Saturday, July 20, 2019

Were Any Apollo 11 Astronauts in World War II?


Since today marks the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing, I was wondering if  any of the three Apollo 11 astronauts:  Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, fought during World War II.

All three were born in 1930, which would gave put them between the ages of 11 and 15 during the war, so they did not fight.

However, two of them. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin did fight in the Korean War as aircraft commanders.  Buzz was credited with shooting down two MiG fighters.

--GreGen

Friday, July 19, 2019

Just Got Back From Fort Fisher (It's Role in WW II)


Liz and I were on vacation to North Carolina the last ten days for a family reunion and a mini vacation at Carolina Beach.  Right down the road (US-421) from Carolina Beach is Kure Beach and on the south end of that is my favorite Civil War site and the reason I got interested in that war and history in general, Fort Fisher.

Though best known for its role in the Civil War, Fort Fisher also served as an auxiliary camp for Camp Davis in training anti-aircraft gun troops.  Planes would tow targets out over the Atlantic Ocean.  Unfortunately, some of the fort was removed to make an airstrip for those planes.  WASPs pulled those targets.

The Fort Fisher Museum has a display on the fort's role in World War II.

--GreGen

His Dad and Gen. Eisenhower-- Part 3: And That Is Why He Voted Republican in 1952 and 1956


"What was so impressive was that not only did the general defuse an uncomfortable situation, but he did it without embarrassing either the major or the private in front of the rest of us.

"Eisenhower disappeared into the tent, emerged a half-hour later, shook our hands and departed.  That was the only time I ever saw him in person, but I will never forget it."

Then Cory Franklin's dad, Murray Franklin, answered his cousin's question as to why he had voted for Eisenhower instead of Adlai Stevenson for president.  "Adlai Stevenson was a good man, but I voted republican.  Dwight Eisenhower was my commanding officer on D-Day."

That ended the politics discussion.

This is one of those special stories that I so love in history.  It is the human side of things.  I am hoping that the ever shrinking number of World War II veterans are writing down their memories as I'd hate to be losing stories like this.

What Dwight Eisenhower did in this story is a good example of why he was the commander to get D-Day accomplished.

--GreGen


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

His Dad and Gen. Eisenhower-- Part 2: "Doing Your Job"


"Before the general could do anything, the major standing next to me exploded.

" 'Private, do you know what you are doing?'  He was about to ream out the poor private in front of everyone standing there.

"That moment, Eisenhower came over to the major and spoke to him quite softly.  Because I was standing next to the major, I could hear what the general was saying.

" 'Major, that's OK.  He was just doing what he was trained to do.  There's no problem.'

"Then Eisenhower turned to the private, showed him some sort of identification, smiled at him and said, 'Good work private.  Doing your job'.

Just Doing His Job.  --GreGen




Tuesday, July 9, 2019

His Dad and General Eisenhower-- Part 1: Five Days After D-Day


From the June 6, 2019, Chicago Tribune "When service transcended party:  D-Day, my dad and Gen. Dwight Eisenhower" by Cory Franklin.

His family traditionally voted Democrat, except his father, who voted for Eisenhower in both 1952 and 1956.  And, he had a reason.  It came from the D-Day campaign.

His father had an Eisenhower story from that event.

"It was about five days after the Normandy beachhead was established, word came down that Gen. Eisenhower was coming to visit our company and talk to our chief officer in his tent.  Sure enough, on the appointed day, he came with a retinue that was surprisingly small.

"I was using a crutch but as third in command I stood with my superior, a major, outside the tent as our men stood at attention.  When Eisenhower approached the tent, everyone saluted, but before he entered, the private assigned to  guard the entrance stopped him and asked for his identification -- he was asking the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe for identification."

Well, What Do You Think Happened?  --GreGen

Monday, July 8, 2019

Solemn Tribute to Mark D-Day-- Part 6: History Will Repeat Itself


British Prime Minister Theresa May said:  "If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come, in France, in Britain, in Europe and the world, that day was the 6th of June, 1944."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed those who sacrificed their lives on the Normandy beaches for future generations, "for you and me."

Speaking at Juno Beach where 14,000 Canadians landed, Treadeau said they "took a gamble the world had never seen before."a

A group of five Americans parachuted into Normandy on Wednesday as part of a commemorative jump and showed up on the beach on Thursday still wearing their jumpsuits, all World War II-era uniforms, and carrying an American flag.  The group included Richard Clapp, and all five expressed concern the sacrifices of D-Day are being forgotten.

"If you forget history, it's doomed to repeat itself."

The 75th Anniverasy.  --GreGen

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Solemn Tribute to Mark D-Day-- Part 5: Ceremonies At Gold Beach


Hundreds of people packed the seaside square in the town of Arromanches to applaud veterans of the Battle of Normandy.  A wreath was placed outside the town's D-Day Museum.

At daybreak, a lone piper played in Mulberry Harbor, 75 years after British troops came ashore at Gold Beach.

"It is sobering, surreal to be able to stand here on this beach and admire the beautiful sunrise where they came ashore, being shot at, facing unspeakable atrocities," said former U.S. paratrooper Richard Clapp, 44, of Julian, North Carolina.

Gratitude was a common theme.

Macron thanked those who did not survive the assault "so that France could become free again" at an earlier ceremony overlooking Gold Beach with May and uniformed veterans to lay the cornerstone of a memorial that will record the names of thousands of troops under British command who died on D-Day and the  ensuing Battle of Normandy.

--GreGen

Friday, July 5, 2019

Solemn Tribute to Mark D-Day-- Part 4: At the Normandy American Cemetery


Up to 12,000 people gathered hours later at the ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery, where Macron and Trump spoke.  U.S. veterans, their numbers fast diminishing as years pass, were the guests of honor.

A 21-gun salute thundered into the waters below the cemetery, on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach and across the rows of white crosses and Stars of David.

Britain's Prince Charles, his wife, Camilla, and Prime Minister Theresa May attended a remembrance service at the medieval cathedral in Bayeux, the first Normandy town liberated by Allied troops after D-Day.  Cardinal Marc Ouellet read a message from Pope Francis honoring those who "gave their lives for freedom and peace."

--GreGen

Solemn Tribute to Mark D-Day-- Part 3: Where the Water Ran Red


Leaders, veterans, their families and the grateful from France, Europe and elsewhere were present for the solemn day that begun under a radiant sun.

At dawn, hundreds of people, civilians and military alike gathered at the water's edge to remember the troops who stormed the fortified beaches to help turn the tide of the war and give birth to a new Europe.

Dick Jansen, 60, from the Netherlands, drank Canadian whiskey from an enamel cup on the water's edge.  Others scattered carnations into the waves.

Randall Atanay, to son of a medic who tended to the dying and wounded, waded barefoot into the water near Omaha Beach, where the waters ran red on D-Day.

--GreGen




Thursday, July 4, 2019

Movie Watching on 4th of July-- Part 4: Kind of Surprised Just One WW II Movie on the List: "The Dirty Dozen"


From the July 4, 2019, Chicago Tribune "Celebrate Independence Day with 13 all-American movies" by Rex Crum.  This began in my Not So Forgotten: War of 1812 blog.

I was surprised that the least had only one World War II movie, "The Dirty Dozen."  I would gave thought "Saving Private Ryan," "The Longest Day,"  "Tora, Tora, Tora," "Kelly's Heroes" and "Pearl Harbor" would have been good ones to see.

"THE DIRTY DOZEN"  (1967)

Jim Brown, Charles Bronson, Donald Sutherland a nine other military convicts lead a raid against the Nazis.  Their leader, Lee Marvin actually fought in the war and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

If that doesn't scream 'AMERICA" then nothing will.

--GreGen


Movie Watching on 4th of July-- Part 3: "Miracle" and "1776"


Continued from my today's  Not So Forgotten: War of 1812 blog.

Movies to watch if its too hot or rainy, or too many mosquitoes.

These movies show the American spirit.

"MIRACLE"  (2004)

Speaking of that "USA!  USA!  USA!" chant.  This originated from the "Miracle On Ice" Team USA's Olympic hockey  win over the Soviet Union in 1980.

This movie is about that event when a group of college hockey players defeated the heavily favored Soviet Army hockey team.

"1776"  (1972)

A less expensive experience than the ubiquitous "Hamilton."  See  the Founding Fathers singing and dancing their way through some of America's earliest days.

Getting In the Patriotic Mood.  --GreGen


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Solemn Tribute to Mark D-Day-- Part 2: "We Owe You, Veterans, Our Freedom"


French President Macron expressed France's debt to the United States for freeing his country from Hitler.

He then awarded five U.S. veterans of the battle with the Chevalier of Legion of Honor, France's highest award.  "We know what we owe you, veterans, our freedom," he said.  "On behalf of my nation I just want to say 'thank you.' "

D-Day was history's largest air and sea invasion, involving around 160,000 troops on the day itself and many more in the ensuing Battle of Normandy.  Of  those, 73,000 were from the United States, while 83,000 were from Britain and Canada.

Troops started landing overnight from the air, then were joined by a massive force from the sea on the beaches code-names Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold.

The Battle of Normandy hastened Germany's defeat less than a year later.

--GreGen

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Solemn Tribute to Mark D-Day-- Part 1: "You Are the Pride of Our Nation"


From the June 7, 2019, Chicago Tribune by Raf Casert, John Leicaster and Elaine Ganley, AP.

"With silent remembrance and respect, nations honored the fallen and the singular bravery of all Allied troops who sloshed through bloodied beaches of Normandy 75 years ago on D-Day, the assault that portended the fall of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.

"French President Emmanuel Macron and President Donald Trump praised the soldiers, sailors and airmen, the survivors and those who lost their lives in powerful speeches Thursday that credited the June 6, 1944, air and sea operations that brought tens of thousands of men to Normandy, each not knowing whether he would survive the day.

" 'You are the pride of our nation, you are the glory of our republic, and we thank you from the bottom of our heart," Trump said.

"Macron praised their courage, generosity and strength of spirit that made them press on 'to help men and women they didn't know, to liberate a land most hadn't seen before, for no other cause but freedom, democracy.' "

--GreGen

Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 8: Army's Correspondent Communications System Broke Down


"A runner came from an advance unit bearing a message for the general. (Brig. Gen. Norman Cota). He was John P. Foley, Trenton, New Jersey.

"Although nicked by a bullet over one eye, Foley came through enemy fire to carry an important message which resulted in the general sending reinforcements to a certain sector.

" 'You've done a fine job, lieutenant," said the general, "and shown great initiative and good judgement.'

"Then the general began working to get troops off the beach.  He sent a group to the right flank to help clean out the enemy firing directly on the beach.  Quietly he talked to the men, suggesting the next move.

"The Army's communication system for correspondents accompanying American troops broke down completely and for more than 28 hours we were unable to get news out.

"We were even more bitterly disappointed when we turned on the radio and heard a B.B.C. report from British correspondents accompanying British troops.  Their communications apparently functioned very well."

Obviously Not Happy That the Bristish Corerspondents Could get Their Reports Out Right Away.  --GreGen

Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 7: "Damn Glad To Get On The Beach"


"Wounded men , drenched by cold water, lay in gravel, some with water washing over their legs, shivering and waiting for stretcher bearers to take them aboard returning small craft.

" 'Oh, God, let me aboard a boat,' whimpered one youth in semi-delirium.  Near him a shivering youth dug with bare fingers into gravel.

"Shells burst on all sides of us, some so close they threw black water and dirt all over us in showers.  They smacked into the water around the boats, but in all the shelling I saw only one boat hit and she pulled out under her own power.

"An A.E.F. sergeant, William McFadden, Olean, New York, said, "I was damn glad to get onto the beach, and I'll be glad to get off."

--GreGen

Monday, July 1, 2019

Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 6: The Brave General and His Lieutenant


"In my books much credit must be given to the tall lean brigadier general who showed absolute disregard for his own safety in organizing his troops and getting them moving inland.

"I cannot name him.  But I can name the cool calm lieutenant who stayed by his side during the whole time.  He was Robert J. Rieske of Battle Creek, Mich..

"Eight hours after landing, not a single enemy plane made an appearance over our beach.

We had waded ashore to the rattle of machine guns and the bursting of shells.

"A soldier riding on the rear of a 'duck' at the water edge behind me suddenly gave a startled cry and toppled into the water.  A medic dragged him to the beach and treated a wound to his thigh."

After some research, I believe this brigadier general whom Don Whitehead could not identify because of censorship very likely was Norma Cota, who landed with the second wave.

--GreGen


Friday, June 28, 2019

Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 5: German Counter Attacks


"During the night,  German snipers infiltrated our lines and made life uncomfortable.  The troops were wet from wading through the surf and the bedding of most troops was lost in vehicles swamped on the beach.

"Big guns of our warships are standing offshore and belching flame and smoke.  Small craft are shuttling troops and guns to the strip of beach.  Big bulldozers are gouging out a road.

"Along the beach are still the khaki-clad bodies of the boys who gave their lives in the United Nations bid to crush Germany's armed might.  But there were not so many as I had expected to see, and I patrolled this strip from end to end.

"Canadians reported that German parachute troops were being dropped on a small scale behind American lines.

"American parachutists took one village."

--GreGEn

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 4: Two Prisoners Didn't Want to Fight Anymore


Two young Germans were supposed to man the weapon (88-millimeter gun) but were in quarters when the naval bombardment began and a shell ripped squarely through the gunport.

"They ran out of their tunnel and hid under a bridge where Lieut. Carl W. Oelze, Cleveland, found them and took them prisoner.

"One was 17 years old and the other 18 and both said they were glad the invasion had come and that they were prisoners as they did not want to fight anyway.

"On the other side of the draw was a similar position and further inland above the exit from the beach was another concrete blockhouse with its 88-gun pointing down the approach.

The prisoners coming back to the rear looked rather small and scrawny.  They looked with wonder at the bigger and stronger American boys."

--GreGen

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 3: Some Really Strong German Defenses


"In the matter of a few hours the engineers had roads built from the beach and heavy equipment was pouring across.

"Along the beaches were underwater barriers, barbed wire, emplacements, concrete houses with 88-mm guns covering the beach approaches.  The walls of houses were of reinforced concrete four to six feet thick.

"Two hundred yards from the beach on the side of a steep bank the Germans had built one strong-point and had another under construction.  This blockhouse was about fifteen feet square with one opening through which was poked the snout of an 88-mm. gun.

"Behind the thick walls were cases of ammunition.  Behind the blockhouse the gun crew had tunneled into the side of a hill and installed living quarters."

Fortress Europe, the Vaunted Atlantic Wall.  --GreGen


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 2: The Beach Pile Up and Breakout


"When we landed behind the assault troops the enemy still was pouring a heavy machine-gun mortar and artillery fire into the boat as they drove ashore and had our troops pinned behind a gravel bank just above the water's edge.

SUPPLIES PILE UP

"Troops, supplies and vehicles began to pile up on the beach at an alarming rate.  The enemy controlled the exits with accurate fire and the time schedule was being disrupted.

"One unforeseen difficulty here was that three fresh regiments of German infantry moved onto the beach area just before the landing for anti-invasion maneuvers.  They were sitting in their positions when the armada arrived offshore.

"But under the urging of a soft-spoken brigadier general the organized enemy positions were silenced and the great surge inland began."

--GreGen


Monday, June 24, 2019

Reporting the D-Day Landing, June 6, 1944-- Part 1: " With American Forces in France"


From the June 7, 2019, Chicago Tribune  "Reporting the D-Day landing in 1944" by Don Whitehead, AP>

A technical glitch delayed war story of historic invasion.

This story was first published on June 8, 1944, after AP journalist Don Whitehead landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day with the 1st Infantry Division.  His story was delayed by more than a day as the Army's communication system for the war correspondents broke down, and journalists weren't able to get the news out for more than 28 hours.

This is his report:

WITH AMERICAN FORCES IN FRANCE --  Fighting as American troops did in Tunisia, Sicily and Italy, doughboys have smashed through the outer crust of Hitler's fortress in a gallant display of courage and skill.

Never before has an army attempted to land such vast numbers of men and materials in such a short time, but the job is being done after a shaky start.

--GreGen

D-Day +75 Years-- Part 14: "The Battle Belonged That Morning To..."


Troops poured through the opening and by nightfall, the Omaha Beach beachhead was secured.  However, the Allies held only a few miles of shoreline.  Their front lines wouldn't reach the hard-pressed parachutists until June 10.

"The ground troops have finally reached us," recalled Fayette Richardson.  "We've been surrounded for nearly five days, almost out of ammunition, with rumors that the invasion has failed, that we were done for.  Now, we are saved."

Tough battles lay ahead before Germany surrendered the following spring.  But after Operation Overlord, the end was never in doubt.

On June 6, 1944, 2,499 Americans and 1,915 soldiers of the Allied nations were killed.  Many of the GIs are buried under white crosses and Stars of David in a U.S. military cemetery on a bluff above Omaha Beach.  In the visitor center there is a quote from Gen. Bradley that, with simple eloquence, tells the D-Day story.

"The battle belonged that morning to the thin, wet line of khaki that dragged itself ashore on the channel coast of France."

Fitting.  --GreGen

Sunday, June 23, 2019

D-Day +75 Years-- Part 13: Rangers "Get Up There and Lead the Way"


General Norma Cota, born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, was told that one of the groups huddling on the shoreline were Rangers.  he went over to them and yelled "(Damn) it, if you are Rangers, then get up there and lead the way!"

Spotting an abandoned bulldozer, Cota asked for a volunteer to drive it.  A hand went up, and James Gilligan, a combat engineer, helped the redheaded GI load the bulldozer with explosives to blow a hole in the walls the Germans had built across an exit from the beach.

"The last I saw of (the volunteer) he was hightailing along the beach toward the draw, coolly sitting erect on the dozer, still with the complete load of TNT, seemingly protected by magic from harm,"  Gilligan recalled.  "By the time I got there walking, the mines were gone and the walls were down."

--GreGen


Friday, June 21, 2019

D-Day + 75 Years-- Part 12: "There Are Two Kinds of People Who Are Staying On This Beach"


John Raaen, of Arlington, Va., said he witnessed an unforgettable act of compassion when his Ranger unit landed.  Others ran for cover, but not the Rev. Joseph Lacey.  "He stayed right at the water's edge, pulling men who were dying out of the water so that perhaps they could live a bit longer."

At his command post on the cruiser USS Augusta, General Omar Bradley considered aborting the Omaha Beach landings, but U.S. destroyers moved in perilously close to shore and provide fire cover on German positions and a few officers slowly got the troops to moving off the beach.

"There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die," said Col. George  Taylor from Flat Rock, Illinois.  "Now, let's get the hell out of here!"

A Great Quote.  --GreGen

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

D-Day +75 Years-- Part 11 "Fire Rained Down On Us"


In heavy seas, only a handful of tanks made it to the beach, and the bombers who were to take out German batteries dropped their bombs too far inland.  Such was the situation at Omaha Beach.

"The plans made back in England just didn't exist in reality when we hit the beach," Sergeant Harry Bare of Philadelphia told an interviewer.  "Fire rained down on us, machine-gun, rifle, rockets from the bunkers on top of the cliff."

Frank Colacicco, a major in the 1st Infantry Division, saw the slaughter from a landing craft that was taking his unit in.

"We could see it all," he told Max Hastings, author of the book "Overlord" that takes interviews from men who were there to p[ice together the story.  "We knew that something was knocking the tanks out, but we kept asking, 'Why don't they clear the beach?  Why aren't our people getting off?' "

A Mess on Omaha Beach.  --GreGen

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

D-Day + 75 Years- Part 10: American Reaction to the News, Success, But...


In the United States, Americans woke up to the news of D-Day.  A prayer service was held in Chicago at the corner of State and Madison streets.  In Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell rang.

Rushing to put out an extra edition, pressmen in Griffin, Georgia, put three pages of the Evening News on the press upside down.  Send them out as is, the publisher ordered.

For awhile, it seemed that subsequent editions would bring dreadful news.  Theodore Roosevelt Jr.'s men fought their way through the German defenses at Utah Beach and were moving inland.  British and Canadian troops were advancing their own sector of the shoreline, but a disaster was unfolding on Omaha Beach.


--GreGen

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

D-Day + 75 Years-- Part 9: "D-Day Has Come"


The first report of what was taking place in Normandy came from Berlin.  But it said that the invaders landed farther up the French coast which vindicated the Allies' disinformation campaign.  To throw the Germans off scent, they flipped German spies who spoon-fed false information to Berlin and also dropped dummy parachutists on D-Day.

The first bulletin from London was terse:  "D-Day has come,"  a BBC announcer said.  It mirrored the mood of his audience:  hope mixed with trepidation.

In 1940, the French army had collapsed in the face of Hitler's invasion, and the British army barely escaped by being evacuated through the port of Dunkirk.  So it was natural to worry, lest British soldiers be headed to a similar disaster when they were mobilized for D-Day.

--GreGen

D-Day +75 Years-- Part 8: Theodore Roosevelt Jr. and An Accidental Shooting


Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. was a World War I veteran who walked with a cane, started striding up from the beach.  Meanwhile, a detachment of paratroopers attacked the de Valleville farm, where the Germans had stationed an artillery battery.

There was a firefight between the Americans and Germans.  In the confusion, Louis de Valleville's older brother Michel was shot by an American soldier who mistook him for a German.

"We cannot explain in French," Louis said.  Somehow, his family got Michel to a hospital and he survived.

--GreGen

Monday, June 10, 2019

D-Day 75 Years Later-- Part 7: "We'll Start the War From Here!"


General Theodore Roosevelt was aboard a landing craft heading toward Utah Beach,  The son of President Theodore Roosevelt, he was confronted with a colossal snafu upon stepping ashore.

"About ten minutes later, after we got ourselves protected, General Roosevelt got us together --  battery commanders, battalion commanders -- and told us we weren't where we were supposed to land,"  Joe Blaylock, who served in the 20th Field Artillery, recalled to an interviewer for the University of New Orleans.  "He gave us coordinates of where we were, and everybody checked it on their map, and he said, 'We'll start the war from here!' "

Wrong Place,  Oh Well, We'll Start Anyway.  --GreGen

D-Day +75 Years-- Part 6: "We Believed It Was A Joke"


Now, there was an armada of some 4,000 ships off the Normandy coast, and landing craft were ferrying tanks, infantry units and combat engineers toward the shore.

Louis de Valleville, a teenager who then lived on a farm near Utah Beach, could scarcely believe that France's liberation was at hand.

"Some person came through the flooded area out at about six in the morning, coming through this swamp, and said all of the sea is covered by boats," said de Valleville.  "And we believed it was a joke."

--GreGen

Sunday, June 9, 2019

D-Day + 75 Years-- Part 5: The Enemy Soldiers Were Alive, Then, Suddenly, Dead


The mission Fayette Richardson and the 82nd and 101st Airborne units were on was to stop any German attempts at counterattack and reinforcing the beaches where the Allies were landing.

Richardson very quickly realized that real-life combat is infinitely more brutal and tragic  than Hollywood's version.  At dawn, he and a few others set off on their assignment only to encounter a German staff car.

The Americans froze, then Richardson yelled, "Shoot!  Shoot!"  Three Germans were killed in a hail of fire, and the GIs moved on.  Yet Richardson couldn't stop thinking about the incident.

"It could not be that these ordinary men, riding along an ordinary road on an ordinary day could be shot like that, killed," he wrote.  These men who had been alive and going about life's business a moment before could be dead.  I could not accept it."

--GreGen

Saturday, June 8, 2019

D-Day +75 Years-- Part 4: "I'd Like To Volunteer, Sir"


These are the stories of those beaches on June 6, 1944, as told by those who were there -- the voices of D-Day.

" I'D LIKE TO VOLUNTEER, SIR"

As a boy in Machias, New York, Fayette Richardson was fascinated with airplanes and ear movies.  At 17, he enlisted but didn't qualify for pilot training.  Instead, he was asked to join a parachute regiment's Pathfinder team: those who jump first and guide those who follow.  It was strictly a voluntary thing according to his commanding officer.

"I think of Errol Flynn and how he and David Niven volunteered to do things in 'Dawn Patrol,' " Richardson recalled.  he told his commanding officer: "I'd like to volunteer, sir."   This is according to Richardson's personal story in an oral history story "I Wouldn't Want to Do It Again" by Joel Baret.

Richardson and others of the 82nd and 101st Airborne dropped inland on Normandy just after midnight the day of the invasion.

--GreGen

D-Day +75 Years-- Part 3: Oral Histories Are Setting the Record Straight


Stephen Ambrose is a historian and an author, best known for his books "Band of Brothers" and "Citizen Soldiers.  He has a knack for convincing veterans that every thing they have to say about their experience is worthy of being preserved.

'He knew that the voices of those who fought at Gettysburg are long gone, but thanks to recorded oral histories, those of the D-Day veterans will be with us long after they are gone.

Leonard Lomell was a sergeant in th 2nd Ranger battalion explained why he participated in Ambrose's D-Day oral history project at the University of New Orleans.  "I've kept a low profile for fifty years as have most of my men.  We weren't heroes, we were just good Rangers, as we believed the record would forever show.

But, inaccurate accounts by those who were not there, Lomell realized that time was running out to set the record straight, so he did.

--GreGen

Friday, June 7, 2019

D-Day +75 Years-- Part 2: Thank Goodness for the Oral Histories


Seventy-five years have passed and the ranks of men have thinned even more than they did that day.  They braved machine gun, rifle and cannon fire on the French beaches that were marked on the American maps:  Omaha and Utah.

Fayette Richardson died in 2010, but fortunately for us and future generations, he and other veterans kept diaries, wrote memoirs or recorded their memories.

Oral history as a study was in its infancy when Stephen Ambrose began tape recording D-Day veterans according to Toni Kiser, assistant director for collections management at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

Kiser told the Tribune:  "Ambrose, who began collecting the oral histories housed in our archives, was a distinguished historian.  He recognized that official accounts couldn't capture the subtleties of a historic event like D-Day.  They are bound to reflect the generals' perspective.  He wanted to know how it looked to the GIs, who were on the beaches or dropped by parachute.  What was it like to see a buddy you have trained with for months get killed minutes after they rushed out of a landing craft?"

Thursday, June 6, 2019

D-Day +75 Years Today: "What Am I Doing Here?"-- Part 1


From the June 6, 2019, Chicago Tribune  ' I'd like to volunteer, sir' : Memories of D-Day live on through oral histories" by Ron Grossman.

"Just before parachuting into Nazi-occupied Europe, Fayette Richardson asked himself an existential question: 'My God Most Powerful, what am I doing here? '

"The thought had to be on the minds of myriad soldiers on June 6, 1844.  It was D-Day, the launch of a  long-awaited campaign by the U.S. and British armies to free the nations of Western Europe that Hitler had conquered.

"Mounted from airfields and ports in Great Britain, it was the largest amphibious assault in history.  Code-named Operation Overlord, it dramatically changed the course of World War II."

--GreGen

Monday, June 3, 2019

Three Days to D-Day +75 Years


Today is three days from D-Day, plus 75 years.  Three quarters of a century.  The youngest of the Allies storming Fortress Europe that day would be 93 now, if they were 18 at the time.

Hoping people will be putting their flags out to commemorate it.  What those men faced, going up the famed Atlantic Wall of the Germans had to have been frightening, but on they came, and as you're reading in this blog, jumping into it.

I will write about D-Day in all my blogs June 6.

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Dropping Into Normandy-- Part 5: It Was Like the 4th of July Only They Were Up There With the Fireworks


WILLIAM DUNFEE, 82nd--  "Then, looking down, I saw C-47s flying below us.  That scared the hell out of me, and I started cussing them.  I didn't want to be turned into hamburger by our own air force....  While descending, I regained my composure, since it appeared we were going to make it down in one piece."

CHARLES MILLER,  82nd--  It looked like a great big Fourth of July celebration.  The whole sky was lit up like a big show."

ROY ZERBE, 101st--  "The sky was filled with fire, and it looked like the Fourth of July.  I would guess we were low, at about 500 feet.  I could see fires off in the distance."

GUY REMINGTON, 101st--  "The black Normandy pastures tilted and turned far beneath me.  The first German flare came arching up, and instantly machine guns and forty-millimeter guns began firing from the corners of the fields, stripping the night with yellow, green, blue, and red tracers.  I pitched through a wild Fourth of July.

"Fire licked through the sky and blazed around the transports heaving high overhead.  I saw one of them go plunging down in flames.  One of them came down with a trooper, whose chute had been caught in the tailpiece, streaming out behind.  I heard a large gush of air: a man went hurtling past, only a few yards away, his parachute collapsed and burning.

"Other parachutes, with men whose legs had been shot  off slumped in the harness, floated gently toward the earth."

Only, They Were Up There With the Fireworks This Time.  --GreGen

Dropping Into Normandy-- Part 4: "The Staccato Sound of Machine-Gun Fire Broke My Trance"


THE DROP

RAY AEBISCER,  101st--  "The jolt from the opening shock was more intense than usual.  At the same second the chute opened, my leg pack broke loose from the straps around my leg.  All of my equipment, except one trench knife and a canteen of water went plummeting to the ground, never to be seen again."

TURK SEELYE, 82nd--  "As the prop blast forced air into my chute, I got the strongest opening shock ever.  The chute opened with such a violent jolt that a Beretta pistol I took from an Italian naval officer was torn loose, along with my new safety razor."

LESLIE P. CRUISE, 82nd--  "The chute tightened in my crotch as the planes droned overhead, and I knew my chute had opened though I could hardly look up to see it.  I had suddenly slowed as the chute fully opened and I floated in space....  The staccato sound of machine-gun fire broke my trance.  It was to the left.  No, it was to my right as I kept turning in my chute.  I couldn't tell where it was coming from."

ROY KING,  82nd--  "I was fascinated by the sight of the tracers flying around everywhere when I saw a huge explosion blossom directly below me....  A plane between me and the ground.  No, it was not in trouble, I was!  I was above the stream of airplanes that had just dropped their troopers and equipment.

"My immediate concern was that I could be chopped to pieces by the propellers of the oncoming planes.  I was trying furiously  to turn and face the oncoming planes in order to see how to safely maneuver through them.  I dropped safely through them in spite of my near-hysterical struggles."

--GreGen

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Dropping Into Normandy-- Part 3: Last Man Out


RICHARD GLEASON,  101st--  "As I stood near the door, a shell exploded under the left wing, and the old '47 did a handstand on the right wingtip, and I was thrown back across the cabin.  There was a mad scramble to get out the door, but I was able to get there first, so I didn't get tangled in any static lines."

HAROLD CANYON,  82nd--  Just as I approached the door the top of the airplane opened up.  It had been hit by some type of explosive shell.  As I turned into the doorway, the plane started a right wing dip going into its death spiral.

"It took everything I had to get over the threshold.  It seemed to me the threshold was just a little more than chest high as I rolled over and got out.  I was the last man out of the plane."

CLARENCE McKELVEY--  "We din't know how high we were, but I felt three things in succession -- my helmet popped off my head, I felt my chute open, and I looked down and there was ground."

ELMER BRANDENBERGER, 101st--  "The opening shock (of the parachute) tore the rifle from my grasp.  I can still remember the thought flashing through my mind that it would hit some damned Kraut and bash in his head."

--GreGen

Dropping Into Normandy-- Part 2: Of Puke and Hit Planes


Reminiscences of Paratroopers.

Getting out of the planes proved problematic as well.

LESLIE KICK, 82nd--  "Then we were going out, slipping on puke but keeping our balance by holding tight to the static line snap."

ED BOCCAFOGLI, 82nd--  "I fell out.  I slipped on vomit.  Some guys were throwing up from nerves, and as we pivoted out my feet went out from under me, and I went upside down."

VIRGIL DANFORTH, 101st--  "As we stood in the door, ready to jump, our plane took a close one, which threw men down in the door in such a way that my head was outside and my shoulder was inside and I was wedged in this position so I couldn't get up.  With the help of the man behind me, I finally managed to dive head first out of the door."

JACK SCHLEGEL, 82nd--  "I recall that I was the ...last to leave the plane ... the plane was going down.  I moved out as fast as I could to get out and, after bailing out, saw the plane go up in a ball of flame."

Mighty Scary (And Messy).  --GreGen

Friday, May 31, 2019

Dropping Into Normandy-- Part 1: Into the Darkness


From the WW II History Presents "D-Day 75th Anniversary" magazine.

By Kevin M. Hymel.

These are some individual accounts of members of the 82nd and 101st Airborne who parachuted into Normandy before the attack.  I will be following them up to June 6.

THE JUMP

ROBERT WEBB, 101st:  "When I cleared the door, the plane was bucking like a horse, and the tracers were so thick it looked like a wall of fame."

KENNETH MOORE, 101st:  "The plane started bucking and jumping, as as [ a fellow paratrooper] fell down the green light came on.  They were all jumping, and he was scrambling trying to get out the door, so i grabbed him and pitched him out the door."

TOM POCELLA, 82nd:  "With the roar of the engines in my ears, I was out the door and into the silence of the night.  I realized I had made the jump into darkness."

TIM SEELYE, 82nd:  ""After I left the door, the plane nosed downward, and I watched the tail pass a few feet over my head."

Mighty Scary Jumping Into That.  --GreGen

Seven Days to D-Day +75


We are seven days away from the 75th anniversary of D-Day, quite an important day in human annals.

I have some more information on Lt. Richard Fassl, his plane and the others who died with him February 3, 1944, but will break for awhile to take a look at D-Day.

--GreGen

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Lt. Richard Fassl of the "Dogpatch Raider" B-24


From the American  Air Museum in Britain

RICHARD FASSL

On 3 February 1944, B-24D #41-24192 named "Dogpatch Raider"  lost an engine and aborted during a mission to Emden and during the landing attempt the aircraft appeared to lose control and crashed near Hempnall.     Killed in Action (KIA)

2nd lieutenant Richard Fassl was born on February 28, 1920, the son of Ludwig and Mary Fassl.  His hometown was Chicago, Illinois.

He was serving as a bombardier aboard B-24 "Dogpatch Raider" tail  #42-24192, on February 3, 1944.  The bomber, part of 93rd Bomb Group, 328th Bomb Squadron, suffered engine trouble  shortly after Takeoff, and crash-landed at its base at Hardwick.

He is buried at  the U.S. Military Cemetery at Cambridge, England.

--GreGen

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Lt. Richard Fassl and George Estes Memorials in Chicago


From the August 26, 2015, WTTW PBS Chicago Ask Geoffrey.  Geoffrey Baer is a noted Chicagoologist who has many shows on WTTW about the history of Chicagoland.

The question asked was :  "There is a World War II killed in action memorial marker to George Estes at Fullerton and Cleveland streets in Chicago.  Who was he, who erected  the memorial and are there other markers like it around the city?"

It is one of a few, vanishing  ones around the city.  George Estes was a seaman second class in the Navy during World War II.  He was killed in action in the South Pacific in October 1944 and buried at sea.  He had lived with his family a few blocks away from the memorial at 2046 N. Orleans.

There is another memorial like the one to Estes two blocks west at Fullerton and Orchard for Richard Fassl.  He was a bombardier and a fellow Lincoln Park resident who was killed in action in England.

Both memorials are taken care of by the Mid=North Neighborhood Association.

--GreGen

Saying a Thank You to Lt. Richard Fassl on Memorial Day-- Part 2


Loving his new country, Richard Fassl did what he knew was right.  He joined the military.  The U.S. Army Air Corps sent him overseas to the European Theater.

There he joined the 93rd Bomb Group, 328th Bomb Squadron.

He never came home.

His remains are not home either, buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery at Cambridge, England.

Every year on the anniversary of Lt. Fassl's death, the article writer, William Dodd Brown, ties a bouquet of flowers to his memorial at Fullerton and Orchard streets in Chicago.

--GreGen

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Saying a Thank You to Lt. Richard Fassl on Memorial Day-- Part 1


From the May 27, 2019, Chicago Sun-Times  "Why I will say 'thank you' to Lt. Richard Fassl on Memorial Day" by William Dodd Brown.

"It was going to be a routine mission, but something went terribly wrong.

"On Feb. 3, 1944, shortly after takeoff, the B-24 lost an engine and, returning to base, crash-landed at Hardwick Airfield in England.  Lt. Richard Fassl and eight other crew members were killed.

"There was nothing to be done except to collect the dead, say a few prayers and send a telegram: 'The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that your son...'

"Richard Fassl was born in Austria.  Like so many others, past and present, he and his family immigrated to Chicago in the 1920s, hoping to find a better future.  His father, Ludwig, worked as a janitor.

"Growing up, Richard graduated from Lane Tech High School and attended the Illinois Institute of Technology for a year.  By 1942, he had a steady job with ComEd.  Like just about every other young guy in Chicago, he'd get together with some buddies on a Wednesday or Thursday night.  They'd go out bowling, have a few beers, share a few jokes.  Someday, he'd get married, have kids, and start saving for a house.

"But, the war came along.  The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor."

--GreGen

Thursday, May 23, 2019

California Shipbuilding Corp.-- Part 4: End of War, End of Calship


The Calship yard had workers from every corner of the United States, lured by work and good wages.  Eventually the force here numbered some 40,000.  Only 1% had had any shipbuilding experience before they came.

After the war, the U.S. Navy and Maritime Commission cancelled their contracts with Calship and the level of shipbuilding decreased.  Calship closed in September 1945, after launching its last Victory Ship.  It was "four years to the minute after the first  slid into the water."

Calship ranks 49th  among U.S. corporations in the value of World War II military production contracts.

In 1947 the Calship facility was taken over by  National Metal & Steel Corporation which operated a scrap yard there.  Fifty-five of the Liberty and Victory Ships that were built there were also scrapped there.

The surviving museum Victory ships SS American Victory and SS Lane Victory were built  in the Calship yard.  The SS American Victory is in Tampa, Florida, and the SS Lane  Victory is in Los Angeles.  They both are open to the public and sail occasionally.

--GreGen


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

California Shipbuilding Corporation-- Part 3: "City Built On Invisible Stilts"


The huge Navy contracts also was a huge boost to California shipbuilding.    As a result, workers migrated to California in large numbers.  Shipyards sprang up from San Francisco to San Diego.  At its peak, shipbuilding in California involved 282,000 people.

Shipbuilding became a highly efficient industry.  The building of ships and workers peaked in 1943.

The Kaiser Steel plant in Fontana, California,  was completed in August 1943, which enabled further  production increases at Calship (California Shipbuilding Corp.).  Between September 27, 1941, and September  27, 1945, the shipyard launched 467 ships.

The Calship yard was known as "the city built on invisible stilts."  It was situated on marshy ground and was built on artificial earth supported by 57,000 piles driven into the mud.

--GreGen

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

California Shipbuilding Corporation-- Part 2: Very Fast Ship Production


Calship (California Shipbuilding Corporation) was created from scratch and began production of Liberty Ships in May 1941.  In the early 1940s, contracts from the U.S. Department of Maritime Commission and a number of U.S. Navy contracts led to great prosperity in L.A. shipbuilding businesses.

The Calship yard covered  175 acres on the  north side of Terminal Island.  It initially had eight ways which were later increased to fourteen.  Some 40,000 men and women  worked on the construction of the ships  Altogether, the ships that were produced here are referred to as the "Liberty Fleet."

The cargo ships were built with rapid construction with lower costs.    Just thirteen months after commencing production, the company broke the record by delivering 15 Liberty Ships in June 1942.  For the year, they delivered 111 Liberty Ships. more than any other yard in the United States.  In June the following year, they broke their own record by delivering twenty ships.  Then, again in December 1943, they delivered 23.

They Could Build Ships Very Fast.  --GreGen

Monday, May 20, 2019

California Shipbuilding Corporation-- Part 1: Built 467 Liberty and Victory Ships


Last week I wrote about the USS Jaguar and its service during World War II.

It was built by this company.

From Wikipedia.

And, I thought the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company built a lot of ships for WW II service, but this one built almost twice as many.

Built 467 Liberty and Victory ships during the war, including Haskell-class attack transports.  It was often referred to as Calship (California Shipbuilding).

The Calship shipyard was created  at Terminal Island, Los Angeles as part of the U.S.'s huge shipbuilding effort during the war.  W.A. Bechtel Co. was given sponsorship  and was in charge of executive direction.

As of the 1940, the Los Angeles shipyards had not built a large ship  in 20 years.  By  late 1941, though, shipbuilding had become the second largest  manufacturing industry  in the Los Angeles area.

--GreGen

Friday, May 17, 2019

Two More Pearl Harbor Survivors Pass Away: Clement Hauger, Jr. and Joseph Catenazzo


These are some of our oldest World War II veterans since this was the first battle for the United States.

CLEMENT JOSEPH HAUGER, JR., 97

May 10, 2019    Was in the U.S. Army and when he went outside, saw a Japanese plane flying over: "When it went by, it had a big red ball on the side.  And someone said, 'That's the Japanese.  We're at war!'"

He served 1941-1944.

JOSEPH CATENAZZO, 97

May 8, 2019  He was buried at Seaside Memorial Cemetery in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He was turned down for enlistment at the age of 16, but moved to the West Coast and found another enlistment office and was successful.

He was taking a church boat to shore for the 8:00 service:  "Just another few seconds, these tin plans come right over us so low it scared the hell out of me."

Sorry to Lose Them.  --GreGen

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Armadillo-Class Tankers


From Wikipedia.

The USS Jaguar was an Armadillo-class tanker.

Here is a list of the other ships in the class.

Armadillo
Beagle
Camel

Caribou
Elk
Gazelle

Gemsbock
Giraffe
Ibex

Jaguar
Kangaroo
Leopard

Mink
Panda
Porcupine

Raccoon
Whippet

--GreGen



USS Jaguar (IX-120)-- Part 3: An Armadillo-Class Tanker


From Wikipedia.

These tankers were  a class of Type ZET1-S-C3 Liberty tankers.  They were given hull-classification as unclassified  miscellaneous vessels.

Looking at the picture of one of these ships, they closely resembled the Liberty ships which were redesigned to carry fuel oil.

They all served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and were launched in 1943 and decommissioned in 1946.  They served primarily in the Pacific-Asia Theater, bringing aviation gasoline to remote Pacific islands.

--GreGen

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

USS Jaguar (IX-120)-- Part 2: Delivered Diesel Oil, Fuel Gasoline and Minesweeping Gear


The Jaguar arrived at New Caledonia 19 January 1944 via Wellington, New Zealand , and from there transported vital  diesel oil, aviation gasoline and minesweeping gear to the New Hebrides and Solomon Islands

It returned to the U.S. West Coast in 1946  and then to Norfolk Navy Yard via the Panama Canal on April 20, 1946, and was decommissioned there June 10 and turned over to the Maritime Commission.

It later served as a tanker for various shipping lines under the name Harry Peer in 1948 and Tini in 1949.

The ship was transferred over to the Panamanian flag  in February 1951.

There are warning of asbestos threat as the ship had it.

--GreGen

Monday, May 13, 2019

USS Jaguar (IX-120)-- Part 1: Launched By the California Shipbuilding Corporation


In my last post, I talked with a WW II veteran who served on this ship.  I;d never heard of the hip, so good ol' Wikipedia.

Was an Armadillo-class  tanker designated an unclassified miscellaneous ship   She was the only ship in the U.S. Navy ever to have this name. The keel was laid down as the  Charles T. Yerkes under Maritime Commission contract by the California Shipbuilding Corporation in San Pedro, California.

She was launched  on 20 November 1943 and acquired by the Navy December 15 and commissioned that day with Lieutenant Commander T.E. Hammond in command.  It was 441 feet long with a 57-foot beam and a complement of 70 officers and enlisted.

After a shakedown cruise, it departed 19 January 1944  for duty as a floating storage ship in the Pacific Theater.

--GreGen


The WW II Veteran in Menards: Served On the USS Jaguar


Friday, while in the Fox Lake Menard's store, I met an elderly man wearing a World War II veteran hat so I thanked him for his service.  I then inquired about his service.

He served in the Pacific Theater of the war and on a tanker ship named the USS Jaguar.  It told him that had to have been very scary, all those Japanese submarines with their torpedoes lurking out there.  He said he was just 17 at the time and really didn't much think about it or care.  It was all a great adventure.  His ship had a flatter hull bottom so it could get in closer to shore.

I have recently been writing about the Palmyra Atoll/Island in the Pacific which had an airbase midway across the ocean that was a frequent stop for planes going across it and asked if he had ever been there,  He didn't remember specifically, but said he had delivered fuel to many U.S. bases so might have.

Whenever you see a WW II vet, thank them, talk to them.

Always An Interesting Story.  --GreGen

Friday, May 10, 2019

USS Oklahoma Unknowns: Seaton and Glenn


Recently identified crew members of the battleship USS Oklahoma who died at Pearl Harbor on december 7, 1941.

CHESTER SEATON--  Would have been 97 on August 8, 2019.  Will be buried next to his parents.  Navy Petty Officer 1st Class.  He is the 149th of the USS Oklahoma's Unknowns to be identified and one of fifteen native Nebraskans identified from the ship.

Five western Iowa sailors also died that day.  Two of them were Eli Olsen of Exira and George Ford of Carroll County who have been identified.

In 1941, Seaton, age 20, served on the USS Oklahoma with Petty Officer Lorentz Hultgren, 23, who married Seaton's sister. Hultgren also died on the Oklahoma in the attack and was unknown but recently identified.

The loss of two family members on the Oklahoma like that had to have been hard on that family.

ARTHUR GLENN--  Machnist Mate 1st Class from Fort Wayne, Indiana.  He had also served during World War I  Military records have him stealing an officer's car and driving it to Tijuana where he got into a fight.  Matt  Glenn, a great, great nephew said, "He was kind of a wild dog.  he was a very colorful character."

Enlisted in the Navy April 12, 1917, six days after the U.S. entered World War I.  December 7, 1941, was his birthday and he was 43.

--GreGen

Thursday, May 9, 2019

USS Oklahoma Unknowns: Brueswitz, Johnson and Wade


Here are some of the recently identified crew of the battleship USS Oklahoma who died December 7, 1941, and whose bodies were recovered when the ship was uprighted but their bodies could not be identified.

WILLIAM G. BRUESWITZ--  Seaman 1st Class.  Funeral to be held later this year at Arlington National Cemetery.  From Menasha, Wisconsin.

JOSEPH JOHNSON--  From Minnesota.  Graduated from Rushford High School.  Was a football player.    Enlisted in Navy a year after graduation.  Among the 429 who died on the USS Oklahoma that day.

DURELL WADE--  24.  Aviation machinist.  Skipped college to enlist in Navy in New Orleans.  Will be buried at North Mississippi Veteran Memorial Park in Kilmichel.

I'm so glad the U.S. government is having the bodies identified.

--GreGen

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

War Industries Working Together in DeKalb County in 1944


From the January 9, 2019, MidWeek   "Looking Back."

1944, 75 Years Ago.

"In order that a better understanding of what the other fellow is doing and the problems that each industry faces could be learned, a tour of a group of manufacturers was conducted in the past few days through the industrial parts of DeKalb, Sycamore and Genoa.

"The tour proved to be very worthwhile as each manufacturer was able to see the products which are being produced in the other plants and also had the opportunity to discuss the various problems encountered by each."

--GreGen

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

More Apartments for War Industry Workers in DeKalb


From the January 9, 2019, MidWeek   "Looking Back."

1944, 75 Years Ago.

"Announcement was made today that the new apartments on the east side of Seventh and Lincoln Highway, formerly known as the Ferguson flats, have been completed and now are ready for occupancy.

"The three apartments that were on the second floor of the building have been converted into six convenient living quarters, and it is reported that all of them have been leased.  The conversion  was made at the insistence of one of the war industries of the city and the work was completed in about two months' time."

--GreGen

Monday, May 6, 2019

Palmyra (Cooper Airport)-- Part 2: Three Runways At One Time


On January 16, 1942, six Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses from Hawaii, under the command of Lt. Col. Walter C. Sweeney Jr. (who commanded the Army Air Force Task Group during the Battle of Midway in June 1942).  Also, the Marine VMF-2211 used the airfield.

Two other runways were also built and used.  One was on Mengle Island  and the other one on Sand Island.    Both of these runways are now overgrown with plants and returning to jungle.

The U.S. Air Force maintained the main runway until 1961  It still exists today but can only be used by prior permission or in case of emergency.

--GreGen

Palmyra (Cooper) Airport-- Part 1: Paved With Coral


From Wikipedia.

Is an unattended airport  on Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.    It was originally built during World War II and is now owned by The Nature Conservancy.  It has one 5,000 foot long runway.  The name Cooper comes from Henry Ernest  Cooper Sr. who owned Palmyra from 1911 to 1921.

When built, the airfield was called Palmyra Atoll Airfield and later Palmyra Naval Air Station as it was a naval airfield in the Line islands of the Central Pacific area.

The Navy made preliminary surveys of the site in 1938 and construction began in 1939.  The runway was made from crushed coral.  During the war, the U.S. Naval Construction Battalion dredged a channel so that ships could enter the protected lagoons.  They bulldozed coral rubble into a long, unpaved landing strip for refueling  transpacific  supply planes.

--GreGen

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Palmyra Atoll/Island-- Part 2: Handy Spot to Refuel


From Abandoned and Little-Known Airfields Western Pacific Islands: Palmyra Atoll/Island.

**  Two Army B-17s briefly flew in from Hawaii shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked and landed for anti-submarine patrol.

**  The 5000-foot runway on Cooper Island was completed on January 1, 1942.   Another 3,700-foot runway was built on adjoining Menge Island.

**  The earliest-known aircraft accident there was June 16, 1942.  An Army Douglas C-53 was damaged beyond repair.

**  Eighteen P-39s arrived 10/24/42 and departed  11/2.

**Long range AAF B-24s  also made frequent stops.

**  Contract civilian pilots from Pan American Airways, Consolidated Aircraft and United Airlines flying cargo and personnel to South Pacific areas,  also refueled at Palmyra.

--GreGen

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Palmyra Island/Atoll-- Part 1: Naval Defensive Area


A little over a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Grebe went to Palmyra Island towing a fuel barge.

From Wikipedia.

Palmyra Island (also referred to as Palmyra Atoll) is in about the middle of the Pacific Ocean which gives it is strategic location.  It is named after the USS Palmyra which shipwrecked on the reef there in 1802.  (I can find no mention of this ship.)  It is an incorporated U.S. Territory.  Today it has no permanent residents.

In the 1930s, the island, because of its strategic location, was placed under the control of the U.S. Navy.  On February 14, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Palmyra Naval Defensive Sea Area which allowed only naval ships and aircraft to enter the area.

The Navy established the Palmyra Island Naval  Air Station there on August 15, 1941.  The island was shelled by a Japanese submarine in 1941.  A ship canal was blasted and dredged to the open sea from the West Lagoon.

A hotel was built by the Seabees for airmen on their way to the Pacific Front.

After the war, much of the air station was destroyed.

--GreGen

USS Grebe (AM-43)-- Part 2: Pacific Cruises and Destroyed By a Hurricane


On January 24, 1942, the Grebe towed a fuel oil barge to Palmyra Island, then back to Honolulu where she remained until fall.  On 30 September, the Grebe joined a convoy to Johnston Island and then towed two vessels to Canton Island.

On 6 December 1942, the Grebe grounded while trying to float  the SS Thomas A. Edison at Vuata Vatoa Island in the Fiji Islands.  Salvage efforts were broken up  by a hurricane which destroyed both ships on 1-2 January 1943.

I am unable to find out any information on the Grebe's shipwreck or  the SS Thomas A. Edison.

--GreGen

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

USS Grebe (AM-43)-- Part 1: At Pearl Harbor


From Wikipedia.

I have been writing about this ship in my Not So Forgotten: War of 1812 blog and my Cooter's History Thing blog as this ship led a long naval career spanning from the end of World War I to  part way through World War II.  It was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

It also spent nearly three years towing the USS Constitution to most every American port on the East and West Coasts.

After towing the Constitution, the Grebe was transferred to the West Coast.   On 3 June 1940, the Grebe arrived in Pearl Harbor and was assigned to tow  for gunnery and bombing practice.  It was also assigned to mine sweeping practice.

The Grebe was in the process of repair when the Japanese attack came.  Her three-inch guns had been dismantled in the overhaul, so the crew had to fight with rifles and pistols and is credited with shooting down one of three unidentified planes flying low over the yard.

--GreGen


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Bits of War: USS North Carolina-- USS Arizona Memorial-- Last Japanese Soldier to Surrender (1974)


Bits of War.

1.  USS NORTH CAROLINA--  The USS North Carolina hosted "Battleship Alive" this past Saturday, April 27.  Re-enactors were all over the ship portraying the daily routine  of its crew.

2.  USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL--  This will remain closed for a second straight Memorial Day because of needed repairs to its dock.

3.  LAST JAPANESE SOLDIER TO SURRENDER--  Nakamura Teruno was captured on the Indonesian island of Morotai in December 1974.

--GreGen

Monday, April 29, 2019

Homes Being Subdivided Into Apartments for Defense Workers in Sycamore


From the January 9, 2019, MidWeek,  "Looking Back."

1944, 75 Years Ago.

"Exceptionally fine progress is being made at the Adee home on West State Street in Sycamore, the large family home being converted into suitable apartments for defense workers.

"Much of the inside  preliminary work had been completed, and the plasterers  soon will finish, after  which the various rooms will be turned over to the decorators.  The home is large enough for several small convenient apartments and it is understood that all available quarters have been spoken for by prospective tenants."

The Housing Shortage Continues.  --GreGen

Friday, April 26, 2019

World War II: Pearl Harbor Survivors


**   If there are any more of our World War II or Korean War veterans in our post who would like to have their stories told, please get  in touch with Commander Kelli and I'd love to interview you.

PEARL HARBOR SURVIVORS

Unfortunately, most times I come across stories about Pearl Harbor survivors these days for this blog, Tattooed On Your Soul:  World War II blog, they are reporting a death.

Here are two recent stories from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Press from this past week.

RAY GARLAND, 96    Pearl Harbor Survivor, World War II Campaigns and Korean War veteran.  Long-time resident of Couer d'Alene.  He died April 19, 2019.  Last surviving member of the Lilac Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.

Traveled to Spokane for the Pearl Harbor Remembrance every year.  In 2017, he was the only Pearl Harbor survivor to attend.

Enlisted in the Marines at age 19, and was the youngest member of the Marine detachment on the battleship USS Tennessee at Pearl Harbor that day.  He remembered, I saw a Japanese dive bomber flying alongside us.  He was so close, I could see his goggles."  despite being injured in the attack, he was back on duty in three days.

Later in the war, he participated in the Aleutian, Marshal and Gilbert Islands campaigns.  He was recalled by the Marines for the Korean War.

**************************

From the same newspaper on April 25, 2019, "Pearl Harbor survivor looks ahead to Memorial Day."

Charlie Imus, 98, was walking down the stairs from his barracks to the mess hall on Ford Island at the age of 21.  He recalled:  "I saw the red (dots) on the airplanes going by."    At the time, he was a Seaman 2nd Class assigned to VP-23, an aircraft patrol squadron.

He fired a couple rounds at the enemy planes.  All but one of his planes were destroyed.



Thursday, April 25, 2019

World War II: The Doolittle Raid


On April 18th, we commemorated the 77th anniversary of what today is known as the Doolittle Raid.  This was a major boost to American morale, as things were going very bad for us in the first  several months after Pearl Harbor.  It was a huge blow to the Japanese, who were sure they were safe from American bombs.

There was a huge risk associated with the Raid.  One of the biggest obstacles was to take off from an aircraft carrier in bombers which were thought to be too big.  There were 80 Doolittle Raiders who flew five-man crews in 16 B-25B Mitchell medium bombers who took off from the aircraft carrier Hornet.

The planes dropped their bombs on Japanese targets but did not do serious damage.  But, for the U.S., it was payback for Pearl Harbor.    Of the eighty men, 77 survived the mission, three were executed and one died of disease while a prisoner.

This past April 9, the last Doolittle survivor, Richard Cole, died at age 103.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Nursing Shortages Hit the Home Front


From the January 2, 2019, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1944, 75 Years Ago.

"Through the activities of the DeKalb Chapter of the American Red Cross, arrangements are rapidly being completed to make available another course in Home Nursing for the women of this community.

"The course is of particular value at this time when a shortage of nurses throws the responsibility of caring for the ill upon those in the home.  The aim of the Red Cross is to have at least one person trained in the care of the sick in every home."

--GreGen

"Jumping" Doctors of the U.S. Medical Corps


From the January 2, 2019, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1944, 75 Years Ago.

" 'Jumping doctors' of the U.S. Medical Corps must be qualified parachutists, as they jump with the men and set up aid stations in combat areas occupied by paratroops."

I Don't Make House Calls!!!   -- GreGen

Monday, April 22, 2019

Snow Removal Manpower Shortages


From the January 2, 2019, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)   "Looking Back."

1944, 75 Years Ago.

"Harley Self, district superintendent of the state highway department, stated today this would be the first January in fourteen years of continuous service he has not had crews out plowing snow.

"The highway official further stated that the manpower shortage had hit his working department rather hard and he is going to be facing  a real problem if this district  should receive a heavy fall of snow."

--GreGen

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Navy's Most Unwanted Ship, the USS Prinz Eugen-- Part 4


For decades, potential leakage from the Prinz Eugen has been a threat.  But during 2018, a Navy-led salvage team removed 229,000 gallons on bunker oil from the wreck.

But, there are remains of the ship to this day.

The ship's bell and fire control rangefinder were removed and put into the Naval History and Heritage Command collection.

The Hampton Roads Naval Museum also has some remnants of the ship, including the ship's chronometer, lighting fixtures, plates with silverware, , an azimuth circle and a binnacle containing a compass which is still in working order.

--GreGen



Friday, April 19, 2019

The Navy's Most Unwanted Ship, USS Prinz Eugen-- Part 3: Target Ship in Operation Crossroads


U.S. navy Captain A.H. Graubart, with a crew of 8 officers and 85 enlisted men, with the help of the former German captain and 574 German crew members to help, sailed from Germany and went half way across   the globe with stops at Philadelphia and San Diego.  Along the way, everything of scientific value was stripped from the Prinz Eugen.

In San Diego, the last of the German crew was released.  With difficulty, the remaining skeleton American crew were able to reach Hawaii and from there it was towed to Bikini Atoll.  It was to be a test ship in the testing of the atom bomb at Bikini Atoll  in what was called Operation Crossroads.

A huge flotilla of American and captured enemy warships was assembled to see how they would do in an atomic test.  The Prinz Eugen survived two tests and remained afloat, though with a little flooding. Afterwards, it was towed  to Kwajelin Atoll, 200 miles away, where the leaks  continued to worsen.  The radioactive condition of the ship made repairs too risky and on December 22, 1946, it capsized about 200 yards offshore.

Today, its two propellers, minus one that was taken to Germany for a memorial in 1978 are easily visible at low tide

--GreGen



Navy's Most Unwanted Ship, the USS Prinz Eugen-- Part 2: The Luck of the Draw


In February 1942, the Prinz Eugen, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau made a daring run through the English Channel to German home waters.    Later service off Norway resulted in a torpedo hit that forced heavy repairs.  A year later, Hitler ordered the German High Seas Fleet decommissioned and the Prinz Eugen became a training ship.

Other than an occasional shore bombardment and troop transport, that was it for the ship's war service.  It was surrendered when Germany did so in April 1945.

When the Allies were divvying up what was left of the German war machine, the Soviet Union was very interested in acquiring the ship.  It was the most powerful ship left in the German Navy, was in fairly good shape and had all modern instrumentation.

However, the Americans were determined to prevent them from acquiring it if they could.  It was finally decided that the way to divide up the German ships was to  make three lists of the ships, put the lists into a hat and allow the Soviets to draw first.  The Soviets did not get their coveted Prinz Eugen.  They did get the old cruiser Nurnberg which they renamed the Admiral Makarov and it became the flagship of their 8th Fleet.

The United States got the Prinz Eugen.

--GreGen



Thursday, April 18, 2019

It Was 77 Years Ago and A Major Boost to U,S, Morale, the Doolittle Raid


From the April 18, 2019, Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun.

What made the mission all the more challenging was that the ships in the task force were spotted by a Japanese patrol boat which caused the Navy commander, Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, to launch the planes farther away than they wanted to and fuel became a major problem.

Originally they had enough fuel to get to eastern China where they expected to land, refuel and fly on to western China an be saved.

They flew at 200 feet above the water and with radios turned off and avoided detection.   In groups of between two and four bombers, they broke off and targeted dry docks, armories, oil refineries and aircraft factories in Yokohama, Nagoya,  Osaka,  Kobe and Tokyo itself.

The Japanese anti-aircraft defense was caught off guard and so the Raiders received little of their fire and only one Zero followed in pursuit.  With their bombs delivered, the Raiders flew to safety in China.

As the planes ran out of fuel, many Raiders had to parachute, including Richard Cole.  Of the 80 Raiders, eight were captured by the Japanese and five executed.  Three were sent to prison and one of them died of malnutrition.

The other 72  with the help of Allied Chinese found their way to safety and continued to fight in the war.

--GreGen

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Navy's Most Unwanted Ship, the USS Prinz Eugen-- Part 1: Formerly a German Warship


From the January 4, 2019 Hampton Roads Naval Museum blog  "The Navy's 'Most Unwanted' ship and the instruments that escaped  its fate."

On January 5, 1946, the U.S. Navy commissioned a heavy cruiser into its fleet.  What was strange about this ship was that, a year earlier, it had been an enemy ship, the German KMS Prinz Eugen.  It was the German Navy's largest and most heavily armed remaining ship.  The United States had gotten the ship by drawing lots from a hat.

It had originally been commissioned into the Kriegsmarine in Kiel, Germany, August 1. 1940.  It was the second of three Hipper class heavy cruisers to see action in World War II.  It almost didn't survive its first mission, which was escorting the KMS Bismarck in its dash out to the Atlantic in late May 1941 for commerce attacks.    They encountered the HMS Prince of Wales and the HMS Hood.  The Prinz Eugen landed some of the first hits on the Hood before the Bismarck sank the ship.

The Bismarck was later damaged by carrier-based aircraft and destroyed a few days later.  The Prinz Eugen made it back to to occupied France.

--GreGen

Monday, April 15, 2019

Banner Year for Hemp in DeKalb County in 1943


From the December 26, 2018, MidWeek   "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"E.E. Houghtby, manager of the War Hemp Industries, Inc., at Shabbona, announced that a total of6,237 tons of hemp was shocked at the mill property at this time, with a value of approximately  $282,555.

"This total tonnage of almost 9,000 tons is this year's hemp crop in the area controlled by the Shabbona mill, and was harvested from about 3,800 acres.  Next year, the War Hemp Industries, Inc, hopes to have 5,500 acres planted to hemp for the Shabbona mill."

Of course, I can't help but chuckle thinking back when I was a student at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb from 1969 to 1973, when we often heard there was marijuana growing along the roads and railroads in DeKalb County.  Wonder where that rumor got started?

--GreGen

Friday, April 12, 2019

Farmers Taking Advantage of a Warm December in DeKalb County in 1943


From the December 26, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Farmers of DeKalb County are taking advantage of the unusual December weather and hundreds of acres of ground are being plowed for spring planting.  It is unusual to see so many acres of plowed ground at this time of the year.

"Farmers say that by now, their labor problems in the spring will not be as acute as in previous years.  When the early spring arrives, some of the farmers say all they will have to do is to disc the ground and it will be ready for planting."

GreGen

USS Arizona Memorial To Remain Closed Through the Summer


From the March 29, 2019, Hawaii Now News.

Repairs to the USS Arizona's dock are expected to continue through the summer.

The National Park Service has awarded a $2.1 million contract and repairs are expected to be complete in time for the next December 7, 1941, commemoration.

In the meantime, there will be no walk-on visits to the memorial.  Several deadlines have already passed since it was closed in May 2018 after staff discovered damage to the dock's exterior concrete caused by a malfunction in the dock's anchoring system.

Officials say the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center will remain open.

--GreGen

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Last Doolittle Raider Richard E, Cole: 2,500 Miles and 13 Hours


He was born on September 7, 1915, in Dayton, Ohio, and graduated from Marion L. Steele High School and then attended Ohio University for two years.  Cole enlisted as an aviation cadet on November 22, 1940, at Lubbock, Texas and was commissioned a second lieutenant in July 1941 and rated as a pilot.

DOOLITTLE RAID

He was assigned to be co-pilot on the first plane, a B-25 medium bomber, to leave the USS Hornet's deck, piloted by the raid's leader, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle.

On April 18, 1942, the planes took off and reached their target, Tokyo, Japan, and dropped their bombs.  Then they headed for a Chinese airfield but ran out of fuel and bailed out after flying 2,500 miles and 13 hours.  The crew was able to link up and were helped through Japanese lines by Chinese guerrillas and missionary John Birch. (The John Birch Society was named after him in case you're wondering.)

Cole was the last surviving member of the Doolittle Raid.  Staff Sergeant David Thatcher, gunner on Aircraft No. 7, died  on June 23, 2016, at the age of 94.   Cole was the only member to live to be older than Jimmy Doolittle, who died in 1993 at the age of 96.

On September  19, 2016, the Northrup Grumman B-21 was formally renamed "Raider" in honor of the Doolittle Raiders.  As the last surviving member of the group, Cole  was present at the naming ceremony.

Richard Cole died  in San Antonio, Texas,  on April 9, 2019, at the age of 103.  He will be buried  with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery, following services at Joint Base San Antonio.

The Greatest of the Greatest.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Last Doolittle Raider Dies, Richard Cole, 103


It was kind of strange that just now I got to thinking about these famous American heroes who I used to write about often in April, it being the anniversary of the April 18, 1942, Raid.

I was wondering if any were still alive.  I started looking on the internet and found that the last one, Richard Cole, had died yesterday at age 103.

I'll be writing more about him this week

A Greatest Generation Hero of the Highest Order.  --GreGen

Pearl Harbor, Battle of the Bulge Survivor Turns 100-- Part 3: George Murray


After Pearl Harbor, Murray spent months in Hawaii, among the things he did was train civilians what to do in case of a gas attack.  Later in 1942, he returned to the United States mainland for Officer Candidate School.

In 1943, he was off to England where he censored mail and other tasks.  In 1944 he was sent to France as a replacement and assigned to the 86th Chemical Mortar Battalion as a forward observer.

He was with the 28th Division at the Battle of the Bulge and remembers:  In some cases casualties were covered with snow before they could be removed.  The bolts on the rifles would freeze and could not be fired.  Infantrymen had to urinate on the bolts of their automatic weapons to thaw them enough to fire them."

After the war he reverted to enlisted status and in 1959 was promoted to sergeant major and in retirement was active in the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Association, Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge and the 86th Chemical Mortar Battalion.  Later he was inducted into the U.S. Army Chemical Corps Hall of Fame.

There is no official record as to how many Pearl Harbor survivors still in in North Texas.

--GreGen

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Pearl Harbor, Battle of Bulge Survivor Turns 100-- Part 2


Fifteen years ago, George Murray wrote a 62 page memoir and this is taken from it.  He continues with his Pearl Harbor memories:

"It took me about about an hour and a half, using a variety of transportation such as a taxi or bus (to get back to Schofield Barracks).  When I got there I found we had no casualties although a bomb had been dropped not too far from our barracks."

Last year, George Murray, a long-time resident of Anniston, Alabama, was recognized as the last-known Pearl Harbor survivor in Alabama.  He has since moved to Texas to be near family.

He spent 30 years in the Army and was also at the Battle of the Bulge.

Mr. Murray was born March 31, 1919, and raised in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  Jobs were hard to come by in 1936, and at the age of 17, with his parents permission, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and traveled the country working on projects.

In 1939, he enlisted in the Army and joined the Chemical Warfare Service which provided such things to the military as gas warfare training and smoke screens.

--GreGen

Pearl Harbor and Battle of the Bulge Survivor Turns 100-- George Murray-- Part 1


From the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram  "He survived Pearl Harbor and the Battle of the Bulge -- and his 100th birthday is here"  Gordon Dickson.

George Murray had been in the Army for two years without a break and was now at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii and had begum a seven day leave on December 5, when, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  He was about ten miles away on the other side of Oahu enjoying being a tourist.

"I made it back to the company as best I could."

That company was Company A, 1st Separate Chemical Battalion.

"It took me about an hour and a half, using a variety of transportation such as a taxi or bus.  When I got there I found we had no casualties, although a bomb had been dropped not too far from our barracks."

Of special interest since I have been writing about the U.S. Army's Chemical Warfare unit and Camp Sibert in the last couple weeks.  No doubt George Murray would gave been there.

--GreGen


Monday, April 8, 2019

Francis Warren AFB, Cheyenne, Wy.


I have been writing about Civil War Medal of Honor recipient Francis E. Warren in my Saw the Elephant: Civil War blog and also today in my Cooter's History Thing blog and will continue in this one.  he was a real big man in the history of the state of Wyoming.

From 1867 to 1927 the base was called Fort Russell.  In 1930. President Hoover issued a proclamation changing the name to Fort Francis E. Warren.  Well-known persons stationed here include General Billy Mitchell (the Father of the Air Force), General Mark Clark and General Benjamin  O. Davis, Sr (the first black general).

During World War II, Fort Warren was the training center for up to 20,000 of the Quartermaster Corps.  More than 280 buildings were constructed without insulation and interior walls to temporarily house the increased number of troops.

In the harsh Wyoming winter, waking up often meant  shaking snow from one's blanket, heading for the just-as-cold communal showers.  A prisoner of war camp was also constructed at the time.

--GreGen


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Housewives "Stop Wasting That Food"


From the December 26, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"DeKalb County's 9,552 housewives could feed 2,368 soldiers for a year with the food wasted annually in homes  of the county, an official of the country's leading food distributor estimated.

"This amazing figure is based on accurate government  statistics which indicate that at least 4,537,200 pounds of food are wasted annually in DeKalb County."

--GreGen

Women's Ambulance Safety Patrol Practices in 1943


From the December 26, 2018, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"First aid work supervised by Mrs. Knowlen was begun at the Women's Ambulance Safety Patrol, held Tuesday night at the Armory.  It is expected this first aid program will be carried on for the next several weeks, the girls devoting two hours each Tuesday evening to instruction.

"After first aid has been completed and examinations taken, the patrol members then will take up other projects, as well as military drill and discipline."

--GreGen

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Weather As A Force at D-Day-- Part 2: What's In A Forecast?


Group Captain James Stagg of the RAF met with Eisenhower on the evening of 4 June and told the commander that weather conditions on the 6th would be good enough for the invasion.  The next dates that would be good for the landings would be two weeks later from 18-20 June.

Waiting until then, however, would mean recalling  the men and ships already in position to cross the English Channel.  Plans of the invasion then might get out to the Germans, not to mention major grumbling  on the part of the men.

After much discussion, Eisenhower decided to go ahead with June 6.  Hood thing because a major storm battered the Normandy coast June 19-22.  The landings could not have occurred.

Allied control of the Atlantic Ocean also meant that German meteorologists had less information than the Allies about the weather.  The Luftwaffe meteorological center in Paris had predicted two weeks of stormy weather.  German military leaders left their posts and unites were sent home on leave.

Overall German commander, Gen. Erwin Rommel  returned to Germany for his wife's birthday and to meet with Hitler about obtaining more Panzer tanks.

--GreGen

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Weather As A Force at D-Day-- Part 1: Had To Be Right


Since I am writing about the impact of weather on various wars in American history  today, I added a fourth time when weather was a big factor, and this time because it had to be almost perfect.

I am writing about other weather stories also in my Saw the Elephant: Civil War, Cooter's History Thing and Not So Forgotten blogs today.

From Wikipedia "Normandy Landings."

The invasion planners determined a set of conditions  involving the phase of the moon,  the tides and the time of the day that would be necessary.  The hard part was that those numbers came only a few days a month.  A full moon was desirable for illumination for aircraft and higher tides.

Plus, Allied landings were to be shortly before dawn in between  low and hide tide so that beach obstacles could be seen and the men exposed in the open the least.

Eisenhower tentatively selected June 6 for the day, but  on June 4 conditions were unsuitable with high winds and heavy seas would prevent launching landing craft and low clouds would obscure targets for aircraft.

--GreGen

Monday, April 1, 2019

Camp Sibert Cleanup 2008-2009


On March 28, 2019, I wrote about Camp Sibert in Alabama, where chemical weapons were developed and tested.  All those chemical weapons and a good chance there might be pollution of a dangerous sort.

Waymarking continued.

The Army Corps of Engineers completed remediation of "Range 30" sire during 2008-2009 to remove used live mortar shells containing possible chemical agents of:"

mustard gas
phosgene
white phosporus
tearing agents
chemical smoke  (sulfur trioxide & chlorosulfonic acid solution)

This effort also involved  a Segway Robotic Mobility Platform.

--GreGen

Repairs to USS Arizona Memorial Dock Delayed


From the February 28, 2019, U.S. News & World Report.

Officials are now saying that public access to the memorial will not be restored in March as had been expected.  The National Park Service suspended trips to the memorial in early May after  damage was found to the floating dock by which visitors leave the tour boat to go to the memorial.

It is expected that a contract for the repairs will be awarded in March.  In the meantime, harbor tours will pass near the memorial.

--GreGen

Friday, March 29, 2019

Vietnam War Facts


Since today is National Vietnam War Veterans Day, I thought some facts would be appropriate.

From Vietnam War Facts.

1.  58,148 Americans were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.59 who served.

2.  The average age of those who were killed was 23.11 years.

3.  The average infantryman in World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years.  The average infantryman in the Vietnam War saw 240 days of combat a year.

4.  After Vietnam,  the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia managed to stay Communist free.


Thursday, March 28, 2019

Camp Sibert, Alabama's First Chemical Warfare Center


In the last post, I said that Leo Olson of DeKalb County, Illinois, had been promoted to corporal and was stationed at this camp, though the newspaper article called it Camp Siever, Alabama.  The actual name was Camp Sibert.

From Waymaking.

From the marker:

"On 6/18/1942 the U.S. took possession of 36,300 acres in Etowah and adjoining St. Clair County to establish Alabama's first Chemical Warfare Center.  The area was dedicated on 12/25/1942 and named for U.S. Army M/G William Luther Sibert, first chief of Chemical Warfare Service (CWS) and a native of Etowah County.

The camp served as  a Unit Training Center and a Replacement Training Center for the CWS and could accommodate up to 30,000 troops.  Forty-seven percent of all CWS units of WW II were trained here.  The camp was deactivated on 12/31/1945.

--GreGen

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Leo Olson Promoted in a Chemical Warfare Unit


From the May 23, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Leo B. Olson, who entered the service on February 5, has been promoted to the rank of corporal according to word received from his by his wife.

"He is in a chemical warfare unit of the air corps and is stationed at Camp Sievert  (Camp Sibert), Alabama.  he was advertising manager for the DeKalb Agricultural Association before he entered the service."

--GreGen

A Tale of Dog Tags and Dogs in 1943


From the May 16, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Not only are the auto license plates no longer being made of metal but the new dog tags which have been received by DeKalb are being made of some plastic instead of metal as in the past."

And, speaking of dogs.

From the May 23, 2018, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Complaints continue to be received at the police station from indignant residents who are working after hours seeking a successful victory garden, but say the work is discouraging, to say the least, due to the number of dogs roaming in the city."

Mutts!!  STAY OUT of the Gardens!!!  --GreGen

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Pearl Harbor News: A Death and An Identification


March 2019

**  Dorwin Lamkin, 96,  died March 17, 2019.  He was a corpsman on the USS Nevada and later served on the USS San Francisco.

**  The remains of Angelo Gabriele, Fireman 1st Class, 21, were identified.  He was one of 106 who died on board the USS West Virginia in the attack on Pearl Harbor December, 7, 1941.

The military are not just looking to identify the remains of the USS Oklahoma sailors.

--GreGen

Bernie Weber, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Turns 101


From the March 22. 2019, Garfield County, Colorado Post Independent  "Bernie Weber turned 101 Thursday March 21."

It is such a pleasure to write about a Pearl Harbor survivor getting another year older these days.

Mr. Weber is a Colorado native.  On December 7, 1941, he was at Pearl Harbor on the USS Oklahoma.  He was listed as MIA to his family for ten days before the Navy located him.

Nearly a year later, he was on the USS Northampton when it was sunk at the Battle of Tassafaronga November 30, 1942.

--GreGen

Monday, March 25, 2019

USS Maumee (AO-2)-- Part 2: Service in North Africa, North Atlantic, Pacific and Republic of China


The Maumee steamed from Norfolk, via Bermuda and arrived at Casablanca 25 November 1942.  Then she returned to Norfolk.  She got underway for North Africa with March 19, 1943.  It made other fuel runs  until 8 July when she was ordered to carry oil from  the Netherlands West Indies to east coast navy bases.  For the next eight months the Maumee operated between the Caribbean and  and bases as far north as Newfoundland.

On 25 March 1944  the Maumee resumed its transatlantic runs, this time along the North Atlantic convoy route to Northern Ireland and England.  After two of these runs, she returned to her  Aruba-east coast runs.

In May 1945, orders were received to proceed to the Pacific Fleet.  She departed Norfolk 20 June and arrived at Pearl Harbor 15 July.  That same day she was redesignated the AG-124.  After a month there, the Maumee left for China and arrived at the Yangtze River 30 September and then went to Shanghai where she was the station fuel ship until November when she returned to Pearl Harbor.

After the war, the Maumee was one of several vessels transferred to the service of the Chinese Nationalist Republic under Lend-Lease  and saw service with the Republic of China Navy until 1967 when she was scrapped.

I am still writing about the Civil War USS Maumee in my Civil War Navy blog Running the Blockade and this ship's service prior to World War II in my Cooter's History Thing blog.

--GreGen

Friday, March 22, 2019

USS Maumee (AO-2) in World War II-- Part 1: Fleet Oiler


I am writing about this ship in my Cooter's History Thing blog as it was the first ship in the U.S. Navy powered by diesel engines, first ship to resupply destroyers at sea and commanded by William Tomb, who was the son of a Confederate Navy officer James Tomb (whom I wrote about in my Running the Blockade: Civil War Navy blog.

Here is the Maumee's service as a fleet oiler and training ship during World War II, from Wikipedia.

After World War I, the Maumee was put into reserve at Philadelphia, but when hostilities began in Europe in 1939, it was brought out and given extensive overhaul in Baltimore and had the diesel engines reverted to steam power.  Recommissioned 2 June 1942 and assigned to the Atlantic fleet where she was a training ship off the North Carolina Capes.  In November 1942, it sailed across the Atlantic to Europe for the first time since World War I.

--GreGen

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Wilmington N.C.Could Become the First WW II Heritage City


From March 12, 2019, WWAY News, Wilmington, N.C..

President Trump signed the bill into law today.  It was authored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Congressman David Rouzer (R-NC).

The new law allows the secretary of the interior to annually designate a U.S. city as American World War II Heritage City and there is a good chance Wilmington will be the first one.

Wilmington was the site of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company which built 243 ships during the war as well as many other items from the war.  Click on the Wilmington NC At War label for more information.

This has been the dream of Wilmington resident Wilbur D. Jones who has been the force behind this for many years.

So Congratulations Mr. Jones!!!  --GreGen

USS Arizona Memorial Site Gets Name Change


From the March 913, 2019, Honolulu (Hawaii) Star-Advertiser by William Cole.

It was part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument named in 2008 by President George W. Bush.  It is now the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.

It also includes the Arizona Memorial Center, USS Utah and USS Oklahoma Memorials, six chief petty officer bungalows on Ford Island and three pairs of mooring groups along Battleship Row.  With the exception of the Memorial Center, all of these sites were there when Pearl Harbor was attacked December 7, 1941.

--GreGen

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

USS Helm (DD-338)-- Part 5: Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Atomic Testing


Task Force 38 retired to Ulithi, arriving November 2, 1944, after almost two months of continuous action.  After three days, they departed on 5 November and headed back to the Philippines.  The Helm later took part in the landings at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon.

The Japanese put up fierce resistance with their only remaining weapon, suicide kamikaze planes.  On January, 4, 1945, the escort carrier USS Ommaney Bay was struck and sunk.

Next up was Iwo Jima where she screen carriers and rescue survivors of the escort carrier USS Bismarck Sea.  After that, it was on to Okinawa where it shot down many kamikazes.

Afterwards, the Helm did mostly patrol duty and helped search for survivors of the USS Indianapolis.  After the Japanese surrender, it took part in the occupation of Japan.  It was decommissioned in 1946 and used that summer as a target ship of the Operation Crossroads atomic tests in the Pacific.  Her hulk was sold for scrapping in October 1947.

Mr. Winslow's ship was definitely involved in a lot of action.  I wonder if any other ship was involved with that much.

--GreGen

USS Helm (DD-338)-- Part 4: Iwo Jima, Formosa, Leyte Gulf


After the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Helm and the fast carriers she protected attacked Japanese islands at Bonin and Volcano and supported the invasion of Guam.  On 25 July 1944 they began attacks on the Palau Islands.  Then came Iwo Jima.  The Helm sank a small Japanese freighter on 2 September.

Then came Okinawa, 10 October and Formosa.  Japanese retaliation came strong and on 12 October, the Helm's 5-inch guns shot down a Japanese bomber and assisting in the destruction of several others.  After Formosa, Task Force 38 returned to Leyte and the Japanese made one last attempt to destroy the American fleet in what is known as the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

After victory here, the Helm and carriers resumed supporting ground operations on Leyte.  During this time, they were attacked by aircraft and on  28 October 1944, they had a submarine attack where the Helm and Gridley used depth charges to sink the Japanese submarine I-46.

On 30 October, two of the group's carriers, the Franklin and Belleau Wood were badly damaged by kamikazes.

--GreGen

Monday, March 18, 2019

USS Helm (DD-388)-- Part 3: The Marianas Turkey Shoot


After Savo Island, the Helm remained in the dangerous waters off Guadalcanal before leaving in September to escort transports between Australia and New Guinea.  On 15  May 1943, the ship assisted in the search for survivors from the Australian hospital ship Centaur which had been torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-177.  Some 268 of 332 aboard died.

The Helm later that year participated in Woodlark Island,  Milne Bay,  Cape Gloucester and Saidor.

In 1944, the Helm escorted the battleship USS Maryland to Mare Island.

In June, she was involved in the invasion of the Marianas Islands, which turned into the biggest carrier battle of the war, helping provide anti-aircraft protection.  With the help of American submarines, two Japanese carriers were sunk and  there were such staggering losses to the Japanese naval air power that it was dubbed the "Marianas Turkey Shoot."

--GreGen

USS Helm (DD-388)-- Part 2: The Battle of Savo Island


After the attack, the Helm joined the task group of aircraft carrier Saratoga which had just arrived from San Diego.    It served as a screening and anti-aircraft ship.

On 20 January 1942, the Helm sailed on a special mission to rescue Department of the Interior workers from the islands of Howland and Baker in the Pacific.  Using her whaleboat, the Helm brought off six men from the two islands 31 January.  A Japanese patrol bomber attacked her  later that day but was driven off.  The Helm returned to Pearl Harbor.on 6 February.

Later in 1942, the Helm operated in the Pacific and near Australia.  Then, the ship provided cover for troopships going to Guadalcanal in August 1942.  On the night of August 8, the Helm was in the Battle of Savo Island which resulted in a huge loss of ships for the Allies but did save the landing ships at Guadalcanal.

--GreGen

Sunday, March 17, 2019

USS Helm (DD-388)-- Part 1: Pearl Harbor and the Japanese Mini-Sub


In the last post I wrote about the death of Pearl Harbor survivor Robert Winslow, 98, who was on the USS Helm and served on that ship for the rest of the war.

The USS Helm (DD-388) was a Bagley-class destroyer named for Rear Admiral  James Meredith Helm who was an officer in the Spanish-American War and World War I.  The ship earned 11 Battle Stars during World War II.It was launched at the Norfolk Navy Yard on 27 May 1937 and commissioned  16 October 1937 with Lt.Cmdr. P.H. Talbot in command.

At 0755 on the morning of December 7, 1941, the Helms had just turned into West Loch, Pearl Harbor, en route to deperming buoys when the attack began.  They manned the guns and shot down at least one plane while being strafed and suffering slight damage from two nearby bomb hits.

As the Helm left the channel, the lookout spotted a Japanese mini-sub, HA-19, snagged on a reef and ran hard right towards it, shot and missed.  The two-man sub broke free and submerged  but got snagged again.  Trying to escape, one crew member drowned and the other washed ashore and became the first U.S. World War II prisoner of war.

--GreGen