Category Archives: Remembrance

Taffy 3: The Dragons of Samar

Obtaining the most appropriate material to remember our vets, in place of the usual fare, took more time than I had thought; which is why this is being posted at 0145 hrs on November 12th.

One of the most famous last stands of the Second World War.  In the waters off Samar, 13 escort carriers, destroyers and destroyer escorts were the only elements of our fleet in place to defend the Leyte Gulf invasion forces.

October 25 1944:

The US Third Fleet, having fallen for a decoy operation, left the American Invasion beaches of Leyte Gulf all but defenseless, with the exception of a small group of escort carriers, destroyers, and destroyer escorts known as Taffy-3.  For the better part of the day, Taffy-3 endured the full power of the Japanese counter-attack.  Despite overwhelming odds, managed to stop the Japanese fleet, but at a price.

By the time the guns of the Battle off Samar fell silent five of Taffy 3’s 13 ships: USS Gambier Bay, USS St. Lo, USS Johnston, USS Hoel, and USS Samuel B Roberts had been sent to the bottom, along with 898 sailors, airmen and marines, many of whom would fall victim to shark attacks over the next two days.

When the War Got Personal: The Story of the Men of the USS Hoel

This video doesn’t actually start til 0:26; the essential part begins at 2:08. Made in 2015, these were some of the survivors of the Battle off Samar.

Published on May 21, 2015

In October 2014, twelve First Class Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy (all History majors) attended the reunion of Taffy III in San Diego to conduct oral histories of those World War II survivors from the Battle off Samar. This documentary reflects part of that work.

USS Johnston Survivor’s Story Part I

Skip to 1:14:30 in this documentary; emphasis being the battle of Leyte Gulf, and the heroic stand by Taffy 3. Only four destroyer escorts, a few destroyers, and the slow, small, escort “jeep” carriers, with no armor, would find themselves taking on a large Japanese force of battleships, cruisers and destroyers.

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Jimmy Stewart – He wasn’t play acting

I spent some 45 minutes “websurfing” for more background info on James Stewart, having read Pacific Paratrooper’s post.  He, like many others carried with them the horrors of total war; kept their feelings bottled up, and never discussed their experiences.

Stewart commanded a squadron of B-24’s; although the B-24 has been in the shadow of the more famous B-17, they bore the vicious onslaught of the Luftwaffe just as much, and suffered grievous losses.

From the 458th Bombardment Group:

“Often compared with the better-known Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 was a more modern design with a higher top speed, greater range, and a heavier bomb load; it was also more difficult to fly, with heavy control forces and poor formation-flying characteristics. Popular opinion among aircrews and general staffs tended to favor the B-17’s rugged qualities above all other considerations in the European Theater. The placement of the B-24’s fuel tanks throughout the upper fuselage and its lightweight construction, designed to increase range and optimize assembly line production, made the aircraft vulnerable to battle damage. The B-24 was notorious among American aircrews for its tendency to catch fire. Its high fuselage-mounted “Davis wing” also meant it was dangerous to ditch or belly land, since the fuselage tended to break apart.”

Stewart with his crew by the B-24 “Lady Shamrock”

Below address contains the only photo I could locate of this B-24; their copyright prevents copying this image.  Use the menu:  Hover the cursor over “Photographs”, then Aircraft, finally 445th Aircraft, then click on it.

It is number 51 in a series of 171 images.

http://445bg.org/445th-aircraft.html

More here:  Jimmie Tramel: Jimmy Stewart earned wings before ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

They don’t teach this in Common Core

The source site contains the usual copyright claim, hence this small excerpt.  Check out the link; well worth the read.  And you thought you knew about our Marines…

Excerpt from The History Reader:

“The Marines’ victory helped Hamet Caramanli, Yusuf’s deposed brother, reclaim his rightful throne as ruler of Tripoli. In gratitude, he presented his Mameluke sword to Lieutenant O’Bannon. This famous sword became part of the officer uniform in 1825, and remains the oldest ceremonial weapon in use by U.S. forces today. Derna was the Marines’ first battle on foreign soil. Lieutenant O’Bannon and his men are immortalized in the “Marines’ Hymn”: “From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea.”

This is from a lengthy excerpt from Fred Pushies book MARSOC: U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command

 

A Tribute to Lt. Col. John J. Nolan

Unable to locate a picture of Nolan’s B-25; this is a similar aircraft from the 345th bomb group restored –

A Tribute to Lt. Col. John J. Nolan

This week, we wanted to share a tribute to a member of the 345th Bomb Group by Nebraska senator Deb Fischer. After World War II ended, Lt. Col. John J. Nolan stayed in the air force, looking to make a positive impact on the lives of other pilots. He had his own brush with death on August 15, 1944 when a fellow pilot’s B-25 hit his own, nearly causing it to crash. As you will read below, Nolan led a productive and interesting life after returning to the States.

“Senator Fischer’s tribute: Mr. President, I rise to honor a Nebraskan who was recently interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Lt. Col. John J. Nolan of Lincoln, NE, was a U.S. Air Force pilot who deserves our respect and gratitude. After the bombing at Pearl Harbor, he gave up a football scholarship at Temple University to enlist in the Army Air Corps in 1943.

During World War II, John was a B-25 aircraft commander with the heralded Air Apaches, 345th Bombardment Group, assigned to the Fifth Air Force operating in the Southwest Pacific.

In this capacity, he flew low-level strafing missions in specially configured B-25s with eight .50-caliber machine guns that were controlled by pilots. He flew in the Black Sunday raid on Hollandia, New Guinea, on April 16, 1944. This raid became the worst operational loss ever suffered by the Fifth Air Force in a single day. [IHRA note: read more about Black Sunday here.]

Following World War II, the Air Force realized more pilots had been lost on instruments than in actual combat. In response, the Instrument Pilot Instruction School was created. John was one of the initial cadre of pilots tasked with providing standardized instrument procedures, techniques, and training methods. These pilots were also required to test and evaluate flight instruments in adverse weather conditions. During this period, he became the B-25 high-time pilot for the entire U.S. Air Force.

John also wrote a substantial part of the instrument flying guidelines, known as Air Force Manual 51-37. Many pilots owe their lives to this manual. As a matter of fact, when his two sons went through pilot training in 1967 and 1973, respectively, his instructions were still in the manual.

John transitioned to F-86s as a part of the Air Force’s newly created All Weather Interceptors. He also served in Japan during the Korean war.

In the 1960s, when commercial aviation was converting to jet-powered aircraft and entering into military airspace at high altitudes, John was assigned to Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, known as Air Defense Command. He became the Air Force liaison to the FAA Central Region, and he was tasked with developing and coordinating procedures to ensure safe arrival and departures within this shared airspace. In this capacity, John was also responsible for maintaining military readiness and operational capabilities.

Upon his retirement in October 1963, John was chosen to serve as the Midwest recruiter for the Air Force Academy.

John dedicated his entire life to his beloved U.S. Air Force. Not only did he serve honorably, John was also an integral participant in so many of the milestones that are now a part of Air Force history.

John never lost his love of flight. He continued to fly well into his late eighties in his restored Fairchild PT 19/26, which is the same aircraft he initially learned to fly in as a cadet in the Army Air Corps.

Lt. Col. John Nolan’s entire life was for God and country. He married Marie Di Giambattista on January 6, 1944, before he was assigned overseas. Together, they raised four children. Marie sacrificed much, as so many of our military families experience today, moving 23 times in John’s 20-year career. They were married 71 years. Only 27 days after Marie passed, John died this past July 3, 2015, at the age of 94.

We owe a debt of gratitude to John Nolan and his family. He led an extraordinary life at a time when our country needed people like him the most. Through all of this, he remained humble. We will never forget his sacrifices and patriotism.

Source: A Tribute to Lt. Col. John J. Nolan

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage

Just released this year, the story of the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis, while historically accurate, had fictional characters added; as if this tragedy needed any more dramatization than the grisly events which occurred.  They carried the components for Little Boy to the island of Tinian on July 26, 1945, the first Atomic Bomb later dropped on Hiroshima.

I long knew of this story, but simply couldn’t bear to describe images of shark attacks, necessary to demonstrate how much the survivors went through. Their mission was so secret, they were denied a proper escort to protect from submarine attack, because “they weren’t there”.  A distress signal they sent was ignored as a Japanese ruse.  While over 900 of the 1,100 plus crew survived the sinking, only some 300 were rescued.  Hundreds were killed by repeated shark attacks.

U.S.S. Indianapolis Memorial

http://yesmovies.to/movie/uss-indianapolis-men-of-courage-16260/486399-8/watching.html

The Indy Story

A Survivors Story

Those devils in Baggy Pants – Ross Carter 82nd Airborne

Ross Carter

Ross S. Carter

Instead of just putting an image of his book in my sidebar,  I decided to make this post. Ross Carter’s personal account, which covers everything from their training in North Africa, to the Battle of the Bulge, will grab you by the throat and won’t let go.

I can still recall bits and pieces of his story, from a somewhat threadbare memory of that one read.  While in North Africa, during a training jump, an unfortunate soldier landed in a damn cactus, and was impaled.  He died from his injuries.  What a grisly memory to carry around…  It remains one of the most compelling accounts on the vicious battles, and horrors of war I could recommend.

I was further stunned to discover (via a bio on the book’s back cover) that having surviving all of this, he died of Cancer two years later.  Life can hand out very cruel blows.

Born   in Duffield, Virginia, The United States  January 09, 1919

Died   April 18, 1947

Genre      Biography

Ross S. Carter served with Company C, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division in World War II. He survived heavy combat in Sicily, Italy, France, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Among his many awards is the Silver Star. He wrote “Those Devils In Baggy Pants” shortly after the war ended. He died from Cancer in 1947 at the age of twenty-eight.

“Those Devils in Baggy Pants” is considered to be one of the finest World War II autobiographies ever published.

From goodreads