Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Mary Ellis, Dead at 101. Flew British Spitfires

From the July 28, 2018, Washington Post  "Mary Ellis, wartime volunteer who flew Spitfires, dies at 101" by Phil Davison.

Mary Wilkins stood just 5 feet 2 inches who, during the war, had the job of transporting military aircraft to bases.  She flew Spitfires, Hurricanes, Wellingtons and Lancasters and 70 other kinds of aircraft from factories to scramble-ready male pilot at bases.

She was a member of Britain's Air Transport Auxiliary.

Later, she wrote a memoir titles "Spitfire Girl."  She died July 25, 2018.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

FDR's D-Day Prayer

From the June 6, 2019, Chicago Tribune editorial page.

"And, O Lord, give us Faith.  Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons, Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade.  Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled.

"Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose."


Monday, July 29, 2019

Don't Forget D-Day-- Part 5: "Now, Let's See What You're Made Of"

"Mortar rounds killed a trio of soldiers next to (U.S. Gen. Norman) Cota and wounded his radioman; knocked flat but unscratched, the general regained his feet and followed the snaking column toward the hillcrest, past captured Germans spread-eagled on the ground.

"Then over the lip of the ridge they ran, past stunted pines and through uncut wheat as Cota yelled, 'Now let's see what you're made of!'   GIs hauling a captured MG-12 machine gun with ammunition belts draped around their necks poured fire into enemy trenches and at the broken ranks pelting inland.'

"War is terrible.  Tragic.  D-Day was those things.  It also was heroic and necessary.  Younger generations of Americans won't understand what happened on June 6, 1944, unless they are inspired to learn it.

"If you know the D-Day story, share it, teach it."

So True.  --GreGen

Saturday, July 27, 2019

World War II Planes at Chicago Executive Airport This Weekend

It's the Wings of Freedom Tour and your chance to see and walk-through five famous World War II aircraft at  the Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling in Chicago's Northwest Suburbs.

It runs July 25-28 from 9:30 to 5:00 p.m..  Adults pay $15 and children12 and younger $5.

Featured planes:

B-17 Flying Fortress
P-40 Warhawk
B-24 Liberator
B-25 Mitchell
P-51 Mustang

You can also have a Bomber Flight Experience where you go up in one for $400 to $450 and actually fly (with dual control) the two fighters.

Quote An Opportunity.  --GreGen

Friday, July 26, 2019

Don't Forget D-Day-- Part 4: Books, Movies and Participants

This is from the June 6, 2019, Chicago Tribune editorial page.

"True, books and movies do capture the action of D-Day and testify to the bravery of the combatants.  But libraries and digital archives are no more than repositories.  Books can't teach unless they are opened.  Movies can't add perspective if they aren't watched or appreciated.  (The first part of "Saving Private Ryan" for example.)

"For years D-Day's participants played a key role as storytellers, though often reluctantly.

They dropped from parachutes and charged heavily defended beaches to free a continent from tyranny.  They struggled inland as their comrades fell.  They suffered through battle.  They won the day.

"Now they are disappearing."


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Marvin Kornegay of the USS Texas at D-Day

From  "Air and Naval Bombardment of the Normandy beaches."

The USS Texas was at D-Day, the second-oldest dreadnaught  in the fleet and though obsolete by then as major fighting ship, its ten 14-inch guns were still able to pack quite a wallop.  It was stationed just off Point de Hoc that morning.

As the Texas sat offshore  of Omaha Beach, her crew had front row seats to the carnage referenced by Captain Baker.  Seaman Second Class Marvin Kornegay manned a five-inch gun on the Texas and while he maintained his confidence in the result of the coming battle, he cringed as he watched the Allied craft  fall to the sea in the pre-dawn aerial bombardment.

This reaction was repeated as Kornegay watched landing craft explode from well-placed German mortar rounds.

At 0550, the Texas got her first chance that day to demonstrate the power of Allied naval fire.  Targeting Point de Hoc with her main 14 inch battery and strongpoints surrounding Omaha Beach Exit D-1 with her secondary armament (Kornegay was on the secondary armament), 260 shells were hurled at the Germans over 40 minutes.

A painting of the Texas and a picture of it today accompanies the blog thread.


Don't Forget D-Day-- Part 3: Incoming Tide Claims Wounded

"Among the books about D-Day is Rick Atkinson's "The Guns At Last Light."  In it he describes the ferocious battle scenes, quotes the participants and honors the dead at Omaha, Utah and other beaches.

" 'By 8:30 a.m., the Omaha assault had stalled.  The rising tide quickly reclaimed the thin strip of liberated beach, drowning those immobilized by wounds or fear.  ...Only where escarpment turned to cliff, four miles west of Omaha, did the early-morning assault show promise.

"Three companies from the 2nd Ranger Battalion scaled the headland at Pointe du Hoc, first climbing freehand despite a rain of grenades, then using grapnels and braided ropes fired  from mortar tubes."


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Don't Forget D-Day-- Part 2: WW II Vets Are Dying Off

"This tale of valor and sacrifice has become more important to retell because those who fought the war -- and learned its lessons of selfless service for the common good -- are disappearing.  More than 16 million Americans served in the military during the war,  Fewer than 500,000 veterans are still alive.  Most are in their mid-90s now.

"Books recount U.S. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's agonizing responsibilities as supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe.  He didn't know if his invasion order would result in success or slaughter for the Americans, British, Canadians and others he ordered ashore at Normandy.


Monday, July 22, 2019

Honor D-Day's 75th Anniversary, Know the Story and Teach Others-- Part 1

From the June 6, 2019, Chicago Tribune editorial "Honor D-Day's 75th anniversary by knowing the story -- and teaching others."

"All great historical achievements risk fading into obscure past events, reduced to calendar notations or unread Wikipedia entries -- unless those moments are kept vivid and meaningful for future generations.

"June 6 is one of those imperiled dates.  It's the 75th anniversary of D-Day, one of the most audacious military actions in American history.  On June 6, 1944, about 156,000 troops of the United States and its allies invaded Nazi-occupied France by sea and air, gaining a foothold in northern Europe that would help lead to victory over Germany in World War II within a year.

"At 4 a.m., as thousands of lost and scattered parachutists blundered about in the dark, the first 52 gliders arrived 'like a swarm of ravens', in one German description."


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.


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.


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.


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.


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."


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.' "


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."


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.