Here we see a P-47N Thunderbolt of the 7th AAF’s 19th Fighter Squadron, 318th Fighter Group, at Ie Shima Airfield on Ryukyu Retto, Okinawa on 7 July 1945, with an M2 machine-gun-armed M3 half-track on anti-paratrooper/banzai defense.
Notably, the “Jug” (S/N 44-88104) is named “Sherman Was Right” (which was apparently a popular name for AAF fighters in both theaters of the war).
The reference is likely an ode to the Union General’s 1879 ” war is Hell!” speech to the graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy.
Of course, you could also argue that sections of Sherman’s well known, “War is a Terrible Thing” rant from the eve of the Civil War referencing the South’s slim likelihood of victory in the coming fracas between the states as a direct allegory to Japan’s own chances of winning the Pacific War.
That quote, below:
“You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization!
You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it.
Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail.
Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.”
~William Tecumseh Sherman, December 24, 1860.”
U.S Navy and Air Force tactical aircraft operating over North Vietnam in the early stages of the involvement in the South East Asian conflict in the mid-to-late 1960s faced an ever-increasing array of Soviet/Chicom-supplied air defenses ranging from eyeball-guided 12.7mm Dshk guns to the latest S75/SA-2 SAMs manned under the eye of Western experts and everything in between.
Some young aircrews even had to brave weapons their forerunners had to dodge over Western Europe in 1942-45. Specifically, among the Communist military aid delivered to Hanoi was at least 70 former German Luftwaffe/Wehrmacht 88mm Flugabwehrkanone delivered to the NVA in the mid-1950s from Moscow.
The big 88s were delivered alongside boatloads of MG42 machine guns, Kar98K Mausers, MP40 submachine guns, and Walther P-38 pistols, which came with millions of rounds of 7.92mm and 9mm ammo, all complete with funny little dirty bird markings.
For American forces facing VC irregulars and NVA regulars on the ground, 1965 seemed a lot like 1945 in some ways, with former vintage Soviet, Japanese, and French small arms often captured in secondary amounts when compared to Warsaw Pact-supplied German trophies from WWII.
New-made Chinese Type 56 AKs didn’t become the standard until the war matured.
Here we see an image, taken 8 February 1945 in the woods near Echternach, Luxembourg, showing very muddy Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 417th Regiment, 75th Infantry Division (“Bulge Busters”), cleaning their M1 Garands and M1918A2 BAR “before moving up to the line.”
The shot reminds me greatly of a Willie & Joe cartoon from the redoubtable Bill Mauldin, an artist who cut his teeth as a teenager in the 45th Infantry Division in 1940 and knew a thing or three about what he drew.
As widely noted by everyone from Military.com to the NYT, WSJ, and WaPo, Irene Triplett, aged 90, the last person to collect benefits for military service performed in the Civil War, recently passed away. Ms. Triplett, the daughter of a veteran of the conflict, received a $73.13 monthly check from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
As the last organized Confederate unit still in the field, Brig-Gen. Chief Stand Watie’s First Indian Brigade, laid down their arms at Doaksville, Oklahoma on June 23, 1865, this late chapter is closed 154 years, 11 months, and 8 days later.
Ms. Triplett’s pa, Mose Triplett, in true Brother-vs-Brother fashion, was a Tar Heel that fought on both sides as the war went on.
He mustered in first in the (Confederate) 53rd North Carolina Infantry then transferred to the much more well known 26th North Carolina— a unit that many historians suggest lost more men than any other at Gettysburg.
Pvt. Triplett later flipped sides and signed on with the bushwhacking Kirk’s Raiders, the controversial (Union) 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry, in late 1864. He died in 1938 at age 92 after marrying Irene’s mother very late in life.
In related news, Virginia’s likewise controversial governor, Ralph Northam, says a towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee will be removed as soon as possible from Richmond’s Monument Avenue.
And in Mobile, City officials removed the statue and plaques of Confederate RADM/Brig. Gen. Raphael Semmes from its pedestal, where it has stood near the top of Mobile Bay, for the past 120 years.
Semmes– who by all accounts was an absolute officer and gentleman (although eschewed by some as he was a catholic)– was not a proponent of slavery and, indeed, had married Anne Spencer, an anti-slavery Protestant from Cinncinatti. Before skippering the famed commerce raider CSS Alabama (under cruiser rules), Semmes had been a U.S. Navy officer, having served 34 years which included fighting at Veracruz during the Mexican War, and served as head of the U.S. Lighthouse Service just before the war.
Perhaps the Semmes statue will be re-installed at one of the forts at the mouth of Mobile Bay, Fort Gaines or Fort Morgan, where it can be properly conceptualized, and not lost to history.
It’s a small plot of land that’s never left unguarded. The Sentinels who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are a small and exclusive group. They stand their post 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of the weather. Hear the Sentinel’s Creed and you’ll know why. DOD video edited by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jared Bunn
Just four days before VE-Day, a unit of late-model M4E8 (Easy Eight) Sherman medium tanks of the U.S. 11th Armored “Thunderbolt” Division are seen crossing the Muhl River near Neufelden, Austria, 4 May 1945. Note the exhausted tankers and open carton on C-rats on the front slope of the lead tank.
Late to get into the war, the 11th AD landed in France on 16 December 1944 and saw their first combat just two weeks later defending the highway to Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. Remaining in almost constant contact with the enemy for the next four months during which they suffered nearly 2,900 battle casualties, the Thunderbolt pierced the Siegfried Line, swept through the Rhine, and raced across Bavaria to Austria where it was thought the hardest cases of the SS would fight a last stand.
Instead, on 5 May 1945, the day after this picture was taken, units of the 11th liberated the Gusen concentration camp then swiftly moved on to the main camp at Mauthausen on the 6th. They had covered the 900 km from Bastogne through Germany and Austria in 126 days.
As noted by the U.S. Holocaust Museum, “The division’s arrival prevented the SS guards from murdering thousands of concentration camp prisoners by dynamiting the underground tunnels and factories where the inmates had been forced to work.”
The 11th would remain in the area, where they helped process more than 19,000 prisoners, and would be disbanded 31 August 1945. The Thunderbolt was never reformed.
For more on the Army’s liberation on The Camps, see the CMH’s dedicated page full of resources on the matter.
This 1985 photo of a Columbian marine participating in an amphibious/jungle assault during the joint US/South American Exercise UNITAS XXV, complete with his M1 helmet and M14 rifle, could almost be mistaken for a U.S. Marine in 1965 South Vietnam.
Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, April 22, 2020: Freeboard is Overrated, anyway
Here we see the armored coast defense vessel USS Monterey (Monitor No. 6) as she opens the brand-new Puget Sound dry dock at Port Orchard, Washington– then the largest dry dock in the U.S. and the third-largest in the world– on this day in April 1896. While you mistake her for a pre-dreadnought battleship above deck, below the waterline she is a more of a “cheesebox on a raft.”
While the U.S. Navy fielded upwards of 60 river, coastal and seagoing monitors in the Civil War era, by the 1870s most these craft, for one reason or another, had been discarded or allowed to decay to a near-condemned state– and rightfully so as late 19th Century naval technology was subject to a version of Moore’s Law.
In 1882, as part of the “Great Repairs” the first New Navy monitor, USS Puritan (BM-1) was launched and at 6,000-tons carried four modern (for the time) 12-inch breechloaders and could make 12.4-knots. Puritan was followed by the four Amphitrite-class monitors, 12-knot vessels of 4,000-tons with four 10″/30 cal guns and up to 11.5-inches of iron armor.
Then came our one-of-a-kind vessel, Monitor No. 6, USS Monterey. At 4,084-tons, the 261-foot-long coastal defense vessel had more modern Harvey nickel steel armor, up to 13-inches of it in her barbettes to be exact, than her predecessors. Slightly slower at 11-knots, she wasn’t built for speed.
With limited deck space, Monterey’s teeth consisted of a pair of 12″/35 caliber Mark 1 breechloading guns protected by 8-inches of steel armor shield– the same mounts that were on the early battleship Texas— which were capable of firing out to 12,000 yards at about one round per minute.
In the end, Monterey was a decently armored ship that could fight in 15 feet of shallow water and deal out 870-pound AP shells at opponents approaching out to sea. You could argue that it was a solid coast defense concept for the era, especially for the money. Hell, cash-strapped non-aligned European powers such as Finland, Sweden, and Norway relied on a similar naval concept into the 1940s.
Bringing up the rear, Monterey mounted a pair of slightly smaller 10″/30 Mark 2 guns as used on the Amphitrites, protected by 7.5-inches of armor, in a turret facing aft. These could fire 510-pound shells out to 20,000 yards, a significant range boost over her forward guns.
To ward off enemy small boats that worked in close enough to threaten the beast, Monterey carried a half dozen 6-pounders, four 37mm Hotchkiss revolving cannons, and a pair of 1-pounders in open mounts.
In some ways, Monterey was superior to the follow-on quartet of Arkansas-class monitors which were smaller and less heavily armed, while having the same speed.
The biggest handicap of any monitor is the sea itself, after all, the namesake of the type, USS Monitor, was lost at sea while moving from station to station. While underway, Monterey and the ships of her more modern type suffered from notoriously low freeboard in any seas, making for a series of dramatic photos that have endured over a century.
The $1,628,950 contract was signed for Monterey on 14 June 1889 after she was authorized under the Naval Act of 1887 and her first frame was bent at San Francisco’s Union Iron Works on 7 October 1889.
Named for the California city and the 1846 Navy-Marine action that captured it from Mexico during the Mexican War, our monitor was the second U.S. Navy vessel to carry the moniker, the first being a Civil War-period steam tug that provided yeoman service to the Mare Island Navy Yard into 1892
Commissioned 13 February 1893, the new Monterey’s inaugural skipper was Civil War vet Capt. Lewis Kempff (USNA 1861), a man who would go on to become a rear admiral.
She had a period of workups and calm, idyllic peacetime duty off the West Coast for the first several years of her career, assigned to the Pacific Squadron. This consisted primarily of slow jaunts from Seattle to San Diego and a short four-month coastline-hugging cruise to Peru and back in 1895 to show the flag
When war with Spain erupted, Monterey was the strongest U.S. ship on the West Coast save for the battleship USS Oregon (BB-3), which had been dispatched around Cape Horn on a 14,000-mile mission to join the Fleet in the Caribbean. This prompted a change from her peacetime livery to a dark grey.
As the conflict wore on, Monterey was ordered to sortie 8,000 miles across the Pacific for the Philippines to provide the Asiatic Squadron with big gun support against possible attack by the powerful Spanish battleship Paleyo (9700-tons, 2×12-inch guns, 2×11-inch guns) as Dewey’s forces consisted solely of cruisers and gunboats.
The fear did have some merit, as Spanish RADM Manuel de la Cámara was dispatched from Cadiz with Paleyo on June 16 along with the brand-new armored cruiser Emperador Carlos V, a force of destroyers and auxiliary cruisers, and 4,000 Spanish Army troops headed for the Philippines to make a fight for the colony.
As Camara was sailing through the Med, bound for the Far East, Monterey had already left San Diego on June 11 in company with collier Brutus for Manila.
Senator Henry Cabot Lodge wrote to his friend Col. Theodore Roosevelt, the recent Asst. SECNAV, that, “We are not going to lug that monitor across the Pacific for the fun of lugging her back again.”
At the time her skipper was LCDR James W. Carlin (USNA 1868), who as a lieutenant in 1889 was XO of the steam sloop USS Vandalia when the vessel was wrecked in the great Samoan hurricane of that year. During the storm, Carlin had to take command after Vandalia’s skipper was swept away. Mr. Carlin surely had an uneasy sense of dejavu as he shepherded his slow-moving monitor through another Pacific storm on the way to Manila Bay.
Amazingly, the Monterey and Brutus made Cavite on 13 August and participated in the bloodless effort that same day in which American forces captured the city of Manila in a mock battle with the Spanish. In all, she logged an average of just 125 miles or so a day on her trip across the Pacific!
The other West Coast monitor, the Amphitrite-class USS Monadnock (BM-3), reached Manila Bay three days later on 16 August.
While Monterey and Monadnock were wallowing across the mighty Pacific that summer, Camara had met a brick wall at the Suez Canal where he was refused coaling by the British and returned to Spain, arriving at Cartagena on 23 July without firing a shot in the Spanish-American War.
Although Monterey did not actually have a chance to go loud against the Spanish, she did see some action in the PI as events unfolded.
On 18 September 1899, she commenced a week of combat operations in Subic Bay against local insurgents and joined with gunboats Charleston and Concord and supply ship Zafiro, helping to destroy a large gun at the head of the bay on the 25th.
She would remain, along with the Monadnock, in the Far East alternating with service on China station where they seemed particularly suited to gunboat diplomacy along the Yangtze river, her landing forces put to frequent use, and waving the flag from Tokyo to Nanking.
In 1900, the forward-deployed monitors would be used to help justify increasing port facilities in Cavite, as they had to make frequent trips to Hong Kong to avail themselves of British yards there.
From a Bureau of Navigation report:
It is important that this Government should construct or acquire on this station a dock of its own for the largest vessels. Under other circumstances foreign docks might not have been available for the Oregon, or being available, might not have been offered for use. The lack of a dock in the Philippines makes it necessary to keep full crews on board such vessels as the Monadnock and Monterey. These vessels are of little use in the present state of the insurrection but are needed in the Philippines as a reserve for strengthening the fleet in case of threat or attack from another power. Each six months, though, they need docking and must then have a crew and convoy besides to get them from Cavite to Hongkong, whereas with a dock in the Philippines they could be put in reserve and docked, as necessary.
While in the Philippines, she apparently carried huge deck awnings covering her guns.
Decommissioned at Olongapo in 1903 for four years’ worth of repairs, she was placed back into service in September 1907, spending more time in places ranging from Foochow to Zamboanga for the next decade.
In November 1917, as the world suffered from the Great War, Monterey was finally relieved from her Asiatic posting after 19 years and recalled to Pearl Harbor. This time she was towed by collier USS Ajax (AC-14) in a 36-day cruise, arriving just before Christmas.
Spending the next several years as a submarine tender– a job many old monitors found themselves pressed into in the 1900s– Monterey finished the Great War as a manned vessel, as her Christmas 1918 menu testifies.
Decommissioned 27 August 1921, she was sold the next February to A. Bercovich Co., Oakland, Calif., and towed across the Pacific for scrapping. It was her first, and last, trip back to CONUS since she left in 1898 to join Dewey.
After she was scrapped, Monterey’s bell went on to live a life of its own, installed on Ford Island at Pearl Harbor, from where it witnessed the attack in 1941.
For years after WWII it was used to ring 8-bells at the golf course and as far as I know, is still there.
The third Monterey (CVL-26) was an Independence-class light carrier built on a cruiser hull during World War II.
The carrier was perhaps best known as having a navigation officer by the name of Gerald Ford in her complement during the push towards Tokyo.
The fourth Monterey (CG-61) is a VLS-equipped Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser that has been with the fleet since 1990 and is still going strong some 30 years later.
Displacement: 4,084 tons
Length: 260 ft 11 in
Beam: 59 ft
Draft: 14 ft
Machinery: VTE engines, 2 single-ended cylindrical and 4 Ward Tubulous boilers, 2 shafts, 5,250 hp
Speed: 11 knots
Complement: 19 Officers and 176 Enlisted as designed, 218 (1898)
3 inches on deck
5-13 inch belt
11.5-13 inch barbettes
7.5-8 inch turrets
2 x 12/35″ in one dual turret
2 x 10/30″ in one dual turret
6 x 6-pdrs
4 x 37mm Hotchkiss revolving cannons
2 x 1-pounders
2 x Colt M1895 machine guns (added 1898)
1 x landing gun
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Alabama-born Special Forces Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins, MoH, was a man among green-faced men when in 1966 he was part of an A-team at Camp A Shau and the fit hit the proverbial shan.
Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins distinguished himself during 38 hours of close-combat fighting against enemy forces on March 9 to 12, 1966. At that time, then-Sergeant First Class Adkins was serving as an Intelligence Sergeant with Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces at Camp “A Shau”, in the Republic of Vietnam.
When Camp A Shau was attacked by a large North Vietnamese force in the early morning hours of March 9th, Sergeant First Class Adkins rushed through intense enemy fire and manned a mortar position defending the camp. He continued to mount a defense even while incurring wounds from several direct hits from enemy mortars. Upon learning that several soldiers were wounded near the center of camp, he temporarily turned the mortar over to another soldier, ran through exploding mortar rounds and dragged several comrades to safety. As the hostile fire subsided, Adkins exposed himself to sporadic sniper fire and carried his wounded comrades to a more secure position at the camp dispensary.
Sergeant First Class Adkins exposed himself to enemy fire transporting a wounded casualty to an airstrip for evacuation. He and his group then came under heavy small-arms fire from members of the Civilian Irregular Defense Group that had defected to fight with the North Vietnamese. Despite this overwhelming force, Adkins maneuvered outside the camp to evacuate a seriously wounded American and draw fire away from the aircraft all the while successfully covering the rescue. Later, when a resupply air drop landed outside of the camp perimeter, Adkins again moved outside of the camp walls to retrieve the much-needed supplies.
During the early morning hours of March 10th, enemy forces launched their main assault. Within two hours, Sergeant First Class Adkins was the only defender firing a mortar weapon. When all mortar rounds were expended, Adkins began placing effective rifle fire upon enemy as they infiltrated the camp perimeter and assaulted his position. Despite receiving additional wounds from enemy rounds exploding on his position, Adkins fought off relentless waves of attacking North Vietnamese soldiers.
Adkins then withdrew to regroup with a smaller element of soldiers at the communications bunker. While there, he single-handedly eliminated numerous insurgents with small arms fire, almost completely exhausting his supply of ammunition. Braving intense enemy fire, he returned to the mortar pit, gathered vital ammunition and evaded fire while returning to the bunker. After the order was given to evacuate the camp, Sergeant First Class Adkins and a small group of soldiers destroyed all signal equipment and classified documents, dug their way out of the rear of the bunker, and fought their way out of the camp.
Because of his efforts to carry a wounded soldier to an extraction point and leave no one behind, Sergeant First Class Adkins and his group were unable to reach the last evacuation helicopter. Adkins then rallied the remaining survivors and led the group into the jungle – evading the enemy for 48 hours until they were rescued by helicopter on March 12th. During the 38-hour battle and 48-hours of escape and evasion, Adkins fought with mortars, machine guns, recoilless rifles, small arms, and hand grenades, killing an estimated 135 – 175 of the enemy and sustaining 18 different wounds. Sergeant First Class Adkins’ extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces and the United States Army.
Adkins, age 86, passed away this weekend, reportedly from complications of COVID-19.
In related news, while the Tomb Guards at Arlington are still walking post, the Old Guard is currently conducting Memorial operations while wearing masks, in accordance with Army and CDC guidelines.
I’ve known about this for a couple years, and been on the periphery of it as it was filmed, in part, on local museum ships such as the USS Kidd and USS Orleck in Louisiana. Further, some of my friends in the gun industry have been very involved with this, for instance, Joe Meaux and the gang in getting some Bofors mounts back in action.
With that, I am very excited about this, despite the fact that Hanks is 63, making him surely one of the oldest CDRs in a surface warfare command in history!
Greyhound is an upcoming war film directed by Aaron Schneider and starring Tom Hanks, who also serves as a screenwriter. The film is based on the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester. It also stars Stephen Graham, Rob Morgan, and Elisabeth Shue. The film follows a US Navy Commander on his first war-time assignment at the midpoint of World War II during the Battle of the Atlantic, as he leads his multi-national escort group in defending a convoy of merchant ships as submarines attack.