Category Archives: sadness

Lost Market Garden All American Identified

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced on Sept. 1 that U.S. Army Pvt. Stephen C. Mason, 21, of Jersey City, New Jersey, killed during World War II, has been recently identified.

Mason, assigned to Headquarters Co., 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd (“All American”) Airborne Division, was reported missing in action during the famed “Bridge too far” that was Operation Market Garden after his patrol failed to return from a mission “into a heavily-fortified enemy position and by aggressive action gained specific information of the enemy disposition and strength” near Beek, Netherlands on 3 November 1944. His body was unable to be recovered. Mason posthumously received the Silver Star for his actions.

Declared “non-recoverable” in January 1951, PVT Mason was later memorialized on the “Walls of the Missing” at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten.

Fast forward to 2017, and DPAA set to analyze a set of remains known as “X-3323 Neuville,” which had been recovered near Beek in 1946 and interred in the UK. This July, after extensive efforts, it was determined that X-3323 Neuville was Mason.

He will be buried in North Arlington, New Jersey, and a rosette placed next to his name at Margraten.

Welcome home, PVT Mason.

What a Difference 50 Days Makes

Well, this press conference didn’t age well at all, and in record time.

25 June 2021: “President Biden Welcomes His Excellency Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, to the White House”

Don’t get me wrong, I am not gloating.

This is a terrible situation, quite accurately the Fall of Saigon of our generation. A total kick in the nuts.

U.S. Embassy evacs: Saigon, April 1975, and Kabul, August 2021, respectively

I have friends and family that were part of the one million Americans who served– often several deployments– in uniform in the (now-old) Afghan Republic over the past two decades and I did contractor work. One of those friends I visit every year in the Biloxi Veteran’s Cemetery and would much rather he still be here to see his daughter grow up. 

This week stings quite a bit and I really felt like everyone saw it coming for the past several years.

The following is the text of a joint statement released by the Department of State and Department of Defense on Afghanistan, 15 August: 

Begin text:

At present we are completing a series of steps to secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport to enable the safe departure of U.S. and allied personnel from Afghanistan via civilian and military flights.  Over the next 48 hours, we will have expanded our security presence to nearly 6,000 troops, with a mission focused solely on facilitating these efforts and will be taking over air traffic control. Tomorrow and over the coming days, we will be transferring out of the country thousands of American citizens who have been resident in Afghanistan, as well as locally employed staff of the U.S. mission in Kabul and their families and other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals. And we will accelerate the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for U.S. Special Immigrant Visas, nearly 2,000 of whom have already arrived in the United States over the past two weeks. For all categories, Afghans who have cleared security screening will continue to be transferred directly to the United States. And we will find additional locations for those yet to be screened.

End text.

Obon Season

August 15th is widely recognized as the anniversary of the end of World War II in Japan. The day also coincides with what is known as Obon or simply just Bon, season, the Buddhist–Confucian period when the spirits of Japanese ancestors return home.

Importantly, the remains of some 1.3 million Japanese soldiers, seamen, and airmen are still missing from WWII. The government, especially after 1943, typically sent back small empty boxes with stones to bereaved families, which makes the repatriation of old war (often unwanted) trophies currently in the hands of the families of American Veterans important. 

RIP Thunder’s Tavern

To many followers of the page, including destroyermen, cruiser sailors, battleship sailors, and members of the Gator Navy– who have at one time or another passed through Pascagoula in the past 40~ years, assigned to PCUs in Spruance, Kidd, Burke, Tico, Iowa Tarawa, Wasp, San Antonio or America-class ships being built or modernized at Ingalls– the name Thunder’s rings a bell.

John “Thunder” Thornton, a Pascagoula High and Ole Miss football standout, returned home and opened his Tavern on South Market Street, just below Ingalls Avenue and only a few blocks up from the beach, in 1977.

Offering a military discount, Whisky Wednesdays, Drinking with Lincoln, a volleyball court, and, later, a pool, music venue (Johnny Joe’s), and a liquor store, it was always a popular and, sometimes, controversial hang out that hovered over the SUPSHIP “off-limits” list from time to time. Hell, when I was in high school in Goula, my friends and I would score a gallon of PBR draft at the drive-through window on Friday night, along with two styrofoam cups, for $5.

The next generation of bluejackets will not know of Thunders, as Thorton himself passed in 2019 and, this week, the recently-closed establishment was razed.

Still, you can bet old-school former red stripers everywhere will get a little misty-eyed through the halo smoke of their Camels once they hear the news, that last call at Thunder’s has come and went.

Desert Haka, 80 Years Ago Today

Via Time to Go Home.

25 June 1941, Egypt: Members of the 28 (Māori) Battalion, Royal New Zealand Army, performing a haka, the ancestral Māori war cry.

“The four men in the foreground are (from left to right): Private John Manuel (he was killed in action six months after this picture was taken), Private Maaka White (he was killed in action five months after this picture was taken), Private Te Kooti Reihana (he was later wounded by enemy fire), and Lance Corporal Rangi Henderson (he was killed in action two years after this picture was taken).”

The 28th is recognized today as the most decorated Kiwi battalion during WWII, receiving battle honors: Olympus Pass, Crete, El Alamein, Tebega Gap, Takrouna, North Africa 1942–43, Orsogna, Cassino 1, The Senio, Italy 1943–45, Mount Olympus, Greece 1941, Maleme, Canea, 42nd Street, Withdrawal to Sphakia, Middle East 1941–44, Tobruk 1941, Sidi Azeiz, Zemla, Alem Hamza, Mersa Matruh, Minqar Qaim, Defence of Alamein Line, El Mreir, Alam el Halfa, Nofilia, Medinine, El Hamma, Enfidaville, Djebibina, The Sangro, Castel Frentano, Monastery Hill, Advance to Florence, San Michele, Paula Line, Celle, Saint Angelo in Salute, Santerno Crossing, Bologna and Idice Bridgehead, as a unit.

Its men would receive no less than 7 DSOs, 1 OBE, 21 MCs, 13 DCMs, and 55 MMs in addition to a U.S. Silver Star and at least one was recommended, but ultimately did not receive, a VC.

Farewell, 4th Tanks (as well as its Active Sisters)

U.S. Marines with 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, salute during the 4th Tank Bn. deactivation ceremony on Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center San Diego, in San Diego, California, May 15, 2021. The Marines bid their final farewell to the battalion as it was deactivated in accordance with the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 modernization and capabilities-realignment efforts in order to stay prepared for the future fight against near-peer enemies. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jose S. GuerreroDeLeon)

Formed 12 May 1943 and rushed into battle with their M5 Stuart tanks at Kwajalein, the 4th Tank Battalion fought its way across the Pacific in WWII. By Iwo Jima and the occupation of Japan, they had upgraded to Shermans, including some “zippo” variants. 

Marine flamethrowing Sherman tanks set fire to Japanese aircraft in Sasebo, Japan, on November 2, 1945 127-GW-137979

Transitioned to the reserves, the battalion stood back up for Korea, landing at Inchon just 53 days after it was reactivated. Then came Vietnam, Desert Storm (where it reactivated in just 42 days, and Bravo/4 knocked out 34 Iraqi tanks in just 90 seconds, in both the biggest and fastest tank battle in the United States Marine Corps history), Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom.

All that tradition is gone as the Marines “lighten up” for future wars.

 

Its active duty sister battalions, 1st, and 2nd Tanks, which were founded in 1941, were likewise deactivated last month.

3rd Tanks, which had a string of battle honors from Bouganville and Iwo Jima to Hue, Khe Sahn, and Task Force Ripper, preceded the rest, casing their colors in 1992 as part of the post-Cold War peace dividend.

Until further notice, the Marines have lost all of their heavy armor after 80 years. The end of an era. 

Recovered HMS Hood Ensign Preserved

From the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth:

On the eightieth anniversary of the sinking of HMS Hood, the museum has acquired a new acquisition with an association to the ship.

The flag came into the possession of Arthur George Parrot during the Second World War. A merchant seaman, he claimed to have picked it out of the debris floating in the water following the sinking of HMS Hood. For him, the flag was an item of special significance which he said represented all the boys he’d known from Winchester and Southampton who’d joined HMS Hood at the outbreak of war but did not survive.

The flag is currently in a fragile condition, it shows evidence of old repairs and many holes so it will require some attention to consolidate the fabric before it can be shared with visitors.

Notably, the NMRN also has Hood’s bell, recovered from her battered wreck in the Denmark Strait, conserved.

Remember the Reason Today

Keep in mind today the real reason why the mail doesn’t run, public employees have a three-day weekend, and why your mailbox is full of tasteless fliers.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) commissioning pennant, used 15 November 1932, currently enshrined at the Indiana War Memorial. (Photo: Chris Eger)

Calm Seas to the Submariners of KRI Nanggala (402), on Eternal Patrol

Take a moment today to think of the crew of the Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala (402), lost at sea off Bali last week. While hope was flickering, search and rescue efforts only yielded a debris field with significant material and POL, according to an announcement from the Indonesian CNO.

Among the items recovered were torpedo tube liners, pipe insulation, orange bottles of submarine periscope lubricant, items used by the crew for prayers, and bathroom sponges.

The submarine is believed to have been lost at a depth of 850m, with 53 souls aboard. 

Hoping for the 53 Souls on KRI Nanggala

The Indonesian Navy reportedly has about 72 hours worth of oxygen left to rescue the 53 crew members of the Type 209/1300 submarine KRI Nanggala (402), which went missing in deep waters during a torpedo drill north of Bali on Wednesday.

A half-dozen warships, a helicopter, and 400 people are involved in the search while Singapore and Malaysia have dispatched additional assets, and the US, Australia, France, and Germany have offered assistance. The Indian Navy has dispatched their DSRV.

A 40-year-old boat, the German-made SSK underwent a refit in South Korea in 2012. In somber news, Nanggala disappeared in 2,300 feet of water (Type 209/1300s have a test depth of 800 feet) and an oil slick was observed shortly after.

150808-N-UN259-193 JAVA SEA (Aug. 8, 2015) The Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala (402) participates in a photo exercise during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Indonesia 2015. In its 21st year, CARAT is an annual, bilateral exercise series with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the armed forces of nine partner nations including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alonzo M. Archer/Released)

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