#WarriorWednesday: U. S. Navy

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March 1915, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) was established by Congress.

The CNO is responsible to the Secretary of the Navy for the command, utilization of resources, and operating efficiency of the operating forces of the US Navy and of the Navy shore activities assigned by the Secretary. Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert is the current CNO.

Tingey House, Washington Navy Yard, D.C. View of the Quarters of the Chief of Naval Operations. This house was constructed between 1804 and 1807 in Georgian Style and changes in “Victorian” style were made in 1861. Photographed circa 1979. National Archives photograph, KN 27600 (Color).  Note: Tingey House became the official residence of the Chief of Naval Operations in 1977.

Tingey House, Washington Navy Yard, D.C. View of the Quarters of the Chief of Naval Operations. This house was constructed between 1804 and 1807 in Georgian Style and changes in “Victorian” style were made in 1861. Photographed circa 1979. National Archives photograph, KN 27600 (Color).
Note: Tingey House became the official residence of the Chief of Naval Operations in 1977.

Adm. William S. Benson, USN. 1st Chief of Naval Operations, 11 May 1915 – 25 September 1919. Portrait by Eleanor R. Beckham, 1960. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 77665-KN (Color). Courtesy of the Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC. Donated by the Benson Family, 1960.

Adm. William S. Benson, USN. 1st Chief of Naval Operations, 11 May 1915 – 25 September 1919. Portrait by Eleanor R. Beckham, 1960. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 77665-KN (Color). Courtesy of the Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC. Donated by the Benson Family, 1960.

Adm. Arleigh A. Burke, USN. 15th Chief of Naval Operations from 17 August 1955 to 01 August 1961. Portrait photograph, dated 15 December 1958. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives, KN-12924 (Color)

Adm. Arleigh A. Burke, USN. 15th Chief of Naval Operations from 17 August 1955 to 01 August 1961. Portrait photograph, dated 15 December 1958. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives, KN-12924 (Color)

Adm. Jeremy M. Boorda, USN. 25th Chief of Naval Operations from 23 April 1994 to 16 May 1996. Admiral Boorda address the crew on board USS Constellation (CV 64) circa 1995. DOD Still Media Photograph: DN-SC-96-00079.

Adm. Jeremy M. Boorda, USN. 25th Chief of Naval Operations from 23 April 1994 to 16 May 1996. Admiral Boorda address the crew on board USS Constellation (CV 64) circa 1995. DOD Still Media Photograph: DN-SC-96-00079.

Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, USN. Nimitz was promoted to Fleet Admiral on 19 December 1944 . 10th Chief of Naval Operations from 15 December 1945 to 15 December 1947. Portrait by Seymour Stone, 1946. Courtesy of the Artist.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archive, 80-G-K-14615 (Color).

Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, USN. Nimitz was promoted to Fleet Admiral on 19 December 1944 . 10th Chief of Naval Operations from 15 December 1945 to 15 December 1947. Portrait by Seymour Stone, 1946. Courtesy of the Artist.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archive, 80-G-K-14615 (Color).

‘Enemy Forces Engaged,’ USS Houston Fought Insurmountable Odds

USS Houston (CA 30), starboard view. Undated and unknown location. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives)

USS Houston (CA 30), starboard view. Undated and unknown location. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives)

In the finest of naval traditions the crew of USS Sampson (DDG 102), along with others, honors their fellow U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Navy shipmates from USS Houston (CA 30) and HMAS Perth (D 29) during a wreath laying ceremony.

Read more about how Houston and Perth fought against insurmountable odds during World War II‬.

…in remembrance of the 1,082 brave men of the heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA 30).

It was in the early hours of March 1st, 73 years ago, that she sailed for the final time into the teeth of enemy fire. While heading for the Sunda Strait, and in concert with the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth, she ran into the main Japanese invasion force then landing on the island of Java. This force consisted, in its entirety, of one light carrier, one seaplane carrier, five cruisers, 12 destroyers, a mine-layer and 58 troopships.

Low on fuel and with her after turret out of action, this as a result of earlier damage sustained at the Battle of Makassar Strait, Houston, along with Perth, entered the fray. The last message anyone would ever hear from these ships was a radio transmission sent by Houston; the message read “Enemy forces engaged.”

Perth went down first, fighting to the end, but even the heroism of her crew could not overcome four torpedo strikes and untold hits by enemy cannon. When Perth succumbed, 353 men went down with her including her commanding officer, Capt. Hector Waller.

Battle of Sunda Strait, 28 February – 1 March 1942. Painting by John Hamilton depicting USS Houston (CA 30) in her final action with Japanese forces. Courtesy of the US Navy Memorial Foundation. Painting from the John Hamilton collection. (Courtesy of NHHC Art Gallery/Hampton Roads Naval Museum)

Battle of Sunda Strait, 28 February – 1 March 1942. Painting by John Hamilton depicting USS Houston (CA 30) in her final action with Japanese forces. Courtesy of the US Navy Memorial Foundation. Painting from the John Hamilton collection. (Courtesy of NHHC Art Gallery/Hampton Roads Naval Museum)

Houston was now left alone, surrounded by enemy ships and aircraft. In quick succession she was hit by shell and torpedo but continued to fight on. Some time after 01:30, having been hit scores of times, faced with extensive flooding below decks, out of ammunition for her main guns, and with fires raging out of control, Capt. Albert Rooks, the commanding officer, gave the order to abandon ship. Only minutes later he was killed by an exploding Japanese shell.

Houston was bathed in the glare of Japanese searchlights, still under heavy fire and settling by the bow when her surviving crew gave her to the sea. As she began her final plunge one survivor wrote that “it seemed as a sudden breeze picked up the Stars and Stripes, still firmly blocked on the mainmast, and waved them in one last defiant gesture.” Other survivors saw red tracer fire still spitting out of a machine gun platform as one lone Marine, Gunnery Sgt. Walter Standish, true to the traditions of the Corps continued firing until the sea took him.

Some 675 Sailors and Marines died with Houston. Most of these men were killed during her final battle, were taken down with the ship or died when the pitiless tide washed them into the vast Indian Ocean but others were machine gunned as they swam helpless in the water.

The 366 survivors were taken into captivity, but their ordeal was far from over. Many would end up in POW camps in Burma, where they were forced, under inhuman conditions, to construct the infamous Burma Railway. Of this handful of survivors a further 76 died of sickness, abuse, torture, hunger and neglect. At war’s end in 1945 only 290 men remained, many broken in body but not in spirit, to return to the United States. Think of them, for they paid the full price in defense of our freedoms.

As one of the survivors later wrote —“Well Done , Well Done!”

Images from the USS Houston (CA 30) and HMAS Perth (D 29) wreath laying ceremony:

(Mar. 1, 2015) - Participants in a wreath laying ceremony, held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait, salute during the playing of taps aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102). Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Machinery Repairman 3rd Class Matthew Schneider.

(Mar. 1, 2015) – Participants in a wreath laying ceremony, held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait, salute during the playing of taps aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102). Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Machinery Repairman 3rd Class Matthew Schneider.

(Mar. 1, 2015) - Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) conduct a wreath laying ceremony held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait. Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Machinery Repairman 3rd Class Matthew Schneider.

(Mar. 1, 2015) – Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) conduct a wreath laying ceremony held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait. Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Machinery Repairman 3rd Class Matthew Schneider.

(Mar. 1, 2015) - (from the left) Cmdr. Steven Foley, commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), Rear Adm. Charlie Williams, commander, Task Force 73 and Ambassador Robert Blake, ambassador of the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, observe a wreath laying ceremony held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait. Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Machinery Repairman 3rd Class Matthew Schneider.

(Mar. 1, 2015) – (from the left) Cmdr. Steven Foley, commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), Rear Adm. Charlie Williams, commander, Task Force 73 and Ambassador Robert Blake, ambassador of the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, observe a wreath laying ceremony held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait. Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Machinery Repairman 3rd Class Matthew Schneider.

 (Mar. 1, 2015) - (from the left) Cmdr. Steven Foley, commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), Ambassador Paul Grigson, ambassador designate of the Embassy of Australia in Indonesia, Ambassador Robert Blake, ambassador of the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, and Rear Adm. Charlie Williams, commander, Task Force 73, conduct a media availability after a wreath laying ceremony held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait. Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Perez.

(Mar. 1, 2015) – (from the left) Cmdr. Steven Foley, commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), Ambassador Paul Grigson, ambassador designate of the Embassy of Australia in Indonesia, Ambassador Robert Blake, ambassador of the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, and Rear Adm. Charlie Williams, commander, Task Force 73, conduct a media availability after a wreath laying ceremony held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait. Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Perez.

(Mar. 1, 2015) - Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), bottom, the Australian Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Larrakia (ACPB 84), top left, and Indonesian Navy vessels participate in a wreath laying ceremony held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait. Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Perez.

(Mar. 1, 2015) – Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), bottom, the Australian Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Larrakia (ACPB 84), top left, and Indonesian Navy vessels participate in a wreath laying ceremony held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait. Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Perez.

(Mar. 1, 2015) - Sailors aboard the Australian Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Larrakia (ACPB 84) conduct a wreath laying ceremony held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait. Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Perez.

(Mar. 1, 2015) – Sailors aboard the Australian Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Larrakia (ACPB 84) conduct a wreath laying ceremony held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait. Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Perez.

 (Mar. 1, 2015) - Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) and the Australian Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Larrakia (ACPB 84), top, participate in a wreath laying ceremony, held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait. Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Perez.

(Mar. 1, 2015) – Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) and the Australian Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Larrakia (ACPB 84), top, participate in a wreath laying ceremony, held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait. Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Perez.

(Mar. 1, 2015) - Participants in a wreath laying ceremony, held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait, salute during the playing of taps aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102). Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Perez.

(Mar. 1, 2015) – Participants in a wreath laying ceremony, held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait, salute during the playing of taps aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102). Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Perez.

(Mar. 1, 2015) - Participants in a wreath laying ceremony, held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait, bow their heads during a moment of silence aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102). Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Perez.

(Mar. 1, 2015) – Participants in a wreath laying ceremony, held in commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait, bow their heads during a moment of silence aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102). Representatives from Australia, the U.S. and Indonesia visited the graves of HMAS Perth (D 29) and USS Houston (CA 30) which were sunk fighting Japanese naval forces March 1, 1942. More than 1,000 Australian and U.S. Sailors gave their lives during the battle. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Perez.

March 1942, the first U-boat sunk by U.S. forces in World War II.

US Navy‬ Reserve pilot Ensign William Tepuni, flying a Lockheed Hudson reconnaissance, light bombing and transport aircraft (PBO) from VP-82 squadron attacks and sinks German submarine U 656 southwest of Newfoundland.

Lockheed PBO “Hudson” Patrol Bomber. NHHC Photograph Collection, Visual-Aid Cards, Aviation.

Lockheed PBO “Hudson” Patrol Bomber. NHHC Photograph Collection, Visual-Aid Cards, Aviation.

Lockheed PBO “Hudson” Patrol Bomber.  Photographed circa 1942-43.  NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 94913.

Lockheed PBO “Hudson” Patrol Bomber.
Photographed circa 1942-43.
NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 94913.

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Fair Winds and Following Seas‬ to U.S. Army Reserve Veteran‬ and actor‪ Leonard Nimoy‬. Scotty … one shipmate to beam up.‪ Live Long And Prosper.‬

This laser disc is part of the U.S. Navy Artifact collection and is a limited edition for the movie StarTrek‬ VI The Undiscovered Country, displayed aboard USS Enterprise‬ (CVN 65).

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#RedFriday: WWII Veterans Receive French Legion of Honor Medals

French Legion of Honor medals. The medal is the highest French distinction.

French Legion of Honor medals. The medal is the highest French distinction.

Six World War II veterans were honored with French Legion of Honor medals. The medal is the highest French distinction.

The medals were bestowed upon the veterans by French Consul General Gregor Trumel. A ceremony was held on Thursday at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

The Legion of Honor Medal was created by Napoleon in 1802 to acknowledge services rendered to France by persons of exceptional merit and accomplishments. French representatives expressed their gratitude and appreciation for their contribution to the liberation of France during World War II.

Medals were bestowed upon:

  • Mr. Ralph J. Bertheaud (Posthumous),
  • Mr. Louis Bradley(Plaquemines Parish, LA),
  • Mr. Aubrey H. Covington (Metairie, LA),
  • Mr. Leonard J. Kuckelman (Atchison County, KS),
  • Mr. Ubert J. Labat Jr (Slidell, LA),
  • and Mr. Lampton C. Terrel (Bush, LA),

The six were named Chevaliers de la Légion d’honneur, Knights in the order of the Legion of Honor.

Last month: Charles Bruns recipient of French Legion of Honor

Charles ‘Chick’ Bruns

Charles ‘Chick’ Bruns

WWII Veteran Charles ‘Chick’ Bruns of Champaign IL was selected and appointed to the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction. Through this award, the French government pays tribute to the soldiers who did so much for France 70 years ago.

Charles Bruns served with the 3rd Division, 10th Engineer Battalion throughout WWII and was active during the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Southern France. He ended military service in August, 1945 at the rank of Technical Sargent. During his service, Chick kept a diary, took photographs and collected postcards. This along with the letters he wrote home to his parents is being shared in the most complete daily account of a solider during WWII on the Website: 70yearsago.com

Presented by Vincent Floreani, Consul General de France a Chicago, “you gave your youth to France and the French people. Many of your fellow soldiers did not return but they remain in our hearts”. The French National Order of the Legion of Honor is an order of distinction first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. American recipients include Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Michael Mullen. Today there are approximately 93,000 Legion of Honor recipients.

American veterans like Chick who risked their lives during World War II and who fought on French territory qualify to be decorated as Knights of the Legion of Honor. Veterans must have fought in one of the four main campaigns of the Liberation of France: Normandy, Provence, Ardennes, or Northern France.

Veteran Charles F. wrote a diary during the second world war which is now being published by his son. He served in North Africa and Europe until the war ended.  John Bruns, his son, has re-purposed the diary into a website called http://www.70yearsago.com . The website is updated daily.

He argues that it is his father who is blogging from the past.

Chick Bruns, 94 used to sell clothes at Joseph Kuhn & Co in downtown Champaign before he volunteered to join U.S. Army.

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#WarriorWednesday: USS Kidd (DDG-661)

 

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The USS Kidd has been a fixture in Baton Rouge, Louisiana since 1982. Over that time, it has seen her ups and downs. Just like the brave men and women this memorial represents, it has always risen to meet challenges and surpass expectations.

It sits quietly. Almost stoic. Like it’s still on duty guarding the Baton Rouge shore of the Mississippi River.

I’ve overheard some people refer to the USS Kidd as “that boat on the river”.

George Seal, a volunteer at the USS Kidd, said, “It’s not just the boat on the river, this is a historical monument. Some of the questions we get, is this a real navy ship? Was this ship sank in world war eleven”?

Tim NesSmith, superintendent of the USS Kidd, said, “The Kidd is a fletcher class destroyer built in 1943 during the midst of World War II. She was one of 175 of her design and she’s only 1 of four left. Out of those four she is the only one that is still in her World War II configuration and she’s the closest ship of a destroyer design that you will find anywhere in the world”.

And it’s sitting right in our back yard. Over a year ago, we came close to losing it.

With increasing budget problems, the USS Kidd Veteran’s Museum almost had to close the doors. With the introduction of a new executive director and a specific plan and focus, the museum looks like smooth sailing.

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Alejandra “Alex” Juan, the Executive Director of the USS Kidd Veteran’s Museum, said, “This last year we really sort of hunkered down and reduced spending incredibly. We’ve gotten really creative with our programing and introduced 24 new programs. Despite all of that we managed to end the year in the black”.

She credits the success of the museum to the volunteers who run it.

She said, “It’s a one team one fight and we’re all in it together. We all did this to get to this point. They’ve been invaluable to everything that we’ve done”.

The most important people aren’t the current staff. NesSmith said, “If you think about the ship it’s just a cold piece of metal. Even as much effort as we put to make her just like she was in 1945, it’s just a static display. When you get the guys, especially the guys that served on here, they are telling you what this did and what that did. The ship becomes alive”.

When you talk to these veterans, you can easily see it’s more than a ship to them.William Barnhouse served on the USS Kidd in World War II.

He said, “We were just boys then. When we were aboard that ship, we were able to defeat the strongest enemy the world has ever known. She took care of us and got us home. We feel a real debt of gratitude to her a feel like she is just kind of a mother to us”.

Some people make coming to the Kidd as a pilgrimage to feel closer to those they’ve lost. Nancy Miller Grinage visited the USS Kidd all the way from Indiana. Her Father served on the USS Kidd in World War II.

She said, “Part of his life and history were on this boat. When I walked on board I knew I was there somewhere in his footsteps. It’s an incredible feeling. I know he’s proud that I’m here”.

It’s been called a number of different things: A monument, a historical artifact, a time capsule, a place of heroes, dad’s ship, mother.

The one thing that the USS Kidd is diffidently not, is just a boat on the river.

It has something to do with the history behind the structure, the history of the name, but more importantly it has much to do with the brave souls who served on her.

Defending Freedom wherever she sailed.

On the Web:

The USS KIDD (DD-661) Veterans Museum

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#MilitaryMonday: Iwo Jima Survivors Mark WWII Battle

Raising the US Flag on Mount Suribachi. The Pulizer Prize winning photograph of the Iwo Jima Flag Raising was shot by AP Photographer Joe Rosenthal.

Raising the US Flag on Mount Suribachi. The Pulizer Prize winning photograph of the Iwo Jima Flag Raising was shot by AP Photographer Joe Rosenthal.

“Do not expect to return home alive.”

Letters from Iwo Jima

Capt. Larry Snowden led a company of 230 Marines that landed on the beach of a small Japanese island on Feb. 19, 1945. Five weeks later, when Iwo Jima fell to U.S. forces after one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific during World War II, his unit’s losses reflected the steep cost of an historic victory.

LVTs on Iwo Jima

LVTs on Iwo Jima

American supplies being landed at Iwo Jima  a few hours after the Marines had wrested their foothold on the vital island via the US Navy and Coast Guard.

American supplies being landed at Iwo Jima a few hours after the Marines had wrested their foothold on the vital island via the US Navy and Coast Guard.

“When we walked off the island, 99 of us remained,” said Snowden, 93, the senior ranking survivor of the invasion, who retired from the Marines as a lieutenant general in 1979. “That’s a pretty high casualty rate.”

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Snowden spoke Thursday in Washington at a gathering of Iwo Jima survivors who marked the 70th anniversary of the start of the siege. Over the decades, the battle’s prominence has persisted, owing to a photograph that shows five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising an American flag on Mount Suribachi, the island’s highest point.

Yet it is the ferocity of the fighting that lingers in the memories of the men sent to Iwo Jima.

“The battle of Iwo Jima has become part of the very ethos of the Marine Corps. Your legacy transcends the capture of a faraway island in the Pacific long ago.”

– Gen. Joseph Dunford,

Commandant, US Marine Corps

Snowden’s company belonged to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment of the 4th Marine Division. His unit went ashore the first day, part of the initial push of 30,000 U.S. troops, most of whom were Marines.

The Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia

The Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia

An additional 40,000 men later joined the struggle against 22,000 Japanese soldiers, who hid among an intricate network of tunnels and caves spanning the volcanic island 750 miles from mainland Japan. U.S. forces advanced as little as 50 yards a day in the early stages as both sides suffered massive casualties.

By the time combat ended on March 26, 1945, almost 7,000 American troops had been killed and more than 19,000 wounded. Almost 19,000 Japanese soldiers were killed as they followed the orders of Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi to fight to the death.

A monument on Mount Suribachi commemorates the Feb. 23, 1945 flag raising during the battle of Iwo Jima.

A monument on Mount Suribachi commemorates the Feb. 23, 1945 flag raising during the battle of Iwo Jima.

U.S. commanders realized only after the battle that they had overrated the strategic importance of the eight-square-mile island and its three airstrips. Iwo Jima nonetheless produced an incalculable morale boost to the American war effort when the photo of the six men raising the flag appeared in newspapers across the country.

Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the moment on Feb. 23, 1945, the battle’s fourth day, and the image endures as a symbol of American resolve in wartime. Gen. Joseph Dunford, commandant of the Marine Corps, told the survivors that their triumph has reverberated across the generations.

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“The battle of Iwo Jima has become part of the very ethos of the Marine Corps,” he said. Dunford added that their example inspired Marines who fought in America’s most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Your legacy transcends the capture of a faraway island in the Pacific long ago.”

Kenichiro Sasae, the Japanese ambassador to the United States, extolled the sacrifice of U.S. and Japanese soldiers alike. Referring to Japanese troops who defended the island as they moved underground, he said, “Mount Suribachi must have felt like a tomb waiting to be closed.”

Captain Snowden (2nd from right) and his Recon Team.

Captain Snowden (2nd from right) and his Recon Team.

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz remarked in 1945 that, among U.S. troops on Iwo Jima, “uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Snowden, who led his company even after shrapnel from a mortar blast wounded him in the neck and head, described overcoming his injuries in more modest terms.

“Part of the game,” he said.

On the Web: Battle of Iwo Jima

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#WarriorWednesday: Battle of the Bulge at 70 in Photos

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A patrol, growing when Lt. Thomas of a Cavalry reconnaissance squadron started across the snow with rifle grenades, attacks German snipers discovered on the outskirts of the newly captured town of Beffe, Belgium. Lt. Thomas was followed by volunteers consisting of members of his squadron, an infantry headquarters company and an infantry company. The attack was launched with with rifle fire, fragmentation rifle grenades, hand grenades, rifles, BARs, and bazooka company armed with machine guns and light mortars. Twelve Nazis were killed in the engagement. Here, can be seen part of the patrol advancing cautiously through the snow. (A Co., 1st Bn., 290th inf., 75th Div., B troop.) 1/7/45. 7th Corps, 4th Cav. Reconn. Sq.

A patrol, growing when Lt. Thomas of a Cavalry reconnaissance squadron started across the snow with rifle grenades, attacks German snipers discovered on the outskirts of the newly captured town of Beffe, Belgium. Lt. Thomas was followed by volunteers consisting of members of his squadron, an infantry headquarters company and an infantry company. The attack was launched with with rifle fire, fragmentation rifle grenades, hand grenades, rifles, BARs, and bazooka company armed with machine guns and light mortars. Twelve Nazis were killed in the engagement. Here, can be seen part of the patrol advancing cautiously through the snow. (A Co., 1st Bn., 290th inf., 75th Div., B troop.) 1/7/45. 7th Corps, 4th Cav. Reconn. Sq.

Tanks of the 4th Armd. Div., ready for action in the front lines. 8 January 1945. Bastogne, Belgium. Just 2 weeks earlier, on December 26, 1944, elements of the 4th Armored Division had broken through German lines to relieve the 101st Airborne and 10th Armored Divisions, surrounded and under siege in Bastogne.

Tanks of the 4th Armd. Div., ready for action in the front lines. 8 January 1945. Bastogne, Belgium.
Just 2 weeks earlier, on December 26, 1944, elements of the 4th Armored Division had broken through German lines to relieve the 101st Airborne and 10th Armored Divisions, surrounded and under siege in Bastogne.

The following 4 photos of an anti-aircraft emplacement outside Bastogne, Belgium are part of a collection compiled by staff at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Radiation Laboratory, known familiarly as the MIT Rad Lab. The word “radiation” was used in the Rad Lab’s name rather than “radar” to disguise the type of research being done.

Looking through quick sight before viewing through scope to determine marks on questionable aircraft flying near AA battery at Bastogne. The scope was captured from the Germans. National Archives Identifier: 6116625

Looking through quick sight before viewing through scope to determine marks on questionable aircraft flying near AA battery at Bastogne. The scope was captured from the Germans. National Archives Identifier: 6116625

Straw prevents remote control cables from freezing to ground on site of AA installation near Bastogne. National Archives Identifier: 6116627

Straw prevents remote control cables from freezing to ground on site of AA installation near Bastogne. National Archives Identifier: 6116627

Anti aircraft locator device, the M-7, is shown in operation outside Bastogne. Crew checks the readings. Device is safely emplaced behind sandbags. National Archives Identifier: 6116621

Anti aircraft locator device, the M-7, is shown in operation outside Bastogne. Crew checks the readings. Device is safely emplaced behind sandbags. National Archives Identifier: 6116621

Gun crew of the ‘Black Widow’, 90 mm anti aircraft gun dug in outside Bastogne, Belgium, about to fire at enemy plane sighted in area. Battery B 217th Bn (Radar) Bastogne. 1/11/1945.  National Archives Identifier: 6116622

Gun crew of the ‘Black Widow’, 90 mm anti aircraft gun dug in outside Bastogne, Belgium, about to fire at enemy plane sighted in area. Battery B 217th Bn (Radar) Bastogne. 1/11/1945. National Archives Identifier: 6116622

Chow is served to American Infantrymen on their way to La Roche, Belgium. 347th Infantry Regiment, 01/13/1945

Chow is served to American Infantrymen on their way to La Roche, Belgium. 347th Infantry Regiment, 01/13/1945

After holding a woodland position all night near Wiltz, Luxembourg, against German counter attack, three men of B Company, 101st Engineers, emerge for a rest., 01/14/1945

After holding a woodland position all night near Wiltz, Luxembourg, against German counter attack, three men of B Company, 101st Engineers, emerge for a rest., 01/14/1945

A German prisoner captured by the 16th Infantry Regiment, near Weywertz. Belgium., 1/15/1945

A German prisoner captured by the 16th Infantry Regiment, near Weywertz. Belgium., 1/15/1945

This burning home near Lmore, Belgium, drew a heavy barrage of enemy shellfire which wounded a Signal Corps photographer. 1/16/45.

This burning home near Lmore, Belgium, drew a heavy barrage of enemy shellfire which wounded a Signal Corps photographer. 1/16/45.

Tanks of the 42nd Armd. Bn., move into attack. 16 January 1945. Mabompre, Belgium.

Tanks of the 42nd Armd. Bn., move into attack. 16 January 1945. Mabompre, Belgium.

Members of the 30th Infantry Division crawl prone while crossing open terrain near Pont, Belgium. (Co. E, 2nd Bn.) 1/17/45

Members of the 30th Infantry Division crawl prone while crossing open terrain near Pont, Belgium. (Co. E, 2nd Bn.) 1/17/45

A view of the damage done in Houffalize, Belgium, by shelling. The town was retaken from the Germans by the 2nd Armored Division. FUSA, 1/18/45. National Archives Identifier: 12010159

A view of the damage done in Houffalize, Belgium, by shelling. The town was retaken from the Germans by the 2nd Armored Division. FUSA, 1/18/45. National Archives Identifier: 12010159

An American jeep enters the shell-torn town of Houffalize, Belgium, by the main road. The town was retaken from the Germans by the 2nd Armored Division. 1/18/45. National Archives Identifier: 12010160

An American jeep enters the shell-torn town of Houffalize, Belgium, by the main road. The town was retaken from the Germans by the 2nd Armored Division. 1/18/45. National Archives Identifier: 12010160

18

American soldiers of the 289th Infantry Regiment march along the snow-covered road on their way to cut off the Saint Vith-Houffalize road in Belgium., 1/24/1945

16

American infantrymen of an armored division march up a road southeast of Born, Belgium. Note the height of the snow bank on either side of the road. 1/22/45. Co. C, 23rd Armd. Inf, bn., 7th Armd.

15

American Infantrymen trudge through the snow as they march along the edge of a woods near Iveldingen, Belgium, in the drive to recapture St. Vith. (Hq. Co., 2nd Bn., FUSA) 1/20/45. 517th A/B Reg’t., 7th Arm’d. Div.

17

American soldiers of the 289th Infantry Regiment march along the snow-covered road on their way to cut off the Saint Vith-Houffalize road in Belgium., 1/24/1945

On the Web:

#MilitaryMonday: Battle of the Bulge at 70 – Newly Digitized Color Photos 

 

The Bloodiest Battle: The Battle of the Bulge Loomed Large 70 Winters Ago (PDF)

Crash

#WarriorWednesday: USMC Stories in Their Own Words

macduff ww header

Honoring and saluting the brave men and women who courageously serve as warriors everyday.

CUMBIE

CAPTAIN KARLA CUMBIE. 

YEARS IN SERVICE: 2006 – PRESENT.

MOS: UH-1Y PILO

Karla Cumbie has always had a warrior spirit. Her athletic talent led her to the U.S Naval Academy where she competed in Division 1 Volleyball. The challenge to earn the title was what first attracted Captain Cumbie to the Marine Corps.

Her leadership, hard work and dedication earned her a position as a Weapons and Tactics Instructor, a designation reserved for only a small percentage of Marine Corps pilots.

lindsayrodman

CAPTAIN LINDSAY RODMAN. 

YEARS IN SERVICE: 2008 – PRESENT. 

JUDGE ADVOCATE

Captain Lindsay Rodman’s parents always encouraged her to stay true to her ideals and follow her instincts. As a Duke and Harvard graduate, she had multiple career opportunities. However, she saw the Marine Corps as the place where she could make the greatest impact.

Now, she’s a judge advocate and White House Fellow. Captain Rodman has already earned impressive titles in her young career. But the title she’s most proud of is Marine.

Taylor

LIEUTENANT COLONEL STACEY TAYLOR.

YEARS IN SERVICE: 1993 – PRESENT.

ADJUTANT

For Lieutenant Colonel Stacey Taylor, the Marine Corps is more than a career, it’s a way to make a meaningful contribution. On deployment, LtCol Taylor participated in humanitarian operations, assisting in the evacuation of American citizens from Albania in 1996. In his spare time, LtCol Taylor volunteers with local community service organizations, such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Since the filming of this interview, then-Major Taylor was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and is now the Commanding Officer of Headquarters and Support Battalion, School of Infantry – East.

On the Web:  See their stories on YouTube

OoRah!

Crash

#MilitaryMonday/#WarriorWednesday: SSG Latayette G. Pool – American WWII Tank Ace

Staff Sergeant Lafayette G. Pool  Third Armored Division. Third Battalion, 32nd Armored Regt

Staff Sergeant Lafayette G. Pool
Third Armored Division. Third Battalion, 32nd Armored Regt

Contrary to popular belief, other countries, aside from Germany, were capable of producing tank aces.

This story is about a tank commander who destroyed 258 enemy vehicles, but he never was awarded the Knights Cross. He was never presented to Hitler, he never wore a fancy black uniform with death heads and S.S. runes, and he never commanded a Panther or a Tiger.

The reason? He was an American G.I., and he set the above record in a Sherman tank!

Staff Sergeant Lafayette G. Pool was typical of some of the fine tankers produced by the U.S. Army during World War II. Pool was born on July 23,1919, on a farm in Odem, Texas. He graduated from high school in Taft, Texas in 1938. Pool tried to enlist in the Navy. He was turned down due to an eye injury, although his twin brother was accepted. He then enrolled in an all boys Catholic Academy where he graduated as class valedictorian. Afterwards, he enrolled in Texas, A and I College, as an engineering major.

He quit to enlist in the Army on June 13, 1941. He took basic training at San Antonio, Texas, and then was sent to Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, to the newly forming Third Armored Division. Pool joined the Third Battalion, 32nd Armored Regt, when the division was reorganized in January of 1942. He took time out from training to get married to Evelyn Wright in December of 1942.

M4 Sherman tank in the European theatre during WWII.

M4 Sherman tank in the European theatre during WWII.

Pool had been a boxer in college and he joined the divisions golden gloves team. He became regional champ in his weight class and was to go to the national meet in Chicago, Illinois in the spring of 1942. He turned down the opportunity because the division had gotten a shipment of new M-4 Sherman Tanks and Pool wanted to start training with his men on the M-4 immediately.

Pool was a tall, lanky 6’3″ Texan, who drove his men and himself and trained them rigorously. He always wanted things done right and would not tolerate slipshod methods, whether in maintenance, gunnery, or driving. He demanded the best out of his men and got it.

The 3rd Bn, 32nd Armor moved to the Desert Training Center near Victorville, California, followed by final training at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.

The only known side angle of Pool's IN THE MOOD Sherman M4A1(76)W. A number of private collectors and 3AD WWII veterans have prints of varying quality made from the same, original, apparently long-lost negative, but the above image is the most-detailed and sharpest known. The photographer, probably a G.I. amateur, is unknown. The original negative suffered from some blurriness at the bottom left that is probably a camera lens problem. The Sherman, painted camouflage (barely apparent in black & white), appears to be in motion, and Pool is assumed to be in the commander's hatch. After looking through some of what is published about S/Sgt Lafayette Pool's tanks named IN THE MOOD, the case can be made that the M4A1 76mm Sherman pictured above is in fact the third tank commanded by Pool to be named IN THE MOOD. From the 22 September 1944 edition of YANK magazine, in an interview with Pool's driver Cpl. Wilbert Richards and bow gunner Pfc. Bert Close, we are given the locations that the tanks were lost. The first M4 Sherman named IN THE MOOD was lost near the town of La Forge Bois de Bretel, France. The second in the town of Fromentel, France. The third was lost near Munsterbusch, Germany.

The only known side angle of Pool’s IN THE MOOD Sherman M4A1(76)W. A number of private collectors and 3AD WWII veterans have prints of varying quality made from the same, original, apparently long-lost negative, but the above image is the most-detailed and sharpest known. The photographer, probably a G.I. amateur, is unknown. The original negative suffered from some blurriness at the bottom left that is probably a camera lens problem. The Sherman, painted camouflage (barely apparent in black & white), appears to be in motion, and Pool is assumed to be in the commander’s hatch. After looking through some of what is published about S/Sgt Lafayette Pool’s tanks named IN THE MOOD, the case can be made that the M4A1 76mm Sherman pictured above is in fact the third tank commanded by Pool to be named IN THE MOOD. From the 22 September 1944 edition of YANK magazine, in an interview with Pool’s driver Cpl. Wilbert Richards and bow gunner Pfc. Bert Close, we are given the locations that the tanks were lost. The first M4 Sherman named IN THE MOOD was lost near the town of La Forge Bois de Bretel, France. The second in the town of Fromentel, France. The third was lost near Munsterbusch, Germany.

Before sailing for England in September, 1943, Pool was promoted to Staff Sergeant in Company I. He was also given the opportunity to go to OCS, but he turned it down as he later was to turn down a battlefield commission stating “I just want to have one of the best tank crews in the division.”

His crew consisted of driver, Wilbert “Baby” Richards, one of the best drivers in the ETO according to Pool; Bert “Schoolboy” Close who was just seventeen years old and was his the bow gunner. Given the choice of prison on a manslaughter rap or the Army, Del “jailbird” Boggs elected to be Pool’s loader. Willis “Groundhog” Oiler was the gunner. Pool said of Oiler, “He could shoot the eyebrows off a gnat at 1500 yards.” He was very quick and alert. One time near Origny in France, it was getting dark when the order came down to halt and coil up for the night. Pool opened his mouth to say “Driver Halt,” but found himself looking down the barrel of a German 88mm in the gloom ahead. He said “Gunner, Fire!” and Oiler, without hesitation, holed the enemy gun before its crew could recognize the Sherman Tank.

While in England, Pool did some more boxing. In Liverpool in early 1944 he boxed against Joe Louis. It was meant to be an exhibition bout, but Pool got a little to enthusiastic and rapped Louis a few good ones. Louis put his arm around Pool and said, “White man, I’m going to teach you a big lesson. “He then proceeded to give Pool a good going over, although there was no knockout.

Pool was what we would call today a “hard charger.” He was also inclined to have things his own way. He believed that the quickest way home was to smash the German Army to pieces, and he believed that he was the guy with the crew and the tank that could do it. He made friends easily and also made enemies. He had a quick temper and was not above ignoring orders when they didn’t suit him.

Pool landed at Normandy in June, 1944. His battalion fought its first engagement on June 29, 1944 near Villier-Fossard, northeast of St. Lo.

The loss of Pool’s first tank “In the Mood,” (all succeeding tanks were named “In the Mood!”) was to a Panzerfaust at the village of Les Forges not far from the beachhead. Pool’s crew survived and got a new Sherman, and pushed on undauntedly against the panzers.

c. 1944/45: Tanks of an Armored regiment are debarking from an LST [US 77] in Anzio harbor [Italy] and added strength to the U.S. Fifth Army [VI Corps] forces on the beachead (WWII Signal Corps Photograph Collection).

Falaise Gap on August 7,1944, was the big battle and Pool was, as usual, right up front. As the 3rd Armored Division was near to closing the ring with the British forces around the Germans, Lt. Col. Walter B. Richardson, commanding task force Y of CCA. 32nd Armored heard Pool say over the radio “Ain’t got the heart to kill um,” meaning the Germans. The rattle of machine gun fire came over the radio followed by Pool’s Texas drawl “Watch the bastards run, – give it to ’em Close.”

At Fromentel, Pool’s tank headed the task force Y column as usual which closed the gap. During the closing, Pool’s second tank was destroyed by enemy bombers, which only made Pool more mad at the Germans. Again the crew survived intact. At Colombrier, France, Pool’s tank leading the column almost collided with a Panther. The Panther fired twice and missed. Oiler, the gunner, fired a single shot which penetrated the turret and internal explosions blew the turret clean off the hull of the Panther.

At Namur, Belgium, “In the Mood’s” crew destroyed sixteen enemy vehicles, including assault guns, self-propelled anti-tank guns, plus several armored personnel carriers in one day. At Dison, Belgium, Pool distinguished himself while acting as a platoon leader. He decided to use his own tank to clean out an annoying pocket of resistance on the left flank of the route they were traveling. After finding and destroying six armored personnel carriers Pool discovered that the head of his column had been fired upon by a German Panther. Quickly he ordered his driver to regain the column. Upon arriving upon the scene of the action he spotted the enemy tank, gave a single estimated range to Oiler. The gunner fired an A.P. projectile at 1,500 yards to destroy the Panther.

The column then moved on with Pool again in his customary place in the lead. Although Pool had two tanks knocked out from under him, he had nerves of steel. His crew drew added confidence from his bearing and as a result they moved as a single unit, like clockwork. Pool’s one problem was that he was claustrophobic and preferred to remain, as much as possible, on the outside of his tank. Col. Richardson said that Pool rode his tank like a “bucking bronco.” He was always exposed in the turret or on top of it. His driver, Richards, shared his commander’s condition in that he always drove with his overhead hatch open, having been trapped once with a jammed hatch. Corporal Richards said “Pool hated the Germans and thought he could lick them all. The men would draw straws to see who would lead the spearhead the next day. Pool would just say, ‘Ah’m leading this time,’ and stand there grinning while we cussed him out.”

Pool’s luck ran out at the town of Munsterbusch, south of Aachen, Germany, on September 19, 1944, while leading the breakthrough through the Westwall. The crew was due to rotate home in a few days for a war bond tour. “In the Mood” was not leading this time but was a flank guard for the task force that day. Pool spotted a heavy anti-tank gun hidden in a house. They had a substitute loader that day as Boggs was sent back for a hearing check-up prior to their rotating to the states. The new guy shoved a round in the breech of the 76mm gun and jammed it.

Unable to fire Pool yelled “Back up baby!” as the first shell hit the turret blowing Pool off the tank onto the ground. He landed running and his right leg folded like an accordion. He quickly gave himself a morphine injection, sat down and tried to cut his shattered leg off with his pocket knife. Meanwhile, a second shell hit the tank well forward as Richards backed the tank up slowly. To Richards, Oiler, the loader and Close, there was only the bell sound of the hit, the stench of powder and shower of sparks. Richards didn’t know that Pool had been thrown clear of the turret and kept on backing up. Col. Richardson saw “In the Mood” slowly reach a cut bank and, as if in slow motion, topple over, almost upside down.

Oiler felt the blood on his legs and knew that he had been wounded. The others were unhurt and all four crawled out of the overturned tank.

Col. Richardson came up to Pool and gave him another shot of morphine. Aid men then reached Pool who was bleeding badly from the splinter wound. They gave him a third shot of morphine. Two of them quickly attended to Oiler. Pool cursed the Germans bitterly as the aid men bandaged his wound. As they put him on the litter he twisted suddenly and said, “Somebody take care of my tank.”

The war was over for Lafayette G. Pool. He knew that he and his crew could beat the Germans. He proved it so often that his record is almost an unbelievable document of total victory. The amazing score compiled by the Texan and his crew is fully authenticated by the Third Armored Division. Pool was twice nominated for the Medal of Honor. The first time the papers were lost, the second time it was turned down as the higher-ups felt that it was a crew, not an individual effort. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, French Croix de Guerre, with Bronze Star, Belgium Fourragere, and Order of St. George Medal.

Pool’s career was far from over though, but first he had an ordeal that he had to go through with his wounded right leg. After three shots of morphine he awoke nineteen days later in a hospital in Belgium. Due to rain and exposure, he contracted double pneumonia. He did not get back to the states until January, 1945. When he was wounded he weighed 196 pounds and when he returned to the United States he weighed 85 pounds! The bone in his leg from the knee to the ankle was gone but his toenail would still grow, so doctors hesitated to amputate. Later they amputated it eight inches above the knee at Temple, Texas Army Hospital. He was discharged in June of 1946, and went home with an artificial leg, later to farm and run a gas station. In 1948 he was called back to active duty along with seven other amputees because of their technical skills as specialists.

He returned as a staff sergeant and taught tank mechanics as a master mechanic. After a promotion to Warrant Officer in 1952, he worked as an ordnance inspector. He was classified as “Z.I.” (no duty out of zone of interior).

While at Fort Knox, he was offered the job as technical advisor for the movie “The Tanks are Coming” (released in 1951). He refused, and decided to sue Warner Brothers for one million dollars. He was under contract to Universal Studios for his life story and he felt that Warner Brothers plagiarized his script. The judge ruled that Warner Brothers had changed the names and scenario in their version enough that it was not an infringement. Pool thought that actor Steve Cochran, in the Warner Brothers version, did do a good portrayal of himself, although the name in this movie was changed to “Sgt. Sullivan.”

Pool retired from the Army as a Chief Warrant Officer Second Class, at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas on September 19,1960. Afterwards he went to business college, followed by a job as a preacher for $25.00 a week. He also coached little league.

In 1986, while living quietly in Taft, Texas, he was contacted by 3-32 Armor members who were doing research on the unit history. He was invited to visit them at Ft. Hood. He was very surprised to find out that they remembered him. The first thing that he did when he got to Ft. Hood was go for a ride in an M1 tank. Afterwards, Pool told the young 3-32 tankers gathered around him some of the differences between being a tanker in WWII and being one today. “The most important thing for a tank commander to do is to keep his crew alive. The tank crews today have the technology to do what we had to do with our eyes and ears,” Pool said. “We did very little fighting at night.” He added, “I only fought once at night and I never wanted to do it again. Today you have the thermal sighting capability that we didn’t have.”

On his third visit to the post, he watched the tanks live fire on the range. “Colonel, if we had the equipment back then that you have now, we would have cleaned up,” he told the commander of the 3-32nd Armor. The colonel said of Pool, “I want him to talk to the soldiers. He tells them the same kinds of things that I try to teach them, but coming from him it’s special because he’s lived it.”

Later Pool was the honored guest speaker at the battalion NCO ball. Three hundred and twenty-five NCO’s attended. Lafayette was adopted by the 3-32 Armor and he, in turn, adopted them, referring to them as “His boys.”

Desert Storm found the 3-32 Armor in the thick of battle against the Iraqi Armor. Lafayette was in a hospital bed, very ill, but he watched the war constantly on television, fretting and worrying about “his boys.” When the fighting had ceased, he kept asking his wife Evelyn, “Honey, are my boys back yet?” When they finally got back to Fort Hood, Evelyn told him they were back and soon after this on May 30,1991, Pool passed away in his sleep.

Pool was survived by his wife Evelyn, three sons and four daughters. One other son, Capt. Jerry L. Pool, was missing in action in Cambodia in 1970. Before his death the Army decided to name its new Ml tank driver training simulator facility after Pool, even waving the fact that he was still alive. Dedicated on July 1, 1993, today the facility at Ft. Knox serves to train new tank drivers to drive the Ml series of tanks.

At present the facility has ten systems of two simulators each. One system has been converted to Ml AR configuration. The authors were able to try out a simulator, thanks to Irene Armstrong – secretary of protocol, and found it an excellent approach to learning to drive. The savings in fuel, thrown tracks, and wear and tear, plus damage to the real tanks is tremendous, and it will more than pay for its initial cost.

Each new tanker is given twelve hours of training before he transitions into the real thing. Scenarios can be varied from desert and arctic terrain to urban driving. Weather can vary, artillery fire can be received, the tank’s main gun can be fired by the controller, plus night or day time driving with open hatches or closed down on periscopes. All these things make this simulator the closest thing to actual driving a real tank to date. Our controller, SFC Byrd, said the simulator is much more difficult than actually driving the “real” M1.

Today Lafayette G. Pool is remembered not only as our top tank ace but also as a man who believed in training hard and doing the job right the first time, as there may not be a second time in modem warfare.

“Fury”

The cast of Fury used a reconditioned WWII M4 Sherman tank

“Best job I ever had.” The cast of Fury used a reconditioned WWII M4 Sherman tank

The film was shot in England in large part due to the availability of working World War II-era tanks. The film featured Tiger 131, the last surviving operational Tiger I. The tank belongs to Bovington Tank Museum at Bovington, England. It is the first time since the 1946 film Theirs Is the Glory that a real Tiger tank – and not a prop version – has been used on a film set. 

Ten working M4 Sherman tanks were used. The Sherman tank Fury was played by an M4A2E8 Sherman tank named Ben/Harry (T224875), also loaned by Bovington Tank Museum.

While the plot of the film is fictional, the depiction of the tank Fury and its commander Wardaddy parallels the experience of several real Allied tankers, just like Staff Sergeant Lafayette G. Pool who landed just after D-Day. The small number of Sherman tanks to survive from the landing at D-Day to the end of the war, such as Bomb, a Sherman tank that landed at D-Day and survived into bitter fighting in Germany at the war’s end, the only Canadian Sherman tank to survive the fighting from D-Day to VE Day.

 Crash

Sources:
Interviews with Evelyn Pool.
Killeen Herald: vol. 35 #113.

Yank, the Army Weekly written during WWII.

Turret (Ft. Knox newspaper); November 21, 1991.

Tribune Herald Tuesday: May 5,1987.

Speech by Col. Brewster – July 1, 1993 during dedication of
Pool Hall; Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
Disposition Form-SB-WP-ASD (350) on Naming New
Building for Driver Training Simulator, Oct. 5,1988.

Killeen Daily Herald: August 29,1987; “World War II Legend
Tells Hood Tankers ‘stay alive'”

#MilitaryMonday: Showing What Cannot Be Spoken

warrior-wednesday

Wars end, soldiers return. Uniforms are folded and pictures placed on the mantle. And though new lives begin, veterans carry their service with them long after they return home.

For many, reintegration is coming to terms with those two halves: the veteran and the civilian made anew.

Marine Cpl. Brad Ivanchan lost both his legs when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Sangin, Afghanistan.  (Picture 13/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

Marine Cpl. Brad Ivanchan lost both his legs when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Sangin, Afghanistan. (Picture 13/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

That bifurcated existence is the basis for the Veteran Art Project, a captivating visual experiment by a 27-year-old photographer who is exploring a part of the veteran’s experience that is sometimes difficult to articulate.

The idea is simple enough: Devin Mitchell, a junior at Arizona State University, finds a room, a mirror and a subject, and then takes two pictures. One is a picture of the subject in uniform, the other in civilian attire. Afterward, Mitchell uses Photoshop to combine the two.

One of the images from the Veteran Art Project, which relies on trick photography and seeks to capture the experience of service members who have returned home. (Picture 62/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

One of the images from the Veteran Art Project, which relies on trick photography and seeks to capture the experience of service members who have returned home. (Picture 62/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

The first of the project’s 63 numbered photos, which was taken this past August, shows a man staring into his bathroom mirror and adjusting his suit. Staring back is the same man, Lt. Ricky Ryba, in blue Navy fatigues. The resulting image transcends time and place.

“I’m not a veteran,” Mitchell, who currently lives in Los Angeles and completes his studies remotely, said in a recent interview. “I specialize in trick photography…and it wasn’t until I started building my photo essay for my grad school application that I figured I would look at a sociological issue … which is the double life that a lot of [veterans] live.”

The photos are published on Instagram for ease of access. Mitchell calls his work “artistic journalism,” and notes that the only prerequisites for his subjects are that they are veterans and that they can still fit into their uniforms.

“I don’t interview them, all I ask is if they’re veteran and if I can come and take their picture,” Mitchell said. “This is an opportunity for people to speak without having to say something.”

“It seems almost therapeutic for them… I feel like they’re showing other veterans they’re not alone, that there’s other people like them,” he added.

Initially, Mitchell had a difficult time finding people interested in being photographed, but after picture 13, he says, his inbox was flooded.

That picture shows Marine Cpl. Brad Ivanchan, a machine gunner with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, who lost both his legs in June 2013 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan.

His back is to the camera, his carbon-fiber prosthetics visible under hiked khakis, while in his reflection, he is wearing Marine dress “Charlies.” Ivanchan’s tattooed arms extend downward, hands affixed to the counter. But it is his face that resonates — that seems to be staring at the wounded Ivanchan saying, “Get up.”

Marine Cpl. Daphne Bye and her now ex-husband, Marine Staff Sgt. David Bye, were featured in the Veteran Art Project series. (Picture 61/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

Marine Cpl. Daphne Bye and her now ex-husband, Marine Staff Sgt. David Bye, were featured in the Veteran Art Project series. (Picture 61/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

“People connected with that picture because it showed something physical, visceral,” Mitchell said. “After that I didn’t have a problem finding veterans who wanted to be a part of the project.”

Marine Cpl. Daphne Bye was among the veterans who saw Mitchell’s photos and who contacted him about photographing her and her husband, Marine Staff Sgt. David Bye.

The two had met before Daphne joined the Marines, when David was stationed in Hawaii and Daphne was attending college there.

Sgt. Joanna Ellenbeck,  wearing her Army uniform in the mirror. (Picture 62/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

Sgt. Joanna Ellenbeck, wearing her Army uniform in the mirror. (Picture 62/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

Daphne, who says she was the victim of sexual harassment by one of her senior non-commissioned officers, and Bye, who served as an infantryman in the battles of Fallujah in 2004 and 2007, were both diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder around the same time in 2011. The couple shared the burdens of post-traumatic stress and their treatment together, but a few years after their daughter Sophie was born, they both realized that it was no longer healthy for them to stay married. In August they divorced.

Kevin Wesolowski, wearing Army uniforms in two mirrors. (Picture 62/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

Kevin Wesolowski, wearing Army uniforms in two mirrors. (Picture 62/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

Leonard Cataudella, a Navy veteran. (Picture 62/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

Leonard Cataudella, a Navy veteran. (Picture 62/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

Sgt. Trevor Scott, a member of the 101st Airborne Division. (Picture 62/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

Sgt. Trevor Scott, a member of the 101st Airborne Division. (Picture 62/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

“When I saw Devin doing the project I was really excited. I figured why not,” Daphne Bye said. “When you’re in the military a lot of marriages break…and a lot of people don’t understand what the reason for it is and I thought it was important for me to say something.”

She explained her reasons to her ex-husband, who agreed to do the picture even though the couple had started living apart.

“I think it’s important for everybody to understand that even though we looked happy on the outside and that we truly did try for us and our daughter there’s only so much you can do when the issues are within yourself.”

Cody Gere, who left active-duty as a Marine Corps corporal. (Picture 62/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

Cody Gere, who left active-duty as a Marine Corps corporal. (Picture 62/Courtesy Devin Mitchell)

Mitchell has no plans to end the project anytime soon. He said the more pictures he takes, the more issues, like PTSD, he hopes to explore through his photography.

“I don’t mind if it takes me 10 years,” Mitchell said. “As time changes, so might the photos and what they are reflecting. We can only wait and see.”

On the Web: Veteran Art Project

On Istagram: @vetranartproject

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(Note:  Can also be reposted, reblogged and tweeted by others as #WarriorWednesday)

#WarriorWednesday: The Original Fly Girls – WWII WASPs Flew With Honor and Courage

WASP (from left) Frances Green, Margaret Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leave their B-17, called Pistol Packin' Mama, during ferry training at Lockbourne Army Air Force base in Ohio. They're carrying their parachutes.

WASP (from left) Frances Green, Margaret Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leave their B-17, called Pistol Packin’ Mama, during ferry training at Lockbourne Army Air Force base in Ohio. They’re carrying their parachutes.

In 1942, the United States was faced with a severe shortage of pilots, and leaders gambled on an experimental program to help fill the void: Train women to fly military aircraft so male pilots could be released for combat duty overseas.

The group of female pilots was called the Women Airforce Service Pilots — WASP for short. In 1944, during the graduation ceremony for the last WASP training class, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Henry “Hap” Arnold, said that when the program started, he wasn’t sure “whether a slip of a girl could fight the controls of a B-17 in heavy weather.”

“Now in 1944, it is on the record that women can fly as well as men,” Arnold said.

A few more than 1,100 young women, all civilian volunteers, flew almost every type of military aircraft — including the B-26 and B-29 bombers — as part of the WASP program. They ferried new planes long distances from factories to military bases and departure points across the country. They tested newly overhauled planes. And they towed targets to give ground and air gunners training shooting — with live ammunition. The WASP expected to become part of the military during their service. Instead, the program was canceled after just two years.

WASP with a plane named "Miss Fifinella," the mascot designed for the women by Walt Disney Studios

WASP with a plane named “Miss Fifinella,” the mascot designed for the women by Walt Disney Studios

They weren’t granted military status until the 1970s. And now, 65 years after their service, they will receive the highest civilian honor given by the U.S. Congress. In July 2009, a bill was signed awarding the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal. The ceremony took place in March of 2010 on Capitol Hill.

Women With Moxie

Margaret Phelan Taylor grew up on a farm in Iowa. She was 19, had just completed two years of college and was ready for adventure in 1943 when a Life magazine cover story on the female pilots caught her eye. Her brother was training to be a pilot with the Army. Why not her? She asked her father to lend her money for a pilot’s license — $500, a huge amount then.

“I told him I had to do it,” Taylor says. “And so he let me have the money. I don’t think I ever did pay it back to him either.”

But there was a problem. She was half an inch shorter than the 5-foot-2-inch requirement.

“I just stood on my tiptoes,” she says. When she arrived at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, where most of the WASP were trained, “Well, there were a lot of other short ones just like me, and we laughed about how we got in.”

Short, tall, slim, wide, they all came in knowing how to fly. The military trained male pilots from scratch, but not the female civilian volunteers.

“They didn’t want to bring in a bunch of girls who didn’t know how to fly an airplane,” says Katherine Sharp Landdeck, associate professor of history at Texas Woman’s University, who’s writing a book about the WASP, tentatively called Against Prevailing Winds: The Women Airforce Service Pilots and American Society. “So you have women who are getting out of high school and taking every dime they had to learn how to fly so they could be a WASP.”

A Dangerous Job

Once when Taylor was ferrying an aircraft cross-country, somewhere between Arizona and California, she saw smoke in the cockpit. Taylor was trained to bail out if anything went wrong. “But the parachutes were way too big. They weren’t fitted to us,” she says. “The force of that air and that speed and everything, w

Women With Moxie

Margaret Phelan Taylor grew up on a farm in Iowa. She was 19, had just completed two years of college and was ready for adventure in 1943 when a Life magazine cover story on the female pilots caught her eye. Her brother was training to be a pilot with the Army. Why not her? She asked her father to lend her money for a pilot’s license — $500, a huge amount then.

“I told him I had to do it,” Taylor says. “And so he let me have the money. I don’t think I ever did pay it back to him either.”

But there was a problem. She was half an inch shorter than the 5-foot-2-inch requirement.

“I just stood on my tiptoes,” she says. When she arrived at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, where most of the WASP were trained, “Well, there were a lot of other short ones just like me, and we laughed about how we got in.”

Short, tall, slim, wide, they all came in knowing how to fly. The military trained male pilots from scratch, but not the female civilian volunteers.

“They didn’t want to bring in a bunch of girls who didn’t know how to fly an airplane,” says Katherine Sharp Landdeck, associate professor of history at Texas Woman’s University, who’s writing a book about the WASP, tentatively called Against Prevailing Winds: The Women Airforce Service Pilots and American Society. “So you have women who are getting out of high school and taking every dime they had to learn how to fly so they could be a WASP.”

Margaret Phelan Taylor was a WASP during World War II.

Margaret Phelan Taylor was a WASP during World War II.

A Dangerous Job

Once when Taylor was ferrying an aircraft cross-country, somewhere between Arizona and California, she saw smoke in the cockpit. Taylor was trained to bail out if anything went wrong. “But the parachutes were way too big. They weren’t fitted to us,” she says. “The force of that air and that speed and everything, why that just rips stuff off you. You’d slip right out.”

So her plane was smoking and Taylor faced a defining moment.

“I thought, ‘You know what? I’m not going until I see flame. When I see actual fire, why, then I’ll jump.’ “

Was she scared? “No. I was never scared. My husband used to say, ‘It’s pretty hard to scare you.’ “

The plane’s problem turned out to be a burned-out instrument.

But 38 female pilots did lose their lives serving their country. One was 26-year-old Mabel Rawlinson from Kalamazoo, Mich.

“I’ve always known of her as the family hero,” says Rawlinson’s niece, Pam Pohly, who never knew her aunt. “The one we lost too soon, the one that everyone loved and wished were still around.”

Rawlinson was stationed at Camp Davis in North Carolina. She was coming back from a night training exercise with her male instructor when the plane crashed. Marion Hanrahan, also a WASP at Camp Davis, wrote an eyewitness account:

I knew Mabel very well. We were both scheduled to check out on night flight in the A-24. My time preceded hers, but she offered to go first because I hadn’t had dinner yet. We were in the dining room and heard the siren that indicated a crash. We ran out onto the field. We saw the front of her plane engulfed in fire, and we could hear Mabel screaming. It was a nightmare.

It’s believed that Rawlinson’s hatch malfunctioned, and she couldn’t get out. The other pilot was thrown from the plane and suffered serious injuries. Because Rawlinson was a civilian, the military was not required to pay for her funeral or pay for her remains to be sent home. So — and this is a common story — her fellow pilots pitched in.

“They collected enough money to ship her remains home by train,” says Pohly. “And a couple of her fellow WASP accompanied her casket.”

And, because Rawlinson wasn’t considered military, the American flag could not be draped over her coffin. Her family did it anyway.

Even though she was considered a civilian, Mabel Rawlinson's family draped her coffin with a flag, a tradition reserved for members of the armed forces. Though the funeral appears lightly attended, many were lined up behind the photographer, as seen in the reflection of the car.

Even though she was considered a civilian, Mabel Rawlinson’s family draped her coffin with a flag, a tradition reserved for members of the armed forces. Though the funeral appears lightly attended, many were lined up behind the photographer, as seen in the reflection of the car.

The Program Is Pulled

The head of the WASP program was Jacqueline Cochran, a pioneering aviator. (After the war, she became the first woman to break the sound barrier.) Cochran’s goal was to train thousands of women to fly for the Army, not just a few dozen integrated into the men’s program. She wanted a separate women’s organization and believed militarization would follow if the program was a success. And it was. The women’s safety records were comparable and sometimes even better than their male counterparts doing the same jobs.

But in 1944, historian Landdeck says, the program came under threat. “It was a very controversial time for women flying aircraft. There was a debate about whether they were needed any longer,” Landdeck says.

By the summer of 1944, the war seemed to be ending. Flight training programs were closing down, which meant that male civilian instructors were losing their jobs. Fearing the draft and being put into the ground Army, they lobbied for the women’s jobs.

“It was unacceptable to have women replacing men. They could release men for duty — that was patriotic — but they couldn’t replace men,” Landdeck says.

And so, Arnold announced the program would disband by December 1944, but those who were still in training could finish. The Lost Last Class, as it was dubbed, graduated, but served only 2 1/2 weeks before being sent home on Dec. 20, along with all the other WASP.

Lillian Yonally served her country for more than a year as a WASP. When she was dismissed from her base in California, there was no ceremony. “Not a darn thing. It was told to us that we would be leaving the base. And we hopped airplanes to get back home.” Home for Yonally was across the country in Massachusetts.

That was a familiar story, but Landdeck says there were some bases that did throw parties or had full reviews for their departing WASP.

Lillian Yonally in a 1943 publicity photo at Camp Irwin in California.

Lillian Yonally in a 1943 publicity photo at Camp Irwin in California.

Riling The WASP’s Nest

The women went on with their lives.

A few of them got piloting jobs after the war, but not with any of the major airlines. And some of them stayed in the air as airline stewardesses. In those days, no major commercial airline would hire these experienced women as pilots. Like many World War II veterans, most WASP never talked about their experiences.

And according to Taylor, they never expected anything either.

“We were children of the Depression. It was root hog or die. You had to take care of yourself. Nobody owed us anything,” she says.

The WASP kept in touch for a while. They even formed a reunion group after the war. But that didn’t last long. Then, in the 1960s, they began to find each other again. They had reunions. They started talking about pushing for military status. And then something happened in 1976 that riled the whole WASP’s nest.

“The Air Force comes out and says that they are going to admit women to their flying program,” Landdeck says. An Air Force statement says “it’s the first time that the Air Force has allowed women to fly their aircraft.”

Thirty years later, that comment still upsets former WASP Yonally.

“It was impossible for anybody to say that. That wasn’t true. We were the first ones,” Yonally says.

Margaret Phelan Taylor at her Palo Alto, Calif., home

Margaret Phelan Taylor at her Palo Alto, Calif., home

The fact that the WASP were forgotten by their own Air Force united the women. They lobbied Congress to be militarized. And they persuaded Sen. Barry Goldwater to help. He ferried planes during the war, just as the WASP did. And then, in 1977, the WASP were finally granted military status.

Over the years it has been reported that the WASP records were sealed, stamped classified and unavailable to historians who wrote histories about WWII. According to archivists at the National Archives, military records containing reports about the WASP were treated no differently from other records from the war, which generally meant the WASP records weren’t open to researchers for 30 years. But unlike other stories from the war, the WASP story was rarely told or reported until the 1970s.

“It’s hard to understand that they would be forgotten and difficult to believe that they would be left out of those histories. But even they forgot themselves for a while,” Landdeck says.

In 1992, to preserve their history, the WASP designated Texas Woman’s University in Denton as their official archives.

Yonally is proud to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, 65 years after her service, but she’s sad that fewer than 300 of her 1,100 fellow WASP are alive to receive it.

“I’m sorry that so many girls have passed on. It’s nice the families will receive it, but it doesn’t make up for the gals who knew what they did and weren’t honored that way,” Yonally says.

Taylor is also excited about the medal. She served her country out of loyalty, she says. That was certainly part of it. But the other reason? “I did it for the fun. I was a young girl and everybody had left and it was wartime. You didn’t want to get stuck in a hole in Iowa; you wanted to see what was going on.”

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#WarriorWednesday: WWII Vet Stood Strong Against Kamikaze Onslaught

Angelo Recine, 90, hld the Bronze Star he received for his service in WWII

Angelo Recine, 90, holds the Bronze Star he received for his service in WWII

The kamikaze bore down on the USS Caperton, and Angelo Recine stood his ground as still-green sailors, some little more than boys, scattered.

Bullets from the Japanese Zero whizzed by his head. The gunner’s mate 3rd class manned the 40 mm gun and took aim. The pilot in the cockpit was close.

“I could see him in the plane,” the 90-year-old Toms River, N.J., man recalled. “He was coming at me just like he was in front of me. I can still see him. He didn’t look scared to me.”

Recine was, he said.

Two years earlier, he was an All-Middlesex County guard for the New Brunswick High School Zebras football team. The son of a bricklayer and a Squibbs factory worker, both Italian immigrants, left school early to join the Navy.

“I wanted to be proud of myself,” he said.

In 1944 in the South Pacific, he had the opportunity.

Recine unloaded round after round at the Japanese Zero while the enemy aircraft strafed his position on the destroyer’s deck.

“It was either he killed me or I killed him,” he said.

The Zero crashed into the sea, about 50 yards from the Caperton, he said.

The citation signed by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal that came with the Bronze Star Medal, reads “Steadfast and courageous, Recine manned his 40mm gun and with resolute determination … coolly disregarded all personal danger…thereby inspiring the inexperienced crew to similar performance.”

Dwindling ranks

With each passing Veteran’s Day, tales like Recine’s are being recalled less and less. The Greatest Generation cast such a large shadow it may have seemed like the men and women who suffered through the Great Depression as children and served during World War II would never fade.

But according to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, there are a little more than a million veterans still alive out of the 16 million who served. Five hundred fifty-five die each day. There are about 27,400 living in New Jersey, according to the museum.

Of the 360 men who served with Recine on the Caperton, the veteran believes about 15 are alive. Nine died while he served on board. He saw each man buried at sea.

“I was the guy who would get a 5-inch shell and tie it between their legs. I put them on the stretcher let them go into the water. And down they went,” he said. “There was no place to put them.”

Recine’s three brothers served in the Navy. All survived the war but have since died. One of nine children, he has four living sisters.

Combat for Recine happened on land, too. He killed another Japanese soldier in an armed struggle on one of the Mariana Islands, and he took the man’s sword. He has no regrets, he said.

But he wasn’t without sadness over all the killings. He helped rescue a group of Japanese sailors from the open water, eight or nine of them. They were turned over to U.S. Marines, who shot the unarmed men, Recine said.

After the Navy, Recine played football for the Tennessee Volunteers for a year and had a tryout with the New York Giants, he said. He settled back in New Brunswick where he worked as a bricklayer for more than 40 years for Atlas Concrete, eventually becoming president of the company.

One of his two daughters, Arlene Anderson, said she never knew about her father’s war record until she was an adult with her own family.

“He was never a man to brag about anything,” she said. If people spoke about the war around him, he said nothing, she said.

Recine, who now lives at the Rose Garden Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Toms River and gets around in a wheelchair, also has four grandchildren and one great granddaughter.

“I’ve seen the bad, I’ve seen worse, I’ve seen good,” he said. “Let’s put it this way — it’s been a good life.”

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