.5 aerial victories.

Quite a Record.  --GreGen

Friday, August 3, 2018

Fourth Mission of the Day-- Part 4: Col. Blakeslee Had 500 Missions and 1,000 Combat Hours

By the war's end, the Fourth Fighter group was credited with downing 1,020 German aircraft.  As an individual, Colonel Blakeslee flew nearly 500 missions and had about 1,000 combat hours to his credit.  This is believed to be more missions and hours than any other American fighter pilot of World War II.

In all, Colonel Blakeslee received two Distinguished Service Crosses, seven Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Silver Stars, six Air Medals and the British Distinguished Flying Cross.  A decade later, he also received the Legion of Merit, another Distinguished Flying Cross and four Air Medals for his service in the Korean War.

Nice Haul.  Well-Deserved.  --GreGen

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Fourth Mission of the Day-- Part 3: The New American Fourth Fighter Group

As commander of the newly formed American Fourth Fighter Group, consisting mostly of former members of the Eagle Squadron, Colonel Blakeslee led three squadrons of 16 single-seat, single-engine P-51 Mustangs.  Each Mustang was equipped with six machine guns mounted in the wings and sighted so that the bullet streams could converge on the Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulf fighters that were trying to shoot down Allied bombers.

The Fourth Fighter Group made many significant achievements.  On march 6, 1944, they became the first to fly above the fleet of B-17s and B-24s as they each dropped up to 4,000 pounds of bombs on Berlin.  And, on April 8, , 1944, they set a record for the European Theater, shooting down 31 planes ion one day.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Fourth Mission of the Day-- Part 2: Donald J.M. Bleakeslee

Among the many RAF units flying that day were three "Eagle" squadrons made up of American airmen flying MK VB Spitfires.  One of the three was the 133 Eagle Squadron, led by Flight Lieutenant Donald J.M. Blakeslee from Fairport Harbor, Ohio.  He alone is credited with shooting down one FW190 and one DO-217, as well as two FW190 probables in a gallant attempt to protect the Allied troops below.

Blakeslee also has the distinction of being the only "Eagle" commanding officer to complete all four missions that day.


Fourth Mission of the Day-- Part 1: "Operation Jubilee" the Attack on Dieppe Aug. 19, 1942

From the Paralyzed Veterans of America 2018 Heroes of the Air Calendar.

This features the artwork of Gil Cohen.


The 19th of August 1942 is remembered as the date of the ill-fated "operation Jubilee", in which the joint British/Canadian amphibious assault against German troops on the French coast at the harbor of Dieppe.

Air cover was provided by the greatest armada of aircraft assembled for battle up to that time.  That day has been described as an almost continuous melee of close aerial combat:  aircraft of both sides spiraling toward the sea; planes colliding in mid-air; ships burning and sinking in the harbor and along the Channel coast was a pall of smoke covering the entire scene below.