Category Archives: Remembrance

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.

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

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


Tribute – Ernest V. Plantz, USN

Courtesy of Pacific Paratrooper GP COX

Ernest Plantz

Ernest Plantz

GROTON, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — A standing-room-only crowd of veterans, family, friends and fellow shipmates in the U.S. Navy jammed the Noank Baptist Church on Saturday to remember the life of Ernest V. Plantz, a recipient of a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and his “love, strength and courage.”  Plantz, one of the first inductees to the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame, died on Dec. 19 at his Gales Ferry home at age 95.

He spent three-and-a-half years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp after he and others on the crew of the USS Perch were captured.  Plantz weighed just 80 pounds when he was freed and needed 10 months in a Navy hospital to recuperate, yet went on to serve for 30 years in the Navy as soon as he was able.

He retired at the rank of lieutenant as director of advanced engineering at the Naval Submarine School in Groton.

“Ernie was a bullheaded, stubborn person, yet he was filled with love for all,” Jack Gallimore, base chaplain of the U.S. Submarine Veterans Groton Base, told an overflow crowd at the church.  Gallimore said he always made it a point to get a hug from Plantz whenever he could.

“I will miss that,” Gallimore said.

Two dozen submarine veterans in uniform stood in Plantz’ honor at the front of the church. Trumpeters played “Taps” and “Reveille.”

Caroline Plantz, Ernie Plantz’ wife, said she thought her husband had suffered some hard knocks in life, but “he always said that he had a good life,” she said.

Plantz’ daughter, Nancy Grant, remembered her father as a humble, thoughtful and loyal dad who loved to garden, paid homage to his southern roots while cooking and delighted in a good prank.

She recalled how his hugs let his children know they were loved, and that when things were tough, “Dad always believed that things would get better.”

The Rev. Kevin Bedford, of Progressive Baptist Church, described how Plantz touched his life. Bedford recalled he once considered resigning the Navy, and told Plantz.  “I gave him my resignation, and he ripped it up and said, ‘Call me when you make commander,’” Bedford said. So Bedford did, and called Plantz.

Then, when Bedford’s father died, Plantz said to him, “I bet you didn’t know you had a second dad.”

 Capt. Paul F. McHale described how Plantz, known as “the kid” for being the youngest man on the USS Perch, returned to the Navy despite his suffering as a prisoner of war.

USS Perch, first submarine sunk by the Japanese.

USS Perch, first submarine sunk by the Japanese.

The Perch was on its second war patrol when a Japanese destroyer escort forced it to submerge and was joined by other Japanese ships that dropped depth charges on it.

The sub was badly damaged but not destroyed because it sank into a muddy bottom. But the attack continued.

Then later, when the sub surfaced, the crew realized it could not submerge again. Plantz found himself in the water with his 59 shipmates, McHale said.

Seeing the USS Perch sink for the final time was, in Plantz’ words, “like watching your house burn,” McHale said.

Yet even after the misery that followed Plantz’ capture, he returned to service on submarines.  “The man had a huge heart,” McHale said.  McHale said his oldest son interviewed Plantz for an English course once, and asked Plantz a question: Knowing he would be captured, spend three years in a POW camp and be tortured, would he still have joined the Navy?

Plantz told him absolutely.

Ernest Plantz

Ernest Plantz

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