Thursday, June 7, 2012

OMB Old Soldiers Never Die

Senior  Citizens who are also Veterans,
find this special day to remember how 
fortunate we are, again, this year.
I know how swiftly  some of us mature
while we are in Service, some take 
much longer.
My maturity in the Service, came with
a Court Martial and a rude awakening.
During the next 30 months, I became a 
Senior minded individual. 
I started to think like my Dad and started
to drink like my Grandfather...sparingly 
and rarely to excess.
I became aware of my friends and Family...
Where was this whole picture going to take us.
Who was gonna make it...  besides me?
That was where my Maturity Faltered.
I, was never out of the equation of survival.
That turning point came to fruition after the
Landings. 
I had become a Senior Citizen in my Twenties.
I was recognized by my Peers in the Military as,
"An Old Soldier"


In 1943 when I began my Military Career,
the Army had a pecking order for us,. those
Draftees and Newbee Enlistees  ....
The Career Army Personel, kept us at arms length
until we proved our worth..
After all, they were the older soldiers and 
they had a right to demand our respect for
their experience and guidance.
AND THEY GOT IT!
The division was clear.
The old Army, training the "new army"
These guys, were already, "old soldiers"


Which brings me to 1951 . 


I remember watching
The TV National Broadcast of General
Douglas MacArthur, who made his farewell  
address to the U.S. Congress after being recalled 
from Korea, by President Harry S. Truman.
His speech, made History, with the most
famous quote....


 "Old Soldiers Never Die, They Just Fade Away" .


Of course he was referring to himself but 
I could"t  help feel he was talking about 
"the old Army of World War l "
Well now.
I hope you don't think of me being partial
to old folks but I think we should never forget 
any Service person regardless of their age or 
length of Service, and let them fade away.
They have earned our everlasting respect
and Memory.   


I borrowed  this poem , a tribute to the
98th Bomber Group from a Blog I follow..
The Charley-Boy Chronicles
 A WW ll  pilot's story
 posted by Elizabeth Bacher a couple
of  months ago.
Can't get it out of my mind.
Sharing it with you.



High Flight

"Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
and danced the skies,
on laughter- silvered wings;

Sunward, I've climbed, and joined,
the tumbling mirth, of sun- split clouds.
Done a hundred things,
you have not dreamed of,
wheeled and soared,
swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hov'ring  there,
I've chased the shouting wind along,
flung my eager craft,
through the footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the wind swept heights,
with easy grace,
where never lark or eagle flew.

While,
with silent, lifting mind,
I've trod the high, untrespassed,
sanctity of space,
I put out my hand,
and touched,
the face of God."
Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee   Jr.                                                       
No. 412 Squadron, RCAF
Killed December 11, 1941











OMB.1st Special Brigade Monument Pictures on Utah Beach

Oldest Military Blogger Posts some Pictures he promised....
It seems that, some promises are more difficult to keep.
Forgive the Quality, think of the effort.
Let me know what you think


This Monument on the Utah Beach is almost 30 feet in height and in
some other pictures I posted, our 6 foot seven, First Sergeant Harte,
is standing next to the Pylon at the very top.




The Pylon atop the Monument Dedicated to The First Engineer Special Brigade Memorial and the Service Units that landed on Utah Beach , on H Hour, D Day, on June 6th, 1944.








The front of the Monument on Utah Beach with the Engraved, Bronze, Dedication, Plate, to those lost from the Service Units that are listed in the previous Picture.






A Studio Picture, only not enough contrast to give you an idea how
good looking I could have been.






Standing in the back, on the left is Portnoy, Center, is Schultsy,
Sorry ....Know who the one on the right is, like I know my own name,
but can't recall right now.. It'll come to me!

In the front row, Okie on the left and West Virginia on the right.
Ginny, was from Wheeling, West Virginia, and sharp as a tack.
All Good Soldiers, to have at your side.









The Two grinning Savages in front of the destroyed Pillbox, facing the Channel on
Utah Beach are, Solomon Fein, Sgt.Finnegan on the left
and George E. Gable, Sgt. Okie on the right side of the picture.









Private First Class Anglin, from Peoria, Illinois standing in front of the 301st Company Jeep
when we got to Cherbourg, France....Finally, Housed With Bunk Beds and Mattresses, months after the Assault on Utah.








Okie on the right,and I sitting on our travel gear before we departed on
one of our Train Duties, guarding 40 and eighters, with special cargos,
into the freight yards, outside of Paris.







First Sergeant Harte, of the 301st Port Company...All 6 foot seven of him.
He and I, Jeeped from Cherbourg, to Liege, to visit my
brother, Moishe, in the Hospital when he got Trench Foot, serving with the
80th Infantry Division, at Bastone.
The shoulder patch insignia with the machine gun carried by an Eagle,
is the Amphibious Engineer official symbol.
The Seahorse symbol was worn on our First Class Uniform under the right
pocket of our Eisenhower Jacket .





You can really appreciate the size of a "pillbox", when you see one with with a dozen men
surrounding the area around one destroyed on the Beach.
I recognize a few of the men, by their posture and their attitude standing there.
A few by the hair comb and facial shape and contours, but I would be guessing,
except for the man on the bottom right, is Bob Marcott from Oak Park Ill.

























OMB: Merry Christmas To All Servicemen and Women

My very best wishes to all the Servicemen and women on their homecoming
from abroad this day.
My very Best wishes to all the Servicemen and women who will be coming
home in the very near future..
My very Best wishes to All Servicemen and women, who are in the States and
are not home yet.
If you've made it home, I pray you will remember, where you were
and how you got there.
Most of all...Remember those who will never come home.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

Oldest Military Blogger Resurrection Woodstock & Phil Ochs

The first time I heard the term, Woodstock,
was the first week in August, 1969.
Vacationing in the Concord Hotel area
with my Family, in upstate New York,
with intense traffic conditions prevailing,
we were taken by surprise.
My teen Daughter asked my wife and I
about attending the Woodstock Festival
with a friend whose Father would take
them and bring them back...
We were very happy to approve this request
because White Lake, was only a 15 minute
ride from where we were staying.
Little did I know, that I would be pressed into
an Heroic role, to rescue them, when the rains
came
Today, I still get the repercussions of The
Woodstock Festival and the Performers
who made a profound impression on America's
Future...
One such Performer was Phil Ochs, with a
rendition of a song called,
What are We Fighting For".
An expression of his personal feeling about
the Viet Nam "engagement", in its early
years.
In January of 2011, Phil Ochs was given a
Posthumous celebration of his Artistry
in New York City.
The Celebration included, movies and Entertainers
who sang his stuff and Film of Phil, his Music
and Lyrics.
"I Aint Marchin Any More" was Featured
in the Films.
Fascinating lyrics of the Artist, Phil Ochs,
in his short 30 years of life, produced the following...

I Aint Marching Any More.

Oh, I marched to the Battle of New
Orleans at the end of the Early
British Wars.
This Young Land started Growin,
This Young Blood started Flowin.
I Aint Marchin Any More.

It's Always the Old Who lead to War,
It's Always the Young to Fall.
Now look at all we've won
with the Saber and the Gun, tell me,
Is It Worth, At All....

For I Stole California from Mexican Land
Fought in a Bloody Civil War.
Yes, I killed my Brothers and Many Others.
I Aint Marchin Any More.

For I Marched to the Battles of
The German Trench, in a War bound
to End All Wars.
Well I must have Killed a Million Men,
Now They Want Me Back Again,
I Aint Marchin Any More.

Well I Flew The Final Mission
in Japanese Skies,
Set Off The Mushroom Roar.
When I Saw the Cities Burnin
I Knew I was Learnin.
I Aint Marchin Any More.

Now the Labor Leaders Screaming
when they Close a Missile Plant.
United Fruit Screams at Cuban
Shores.
Call it Peace or Call it Treason,
Call it Love or Call it Reason
I Aint Marchin Any More.
I Aint Marchin Any More.

Today is my 89th Birthday..and
it is my privilege to close with
the following Thoughts.

is a WW l Film.
This Movie won the 1930 Academy award for
Best Picture of the Year.
It also has a Foreword before the start of this
Heralded feature, which I repeat here.


"This story is neither an accusation nor
a confession and least of all, an adventure,
...for Death is not an adventure to those
who stand,face to face with it.
It will try simply to tell of a generation
of Men, who, even though they have
survived and escaped its shelling,
were Destroyed by The War."

I use these endearing snippets to make
my world known to those who read me.
These snippets may give you the idea
that I am Anti War.
Well!
You Might be Absolutely, Correct.!



Oldest Military Blogger Remembrance Day 11/11/11

Five years ago, I opened my Blog without the slightest idea where it would take me. I posted something "provocative", at the behest of my daughter Elaine, in hopes of my receiving a response, for my getting encouragement.
In my mind's eye, I had feelings about flying Our Flag at half mast every day of the week, as long as our Service men and women were at War or engaged, in an action that put our Forces at risk.
I Posted same and was pleased, that it introduced my Military experience, as a basis for the equation of publishing what I intended originally.

Today is Remembrance Day in America.
The United States of America recognizes today, November 11, 2011 as, The Day of Recognition, of the Servicemen and Women of our Armed Forces, who Died while Serving America.
The entire Country will be Flying Old Glory At Half Mast, and every U.S.Diplomatic Outpost in the World, will follow suit..... Today.
Yet my thoughts are also about Tomorrow.
Remembrance Day has Come and Gone.
When will we remember those that fall on Saturday, November 12, 2011, and the Days After Remembrance Day?
Which brings me to today's Posting of an anonymous piece, sent to me by a Great Canadian Friend, who really "knows how to push my buttons".

A Soldier Died Today.


He was getting old and paunchy  
And his hair was falling fast, 
 And he sat around the Legion,  
Telling stories of the past.    
Of a war that he once fought in  
And the deeds that he had done,  
In his exploits with his buddies;  
They were heroes, every one.    
And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors  
His tales became a joke,  
All his buddies listened quietly  
For they knew where of he spoke.    
But we'll hear his tales no longer,  
For ol' Joe has passed away,  
And the world's a little poorer  
For a Soldier died today.    
He won't be mourned by many,  
Just his children and his wife.  
For he lived an ordinary,  
Very quiet sort of life.    
He held a job and raised a family,  
Going quietly on his way;  
And the world won't note his passing,  
'Tho a Soldier died today.    
When politicians leave this earth,  
Their bodies lie in state,  
While thousands note their passing,  
And proclaim that they were great.    
Papers tell of their life stories  
From the time that they were young  
But the passing of a Soldier  
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.    
Is the greatest contribution  
To the welfare of our land,  
Some jerk who breaks his promise,  
And cons his fellow man?    
Or the ordinary fellow  
Who in times of war and strife,  
Goes off to serve his country  
And offers up his life?    
The politician's stipend  
And the style in which he lives,  
Are often disproportionate,  
To the service that he gives.    
While the ordinary Soldier,  
Who offered up his all,  
Is paid off with a medal  
And perhaps a pension, small..    
It's so easy to forget them,  
For it is so many times  
That our Joes and Jims and Johnnys,  
Went to battle, but we know,    
It is not the politicians  
With their compromise and ploys,  
Who won for us the freedom  
That our country now enjoys.    
Should you find yourself in danger,  
With your enemies at hand,  
Would you really want some cop-out,  
With his ever waffling stand?      
Or would you want a Soldier--  
His home, his country, his kin,  
Just a common Soldier,  
Who would fight until the end.    
He was just a common Soldier,  
And his ranks are growing thin,  
But his presence should remind us  
We may need his like again.    
For when countries are in conflict,  
We find the Soldier's part  
Is to clean up all the troubles  
That the politicians start.    
If we cannot do him honor  
While he's here to hear the praise,  
Then at least let's give him homage  
At the ending of his days.    
Perhaps just a simple headline 
 In the paper that might say:  
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING,
A Soldier Died Today. 

Why should we not fly our flag at half mast every day when our Servicemen are in jeopardy anywhere in the world?
We have Servicemen,in every major country ln every Continent in the World.
Let's Remember Them, NOW.....
AND.....
Let's Bring Them All Home, Safely.  
 








Oldest Military Blogger /Secret SEALs


United States Congressman Charlie Wilson found a way in 2007 to use American Taxpayer Dollars to help the mujaheddin in Afghanistan to defeat the Russians.
Suddenly, the Taliban becomes an American enemy and we confront them in Afghanistan. We try to help to establish a workable Government using “moderate Taliban citizens” to keep the peace until we withdraw.
The Taliban are now financed by Anti-American forces and also,some of the stuff we gave them to knock out Soviet Copters.
Congressman Charlie Wilson, who later paraphrased “whenever a plane goes down, I always fear it is one of our missiles. I feel guilty about that...I really do”.
The secrecy of the U.S.Navy S.E.A.L.s (Sea, Air and Land) was made known to me by author Tom Clancy, in my estimation a brilliant, talented fiction writer, who introduced me to, John T. Kelly, Chief Boatswain Mate, U.S. Navy SEAL.,in his 1993 book,”Without Remorse” .
To be a member of the SEAL Service, one must be so secret, that even his immediate family is restricted from that knowledge ..
The recent accolades, paid to the SEALs in their Osama Bin Laden episode, were remarkably
presented in the Media when it was released, by some sanctioned, official section of authority
in Washington......I Guess....I hope, that is the way our Information about secret exploits of our troops are handled......
The Chinook Helicopter downing was a terrible loss to American Forces and Domestic Citizenry,
everywhere.......However....My contention, is with the questionable release of the information about the presence of Navy SEALs aboard the Aircraft ... The mere fact, that the Taliban, immediately claimed complicity in the destruction of the cumbersome vehicle, was abhorrent to many.
Something is definitely wrong with some important, unanswered, questions !
Navy Forces going to help Army Rangers in the Desert and mountainous areas of Afghanistan???
What happened to the Rangers when their help did not arrive???
How many Service personnel were aboard the Chinook that had
a limited capacity of 35, including the 3 crewmen???
Who authorized the release of the 17 SEAL Casualties to the Media???
If you think I’ve left something out, besides my sorrow of it all....let me know.
“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes,
the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves
and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”
Thomas Jefferson

Oldest Military Blogger Posts Pictures


Today I want to respond to my readers with some pictures of my service during World War II. Up until today, I had no knowledge of how to post these photos. You will all be happy to know that today that episode has been completed successfully.
Signed,
Finnegan
Forced to smile under the gun. Howard Portnoy and I with two guitars we purchased with cigarettes from a lady in Ghent.
Lady in Ghent, Belgium and Ozone Park, L.I. Comedian, Polachski...
Who is that good looking soldier on the left side of the picture.


Polachski and I in Ghent, Belgium, June, 1945.


Cadre of the 301st port Company at Indiantown Gap, P.A. The only one I remember is the guy on the left, in the back row.



The Infamous Company Clerk on Utah Beach. The Seahorse insignia on the monument is no longer in use. Originally issued to Combat Engineers and Beach Masters, it was worn on Class A uniforms and attached to the left front pocket of an Eisenhower Jacket.





I got a choice of a Court Martial or Company Punishment in this outfit after I was AWOL and got the nickname Finnegan. I had chosen Company Punishment and later, I was transferred out to a Cook and Bakers unit, going overseas in one week.
The Cook and Bakers unit was reorganized as a Cadre for the 518 Port Battalion. I became a member of the 301st Cadre and the name of Finnegan fit me like a glove .
I waved goodbye to my old outfit, as they shipped out to the South Pacific when the 301st, was just, three weeks old.
They say, a picture is worth a thousand words but in this case I have more than another 1000
words to tell the story of this 496th Port Battalion, photo.



Me, on top of a Bunker on Utah Beach.




Bob Cary and Robert Marcott.
Two men from Oak Park, IL. ,
A Chicago suburb. They
slowly turn into the,
two wildest guys on Utah Beach.

Oldest Military Blogger D Day Delay

Oldest Military Blogger D Day Delay

D Day on The S.S.George E. Pickett

Today is the 67th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.

Oh yes. They knew we were coming. The 82nd Airborne had been dropped the day before. They fought their way back to the beach.They did not know that the landings would be delayed because of a little bad weather. I'll bet they were outraged beyond anything I could imagine, wondering how they were supposed to hold their objectives without the backup they had been promised, to be, "right behind them."

Waiting for the sound of bugles signifying that the Cavalry, was en route, to the rescue.

To say the least,they were upset. They were tired. They were lucky.

Let me explain where I'm going with this.

People get killed in wars.

Soldiers get killed in war.

We are not trained to see the whole picture.

Our superior officers tell us that we are a small link in the whole chain ,of what the fighting is all about. Don't get negative thoughts regarding your orders.Why are we going to do this, this way, when it seems so much easier, to do it, that way? It's not exactly like they issue a rain check, to some outdoor activity and everyone is inconvenienced for a few days.

This activity has men's lives in the balance.We should not have delayed the landings and sacrificed those men of the 82nd,101st, without a chance of relief as they expected.Somehow I suspect that the delayed landings came about because of some bad intelligence, at the last moments of this operation.

I suppose the early jumpers were told to hold their objective and we would get to them as soon as we can.

Just as these Divisions carried out their orders without question, we would have done the same and gone ashore on the 5th, in the storm, because we were trained to respond to our orders without question and, because we were immortal.

Men who have never been in a combat situation may think about death, but not about their own.

You cannot realize or perceive your own death.That only happens to someone else.

Combat changes that.

One day you understand.

A guy could get killed out here.

When you've seen enough bodies of friends or enemies, you stop running for cover when there is shelling from 88s. You get scared of getting out of your foxhole because one of your skittish neighbors is quick on the trigger.You start thinking a little differently.Your existence depends on how good the guy next to you in the field is. He and the others who are still alive, start thinking pretty much the same way. Don't worry about yourself so much, just watch out for your fellowmen, because they are the only thing that is keeping you alive.

Here we are, more than 67 years after this event and I defy you to tell me how many casualties the pre-D day invaders suffered. I'm sure that this figure is best kept with the overall population of American and Allied losses.




---------

Oldest Military Blogger D Day First Light

Oldest Military Blogger D Day.First Light.

D Day. First light revealed, an LCT nestled up against the S.S.Pickett on the port side, amidships, next to the No.2 hatch. No.2 is the largest hatch on a Liberty ship and contained the heaviest units. The booms on No.2 are rated for 50 tonnes, so the order was to place our tank cargo aboard the LCT along side. The Landing Craft Tank, can deliver its freight by dropping its ramp like bow, right on the beach and tanks are driven off, each with its own driver,one after the other.During the loading process we were taking fire from shore and the bridge of the LCT was hit by an 88 shell from a German gun.We found out later that a Naval Lt .on the bridge was decapitated. The crew was replaced and the LCT cast off,beach bound.The empty spot was taken immediately by another vessel.The action on the starboard side was used for offloading, fuel, ammo and Infantry into LCVPs. (Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel). The SS Morgan went down by the stern, 200 yards off our port side. The daylight increased and it got lighter. My outfit went ashore via an LCVP piloted by a coxswain who was out in the open, at all times. He brought us safely to the beach without incident, then he dropped the ramp, and we debarked in waist deep water. As soon as we were ashore, he backed off the beach to get another load. We had landed on Utah beach.Ten hours later, I returned to the Pickett to help finish unloading the ship and get our gear. The Naval bombardment destroyed almost every fortification on shore.The Atlantic Wall where we landed, was a myth. Fortunately for my outfit, we were put ashore 1000 yards northwest of our initially assigned area, and it was very lightly defended.

There is a Film called "A Walk in the Sun", with Dana Andrews and John Ireland to name a few of the stars,that comes to mind. John Ireland, mentally writes letters to his sister, about his well being after the invasion of an island off Italy. All through the movie, he writes or narrates letters to her, optimistically not knowing, if they will ever be read .

Their mission is to take a well fortified farm house which is serving as an observation post. Completing their assignment, after a huge loss of life, we see,John Ireland's character under a shade tree, paper and pencil in hand, he grimly muses about the contents of a letter to his sister
at the close of the film. .

"Dear Sis, Today we took a farm house. It was so easy."




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Oldest Military Blogger 5 Days Before D Day

Oldest Military Blogger 5 Days before D Day.


D Day Minus 5 days

I left England on June 1,1944 on the Liberty ship, SS George E. Pickett. This was the third dry run we thought,so the speech we got before we went aboard, by some nameless General, was taken in stride.

After being under sail for 12 hours, we started to consider the possibility, of this being the real thing.The following day, still moving around in the Channel off the coast of Brest, more vessels joined our group.We kept moving together. A convoy without any visible Naval escort. We all stayed on deck as much as we could because it was extremely hot below.

All the hatches were covered but we finally found that our cargo was composed of Sherman tanks, Jeeps with trailers filled with gear, DUKWs piled high with rope cargo nets, two and a half ton trucks with canvas covers tied down and thousands of 5 gallon Jerry cans filled with gasoline and guys from the 90th Infantry
at a loss as we were.

It turns out that the General with no name turned out to be Ike, who I wouldn't know from a hole in the ground, and later realized it was he, when his picture was in the Stars and Stripes.

This was no “dry run”.....This time, we knew, it was the real thing!
Little did we know that we would spend 5 days
aboard this vessel.

Oldest Military Blogger Memorial Day 2011

Oldest Military Blogger Memorial Day 2011


Today, Memorial Day,2011, is for rememberance
of the fallen in the service of our Country
.
Today, Senior Veterans, who survived the
turmoils of “long ago”, honor and recall the
service of those who never made it home.

Today, proportionally, one of every thirty
Seniors is a Service Veteran on Social Security ..

Today, I ask you to remember, a World War ll
Veteran, dies every day, of illness,old age
or boredom

Today,those of us who are left, depend
on our Government, to live up to their
agreement with us, toward the Retirement
we worked and paid for our entire working life ..

Today, the Congress is looking for ways
to evade the responsibility they promised.

Today, my Social Security benefit is called, an Entitlement
Entitlement!!!

I paid cash for my Social Security Insurance!
Just because they borrowed the money
does not make my Benefit a Charity, like
a Congressional handout...
Congressional, free Medicare, outrageous
retirement packages, 67 paid Holidays,
3 weeks paid vacations, unlimited paid sick days and
a Cost of Living Adjustment.
Sounds like Welfare to me...and they have the nerve to
call my retirement benefit,....ENTITLEMENT?
We Are Broke.
We are unable to take care of our Senior Veterans.
Wake Up!
Tomorrow, you will all be on Social Security Insurance.
Today.....think about Tomorrow!.
I Thank You For Your Service.

Oldest Military Blogger Crossroad

Oldest Military Blogger ..Crossroads!

I was standing aft, on the starboard side of my
Liberty Ship. entering New York‘s harbor .
It was early afternoon and the Western sun made
the Manhattan skyline glow and shimmer,
in the cloudless blue sky.
I walked around the stern of the vessel to the
port side, to see if it was possible to catch
a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty ..
There She was....silhouetted against the
Jersey shore.
It was exciting for me see this icon, whose
revelation to thousands of arriving immigrants
to America, simply thrilled them, with wonder
and amazement.
I was very happy to be getting home
after 2 years abroad.
What was I going to do when I was discharged
from the Army???
How was I going to get a job?
My parents had moved out of N.Y.C. while I was in service...
Where was I going to live?
Am I going to marry the girl of my dreams?
Are my friends survivors of the War?
With great introspect, I thought about staying
in the Army..
Great!
Nothing changes!
No worries!
Food, shelter,money ..all supplied by the USA.
But!!
Was I a quitter on Life?
No!
So I looked at the re-up form in my hands.
Check the appropriate Box it stated...
4 year Active Service........( )
4 years Inactive Service.....( )
Active Service, was all the above...
Inactive service was a cop out on Life,
to go the Army way, if I couldn't make
it as a civilian.
I Checked the inactive selection.

I had to sweat out the Korean “ War”....
Some of my friends who chose Active, got
called up for that one,immediately..
That, innocent, meaningless, little, CHECK MARK!
The Crossroad of a career, a life, a family
and a 52 year marriage.

Never thought about it then.

Today is my 88th birthday.
Can’t get it out of my mind....now!

Oldest Military Blogger First Flight

Oldest Military Blogger First Flight

You may find this posting a bit unusual in the
sense that this experience was due to my
adventurous inclination and not necessarily
by my stupidity.
I repeat to my “military friends”, never allow
yourself to be swayed by the stupidity of others
and/or especially your own.
The following might read like a fiction fable,
but the reason I had never mentioned it before
was that the risks I and others took,
were so dangerous, I was ashamed to relate them...but
I will, in spite of my reluctance to bare this,
unbelievable episode..
We were stationed at a German POW Hospital in
Carentan, France,it was late September of 1945,
the war was over and I had a mission.
My P38 German Pistol was Chrome Plated in
Antwerp a few months before and I became
compulsive with the idea that this weapon
had to be fired.
The problem...No German ammunition.
One of the prison inmates mentioned that
the P 38 used 9 mm bullets and that any
9mm ammo might fit.
Word was spread around and my scroungers
turned up with 7 bullets of 9mm.
British Sten Gun rounds in exchange for
some cigarettes
The bullets fit the pistol's chamber and
now I had to find a place for firing the weapon.
Portnoy got a jeep on a beautiful day, and he,
with nowhere to go, was easy prey for
Okie and I, to be persuaded,“to take a drive
in the country”.
We found an off to the side, little road, followed
it for a distance and suddenly came upon
an open concrete paved area with a couple
of aircraft hangars on it.
When asked what this place was, we were
told it was a P47 Thunderbolt base that
was being dismantled with most of the
personnel already shipped out.
A Captain with an 8th Air force Patch on
his shirtsleeve asked us if
we had ever been up in a plane...
We looked at each other and said, “Noooo”.... “
Stick arround,” he replied,and added “I’ll
be right back.”
In a short while he returned with a
young Major in a crushed Garrison hat and
rolled up sleeves on his Summer Tan shirt.
The Major explained that a B 17 Bomber
had crash landed on the field a few
months back and had suffered tail
and undercarriage damage.
The plane was virtually stripped of guns
and equipment and abandoned on the side
of the field ..
When the need for pursuit planes and pilots
diminished at the end of May,the entire base,
bored beyond comprehension, turned their
attention to repairing the downed Fortress.
They had finally finished a few days ago
and had just been checking out the engines
when we “just happened by”.
And now the Big Question!
Because of the excessive stripping, they were
not sure if the aircraft was stable.
And, would we act as ballast on its Maiden Flight?
Are you kidding us!....
Lets Go!.
We were asked to sit on the deck, with
our backs to the Cockpit Bulkhead,
facing toward the tail section ..
No chutes, no safety precautions, no
ropes to hold on, no belts, NO Fear.
Just the thrill of a lifetime.
Our First Flight...
When we started moving she shook. roared
and screeched ....and we were airborne.
The landscape rushed by the wide open
gun emplacements a few feet away,to be
replaced by blue skies and a comforting
throbbing that was my heart in my mouth,
in harmony with the excitement of my
whole being.
Me ...The ardent model plane builder,
in my, not so long ago, youth.
Flying!
I’m Flying!
We stood up.
Went to the gun openings on both
sides of the fusilage and looked down on the
waters below as the plane slowly banked ....
We were asked to return to our takeoff places.
We landed with a shake rattle and roll and
slight bump.
There was another man in the pilot's area
with the Captain and Major who “thanked us“
for “helping” them “to complete their Mission”
while pumping our hands vigorously.
The whole thing became a blur.
We got to our Jeep and realized only 3 hours
had elapse from the time we
had arrived at the base and were safely
returning on the sparsely traveled road
back to the Hospital ...
I never got a chance to fire the P38 that day.

Several weeks later when Okie and I returned
to an empty and abandoned Field, he turned to me
and said,” I don’t believe how stupid it was
for me to get on that airplane with you and those nuts..
What were we thinking?”
"You know...." I thought, and said, "those guys,
you refer to as nuts, the Major and Captain,
risked everything for this too, you know" ...
and I muse in hindsight, surely, they ask
themselves that same Question, every once in a while.

I still can’t answer that Question....
but, as my friend Harvey, always wisely said,
"Who Cares...!"

Sooo, this, is worth repeating here.
Avoid the stupidity of others and especially your own.

Thank you for your service on this Veterans day in 2010.

Oldest Military Blogger Returns

Oldest Military Blogger Returns.

More than three years ago I started a blog without
expectations of where it would take me.
I had no plan or goal to achieve, other than to say,
I was an incognito WWII Veteran, who wanted to
share his military time with his family, his friends
and those who had very little knowledge of the
war to end all wars.
Gradually, as I proceeded blindly on the course
to my first postings, my thoughts were triggered by
emotional outpourings of wartime experiences.
The realization that My Blog was being read by lay
people with hardly any inkling of the details of
soldiering, Small insignificant details, neglected by
the Electronic Media and the Press,became my
target area.
I started to describe military insignia, military dress,
military rank and military organizations in easy
uncomplicated terms..
I became comfortable in my Blogger role and
decided to out myself on the Internet.
The Republican American Newspaper gave me
an accolade as “The Greater Generation
Joins The Blogger World.”
The article was published February 2nd and 3rd, 2009..
In the following few days every thing changed.
Milblogging.com picked up the item and published this
Front Page story including my picture, and giving me
the honorable title, Oldest Military Blogger ....
I became a Contender !
( I described this term in a previous posting)
The exposure gave me access to readers who left
endearing comments on my postings.
Some comments thanked me for jogging their
memories of loved ones who served
in the Armed Forces.
Fathers, Grandfathers, and Brothers, remembered
in Conversations by their Children, Nieces and Nephews.
How My Readers relished to recall the exploits of
their loved ones as it was related to them!!
How lucky were these readers to have had,
These Conversations.
How, unfortunately for some, in most cases,
there was only a slim chance,
for These Conversations
Lack of enthusiasm to speak about their Service
stays with discharged Veterans ....
Until they find a way to put their experiences
into words, that will be acceptable, to others.
Home, from the Horrors they have witnessed and
were caught up in, they find great difficulty in
participating in any conversation, let alone,
These Conversations.
Please !!
Give them time to realize they are HOME!
It took me 60 years....
So be very patient.......
As you were with me, in my absence.

Oldest Military Blogger Memorial Poem

I would be neglectful after finding this poem
to not pass it on to my blog and its' readers.
It was attributed to Major Michael Davis
O'Donnell.A Medal of Honor Recipient in the
Vietnam War.
It is a very moving statement and though
I know this poem is well circulated,
my feelings are such that this kind of
expression cannot be reissued too often.
Thank You For Your Service on this Memorial
Day and every day in perpetuity.


If you are able,save them a place
inside of you and save
one backward glance when
you are leaving for
the places they can no longer go.

Be not ashamed to say
you loved them,
though you may,
or may not have, always.

Take what they have left
and what they have taught you
with their dying
and keep it with your own.
And in that time,
when men decide and feel safe
to call the war insane,
take one moment,
to embrace those gentle heroes
you left behind.

Major Michael Davis O'Donnell
January 1, 1970
Dak To, Vietnam

Oldest Military Blogger Refers to Exercise Tiger

On a previous posting in 2007,titled, "Limited Service", I ended the article
with, "What in the world am I doing here on the beach on D Day?"
Through the Freedom of Information Act, two years ago, Ken Small, the author
of " A Memorial For A Sherman Tank ", obtained the answer to that question for me.
He related that in April of 1944, the culmination of a project
called Exercise Tiger and how this rigorous training with live ammunition,
was held as a preamble to Operation Neptune, the invasion of France
across the English Channel.
Exercise Tiger had a previous dry run in December of '43 but the
April 44th rehearsal led ultimately, to be one of the most horrendous
misfortunes of WWll.

Exercise Tiger was staged off South Devon England, at a beach
called Slapton Sands, just 6 weeks before the D Day landings
in Normandy.
South Devon then, was a quiet little hamlet on the southeastern English
coast with beaches, whose configurations were similar to the Normandy
terrain of Utah Beach.
An ideal place for Exercise Tiger were it not for Murphy's Law.
"If anything could possibly go wrong ,it will".
On April 29th 1944, in the English Channel less than 40 miles from
the German occupied French soil, Exercise Tiger was devastated by
E Boats from their base in Cherbourg, France.
The Cherbourg Peninsula was a huge E Boat base that harrassed and
sunk Allied shipping.
E Boats are the equivalent to the U.S. PT 109,the torpedo boat
commanded by John Kennedy in the South Pacific long before he
became the President of the U.S.
These E Boats were fast and deadly and surely held in the highest
regard for the safety of Allied troops and ships by the leadership
of the exercise.
Unfortunately, the 2 Destroyers assigned to defend the men and
equipment had difficulty with their communication gear.
Exercise Tiger was a disaster.
The Army's 1st Engineer Special Brigade and the US Navy suffered
losses in the Channel and on the English beach due to heavy shelling.
The Brigade losses were more than two Companys
At first I thought my Battalion was a replacement for the casualties
of the Brigade.
Later I wes told that our three Port Battalions with the the 1st Engineer
Special Brigade were assigned there originally.... and not as replacements.
In addition.....The Port Battalions were to cover the retreat of
the Landings should it have been necessary...

We would have been the last troops to leave the Beach.

This last line reminds me of the movie
.."On The Waterfront"
where the Hero, Marlon Brando, who portrays a professional boxer,
laments to his brother about the last fight he just lost...

" I could've been a contender." he pleads..,

then adds with a moan,

"I could've been "a somebody ! "

That last line means to me, I was a contender.

Contrary, to Marlon's second Classic expression,

I, Am, A Somebody!

Oldest Military Blogger Thinking of All Servicemen

.."Thinking of all the Soldiers"

THE FINAL INSPECTION

The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

"Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church, have you been true?"

The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
"No, Lord, I guess I ain't.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.

I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.

But I never took a penny,
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand"

There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgement of his God.

"Step forward now, you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell! "

Author Unknown.

It's the Military,
not the reporter who has given us the freedom
of the press.
It's the Military,
not the poet, who has given us
the freedom of speech.
It's the Military,
not the politician that ensures our right
to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It's the Military,
who salutes the flag, who serve beneath the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag.

If you care to offer the smallest token of recognition and
appreciation for the military, pray for our men and women
who have served and are currently
serving our country and pray for those
who have given the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

Oldest Military Blogger at Camp Myles Standish

Oldest Military Blogger at Camp Myles Standish

On our arrival in South Boston we were billeted in
a warehouse on Summer Street that was converted
into sleeping quarters.
This location made Castle Island very accessible.
New Years Eve of 1943, there was little need for celebration
because duty demanded, shipping stuff out to the troops
abroad, was much more critical.
New Years Day at 6 A.M. our C.O. had the Officers
and Non-Coms wake all the men in the Company, to take
a hike, with full gear.
We marched to East Cambridge and back under
extreme protest from the men and Officers alike.
Three days later, a visitor from the Adjutant General's
Office arrived at our warehouse to respond to some inquiry.
When he left, our surly Captain went with him, fully packed,
never to be heard of again.
His replacement an "Old Army" Captain, assumed
Command of the 301st Port Company.
Within a week, he took away the chevrons of every
Technical non-com in the Company.
He issued a statement that, " No man will wear stripes
without his sanction and authorization".
I did not get my stripes back until, sometime after, we were sent to
Taunton Massachusetts, January of '44 ..
We were kept busy and physically fit in Camp Myles
Standish,in Taunton MA. which was about 60 miles
from South Boston.
We were taking 3 mile runs with light field packs
almost every afternoon.
This was later increased to 5 miles around a lake area....
On one section of the run we had to cross a foot bridge,
across part of the lake, three feet above
the water level.The bridge had rope hand rails, on both sides
of the wooden, flexible track.
When you ran you had no concept of moving forward
except for the blur of the hand rails.
Very few of us could finish that one..
Many men got disoriented and barely finished.
Most evenings, we had surprise night marches, with
Combat field packs.
We casually could be lounging around and
one or two of the Platoons would be called upon, to participate,
in an exercise without warning.
They would have to dress and be ready to move out
in very few moments.
They might ask them to join another unit in this night maneuver,
to attain some target in the wooded area surrounding
the camp, just to find out how they worked with unfamiliar Officers.
One evening the entire Company was activated in this
manner and we were off .
On this sortie, our Platoon was sent off in another direction
than the point the Company had taken.
We had been instructed to follow the path South until we
would meet with the main body of our Unit, less than
a mile away.
The first minutes down the path were uneventful, until suddenly,
the path was obstructed by a concertina of barbed wire.
When Lt. Petrie started to look for a way around the wire,
Oakie and I were at the head of the First Section in our Platoon.
We sprawled across the wire, side by side and the section
then ran over us across the wire
The remainder of the march was without incident and we
met up with the rest of the Company.
At the end of the debriefing back in camp, the Company Commander
told us that he had been informed of an action by someone,
unknown, who helped to allow the men in his group
to overcome the barbed wire.
He wanted to know!
"Who was it?"
He stared accusingly from one side of the Mess Hall to the other.
Many heads turned to Okie and myself, but no one spoke.
Okie and I were silent.
We were not sure if we were right, or wrong.
Never the less.........
Three days later, we, got our stripes back!

A few weeks later we shipped out on the S.S. Argentina,
over the North Atlantic, bound for Scotland.

Oldest Military Blogger on Castle Island

Oldest Military Blogger on Castle Island.

Indiantown Gap, was a training experience for the
301st Port Company.
We were given the opportunity to use our hard
won knowledge in a real situation.
We were very familiar with the equipment and
material at our disposal on Base,but...
We had no idea of what we would encounter
elsewhere.
Early in December of '43,we were shipped to
Boston, Mass. by rail, and spent some twenty hours
in a crowded Pullman Coach....
The normal rail time from PA.would be closer to
4 hours but the Fortunes of War ordained the
excessive delays because of "security" we were told.
The fact is, we were like 4th class Mail.....
our transport gave way to all scheduled train
passage on our track.
Arriving at our destination at noon in South Boston, our
Company was billeted in a huge warehouse
on Summer Street.
Our area had Bunk Beds with rolled bedding,
neatly placed in rows, on a 10,000 sq. ft.
concrete floor on the second story with a
fire extinguisher, containing water and a
hand pump, located at the head of every
alternate row of Bunks.
Two other Companies occupied the third
and fourth floors.
The Basement was our Mess Hall.
When we finally began our duty to work,
after a week of crude organization and
familiarization with our new home, it was
to be at a place called,
Castle Island..
The men in the Company assigned to work
that night, would leave from the Mess Hall,
fully dressed, under arms, mounting 10 wheeler
trucks, and dropped off at,what we thought was,
"The Coldest Place in The World"....
Castle Island.
We found out about the fact we were not
dressed warmly enough, the first time we went out.
Our Officers and Noncoms alike, froze
their asses off that night and we were cautioned
to "dress appropriately in the future".
Eventually, we clothed ourselves in long underwear,
and our OD's, because fatigues made no sense.
We wore hand made woolen sweaters and scarves
contributed by a local neighborhood Catholic Church.
(my package had a small slip of paper clipped
to the inside of the sweater,inscribed,
"Bless You, Cathrine".)
I carried that piece of paper in my cigarette case
throughout my service .
In addition to the winter overcoats we wore, wool skull caps
pulled down over the ears, a helmet liner and steel helmet,
and the best gloves we could find, in addition to those
issued, but nothing helped.
Our job in South Boston,was to unload Railway
freight cars onto the piers and onto the ships in the harbor.
It seemed, the Longshoremen who were not
in the Armed Services at the time, balked at allowing
us to load the ships, so the Army, in its infinite wisdom,
allowed this to pass.
This resulted in the virtual loss of all our training
from the Gap and we never got, hands-on ship handling in
the States, until we got to Scotland.

We realized later, that the reason we got so cold
on Castle Island was because of the damp fierce winds
coming across this wide open harbor cutting us to the bone.
Everything was fine as long as we kept working.
The problem was, the inactivity and boredom from idleness,
waiting for the changing of the empty freight cars
on the siding with fresh cars, always felt like it
took forever.
We had many occasions of getting to the pier and having
nothing to do for 6 to 8 hours.
We sat huddled in trucks when they were available
and built fires in discarded,empty,50 gallon drums,
often using the packing of loose cargo, and stuff
on the pier for fuel..

Castle Island is no longer an Island.
It has been incorporated into the mainland of South Boston.
After the War, for many years, using it as a dumping ground for
garbage and waste materials, a large part of it
has been reclaimed as a park

Oldest Military Blogger Recalls


Oldest Military Blogger Reflects

After finishing my Basic Training at Indiantown Gap PA,
and having settled into my new Quarters with the 301st
Port Co., an event took place that at the time was very
uplifting for my morale.
My Father,who had gone to work on the West Coast for
Kiaser Corp., constructing Liberty Ships for the Merchant Mariners,
dropped in for a visit when his train stopped in Harrisburg, PA.
He left after having lunch in our mess hall but regretted
being unable to stay for dinner because he was anxious to be
on his way home to my Mother and 4 children.

Many, years later, waking from a Dream, I walked into
my kitchen at Four A.M.,sat down in my underwear at the kitchen table,
and composed the following ....

My Father Loves Me!
On Feb. 14th 1995, I had an insight that was quite remarkable
to me, that after 52 years I realized that My Father Loved Me ....Very Much!
It was the afternoon of Oct. 1943...I was in the Army, stationed
in Indiantown Gap PA....An Orderly came to tell me tat my Father was
on the Base and that the Orderly had been instructed to bring me to
Battalion Headquarters in his Jeep, because Civilians had to be detained
for security reasons until a uniformed escort could be provided to accompany
and permit Civilians on the base...It was explained to me that the visitor was
in the company of Master Sargent Charles Hart awaiting my arrival
at the Sargent's office.
During the ride I had the most agonizing thoughts, trying to understand
the reason for this unexpected and unusual circumstance of allowing,
personal visitors who were only pemitted on weekends for enlisted men....
but the ride was short and when we arrived, we were told that the First Sargent
had taken my Father to the Mess Hall and we were to meet them there.
As I turned to look toward the Mess Hall, from where I stood I could
see the the enlisted men's Chow Line 200 feet away and outstanding was
the dark blue outfit among the olive drab in the line restlessly waiting.
The brown fedora and the blue figure's posture
identified this person as my Pop....and I ran toward him....he turnrned to see
where the shouting was coming from and saw me running...
he left the line and came in my direction
When we met there was a very awkward moment, of no embrace,
no hugging or kissing......just some macho back slapping and hand shaking..
and I remember that wonderful smile on his face announcing to me
that he was not a bearer of bad news.
The thing of it is, for over 50 years until tonight, I didn't make any sense
out of the look in his eyes.
They saw me with sparkling admiration and good humor, tearful pride
and concern,a careful appraisal from head to toe and with
what I understand now, as, Much Love......The kind of Love I hope my Children
can see and apprise, when they notice me looking at them, Now.
The kind of look I had seen in my Mother's eyes many times,knowing what
that admiration was all about, but strangely, I never equated that thought
with my Dad. Evidently, we do get Wise as we Age.

I still have the original hand scripted page from 1995.
I share this with you now because I was 21 years of age then
without the awareness of all that was going on around me....
occupied with my own trials and tribulations.
I knew innately that my father loved me, but the vivid dream
gave me the intellectual wisdom of his feeling toward me.
Love your families and don't expect anything in return for your love.
One day it will all come back to you in triplicate.