Thursday, November 21, 2019

TheList 5149

The List 5149 TGB

To All,

A bit of history and some tidbits.



This Day in Naval History

Nov. 20

1856—During the Second Opium War, 287 Marines and Sailors from U.S. Navy ships Levant, Portsmouth, and San Jacinto land at Canton, China, under the command of Cmdr. Andrew Foote. This action opens up diplomatic relations with China and the U.S. gains neutrality.

1933—Lt. Cmdr. Thomas G. W. Settle and Maj. Chester I. Fordney set a world altitude record at 61,237 ft. in a balloon flight into the stratosphere at Akron, OH.

1943—Vice Adm. Raymond A. Spruance's 5th Fleet lands Marine Corps and Army forces on Tarawa and Makin Atolls in the Gilbert Islands during Operation Galvanic.

1943—PBY aircraft sink Japanese cargo vessel Naples Maru off New Ireland.

Thanks to CHINFO
Executive Summary:

• The New York Times reports the Navy intends to revoke Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher's Trident pin following President Trumps' intervention in the SEAL's case.

• USNI News reports that USS Abraham Lincoln has entered the Persian Gulf as USS Harry S. Truman returned to sea.

• Two U.S. service members were killed on Wednesday in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, the New York Times also reports.

• Bloomberg reports Secretary of Defense Mark Esper's negotiations with allies during trip to Asia muted by America First foreign policy.

Today in History

November 20


Diocletian is proclaimed emperor of Numerian in Asia Minor by his soldiers. He had been the commander of the emperor's bodyguard.


Zumbi dos Palmares, the Brazilian leader of a 100-year-old rebel slave group, is killed in an ambush.


Sweden's 17-year-old King Charles XII defeats the Russians at Narva.


In Cheyenne, Wyoming, 42-year-old hired gunman Tom Horn is hanged for the murder of 14-year-old Willie Nickell.


Bulgaria proclaims its neutrality in the First World War.


Mrs. Glen Hyde becomes the first woman to dare the Grand Canyon rapids in a scow (a flat-bottomed boat that is pushed along with a pole).


Japan and China reject the League of Council terms for Manchuria at Geneva.


U.S. Army and Marine soldiers attack the Japanese-held islands of Makin and Tarawa, respectively, in the Central Pacific.


The Nazi war crime trials begin at Nuremberg.


Princess Elizabeth (future Queen Elizabeth II) marries Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in Westminster Abbey.


U.S. troops push to the Yalu River, within five miles of Manchuria.


The Maryland National Guard is ordered desegregated.


President John F. Kennedy bars religious or racial discrimination in federally funded housing.


U.S. census reports the population at 200 million.


The United States announces it will give Turkey $35 million for farmers who agree to stop growing opium poppies.


The United States files an antitrust suit to break up ATT.


South Africa backs down on a plan to install black rule in neighboring Namibia.


Microsoft Windows 1.0 released.


Fire in England's Windsor Castle causes over £50 million in damages.


First module of the International Space Station, Zarya, is launched.


Dow Jones Industrial Average sinks to lowest level in 11 years in response to failures in the US financial system.


There is a Book "The Pacific By Ambrose that is a must read. It follows the careers of 5 Marines and one Navy pilot through the battles in the Pacific. All of the Marines except one who was lost at Iwo Jima after being awarded the MOH at Guadalcanal eventually wrote books about what they went through. They are gritty to say the least. This article describes the conditions that these men lived in while literally stopping the Japanese in their tracks at their furthest expansion in WWII. The waters around Guadalcanal were a graveyard of ships both American and Japanese. New H-Grams from Admiral Cox continue to provide descriptions of these engagements. The entire collection can be found here:

1. John Basilone - Wikipedia

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John Basilone was a United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant who was killed in action during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for heroism above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle for Henderson Field in the Guadalcanal Campaign, and the Navy Cross posthumously for extraordinary heroism during the Battle of Iwo Jima. He was the only enlisted Marine to receive both of these decorations in World War II. He enlisted in the Marine Corps on June 3, 1940

By Roy H. Elrod
Winter 2019 • MHQ Magazine

As they moved through the jungle, Roy H. Elrod and his men experienced some of World War II's most savage combat conditions.

Roy H. Elrod was born in 1919 and grew up on a farm near Muleshoe, Texas, that his widowed mother operated. He managed to save enough money, even during the Great Depression, to attend Texas A&M, but in 1940 he dropped out of college to enlist in the Marine Corps, where he rose through the ranks rapidly. By the time his 8th Marine Regiment was sent to Guadalcanal in November 1942 he was commanding a platoon of 37mm antitank gunners.

As he and his fellow marines moved through the jungles of Guadalcanal on January 15, 1943, Elrod engaged a particularly deadly Japanese machine gun emplacement and disabled it by crawling to the front of the nest and jerking the red-hot barrel out of the enemy's hands. He then killed both gunners. For his combat leadership, he received a Silver Star and a battlefield promotion to lieutenant colonel.

Elrod died in 2016 at age 97. The narrative that follows is adapted from Elrod's posthumously published memoir, We Were Going to Win, or Die There—With the Marines at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Saipan (University of North Texas Press, 2017), which was edited by Fred H. Allison, a retired Marine Corps officer who since 2000 has been the Marine Corps' oral historian.

Nighttime was a spooky time along the perimeter. It could be the blackest black, and the jungle made strange noises with the numerous critters that populated it—big spiders, crabs, and whatnot. There was always in the back of our minds the knowledge that the Japanese liked nothing better than to sneak into a foxhole and cut a marine's throat. There would be shouting back and forth, mutual insults passed with the Japanese. Of course, their English was very poor. Some might have spoken good English, but all of them had problems with Ls and Rs. For passwords we would try to get a word that had letters that would be difficult for them to repeat. We always had a password and a countersign. I told my men not to fire unless they were certain it was a real threat. To do so gave away our position, and it caused the other marines to awaken and go on alert, thus depriving them of sleep.

I soon discovered that worse than the Japanese were the living conditions on Guadalcanal. We were really living like animals. If it rained, we got wet. If the sun came out, we got dry. If you were close to a river and you could keep from being exposed to sniper fire, we would take a bath in the river. Of course, we watched for alligators and crocodiles. If there was no river, we didn't bathe. We would be desperate to be clean, though, so if it started raining, and we were clear of snipers, we'd strip, and soap up. If it stopped raining before you got rinsed off, then you just had a layer of soap on you until the next time it rained.

Living on the front line, we had no tents. There was nothing in front of us but the Japanese. We lived in holes, but we dug our holes so when it rained, the water would run to one side. We could [then use] our helmets [to] bail the water out. That kept us from having to actually sleep in the water. That didn't keep the rain from falling on you. Sometimes we tried to rig a shelter half over the hole but there was no real way to stay dry.

Occasionally, when we would have one of the fold-up stretchers around, I would open one up and sleep on it, and this would keep my body an inch or so above the ground. We all wanted to have as light a load as possible, and so I had a half-blanket. I slept on that and we would usually cover ourselves with a poncho or something to ward off as much rain as possible. We quit trying to stay dry. If you had something that you wanted to keep dry, you'd keep it under your helmet on top of your head. Marines put letters or pictures, or the people who smoked would put their cigarettes there. I never smoked.

It didn't take long for my marines to get sick. I developed a case of malaria after only about a week…along with dysentery and diarrhea. I remember one night I sat on this box over a slit trench streaming with diarrhea, shaking with malaria, and throwing up. At the same time, Japanese mortar rounds were landing behind me, and as I sat there in the pouring rain and with mosquitoes biting me, I said to myself, "I wonder why they can't get one of those rounds in here where it will do some good?" That was the low point.

But everyone was sick, everybody had malaria, and diarrhea was very common. It just amazed me, though, the endurance that the marines showed. As time went by, and as marines were evacuated because of disease or combat wounds, the word went out that unless you had a fever over 104, you weren't allowed to go to sick bay. The corpsman would have to do what he could to medicate you, but you were not leaving.

So the longer we stayed, the more the men suffered. It wasn't just sickness. We were ridden with jungle rot and skin infections. We had to be very careful with any kind of skin abrasion or cut because with the sweat and body oils, the mud and the dirt, and the dripping humidity, you had an excellent chance of getting an infection. I got fungus in my ears. I found that 100 percent pure alcohol would reduce the fungus, so one of the old chief pharmacist's mates gave me a little bottle that would fit right in one of the ammo pouches on my belt.

We received a new drug called atabrine, and it was supposed to help prevent malaria. It had a strange side reaction, though. It turned the skin yellow, and the whites of the eyes would turn canary yellow. The scuttlebutt began that this was going to destroy male virility. I told my marines, "Look, there isn't a woman within 2,000 miles of here….Take the damned pill!"

I had the section sergeants, the corpsman, platoon sergeant—and I did it myself—follow along to make sure each man took his atabrine. I am not sure how well it worked. Even though we had lots of losses to malaria, it probably would have been much worse without the atabrine. All I can say is at least enough of us survived to finish the campaign.

Foot problems were rampant. With the leather field shoes we had and the amount of humidity and mud and rain, our feet were rarely dry. I had my men take their shoes off and massage their feet, turn their socks wrong side out and put them on the other foot.

Food was always in short supply. We were truly on starvation rations. Everyone was losing weight. I dropped down to about 165 pounds from over 190. Many times we had nothing but a little captured Japanese rice, but it kept us alive. We had plenty of ammunition, though. We never lacked for 37mm rounds. Although it seemed we were always short of hand grenades. We had to conserve them. Also mortar ammunition was in short supply.

I saw it as one of my main jobs as a lieutenant to know my marines. One of them, I noticed, never shaved. He did not need to; he had no beard. This raised my suspicion. One day I asked him, "How old are you?"

"Oh, I'm 17, lieutenant."

I said, "Dammit, I'm not going to do anything to you. Tell me the truth—how old are you?"

"I will be 15 my next birthday."

I did not bother him about it. He was probably the best Browning automatic rifleman that I ever saw. He could play a tune with it. I said, "How did you get into the Marine Corps?"

He said, "I stole my brother's birth certificate."

So here he was, a 15-year-old boy, but really a good marine. He was not the only one—there were numerous underage marines—and I often wondered if those who came in under false names ever got their records straight.

While the sickness took many marines, we also had many killed and wounded. I didn't think any of my marines ever suffered casualties from the Japanese naval shelling or their air attacks. Most of our casualties were from Japanese mortar rounds or rifle bullets—mostly rifle bullets, because I think they were having supply problems probably even worse than ours. One of my marines got hit by a sniper round; it hit right near the crotch, in his groin. The round had ripped a gaping hole in him. The flesh was torn back and bubbly yellow fat was evident. A main artery was severed, and every time his heart beat, blood spurted three or four feet in the air. He was mostly worried about his "plumbing" though. I told him, "It's in good condition. You've just got a hell of a hole in your thigh." I had the corpsman ride back with him to the aid station for fear that the tourniquet would slip off. We were using a rubber tube tourniquet, and when it got blood soaked it would slip. After that, I acquired a strap bandage tourniquet and carried that in my belt for the rest of the war.

Along the perimeter we maintained an aggressive defense, and that meant lots of patrolling. We would try to find out where the Japanese might be massing for another attack. They used the trails in the interior of the island to move from one area to the next. By checking these trails we could see signs of Japanese troop movement; there would be tracks or abandoned gear and equipment. These indicated troop movement and direction.

Although we were a 37mm gun crew, we were regarded as infantry, and we went on patrols. Of course, we left our 37mms in their positions and carried infantry weapons on these patrols. As a lieutenant I was expected to lead patrols.

Our patrols were various types, and you had an assigned mission for each patrol. I was never sent out to engage the enemy. You were sent out either to look at a specific area or to find a particular thing. Sometimes we would go out for just a few hours, other times longer.

The technique we used when we were going out was to find a spot where the Japanese had little, if anyone, present. We [would sneak] out in that area and go deep enough behind them to be able to move inland behind their lines. We never came back in through the route that we went out. I always made sure to get in touch with the commander of the unit where I would be reentering the lines. I didn't want my patrol to get shot up by our own marines.

If we were going to be out overnight, we would pick a good defensive position and dig in, and as soon as it was real dark, we would move to our real position and set up there. I never spent the night at the place we were when the sun went down.

You had to be very quiet—no talking, no noise—and move very stealthily. On several patrols I actually saw Japanese. Sometimes we heard them, and sometimes we smelled them, or [both]. I was expected to observe the enemy but not be seen. There were occasions where patrols were ambushed. That never happened to me. I think maybe that was luck. Who knows?

It was just a matter of continual movement, continual hunger. People were ragged. I don't think there was ever a time when the marines on Guadalcanal were adequately supplied. When the First Division landed, the navy pulled out with a lot of the supplies. It never got any better. [But] morale was pretty good. Oh, people bitched about food. When you became really hungry, food became ever-present in your mind. This was one of the few times when you would hear marines talking about food rather than women.

We had an attitude about the Japanese that began when we were briefed by the First Marine Division liaison officer, who had visited when we were on Samoa. We became convinced that the Japanese were a merciless foe, and we went there with the idea of killing them all. We maintained that attitude for the entire war. MHQ

This article appears in the Winter 2019 issue (Vol. 31, No. 2) of MHQ—The Quarterly Journal of Military History with the headline: A Marine at Guadalcanal


Military Milestones from Bloody Betio to Mao's Death Warrant by W. Thomas Smith Jr.

This Week in American Military History:

Nov. 23, 1863: The battles of the Chattanooga campaign begin between newly appointed commander of the Western armies, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg (yes, Fort Bragg, N.C. is named in his honor). Within days, Union Army forces will attack and capture Orchard Knob, Lookout Mountain, and the Confederate works on Missionary Ridge. The "Gateway to the Lower South" will open, and within a year, Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman will pass through the "gateway" enroute to Atlanta.

Nov. 23, 1943: Japanese-held Tarawa -- "an elongated, sharply curving chain of little islands with a heavily defended southwest tip" known to U.S. Marines as "bloody Betio" -- falls to American forces despite the boast of its defending commander, Rear Adm. Keiji Shibasaki, that "a million men could not take Tarawa in a hundred years." In fact, it takes several thousand Marines and about 76 hours to seize Tarawa. But it is not without great cost. Marine casualties (including sailors) number over 1,020 killed and nearly 2,300 wounded. Many are lost during the first few hours of the fighting as the landing craft are unable to get ashore, and Marines (carrying all of their equipment) are forced to wade toward the beach, stumbling over jagged coral reef for several hundred yards -- some falling into deep holes and drowning -- all the time under withering fire. Lt. Commander Robert A. McPherson -- a Naval aviator flying above Tarawa during the battle -- will recall: "The water never seemed clear of tiny men, their rifles held over their heads, slowly wading beachwards. I wanted to cry." Among the heroes is Col. David Monroe Shoup (future commandant of the Marine Corps) who will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions on Tarawa. At one point during the fighting, Shoup, wounded and leading his men forward, signals his superiors: "Casualties: many. Percentage dead: unknown. Combat efficiency: we are winning." Veterans of Tarawa also will remember red-mustachioed Maj. Jim Crowe, swagger-stick in hand, calmly strolling his embattled lines, exhorting his men to fight. "All right, Marines, try and pick out a target and squeeze off some rounds," he shouts, as bullets and hot shell fragments zing past his head. "You better kill some of those bastards or they'll kill you. You don't want to die, do you? Come on, now, let's kill some of them!" Of the 4,836 Japanese defenders on Tarawa, 4,690 are killed, many perishing during suicidal "Banzai" charges against the Americans.

Nov. 24, 1944: U.S. Army Air Forces B-29 bombers (111 of them) based in Saipan attack the Nakajima Aircraft engine plant near Tokyo in the first attack on the Japanese mainland since Doolittle's raid (see Apr. 18, 1942).

Nov. 27, 1950: The Battle of Chosin Reservoir opens when the Chinese 9th Army Group -- four armies under the command of Gen. Song Shilun -- surge across the Yalu River into Korea and attack numerically inferior U.S. Marine and Army forces. Song has special instructions to destroy the 1st Marine Division. "The American Marine First Division has the highest combat effectiveness in the American armed forces," writes Premier Mao Tse-Tung in orders to Gen. Song. "It seems not enough for our four divisions [sic] to surround and annihilate its two regiments. You should have one or two more divisions as a reserve force." Moreover, orders specify that all other American and allied forces are to be eliminated to the last man.

But the Chinese will fail (see upcoming weeks).


Thanks to Naval Historical Heritage Command

Tarawa: Breaking into the Gilberts

19 November 1943

Operation Galvanic, the U.S. invasion of the Gilbert Islands, was undertaken to provide a stepping stone to the strategically located, Japanese-occupied Marshall and Marianas island chains in the central Pacific. Thus, the concurrent capture of the Tarawa atoll by the Marines and Makin atoll by the U.S. Army in November 1943 eliminated Japanese garrisons east of the Marshalls and also ensured secure lines of communications with Hawaii.

On Tarawa, Japanese forces primarily occupied Betio Island, at the southwest corner of the atoll. Initial landings by the 2nd Marine Division were undertaken on the northern (lagoon) side of the island on 20 November. Although the first three assault waves, transported by tracked landing vehicles (LVTs), managed to reach the landing beaches, the unpredictable tide blocked the follow-on conventional landing craft at the lagoon's reef line, entailing disembarkation several hundred yards out and along a preexisting cargo-handling pier. The sea wall bordering the landing beaches slowed down or halted many LVTs and the tanks that were landed to provide fire support to the infantry. Japanese resistance was fierce, and the issue appeared in doubt for the landing force for much of the first day of the operation. Reinforcements landed on 21 November, and later landings on beaches on Betio's western end enabled the Marines to make headway against the determined defenders. Improved tidal conditions that allowed easier landing of supplies and supporting units also contributed to a renewed impetus. By the evening of 22 November, the Japanese had been pushed into defensive pockets on Betio's eastern end and along the island's northern and northwestern shorelines. Organized resistance on Betio ceased the following day; the other islands in the atoll were secured by 28 November.

Previous Allied amphibious landings in the Pacific encountered far less resistance, so the ferocity of the Japanese forces defending Tarawa—and the resultant high U.S. casualty rate—was a surprise to the troops and to the American public: During the combat operations, 1,009 Marines were killed and 2,101 wounded. The U.S. Navy's primary loss was the escort carrier Liscome Bay (CVE-56), which was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine while supporting Galvanic; 646 officers and enlisted personnel were killed. Out of the Japanese garrison, 4,690 were killed; 17 soldiers and 129 laborers were captured.


This is another outstanding bit of history thanks to the Naval Historical Heritage Command

" Learning from History" is an initiative CNO Richardson has asked NHHC to shepherd. Find out what the Navy learned from Guadalcanal (


9. This Medal of Honor Recipient was the Navy's First Ace-In-A-Day

(WE ARE THE MIGHTY—15 NOV 18) … Logan Nye

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Edward H. "Butch" O'Hare was a pioneer of Navy aviation, establishing the Navy's first night fighter squadron, earning a Medal of Honor and ace-in-a-day status, and probably saving American carrier USS Lexington before his tragic death during a night battle in November, 1943. O'Hare was the son of a St. Louis, Missouri, businessman with ties to Al Capone's gang. His father put in a good word to get the younger O'Hare into the U.S. Naval Academy, which led to his being trained as an aviator.

During his training, his father turned against Capone after the events of the Valentine's Day Massacre and passed financial documents to the IRS. Capone was eventually convicted, but put a hit out on O'Hare's father. Then-Ensign O'Hare took a break from training to attend his father's funeral, but went on to earn his wings 18 months before the Pearl Harbor attacks. He earned a reputation as a skilled aviator before America entered World War II.

His first engagement came near the Pacific island of Rabaul while his wing was temporarily assigned to the USS Lexington. A patrolling submarine spotted waves of Japanese "Betty" bombers heading for the Lexington's task force on February 20, 1942. Fighters took to the air, and O'Hare and his wingman were the last pair to get airborne.

While the first fighters to take off dealt with the first wave of bombers, a second wave closed in and the O'Hare pair were the only fighters in position to attack. They did a quick test fire of their weapons. O'Hare had four working guns, but his wingman couldn't fire.

And so O'hare was left facing either eight or nine attacking bombers — accounts differ — with only his F4F Wildcat protecting the carrier. He had just a few minutes to interrupt the enemy attack.

O'Hare zipped into position and focused his first attack on two bombers trailing on the right side of the enemy formation, downing both with quick, accurate bursts from his four .50-cal. Browning machine guns against their engines and fuel tanks. By the time he had downed the second bomber, he had overtaken the formation so he wheeled back around and came up the left side.

This time, he hit the rearmost plane with shots to the starboard engine that sent it wheeling toward the sea. O'Hare attacked again, slaughtering a fourth plane and crew with shots through the left wing and cockpit.

It had been only moments, and approximately half of the enemy formation had hit the water or was on its way. But that still left about four bombers heading to Lady Lex. So, O'Hare went in for a third attack pass as the fight drew into range of the Lex's guns.

He sent a burst into the trail plane and then sent more rounds at the lead plane of the formation, knocking one of its engines off.

The kills had come so fast and furious that officers on the Lexington would later report seeing three fireballs heading for the ocean at once.

Between O'Hare and shipboard gunners, only two of the Japanese "Bettys" were still alive to drop their bombs, and none of the bombs managed to damage the carrier at all. O'Hare would claim six kills from the engagement, but he would only get credited with five. Either way, that took him from zero kills to fighter ace in a single engagement. This made him the Navy's second fighter ace and its first ace-in-a-day as the service's air arm was young and relatively small in World War I.

O'Hare tried to eschew glory for his success, but the U.S. was hungry for a hero in the months after Pearl Harbor and a series of U.S. defeats. The young pilot was summoned to Washington D.C. to receive the Medal of Honor, then he was sent to fill an instructor slot to pass on his knowledge to others.

But that couldn't keep O'Hare engaged, and he returned to combat in 1943, this time flying the Wildcat's stronger successor, the F6F Hellcat. In just a few months during the latter half of 1943, O'Hare earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, one for an attack on Japanese forces on Marcus Island where he and his flight destroyed all aircraft on the ground and approximately 80 percent of ground installations, and another for an attack against Wake Island installations where the flight downed three enemies in the air and destroyed planes and installations on the ground.

But the American forces were vulnerable deep in the Pacific, and O'Hare was tasked with finding a way to stop Japanese dusk attacks had allowed damage to the USS Independence. His proposal to create three-plane teams with two Hellcats and a radar-equipped Avenger was quickly adopted. The carriers would detect enemy planes first and vector the fighter in until the Avenger could detect the targets.

O'Hare referred to them as the "Black Panthers" and often went aloft with them. On November 26, 1943, he went up to help disrupt an attack by more Japanese Bettys. The flight was able to shoot down one bomber and then the Hellcats worked to get back in line with the Avenger.

Right as the Hellcats returned to the Avenger, though, a Japanese plane slipped in behind them and sent a burst through O'Hare's plane. The tail gunner in the Avenger downed the attacker, but O'Hare and his plane slipped away into the dark and crashed into the water.

He was never found again, but did receive a posthumous Navy Cross for his contributions to Navy night fighting. Chicago's O'Hare airport is named for him. One of his top subordinates and wingmen was Lt. j.g. Alex Vraciu, who ended the war as the Navy's fourth top ace.

Coincidentally, Vraciu earned six of his kills in a single engagement after taking off from the USS Lexington, copying O'Hare's claimed feat from 1942.


I really enjoy hearing from List members that help keep the history alive of those who served our country.

See the attachments to today's List

Thanks to Harold Prather from Fort Worth, Texas. I'm the guy who wrote you some time ago about knowing Ad Topperwein. I came across another story I thought you may like and perhaps use in the List. The men in these stories are cousins of an old friend of mine that he has been telling me about for years. The statue of Neel Kearby was placed several years ago in Arlington, Texas, and the enclosed article came out in this Sunday's Fort Worth paper. I sent a copy to my friend, and he sent me the article on Neel's brother whom I did not know about previously. They are very interesting stories about two World War II hero's from the same family. I hope you enjoy reading them.

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