World War II News Alert - 2010-10-06
- World War II News Alert - 6 October 2010
Japanese-American Army units from World War II honored
By the CNN Wire Staff
October 6, 2010 -- Updated 0208 GMT (1008 HKT)
President Obama signs a bill Tuesday granting Japanese-Americans units from WWII the Congressional Gold Medal.
a.. President Obama signs a bill awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal
b.. Sen. Daniel Inouye one of the surviving veterans of the honored units
c.. Soldiers fought while relatives were detained in camps back home
Washington (CNN) -- Surviving members of legendary Japanese-American Army units, including Sen. Daniel Inouye, gathered around President Barack Obama on Tuesday as he signed a bill granting their forces the Congressional Gold Medal -- one of the nation's highest civilian honors.
The measure cited the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service, for their World War II exploits, including what the website GlobalSecurity.org described as the rescue by the 442nd of a trapped battalion in the Vosges Mountains of France.
Known as Nisei -- the Japanese word for second-generation in reference to children of Japanese immigrants in America -- the soldiers experienced heavy casualties in multiple campaigns, while relatives back home were detained in camps and discriminated against as part of anti-Japanese war fervor, according to GlobalSecurity.org. Many members of the units volunteered for service when recruited at internment camps, the website said.
Inouye was a second lieutenant in 1945 when he led his platoon in an attack on enemy positions in Italy, sustaining injuries that required the amputation of his right arm, according to GlobalSecurity.org. He previously was awarded the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among other honors, the senator's website said.
At Tuesday's signing ceremony, the Democrat from Hawaii walked with a cane in his left hand.
"This well-deserved Congressional Gold Medal honors the Nisei veterans and demonstrates the greatness of our country," said a statement by Hawaii's other Democratic senator, Daniel Akaka. "While some Japanese Americans were being wrongly interned due only to their ethnicity, these brave men stepped forward to defend our nation. Their bravery helped to not only win the war, it paved the way towards a more tolerant and just nation."
Bulgarian court sentences 2 Germans, 1 Bulgarian for stealing WWII Panzer tank
By Veselin Toshkov (CP) - 21 minutes ago
SOFIA, Bulgaria - A Bulgarian military court convicted two German citizens and a Bulgarian military officer on Wednesday of stealing a World War II-era German tank and trying to steal another one, court officials said.
The court in the southern city of Sliven sentenced German Thomas Gmeiner, 36, and the Bulgarian officer, Alexey Petrov, to four years in prison. Military prosecutor Hristo Tinev said German Matheus Mayer, 67, was given a three-year suspended sentence and five years probation.
The two Germans were tried in absentia because they left Bulgaria following their release on bail. Currently, authorities do not know where the stolen tank and the Germans are.
Petrov attended the trail and was granted bail, pending his appeal.
The defendants were found guilty of smuggling a MK IV Panzer tank out of Bulgaria. They were arrested in 2007 while trying to steal a second Panzer tank.
According to experts, the tanks had no combat use, but were valued at up to $70,000 as collectors' items.
The Panzers were used during World War II and later based at the Bulgarian-Turkish border and used as artillery during the Cold War. Bulgaria was a member of the now-defunct Warsaw Pact and kept a large military presence at its southern border with NATO members Turkey and Greece.
According to prosecutors, the three defendants hired local people to secure tanks. They dismantled one and transported it out of the country.
The weekly Kapital newspaper reported that several months after their release both Germans were spotted in their native city of Uttenhofen, Germany.
In 2007, there were still some 80 German tanks and assault artillery units stationed in southern Bulgaria.
Following the arrests of the collectors, the Defence Ministry ordered all tanks moved to closed military compounds in the southern city of Yambol. Eventually, a plan to put some of the tanks on sale had to be scrapped after war veterans protested against it.
Last summer, the defence minister ordered the most valuable tanks to be transferred to the National Military History Museum.
Statue to Iowa brothers installed in Waterloo
7:57 a.m. CDT, October 6, 2010
WATERLOO, Iowa - A statue honoring Waterloo's five Sullivan brothers killed during
World War II will be installed in its new location this week.
The religious statue honors George, Francis, Joseph, Madison and Albert Sullivan. They died after their ship, the USS Juneau, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and exploded on Nov. 13, 1942. Only 13 sailors of the Juneau's crew of 700 survived.
The marble statue was erected in 1956 on the site of now-closed St. Mary's Catholic Church. It was removed in July for restoration and will be relocated to the Waterloo Knights of Columbus Council 700 Hall.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier says the statue will be installed on Friday. It will be formally dedicated on Nov. 13, the 68th anniversary of the sinking of the Juneau.
World War II English aviators visit training ground in Clewiston
CLEWISTON: World War II was fought an ocean away, but some members of the "Greatest Generation" trained right here in Southwest Florida. A unique group of aviators reunited in the very place where they learned the skills that saved their lives at war.
For 4,000 British airmen, their journey into World War II began at Clewiston's Riddle Field, now known at Airglades Airport.
Members of the Number Five British Flying Training School honed their skills in Southwest Florida at a time when their country was under attack by Germany.
"They were still bombing at that time, but it was tailing off. I didn't come here until the end of 1943. By that time, the Germans were seeing the light that it was dangerous to fly over England," said visiting veteran Peter Hiles.
When the men first came to North America, they had no idea where they were going. It was either north to Canada or south to Florida. They say they were lucky enough to come to Florida and that it didn't take very long to adjust.
Sunshine, warmth, plenty of nice food and rationing had been going on in England when we arrived here and it wasn't here - any rationing at all I suppose," said Veteran Brain Spragg.
The group visited the airport seven years ago, and many thought it would be their last trip.
But the surviving members, now in their 80s, wanted to pay their respects one last time to a school that they say helped saved their lives.
"The history of an area gets kind of lost in the blur of time, unfortunately. And that's what this is about - remembering how we got to where we are," said Clewiston Museum Secretary Jeff Barwick.
And although many years have passed since their training days in Clewiston, the men say they'd love to take one last flight for old time's sake.
'No Ordinary Joes' Tells Stories Of Love And War
LANGUAGE ADVISORY: This excerpt contains language some might find offensive.
The waters felt unsafe to Bob Palmer. Too shallow. Too close to land. Too risky, given the ship's unreliable torpedoes. But who was he, a twenty-one-year-old, to question the strategy of his submarine captain, a graduate of the Naval Academy and respected by every man on the ship? Palmer worked hard as the sub's yeoman, but he was a high-school dropout, and he wasn't privy to the radio messages the captain received.
No Ordinary Joes: The Extraordinary True Story Of Four Submariners In War And Love And Life
By Larry Colton
Hardcover, 416 pages
List price: $26
It was early evening, April 20, 1943, and the USS Grenadier was nearing the end of its sixth war patrol. Bob longed to get back to port in Fremantle, Australia; he was tired of the confinement, the foul smell of diesel fuel, and the constant stress of running deep in enemy waters. Back in Fremantle, there'd be large pints of Emu ale waiting in the bar at the Ocean Beach Hotel, as well as beautiful young Aussie women enamored of American sailors. Yes, he was recently married to his high-school sweetheart and loved her dearly. But this was war - a war on the other side of the world, and every time he and his crewmates left port there was the real possibility they'd be blown to bits.
As the Grenadier ran full speed on the surface through the Java Sea and the narrow Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Sumatra, the lookout spotted two worthy targets - a pair of large Japanese freighters silhouetted on the horizon. The sea was calm, the sky bright from a full moon. Surprisingly, the vessels appeared to be unescorted, an opportunity almost too good to be true. The Japanese had recently taken Rangoon, and the Japanese ships plying the important supply route between Burma and Singapore were usually well guarded. But not these two.
The Grenadier's captain, Missouri- born James Fitzgerald, a ballsy former boxing champ at Annapolis, was eager to confront the enemy, and he had decided to ignore warnings that these waters were much too easily guarded by Japanese planes from nearby bases for his ship to be running on the surface. A month earlier, a sub had been sunk, taking sixty-five men down with it. But Fitzgerald wanted a kill before heading back to port. At this point in the war, with the Japanese racking up victory after victory in the Pacific, American naval forces were desperate for any small victory.
Fitzgerald was one of a new breed of captain who had been hurried into battle; the top level of Navy leadership was now encouraging these newer graduates of the Naval Academy to "go in harm's way" and take the war to the enemy. His approach was more aggressive than that of the older and more conservative sub commanders in charge at the start of the war who believed the purpose of submarines was to scout for the Navy's surface fleet rather than to attack.
From long range and on the surface, Fitzgerald considered firing torpedoes, but at this stage of the war, the available torpedoes were notoriously ineffective, either running too deep or failing to explode on contact. Instead he closed to 2,500 yards. The freighters discovered the ship's presence, possibly by radar, and turned searchlights in its direction. Fitzgerald ordered the men manning the three- inch deck gun to commence firing. Immediately, the two freighters returned fire, neither side scoring a hit.
Knowing the Grenadier had been spotted, Fitzgerald quickly turned direction, electing to make a surface end-around, which would put the sub in front of the enemy, in position to submerge and attack. But while the Grenadier moved twice as fast on the surface than it did when submerged, it would take the Grenadier all night - twelve hours - to accomplish this maneuver. The crew - eight officers and sixty-eight enlisted men - stood down from their battle stations.
Bob sat down at a table to write a letter to his wife, Barbara. He would post the letter as soon as the ship returned to Fremantle. Barbara was living in San Francisco, where they had gotten married a week after Pearl Harbor, six days before he'd shipped off to war. She'd gotten pregnant during those six days, but the excitement he'd felt when he'd gotten the news was soon offset by sadness when she lost the baby. He still had a year to go on his duty.
Seated at the table with Palmer were three other men just as anxious to get back to port - Tim McCoy from Dallas, Texas; Chuck Vervalin from Dundee, New York; and Gordy Cox from Yakima, Washington. Tim and Chuck had met the women they thought were the loves of their young lives on their last leave in Fremantle, and both talked of marrying these young Aussies and taking them back to America after the war. Tim's girl was the reigning Miss Perth. Gordy, the fourth man at the table, had also met a girl, but he was the shy type and wasn't sure she liked him as much. Still, he hoped. He'd even written his mom about her. He'd never had a girlfriend growing up.
As the Grenadier made its long circle, Tim and Gordy had time to talk. The two sailors, neither yet twenty-one, were total opposites. Tim was extroverted, cocky, and full of Texas bravado; Gordy was slightly built, quiet, and not confident in his ability to learn the complex set of submarine skills necessary to advance beyond his rank of seaman first class. Despite the close confines of the sub and their shared experience in battle - which included being scared shitless - they barely knew each other. Gordy's initial impression was that Tim was a little too full of himself.
Chuck got up from the table and walked to his bunk, where he pulled a picture of Gwen, his nineteen- year-old girlfriend, out from under his pillow. He'd met her strolling through an arcade in Perth a few months earlier. Two nights before the Grenadier had shipped out on this mission, Gwen had given him a Saint Christopher's medal for good luck and protection. He promised he'd never take it off; she promised she'd wait for him. During their last night together, he confessed that he had an uneasy feeling about this patrol, much more than before the other four he'd been on. She asked why. "Because for the first time in my life I have somebody I really care about," he answered. Throughout the night, the Grenadier sped along the ocean's surface at its top speed, 18 knots. Just before daylight it neared its attack position. As it closed on its targets, Fitzgerald ordered it to submerge and for everyone to man their battle stations. But the freighters had unexpectedly changed direction, and Fitzgerald watched through his periscope as they zigzagged out of sight, leaving only smoke plumes visible on the horizon.
More eager now than ever for a kill, Fitzgerald ordered the Grenadier back to the surface for a rapid pursuit, disregarding standard naval operating procedure, which advised subs to patrol on the surface only at night. The sun was now up, and so was a Japanese fighter plane sent to look for the Grenadier. For Bob Palmer, Gordy Cox, Tim McCoy, Chuck Vervalin, and the rest of the crew, the war was about to take a terrible turn.
Excerpted from No Ordinary Joes: The Extraordinary True Story of Four Submariners in War and Love and Life by Larry Colton. Copyright 2010 by Larry Colton. Published by Crown, a division of Random House Inc.
Decades later, Greenwich WWII veteran receives Purple Heart
It was more than 65 years ago when Anthony Bucci, who was used to ducking bullets when landing on enemy beaches during World War II, was shot in the hip during one such battle against Japan on the island of Luzon, in the Philippines.
Bucci, now 93, had been serving as a radio operator with the U.S. Navy Reserve for four years, 11 months and eight days, when he was wounded on Jan. 16, 1945.
However, due to a government error, the lifelong Greenwich resident did not receive his Purple Heart until Friday. Bucci was visited in his Cos Cob home by U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., and presented with the medal, a U.S. military decoration awarded to those who have been wounded or killed while serving in combat.
Bucci said he wasn't drafted, and enlisted early, serving in Morocco and making landings in Italy and Normandy, France, before he was transferred to the Pacific Theater.
"It was important to get in there early and fight for my country," Bucci said.
Bucci knows how lucky he was to be able to recover and return home.
"You're lucky you come out alive," said Bucci, who was born in nearby Harrison, N.Y., and then came to Greenwich as an infant. "All I can remember is hitting the beaches and ducking and running. ... All you do is look around and see guys dying."
Bucci, who returned to Greenwich after recovering and worked in home construction -- "building all those nice houses in the backcountry," he explained -- said the reason for the delay in receiving the medal was that the government couldn't find him.
"I had been transferred so many times, they didn't know where I was," Bucci said. "You get moved around a lot, and they can't keep up with you."
Jason Cole, a spokesman for Himes, said Bucci contacted the congressman's office about the medal, and they confirmed with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that Bucci was due.
Himes said in a statement Friday he was happy that his office was able to assist Bucci in finally receiving the honor.
"I am grateful for Mr. Bucci's service to our country," Himes said. "The colorful stories Mr. Bucci shared with me this morning were a vivid reminder of the historic role our service men and women play in creating and maintaining the America we are fortunate enough to have inherited."
Bucci, who doesn't usually participate in local veterans' events, said he hadn't been looking for medals when he enlisted, so failing to receive the Purple Heart never bothered him. Still, he appreciated the award.
"It was nice to be recognized," Bucci said.
Interesting Facts About National World War II Memorial
America lost many of its brave men and women to the monstrous Second World War. With our list of interesting facts about National World War II Memorial, explore the finer details of this monument.
The Second World War was among one of the most heinous human crimes in history. Beginning with a small trigger, the battle escalated to a colossal status, engulfing the whole world and making it a bipolar place. The after-effects of the war lasted for more than five decades and the Cold War, which ended only recently, was a direct result of the Second World War. One of the countries which rose to power after the war and became a world power, henceforth, is the United States of America. America was directly involved in the war and suffered heavy losses. More than 400, 000 US citizens were killed in the war and the impact on the country's history is very evident. To honor all those people who were killed in the events of the war, a memorial was erected and dedicated to the US citizens, two days prior to the Memorial Day in 2004. Join us as we take a closer look at the monument and tell you a few nifty things about the memorial.
Interesting & Fun Facts About National World War II Memorial
a.. It took until 1987 for the idea of World War II memorial to be conceived. It was only when a World War II veteran Roger Durbin approached Representative Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat from Ohio, with a suggestion for such a memorial that people took notice.
b.. Kaptur introduced the World War II Memorial Act to the House of Representatives as HR 3742 on December 10, 1987.
c.. The bill did not pass in 1987 and neither in 1989 or 1991, when it was introduced again.
d.. It was only on March 17, 1993, that the Senate approved the act, after a third re-introduction by Kaptur. The House approved an amended version of the bill on May 4. On May 12, the Senate also approved the amended bill.
e.. The World War II Memorial Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on May 25 of that year, becoming Public Law 103-32.
f.. A total of $197 million was raised of which only 16 million came from federal government. Rest of the money was generated from the people of US and corporate giants.
g.. The selection of the Rainbow Pool site for the memorial was announced on October 5, 1995 by the American Battle Monuments Commission, who supervised all the affairs.
h.. A nationwide design competition was held with over 400 participants for the design of the memorial. Austrian born American, Friedrich St. Florian's design won the competition in 1997, but faced many changes through the reviews that were mandatory.
i.. As per the final design which stands today, there are 56 granite pillars, arranged in a semicircle around a plaza with two 43-foot (13 m) arches on opposite sides.
j.. Each of the 17 feet tall pillars had the name of one of the 48 states in US of 1945 as well as the District of Columbia, the Alaska Territory and Territory of Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
k.. The arches are named "Pacific "on the south and "Atlantic "on the north.
l.. The monument's plaza is 337 ft, 10 inches long and 240 feet, 2 inches wide. It is sunk 6 feet below grade, and contains a pool that is 246 feet 9 inches by 147 feet 8 inches.
m.. The southern side of the memorial depicts scene from war in bas relief all from the pacific theatre, whereas the north end does the same for the Atlantic theatre.
n.. Candidly, the memorial also includes an engraving typical of the Kilroy graffiti from the WWII times, which says "Kilroy was here".
o.. The Freedom Wall on the west side of the memorial has 4,048 gold stars on it, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war.
p.. The ground breaking for the memorial was done in the same September as the 9/11 attacks.
q.. Interestingly the memorial was dedicated to the public on May 29, 2004, though it was opened to the public a month before that, i.e. on April 29, 2004.
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