Saturday, April 6, 2013

Celebrating 100 years: World War II veteran marks milestone birthday

Woodrow Lowe celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this week.  I pray that he continues to live in good health; what an accomplishment!  I hope his family has interviewed him about is WWII service as these oral histories and memories are priceless.

Read the entire story here:
http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20130406/NEWS01/304060035/Celebrating-100-years-World-War-II-veteran-marks-milestone-birthday

April 6, 1941 - Greece and Yugoslavia Invaded

German, Hungarian, and Italian forces invade Yugoslavia and Greece. The Battle of Greece is also known as Operation Marita. When Operation Marita began on April 6, the bulk of the Greek army was on the Albanian border, from which the Italians were trying to enter Greece. German troops invaded through Bulgaria, creating a second front.

The invasion of Yugoslavia is also known as the April War.  The order for the invasion was put forward in "Führer Directive No. 25", which Adolf Hitler issued on 27 March 1941.  The country was overwhelmed and as soon as April 17, 1941 the Royal Yugoslav Army submitted their unconditional surrender.

Greece only held out a little longer.  German troops raised the Nazi flag in Athens at the end of April, 1941.

Friday, April 5, 2013

April 5, 1942 - Adolf Hitler issues Directive No. 41

Hitler outlines his plans for the coming summer offensive in Russia. The main offensive is directed to seize the Russian oil fields in the Caucasus; a secondary thrust is to capture Stalingrad and protect the flank of the main advance.

Veteran Recalls Memories of B-24 Liberator Missions in Pacific Theater

Kenneth Baeth flew in 40 missions as a nose gunner on a B-24 Liberator on the Pacific front.  Prior to being flown to Washington, D.C. as one of 90 veterans on the Big Sky Honor flight, he recalls (sometimes vividly) some of the missions :
One of his other most vivid memories is the night he spent midair over Wake Island. The B-24 Madame Pele was struck by anti-aircraft fire just ahead of Baeth’s nose turret. Ten of his comrades perished.
May 17, 1944: Mission No. 4. 1st raid to Wake Islands — ask-ack pretty dense. Saw a B-24 go down in flames. Hit target OK. Evasive action OK. Pretty scared.”
“Their bunk was right across from us,” he recalled with precision. “We had to clean out their belongings. That made it reality. It shows you what a bomb can do to an airplane. One bomb just shattered it to nothing. There were just pieces of bodies and men and airplane wings, motors, everything. It was just one big mess. And you realize you’re capable of getting hit, too.”

 Thank you for your service, Mr. Baeth.  Without the actions of men like him, the war could have taken a much darker turn for the worse.

Read the entire article : http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/world-war-ii-veteran-there-were-just-pieces-of-bodies/article_a901af80-841c-5aa1-8b75-f532868250fc.html#ixzz2PadKLohG

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Decorated World War II Army officer returns to Okinawa

People tend to forget (myself included) what a monumental role the U.S. Army played in the Pacific in World War II.  Okinawa was no exception.  The Pacific Theater is so tied to the United States Marine Corps lore and legacy, that other forces tend to get pushed aside somewhat.  British, Australian, and New Zealand forces were also in the mix of hell pushing the Japanese back to their mainland from island to island.

Ted Bell made the trip back to Okinawa, and specifically wanted to go back to the battleground he fought on.
Retired Col. Ted Bell, 93, returned to Okinawa for the first time in more than 67 years, with a documentary film crew that is making a movie about his experiences as a company commander with the 77th Infantry Division. Bell earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during a brutal three-day battle on Ishimmi Ridge. Bell also earned a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars during his 30 years of service. The documentary will air on South Carolina's public television stations in September.
"I want to go back to that ridge," Bell said. "I don't care if I don't see anything else."  
Nothing I type could communicate properly how much our nation owes to veterans like Ted Bell.  My thanks to you, sir and I hope and pray this trip helps you have some closure to your experiences in battle.  He is a warrior to this day and I'm so glad he received some recognition for his service.

Cape Coral Veteran Receives Purple Heart

This family and the people involved in verifying this man's service and experiences in World War II should be praised, too.  This is the kind of story to start your day on a good note.


After years of being denied due to record mishaps, Roy Kratt, one of Cape Coral’s first residents, finally received a Purple Heart on Wednesday for his service in World War II.
Roy Kratt was 17 on Oct. 15, 1942, when the USS Meredith was hit by Japanese bombs.

April 4, 1942 - Germans make plans for Baedeker raids

The bombing raids were in retaliation for the British bombings of Lübeck March 28 and March 29, 1942.  Lübeck was not a large industrial city, but did contain submarine building yards.  However at the time, the British command were focused on the morale of the enemy population as much as vital military targets.  The city of Lübeck had many wooden medieval buildings which would be easy work for the incendiaries that were planned to drop.   The city was considered a cultural center and only lightly defended. The target infuriated German command and revenge raids were ordered.

The Baedeker raids were conducted by the German Luftwaffe Luftflotte 3 in two periods between April and June 1942. They targeted strategically relatively unimportant but picturesque cities in England. The cities were reputedly selected from the German Baedeker Tourist Guide to Britain, meeting the criterion of having been awarded three stars (for their historical significance), hence the English name for the raids. 
Read all of the information here :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baedeker_Blitz

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Missing World War II Pacific Theater Pilot Identified

The remains of Army 1st Lt. John E. Terpning, of Mount Prospect, Ill came back to the United States after nearly 70 years MIA.  He will be given full military honors at a service at Arlington Cemetery today, April 3.
On May 7, 1944, Terpning was a pilot of a B-24D Liberator aircraft that departed Nadzab, New Guinea, on a bombing mission.
Due to mechanical troubles, the B-24D was delayed in departing the airbase and was unable to join the formation after takeoff. The aircraft, Terpning, nor the nine other crewmen aboard the plane were seen after takeoff. In 1946, the War Department declared all ten men to be presumed dead.
http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=119658

More than 73,000 Americans remain missing in action from World War II.  You are NOT forgotten.

April 3, 1942 - Bataan

On April 3, 1942, the Japanese began their final push to destroy U.S. and Filipino troops on Bataan. Allied troops were bombed by aircraft and artillery for 6 straight hours along the Orion-Bagac line.

Japanese tank moving forward on Bataan. 

National World War II Museum charts record-breaking attendance day

One advantage to living only 3 hours away from New Orleans, LA the last few years has been the ability to (fairly) easily visit the National WWII Museum.  With all the additions they continue to make, another visit will be in order soon.  Whether you are a WWII veteran, or are a family member of one, or just have an interest in history, do yourself a favor and make this trip.  It is well worth it, as so many people are finding out.
On March 11, a Monday, 3,556 people visited, surpassing the previous record of 3,261 on Friday, March 27, 2009, the museum announced.
Read the full article here at NOLA.com :
http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2013/03/national_world_war_ii_museum_c.html

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Collings Foundation : A Non-profit You Should Know

According to their web site, The Collings Foundation was founded to support "living history" events that enable Americans to learn more about their heritage through direct participation.

The Wings of Freedom Tour is currently ongoing across the country and made a stop in Fort Worth, TX to honor veterans' sacrifices and to educate the visitors, particularly younger people, about their national history and heritage. A restored B-24, a P-51 Mustang and B-17 Flying Fortress are part of the collection.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/04/02/4744797/historic-world-war-ii-airplanes.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/04/02/4744797/historic-world-war-ii-airplanes.html#storylink=cpy

Click here for the full article and photos.

World War II Memorial

The entrance of the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. facing the Lincoln Memorial.

Here in the presence of Washington and Lincoln, one the eighteenth century father and the other the nineteenth century preserver of our nation, we honor those twentieth century Americans who took up the struggle during the Second World War and made the sacrifices to perpetuate the gift our forefathers entrusted to us, a nation conceived in liberty and justice.

Navajo Code Talker Returns To Camp Pendleton

Some of my favorite stories include active duty or recently discharged military members honoring our veterans.  This is one of those stories.
Samuel Tsosie, a retired Marine who served as a Navajo Code Talker during World War II, looks into the faces of a younger generation of Marines sitting before him.
He can almost see a younger version of himself.
Navajo Code Talker visits at old stomping grounds
Lance Cpl. Nicholas Kien, a rifleman serving with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, shakes hand with Samuel Tsosie, a retired Marine who served as a Navajo Code Talker during World War II, here at Camp San Mateo, March 27, 2013. Tsosie served with 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, during multiple combat operations including Peleliu, Okinawa, and Cape Gloucester. Kien's grandfather was also a Navajo Code Talker that served during World War II.
“From the day you first put on that uniform, you’re a Marine. It changes you,” said Tsosie. “Once a Marine, always Marine.”
To read the entire article, click here

April 2, 1941 - Erwin Rommel in Libya

"The Desert Fox"  resumed his advance into Libya, which days later fell to German forces.  A weakened British force was pushed into Egypt, and Libya was re-captured by Axis forces.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1973-012-43, Erwin Rommel.jpg

Monday, April 1, 2013

April 1, 1939

The National insurrection of Spain declares victory in the Spanish Civil war, April 1, 1939.  The Nationalists were supported by Hitler and Mussolini.  Hitler invaded Poland later in 1939, initiating World War II.

April 1, 1945 - Battle of Okinawa

USS Idaho (BB-42), a New Mexico-class battleship shells Okinawa on 1 April 1945.

The largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater began April 1, 1945.  Four divisions of the U.S. 10th Army (the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th) and two Marine Divisions (the 1st and 6th) fought on the island while the 2nd Marine Division remained as an amphibious reserve and was never brought ashore. British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand air and naval personnel and resources also took part in this battle.

Army and Marine units landed April 1, 1945 and did not face heavy resistance (for Pacific Theater normal levels.)