Monday, December 16, 2013

Re-enactments, parade mark Battle of the Bulge remembrance

Sub-freezing temperatures, seemingly endless German artillery shelling, and no way out for most of the troops that were involved in the Battle of the Bulge.  I am fascinated by this battle in World War II and have the utmost respect for those that fought and held their ground under some of the worst conditions ever seen in modern warfare.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tribes finally honored for secret work of World War II code talkers

Associated Press
Elieia Chapellla (from left) and Velma Wadsworth, both from the Hopi Tribe of Polacca, Ariz., and Sandy Winneshiek and Heather Cloud, both from the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, attend a ceremony in Washington to honor the code talkers.
33 tribes were honored for work done in World War II, using their native language to create a virtually (at the time) unbreakable code, which aided operations in The Pacific Theater.  There is no question they saved lives and significantly contributed to the success of landings and battles.  Honoring them is way past due.

Among those tribes honored Wednesday: Wisconsin's Oneida Tribe of Indians, which had four code talkers during the war, the Ho-Chunk Nation with seven and the Menominee Nation with five. None of the Wisconsin soldiers lived to see their once-secret service recognized.
Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), who co-sponsored the 2008 legislation authorizing the creation of the medals, credited code talkers for saving countless lives by being able to use their native languages to transmit in seconds secret battlefield messages that would have taken a coding machine at least 30 minutes to send.
Enemy forces never broke their code, Kind noted.

Read the entire article here:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12, 1942 - Naval Battle of Guadalcanal Begins

Smoke rises from two Japanese planes shot down during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, 12 November 1942. Photographed from USS President Adams (AP-38); ship at right is USS Betelgeuse (AK-28).
The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, took place from 12–15 November 1942, and was the decisive engagement in a series of naval battles between Allied (primarily United States) and Imperial Japanese forces during the months-long Guadalcanal campaign in the Solomon Islands during World War II. The action consisted of combined air and sea engagements over four days, most near Guadalcanal and all related to a Japanese effort to reinforce land forces on the island. The only two U.S. Navy admirals to be killed in a surface engagement in the war were lost in this battle.

World War II Medal of Honor recipients honored with new stamp

The last living World War II recipients of the Medal of Honor are being honored on Veterans Day with the First Day of Issue dedication ceremony at the World War II Memorial in Washington.
It is becoming more and more important to honor those of our Greatest Generation.  Two of the twelve MOH recipients being recognized on this stamp passed away before the stamp was released.

Read the entire article here:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

World War II airman missing since 1944 to be buried with full military honors

R.I.P. Mr. Bird ; you are not forgotten.

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Vernal J. Bird had more than a dozen brothers and sisters when he crashed over a Pacific Ocean island nearly 70 years ago. He disappeared over Papua New Guinea on a 1944 bombing run of Japanese airfields there. He was 25.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

World War II veteran recalls liberating Buchenwald death camp

Albert Goldberg is a hero.  He may not admit it, but he is.  Facing the enemy head on and keeping the attitude of "it's just a job" seems common in the Greatest Generation, as well as modern day troops.  I'm glad to know that U.S. Representative Michael Grimm honored this man and was able to personally thank him.

“You do what you have to do and you move on,” he said.

Read the entire article here:

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26, 1942 - Battle of Milne Bay

Battle of Milne Bay begins: Japanese forces land and launch a full-scale assault on Australian base near the eastern tip of New Guinea.
New Guinea. Australian militia forces successfully overcame a Japanese attempt to land at Milne Bay. This picture shows one of two Japanese type 95 Ha-go light tanks that became bogged on the track near the Gama River and were abandoned during the Japanese attack.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

World War II Vet Gets Medals After 70 Years

"Jesse Hughes, an Orlando resident who worked as a park ranger in Miami for 35 years, received several medals from the United States Army Saturday in Jacksonville.
Hughes, who was eligible for many Army awards including a Prisoner of War medal, never received all of the decorations he earned in the war."
This is an important way for our country and the branches of the armed forces to say "thank you" to our veterans.  Make sure their accomplishments and sacrifices are not forgotten...and don't wait until they have passed away to acknowledge them.  I applaud whomever started this process for Mr. Jesse Hughes.  It is a well deserved ceremony and I thank you for standing in harm's way for our country.  May we never forget our veterans and POW's.

Watch the video and read the rest of the article here:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Veteran Spotlight - Mr. Tommy Wilson

Alabama's WVTM station did an excellent piece on Mr. Tommy Wilson, a WWII Marine veteran.  It is outstanding that the TV station made time and provided resources to go interview this couple.  Not only for the interview, but to share his and his family's story. 

July 10, 1943 - Allies Invade Sicily

Operation Husky begins with the Allied invasion of Sicily, Italy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 19, 1944 - Battle of the Philippine Sea

Battle of the Philippine Sea begins.

The Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 19–20, 1944) was a decisive naval battle of World War II which effectively eliminated the Imperial Japanese Navy's ability to conduct large-scale carrier actions.

Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku (center) and two destroyers maneuvering, while under attack by U.S. Navy carrier aircraft, during the late afternoon of 20 June 1944. Zuikaku was hit by several bombs during these attacks, but survived. (Battle of the Philippine Sea, June 1944)

Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17, 1945 - Admiral Ota Minoru commits suicide

Japanese Admiral Ota Minoru committed ritual suicide for failing to defend Okinawa, Japan.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 13, 1942 - Black Saturday for British 8th Army

'Black Saturday' for the 8th Army at the Battle of Gazala; during the course of the day Rommel does great damage to the British armour. At the end of the day not only have unsustainably large amounts of British armour been destroyed, but both 50th Division and 1st South African Division, who have largely retained their forward positions along the Gazala Line, are threatened with envelopment. The position of 50th Division is especially grave since Rommel's armour now ranges freely between them and safety.

Friday, June 7, 2013

June 7, 1940 - HMS Glorious sunk

German battleships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst sink the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious and two destroyers off Norway; the British ships have had no air cover.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 6, 1944 - D-Day in Normandy

A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) wading onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach (Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France) on the morning of June 6, 1944. American soldiers encountered the newly formed German 352nd Division when landing. During the initial landing two-thirds of the Company E became casualties.

D-Day begins with the landing of 155,000 Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy in France. The allied soldiers quickly break through the Atlantic Wall and push inland in the largest amphibious military operation in history.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

June 5, 1944 - Operation Overlord begins

Operation Overlord commences when more than 1,000 British bombers drop 5,000 tons of bombs on German gun batteries on the Normandy coast in preparation for D-Day. And the first Allied troops land in Normandy; paratroopers are scattered from Caen southward.

Monday, June 3, 2013

June 3, 1942 - Battle of Midway begins

The Battle of Midway opens with ineffective attacks by land-based American B-17s on the approaching Japanese fleet. Admiral Nagumo, in charge of the Japanese carrier force (Hiryu, Soryu, Akagi, and Kaga) is unable to locate any American aircraft carriers and decides to attack Midway's land-based air defences the first thing the next morning, which in any event is one of his planned tasks.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

May 30, 1940 - British Cabinet meeting on continuing the war

Crucial British Cabinet meeting: Churchill wins a vote on continuing the war, in spite of vigorous arguments by Lord Halifax and Chamberlain.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Oldest living World War II veteran reflects on Memorial Day

Mr. Richard Overton was born in 1906.  As the oldest living WWII veteran, his memory remains sharp.
"We'd go from this island we'd do what we're supposed to do there," he said.
As someone who is interested in this part of our history, I forget how painful it can be for veterans to relive their memories recounting experiences from 70+ years ago.   Mr. Overton's words spoke volumes here.
"It don't bother y'all, when you talking about the stuff that we had to go through. I never want to go through it again," Overton said, through tears.
Read the entire article and watch video here:

May 28, 1940 - Belgium surrenders

Belgium surrenders to the Germans; King Leopold III of Belgium surrenders and is interned.

Monday, May 27, 2013

May 27, 1941 - Bismarck sinks

The German battleship Bismarck is sunk in the North Atlantic, after evasive tactics, and a damaged steering system which forced it into an endless series of circular movements.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

May 25, 1940 - Allies retreat to Dunkirk

The Allied forces, British and French alike, retreat to Dunkirk. Hitler orders a halt to the advance of Germans toward the Allied beachhead and allows Hermann Göring to use the Luftwaffe to attack. British R.A.F. defends the beachhead.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Body of Lehigh County man killed in World War II returns home

US Army Private William Yawney's remains were identified and he will be given the honor and respect he deserves.

May 24, 1941 - Bismark sinks HMS Hood

British battle cruiser HMS Hood is sunk by a powerful salvo from German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic.

May 23, 1944 - "Drive to Rome"

Allies advance toward Rome, after a linkup of American II and III corps.  The "Drive to Rome" begins with the Allied breakout of the Anzio Beachhead.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May 21, 1941 - SS Robin Moor sunk by German submarine

The US merchantman SS Robin Moor is sunk by German submarine U-69. The incident startles the nation, and President Roosevelt shortly announces an "unlimited national emergency."

Monday, May 20, 2013

World War II vet remembers the positive

Dylan Brown / Independent Record
Ralph Arnold, 93, laughs while talking about his "young soldier" experiences Wednesday.

"Who can complain?"
At his apartment in the Touchmark retirement community, the first memento Arnold shows from his service is a faded ticket stub, some seven decades old, from the Folies Bergére, the famed racy cabaret in Paris. He was doing “recon,” he jokes.
With a wit as sharp as Ralph Arnold's, some memories of his time in World War II don't seem nearly as bad as they probably were.  Mr. Arnold is a great example of the attitude and perseverance it took to make it through the war and come back home and live life.

A fascinating part of this story is the roll of film he found on a German soldier, and one of the photos made it to the Chicago Tribune and later the Holocaust Museum.

Read the entire article here:

May 20, 1942 - Japanese take Burma

The Japanese conquest of Burma is complete; it is called a "military catastrophe".

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 19, 1943 - Winston Churchill addresses U.S. Congress

Winston Churchill addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress. He praises the partnership of the two Allies.

May 18, 1944 - Allied Victory at Monte Cassino

Battle of Monte Cassino ends with an Allied victory; Polish troops hoist their red and white flag on the ruins of Monte Cassino. The Germans have ceded it and departed.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

May 16, 1940 - Churchill receives bad news

Churchill visits Paris and hears that the French war is as good as over; The United Kingdom stands alone in Europe.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 15, 1942 - Women's Auxiliary Army Corps

In the United States, a bill creating the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) is signed into law.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day letter home

Staff Sgt. Crawford A. Smith was stationed at Camp Carson, Colorado in May of 1944.  He penned a letter to his mother on that Mother's Day, recounting his day, and hoping his mother had, "...a beautiful day today and everyone was well and you really enjoyed the day."

Letters home (usually V-Mail from overseas) were the main method of communication for troops and their families during World War II.  Phone service was possibly available for some still stationed in the United States, but as in the case with the Smith family, they did not have a phone.  The days of e-mail, tweeting, Skype and other methods that today keep our military more in touch with happenings at home were far, far away.  

The article below details the letter, that unfortunately would be one of the last correspondences he had with his mother as she died from an apparent heart attack within the month.  The devastation of troops while away losing family members back home cannot be forgotten.  Focus, while worthy of the recognition, has always been on the family losing a son, daughter, sibling, etc. killed in action.  But, the loss of a parent or other family member while stationed away, with no way to come home must be equally as tragic.

Read the entire article here:

May 14, 1940 - Churchill reaches out for help

Churchill asks President Roosevelt and Canada for aid in these dark days. Outlines of the new British coalition, which includes Labour, Liberal, and Conservative members, is made public.

Monday, May 13, 2013

May 13, 1943 - Afrika Korps surrenders

Remaining German Afrika Korps and Italian troops in North Africa surrender to Allied forces. The Allies take over 250,000 prisoners.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

May 12, 1942 - Battle of St. Lawrence

German U-boat U-553, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Karl Thurmann, sinks British freighter Nicoya near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, signalling the opening of the Battle of St. Lawrence.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dr. John Bassett - Aleutian Islands Campaign

Not many people heard much about Attu or the Aleutian Islands battles.  This campaign didn't receive much coverage in the media.  Nearly every American knows the names Iwo Jima, Normandy, Okinawa, Berlin, Bastogne, and Guadalcanal.  Yet, according to historian Brian Garfield,
“In proportion to the number of troops engaged, it would rank as the second most costly American battle in the Pacific Theater—second only to Iwo Jima.”
Dr. John Bassett served as a physician in the 7th Medical Battalion.  When their forward post was overrun, he found more American soldiers, asking for a rifle to continue the fight.
The citation given to Bassett’s widow with a Silver Star said “the enemy overran the advance posts of the 7th Medical Battalion, where tents in two ravines were filled with casualties and medical personnel. Armed with bayonets they attacked without any warning, stabbing the scarcely awakened occupants. Those in sleeping bags were completely helpless and were killed on the spot.”
Joe Sasser, from Carthage, MS saw Dr. Bassett finally retrieve a rifle and was lying on the ground about 15 feet away from him.  They had no idea he was already wounded from the 7th Medical Battalion attack and Dr. Bassett died from his wounds.

Read the entire article here:

May 11, 1943 - American troops land on Attu Island

American troops invade Attu Island in the Aleutian Islands in an attempt to expel occupying Japanese forces.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Honor Flight of West Central Florida Returns from D.C. Trip

More than 600 people lined the baggage claim area to honor 79 World War II veterans in the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport this week.  It was a hero's welcome for a very deserving group.

Sarasota's Harlan Twible, who gave the orders to abandon ship during the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in 1945, was the first one off the Allegiant Air flight. Led in by bagpipers and greeted by applause and American flag waving, the veterans capped a memorable day visiting Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial, the Lincoln, Korean War and Vietnam War memorials, and the World War II Memorial.
 Read the entire article here:

May 10, 1940 - Germany Invasions; Churchill becomes PM

Germany invades Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom upon the resignation of Neville Chamberlain. The United Kingdom invades Iceland.
Belgium declares a state of emergency. Churchill is called on to form a wartime coalition government.
German paratroops capture the Belgian fort Eben Emael.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Veteran's heroics not forgotten

George Miller of Peters Creek received the U.S. Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross during a ceremony held April 29 at the Anchorage Veterans Memorial in Anchorage.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Clay/Michelle Clay Photography

George Miller finally received the Distinguished Flying Cross he earned while serving in World War II.
“I just kick myself for not going after it a long time ago.”
Disregard for his own safety and well-being.  Check.
Going above and beyond his duty.  Check.
Heroism.  Check.

I am very happy to read these articles and now Mr. Miller can enjoy the recognition and the medal in the display case.  He deserves all of it and more.

Read the entire article here:

May 9, 1945 - German troops surrender Bornholm, Denmark

German troops on Bornholm surrender to Soviet troops.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The War: Norah Jones' American Anthem

There are a few things in life that I'm passionate about.  Early on, our parents taught us and set an example for their children that your faith, family and friends should be priorities.  Church and fellowship with friends and neighbors went hand-in-hand.

Letters From Walter Cronkite During World War II

A new book being release today, "Cronkite's War" chronicles the letters Mr. Cronkite wrote home during his time as an embedded reporter.

His grandson, Walt Cronkite, discovered the letters while researching his grandfather and worked with his former history professor to compile a book containing the letters.

Read the entire article here:

May 7, 1941 - Fighting in Iraq

Not a typo.

Between Habbaniya and Fallujah, two Iraqi columns are caught in the open and attacked by roughly forty British aircraft; the Iraqis suffer heavy casualties.

British troops looking at Baghdad, June 1941

See : 


Monday, May 6, 2013

May 6, 1942 - Last Broadcast of Corregidor

From the Youtube video description :

In the year 1941 and '42 in the small island of Corregidor, 13,000 US and Filipino troops fought together against the Imperial Japanese forces. The battle lasted for months, from December to April 1942. The defenders fought valiantly and with great ferocity that the casualties of the more well-equipped, better supported in air and sea Japanese forces drastically mounted. Corregidor was the last stand of the Allies in the Philippines and the whole of Asia.
Ultimately the defense was weakened as more and more Japanese troops arrive and the defenders' casualties begin to rise. Lack of reinforcements further broke the will to fight on as the enemy drew closer.
This morse code broadcast is made by an American soldier Irving Strobing who took the time to spread the information of their final moments in defending "The Rock". It was transcribed in Hawaii by Sgt. Arnold Lappert.There's been a confusion in Strobing's rank, whether he is a lieutenant, sergeant, corporal, a private or an Army Signal Corps radioman. By the fall of Corregidor, and during this transmission, Strobing was likely a private and a radio operator.

+Remember World War II

Honor Flight strikes again

Emalina Arreola, 5, waits with family members to welcome back World War II veterans after the first Las Vegas Honor Flight at McCarran International Airport Sunday, May 5, 2013. About 35 Southern Nevada veterans visited Baltimore and memorials in Washington D.C.
Crowds greeted veterans on their return flight from Washington, D.C. into Las Vegas Sunday, May 5.  I am so glad people make an effort to attend the welcome homes and show our WWII veterans their support.  I think it was always unspoken, but it is past time to show these men and women how much we all appreciate their sacrifices.

“They’re our greatest generation, these men and women. What they did in World War II should never be forgotten,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.
Southwest Airlines donated 25 tickets to the cause, and other sponsors pitched in boxed lunches for the flight to Washington.

If ever given the opportunity, don't hesitate to let our veterans know how much you appreciate them, their service and their sacrifice.  Especially for World War II veterans; we won't have the chance to thank them much longer.

More photos are included in a gallery in the article link below.

Read the entire article here:

May 6, 1942 - General Wainright surrenders the Philippines

On Corregidor, Lt. General Jonathan M. Wainwright surrenders the last U.S. forces in the Philippines to Lt. General Masaharu Homma. About 12,000 are made prisoners. Homma will soon face criticism from his superiors over the amount of time it has taken him to reduce the Philippines, and be forced into retirement (1943).

Sunday, May 5, 2013

PBS Documentary : The Ghost Army

Nearly 70 years after World War II ended, a new PBS documentary is pulling back the curtain on one of the war's most secret missions: "The Ghost Army." The film tells the story of an elite U.S. Army unit that deployed to Europe after D-Day and used all kinds of trickery to deceive Hitler's generals about the positions of American forces.

May 5, 1945 - Germany negotiates surrender

Formal negotiations for Germany's surrender begin at Reims, France.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May 4, 1945 - German troops surrendering

German troops are surrendering throughout Europe. Troops in Denmark, Northern Germany and The Netherlands surrender to Field Marshal Montgomery.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Owner of race horse to host veterans at Kentucky Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Exercise rider Javier Herrera has a little trouble restraining Normandy Invasion during an eventful morning gallop Thursday at Churchill Downs.
Well, I know who I will be rooting for in the Kentucky Derby this weekend.  Rick Porter, owner of the horse Normandy Invasion will be hosting four World War II veterans at the race.  Three of these veterans fought at D-Day June 6, 1944.  

May 3, 1945 - Rangoon, Burma is liberated.

The city was under Japanese occupation (1942–45), and incurred heavy damage during World War II.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

POW survivors to gather for museum dedication

A POW-MIA museum is being dedicated this week in St. Louis, Missouri.  American survivors from Stalag 17-B near Krems, Austria will be in attendance for the dedication as part of their reunion.  Their numbers have fallen so dramatically, and the ones who are still alive are finding it more difficult to travel, so this will be their final reunion.

Veterans honored by American Warrior program

Another great foundation that takes veterans, free of charge, to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. is American Warrior of Norwich, Conn.
A Connecticut World War II veteran is all smiles as family greets him on his return from the ninth American Warrior Connecticut Day of Honor in Washington, D.C., held Saturday, April 27. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.

May 2, 1942 - Australian forces evacuate Tulagi.

In response to American intelligence intercepts, which warn of the impending Japanese landings, the Australian garrison is evacuated from Tulagi.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Restored World War II bomber flies into Hillsboro, Oregon

The Liberty Foundation's 2013 Salute to Veterans Tour continued into Oregon this week.  A B-17F Flying Fortress flew over the Portland, OR area.

May 1, 1941 - Liverpool bombed

Seven nights of bombing of Liverpool begins, resulting in wide devastation.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30, 1945 - Adolf Hitler commits suicide

A headline in the U.S. Army newspaper Stars and Stripes announcing Hitler's death May 2, 1945. 

Hitler and his wife commit suicide, he by a combination of poison and a gunshot. Before he dies Adolf Hitler dictates his last will and testament. In it Joseph Goebbels is appointed Reich Chancellor and Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz is appointed Reich President.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Honor Flight - The Movie

I can't put into words how much I would like to see this movie.  I hope to either start the ball rolling in a town or community close by, or go somewhere else to see this.

The remark in the trailer hits close to home.  My father *literally* put his sea bag in the basement and basically forgot about it.

April 29, 1945 - Hitler marries

Hitler marries his companion Eva Braun.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Honor Flight send off in San Antonio

Veterans were honored with a surprise "military parade" inside of the San Antonio airport before their flight to Washington D.C. to visit the World War II memorial.  Current members of the military participated and were able to interact with the veterans and share stories.

April 27, 1941 - Greece surrenders

Athens is occupied by German troops. Greece surrenders.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Camp Lejeune's World War II Day

World War II and the Iwo Jima Battle veterans had their photo taken at Onslow Beach aboard Camp Lejeune Thursday. The retired Marines came to see the static displays of vehicles and some modern weapons.
Chuck Beckley/The Daily News

Hats off to Camp Lejeune for bringing a group of veterans together to honor them and show them modern weapons and vehicles.
“It’s an honor to say thank you to the greatest generation. You did a great job at setting the standard for Marines and sailors today. We stand on your shoulders.” - Brig. Gen. James Lukeman, the commanding officer of the 2nd Marine Division.
 Reading the article, it is easy to see the respect goes both ways.  Veterans are thankful for our current volunteer forces protecting us.  Active duty members are soaking up the stories the veterans tell them.

“They laid the foundation for today’s military. Their blood, sweat and tears led us to be the fighting force we are today. [When they are gone] their stories will be hearsay rather than by word of mouth which will be sad.”
Read the entire article here:

April 26, 1941 - Rommel goes into Egypt

Rommel attacks the Gazala defence line and crosses into Egypt; Tobruk continues to hold.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Middle School Assignment Promotes Anti-American View of World War II

This falls under the category of "Don't get me started..."  I make no attempt to hide my pride in being the son of an American World War II veteran.  Patriotism was not something forced on us as children, but the actions and deeds of our parents were enough to point us in the right direction.  Love of God, family and our country were just part of life.

April 25, 1941 - Allies face two separate defeats

Erwin Rommel (The Desert Fox) wins an important victory at Halfaya Pass, close to the Egyptian border.
Axis forces defeat commonwealth forces at Thermopylae after Australian general George Vasey staunchly claims that they will not be beaten.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

World War II Memorial - Washington, D.C.

I have had the good fortune to visit the WWII Memorial twice. Once with my wife, and once alone. The first time, it was part of our "itinerary" in looking at all of the memorials, which was a great tour.  By the time we made it to the WWII Memorial, it was getting dark and I was only able to get a few decent photos.  The Korean War and Vietnam memorials are very much worth the time and effort as well.

April 24, 1945 - Heinrich Himmler offers surrender

Ignoring the orders of Adolf Hitler, Himmler makes a secret surrender offer to the Allies, provided that the Red Army is not involved. The offer is rejected; when Hitler hears of Himmler's betrayal, he orders him shot.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

World War II veteran honored

John Leather was part of the 17th Airborne Division that saw action in the Battle of the Bulge and Operation Varsity.  He was honored for his service at The Static Line All Airborne Awards Festival, which recognizes war heroes from America’s airborne units.

Mr. John Leather
By Kevin G. Gilbert

Mr. Leather was turned down by the Marine Corps and Navy because he had flat feet.  However, in 1943, he was drafted by the Army, and as he put it, "... they took anyone who was warm and breathing."  Volunteering for paratrooper duty, he earned his wings just after the D-Day invasion took place.

He has an amazing story (like all veterans) and it is well worth the read.

The entire article can be found here :

April 23, 1941 - Greek government evacuates to Crete

Greek government is evacuated to Crete, which Churchill is determined to defend.

Monday, April 22, 2013

France honors Utah World War II soldier for role in D-Day

Mike Kladis accepted the French Legion of Honour medal this past Saturday.  I never tire of reading about members of The Greatest Generation being recognized for their honorable service.

(Kim Raff | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mike Kladis, 91, is awarded the Legion of Honour, for his service in the Army liberating France during World War II, by (left) Marie-Helene Glon, of the Honorary Consul of France, at the Masonic Lodge in Salt Lake City on April 20, 2013. This award is France's highest honor.

Story by By Kristen Moulton | The Salt Lake Tribune
Read the entire article here : 

April 22, 1944 - U.S. Navy attack Japanese forces at New Guinea

American navy planes carry out widespread attacks in New Guinea. US troops land at Hollandia and Aitape in northern New Guinea. Japanese forces in New Guinea will now be cut off.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Veteran Spotlight : Don Wardell fought both Germans and Japanese during World War II

"I had to go."

It is amazing to think how many WWII veterans have a multitude of stories of their experiences.  As mentioned on the article, some probably took their stories with them when they passed away.  This is just one of those veterans and thank goodness he is sharing his story, because he has some amazing history.  Mr. Wardell is 90 years old, and from the quotes in the article and the video is obviously still sharp as a tack.  The reporter notes his "Welcome aboard!" as he welcomes visitors into his house; his personality must fill a room.
Don Wardell, 90, of Willoughby, served in the Navy and fought both the Germans and Japanese during World War II. He had no doubts about eventual victory. "I knew we were going to win, 'cause we're America, right?" he says.

April 21. 1941 - Greek soldiers surrender in Albania

With their retreat cut off by the German advance, 223,000 Greek soldiers in Albania surrender.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Veterans Undertake One More Mission

So glad some more veterans are being honored by being flown to DC.  My only issue with the story is there is no such thing as a "former Marine"; once a Marine, always a Marine.

Saluting the Greatest Generation again...

Read the entire article here:

April 20, 1945 - Hitler Celebrates 56th Birthday

Hitler celebrates his 56th birthday in the bunker in Berlin; reports are that he is in an unhealthy state, nervous, and depressed.

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 19, 1941 - Heavy Air Raids in London

London suffers one of the heaviest air raids in the war; St. Paul's is mildly damaged but remains closed; other Wren churches are heavily damaged or destroyed.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18, 1942 - Doolittle Raid on Japan

This daring raid was a notable beginning of the United States showing that it would not only fight back from the attacks on Pearl Harbor, but would just be the beginning of the determination, heart and ingenuity of the American forces to come.

Launching from the USS Hornet, sixteen B-25B bombers flew to Nagoya, Tokyo and Yokohama.  The intent of the raid, which was later verified by Lt. Colonel James Doolittle himself in an autobiography, was to show the Japanese population that they were not immune to attack and to boost the morale of the American people.

An Army Air Force B-25B bomber takes off from USS Hornet (CV-8) at the start of the raid, 18 April 1942.
Note men watching from the signal lamp platform at right.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection.

The specific aircraft (B-25B Mitchell twin engine medium bomber) was selected as it was able to take off from an aircraft carrier, carry enough munition for significant bombing runs and have enough fuel to continue to airfields in China.  

Doolittle specially trained his raiders for their mission and they made modifications to the planes just for these flights.  Plans called for the Hornet to get to a point roughly 400 miles from the Japanese mainland before the planes took off, but as so many military missions go, the plans changed.  Enemy boats were encountered nearly 600 miles from shore, and while they served no danger to the Hornet and her escorts, the USS Enterprise with cruisers and destroyers, the ships were able to send radio signals alerting Japan to the American's presence.  The crews had no choice but to take off and begin the mission.

The bombers arrived in Japan about noon (Tokyo time; six hours after launch) and bombed 10 military and industrial targets in Tokyo, two in Yokohama and one each in Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka . Although some B-25s encountered light antiaircraft fire and a few enemy fighters over Japan, no bomber was shot down.

From the Navy History and Heritage web page :
Damage to the intended military targets was modest, and none of the planes reached the Chinese airfields (though all but a few of their crewmen survived). However, the Japanese high command was deeply embarrassed. Three of the eight American airmen they had captured were executed. Spurred by Combined Fleet commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, they also resolved to eliminate the risk of any more such raids by the early destruction of America's aircraft carriers, a decision that led them to disaster at the Battle of Midway a month and a half later.

1942 US newsreel about the raid

The Raiders have a web site with lots of information and audio and video clips. They also still have an annual reunion:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sparta, Michigan in World War II

Nice article on a small town in Michigan's stories from World War II. The story of the Lamoreauxs is tragic. Out of three sons in the service, all three were KIA. The military attempted to locate the third son after his two brothers were killed (as in Saving Private Ryan) but did not before he was killed February 6, 1945 in Germany.

April 17, 1942 - French General Giraud escapes imprisonment

French General Henri Giraud, who was captured in 1940, escapes from a castle prison at Konigstein by lowering himself down the castle wall and jumping on board a moving train, which takes him to the French border.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"American Warrior" pre-flight rally honors veterans

American Warrior
(L-r) Robert Shields, Milton Judson, Robert Eichman and Stanley Ploszaj pledge allegiance to the flag to start the rally before their upcoming American Warrior flight to Washington, D.C. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

100 veterans from all branches of service gathered for a service to honor them before their trip to Washington, D.C. to see the World War II Memorial.  They briefly told their stories and had a chance to mingle and meet their "guardians" that will help escort them on their trip.

Read the entire article here :

For more information on American Warrior, visit their web site : 

April 16, 1941 - Luftwaffe bomb Northern Ireland

Heavy Luftwaffe raid on Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Off Topic : Prayers For Boston Today

Philippine Scouts, descendants honor those who fought in WWII

This is not only important that groups still get together and honor those that fought and died, but that these people are also recognized.  Very glad to see media coverage of gatherings and interviews with those involved.  We as a society must never forget the sacrifices made by our ancestors to get us where we are today.
Zenaida Crisostomo Slemp of Puyallup joined her father’s military heritage organization years after his death. Something called out to her, telling her it was time to learn more about his past.
She knew her father, Serafin Crisostomo, survived as a prisoner of war of the Japanese after fighting overwhelming odds with the U.S. Army’s Philippine Scouts. Her grandfather fought there, too.
“I needed to honor my father, to keep his legacy going,” she said.

Read more here:

Jose Calugas, left, president of the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society, Rudy Cabigas, center, dressed in a Philippine Scouts uniform, and David Tejada, 90, who served with Philippine Scouts enjoy sharing war stories at the 29th National Reunion of the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society in Tacoma on Friday. (LUI KIT WONG/Staff writer)

Read more here:

Read the entire article here :

April 15, 1942 - Allied Forces begin work to destroy the Yenangyaung oil fields in Burma

Soldiers of the I Burma Corps begin to destroy the infrastructure of the Yenangyaung oil fields to prevent the advancing Japanese from capturing them intact.

Yenangyaung in Burma was the location of a strategically and tactically important oil refinery. As a result of the speed and success of the Japanese advance up through Burma during the Burma Campaign and the Battle of Yenangyaung, the retreating Allied forces were forced to blow up the oil fields and refinery to prevent them falling into the hands of the Japanese. This difficult task was left to a small group of men who had experience with explosives and demolitions, some from serving with the Bombay Pioneers, part of the British Indian Army, in World War I. The oil facilities were destroyed at 10 pm on 16 April 1942.

The men had then to escape through enemy held territory back to Imphal and Kohima in India, a distance of nearly 1,000 miles. This escape included swimming across the Irrawaddy River, as the only bridge had been blown up to delay the Japanese advance.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Veteran has an amazing story

Joe Williams was drafted at 18.  When he and others arrived at Camp Croft in South Carolina, they were told to pick which service they wanted to enter.  He chose the Coast Guard, thinking that would mean he would stay closer to home and guard the east coast.  "I was wrong,” Williams said.
After boot camp, Williams went to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for amphibious training. He signed up to learn welding, a move that later would save his life.
“The ship I was eventually assigned to was the USS Bayfield,” Williams said, “a flagship – we always had all sorts of brass officers onboard.”
Williams took part in the training mission "Exercise Tiger" for the D-Day invasion that turned out to be a disaster. Many American lives were lost due to friendly fire and an German ambush.  The operation was sealed and never talked about for years.

The USS Bayfield also took part in the battle of Iwo Jima.
Williams has many stories about his tour during the war. “My friend on the ship played the mandolin, and we’d entertain with bluegrass in the mess hall on Friday nights,” said Williams, who played guitar. “When we were at Iwo Jima, he and I were to go ashore with another soldier. Officers stopped me from going at the last minute because our ship had taken a hit, and the resulting hole needed to be repaired by welding, and I was the welder.
“My good friend and the other soldier never made it back. To this day, I cry for him whenever I hear ‘Taps.’ ”
After the war, Joe eventually met his wife Faye.  In July, the couple will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

Read the entire article here:

Read more here:


Read more here:

April 14, 1940 - Enigma code deciphered

The Enigma code is deciphered by the intelligence group at Bletchley Park in England for the first time.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Secret pilots of World War II

These women deserve our nation's gratitude.  They didn't see combat.  They didn't get any recognition at all for decades; nobody was even supposed to know they existed, since their records were sealed.  But I'm sure any pilot would tell you that training can be nearly as dangerous as combat.  Many service members have been killed in training accidents related to flying.
Back in the early 40s, the government started their unit as an experiment to see if women could learn to fly. They ended up flying every type of aircraft men did.

"We were given the same training as the male cadets," explained WASP Nell Bright. "Except we finished our program in six months and it usually took the guys nine months."
Hey now, wait a minute!  :-)

Read the entire article here:

April 13, 1943 - Discovery of mass graves related to Katyn Massacre in Russia

Radio Berlin announces the discovery by Wehrmacht of mass graves of Poles purportedly killed by Soviets in the Katyn massacre.

For more on the Katyn Massacre see the Wikipedia article here :

Friday, April 12, 2013

Veterans share experiences with middle school students

The collective "we" need more of this.  Veterans of all wars should be gathered periodically to recount their own oral history to young people.  Middle school and high school students will be able to not only listen, but understand better what the veterans went through and the sacrifices they endured.
...World War II veterans who enthralled seventh- and eighth-grade history students with their experiences and hardships during the conflict with the Axis powers, including Germany and Japan.
Retired Lt. Col. C.E. "Mac" McLean, USMC, takes his turn to tell of his World War II experiences as he and other veterans share their stories with students at Marshwood Middle School on Thursday morning. Deb Cram/

Families should make an effort, while they can, to record their veteran's stories.  These accounts of our nation's history should be treasured.

Read the entire article here :

April 12, 1945 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt passes away.

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies suddenly. Harry S. Truman becomes president of the United States.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

France awards 19 American World War II veterans

I'm always glad to see other countries remembering the sacrifices of American, British, Canadian and other troops that essentially saved Europe and the Pacific.  There are many examples of French people being appreciative and showing the veterans ultimate respect for what happened "over there".  Some of our own citizens could learn a thing or two about history and what freedom actually means.
Many of these men, who are approaching 90-years-old, received the French Legion of Honor, which is the highest distinction the country can give to any person, military or civilian.
A French Admiral, currently serving alongside the American forces in Tampa, presented the awards. He was joined by the Consul General of France in Miami. He thanked the veterans for fighting with France in WW2 and continuing the friendly relationship between the U.S. and France.
Read the entire article here:

April 11, 1940 - British Attack During the First Battle of Narvik, Norway

During the First Battle of Narvik, British destroyers and aircraft successfully make a surprise attack against a larger German naval force.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 10, 1941 - The United States Occupies Greenland

Greenland is occupied by the United States. With the approval of a "free Denmark", the US will build naval and air bases as counters to the U-boat war.

68 years later, Veteran gets Distinguished Flying Cross medal

 Seward Meintsma and his wife, Nellye, have been married nearly 64 years. Photo by Steve Gust, For The Oklahoman Steve Gust
For Lt. Col. Seward Meintsma, 91, World War II wasn't quite over until this year when he finally was awarded the military's Distinguished Flying Cross medal.
I'm glad to see stories like this.  I hope all veterans receive any citations they are due after their service.  It is the very least our country can do for them.  It's not about the medals, but they should be recognized for their extraordinary service.

Mr. Meintsma and his crew completed 35 missions over Europe without any major incidents or any of the crew being wounded. He was pilot of a B-24 Liberator, part of the 785th Bombardment Squadron, 466th Bombardment Group, Second Air Division. He continued his military career as a pilot, and retired in 1972 after he served as an adviser to the Vietnamese Air Force during the Vietnam conflict. He was awarded a Bronze Star for service there.

This does make me wonder how many more deserving veterans from all wars have not been recognized?

Read the entire article here:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Veteran Spotlight : Jack Lucas

How do you define "hero"?  Is there just one definition?  I have heard and read many opinions, both from veterans themselves to talking heads on the news channels.  One description (nearly?) all would agree on : A military member who dies fighting to defend freedom and liberty for their fellow citizens is a hero.  Jack Lucas did not fit this definition of "hero".

But, it wasn't for a lack of trying.

April 9, 1942 - The Bataan Death March begins

Thousands of American and Filipino service members were forced by Japanese forces to walk through an 80-mile stretch of land without being able to stop for a drink of water or rest. Immediate death came to those who fell or showed signs of weakness. The Allied troops who survived endured much more suffering as prisoners of war. Up to 10,000 Filipino and 650 American prisoners of war died (some totals go to 15,000 for both forces) before they could reach Camp O'Donnell.

In June 2001, Dana Rohrabacher, a U.S. congresswoman, described and tried to explain the horrors and brutality that the prisoners experienced on the march:

They were beaten, and they were starved as they marched. Those who fell were bayoneted. Some of those who fell were beheaded by Japanese officers who were practicing with their samurai swords from horseback. The Japanese culture at that time reflected the view that any warrior who surrendered had no honor; thus was not to be treated like a human being. Thus they were not committing crimes against human beings.  The Japanese soldiers at that time felt they were dealing with subhumans and animals.
Already suffering from battle fatigue, The Filipino and Americans troops were strained to utter exhaustion by this long march on foot, as many were physically ill as well.  Filipino townspeople risked their lives by slipping food and drink to the POWs as they went by.

POWs who could not keep up were summarily executed. Stopping to relieve oneself could bring death, so many chose to continue walking while doing so.

Some guards made a sport of hurting or killing the POWs.  Most of the POWs got rid of their helmets because some Japanese soldiers riding on passing trucks hit them with rifle butts. Enemy soldiers savagely toyed with POWs by dragging them behind trucks with a rope around the neck. Guards also gave the POWs the "sun treatment" by making them sit in the sweltering heat of the direct sun for hours at a time without shade.

POWs only received a few cups of rice, and little or no water. Thirst began to drive some of the men mad, but if a POW tried to drink stagnant, muddy water at the side of the road, he would be killed. Artesian wells along the route poured out clean water, but the POWs were not allowed to drink it.

From The Official Site of the National Museum of the USAF :
The POWs marched roughly 65 miles over the course of six days until they reached San Fernando. There, groups as large as 115 men were forced into boxcars designed to hold only 30-40 men. Boxcars were so full that the POWs could not sit down. This caused more to die of heat exhaustion and suffocation in the cars on the ride from San Fernando to Capas. The POWs then walked seven more miles to Camp O'Donnell. At the entrance to the camp, the POWs were told to lay out the few possessions they still had; any POW found with any Japanese-made items or money was executed on the spot.

Monday, April 8, 2013

April 8 - Holocaust Remembrance Day

Never forget.

In an annual ritual, the country came to a standstill at 10 a.m. Monday to honor the victims when sirens wailed for two-minutes across the country. Pedestrians stood in place, buses stopped on busy streets and cars pulled over on major highways, their drivers standing on the roads with their heads bowed.
In homes and businesses, people stopped what they were doing to pay homage to the victims of the Nazi genocide, in which a third of world Jewry was annihilated.

And never again.

Marines Reveal True Story of World War II's Pacific Theater

This book looks like it will make it on my wish list.
"Voices of the Pacific: Untold Stories From the Marine Heroes of World War II" chronicles the United States Marine Corps' actions in the Pacific theater in World War II, within the wider war, presenting the true stories of heroism and honor told by 15 men who lived it.
As the article mentions, Richard Greer served with John Basilone, a legendary USMC figure from Iwo Jima and Mr. Greer had a role in helping with the HBO series "The Pacific", which is second only to "Band of Brothers" in my favorite Blu-Ray collection.  Other than John Basilone's story, "The Pacific" primarily followed Eugene Sledge and Robert Leckie of the 1st Marine Division.  It was special for me (and my family) to watch the path of the 1st Marine Division through the Pacific islands and know that (starting with Cape Gloucester), my father's boots were in the same sand and on the same coral rock as the characters portrayed in the series.

The book sounds fantastic and I will post a sort of review when I read it.

Read the entire article here :

April 8, 1943 - Russian forces retake Cimea

The Red Army attacks in an attempt to retake all of the Crimea; they take Kerch in the east on the 11th, and the Germans retreat westward to Sevastopol.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

POW's diary full of World War II detail

This is a piece of history that should be treasured.  I do hope they follow through with putting the diary online at some point because it would be fascinating.

Like any U.S. Navy chief storekeeper worth his salt, Albert S. Johnston kept precise records, taking care to print neatly.
His data-filled diary of the Zentsuji War Prisoners Camp on Shikoku Island in Japan where he spent all but a few days during World War II reflects that close attention to detail, says Jim Klug of Ashland.
"This is an historical treasure," said Klug, commander of the Oregon Military Order of the Purple Heart and the historian for the group nationally.
Klug's historian status put the diary in his hands for several months when he was loaned the diary by former Marine Jack Shimizu of Guam. Shimizu acquired the diary from a grandson who is married to one of Johnston's descendants.
Klug hopes to make copies of the diary available for public review, likely online. He has returned the original to Shimizu.

Read the entire article here :