Tag Archives: world war 2

Leyte, The Philippines: USS Indy Wreck Located

Several horrible events happened within only two weeks of the end of World War 2. Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, a Japanese submarine sank the American cruiser, USS Indianapolis, resulting in the deaths of nearly a thousand Navy men.

Before sailing for the Philippines, the Indy had delivered the first atomic bomb to the Pacific island of Tinian. On August 7, an American bomber from that island dropped it on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths.

To most people under age 90 today, this story is about as obscure as Admiral Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar or Captain John Paul Jones win over British ships. However, for me the Indy disaster evokes personal memories of 72 years ago.

Recent news reports that a scientific team found the Indy wreckage about a mile deep in the ocean, several miles off the coast of Leyte in the Philippines. In 1945, I was at the Navy base in the coastal port of Tacloban. When the news of the disaster came in to us, it was five days and nights after the sinking.

Unfortunately for the Indy crew, the torpedo had destroyed all the communications equipment, so no distress call went out, and the ship sank within minutes. Of the 1,200 crewmen aboard, about 300 were killed by the blasts. The others went into the shark-infested water, and by the time of rescue five days later, only 317 survived.

I was among the Navy guys at the Tacloban base who were assigned to help as the survivors were brought to camp on August 5. Many were in advanced states of exposure, sunburn, wounds and exhaustion.

The Hiroshima bomb was dropped on August 7. When the official Japanese offer to surrender came in on August 15, we were all grateful we had survived the war. The horrible irony of the story, of course, is that the Indy was sunk after delivering the bomb that won the war just days later.

Aw, Gee Whiz! Exhausted Justin Bieber Cancels Tour

Calling the reason for not continuing his Purpose World Tour as “unforeseen circumstances”, the boy singer apparently needs some rest and rehab time. Of course, jumping around and squawking for several hours every night can be very tiring.

Anyhow, Justin will still make multi-millions this year with other gigs and recordings. So, who cares about a bunch of teens who’ll be heartbroken and may not be able to get refunds for their $1,000 Bieber cancelled concert tickets?

It all brings back memories to this old guy of performances by other entertainers of note. The best of all, comedian Bob Hope never cancelled any of his thousands of wartime performances for GIs during World War 2, Korea and Vietnam. And many of them were in makeshift outdoor theaters where the threat of enemy gunfire was always present.

So, let’s just hope the Biebs will recover his voice and get back on the concert tour. We know he’s brave enough to face the perils of being mobbed by dangerous teens.

Is Donald Trump The Worst President Since….

Uh, wait a minute. How about some others who were not so great: Obama, Bush guys, Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, Nixon, Johnson, Hoover, er…maybe Chester A. Arthur. Anyhow, the current Trump fuss isn’t all about him. So, what’s so wrong with the Trump kids playing footsie with the Russkies? It isn’t the first time.

This old sailor remembers during World War 2, when the great Franklin D. Roosevelt sat down with friendly dictator Joe Stalin. We all cheered about what best buddies they were. Fighting allies against the evil Germans. And joined in helping the noble Chinese fight off the brutal Japanese.

Then, soon after the war, when haberdasher Harry Truman was president, things were quickly reversed. Our new pals, Germany and Japan, helped us stand up against the evil Russkies. Soon, in 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea, we all knew the evil Russkie and Chinese Commies were their best buddies.

So, we got involved in a war that still hasn’t ended. Everyone is still frightened today, including the Chinese and Russkies, about a fat little North Korean dictator with a funny haircut. He’s now boasting he can send nuclear rockets to wipe out all the evil Americans.

Can anyone blame this very old and confused guy, who served in World War 2 and Korea, for not naming Donald Trump the worst? Our current leader of the free world will have to work very hard in screwing up to match those other guys.

7/4/17: Old Vet’s Patriotism Sorely Tested

Hey, what the hell is happening in my enfeebled brain? We celebrate our Nation’s independence and I approach my 92nd birthday. Isn’t it traditional that the older you get, the more conservative and feverishly patriotic you become?

I was 16 when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 brought the USA into World War 2. I joined the Navy at age 17 because it was my patriotic duty. And we were willing to give up our young lives as in the lyrics of the Battle Hymn of the Republic: He died to make men holy, so let us die to make men free….

Just a few months before the war ended, 5,800 Marines were killed in March 1945, mostly teens, to capture a little island called Iwo Jima. The war ended in August of the same year, after atomic bombs devastated two Japanese cities, killing 200,000 people, mostly women and children.

My strongest thought now is that dying in any war is stupid and self-destructive. All the patriotic music, recruiting posters, flag-waving and snappy uniforms sucked us naive teenagers in. We were brainwashed to go forth and kill those evil enemy teens to save our beloved nation.

Of course, on the far side of the world, German and Japanese teens were doing the same in preparation to kill us. After WW2, I continued in the Naval Reserve to help pay for college. When the Korean War started in 1950, I was recalled to active duty along with other members of my reserve aircraft carrier unit.

Guess what? Those former Japanese and German enemies were suddenly our best pals, providing airports and seaports, while profiting by selling us war supplies. And the Russians and Chinese, loving allied pals just five years earlier during WW2, were now our deadly enemies.

What’s the idiotic reality of war? At this advanced age, I can no longer be inspired by the patriotic parades and music. To me, war is old guys in fancy uniforms giving each other medals while teens on both sides do the fighting and dying.

Has a war ever produced anything other than useless carnage on battlefields and destruction of cities? And it goes on, when throughout history, politicians, patriots and generals always start another war just a decade or so after the last one. Oh, and by the way, have a safe, happy, peaceful Fourth of July holiday.

Lena Horne At 100: WW2 Memories Of Meeting Her

Today’s her century mark, and although she left us in 2010, Lena Horne ‘s memory is still treasured by this and millions of other fans. She was not only a great singer, but also a fiery personality and fighter for civil rights.

I experienced a face-to-face example of Lena Horne’s attitude way back during WW2. I was 18, just out of Navy boot camp in late 1943, and a lowly go-fer messenger for the public info office at the Great Lakes Navy Station in Illinois.

My duties often required escorting visiting USO entertainers to the station auditorium for their performances. To my teen excitement, they included Bob Hope, Ethel Merman, Jack Benny and other famous stars of the era.

On the day Lena Horne arrived, I took her and a quartet of her musicians to the auditorium. While they set up for rehearsal, I asked Miss Horne if she had any requests. In that glorious voice, she gave me a shocking answer.

She insisted that the first three rows were to be given to black sailors. Knowing it was absolute protocol for those seats to be occupied by the top Navy officers, I told her the request couldn’t be honored. What I didn’t say was that in 1943, black sailors were only allowed in the back rows and balcony. Shocked, I backed off and went looking for the officer in charge.

I brought him to Miss Horne and waited for her to be told off. However, one look into those beautifully glaring eyes, and he humbly met her demand. I enjoyed the performance, especially when I saw the top officers fume and fuss as they were led to seats far from the stage.

Of course, Lena Horne captivated everyone in the audience when she sang familiar hit songs of the time. They included Stormy Weather, The Lady Is A Tramp, Honeysuckle Rose and Someone To Watch Over Me.

Iconic Star Doris Day, 95, To Record Again

Recent reports say the famed singer will make another album for the sake of her favorite pet charities, including the SPCA. Doris Day has always been one of my entertainment idols. This old sailor’s War War 2 memory goes back to 1945 and my favorite Doris Day song, “Sentimental Journey”.

It’s ending lines portrayed an important era in American history. World War 2 was finally winding down, after terrible loss of life, both military and civilian. Many of us had been away for three or four years, and the anticipation of returning to the USA was our dream:

Gotta take that sentimental journey,
Sentimental journey home.

Doris Day’s musical lament was exactly right as World War 2 ended in Europe in May and in the Pacific in September. A member of an advanced Navy team in the Philippines, I was waiting to take my sentimental journey back home.

It reminds me of another timely and inspirational 1945 Doris Day hit, “My Dreams Are Getting Better All The Time”. Good luck in your new album, Doris. And may you enjoy many more years of good health and career success.

Kathy Griffin: Cut Her Some Slack, Not Her Throat

Wow, the comedienne really must have done something disgustingly evil! Both far right nutcase Republicans and far left crazed Democrats want to do to Kathy exactly what her Trump severed head photo portrays. That’s the first thing the political parties have agreed on since Lexington and Concord.

I disagree with those who want to destroy her career, or worse, destroy her. I belong to a fast-disappearing minority who enjoy her comedy. It’s biting, outrageous and sometimes downright dirty. However, she always does it brilliantly, often making herself the butt of her jokes.

When Leno and Letterman retired, I thought Kathy the best candidate for a late-night talk show. Considering what we must endure every evening from the current crop of boring, no-talent hosts, my opinion grows ever stronger in her favor.

What’s shocking about Kathy’s outrageous photo of a bloody Donald Trump head? Of course, the initial thought comes from the too-obvious comparison with what bloodthirsty Middle East terrorists do to victims. Kathy quickly admitted it was a gross display of bad taste. As she’s finding out now, there are limits to what comedians should do to get public attention.

So, let’s get some perspective before we shout: off with her head! This nonagenarian’s memory goes back to personal experiences with murderous hate in World War 2. As an 18-year-old in Navy boot camp, my training with weapons was emphasized to kill those dirty Japs and lousy Krouts.

Of course, Japanese and German 18-year-old recruits were also taught how to kill me. Worse, as in all modern wars, the encouraged murder wasn’t confined to soldier killing soldier.

As the war was ending in 1945, air raids over enemy cities became more and more massive. The bombings of Tokyo, Berlin, Dresden and other targets killed thousands of children and women. And on the very last week of the war, the two atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Of course, World War 2 was not the last of it. There was Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and more. Recent air raids in Syria caused many civilian deaths, and it goes on and on.

Does it all make you stop and think? Kathy Griffin’s beheading joke isn’t quite as offensive as real wars, air raids and suicide bombings that cause never-ending inhuman destruction.