On this date, 80 years ago, the Battle of Midway, a turning point in the war against Japan, ended. The Japanese fleet was limping back toward Japan, licking its wounds, as the US Pacific Fleet celebrated the victory with the first triumphant reply to Japan’s surprise ambush against US Forces at Pearl Harbor, six months earlier.
Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, Japan’s architect of the war against the United States, had planned to feint an attack against the Aleutian Islands, strung out from Alaska. He planned to hide his four carriers near Midway Island in the Pacific and when the US diverted its forces and answered the false attack against the Aleutians, he would invade Midway Island.
(PERSONAL ASIDE: I was stationed with the US Navy at Adak, Alaska, in the Aleutian Islands from December, 1966, to December, 1967. When I was there back then, quonset huts dotted the island, left over from World War II. The Quonset huts were constructed for American troops to hunker down in during the expected Japanese naval attack that never came. The Quonset huts there on the island were still usable. Many of the naval departments on the island “homesteaded” a hut for department parties and just to get away from one of the five bases still on the island).
Unfortunately for Admiral Yamamoto, the United States had just secretly broken the Japanese JN25 military code and learned of the false attack. When Yamamoto attacked Midway Island, the US was ready and waiting on June 4, 1942.
When the smoke cleared four days later on June 7, the battle was over and Japan had suffered 2,500 casualties and lost four carriers, a cruiser, and 292 aircraft. The US Pacific Fleet lost one carrier (the behemoth USS YORKTOWN (CV 10), one destroyer escort (USS HAMMANN…DE 131) 145 aircraft, and 307 casualties. Japan’s losses brought them down into parity with the US.
In August, 1942, the US pushed its counter-offensive at Guadalcanal, eventually leading to Japan’s surrender three years later.
Here is a sad video of Loyce Deen being buried at sea during World War 2 on Nov. 5, 1944. He was a Gunner on a Grumman TBF Avenger but after attacking Japanese vessels during the Battle of Manila Bay, he received a direct hit from Anti-Aircraft fire. As the body was too badly mangled and the aircraft badly damaged, he was buried with the aircraft at sea with military honor and still is the sole soldier to date who was buried at sea with the aircraft. Also ordered was that they didn’t remove the guns from the aircraft, which was normally the procedure!
In the video: Grumman TBF avenger torpedo bomber of VT-15 Torpedo Air Group, approaches and lands on the deck of the USS Essex (CV-9) during the Battle of Manila Bay, in World War 2.
Upon landing, Lt. Robert Cosgrove (Pilot) and Sailor Digby Denzek (Radioman) can be seen in their respective forward and middle crew positions. But the rear gunner position, occupied by Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class,Loyce Edward Deen (Gunner), who has only 23 years old, has been completely destroyed by enemy 40mm shell fire.
As the aircraft is parked amongst others, with wings folded, sailors of the Essex take fingerprints and cut dog tags from the body of AMM2C Loyce Deen in the gunner position.
Captain Carlos W. Wieber, Commanding Officer of the Essex, and her crew, participate in funeral services on the deck. A chaplain conducts the services from beside the aircraft, where Loyce Deen’s remains in the gunner’s position have been shrouded. Closeup of Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman during the burial service. A bugler sounds taps. Beside the bugler is David L. McDonald, who was XO of the USS Essex (and later Chief of Naval Operations in the 1960s).
Deen’s remains are then buried at sea in the TBF Avenger in which he perished. The aircraft floats off the fantail for a short time before sinking from view. Two TBF Avengers are seen flying overhead , in tribute. Crew members then disband and return to their duties.
Today, December 11, 2021, is the 80th anniversary of the enlistment of my father-in-law, JB Kattes, in the US Army. JB, at just 22 years old, left his family farm in San Saba four days after Pearl Harbor and traveled to Dallas, Texas. There, he and other young men raised their right hands and swore “…to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic….” He left behind his parents, his three older sisters, a younger sister and a younger brother (Hugh Kattes, who would also serve later) 80 years ago today.
Like other young men across the US, JB joined the US Army to fight against Imperial Japan after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. He and many others headed for Camp Roberts, California, the military’s largest Army training facility in the US. There, he and thousands of other new enlistees underwent 17 weeks of military training, learning how to be Soldiers, before heading overseas. My own father, HB Auld, Sr, had undergone his own 17 weeks of training there at Camp Roberts just seven months before JB did, back in May of 1941. Both he and JB went from Camp Roberts to Fort Lewis, Washington, for further processing and training for Pacific Theater operations. JB and his fellow Soldiers were sent on to the US Territory of Alaska (18 years before it became a US state); my dad headed off to fight in New Guinea.
JB spent the first part of World War II at Elmendorf Base at Anchorage. While there, he advanced to Sergeant. He and his men lived in ramshackle, cold, wooden buildings and he washed his clothes in a wash tub. He wrote to his sweetheart, Jennie Alford, and told her how hard conditions were there. Jennie mailed him a small wooden wash board to scrub his uniforms and make washing his clothes a little easier. JB said he “rented” his washboard out to other Soldiers for a quarter each. That little washboard memento now hangs on the wall of his daughter, Susan Jones, in her home.
From Anchorage, JB transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia, to train Army Airborne officers. While stationed in Georgia, he went back to Texas on leave and married Jennie Alford, then took her back to Georgia with him. My wife, Jannie, was born 11 months later, just before World War II ended.
Thank you, US Army Sergeant JB Kattes, and all the other brave men of The Greatest Generation who served in World War II to ensure we live in freedom from tyranny today. JB’s Army enlistment began 80 years ago today. God bless him and God bless America.
Eighty years ago today on December 7, 1941, Imperial Japan attacked the neutral United States with a surprise Sunday morning ambush on naval bases at Pearl Harbor, HI.
During the unprovoked assault on the United States, aircraft from the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service killed 2,403 US citizens and injured 1,178 others. It also sank four battleships and damaged four others, damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and one minelayer. Additionally, 188 aircraft were destroyed and another 159 planes were damaged.
The following day, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared before Congress and declaring the previous day “…a day which will live forever in infamy….” requested that Congress declare war against Japan. Congress quickly complied and the United States entered World War II hostilities against Japan.
My own father, HB Auld, Sr., was already serving in the US Army when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and spent the remainder of his military service fighting the Japanese on the island of New Guinea.
My father-in-law, JB Kattes, enlisted in the US Army on December 11, 1941, four days after the surprise attack, and served in the US Army in Washington, Alaska, and Georgia until the end of the War.
God bless all of the men and women who served and all of those who gave their lives in Pearl Harbor and elsewhere in the War.
ALWAYS REMEMBER: THAT DAY IN DECEMBER: God bless America!
Today, Veterans Day 2021, is the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The three Unknown Soldiers from World War I, War II, and the Korean War, represent all of those who were killed in the service of our Nation.
Today is also Veterans Day, a day to express our gratitude to all current and former military men and women who serve and have served in the US Military. Veterans Day, formerly called “Armistice Day,” was established to be always celebrated on November 11 each year because the armistice ending the fighting of World War I went into effect at “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” in 1918. Traditionally since then, Americans have paused at 11:00 a.m. each November 11th to remember Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Guardsmen who served in all wars. A formal peace agreement was reached when the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year.
The following description of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was published by the Association of the United States Army on February 2, 2021:
“In November, events will include a ceremony during which visitors may place flowers onto the tomb plaza. “This will be the first time in many years that the public will be allowed to walk across the tomb plaza and honor the unknowns at their gravesite,” said Charles Alexander, superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery.
“On Nov. 11, Veterans Day, there will be a full honors procession and a wreath-laying ceremony.
“Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of Arlington National Cemetery on March 4, 1921, according to the cemetery’s website. US Army Sergeant Edward Younger, a World War I veteran who was wounded in combat, chose the Unknown Soldier from among four identical caskets.
“The tomb, which stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, has since come to symbolize the sacrifices of all U.S. service members.
“Its white marble sarcophagus, which stands above the grave of the Unknown Soldier of World War I, depicts three carved Greek figures representing peace, victory and valor. Inscribed on the back of the tomb are the words: “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”
“To the west of the sarcophagus are the crypts for an Unknown Soldier from World War II and the Korean War. A crypt designated for the Vietnam Unknown was dedicated on Sept. 17, 1999.
“In 1926, Congress established a military guard to protect the tomb, and since July 2, 1937, the Army has maintained a 24-hour guard over the tomb. Sentinels from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) assumed those duties on April 6, 1948, and they have maintained a constant vigil ever since.
“Congressman Hamilton Fish, who in 1920 proposed the legislation to create the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, said, “It is hoped that the grave of this unidentified warrior will become a shrine of patriotism for all the ages to come, which will be a source of inspiration, reverence and love of country for future generations.”
During this week in 1945, a [US Navy] Corpsman is awarded the Medal of Honor. Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class George E. Wahlen’s citation that day described him as “stouthearted and indomitable” for his perseverance at Iwo Jima.
Wahlen wasn’t really supposed to be a corpsman in the first place. His training was in mechanics, and he’d wanted to serve as an aircraft mechanic. Nevertheless, the military needed medical personnel, so that’s what he trained to do.
When he arrived at Iwo Jima in February 1945, it was his first time in combat. He was tasked with assisting an invading Marine battalion. The young corpsman was worried that he wouldn’t have what it took.
“I couldn’t imagine me being a Corpsman,” he later told an interviewer, “and when they had casualties, [it was] my job was to go out and take care of them. And it concerned me and I think it was the first time I ever prayed in my life. . . . [I figured if I ever] need help, this is when it is.”
Rough days ahead
The days that followed were rough. Wahlen would be on the island, supporting his Marines, for close to two weeks. Throughout those weeks, Whalen repeatedly stepped in to help his fellow Marines, even when he himself was already injured. At one point, he even went to the assistance of another battalion, helping 14 of those boys before returning to his own.
Whalen later recounted one of these experiences. The Marines were advancing up a hill when the Japanese opened fire. Our Marines hit the ground, looking for the source of the problem.
“Finally, we got word to pull off the hill,” Whalen said. “But there was two casualties over on my right flank.” He crawled through fire to get to them, but both men were already dead. Just then a grenade went off too close to his face. “And the shock from that kind of temporarily knocked me unconscious,” he described. “I laid there for a minute or two and kind of got my bearings back and I could feel the blood in this one eye—couldn’t see out of it.” He administered first aid to himself, then immediately turned in the direction of another Marine who was calling for help.
He wouldn’t be able to get to that Marine without taking out the machine gun nest in the area. Naturally, that’s what he decided to do.
He yelled over to another Marine, hollering for a grenade. He didn’t have any of his own, because he was a Corpsman.“
I decided I’d crawl up the hill and see if I [could] knock out that emplacement,” he said. He made his way to the machine gun nest. “I was going to lob the grenade into the hole. And so, I always remember I went to pull the ring out and the ring come off and the pin stayed in . . . . I got my knife out and straightened that pin out and pulled it off.” By then, he was pretty close to the Japanese, and he let the grenade fly.
It worked! Whalen was able to crawl back to the Marine, eventually getting him to safety.
Whalen’s worst injury came on the last day that he was there, on March 13.
He was looking for injured Marines when a mortar hit too close to him. “I heard [the Marines] holler and so I went to stand up to get to them and fell down,” he later recounted. “I couldn’t walk. And I looked down and my boot had been torn off. I’d been hit in the leg. And I later found out my leg had been broke.”
You don’t think a broken leg stopped him from helping those Marines, do you? Because it didn’t. He bandaged his leg and gave himself a shot of morphine. Then he was on his way again, ready to help the Marines that he’d found just before the mortar blast. He worked his way even further into enemy territory, continuing to help Marines before he was finally evacuated.
The broken leg would finally send Wahlen to a hospital to recuperate. After the war, he received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S Truman.
Greatest accomplishment ever
Many years later he was asked what the Medal of Honor meant to him. He was gracious and humble, as so many of our Medal recipients are.
“Well, it’s certainly the greatest accomplishment that I ever did,” he said simply. “And I think it’s important [to not] only be proud of it, but don’t do anything to disgrace it, either. And I tried to do that.”
Wahlen went on to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam Conflict where he was injured once again, this time while serving as a US Army Major. George E. Wahlen passed away June 5, 2009.
On this date, 77 years ago, June 6, 1944, Allied Forces began Operation Overlord, the landing at Normandy that would ultimately bring the Axis Powers to her knees and the end of World War II in Europe.
Let us always remember the brave sacrifices of these men who landed on the beaches of France and endured death, destruction, and wounds to fight for our freedom from tyranny. God bless them and God bless America!
On this day in 1942, the Battle of Midway is fought. The Japanese had taken Americans by surprise at Pearl Harbor mere months before. Now the United States would strike a decisive blow of its own.
Americans entered battle with a priceless advantage: They’d recently broken a Japanese naval code. The U.S. Navy had a pretty good idea of when, where, and how the Japanese would attack.
They’d barely figured out the “where”! As cryptanalysts listened to the intercepted messages, they kept hearing references to location “AF,” but they didn’t know where AF was. Could it be Midway? They decided to test the theory.
The personnel at Midway were asked to broadcast an uncoded radio message, reporting that their water purification system was broken. And wouldn’t you know it? American intelligence soon picked up a coded Japanese message, faithfully reporting that “AF” had a water shortage.
Japan had been tricked into confirming the location of “AF.”
The Japanese attack was sighted on radar early on June 4, as expected. Naturally, Midway was already on alert. Moreover, three United States aircraft carriers hovered nearby, just beyond the reach of Japanese radar.
The battle that followed was intense. Japanese planes rained down fire on the Midway atoll, but Americans returned unrelenting antiaircraft fire. In the meantime, American planes from Midway took off toward the Japanese carriers. “All of these attacks would be bravely carried out but ineffective, scoring no hits on any Japanese ship,” historian Ian W. Toll describes. “But the continuous pressure of new air attacks, however ineffectual, put the Japanese off balance.”
Torpedo bombers from the U.S. aircraft carriers finally arrived, but they fared badly. Mitsuo Fuchida, an officer aboard the Japanese carrier Akagi, later recounted his “breathless suspense, thinking how impossible it would be to dodge all their torpedoes.” But most of these planes did not have fighter escorts, and they were quickly defeated.
Nevertheless, the Japanese were contending with their own problems. Their commanding officer had waffled on whether to arm his planes with land bombs (to attack Midway) or torpedoes (to attack the American fleet). Ultimately, the Japanese carriers were caught in a vulnerable position. Some planes were refueling; some were rearming with torpedoes. Bombs and torpedoes were lying around the hangar deck of the carriers, not yet returned to their magazines: All this material created a risk of secondary explosions in the event of a strike.
Complicating matters, even those planes that were already in the air were flying too low to deal with what came next: American dive bombers.
Yes! The Navy’s most effective weapon chose that inconvenient moment to arrive.
“The terrifying scream of the dive-bombers reached me first,” Fuchida recounted, “followed by the crashing explosion of a direct hit. There was a blinding flash and then a second explosion, much louder than the first. . . . Then followed a startling quiet as the barking of guns suddenly ceased. I got up and looked at the sky. The enemy planes were already gone from sight.”
Within about five minutes, three aircraft carriers in the Japanese fleet were effectively destroyed, including hundreds of pilots, planes, aircraft maintenance crews and repairmen. A fourth aircraft carrier would be lost by the end of the day.
Americans suffered losses, too, but their victory was undeniable: Japan’s ability to fight an air war had been severely compromised.
Today is V-E Day, the day we celebrate Victory over Europe ending World War II in Europe.
Seventy-six years ago today on May 8, 1945, Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the US, announced the news to reporters at the White House at 8:35 a.m. and embargoed the news 25 minutes until 9 a.m. so UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill could make the announcement simultaneously with the US.
When Truman announced the War in Europe was at an end, he told the press: “General Eisenhower informs me that the forces of Germany have surrendered to the United Nations. The flags of freedom fly all over Europe.” But thenTruman cautioned against celebrating too soon. “Our victory is only half over,” he stressed.
“Then Truman did something that might be unexpected today: He called for a day of prayer: “I call upon the people of the United States, whatever their faith, to unite in offering joyful thanks to God for the victory we have won and to pray that He will support us to the end of our present struggle and guide us into the way of peace.
”The day of prayer was set for May 13—Mother’s Day! Interestingly, V-E Day marked two other milestones, too: Not only was it Harry Truman’s birthday, but it was also his first full day living in the White House. (Eleanor Roosevelt had taken several weeks to move out.)
What a series of overwhelming emotions for Truman? He was able to declare victory in the long European war—on his birthday—less than one month after he’d become President.
I only wish that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day,” he told the nation.”
Harry Truman had been President for one month, ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the US, had died in Warm Springs, GA, on April 12, 1945.
The War against Japan would continue three more months until the surrender there and V-J Day on August 14, 1945.
American US Air Force hero, flying ace, and test pilot Brigadier General Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager died today. He was 97 years old.
In 1947, General Yeager became the first confirmed test pilot to exceed the speed of sound in level flight.
General Yeager began his service to the Nation in 1941 as a Private in the US Army Air Corps as an aircraft mechanic. In 1942, he entered enlisted flight training and was promoted to Flight Officer upon graduation. Later on the Western Front, he had 11 confirmed kills, shooting down enemy aircraft.
Following World War II, he became an aircraft test pilot, flying the Bell X-1 at a speed of Mach I and breaking the sound barrier on October 14, 1947. During the Viet Nam War, he commanded squadrons in Southeast Asia and was promoted to US Air Force Brigadier General in 1969. He served more than 30 years in three military wars. General Yeager retired from military service March 1, 1975.
General Chuck Yeager passed away on Monday, December 7, 2020.