Iconic Statue Celebrating WWII Victory Could Be Removed After #MeToo Outcries

H/T Western Journal.

H/T Western Journal.

They asshats from #MeToo need to go pound sand.

The #MeToo movement has bulldozed quite a few things in its path, most notably the careers of prominent Hollywood figures — and rightfully so in many cases.

But now, the movement is aiming to take down an iconic statue in Florida — and Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan isn’t having it.

Despite the apparent popularity of statue removal in 2020, Buchanan isn’t budging when it comes to the iconic “Unconditional Surrender” statue in Sarasota, Florida.

“The statue is an iconic landmark enjoyed by residents and visitors alike,” Buchanan wrote Wednesday in a letter to Sarasota’s mayor and other city officials. “It commemorates the celebration of [Victory over Japan] Day and the end of World War II.

“This representation of that moment more than 75 years ago reminds us of an important time in our country’s history and honors the ‘Greatest Generation’ who served and sacrificed.”

The statue is currently slated to be moved to make way for construction, but the fate of the monument post-construction is not clear, according to WUSF Public Media.

A divisive debate over the 25-foot statue in downtown Sarasota centers around whether the statue honors veterans, like Buchanan says it does, or if it glorifies sexual assault because the kiss turned out not to be consensual.

The construction project is scheduled to begin in January 2021, so there is some time before a decision needs to be made.

Even those unfamiliar with the name of the “Unconditional Surrender” statue are likely to know what it looks like.

It depicts a sailor, upon a triumphant return from a victorious World War II campaign, passionately kissing a dental assistant. According to Fox News, the Navy sailor, George Mendonsa, kissed dental assistant Greta Zimmer Friedman in Times Square on Aug. 14, 1945.

The current #MeToo backlash stems from a 2005 interview Friedman gave to the Veterans History Project.

“OK. Let’s get back to the kissing sailor. When he grabbed you and gave you a kiss, what did you feel like?” the interviewer, Patricia Redmond, asked.

“I felt he was very strong, he was just holding me tight, and I’m not sure I — about the kiss because, you know, it was just somebody really celebrating. But it wasn’t a romantic event. It was just an event of thank God the war is over kind of thing because it was right in front of the sign,” Friedman said.

“Did he say anything to you when he kissed you?” Redmond asked.

“No, no. It was just an act of silence,” Friedman responded.

“He just grabbed you, gave you a kiss, and then was gone?” Redmond went on to ask.

“Oh, yeah, we both — we both left, went on our own way,” Friedman replied.

Friedman’s story became a rallying cry for the #MeToo movement, particularly after her death in 2016.

It’s a curious outrage given that Friedman seemed nonplussed about the whole thing. In fact, Friedman spent part of that 2005 interview trying to definitively prove to the interviewer that she was, in fact, the person in the photo.

Despite that, vandals sprayed “#MeToo” on the statue in 2019:

“The ‘Unconditional Surrender’ statue is extremely meaningful to the Sarasota’s veteran community and honors their sacrifices for our country,” Buchanan argued in his letter.

That may not be enough to prevent the #MeToo movement from claiming another prominent figure.

Pearl Harbor Victim Brought Home for Burial After Almost 80 Years

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P.  Seaman 1st Class Orval Austin Tranbarger.

Navy Seaman 1st Class Orval Austin Tranbarger was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Nearly 80 years later, his body has been recovered, identified and buried next to his parents in Missouri.

 

Tranbarger joined the military the day after his 18th birthday. He was one of 429 sailors killed when Japanese planes sank the USS Oklahoma in a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. He was 20 years old at the time.

More than 2,400 people died in the attack that day. It is considered the act that led to the US entering World War II.

His remains were not identified for nearly eight decades.
His remains were not identified for nearly eight decades.

For three years, personnel from the Navy worked to recover the remains of the deceased from the wreckage in Pearl Harbor. By September 1947, only 35 of the bodies had been positively identified.

Last year, the US Department of Defense POW/MIA Accountability Agency was able to identify Tranbarger’s body using DNA tests. His family was contacted after the positive identification.

His remains had been buried in the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.

In 2015, all the remains related to the Oklahoma which were buried in that cemetery were exhumed and sent to the DPAA’s lab in Hawaii for identification using modern methods. Tranbarger’s remains were positively identified on September 18, 2019.

Oklahoma capsizes in a photo taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Oklahoma capsizes in a photo taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed plans to send Tranbarger’s remains home for burial. The burial ceremony was held only five miles away from where Tranbarger grew up.

Tranbarger’s younger brother, Burl, accepted the folded flag that had been draped on the casket. Tranbarger is survived by two brothers and two sisters of the 10 siblings he had.

Burl said that the ceremony convinced him that people still honor the military and honor the US. Besides extended family, many local residents paid their respects or stopped to watch the procession.

Tranbarger’s name is on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl cemetery in Hawaii. A rosette has been placed next to his name to indicate that he has now been identified.

Michael Plum attended the burial. He is a chaplain at the VFW Post No 3009 in Mountain View, Missouri. He said that joining the military is stating that you are willing to give your life for your country. When a service member does give their life, he said, it makes you want to honor their life.

The Japanese surprise attack at Pearl Harbor used dive-bombers, fighter-bombers and torpedo planes. They managed to sink nine US ships including five battleships. They also severely damaged 21 ships. 2,402 US servicemen died in the attacks.

The crew of the Oklahoma tried to fight back but the ship was hit with eight torpedoes in the first ten minutes of the battle. A ninth torpedo hit after it sank.

The day after the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan. Only one person voted no. Three days later Japan’s ally, Germany, declared war on the US. On December 11, 1941, the US declared war on Germany making that day the official entry of the US in World War II.

Sophie Scholl, a Heroine WW2 to be Honoured by Germany With a Coin

H/T War History OnLine.

A long overdue tribute to this heroine Sophie Scholl.

 

Sophie Scholl was an anti-Nazi activist and a student when she was executed by guillotine on the 22nd February 1943, aged just 21, after being convicted of treason by the German authorities. Next year the German government is to issue a unique coin to commemorate her 100th birthday.

 

The German Finance Ministry said in a statement that a silver collectors coin with a face value of €20 ($23), will be issued in April 2021, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Scholl’s birth.

Scheduled for circulation in time for her 100th birthday, which is in 2021, the coin will bear Sophie’s likeness with her words, “A feeling for what is just and unjust” along the edge.
Scheduled for circulation in time for her 100th birthday, which is in 2021, the coin will bear Sophie’s likeness with her words, “A feeling for what is just and unjust” along the edge.

Sophia Scholl, one of six siblings, was born on the 9th May 1921 to Robert and Magdalena Scholl. Both her parents were passionate critics of the Nazi regime. She had a happy childhood.

In 1932, while attending secondary school, she joined the League of German Girls alongside nearly all her classmates. Her enthusiasm for the league soon palled, and she became extremely critical of the Nazi regime.

She was strongly influenced by her brother and his friends’ arrest for being involved with the German Youth Movement, another anti-Nazi group.

In war-time Germany, there were voices of disquiet that the Nazis tried to silence, violently. One such voice was Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Resistance Group.
In war-time Germany, there were voices of disquiet that the Nazis tried to silence, violently. One such voice was Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Resistance Group.

Sophie Scholl entered the world of work as a kindergarten teacher, teaching in Ulm at the Fröbel Institute. She wanted to attend university but was reluctant to undertake the auxiliary war service, which was compulsory for anyone wishing to attend university.

She hoped that her teaching would be regarded as a service, but this was not to be. She moved on to complete six months of auxiliary war service in Blumberg, working as a nursery teacher.

The Town Hall in Forchtenberg, birthplace of Sophie Scholl.
The Town Hall in Forchtenberg, birthplace of Sophie Scholl.

In May 1942, she entered the University of Munich, where she became aware of the White Rose group. Her brother Hans was one of the founding members. This group was passionate about their anti-Nazi views and aimed to overthrow the Nazi party.

They wrote a series of leaflets quoting biblical and philosophical arguments to encourage the German public to peacefully resist the Nazi regime.

They distributed leaflets, and in February 1943, Sophie and her brother were arrested for distributing the sixth leaflet published.  The Scholl siblings had brought a suitcase full of printed leaflets to the university for the members to distribute.

Piles of leaflets were left outside lecture halls, but at the end, there were a few leaflets left, and Sophie opened a window and threw them out to float to the ground in the atrium. Unfortunately, she was seen by the university maintenance man and reported to the Gestapo. Sophie and her brother were arrested.

On the 21st February 1943, Sophie was sentenced in the People Court by Judge Roland Freisler. She was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. As she went bravely to the guillotine, she is reported to have said, “Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go… What does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?

Following her death, a copy of the sixth leaflet was smuggled out of Germany and reprinted in the UK. In mid-1943, millions of copies of the pamphlet were dropped all over Germany. The flyer had been re-titled as The Manifesto of the Students of Munich.

Germany’s Finance Ministry said her resistance was an example of the fight against oppression and the lack of freedom.

Sophie’s coin has been designed by Olaf Stoy, an artist living in Saxony, and her quote, “A feeling for what is just and unjust“, will be minted onto the side of the coin.

Germany has honored other members of the White Rose Group. At the end of 2019, the Hochbrück army complex was renamed after Christoph Probst, another member of the group.

While in 2012, Hans Scholl, Sophie’s brother, was honored by having the main lecture hall at the Bundeswehr’s medical academy in Munich named after him.

 

 

Floyd Welch, One of the Last Survivors of Pearl Harbor, Dies at Age 99

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Floyd Welch.

Floyd Welch was a hero during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He passed away on August 17th at the age of 99. He was the last remaining survivor of Pearl Harbor in Connecticut.

 

Born in Burlington, Connecticut in February 1921, Welch joined the Navy in 1940. He was serving on the USS Maryland as an electrician’s mate on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombers began their attack.

He had just finished his shower when the alarms went off followed shortly by the first explosions of the Japanese bombs and torpedoes. When he reached the deck, the first sight he saw was the smoke and flames from the USS Oklahoma next to the Maryland. The Oklahoma had been hit by as many as nine torpedoes.

Floyd Welch, 96, of East Lyme, center front, is seen with other crewmembers of the USS Maryland in the Interior Communications shop aboard the ship in this undated photo. (Courtesy of the Welch family).
Floyd Welch, 96, of East Lyme, center front, is seen with other crewmembers of the USS Maryland in the Interior Communications shop aboard the ship in this undated photo. (Courtesy of the Welch family).

He assisted in pulling survivors from the Oklahoma out of the water. He then joined others in climbing onto the overturned hull of the Oklahoma where they heard tapping coming from inside the sinking ship.

The group of sailors used blueprints to avoid cutting into fuel voids and began cutting holes in the armored hull of the Oklahoma. Whenever they heard the sounds of incoming planes, they ran for cover. In all, they managed to save 32 sailors through the holes they cut.

Oklahoma capsizes in a photo taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Oklahoma capsizes in a photo taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Over 2,400 people were killed in the Japanese attack. The Maryland itself was struck twice by torpedoes but received minimal damage.

Welch spent the entire war serving on the Maryland. He was awarded the American Defense Medal, the WWII Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with three stars, the Good Conduct Medal, and the United States Navy Constitution Medal.

He participated in operations to capture the Gilbert and Marshall Islands and fought in battles at Tarawa, Kwajalein, Saipan, Leyte Gulf and Okinawa.

During the battle at Saipan, the Maryland was again struck by Japanese torpedoes and had to return to Pearl Harbor for repairs.

Oklahoma capsizes in a photo taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Oklahoma capsizes in a photo taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Maryland was also struck by a Japanese kamikaze plane and damaged while operating off Leyte and was repaired in time to join the operation in Okinawa where she was damaged again but remained in service for another week before returning to the States for an overhaul.

The war ended before the work was completed so the ship was used to transport US service members home before being mothballed and eventually scrapped.

Maryland in February 1942, after the completion of her repairs.
Maryland in February 1942, after the completion of her repairs.

After he left the Navy in 1946, Welch worked installing alarms, farmed and worked as a milkman before he opened his own construction company which built road infrastructures, foundations and drainage systems in the Northeast.

Welch was a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association where he served as an officer for a time. He attended the 50th Pearl Harbor Survivors Memorial Ceremony and was a guest of honor at the 75th anniversary ceremony, both of which took place in Hawaii.

The association’s final chapter held its last meeting in September of last year after membership declined from a peak of 18,000 in the country to 2,700 most of whom were becoming unable to travel to association events.

US Senator Richard Blumenthal said that he considered Welch to be a hero, not just by his words but by his actions, his dedication and his bravery. Welch is survived by his wife, Marjorie, six children, 13 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

 

Medal of Honor Recipient, Ronald Rosser Dies at Age 90

 

 

 

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Ronald Rosser.

 

Medal of Honor Recipient Ronald Rosser passed away on Wednesday in Bumpus Mills, Tenessee at the age of 90 from issues related to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was awarded the medal for his bravery during the Korean War.

 

Rosser was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1929. His father was a coal miner. When he turned 17, his mother gave birth to twins. He decided there wasn’t enough room for him at home, so he followed his brother into the military in 1946.

He served for three years and was a part of the occupations of Japan and Germany after World War II. When he left the Army, he returned home to work in the coal mines alongside his father.

Rosser’s younger brother, Richard, was killed in action during the Korean War. Rosser re-enlisted out of a sense of vengeance. “…I made up my mind that you can’t kill my brother and get away with it,” he said.

During the war, his platoon was charged with capturing a hill from the Chinese and North Koreans. Rosser led the final assault on the hill when the company commander was injured. His unit 35 soldiers left from the 170 they started the battle with.

Rosser charged up the hill through enemy gunfire with only his M2 carbine and a single grenade. He eventually realized that all his fellow soldiers had been injured, and he was standing alone about two feet from the enemy who were standing in a trench.

With a war whoop, Rosser jumped into the trench and began close-quarters combat with the enemy until he ran out of ammunition.

He headed back down the hill, gathering ammo and grenades from his fallen comrades. Then he went back up the hill. When he ran out of ammunition again, he repeated the process, reaching the summit and throwing grenades into enemy positions until his unit received the command to withdraw.

Medal of Honor. He then quickly killed two of the enemy, one with a shot in the head, the other in the chest.
Medal of Honor. He then quickly killed two of the enemy, one with a shot in the head, the other in the chest.

By his own account, Rosser killed at least 48 enemy soldiers during the fight. Since no one was up the hill to witness his actions, he was only credited with killing “at least 13 of the enemy.”

After the fighting, despite being injured himself, Rosser assisted in the evacuation of soldiers who were more seriously wounded than himself while still facing enemy fire.

For his actions, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor. The citation states that his “courageous and selfless devotion to duty is worthy of emulation by all men.”

He remained in the Army for another 16 years, retiring as a sergeant first class.

He hadn’t intended to leave quite yet, though. Another brother of his, Gary, was killed in action during the Vietnam War. Rosser tried to get assigned to the front lines but was rejected. His commanding officer explained that it would be hard to explain if something happened to him.

In 1999, Rosser donated his Medal of Honor to the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. He said that the nation gave it to him out of gratitude and he wanted to give it back to them.

Over time his anger faded. As he got older, he said that he remembered the people he saved more than the people he killed.

Rosser is survived by his daughter Pamela Rosser Lovell, as well as a number of other relatives. There are currently 68 Medal of Honor recipients still alive today.

WWII Ended 75 Years Ago with Japanese Surrender, ‘Entire World Lies Quietly at Peace’

H/T Western Journal.

75 years ago today the bloodiest war in history ended.

Friday, Aug. 14, marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the bloodiest war in human history, during which an estimated 60 million people lost their lives.

For the United States, the toll was approximately 418,000, with American GIs fighting and dying in places as far-flung as North Africa, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines, France, Germany and Belgium, to name a few.

The war in the Pacific had already been raging for years when on a quiet Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese launched their surprise attack against the United States at Pearl Harbor in the American territory of Hawaii.

Days later, Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler declared war on the U.S. in keeping with a defense pact he had entered into with the Empire of Japan.

Now, America found itself in a two-front war in Europe and the Pacific.

For Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who would ultimately accept the Japanese surrender, the war would be quite a journey that took him from the depths of devastating defeat early on in the conflict to being named Supreme Allied Commander, charged with overseeing the occupation of Japan in August 1945.

Among the first casualties of the war were the American forces fighting under his command in the U.S. commonwealth of the Philippines, which the Japanese invaded shortly after their attack on Pearl Harbor.

After putting up a brave fight, tens of thousands of the combined American and Filipino forces surrendered to the Japanese in April 1942, marking the worst loss in U.S. military history.

The previous month, when defeat looked imminent, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to leave the Philippines and go to Australia to lead the counterattack against the Japanese.

Heartsick, the general obeyed, but famously pledged upon reaching Australia’s shores after breaking through the Japanese blockade of Manila Harbor via PT boat and narrowly escaping capture, “I came through and I shall return.”

It would take the next two-and-a-half years to fulfill that pledge as Allied forces under his command in the Southwest Pacific Theater of the war fought the 3,500 miles back to Philippine shores in October 1944.

Meanwhile, in the Central Pacific Theater, forces under U.S. Navy Adm. Chester Nimitz spent those same years drawing closer and closer to the Japanese homeland.

Some of the bloodiest fighting of the war in the Pacific would take place in 1945 on the island of Iwo Jima in February and March and on the Japanese island of Okinawa beginning in April 1945.

The U.S. Marines lost more soldiers in the first six months of 1945 than in the previous three years of the war combined, and most of the deaths came on Okinawa, the southernmost of the five main islands that make up Japan.

When the battle ended on June 22, the United States counted 12,500 military personnel dead and 36,500 wounded, while the Japanese suffered approximately 110,000 dead soldiers and an additional 40,000 to 150,000 civilians killed, according to History.com.

The enemy also introduced kamikaze planes in the battle. The suicide pilots flying the explosive-laden aircraft managed to sink 36 U.S. Navy ships and damage 368 others.

All this weighed heavily on the minds of President Harry Truman, MacArthur, Nimitz and other top War Department brass as plans for the invasion of the most populous islands of Kyushu and Honshu (where Tokyo is located) continued to be developed.

“Truman … is looking at Okinawa. Before, in the war on Japan, we were killing almost 10 Japanese for every one of our guys that got killed,” James Zobel, director of the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia, told The Western Journal. “But you get to Iwo [Jima] and Okinawa and it flips. We’re taking immense casualties.”

When Truman asked MacArthur to give an estimate of how many American casualties (dead and wounded) would be suffered in the upcoming invasion, the general told him, “one million.”

The president later wrote in his memoir that Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall told him to anticipate up to 500,000 dead U.S. military personnel.

MacArthur believed that the Japanese would likely suffer millions killed if previous experience held true.

Neither MacArthur nor Nimitz knew that the United States had been developing a new weapon, the atomic bomb, which, if successful, could potentially end the war without the costly invasion. The military leaders were not told about it until just before its use, in the event the bomb failed.

Dr. Conrad Crane, chief of historical services for the Army Heritage and Education Center, told The Western Journal that besides just the chance to save U.S. military personnel’s lives was a recognition that the American people were growing tired of war, especially following the surrender of Nazi Germany in May.

“One of the other reasons for the pressure behind the use of the bomb … any means necessary to end the war in the Pacific was that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had a perception the American public was war-weary,” Crane said.

“There were a lot of signs that American society was cracking under the effort,” he added. “There was a lot of disgruntlement in Europe when soldiers were told, ‘You’re going to have to go fight the war in the Pacific.’ They said, ‘We won our war; why do we go have to fight this other war?’”

Before using the atomic bomb, the U.S. sent a message to Japan calling for its unconditional surrender, but Tokyo refused.

On Aug. 6, 1945, at Truman’s direction, the United States dropped the bomb on the military-industrial city of Hiroshima. An estimated 80,000 of the city’s 400,000 inhabitants perished in a blazing inferno. Another 60,000 would die from the effects of the fallout by the end of the year.

In keeping with an agreement made with the United States at Yalta, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan on Aug. 8 and attacked the Japanese-held territory of Manchuria.

The Allies again called for the Japanese to surrender. When no word was received, the United States dropped another atomic bomb on Aug. 9, this time on Nagasaki, which decimated the city and killed approximately 70,000 more inhabitants.

Still there was no word of surrender, so the United States recommenced the bombing of Tokyo. Finally, on Aug. 15 (Aug. 14 in the U.S.), Japanese Emperor Hirohito announced to his people and the world the surrender of the nation.

“If Japan had not abruptly surrendered, an allied invasion would certainly have been bloody and protracted on a vast scale with massive casualties on both sides, as well as untold civilian deaths,” Dr. James Carafano, a national security expert with the Heritage Foundation and former West Point history professor, said in an emailed statement to The Western Journal.

“The Japanese surrender spared millions the terrible fate experienced by too many in this terrible war,” he added.

Crane contends it was a series of blows that brought about the Japanese capitulation: the two atomic bomb attacks, the fire-bombing of Tokyo and the entrance of the Soviets into the war chief among them.

“All of these are necessary. You take away any one of those blows and the outcome is probably different and later, with major implications for both sides,” he said.

Crane recalled giving a talk at the Edo-Tokyo Museum in the 1990s regarding the use of the atomic bomb to end the war. At the event, a senior Japanese historian argued one implication of not ending the war quickly would have been his nation being divided in two like Germany.

“Because of those terrible blows, we surrendered in August. If we had not surrendered in August, the Soviet Union was going to invade Hokkaido [Island] in September,” the historian said.

“We would have had a communist north and a non-communist south, just like East and West Germany.”

MacArthur oversaw the formal surrender of Japan on Sunday, Sept. 2, on board the USS Missouri in overcast Tokyo Bay.

After both the Allied representatives and the Japanese signed the surrender documents, the five-star general stepped up to the microphone and pronounced, “Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed.”

It was 9:25 a.m. At that moment, the sun broke through the clouds, and 400 B-29 bombers and 1,500 American fighter planes flew in formation overhead. The timing could not have been better.

MacArthur, then 65, addressed the American people via a radio broadcast immediately after the ceremony.

“Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won,” he said. “The skies no longer rain death, the seas bear only commerce, men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight. The entire world lies quietly at peace.”

“The holy mission is completed.”

MacArthur concluded by extolling the virtues of those who fought to secure the peace.

“And so, my fellow countrymen, today I report to you that your sons and daughters have served you well and faithfully with the calm, deliberate, determined spirit of the American soldier and sailor based on the tradition of historical truth, as against the fanaticism of an enemy supported only by mythological fiction,” he said.

“Their spiritual strength and power has brought us through to victory. They are homeward bound — take care of them.”

Portions of this article first appeared in the book “We Hold These Truths” by Randall DeSoto.

Remains of Missing Marine from WWII Returning Home for Burial

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Sgt. George R. Reeser USMC.

His family now has closure.

Three-quarters of a century after dying in battle, a Tazewell County Marine is returning home
Three-quarters of a century after dying in battle, a Tazewell County Marine is returning home

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has announced that the remains of Marine Sgt. George R. Reeser have been identified and are being returned to his home for burial this fall.

Reeser was born in Illinois on June 3, 1918. He entered service with the Marines on September 10, 1940.

He was 25 years old in November 1943 when he landed on the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll in what is now known as the Republic of Kiribati.

No recovered remains could be associated with Reeser, and, in October 1949, a Board of Review declared him “non-recoverable.”
No recovered remains could be associated with Reeser, and, in October 1949, a Board of Review declared him “non-recoverable.”

He was serving with Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, as they faced strong resistance from the occupying Japanese forces. Approximately 1,000 US Marines were killed during the several days of fighting.

Reeser lost his life on November 22 – the third day of fighting. His remains were not positively identified at the time. It was reported that his body was buried in a cemetery on the island.

In 1946, US military officials began consolidating remains from the cemetery in order to return them home for burial.

At that time, around half of the known casualties could not be located. Reeser was one of those that were missing and his remains have been categorized as “non-recoverable” since 1949.

History Flight, Inc. – a non-profit organization – found what appeared to be the actual resting place of Reeser and around thirty other Marines who had been buried in a trench near where they had been killed.

The remains from that site were transferred to the DPAA laboratory in Hawaii for identification.  Scientists at the lab have been working for the last decade to identify all the recovered remains.

In November 1943, Reeser was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio
In November 1943, Reeser was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio

Reeser’s remains were identified using dental records, anthropological analysis, and other material and circumstantial evidence.

He is scheduled to be buried on September 26 in Deer Creek, Illinois.

Reeser’s is one of the names on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific with the other names of those missing from World War II. His name will have a rosette placed next to it to recognize that he has since been identified and recovered.

In the aftermath of the fighting in 1943, the surviving Marines were tasked with burying the dead. By the time they had secured their location and could turn their attention to the unpleasant task, the smell had become intense.

While the soldiers were diligent in their attempts to identify all their fallen comrades, they were also understandably anxious to finish the work quickly.

Three trenches were dug and filled with the bodies of the dead soldiers. They were marked as best as they could be given there was no material available to make a more permanent marker.

The trenches were labeled Rows A-C. A fourth row, which may have served as a “tank trap” during the fighting, was set apart from the first three row and labeled Row D.

When military officials arrived three years later to reclaim the remains of the dead soldiers, they initially had difficulty finding Rows A-C. Nothing remained of the markers that had been placed there.

Eventually they found Row B and, with some searching, were able to locate Rows A and C as well. Row D remained lost along with the 33 soldiers buried there.

In 2009, History Flight located the original location of Rows A-C and began working to find Row D. In 2019, they announced the successful location of the lost grave site and thus made it possible for Reeser to finally come home.

 

New Video: B-17 Crewman who Gave up his Parachute

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. 2nd Lt David R. Kingsley your actions help define the term hero.

World War II saw its fair share of heroes.
World War II saw its fair share of heroes.

World War II saw its fair share of heroes. Yet while many men were decorated for their bravery, sometimes these incredible stories were also tragic ones.

One such story concerns 2nd Lt David R. Kingsley, who served in the US Army as part of the 97th Bombardment Group, Fifteenth Air Force during Word War II.

He was born in Portland, Oregon in 1918. Entering the US Air Forces in 1942 from the fire service, he was then promoted to 2nd Lt.

The 97th Bombardment Group were flying over the city of Ploești (now Ploiești) in Romania on June 23rd 1944. A bombing raid was underway, though Kingsley and his crew took a severe amount of flak in their B-17. Things were so bad the aircraft had to leave the formation. But that didn’t prevent them from carrying out the mission, and a deadly payload was duly dropped.

Not that the Germans were going to let them fly away free. A trio of Me 109 planes finished the job, making a crash inevitable. Gunners in both the tail and ball turret of the aircraft were hit.

2nd Lt Kingsley tended to both of them as the bullets flew all around. Tail gunner SSgt (Staff Sergeant) Michael Sullivan found himself in an even worse situation once orders were given to bail out. His parachute harness, removed so he could be treated, was nowhere be found.

David R. Kingsley gave his own parachute to a wounded gunner and went down with the doomed B-17.
David R. Kingsley gave his own parachute to a wounded gunner and went down with the doomed B-17.

What Kingsley did next was truly the ultimate sacrifice. He fitted SSgt Sullivan with his own harness. The tail gunner made it off the plane. His 2nd Lt didn’t, perishing in the crash aged just 25.

He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor the following year and buried at Arlington National Cemetery. In his home state of Oregon the Klamath Falls airport site was dedicated Kingsley Field in 1957. Also among the tributes are a memorial constructed using part of his plane.

This was built in 2004, where the aircraft crashed near Suhozem, Bulgaria. It is dedicated both to Kingsley and 7 family members who died when the plane went down.

USS Indianapolis Crew Awarded Congressional Medal on 75th Anniversary of Sinking

H/T Western Journal.

I want to say Thank you for your service to the survivors of that horrible day.

For the brave men lost I want to say Rest In Peace.

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Congress has awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, its highest honor, to crew members of the USS Indianapolis, the ship that delivered key components of the first nuclear bomb and was later sunk by Japan during World War II.

The ship, with 1,195 personnel aboard, delivered enriched uranium and other parts of the atomic bomb ‘‘Little Boy” that was later dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in August 1945.

Four days after delivering its top secret cargo, the ship was sunk by Japanese torpedoes on July 30, 1945. Of nearly 900 men who went into the Philippine Sea, just 316 survived before being rescued nearly five days later.

The death toll of 879 made the sinking the largest single disaster at sea in U.S. Navy history.

Survivors were stranded in the open ocean with few lifeboats and almost no food or water, enduring severe burns, dehydration and shark attacks.

“In an instant, her crew went from fighting the battles without to fighting the battles within,” according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of a host of congressional and Navy leaders who spoke at Thursday’s virtual ceremony honoring the eight surviving crew members on the 75th anniversary of the sinking.

The Gold Medal was awarded to the ship’s entire crew, living and dead, and will be displayed at the Indiana War Memorial Museum in Indianapolis.

After the sinking, the crew “fought to stay alert, to look after each other — literally to hold on for dear life,” McConnell said.

“Those who perished in the water gave our nation the ultimate sacrifice … but the true legacy of the Indianapolis was secured before those torpedoes struck,” McConnell said.

“Her crew turned the tide of the war. So to her crew members who are still standing watch: Your Congress and your nation say thank you.”

Retired Navy Capt. William Toti, who led a nuclear submarine named in honor of the Indianapolis, said the Gold Medal honors the crew’s accomplishments — not the fact that the ship was sunk.

The medal “recognizes a fighting ship’s crew, one that helped end the most terrible war this world has ever known,” Toti said.

He called the crew members ”among the best the United States Navy has to offer.”

None of the crew members would call himself a hero, Toti added, “but they would all say they served in a crew of heroes.”

Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite addressed the surviving crew members directly, saying, “All Americans owe you a forever debt of gratitude.”

Braithwaite called the sinking “one of the darkest chapters in our Naval history” and said, “We can never forget the astounding grit and bravery shown by those who lived to tell the tale” or “the important lessons our Navy learned from that tragedy.”

The crew members epitomized the Navy’s ethos of service above self, Braithwaite said.

“Your service, your sacrifice embodied the core tenets of our Navy: honor, courage and commitment. We the Navy salute you and thank you for your service. Bravo Zulu shipmates.”

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Senate Passes Bill to Award Congressional Gold Medal to US Army Rangers

H/T War History OnLine.

Long overdue recognition for these Army Rangers.

Credit: dod.defense.gov
Credit: dod.defense.gov

Earlier this year, the US Senate unanimously passed a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to US Army Rangers who served in World War II.

The bill was not officially announced until after the anniversary of D-Day. The bill was sponsored by Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

And Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Both of the sponsors are veterans. They announced the passing of the bill in a joint announcement.

The Rangers are famous in part for scaling the Pointe du Hoc cliffs during the invasion of Nazi-occupied France on D-Day.

A gold medal awarded in May 2015 in recognition of U.S. fighter aces.
A gold medal awarded in May 2015 in recognition of U.S. fighter aces.

Duckworth stated that the US Army Rangers fought in some of the most important battles during WWII. She said that she was grateful that the Senate passed the bill and that she looked forward to it becoming law.

Ernst said that many Rangers had approached her about getting the Congressional Gold Medal for the WWII Rangers since she has connections to the Ranger Regiment and the Ranger Rendezvous at Fort Benning in Georgia. She called it a “thrill” to see that the bill had passed unanimously.

United States Army Rangers
United States Army Rangers

The Rangers were formed in the mid-1700s to fight in the French and Indian War. Major Robert Rogers wrote nineteen standing orders for the Rangers which are still used today.

In WWII, the Rangers took part in battles in Northern Africa, including the critical Battle of El Guettar.

They took part in the D-Day landings where they gained fame for their work in clearing German gun emplacements which allowed Allied landing craft to reach the beachhead without encountering German fire.

Rangers also played a role in the Pacific theater where they liberated American POWs in the Philippines.

Representative Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, has taken the lead on getting the bill passed in the House of Representatives.

There is another effort currently taking place to get the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Merrill’s Marauders.

Army Rangers, D-Day, Pointe du Hoc
Army Rangers, D-Day, Pointe du Hoc

In 1943, President Franklin D Roosevelt and the other leaders of the Allies recognized that the US needed to engage in a long-range penetration effort in order to disrupt the supply and communication lines of the Japanese while the main forces worked to re-open the Burma Road.

Roosevelt issued a call for volunteers which received around 3,000 responses from US servicemen. Officially named the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), it was codenamed “Galahad” and became popularly known as “Merrill’s Marauders” after their leader Brigadier General Frank Merrill.

Army Rangers en route to liberate allied soldiers in the Cabanatuan POW camp.
Army Rangers en route to liberate allied soldiers in the Cabanatuan POW camp.

With no tanks or artillery to support them, the Marauders walked over 1,000 miles through dense jungle.

They engaged the enemy in five major battles and thirty minor engagements. They defeated the Japanese 18th Division who had conquered Singapore and Malaya and vastly outnumbered the Marauders. They disrupted supply and communication lines completely.

To top it all off, they captured the Myitkyina Airfield which was the only all-weather airfield in Northern Burma.

No other American force had marched as far, fought continuously for as long (four months) or showed as much stamina and endurance as the Marauders.

Every injured Marauder was safely evacuated, which required carrying the wounded to an evacuation point and then hacking out a landing strip from the jungle.

When the mission was over, every single member of the Marauders was placed in the hospital for tropical diseases, exhaustion, malnutrition, or an “A.O.E. (accumulation of everything).”

The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress’ “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions.”