Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Frank Irgang's Etched in Purple Available for Pre-Order

The new Potomac edition of Frank Irgang's 'Etched in Purple'--in my opinion the best WWII memoir ever written---is now available in the Potomac Books catalog.

A rediscovered classic memoir of World War II

Etched in Purple
One Soldier's War in Europe
Frank Irgang

248 pages; 5 1/4" x 8 3/4"
$17.95 $14.36
Available: April 2008

Order or view here: http://www.potomacbooksinc.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=180789

“Pulls no punches in painting the life of a combat infantryman.” —Detroit Free Press

“One of the most brutal war books published. . . . Frank J. Irgang . . . has succeeded in doing what at least one million others who served with the infantry during the war wished they could have accomplished. He has told the story of the war simply and plainly as it is seen through the eyes of a combat infantryman. . . . Never once does the author let reader attention slip.” —Los Angeles Times

“A taste of the brutal truth.” —Cincinnati Enquirer

First published in 1949, Frank J. Irgang’s personal record of his unforgettable experiences as a combat infantryman during World War II has its beginning on the dawn of that famous “longest day” when Allied troops set foot on Normandy beaches. We know the surface facts of that invasion—what was planned, how it was executed, and what happened—but what most of us don’t know are the thoughts of those brave men who fought their way across France and into Germany.

What were they thinking? How did they meet the terror of each new day?In this revealing look at a young American soldier’s European tour of duty, the inner facts we have wanted to discover are found.

And they are revealed truthfully and with a freshness of reality that would be impossible to recapture unless the observations had been jotted down, as they were, soon after the events took place. Irgang’s keen eye, his unliterary terseness, his sometimes blunt way of stating brutal truths—all these contribute toward making this book more than one man’s record of the war. In its unpretentiousness, Etched in Purple says vividly and powerfully what hundreds of other soldiers would have said had they found a means of expression: that World War II would always be etched in purple in their memories.

About The Author:
Dr. Frank J. Irgang is a retired professor of industrial studies who taught at San Diego State University for twenty-six years and served as department chairman. He resides in San Diego.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wise Words About Recovering from Adversity

Liberation Day in the Japanese POW Camp, Tokyo, August 29, 1945. The 6'2" skinny guy in the circle is a malnourished version of Hap Halloran. Hap still calls this day one of the happiest of his life.

I was doing a little more research tonight on Raymond 'Hap' Halloran. In the course of my research and writing, I have talked to many men who survived as prisoners of war and returned to build a satisfying and normal life. Each day, a small group of us email each other about different things, and this particular topic comes up a lot---how was it that men who suffered so terribly were able to return almost literally from the gates of Hell and have normal lives? The bottom line, of course, is that their lives were never quite as normal as they let on to those around them. However, each man learned his own way of coping with the memories and what now is referred to medically as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Hap's crew was a close bunch. Five of his friends perished the day their B-29 went down over Tokyo. This was only one of a series of traumatic events Hap would have to deal with for the rest of his life.

Tonight I read Hap's words on the subject, and they are well worth sharing. Not only will they help anyone who has lived through a traumatic life episode, such as a POW or battered spouse, but they will help anyone who at times finds him- or herself worrying too much about life's daily hassles and petty complaints and feuds. It took Hap many years to arrive at his philosophy, and we can all learn from it. So here it is, with credit to the Military.com website:

"My feelings now are this - if you can go through adversities like I've described and survive, the possibility exists that one day you might actually make comparisons on events and problems in your present day life and actually appreciate how small some of the things we actually worry about really are.

One can actually become more positive and appreciative of life because of earlier hardships, even the most awful of hardships. I feel these positive changes and higher values can apply to individuals in their personal life, in their family life, and in the world of business and society.

As I look at myself today, I know I have a far greater appreciation of life. Yes, even the simplest of things that I formerly took for granted can take on a special meaning for me now. I appreciate that I was very fortunate to survive this experience. And I have this feeling that I should do things for others as a form of appreciation for having been so lucky - or blessed - or maybe both.

I definitely have a much higher level of confidence than I've ever had before. I set higher goals and I have higher expectations of myself and I've achieved a reasonable degree of success in many of the things I've attempted to accomplish.

Most importantly, I no longer sweat or stress over the small stuff. I guess I've finally taken time to stop and smell the roses. For instance, I've made significant progress in the matter of speaking before groups. Even when I was a man in my forties, I had a fear of public speaking. Hopefully my presentations, no matter how tough they were for me, have had a positive and motivating effect on my audience. Sure, we all have problems - but you don't have to give up. All of us can hang in there and solve our problems and appreciate the incredible gift of life.

I make it a point to speak to students - I've probably spoken to groups of young people over 200 times now. I tell them how - within each of us -there is a power and ability to solve and accomplish things we never before thought was possible. I appreciate my life - and my freedom.

And I love watching our Flag flowing in a gentle breeze.

I enjoy and appreciate sunrises and sunsets - and especially the stars. Stars that I use to navigate with during long nighttime missions in a B-29 over the Pacific. The stars are still - and will always be - my friends. I guess I've come to the conclusion that it was those difficult days during WW II that taught me a lot of things about myself - things that have helped me over the many years of my life. Lessons that are still helping me today. And I will always continue to use what I've learned to help other people grow too. Especially young people, who sometimes need a little help growing."

---Raymond "Hap" Halloran

Posters of Legendary Airmen--Halloran and Boyington

Recently I made the acquaintance of former WWII B-29 airman Hap Halloran. I contacted him about buying a copy of his book 'Hap's War'. We exchanged a few emails, and I told him I wanted to send him my book as a gift in appreciation of his service in World War Two. Hap was shot down and spent many months as a POW in Japan. He was tortured physically and mentally. He stayed in the same prison as Black Sheep Squadron leader Gregory 'Pappy' Boyington, who had received a posthumous Medal of Honor for his exploits, despite being alive. When Pappy found out about this in prison, he said he'd happily trade the medal for some food.
In talking about Pappy, I mentioned that I had written an article on this blog advocating that Boyington, an Idaho native, get a statue at his alma mater, University of Washington. There was a big flap a year or two ago because the students and some faculty at UW did not want to put up a statue of someone who killed others in the war. You can read this article here: http://untoldvalor.blogspot.com/2007/07/give-pappy-boyington-his-statue.html

"Pappy", MOH winner.

Hap then suggested that I might like a poster he had in his home. Pappy Boyington had given it to him back in 1978. The poster shows Pappy getting ready to bail out of his flaming aircraft. He signed the poster "Aug 11, 1978, With Red Hot Regards--Pappy Boyington". Hap added at the bottom, under Pappy's photo, "We were POWs together in Omori POW camp SW of Tokyo in 1945. Pappy and I traveled together at air events and golfed together. I wrote and delivered his eulogy at Arlington National Cemetery 1-15-88."

The poster of Pappy Boyington.

Hap also adds under the photo of the Japanese credited with shooting Pappy down, Masajiro Kawato, that Kawato did not shoot Boyington down, and adds, "authority--Boyington" to end the argument.

The second poster shows Hap's B-29 on its final mission. The painting, 'Rover Boys Express' is by Roberto Cernuda. The plane went down and many of the men in the rear of the plane, despite the heroic efforts to reach them through the crawlspace, perished in the crash.

Hap's Plane on its Final Mission.

What a wonderful gift to a guy who loves aviation history. Nothing I will get for Christmas will come close.
Hap was plagued for forty years by nightmares of his POW experiences. Finally he decided to go back to Japan and face his fears head-on. He went back and has since gone back ten times, most recently just a few months ago. Here he is with some Japanese at the Nagasaki Peace Park in Nagasaki, near the site of the 1945 atomic bomb.
Once Hap went back, the nightmares got better. He now wages peace and teaches forgiveness. Every day that he has lived since his POW days he considers a 'bonus day'. He finishes many emails with 'Enjoy life'.

Those of you who have not read Hap's book "Hap's War" that Hap wrote in 1998, you can order one through this web site. For more information, click here: http://www.haphalloran.com/hapswar.asp

Two Writing Projects, Two Incredible Stories

I'm currently working on two shorter writing projects and one long one. 'Short' is a relative term with me, because I tend towards perfectionism and hate letting go of a story until I'm sure it's perfect. The first of these is a future magazine article, to be submitted to aviation and WWII magazines. This story is about a day when the Swiss shot down two American B-17s, killing most of both crews. It is an amazing and troubling story on many levels. I originally wrote about it in my book, but this summer, I had a chance to visit Norris King, one of the survivors of that day, while in Denver, Colorado. We had a long talk and I took lots of photos. I posted a short copyrighted updated on this weblog after the visit, which you can read here: http://untoldvalor.blogspot.com/2007/08/norris-king-shot-down-by-swiss.html

Marilyn King, Norris King, and myself during our visit this summer in Arvada, Colorado.

Norris and his wife Marilyn were kind enough to make copies of some of the photos from his collection. I am including one of them here, of Norris as a young waist gunner upon graduation from gunnery school.

Norris King, graduation from gunnery school


The second shorter story I am working on just came about yesterday. My parish priest at Christ the King Roman Catholic Church here in Idaho Falls, Fr. Joe McDonald, had mentioned in a homily several years back that his dad had been in World War Two. As a result, about six weeks ago I gave Father Joe a copy of my book as a gift. A few weeks later he caught me on the way out of Mass and said he had some stuff to show me about his father's experiences. We finally got together yesterday afternoon for a long talk about his dad's experiences.

It turns out Fr. Joe's dad, also named Joe McDonald, went to Wake Island to work as a construction worker. Because his father worked at the Reno, Nevada State Journal, the paper hired young Joe on as a correspondant, charged with filing stories of interest from Wake Island.

Joe's early days on Wake were enjoyable. He drew a map of the island, noting where the sharks, octopii and other sea creatures were located offshore. He worked hard and filed the occasional story.
Joe's map of Wake Island

After Pearl Harbor, Wake Island was under attack from the Japanese Navy. All of a sudden, Joe was on the front lines of a brutal invasion attempt. He volunteered to help man an anti-aircraft gun and hunkered down.

On December 20, Joe filed this report from Wake: "Wake Island has suffered 11 bombings and one shelling since the beginning of the war...The Marine Corps and contractors personnel stationed on the island have successfully repelled all attacks bringing down around nine planes, four surface craft, one submarine and one patrol bomber...All is under control and the island is holding out fine. Total casualties to date: (approximately 65 dead, 60 injured)."

Joe ended the dispatch with: "This is a rush job, Frank--make what you can of it."

The last dispatch from Wake Island, written by Joe McDonald.

He handed the dispatch to the crew of a PBY Catalina patrol bomber, which had landed that day. At 0700 the next morning, December 21, the PBY took off.

Less than two hours later, the Japanese assault on Wake began. On December 24, Christmas Eve, Wake Island fell to the Japanese.

Joe was now a Prisoner of War.

The POWs were loaded onto a ship called the Nita Maru in January for shipment to hostile territory. Upon boarding the ship, Joe was given a typed paper telling him the regulations for prisoners on board ship. Almost every failure to obey orders would result in death, including talking without permission, walking or moving without orders, carrying unecessary baggage, taking extra food, or using more than two blankets.

Joe ended up in Section No. 8, Barrack No. 4 at Shanghai War-Prisoner's Camp in Shanghai, China. He would be imprisoned until the end of the war in August, 1945.

Joe's POW address book from the camp.

The POW Bulletin was sent to family members of POWs to keep them posted on news from the camps.

On December 24, 1941, Rear Admiral B. Moreell wrote to Joe's parents with bad news. "It is with sincere regret that it is my sad duty to inform you of the death of your son, Mr. Joseph McDonald, as the result of enemy action on Wake."
The letter informing Joe's family of his death on Wake Island.

A body was returned to the grieving family, a funeral was held, and the remains of Joe McDonald were interred in a cemetery in Reno. However, several months later, the military realized that the Joe McDonald killed on Wake was a different Joe McDonald. A second, apologetic letter was sent. The remains were exhumed and moved to Cody, Wyoming for re-burial with the correct family.

How devastating this ordeal must have been for both families.

In the camp, the men worked together to survive. Joe always scraped out the burned rice in the bottom of the cooking pots and together with his friends, they ate it. He credited this with helping him stay alive, and today, Fr. Joe remembers how the family ate rice nearly every meal growing up. His dad insisted the rice be burned brown a little on the bottom.

The POWs were occasionally helped by a kindly Japanese guard. After the war, some of the surviving POWs sat for a portrait with this man, and many years later, this Japanese guard sent Joe a Christmas card.
Joe McDonald, front row, second from left, shortly after the war ended, with other POWs and the friendly Japanese guard.

After the war, Joe returned, married, raised a family, and lived his life. He passed away in the eighties. His wife and son, Fr. Joe, put together a scrapbook, from which these artifacts were copied. Joe's complete POW papers are in a university library in Nevada.

Interestingly, Joe had the headstone from his grave put in his back yard, where he enjoyed it as a conversation piece for many years. He also said he enjoyed reading his obituary and hearing all the nice things people had to say about him at his funeral in 1942.

A postcard sent by Joe to the States.

A sad postcard, the back written in Japanese, tells of a young soldier's missing his family. We are uncertain when or how Joe got this card.

We are also unsure what these cards are. However, they seem to be American propaganda leaflets dropped or given to the Japanese civilians to encourage them to surrender. Perhaps they were left over, as these were mailed back to the States by Joe after his release and after the war was over.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Abandoned World War II C-47 Gets New Lease on Life

Nov. 20: French air mechanics dismantle a Douglas C-47 at Rajlovac airbase near Sarajevo, Bosnia.

AP-----A U.S. Air Force plane instrumental in saving Normandy from the Nazis during World War II has re-emerged in Bosnia and soon will be put on display as a war hero, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday.

The Douglas C-47 was found at an air base near Sarajevo, Bosnia, after a search that began last January. It will be shipped to a museum in Merville, Normandy, as a symbol of D-Day, the Chronicle reported.

"We want to restore this plane to its original glory," Beatrice Guillaume, the administrator of a museum, told the Chronicle, "to explain the story of her crew members and how difficult it was for them to risk their lives to save a country they didn't know."

Nicknamed the “SNAFU Special,” the C-47 flew unarmed to a supposedly impenetrable German artillery battery to silence gunners for the D-Day invasion. It last was flown 13 years ago during Bosnia’s war for independence.

New Blog Devoted to the Memory of my Great-Grandmother

My great-grandmother, Aloisia, with my mom, Beverly, around 1932 in Kendrick, Idaho. Aloisia was born in Austria and moved to Idaho in the 1870's.

I recently wrote a biography of my great-grandmother, Aloisia Schupfer, who was born in a high mountain village in the Austrian Alps and ended her life as a Idaho pioneer woman. Aloisia endured many hardships and trials in her life, and she is a person who deserves to be remembered. That is the goal of the new blogsite. With the help of my mom, Beverly Schupfer Morris, I have put together memories of this amazing, strong, religious lady. Please pay the site a visit. I think you will enjoy it.

Until I figure out how to reverse the order, all posts will be in reverse chronological order.

This posting is accompanied by a photo of my great-grandmother Aloisia and my mom Beverly taken in Kendrick, Idaho around 1932.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Average White Band has Above-Average Album Cover

The funky Scottish white soul band 'Average White Band' has a collection of hits out. Look what is on the cover. I love it. A B-17.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Internet Unites People of Similar Interests

I read a fascinating article in the Sunday paper today. It was about how the Internet, instead of making people less connected to others, has made people more connected. The article discussed the fact that people are able to find people on the Net who share their interests and that many people, men especially, seem to be able to open up better to people online than in person.

This is certainly true, at least for me. I made most of the prep work for my book online. I have also made many good friends online, many of which I have never met in person. The Net has a way of bringing together people world-wide who have the same interests. This has been a Godsend for me. After all, how many people in Idaho Falls, Idaho share my love of World War Two aviation history? How many could relate to the problems of working a full-time job and also trying to write books? I have felt like an odd man out most of my life out here in the remote parts of the U.S. However, thanks to the Net, I could write my books and also find people with similar interests. This has been a great source of comfort to me, as a historian and writer. The idea that someone is trying to make money as a writer in Idaho Falls is so unusual that nobody I come in contact seems to be able to relate to it. Maybe it's not like that in New York City, but it is certainly like that in Idaho.

Great article. Very true. I have friends on the Net who are as dear to me--or more so--than many I have in my own physical sphere. Is this unusual? I guess not anymore, thanks to the web.

Flying Boat Fights Fires---Great Shots

My friend and fellow aviation fan Richard Havers of England sent me some amazing shots of a vintage Martin Mars flying boat being used to fight fires. The pictures say it all, but here are Richard's comments:
"Martin Mars flying boats were used during the recent Californian fires. The US fire-bombing force was limited to using modern aircraft given the recent ban on older aircraft, but being on the Canadian register, the Mars could be engaged.How low can a man go?"
An accompanying comment with the photos reads:
"Coulson was likely under contract to fight the fires in S. CA and it looks like Lake Elsinore was a convenient water pickup site. The daring pilot of this magnificent relic apparently needed every bit of the length of the lake to effect a successful water pickup and still get off the lake. There is zero wind, too. I especially like the first photo where the pilot seems to be picking a path through the salt cedar bushes.....It must be an expensive chore, keeping those Wright Duplex Cyclones clanking away!"

Weblog Recommendation: Pratttown

I came across a great site dealing with WWII aviation history today, after responding to a post. This one is worth checking out regularly. Lots of good articles, with a focus on the B-29 bomber.

Of particular interest to me was the Studs Terkel interview of Paul Tibbetts.

So drop on by Pratttown for a look around: http://www.pratttown.com/

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Book Review: HAP HALLORAN 'Hap's War'

I received Hap Halloran's 'Hap's War' today, along with the pictured card and two photos Hap annotated on the back. The top photo shows Hap getting inducted into the American Combat Airmen Hall of Fame in 2001. The bottom photo shows Hap with Enola Gay pilot Paul Tibbetts in Great Bend, Kansas, a few years back. Tibbetts passed away a little over a week ago.

Today in the mail I received my copy of Hap Halloran's 'Hap's War: The Incredible Survival Story of a POW Slated for Execution" by Ray 'Hap' Halloran with Chester Marshall. This book is a real piece of World War Two history. First of all, I cannot believe the incredible value of this large hardback book, which Hap sells himself out of his home in Menlo Park, California. The price, includiing shipping, must make this book the best buy in America, even if it were to come unsigned. However, Hap took the time to personally inscribe the book and also included two photographs of himself, one with Paul Tibbets, the Enola Gay pilot, and the other of himself after being inducted into the American Combat Hall of Fame in October of 2001. On top of that, he took the time to include a personalized card.

For those of you who have never heard of Hap Halloran, he is one of the most celebrated heroes of the Pacific War. He overcame incredible odds to survive as a Japanese prisoner of war after his B-29 Superfortress was shot down over Japan on January 27, 1945. His tale is one of torture, starvation, and ultimately, survival. It was Hap who was taken to the Tokyo Zoo and put on display in a cage as an example of what the terrible American invaders looked like. This was the low point of his life, according to him. What is more amazing is that this former POW has just returned from Japan, where he is an honored speaker about the effects of war and is an advocate for peaceful solutions to problems where possible.
Hap and Japanese survivors at the Peace Park in Japan.

I highly recommend that anyone with an interest in WWII buy this book from Hap. There is a hyperlink below in his biography from which to order.

The book is filled with Hap's story, his ordeals, and his ultimate triumph. It is also filled with rare photographs. The book is a large hardback and even came Priority Mail in a matter of days.
Hap's Prisoner of War Armband from his Japanese imprisonment. POWs in Japan were treated brutally.

Hap Halloran, you are one of a kind. Thanks again for the book, and even more, for your service to our country and the cause of freedom.

Below is Hap's biography, taken from his website at: http://www.haphalloran.com/

The Autobiography of Raymond "Hap" Halloran

Ray "HAP" Halloran, was born February 4, 1922 in Cincinnati, Ohio of parents, Paul and Gertrude Halloran; the second of 5 boys.

Shortly after Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) Hap volunteered for the Army Air Force at Wright-Patterson air base in Dayton, Ohio.

He completed training as Navigator (Hondo, Texas) and Bombardier (Roswell, New Mexico) Volunteered for training in new bomber (B-29). Trained at Smoky Hill Air Base in Salina, Kansas. Our crew of 11 was referred to as "Rover Boys Express". We were assigned to 878th Squadron, 499th Bomb Group VH, 73rd Wing, 20th Air Force.

After completion of operational training in Kansas we spent a short period of time in Lincoln, Nebraska; then Herington, Kansas where we received our brand new B-29 (flown to Herington from the production line at Boeing Wichita Plant). We then received orders to fly to Mather Field, California; then to John Rogers Field, Honolulu. We then flew to Kwajalein Atoll and our final leg was to Saipan in the Northern Marianas Islands. We traveled alone the entire trip.
Saipan was the base of operations for the 73rd Wing in that battle against targets on the Japanese mainland.

On our forth mission against Japanese targets we were shot down on a high altitude mission against target 357; Nakajima Aircraft plant in Musashino on the west edge of Tokyo.
A twin engine Japanese fighter plane (Nick) came in head on and critically damaged our plane (V Square 27). The comfortable temperature in our pressurized B-29 immediately assumed outside air temperature of -58 degrees. We lost two engines and our major controls within the plane. We were doomed; we fell behind the formation. We realized we must abandon our plane over enemy territory east of Tokyo.

Painting of our B-29 V Square 27 passing Mt. Fuji on bomb run against Target 357 1/27/45.
All crew members were alerted to necessity to parachute. (Tail Gunner Dead). I left the bomber thru the front bomb bay (nose wheel blocked normal front escape route).

I fell free for an estimated 24,000 feet before opening my chute at about 3,000 feet over Chiba Prefecture East of Tokyo. Japanese fighters closed in as I hung in my chute. One saluted me from in close. A rarity. Six of The Rover Boys crew did not survive that day.

As could be expected I was treated brutally by civilians before being taken on a truck to Kempei Tai torture prison in downtown Tokyo across from the moat at the north end of the Imperial Palace grounds. I was confined in solitary in a cold dark cage in a wooden stable near the Kempei Tai headquarters building. Food was a small ball of rice several times a day; no medical treatment. Silence was a firm rule except during interrogations. One desperately tried to survive.

Survived the massive low level March 10th, 1945 fire raid on Tokyo by fellow B-29 crews. The fire, heat, smoke and resultant firestorm was terrifying. Never expected to survive that night.
Shortly thereafter I was removed from my cage and taken to Ueno Zoo where I was put on a display naked in a tiger cage and civilians could walk in front of cage and view this hated B-29 prisoner. I had lost perhaps 80 or 90 pounds by then and my body was dirty and covered with running sores from bed bug, flea and lice infestation. Conditions were extreme. I cried (a form of relief) and prayed constantly.

Was moved early in April 1945 to Omori Prisoner of War facility on SW edge of Tokyo. Was with fellow B-29 prisoners and other Americans including Gregory "Pappy" Boyington and 8 survivors of the submarine Tang. What a wonderful thing to be out of solitary and being able to talk with fellow B-29ers. We each had a space 24 x 70 inches. We learned to live together under a demanding situation. Food was the dominant subject of all conversations. We were subject to bombings and strafings by our planes. Our facilities were not identified as a POW compound. Those were extremely difficult days as we tried to survive.

The war ended on August 15, 1945. We were liberated from Omori on August 29th by Marines in landing craft and taken aboard the Hospital ship Benevolence in Tokyo Bay. Spent two weeks in Benevolence (not physically fit to travel). Was on the Benevolence when the Peace Treaty was signed on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. Admiral Halsey visited me in my room on the Benevolence.

Eventually flown home. Spent months in Ashford government hospital in West Virginia. Adjustment to normal life came slowly. Experienced almost 40 years of nightmares; very disruptive to my family life. In the early years after the return from POW days I absolutely tried to wipe out all those bad memories of my time in Japan. I failed.
Finally in 1984 - after much preparation and help from the US ambassador, Mike Mansfield, I returned to Japan. I hoped I could void all my memories of "those long ago days" and view people and places as they are presently.

Positive results slowly became evident in my outlook, feelings and judgments.
Understanding and reconciliation became a reality.

I have subsequently returned to Japan seven more times and visited all the major cities and with much help able to meet Isamu Kashiide, the pilot of the Nick plane that shot us down in 1945; he died on June 3, 2003. Also visited with Kaneyuki Kobayashi a former good guard.
Eventually made many new friends including Saburo Sakai, WWII Zero ace. We golfed and did air shows together. He died of a heart attack in August of 2000 while guest at a luncheon with U.S. military officers. At his request I continued to mentor his daughter, Michiko. She graduated from Trinity College in San Antonio, Texas.

By invitation I speak to groups in museums, temples, Peace Parks and other assembly points throughout Japan. Among other places on my 2002 visit I spoke to groups in Peace Parks in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many of those folks were there (or their families impacted) on August 6th and 9th in 1945. They also were seeking closure almost 58 years later. I was guest and keynote speaker at dedication of a new museum on Tokyo on March 9, 2002. 31 folks from Tokyo, Kyoto, Yokohama, Hiroshima, Osaki, Nagasaki and other cities visited my home in August of 2002.

I also exchanged emails on frequent basis with historian friends in Japan and tour with them on my return visits. My return visits to Japan generally include visits to Saipan, Tinian and Guam.
I left the military service in the latter part of 1946. The road to normalcy proceeded slowly. In 1958 I joined former Consolidated Freightways, an eventual 3 billion dollar motor carrier and was associated with them for 44 years. Attained position of Executive Vice President and member of the Board of Directors.

I have three children. Dan lives in Boca Raton, Florida. Tim is presently relocating to Brentwood, California. Peggy lives in Redwood City, California.

I live in Menlo Park, California and travel extensively (over 5 million commercial air miles). Have done things with ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, History and Discovery Channels and participated in a Dan Rather NBC "Victory in the Pacific" two hour special in 1995; filmed in US, Pacific and Japan.

There isn't a day that goes by that my memories do not flash back and recall events of those long ago days. I remember Rover Boys who did not come home. I have visited their graves in Punch Bowl National Cemetery in Honolulu and in Portland, Oregon.

I appreciate and love Freedom. I appreciate even the simple things in life. I know how fortunate I was to survive and come home.

I refer to all the days as "Bonus Days." Now that I am in my golden years I refer to them as "Double Bonus Days!"

He has also written a book called "Hap's War" in 1998. You can order one through this web site. For more information, click here.

Sad Postscript to P-38 story

Fellow WWII aviation historian Marilyn Walton forwarded a message from her WWII aviation sleuth friend Ed in Belgium. According to Ed, the pilot of this aircraft was killed a little over a year after landing on the beach in Wales, while on a mission in North Africa.

Ed writes:

"Seems to be P-38F-1-LO Serial 41-7677 of 14th Fighter Group/49th Fighter Squadron. Had departed from nearby Llanbedr airfield on a training flight September 27, 1942 and ditched into the sea at Harlech due to mechanical problems. Aircraft partially salvaged at the time. Pilot Lt Robert Fred ELLIOTT (O-394428) from Rich Square, North Carolina. He died on a mission December 5, 1942 in Tunisia and is memorialized at the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia.

Regards, Ed in Belgium"

Also, a good video of the P-38 'Glacier Girl' on its first flight after being refurbishing can be viewed by clicking on this link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2031955095201944515&q=p-38&total=1064&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=1

Friday, November 16, 2007

More on 'Etched in Purple' by Frank Irgang

I found the following book description online, and think it sheds light into the motivations and meaning of Potomac Books' upcoming re-release of Frank Irgang's classic 'Etched in Purple'. Enjoy.

The wartime experiences of Frank J. Irgang

Frank Irgang's personal record of his experiences as a combat infantryman of World War II has its beginning on the dawn of that famous day when the invasion troops landed in France.

We know the outer facts of that invasion - what was planned, how it was executed, and what happened - but what we do not know are the innermost thoughts of those crawling bits of humanity who fought their way across France and into Germany. What were they thinking? How did they meet the terror of each new day?

In this well-timed revelation of one infantryman's experiences are to be found the inner facts we have wanted to discover. And they are revealed truthfully and with a freshness of reality which it would be impossible to recapture unless the observations had been jotted down, as they were by Frank Irgang, soon after the events took place.

Frank's keen eye for seeing, his unliterary terseness, his sometimes blunt way of stating brutal truths, all contribute toward making this book more than one man's record of the war. In its unpretentiousness it says effectively and vividly what hundreds of other soldiers would have said had they found a means of expression.

ETCHED IN PURPLE The Caxton Press, Ltd., Caldwell, Idaho, 1949

Young Frank Irgang, newly returned from the bloody fighting in Europe with the 29th Division.
A more recent picture of Dr. Frank Irgang, Professor, San Diego State University

Coming soon from Potomac Books.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

P-38 Found on Welsh Beach after 65 Years

Aerial view of the P-38 recently discovered off a Welsh beach after 65 years of being buried in the sand.

NEW YORK - Sixty-five years after an American P-38 fighter plane ran out of gas and crash-landed on a beach in Wales, the long-forgotten World War II relic has emerged from the surf and sand where it lay buried.

Beach strollers, sunbathers and swimmers often frolicked within a few yards of the aircraft, unaware of its existence until last summer, when unusual weather caused the sand to shift and erode.

The revelation of the Lockheed "Lightning" fighter, with its distinctive twin-boom design, has stirred interest in British aviation circles and among officials of the country's aircraft museums, ready to reclaim another artifact from history's greatest armed conflict.

Based on its serial number and other records, "the fighter is arguably the oldest P-38 in existence, and the oldest surviving 8th Air Force combat aircraft of any type," said Ric Gillespie, who heads a U.S.-based nonprofit group dedicated to preserving historic aircraft. "In that respect it's a major find, of exceptional interest to British and American aviation historians."
Gillespie finds romance as well as historic significance in the discovery of the aircraft, long forgotten by the U.S. government.

"It's sort of like `Brigadoon,' the mythical Scottish village that appears and disappears," he said. "Although the Welsh aren't too happy about that analogy — they have some famous legends of their own."

Gillespie's organization, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, learned of the plane's existence in September from a British air history enthusiast and sent a team to survey the site last month. The group plans to collaborate with British museum experts in recovering the fragile but nearly intact aircraft next spring.

The Imperial War Museum Duxford and the Royal Air Force Museum are among the institutions expressing interest.

"The difficult part is to keep such a dramatic discovery secret. Looting of historic wrecks, aircraft or ships, is a major problem, in Britain as it is worldwide," Gillespie said.

British aviation publications have been circumspect about disclosing the exact location, and local Welsh authorities have agreed to keep the plane under surveillance whenever it is exposed by the tides of the Irish Sea, he said. For now, the aircraft is again buried under sand.

Officially, the U.S. Air Force considers any aircraft lost before Nov. 19, 1961 — when a fire destroyed many records — as "formally abandoned," and has an interest in such cases only if human remains are involved.

The twin-engine P-38, a radical design conceived by Lockheed design genius Clarence "Kelly" Johnson in the late 1930s, became one of the war's most successful fighter planes, serving in Europe and the Pacific. About 10,000 of the planes were built, and about 32 complete or partial airframes are believed to still exist, perhaps 10 in flying condition.

Another P-38, part of a "lost squadron" of warplanes marooned by bad weather in Greenland while being flown to Europe in 1942, was recovered and extensively restored with new parts. Dubbed "Glacier Girl," its attempt to complete the flight to Britain earlier this year was thwarted by mechanical problems.

The Wales Lightning, built in 1941, reached Britain in early 1942 and flew combat missions along the Dutch-Belgian coast.

Second Lt. Robert F. "Fred" Elliott, 24, of Rich Square, N.C., was on a gunnery practice mission on Sept. 27, 1942, when a fuel supply error forced him to make an emergency landing on the nearest suitable place — the Welsh beach.

His belly landing in shallow water sheared off a wingtip, but Elliott escaped unhurt. Less than three months later, the veteran of more than 10 combat missions was shot down over Tunisia, in North Africa. His plane and body were never found.

As the disabled P-38 could not be flown off the beach, "American officers had the guns removed, and the records say the aircraft was salvaged, but it wasn't," Gillespie said. "It was gradually covered with sand, and there it sat for 65 years. With censorship in force and British beaches closed to the public during the war, nobody knew it was there."

It was first spotted by a family enjoying a day at the beach on July 31.

The discovery was stunning news for Robert Elliott, 64, of Blountville, Tenn., the pilot's nephew and only surviving relative. He has spent nearly 30 years trying to learn more about his namesake's career and death.

All he knew of the Wales incident was a one-line entry saying Elliott had "ditched a P-38 and was uninjured."

"So this is just a monumental discovery, and a very emotional thing," said Elliott, an engineering consultant. He said he hopes to be present for the recovery.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WWII D-Day Infantryman Memoir 'Etched in Purple' to be Re-Issued by Potomac Books in April 2008

It is with great excitement that I report that the best infantryman's memoir to come out of World War Two, 'Etched in Purple', by Frank Irgang, will be re-issued by Potomac Books in April of 2008.

If a reader ever wanted to live the life of an American infantryman in Europe, from the D-Day landing to the hedgerows of France to the wintry forests of Germany, this is the book to get. First published by Caxton Press in 1949, the book was the catharsis of a young vet who had seen some of the worst fighting in Europe and then had the guts and the sensitivity to write about it graphically and honestly. This book will change whoever reads it. It changed me.

I invite all my readers to be on the lookout for more information on 'Etched in Purple'. I think it may well be the next 'Band of Brothers', only better.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Robert 'Rosie' Rosenthal DVD: From Brooklyn to Berlin: A Review

I just finished watching the DVD entitled 'Robert 'Rosie' Rosenthal: From Brooklyn to Berlin' about the 100th Bomb Group's beloved command pilot. The film, produced by the Jewish-American Hall of Fame, is a one-hour interview with Mr. Rosenthal in 2005, less than two years before he flew his final mission this year.

Rosie was one of the great heroes of the war. He was selfless, flying three tours of duty over Europe. He was courageous, shot down twice, wounded twice, and once ending up in a Russian hospital. He was a man who led by his own quiet demeanor of honesty, integrity and duty, and the men of the 100th Bomb Group loved him.

Gil Cohen's painting of Rosie and his Riveters. The crew was the only 100th Crew to return from Munster.

In his final letter to me back in 2001, he said, in part: "I have received more than my share of recognition. There were so many aviators who served in the Air Corps, who have been overlooked and whose stories deserve to be told". He then directed me to Jerome Jacobson, a 15th BG lead navigator who ended up being an important contact for my book, Untold Valor.

The DVD about Rosie is available for only $15.00, including postage, from the Jewish-American Hall of Fame at the following address:

Jewish-American Hall of Fame

5189 Jeffdale Ave.

Woodland Hills, CA 91364

The director, Mr. Mel Wacks, is in charge of the endeavor for the non-profit organization. This is a superb DVD in all regards, one you will treasure.

For more on Rose from the Hall of Fame, go to:

The photo below shows the DVD along with the final letter I received from Rosie.

Book Recommendation--Harry Patch, WWI Vet

My friend Richard Havers of England recommended this book about one of the men profiled in my previous posting, Harry Patch, who is the last surviving soldier to fight in the trenches in World War One.

Mr Patch, whereever you are, thank you, and you are one amazing guy.

BBC Interviews World War ONE Veterans

My friend Marilyn Walton, author of 'Rhapsody in Junk', sent me this fascinating story about British WWI veterans. I didn't know any were still around! INCREDIBLE!! I'd love to interview them.

Go here for the full article from BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7084764.stm
Click on the blue links below to see clips of each vet.

Surviving WWI: Veterans' stories

Ahead of Remembrance Sunday, Britain's surviving World War I veterans talked to Charles Wheeler for the BBC's Ten O'Clock News about their memories of the conflict.


Harry Patch
Harry Patch, who is 109 years old, was called up for service in 1917 when he worked as an 18-year-old apprentice plumber in Bath.

World War I veteran Harry Patch
Harry Patch's story
Mr Patch fought at the battle of Passchendaele in Belgium - a conflict that lasted three months and cost nearly 500,000 lives on both sides.
That summer was one of the wettest on record and no-man's land became a sea of mud where men drowned cowering from machine-gun and sniper fire.
Speaking about life in the trenches, Mr Patch said: "If any man tells you he went into the front line and wasn't scared, he's a liar."


Claude Choules
Claude Choules, who is now 106, served in the Royal Navy during the Great War. He signed up in 1916 when he was just a boy.

World War I veteran Claude Choules
Claude Choules
"We used to see hospital ships coming across and soldiers being wheeled off them," Mr Choules said, recounting his time in the Navy.
During the war, the Germans inflicted significant damage on the British fleet, notably at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, the largest clash of big-gun battleships of all time.
While serving on HMS Revenge in 1918 Claude Choules witnessed the mass surrender of Germany's imperial Navy.
In the 1920s he was seconded to the Royal Australian Navy as an instructor. He stayed in Australia and he now lives in Perth.

William Stone

William Stone, 107, is one of only two ex-serviceman still living in Britain to have served in both world wars.

William Stone, veteran of both world wars
William Stone
Mr Stone joined the Navy on his birthday in 1918 and served until 1945. His strongest memories are of World War II and the Battle of Dunkirk.
"One of our ships, Skipjack, was bombed and she just disappeared. Two hundred soldiers and all the crew were killed", he said.
Mr Stone, who now lives near Wokingham, was presented with the National Veterans' Badge in 2004, for his service to the UK.

Syd Lucas

Syd Lucas, 107, was called up in 1918 and saw service in both world wars.

Syd Lucas, veteran of both World Wars
Syd Lucas looks back
Mr Lucas was the youngest of three brothers. Both his siblings fought in France.
He said: "The youngest one of the two was blown up twice but he didn't get any bad injuries and the other one was shot through the finger, that's all he got. They were lucky."
Mr Lucas was trained in Derby and then Yorkshire but when the war ended in November he was sent home before he had to leave the country.
He emigrated to Australia between the two wars and has a son and a daughter who are now 78 and 82.

Henry Allingham
At 111-years-old, Henry Allingham is the oldest survivor of World War I.

Henry Allingham, oldest WWI survivor
Henry Allingham
Mr Allingham is the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland in 1916, before joining the Royal Flying Corps and serving on the French front.
Now a resident at St. Dunstan's, a home in Brighton for ex-servicemen, he makes frequent trips to France to speak to school children.
During a visit to the graves of servicemen he said "all of us must remember them, always".

All Gave Some. Some Gave All. Remember Veterans' Day

From the first days of Revolution...

To the Civil War....

To the trenches of World War I... with our allies...

To the landing beaches of Normandy....

Where years later, Americans still lie on the hilltops...

To the hedgerows and streets of Europe...

...and the skies over Europe...

...to the top of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima...
...to the wide expanse of the seas...

...and beneath the seas...
Men...and women.

In the frigid wastes of Korea...

...and the steamy jungles of Vietnam...
...To the scorching deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan...

...Where the common soldier tries to sow peace in a land torn apart...

All these men and women have a common call to our overly-comfortable lives...

"Please do not forget us....."

Lest we Forget. Honoring Veterans, 2007.
--R. Morris, 2007