The Last Navy Day – How Truman almost killed the US Navy Reply

Navy Day is October 27

(sort of)

Not to be confused with the Navy’s Birthday, which is celebrated on October 13, Navy Day was established on October 27, 1922 by the Navy League of the United States. Although it was not a national holiday, Navy Day received special attention from President Warren Harding.

Harding wrote to the Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby:

“Thank you for your note which brings assurance of the notable success which seems certain to attend the celebration of Navy Day on Friday, October 27, in commemoration of past and present services of the Navy. From our earliest national beginnings the Navy has always been, and deserved to be, an object of special pride to the American people. Its record is indeed one to inspire such sentiments, and I am very sure that such a commemoration as is planned will be a timely reminder.””It is well for us to have in mind that under a program of lessening naval armaments there is a greater reason for maintaining the highest efficiency, fitness and morale in this branch of the national defensive service. I know how earnestly the Navy personnel are devoted to this idea and want you to be assured of my hearty concurrence.”

October 27 was suggested by the Navy League to recognize Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday. Roosevelt had been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy and supported a strong Navy as well as the idea of Navy Day. In addition, October 27 was the anniversary of a 1775 report issued by a special committee of the Continental Congress favoring the purchase of merchant ships as the foundation of an American Navy.

The weakness of the Navy in being prepared for a two ocean war in 1941 was a true test for the United States.

When the Japanese attacked at Pearl Harbor, America quickly discovered that the “efficiencies” of savagely curtailing a peacetime Navy and the fool hearted attempt at maintaining peace through trusting a contemptuous enemy by limiting our fleet, we were in extreme danger all across the globe. It was only the will of the American people and the ability of an industrial base that a modern Navy could be put in place and defeat enemies from both sides of the waters.

But the lesson of the war and its causes were soon lost for too many leaders. Blinded by the prospects for a peace through the start of a United Nations effort, disarmament once again became the song of the true believers. Harry Truman was one of the biggest proponents of the movement.  His decisions were very consequential for the nation.

Proclamation 2815—Navy Day, 1948

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Whereas it is the purpose of the United States navy to maintain sufficient strength on the sea and in the air to enable it, in conjunction with our other armed forces, to uphold our national policies and interests, to protect our commerce, to support our international obligations, and to guard our country and its overseas possessions and dependencies; and

Whereas, the Navy league and other patriotic organizations in 1922 selected October 27 for annual observance of Navy Day in commemoration of the founding of the United States Navy in October 1775, and of the birth on October 27, 1858, of Theodore Roosevelt, who as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and as President of the United States contributed markedly to the development of the United states Navy; and

Whereas it has become customary for our citizens to join hands across the Nation on October 27 of each year in rendering grateful tribute to our Navy and in according honor and recognition to the achievements of the men and women who compose its ranks:

Now, Therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon the people of the United States to observe October 27, 1948, as Navy Day by displaying the flag of the United States at their homes or other suitable places, and I direct that the flag be displayed that day on all Government buildings. As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I direct that all ships of the United States Navy dress ship and that all ships and stations of the United States navy, where practicable, be open to visits of the public on Navy Day.

In Witness Whereof, I HAVE HEREUNTO SET MY HAND AND CAUSED THE Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this 5th day of October in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and forty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-third.

HARRY S. TRUMAN

By the President:

ROBERT A. LOVETT,

Acting Secretary of State.

Harry S. Truman, Proclamation 2815—Navy Day, 1948 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/287275

Harry’s words would soon ring very hollow. In 1949, a directive issued from Truman’s own Secretary of Defense Johnson changed everything.

In 1949, Louis A. Johnson, (1891–1966, served 1949–1950), second Secretary of the newly merged and created Department of Defense, directed that the U.S. Navy’s participation occur on newly established Armed Forces Day for the unified/coordinated uniformed services in May, although as a private civilian organization, the Navy League was not affected by this directive, and continued to organize separate Navy Day celebrations as before.

In the 1970s, historical research found that the “birthday” of the earlier Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), was determined to be October 13, 1775, and so Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt worked with the Navy League to define October 13th as the new date of Navy Day. However, Navy Day in the United States is still largely recognized as October 27th.

The Government recognized Navy Day was last observed on Oct. 27, 1949.

But who was Louis A. Johnson? And more importantly, why did he want to end not just the annual observation of Navy Day but the Navy as well?

“the Air Force can do anything the Navy can do, so that does away with the Navy”

“Following the re-election of President Truman in November 1948, President Truman “reminded Forrestal about fiscal spending goals” not being met within his Defense Department. In late February 1949 President Truman asked Forrestal to resign. The President did not believe Forrestal had adequate control over the various services, and he appeared unwilling to command the cuts in the Navy that the president wanted. The drawdown for the Navy was well behind schedule and causing budgetary embarrassment for the administration with Congress.

The now-common procedure of in flight refueling was demonstrated in a circumnavigation of the globe by an Air Force B-50 completed on 2 March 1949 which set a new world non-stop flying record of 23,452 miles. The public relations impact of this milestone event resonated positively with the public and at nearly every level of government. The main Air Force argument in support of the B-36, compared to the proposed carrier United States, was cost, both in lives and money. Through some convincing calculations published in Reader’s Digest, Air Force advocates contended that the cost of one super carrier and its task force was equal to 500 B-36s and exposed 242 times as many men to danger. Public opinion supported a “more bang for the buck” move to a “peacetime” military.

Fiscal 1951 proposed budgets, made public, cut the Navy’s total allocation by an additional two-thirds from the already lean 1949 budget. This proposed budget was threatening to literally mothball what was left of the Navy (including all or nearly all of the carriers) reducing the Navy to little more than escort and cargo ships, transfer the Marines to the Army and all aviation assets to the Air Force.

In late March 1949, Truman fired Forrestal and replaced him with Louis A. Johnson. A former Assistant Secretary of War, he had been the primary fundraiser for Truman’s campaign for the White House in 1948. Johnson had no qualms over supporting Truman’s military budget reductions and fiscally preferred the Air Force’s argument. The Air Force disliked the Navy’s aircraft carriers, as they were an expensive asset the Air Force planners considered obsolete in the age of long range aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. Johnson, who was a staunch proponent of the nuclear capable bomber force, consequently sought to limit as much as possible the Navy’s procurement of the new large carriers to conserve funds in the markedly reduced post-war military budget.

Less than a month after taking office, and without consulting Congress, Johnson ordered cancellation of United States on 23 April 1949. This vessel was the symbol and hope for the Navy’s future, and its cancellation greatly demoralized the service. Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan and a number of high-ranking admirals resigned in protest effective 24 May 1949. Johnson did not seem disturbed by the resignations. His decision to cancel United States provided him with economy in the military budget needed to meet his budgetary goals, while demonstrating that he was in firm control of the military and able to make difficult decisions.

To replace Sullivan, Johnson recommended Francis P. Matthews for the position of Secretary of the Navy. A lawyer from Omaha, Nebraska, during the Second World War he had served as a director of the USO, a service organization that entertained the troops. He came to the attention of Johnson by assisting him with political fund raising for the 1948 Truman campaign. Upon being considered for the position, Matthews admitted the nearest he had come to naval experience was rowing a boat on a lake. On 24 May 1949 Truman made the appointment.

Said Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson:

There’s no reason for having a Navy and Marine Corps. General Bradley (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), tells me that amphibious operations are a thing of the past. We’ll never have any more amphibious operations. That does away with the Marine Corps. And the Air Force can do anything the Navy can do, so that does away with the Navy.”

A few short years later, the Korean War would prove to the world how short sighted both Johnson and Truman were. The need for a Navy and the fallacy of the supremacy of the Air Force were forever dashed on the shores of Inchon. Johnson would receive his well deserved public admonition and so would Truman as he was relegated to the scrap heap of history. The lives of so many American boys were the ultimate price of their short sighted decisions.

In the wake of this disaster, the Nuclear Navy was created that along with many other innovations serves this country to this day. If Harry and Louis had there way, we would have never had the ships that today sail the oceans and protect America’s interests.

I celebrate each day as Navy Day. But in my heart of hearts, I wish that there was still a national day where every patriot could recognize that a powerful Navy is the best guarantee of peace in a dangerous world.

Mister Mac

 

The New “Star” in Star Spangled Banner Reply

This morning, I was honored to join a few members of the Pittsburgh Sea Cadet Battalion in helping to kick off the Bike Ride for Operation Troop Appreciation in Pittsburgh. This even helps to raise funds to build and sustain the morale and wellbeing of the military community, past and present, with the assurance that the American public supports and appreciates their selfless service and daily sacrifices.

This 100 mile run will travel the hills and valleys of Western Pennsylvania in support of our troops still deployed and those who return to our country after serving.

It is very humbling to see all of the volunteers and meet the bikers who came out to support. God bless all of you for your efforts.

Thanks to the Sea Cadets and a special thanks to the guest singer Antolena who performed one of the most amazing renditions of the National Anthem many of us have ever heard.

http://operationtroopappreciation.org/

https://www.facebook.com/Antolena-2042019952781129/?__tn__=HHH-R

https://www.facebook.com/pittsburghseacadets/

The New “Star” in Star Spangled Banner

When I came home, I posted the pictures and related a few of the stories on Facebook I learned while I was at Operation Troop Appreciation’s Pittsburgh facility this morning. I posted a picture of the young lady (Antolena) and wrote the following comment to go with it:

“Sometimes we take for granted that the National Anthem will be sung nicely. It happens so often that a beautiful young lady or handsome young man stands before a group of total strangers and gives a very pleasant version of a very difficult song. Then, every once in a great while, or in this case, for the very first time, you are standing less then ten feet from someone who owns the song from the moment they open their mouth. No fear. No quivering of the voice. No searching for notes. Without the flourishes and fanfare of an orchestra, you hear something that represents what the song stands for. Courage. Skill. Spirit. When Francis Scott Key wrote the words, he did so with a determination that was meant to convey the emotions he felt at seeing that flag still standing. When I heard you sing this morning, I felt what he felt. So many people had tears in their eyes when you were done. I know that God was with you. I pray that no matter what journey life takes you on, He is always there with you. God Bless you.”

While I was writing my tribute and without any warning, her Mom was writing the following note to me. Both notes appeared simultaneously:

” Bob; I will never forget the day Antolena discovered she was born the same day as Francis Scott Key. She said she had chills and how ironic. The day she first sang at PNC park for the Pirates was her birthday Aug. 1. She said I want to make him proud performing his star spangled banner on “our” birthday!! Funny how God always places people in each other paths…blessed for certain”

To all of my readers: I hope the day comes that you get a chance to hear this young lady sing. I have a suspicion that you probably will!!!

Mister Mac

What are you willing to risk to celebrate Independence Day? 1

Happy Independence Day

God Bless America

Like most people, I think of Independence Day as a wonderful way to celebrate all things America and have some great food.

Fireworks and festivities crowd out the fact that over the years, many Americans have been unable to actually celebrate the day. Those are the men and women of the armed services who are engaged with the countries business.

While we in the homeland enjoy our barbeques and baseball, somewhere today a young man or woman is manning a post in a hostile environment. As we swim in our pools, another sailor relieves the watch under the threat of an unseen missile attack from a rogue state. As we watch the rockets sailing into the dark night, a pilot provides close in air support to one of our ground troops in danger from being overrun by radical terrorists.

The spirit has been there since the very beginning

Countless sacrifices have been given through the years to make sure that everyday ordinary Americans can celebrate our freedom in relative peace.  One such sacrifice happened over seventy five years ago in a little know event in the Philippines after the Japanese invaded and brutally punished the American and local defenders. Because of many factors, large numbers of Americans had become prisoners of war. They would be  over three years of brutal treatment at the hands of the Japanese captors.

These men had been stationed in the Philippine Islands with the intent of defending the vital country from aggression. As America slept and dithered on and on about not becoming entangled in a foreign war, they had prepared for the worst. When the worst came, we were not prepared and they were sacrificed to buy time to actually build up our forces and beat back the Japanese invaders. While America geared up to answer the call, they suffered unspeakable horrors.

But on July 4th, 1942,  75 years ago, a group of very brave men who had recently been captured showed the true spirit of America while held capture by the Japanese Army.

American prisoners of war celebrated American Independence Day in Casisange prison camp at Malaybalay, Mindanao, against Japanese regulations, 4 Jul 1942

Most of the men in this picture would never make it home. But they never forgot who they were and what country they served. The penalty if they had been caught would have been death.

It was against Japanese regulations and discovery would have meant death, but the men celebrated the occasion anyway.

The Visayan-Mindanao Force under US Army Brigadier General William F. Sharp was composed of the 61st, 81st, and 101st Infantry Divisions of the Philippine Army. Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright, in nominal command of all the Allied Forces in the Philippines, ordered Sharp to surrender on May 9. Sharp complied and most of his men entered captivity at Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, on May 10. Camp Casisang had been a training ground for the Philippine Constabulary. The barracks were of crude construction, some with corrugated steel roofs but most were made of either thatched wood or nipa palm fronds. Water was a scarce commodity and the prisoners were limited to one canteen of water per day for all purposes. One pump was the sole source of water for about 1,000 Americans and 11,000 Filipinos.

On August 15, 1942, All Generals, Full Colonels and their orderlies left Camp Casisang. There had been a large number of full Colonels plus five Generals at the camp. One of them was Philippine General Manuel Roxas, who after the war became the President of the Philippines in 1946. The Japanese gathered 268 men and marched them to Bugo where they boarded the Tamahoko Maru on October 3, 1942 for a 3-day voyage to Manila. At Manila they were marched to Bilibid Prison to wait for transportation to Japan. Many did not survive the war. On October 15, 1942 Camp Casisang was closed. All remaining prisoners were moved on the Japanese frieghter Maru 760 to Davao.

When you celebrate Independence Day this year, please remember all of those who paid a price for your freedom and pray for those who are still out on patrol.

God Bless each and every one of them and God Bless America

Mister Mac

Mesothelioma – A Sad Legacy for Too Many 3

587 outbound
One of the things I have been very involved with in the past few years is identifying resources for Veterans and their caregivers. In a perfect world, the same government that sends our men and women into harm’s way would move heaven and earth to preserve the rights of veterans and protect those exposed to so many potentially life changing things.
But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where politicians run at the first sight of conflict and do anything they can to stay in power at the cost of those very veterans who served this country. That is one of the reasons I support the VFW, American Legion, MOAA, Navy League and USSVI. Public awareness is critical to gathering the support we need.
Recently I got a note from Nick Berez, an Awareness Advocate at the Mesothelioma Group.
Bob,
I’m part of the awareness advocate team at the Mesothelioma Group. We are a charitable organization supporting the VFW and American Legion. With over 30% of all mesothelioma patients being Veterans, a main part of our mission is to spread mesothelioma awareness to Veterans and their family members. The reason this cancer targets so many veterans is because of the extensive amount of asbestos used in past military equipment. Our goal at the Mesothelioma Group is to increase awareness, improving survival rates and life expectancy.
I’m pleased to see you have a remarkable Veteran’s Resource Links page at https://theleansubmariner.com/veterans-resource-links/. However I noticed you don’t have any information relating specifically to mesothelioma or the dangers of asbestos. I believe our Navy Veterans and Asbestos page at www.mesotheliomagroup.com/veterans/navy would be a valuable addition to your links. Our support community provides step-by-step guidance, Veteran support, and up-to-date resources, all for free.”
I will be adding this link to our resource page. But I wanted to encourage all of my readers to be aware of the issues regarding this disease. I do so because I was involved in decommissioning a few vessels where asbestos was present (sometimes in large quantities). The Navy put me on an asbestos monitoring program but at one point the program just disappeared. I hope that the need for these programs never comes into my life. But frankly, I am glad that there are groups that care enough to be there for those that do.

Mister Mac

Hakko Ichiu (“Eight corners of the World under one roof.”) Reply

thRZMYP1SB        Join the Army

Hakko Ichiu. (“Eight corner of the World under one roof.”)

Japanese World War II slogan alluding to the Emperor Jimmu, the first emperor of Japan. In an 8th Century literary collection, his words are recalled that the “eight corners of the world be united under one roof” creating a brotherhood of races.

In AD 660, the Emperor Jimmu decreed that he would:

…extend the line of Imperial descendants and foster rightmindedness. Thereafter, the Capital may be extended so as to embrace all of the six cardinal points and the eight cords may be covered so as to form a roof.

This was the beginning of Japanese government and social organization. Since that time, the kingdom of Japan has suffered neither military defeat nor foreign occupation, making it the oldest government of its kind. Japan’s rulers believe that it is their destiny to rule Asia and perhaps the world. As an example of this premise a shogun councilor, Masayoshi Hatta, made the following memorial in 1858:

“In establishing relations with foreign countries, the object should always be kept in view of laying the foundation for securing hegemony over all nations. The national resources should be developed in military preparations vigorously carried out. When our power and national standing have come to be recognized we should take the lead…declare our protection over harmless but powerful nations…Our national prestige and position thus ensured, the nations of the world will come to look up to our Emperor as the Great Ruler of all the nations, and they will come to follow our policy and submit to our judgment…”

Fire and Never Quit

For 2,600 years, Japan had never been defeated in battle

In 1945, that changed because of the men and women of the Allied Forces

Iwo Artillery 3

Mister Mac

You can follow the progress of the War in 1945 on https://www.facebook.com/WarInThePacific19411946?fref=photo

Remembering those who waited at home – Gold Star Mothers Reply

 

The joy of giving birth to a brand new life has been described as one of the most significant moments in a woman’s life. For the following months and years, she feeds and clothes and nurtures that child until one day comes and the child becomes a man or a woman and goes off on her own.

WW-1-poster.jpg

Throughout our countries history, challenges to our freedom and liberty have forced some of those children to take up arms in its defense. Often times in the last few centuries, those challenges have come on foreign shores and the threats to freedom came to others that were unable to protect themselves. During those times, brave men and women stepped forward or were called to do the unthinkable and pay an ominous price. We humbly try and pay a small homage to them on Memorial Day to try and remember their sacrifices and gift of freedom to people who they had never known.

But there is one other group who pay homage to their memories every day. The mothers who gave them their life.

The American Gold Star Mothers Inc. was formed in the United States shortly after World War I to provide support for mothers who lost sons or daughters in the war. The name came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a Service Flag in the window of their homes. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the United States Armed Forces. Living servicemen were represented by a blue star, and those who had lost their lives were represented by a gold star. Membership in the Gold Star Mothers is open to any American woman who has lost a son or daughter in service to the United States.

The Elizabeth Boro PA Memorial Day Committee honors local Gold Star Mothers

each year at our Riverfront Ceremony

Gold Star Mother Banner 150px-Gold_Star_Service_Banner_svg thGYWFLLNB

Armed Forces Day 2014 Honoring America’s Real Heroes 1

Armed Forces Day

Too often, the press focuses on sports stars and entertainers for their contributions. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good touchdown just as much as any man (assuming its my team and not the other guy’s team) and I am glad certain entertainers have made enough money to adopt underprivileged kids from third world countries. In neither case however is there anything really heroic about what they have done.

Heroism to me is waking up at 3 AM and putting on a uniform so you can stand a watch. You don’t know if this is the watch where an enemy will come sneaking up to your post and try to put a bullet in you. Or maybe a terrorist will drive up to your checkpoint with a truckload of explosives designed to kill you and al of your comrades. You might be in a plane flying over hostile territory on a mission to deter another country from robbing freedom from innocent people. Your ship might be fighting its way through a typhoon as it patrols to keep the sea lanes open. Or your cutter may be approaching yet another unflagged vessel that is filled with drugs and men who will shoot to protect them.

As long as man has been around, there have been other men who have tried to take freedom and liberty away from someone else. Our country, the United States of America was founded on the idea that men and women should have individual liberty and freedom. It is the unbroken line of men and women who have put their hands in the air to swear the oath to protect her that have ensured that freedom lives. It is the members of the Armed Services that stand between you and the despots who hate you for the very freedom you enjoy.

We owe them everything for that service.

On this day, and every day, I salute the heroes of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

Let Freedom Ring

Mister Mac

Let Freedom Ring

 

Coming Home 5

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. (Robert Frost)

Can there be any better feeling than coming home after a journey?

It’s always exciting for me to travel around the world and in the past forty two years I have been blessed to see many places. I keep a journal of sorts and record each place I have visited or traveled through on my way to somewhere else. The journal is actually an old Atlas that my brother gave me a long time ago and in it you will find written the names of cities and destinations that I have been blessed to see. As of last count, there are over 700 places written in the book which includes all fifty states and a pretty good representation of the world’s go to places.

Atlas

I have flown in everything from a Boeing 707 to the newest Airbus jumbo jet. In my earlier days, I got to ride in a web sling seat on a C130, the C5 Cargo plane and just about everything with wings the Air Force had. My favorite ride was in a Navy COD off of number two catapult on the USS Nimitz near the coast of San Diego.

At the end of each trip though, I am always glad to reach American soil again. This feeling goes back a long ways. Forty years ago this month was one of the first times. I think that flight set the standard for the hundreds of trips that I have taken since then.

In the fall of ’73 before I left for my first run, my Grandparents came to Hawaii to see me. Grandpa Bob (whom I was named for) was always a larger than life kind of guy and Grandma Areba was a wonderful example of a compassionate lady. We spent a lot of their time going out to dinner and seeing the island.

Bob Hawaii 4 Bob Hawaii 6 Bob Hawaii 3 Bob Hawaii 2

I had been away from home for over a year at that point and was very homesick. Having them visit was a pretty good respite but truthfully, I was pretty nervous about my first patrol. I didn’t realize it at the time but it would be the last time I was the old Bob. I did not realize at the time that I was saying goodbye for the last time. I left on patrol shortly after the visit. The rest of this story is about the start of a long journey home.

Bob Hawaii 5

 

Returning from patrol

The USS George Washington had returned from patrol and conducted another intensive refit. The patrol had been exciting in a lot of ways. This patrol was chosen to do a test firing of four ballistic missiles and as one of the “hot runners” on board, I was given the opportunity to pick one of the missiles that would be fired. I had mess cranked most of the run and was finishing up my qual card when the Captain asked me to pull the numbers out of the ball cap. The test was very successful from what I remember and I finished my cranking duties just in time to join A gang in the refit turnover. Thankfully, I was used to not sleeping so the next ten days went by pretty quickly.

Coming back from patrol was like coming back to the world after having been locked in a cave. We had very little communications since family grams were the only way people could reach us. And of course, there was no such thing as email or the internet so telephones were the only way to reach half way around the world to say help to the family. Besides, you were so busy, who had time. The last few days before coming into port were sleepless too but for a different reason. Sine your world is put into limbo while you are on patrol, all of the unfinished business from before patrol came back to pay you a nightly visit.

In my case it was a fight with my Father that had gotten out of control. Plus I was hearing less and less from my fiancée even before the patrol and had received no family grams from her at all. When we arrived and the sacks of mail arrived, there were no letters either. As much as you try and put that into the back of your mind, it finds its way back to the front pretty quickly. But as I said, the work is pretty hard and you finally fall into a routine to push it all out of the way.

The day finally arrives and you do the turnover topside (in the rain of course… this is Guam after all). Down the hatch to retrieve your seabag, back up and over the brow to the Proteus. Down the long gangplank (hoping the OOD doesn’t notice that you haven’t had a haircut in a really long time). The waiting bus takes you and your shipmates to Anderson AFB where a civilian aircraft under contract is waiting to take you back over the seas on a long flight to Hawaii.

ONA_DC--8-55_Travis_AFB,_CA_1969_2

We had purchased some duty free liquor which was not as well regulated back in the day and it wasn’t long before it worked its way into the crew’s hands. Later flights would not be like this one as the rules changed, but this one turned into a real party. At one point the stewardesses stopped coming to the back of the plane.

After the warm buzz of the booze wears the excitement down a bit, some slept and some just sat staring straight ahead. You can only imagine what was going on in some of their minds. Getting ready to see your newborn baby for the first time. Trying to figure out a way to explain to your wife how you lost $500 in the patrol long poker game. Wondering if your wife would even be at the airport after that horrible fight you had before you left. Or thinking about the girl back home and how good it would feel to finally hold her. So much to look forward to. And always that one creeping thought in the back of your mind… in less than seventy days, you would be heading back again.

What happened after that is for another story. The joys and disappointments of coming home from any journey are as many as the waves in the sea. While many return trips from patrols were traumatic, I can hardly imagine the trips home that my brothers and sisters in arms made as they returned home from their own personal “patrols”. I remember seeing the soldiers in the airports in the early seventies as they returned from South East Asia. They seemed to have a certain look that can only be described as “distant”. Most of those boys are in their sixties and seventies now. Since that time, more have joined them as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have lasted for such a long time. Some came home physically, but many have just never made it back mentally.

So where is home?

They say that once you have seen Paris it’s hard to get the boys to stay down on the farm. What that really means is that war and service during periods of conflict change you. I truly believe that people who have never served can sympathize with returning vets but can never really understand the things they saw and went through. The reason so many men come back and become drifters and homeless is because they can’t find that home they once had. They often just don’t fit. I have had three men very close to me who chose to end their lives rather than continue the struggle to come all the way home. I have had others that led destructive lives that passively subtracted days and years from their lives in their own personal struggle. As the young men and women from the current struggles return, their numbers are increasing too.

Maybe that’s why I have done what I once thought was unthinkable. I have become my Dad. I have belonged to the American Legion for over thirty years and now am actively working with the local post. I recently joined the VFW which had also been one of Dad’s passions. USSVI Sub Vets, MOAA, and the Navy League all fill up the rest of my dance card.

It’s not because I like the hats all that much. It’s because these organizations are the best hope of making sure a fickle congress and an even more fickle public never forget that they have a contract with those who serve. Less than one percent of the population has carried the burden for their fellow citizens and that is burden which must be met with a sacred trust to protect them when they need it most. The VA has an unprecedented backlog of cases and can’t seem to fix the problems. Congress recently decided to try and pay some of the enormous debt it has on the backs of the very service members they promised they would protect. The organizations I have listed are the last thin line between honoring a promise and breaking faith with those who have given so much.

It’s time to come home.

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Find a group that knows who you are. Support that group with your service. Encourage others to come home too. We need you now more than ever.

Mister Mac

Coming Home

 

“Love, Your Son Butch” Chapter 2–Early May 1945 1

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This is a part of a continuing series  based on letters my Dad wrote home during World War 2. For information about the series, see the introduction at:

https://theleansubmariner.com/2013/04/20/love-your-son-butch-introduction-april-2013/

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While John completed his boot camp training at Camp Sampson New York, the war continued to rage with a fierce level of energy. The Japanese knew that they were in trouble as American and the allies came closer and closer to the home islands. Okinawa was particularly hard for them to lose since it represented not only a direct attack on the home islands but placed the allies well within bombing range of the remaining Japanese resources.

CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 349, MAY 1, 1945

Troops of the Seventh Infantry Division continued to advance in the eastern sector of the lines on Okinawa on April 30 (East Longitude Date). By mid‑afternoon advance elements of the division had entered the village of Kuhazu. Local gains were made along the remainder of the front. The at­tack of the infantry was supported by heavy naval gunfire, heavy artillery and carrier and land‑based aircraft. A few enemy planes were In the area of Okinawa on April 30. One medium sized ship was damaged.

Letter from John C. MacPherson to his parents from Company 510 Barracks G5L Tuesday May 1 1945

Dear Mom and Pop,

Well, how’s everybody?

Well, we won that ball game last night 17-3. I pitched a pretty good game yesterday but tonight I didn’t do as good. Company 50 g, that’s topside beat us 5-3. Boy we sure are taking a razzing from the rest of the barracks. I struck out 2 and I walked one – not so bad. Its not so cold out tonight but its getting chillier out every minute. Well, it won’t be long before I break, will it? I don’t know what time we’ll hit Pittsburgh. I imagine sometime between 6-8, 8-10 I don’t know. Well not much more from the Sampson front. When you get Dick’s address send it right away and I’ll look him up. He might come to our unit. I hope not for his sake.

Well, I’ll see you all soon.

God Keep you both strong

Your Son, Butch


N. D. COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 594, MAY 2, 1945

Far Eastern Waters.

1. U. S. submarines have reported the sinking of 21 enemy vessels, includ­ing two combatant ships‑a destroyer and an escort vessel‑in operations against the enemy in these waters, as follows:

1 destroyer, 1 escort vessel, 1 destroyer transport, 2 medium cargo transports

2 small cargo vessels, 12 medium cargo vessels, 1 large tanker, 1 medium tanker

2. These actions have not been announced in any pervious Navy Depart­ment communiqué.


CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 350, MAY 2, 1945

The Seventh Infantry Division which captured Kuhazu Village during the late afternoon of April 30 continued to advance southward on Okinawa on May 1 (East Longitude Dates). No substantial change was made in other sectors of the lines where our troops were under enemy artillery, mortar and small arms fire. On May 2, ships’ guns destroyed a number of enemy emplace­ments, strong points, and boat pens and carrier and land based aircraft bombed enemy defenses. The Infantry resumed the attack during the hours of dark­ness on the morning of May 2 and elements of the Seventh Division moved 1,400 yards forward to the vicinity of Gaja Hill, approximately one mile north of the town of Yonabaru. Tanks and flame throwers were being em­ployed to develop this salient. The Seventy‑Seventh Infantry Division and the First Marine Division launched an attack in the center and on the right flank and were moving forward during the morning of May 2.


CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 351, MAY 3, 1945

The Tenth Army resumed the attack in Southern Okinawa on May 3, (East Longitude Date), meeting artillery, mortar and small arms fire from the enemy’s fortified line. The First Marine Division made a limited advance in its zone of action while other sectors remained stable. The attack was supported by ships’ guns and aircraft.

In the early evening hours of May 3, four small groups of enemy aircraft attacked our shipping off the coast of Okinawa inflicting some damage on our forces and sinking two light units. Seventeen enemy aircraft were destroyed.

Planes from escort carriers of the U. S. Pacific Fleet continued neutraliz­ing attacks on airfields and air installations in the Sakishima group on May 2.

As of May 2, according to the most recent reports available, 1,131 officers and men of the U. S. Pacific Fleet had been killed in action in the Okinawa operation and associated operations against Japan. A total of 2,816 were wounded and 1,604 were missing. All figures are preliminary and incomplete.


CINCPOA PRESS RELEASE NO. 89, MAY 3, 1945

Among the ships of the British Pacific Fleet which engaged in operations against the islands of the Sakishima Group during the period March 26 to April 20 were the following fleet aircraft carriers

HMS Indomitable, HMS Indefatigable, HMS Victorious


N. D. COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 595, MAY 4, 1945

1. The submarine USS Swordfish is overdue from patrol and presumed lost. Next of kin of officers and crew have been informed.


CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 352, MAY 4, 1945

During the night of May 3‑4 (East Longitude Dates) about 600 Japanese soldiers using landing craft attempted to attack behind our lines at three points along the West Coast and at one point on the East Coast of Okinawa. By daylight the landing effort on the East Coast had been repulsed and enemy groups on the West Coast were pocketed and being destroyed. During early morning darkness a number of enemy aircraft attacked Yontan Airstrip, caus­ing some damage. In the same period, ships offshore destroyed 15 suicide boats one of which caused minor damage to a light surface unit.

There was virtually no change in the position of the lines of the Tenth Army in Southern Okinawa on May 4.

Between the hours of 0745 and 0915, on May 4, a substantial number of enemy aircraft attacked our forces afloat in the area of Okinawa, sinking five surface units and damaging a number of others. Preliminary reports indicate that 54 enemy planes were shot down over our forces by ships’ guns and combat air patrols. One of our destroyers shot down a Baka bomb during the attack.


CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 353, MAY 5, 1945

Following and in conjunction with the attempted landings of Japanese troops behind the Tenth Army lines on Okinawa on the night of May 3‑4 (East Longitude Dates) and in coordination with his heavy air attacks of May 3 and 4, the enemy on May 4, launched a general counterattack. Its greatest weight was against the positions of the Seventh and Seventy‑Seventh Infantry Divisions. This attack was supported by tanks and was preceded by intense artillery fire. Our troops supported by a heavy barrage from Army and Marine artillery and low level strafing by carrier and Marine air­craft broke up the enemy attacks. Taking advantage of the disorganized state of the enemy’s lines after his failure in these operations, Army and Marine infantry men resumed the offensive on the morning of May 5 and were advancing at midmorning when elements of the First Marine Division began an assault on Hill 187, east of the Asa River Mouth. A total of 3,000 of the enemy were killed during the attacks on May 3‑4, including troops which made landings on our beaches. Five enemy tanks were destroyed.

During the air attacks of May 4, our forces shot down 168 planes over the Okinawa Area including 45 by the Second Marine Aircraft Wing and 67 by Fast Carrier Forces Patrols. Early in the morning of May 5, a small group of enemy planes approached our forces and bombed the Yontan Airstrip causing no damage.

From the beginning of the Okinawa operation to May 5, the enemy lost 33,462 killed and 700 prisoners of war including 297 labor troops.

The Tenth Army up to May 3, lost 2,337 soldiers and Marines killed. A total of 11,432 were wounded and 514 were missing.


CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 354, MAY 6, 1945

Heavy units of the U. S. Pacific Fleet in attacks coordinated with those of carrier and land‑based aircraft bombarded enemy positions on Okinawa on May 5 (East Longitude Date). During the early morning and early evening of that day a number of enemy aircraft approached our forces without causing damage. On the morning of May 6 a small number of enemy air attacks were made on ships off Okinawa. One light unit suffered minor damage and four enemy aircraft were shot down.

Search aircraft of Fleet Air Wing One based in the Okinawa area swept Tsushima and Korea Straits and the coastal waters of Western Korea on May 5 and inflicted the following damage on the enemy by low level bombing and strafing:

Sunk: Two large oilers, One medium freighter, One small cargo ship

Damaged: One large fleet oiler left dead in water and sinking, One cargo ship exploded and left sinking, One small freighter left abandoned and sinking, One large cargo ship left burning, One freighter left listing and burning, One medium oiler left burning, Nine small cargo ships damaged, One lugger damaged

Letter from John to his parents Sunday May 6th, 1945 postmarked May 7 at 11:00 AM

Dear Mom and Pop,

Well, how’s everything at home? I’m sorry I haven’t written but it’s a long story. The last letter I wrote I was feeling fine, then I got a sore throat, then I couldn’t eat. My gums got all swelled up and I didn’t sleep for about three nights. Every little chance I got, I lay down to rest. Well this morning, I went to chow and I couldn’t eat… my gums and throat were too sore, so I went to see the emergency dentist. He sure was a swell guy… he fixed me up good. I told him I was going home in 10 days and he said don’t worry, I’ll be home and I’ll be as good as ever. He asked me if I was sick last week and I said yes and he showed me why. That crazy fool that pulled my tooth must have done something wrong. Anyway, my gums are all infected. Everybody’s sick, its rained every day for 4 weeks except on Sunday’s and everybody got a bad cold. The dentist said there is nothing to worry about now. He even took an x-ray of my mouth. Gee I hope you don’t worry too much because the Chaplain had a sermon on “Christianity” this morning and it was based on “those who believe in God don’t worry”. I’m feeling much better tonight and I know I’ll feel better tomorrow. Well, just think, ten more days and I’ll be home. Boy, it sure will be swell to see you all. Well, enough of the gab for now; I hope you are all feeling fine.

God keep you both strong

Your son, Butch

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Dental Techs at Sampson 1945

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I wonder which one worked on Dad the first time?

Well Theo, this ends the eighth week of boot camp for John C. MacPherson Jr.

I hope that reading about his story has helped you to pass the time. The next time I see you, I expect to see a real American Naval Bluejacket.

God Bless and Keep you Theo

Uncle Bob

Paul Richard Rupp
Born in 1920, Paul served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Paul was inducted on June 19, 1943. He trained at Gulfport Mississippi and a variety of other posts before being sent to England in August of 1944. a flight engineer on a B-24 and was shot down over Germany on October 14th.

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B-24 Plane on a bombing run in 1944

The items below were standard POW messages that the German’s permitted to be sent by our captured troops and fliers.

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Stalag III was situated in the forest near the town of Sagan, 100 miles southeast of Berlin, now called Zagan in upper Selesia Poland. The camp was first opened in 1943 and admitted its first prisoners in April. The word Stammlager roughly translates to Stalags for enlisted men. It was one of six special German POW camps, especially built for the ever increasing amount of POW aircrews. At the height of its short history, about 10,000 officers and enlisted men were assigned to the camp.

Luftstalag III was probably most famous for the event that came to be known as the Great Escape. In March of 1944, a group of about 80 Allied prisoners escaped from the camp by digging their way out. Only 15 men actually managed to work their way to freedom. All of the remaining escapees were killed by the Germans.

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A clipping from a local newspaper announcing

the awarding of the Air Medal to Paul Rupp

Paul was liberated by American Troops in April of 1945. He returned to his home at war’s end and married his wife Betty in 1949. He and John stayed in touch over the years and when I was stationed in Mare Island California in the mid seventies, I was able to spend some time with he and his wife. Although our communications were infrequent over the next twenty years, we did manage to visit from time to time. When I started this project, I found some original notes from Paul that I felt should be returned to him so that his descendants could have some idea of the man he was at one point in his life. On Memorial Day 1999, I returned the artifacts to him. Here is a copy of the note he sent back to us:

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Included with the note was this picture of Paul and his family from the previous year

On May 16th 2002, we received word that Paul had passed away due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease on April 26th of that year. Betty sent us a note and told us about his final hours. At one point he told her “Goodbye” and she asked him where he was going. He told her: “To the Lord”. Shortly after those words, he left to meet his Savior.

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An article in the San Jose Mercury News stated,
“a humble man who loved life, brought out the best in others
and rarely talked about his accomplishments or the rough times.”
In Loving Memory of Paul Richard Rupp
Born December 28, 1920
McKeesport Pennsylvania
Returned home
April 26, 2002
Faithful Friend To Three Generations Of MacPhersons

 

Chapter 3 will detail the remaining part of May 1945 as SR John C. MacPherson completes his training prior to shipping out for the Pacific theater

Nothing Heroic? 1

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/mar/28/columnist-wants-end-military-funeral-honors-vets-w/

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan published a column Wednesday, saying the U.S. military should do away with funeral honors, since “most veterans did nothing heroic” anyway.
Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/mar/28/columnist-wants-end-military-funeral-honors-vets-w/#ixzz2Owdi2kKW
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

I don’t know what planet this idiot comes from but to suggest that veterans did nothing heroic is one of the most simplistically idiotic things I have ever read. McClellan must need a lot of attention to write something so incredibly stupid, but I would like to make today:

Bill McClellan Memorial Day

Idiot

You can contact him at his FB page or just Google him and it will take you to his St. Louis Post-Dispatch address.

I don’t know about any of you who served, but I can assure you I was surrounded by heroes every single day of my career. Any man or woman who swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the people of that country knowing that they might have to give up their own life every single day starts out as a hero.

What an idiot

Mister Mac

Hero