Tag Archives: World War Ii

Japanese Submarine attacked oilfield near Santa Barbara, CA

On February 23, 1942, just 69 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese long range submarine, I-17 class, attacked the Barnsdall-Rio Grande Oil Field at Ellwood, California, which is just twelve miles north of Santa Barbara. Their attack consisted of firing shells from 5.5 inch deck guns for approximately twenty minutes. They targeted various oil wells along the coastline, including the Bankline Oil Company Refinery. One shell hit a derrick, causing some damage, but, fortunately, no loss of life. Three shells landed near the refinery but inflicted no damage. The other shells failed to hit their targets as the submarine moved slowly, paralleling the coast.

How did this attack unfold? At 7:58 PM local time, the Fourth Interceptor Command ordered all radio stations in Southern California off the air. Simultaneously, air-raid sirens were sounded in Santa Barbara. Within  a few moments, the coastline was blacked out from Carpinteria to Goleta, California, an area of almost twenty-five miles.

Eyewitness reports of the Japanese submarine began coming into the Ventura County Sherriff’s office. The first report came from San Marcos Pass, northwest of Santa Barbara, after hearing the first cannon shot. The observer used field glasses to sight the submarine, which they estimated was located about one mile off shore. The final call came in at approximately 8:30 PM; a minister observed the submarine exiting the Santa Barbara Channel. This same minister also reported he witnessed flashing signal lights by someone on shore. Later, four Japanese and one Italian were arrested. However, there were additional Japanese collaborators. For two hours after the Japanese raid, yellow flares were shot over Ventura County to signal the Japanese submarine. None of these individuals were ever caught.

The extent of the damage from the raid was minimal. Some shells landed short of the extensive oil installation; some exploded and blew holes in the machinery. Fortunately, their shells just missed several high-octane gasoline tanks.

Interestingly enough, the Japanese submarine remained in the area for another month, traveling up and down along the shipping coastline between Cape Mendocino and San Francisco, attacking various targets. The submarine sunk or damaged oil freighters, shelled shore installations in California, Oregon and Washington; it even launched miniature aircraft to start forest fires with incendiary bombs in Oregon forests. At the end of March, they returned to their home base at Yokosuka, Japan.

The Japanese considered reaching the American mainland a great victory. It was celebrated by the Japanese government and navy, who even printed special commemorative postcards so the event could be circulated around the world. This was the first attack by a foreign power on the continental United States since the War of 1812.

How did the United States react to this raid and the attack on Pearl Harbor? General Jimmy Doolittle B-25 bombing raided Tokyo on April 23, 1942. (Insert blog link) The attack was a success and a great boost to American morale.

Do you wonder how the Japanese knew where to attack and operate relatively undetected? The submarine was piloted by Captain Kozo Nishino, a former Japanese tanker captain who often dined as a guest of Bankline Oil company when his ship was anchored offshore prior to World War II.

Were you ever taught this in school?

The Seventieth Anniversary of the Atomic Bomb

August 6, 2015, is the seventieth anniversary of the dropping of the first atom bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, which occurred per the order of United States President Harry S. Truman. Japan refused to surrender, so a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. World War II ended with that second bomb.

What you’ve just read is what we were taught in school and what we saw on television. The truth, however, is far from being that simple, and the decision-making process was much more stressful than the public was led to believe.Silhouette fedora

Over the past three years, I have been researching for my forthcoming novel about the Soviets spying on the Atomic Bomb Project at Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico. I’ve discovered that few people in the world know the whole story behind the use of the atomic bombs and the behind-the-scenes activities. Today, seventy years later, the United States remains the only country in the history of the world to use atomic weapons. I venture to say that those people believing the use weapons of mass destruction was wrong, would quickly change their minds, if they knew the whole truth.

In advance of the release of my fact-based novel (which by definition is fictional), I’d like to share with you a few snippets of absolute truth that will shed a brief ray of light on the jarring decision making process.

Truman wanted to drop the atomic bomb on a purely military target; however, few valuable targets remained as a result of the fire-bombing campaign. The fire-bomb raids inflicted heavier casualties than either of either atomic bombs, but it created the psychological effect of a single weapon of such explosive force.

The wheels on this locomotion of destruction began five months earlier in April of 1945. On the morning of April 12th, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made one last effort to smooth out his delicate relationship with Stalin, but that afternoon, Roosevelt died, and Vice President Harry S. Truman became President. Up to that point, Truman had rarely seen Roosevelt and was not fully briefed on the War, or on the pending problems with the Soviet Union, or—more importantly—on the Manhattan Project. Truman thus required full briefing as rapidly as possible.

April also brought the invasion of Okinawa, an island on Japan’s doorstep. After two months of bloody land fighting, the stage was set for invasion of Japan’s main islands.

Hirohito believed that the US would ultimately invade mainland Japan, in order to finish off his country. Hirohito planned to detonate two dirty bombs over MacArthur’s mainland invasion fleet; therefore, he prepared a defense plan that would inflict terrible loss on the US army. At this point, he believed the US would negotiate a conditional surrender of Japan.

Japan had purchased uranium from Germany, which was being shipped in a German submarine that left Norway for Japan on April 15, 1945. When Germany surrendered on May 14th, the submarine turned and went to New Hampshire, where it surrendered all of its raw materials and data. Japan believed that, if they had surrendered first, they might have had a better political position for conditional submission. But now the US was ready to finish off Japan and would take nothing less than unconditional surrender. Despite the destruction of most of Japan’s war industry, on June 9, Japanese Premier Suzuki announced that Japan would fight to the very end, rather than accept unconditional surrender.

At the Potsdam Conference, principal allies the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain met to discuss, among other things, ending the war. The chief representatives were President Truman, Premier Stalin, former Prime Minister Churchill, and newly elected Prime Minister Clement Attlee. While there, they formulated the invasion plan for Japan. Part of the invading army would include US Troops, plus Russian and Chinese troops. Naturally, this terrified the Japanese, who feared the ruthlessness of the the Russians and the Chinese, whom they had treated horrifically.

Truman was still at the Potsdam Conference when he received results of the atomic bomb test. He talked at length about the bomb with Churchill and General Eisenhower. Truman did not particular trust nor like Stalin and only mentioned that he had a new weapon that was very destructive. Stalin acted uninterested and replied that he hoped it would finish off the Japanese. My research shows that Stalin was already aware of process by his spies in New York and Los Alamos of the results of the test.

On August 8, Japan tried to persuade the Soviets to mediate surrender negotiations. Soviet Diplomat Molotov canceled the meeting with the Japanese. Because of this, President Truman believed he must move fast, with the likelihood of the Soviets entering the Pacific War to spread Communism. Thus, Hoover decided to drop the second bomb.

August 9th, Stalin announced that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan. Simultaneously, the Soviet forces invaded Manchuria and North Korea. That same night, Hirohito met with key staff members to discuss viable options. The morning of August 10, a diplomatic note was sent to Sweden and Switzerland, declaring Japanese surrender under one condition: Hirohito must remain in power.

What was unknown to but a select few US personnel was that the next atomic bomb would not be ready until about August 21st. Secretary of State George Marshall and General Leslie Groves believed two bombs would move the Japanese to surrender. On August 13, Major General John Hull telephoned an officer at The Manhattan Project on behalf of General Marshall, saying that the chief of staff wanted all future bombs reserved for tactical use in Operation Olympic, the invasion of Japan. The Manhattan Project officer estimated that seven bombs would be ready. Seven!

At noon on August 14, in Washington, DC, President Truman met with the Duke of Windsor and British Ambassador John Balfour and told them that the latest Japanese message indicated no acceptance of the surrender terms. He had no alternative but to order the dropping of an atomic bomb on Tokyo. Fortunately, at 4:05 p.m. local time, he learned that the Japanese had indeed surrendered.

On August 14, Emperor Hirohito announced to the people of Japan that they had accepted the Allies’ unconditional surrender. He was afraid that soon the US would use this new weapon on Tokyo. Later in the day, Hirohito contemplated two choices; the first his ritual suicide, and the second to resign in total humiliation.

President Truman saved many US soldier’s lives, as well as the lives of many Japanese. Some believe that he also prevented expansion of Communism into Asia, as well.

Atomic scientists then believed that the ground would be safe to walk on one hour after detonation of the a-bomb. Of course, we now know this is far from the truth, and that the far-reaching fallout of those mushroom clouds exists still today, as evidenced in the abnormally high cancer rate of those exposed to atomic radiation.

I never expected to discover these shocking—even harrowing—facts when I began researching this history that I believed I knew rather well. Digging deep to uncover little-known truths is a writer’s job, however, even when writing fiction. Did it surprise you, as it did me, to learn these facts? Or were you taught these events unadulterated? In light of this information, has your opinion of the incidents changed, and if so, how?WP_20150308_001

I’m interested your opinions! Please share with me in the comment section below any thoughts you may have. Who knows? Something you say, or a question you ask, might influence my forthcoming novel. If so, I’ll be sure to thank you in my acknowledgments!

 

 

An American Hero – Hershel “Woody” Williams, Medal of Honor Recipient

On April 21, 2015, I had the privilege of attending a reception at the Parkersburg Country Club for retired United States Marine Hershel “Woody” Williams. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on October 5, 1945 by President Harry S. Truman for his heroism during the battle of Iwo Jima. Before giving his little talk, he made himself available for pictures. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to have my picture taken with such a true American hero.

Williams’ heroism stems from the four hours he was personally engaged in battle, attacking and destroying seven different Japanese pillboxes with flamethrowers, on the tiny island of Iwo Jima. In the talk he gave regarding that fateful day, I found most fascinating that he remembered nothing of his activities after agreeing to take the mission from his commanding officer. He knew he was given two Marine snipers and two Marines with machine guns, whose jobs were to fire on the pillboxes while he carried out his attack. Several Marines worked behind him, bringing him flamethrowers, as they would run out of fuel after less than twenty minutes of use, so that he could continue his mission. Still, the man has never had any recollection of his actions during those four hours of battle.Silhouette fedora

What had prompted Williams’ act of heroism, as he said, it was “how dug-in the Japanese were on this island.” When the troops landed, they were sitting ducks for the Japanese forces. The men literally conducted battle planning from inside bomb craters on one of the three runways on the eight-square-mile island. Iwo Jima was the bloodiest battle of World War II in the Pacific. The Japanese had 22,000 men dug in with underground tunnels connecting the positions. The Americans had nothing. The battle raged on for five weeks before the US Marines retook the island, which was crucially strategic in the potential bombing or invading of Japan.

Williams had just taken part in an island fight when they were loaded back on boats to go to Iwo Jima. He said they were told they likely wouldn’t even be getting off the boat. They believed the battle to take the island would take just over three days, or at the most, nine days. Sadly, these Marines had no intelligence on the Japanese positions on Iwo Jima.

Woody Williams’ story begins similar to that of Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy; both men were too small by enlistment standards, but found ways around them, so that could serve our country. In July of last year, I wrote a blog article on Audie Murphy, available for you to read at http://www.donkesterson.com/2014/07/04/audie-murphy-world-war-ii-war-hero/.

Williams, who is 92 years young, spoke articulately and with authority, without referring to a single note or using a teleprompter. He said that, until going back to the island last year for a commemoration event, he had never been to the famous Suribachi Memorial, which framed not only the battle for the island, but the battle in the Pacific and the sacrifice of the US Marines. Williams has formed a foundation to help families who have lost loved ones in combat, and you can find out more about it at http://hwwmohfoundation.org/index.html. His foundation represents six core values: courage, sacrifice, patriotism, citizenship, integrity, and commitment. These values are quite fitting, as they are the characteristics this heroic man has exhibited every day of his life.

The Day that shouldn’t have Lived in Infamy – December 7, 1941

What is the saying? “Let the truth set you free.” Well, December 7, 1941 should not have played out the way it did, and let me tell you why!

On December 8, President Roosevelt made a speech before Congress that broadcasted over the radio all across the United States, calling the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor a surprise attack and “a dastardly deed,” and the American Public bought it hook, line and sinker. They went from being against the war, as a whole, to being all in, and in a big way.

But here are the real facts.Silhouette fedora

We all know that the Japanese wanted a war against the United States and attacked Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7th. Last year, I wrote a remembrance of this date and the 2,403 sailors and soldiers who died that day as a result of 353 Japanese war planes bombing an “expecting” Pearl Harbor, starting at 7:48 AM Hawaiian time. But now I want to tell you that it didn’t have to happen. Our government set this up to happen for a reason. Let me provide the facts behind that fateful day, and I will let you decide for yourselves.

The United States and Japan had been at odds for more than a year. Behind the scenes, President Roosevelt had been looking for a way to get into World War II, but two things stood in the way. First was the election of 1940, when President Roosevelt campaigned much like one of his heroes, President Wilson, who kept us out of war. Roosevelt had to play to the anti-war crowd to keep his base happy. The anti-war crowd had many Hollywood celebrities and national heroes, including aviator Charles Lindbergh. Once the election was over, Roosevelt went back to work behind the scenes to overcome his second dilemma, the fact that most of the US had no interest in European war, and the American public—for the most part—couldn’t care less about what Japan was doing in Southeast Asia. Roosevelt had to get the public on his side to enter this war.

As early as January 1941, a Peruvian Minister told an American embassy official in Japan that the Japanese were planning an attack on Pearl Harbor. The US embassy in Japan telegrammed this information to the US State Department. Secretary of State Cordell Hull passed the message on to Army Intelligence and the Office of Naval Intelligence. On January 27, the Office of Naval Intelligence advised Kimmel that it “placed no credence” in the rumors that Japan was planning to attack Pearl Harbor. The view of US military intelligence, and of Admiral Kimmel, was that the major threat to the fleet at Pearl Harbor was from local saboteurs—not—from a Japanese military force.

Japan’s next move occurred on March 1941, when they sent a new Consul General, trained spy Takeo Yoshikawa, to Hawaii. Yoshikawa was responsible for gathering information about the movements of American ships. The Office of Naval Intelligence had broken Japanese codes, so the US knew the Japanese had spies in the United States and were aware of many of their plans.

The Roosevelt Administration made their next calculated move: Roosevelt knew the Japanese were willing to do anything to secure crude oil, and when their Axis partner Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Japanese believed the Soviets would not attack them. As a result, Japan became more brazen in their activity, and in June of 1941,the United States and its Allies placed an embargo on crude oil going to Japan. Since Japan has no crude oil production, they had to rely solely on outsiders to provide it, so this move was really, shall we say, “poking the tiger”. Japan had to find a way to get crude oil to keep their war machine running. They were determined to acquire it, one way or another.

Despite continued peace negotiations between the United States and Japan, the rhetoric was also amped up between the two, predominately over Japan’s aggression against China and others. On Thanksgiving morning, November 27, Roosevelt met with Hull to be fully briefed regarding the Japanese situation and a review of the negotiations with the Japanese. He decided that a war warning should be issued to Panama, San Diego, Honolulu, and Manila. Later that day, Secretary of War Stimson advised of a large Japanese Naval Force sailing from Shanghai. Stimson suggested to Roosevelt that the War Department cable should be sent to Panama, San Diego, Honolulu, and Manila to prepare for war, and Roosevelt agreed. The message to General MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Pacific Forces, spoke of negotiations with the Japanese appearing to be “terminated to all practical purposes”. It stated:

HOSTILE ACTION POSSIBLE AT ANY MOMENT . . . IF HOSTILITIES CANNOT, REPEAT CANNOT, BE AVOIDED, THE UNITED STATES DESIRES THAT JAPAN COMMIT THE FIRST OVERT ACT. THIS POLICY SHOULD NOT, REPEAT NOT, BE CONSTRUED AS RESTRICTING YOU TO A COURSE OF ACTION THAT MIGHT JEOPARDIZE YOUR DEFENSE.

MacArthur asked for clarification and reported that defense forces were ready. The next day, General “Hap” Arnold, the military commander in Washington, sent orders to MacArthur and to Pearl Harbor to take all necessary steps “to protect your personnel against subversive propaganda, protect all activities against espionage, and protect against sabotage of your equipment, property and establishments.” To this end, aircraft were to be moved together, wing tip to wing tip. Stimson warned of a possible amphibious assault on Manila, or the Thai or Kra Peninsula in Malaya, or maybe even Borneo.

As the Japanese fleet moved into attack position for the Hawaiian Islands, they had to break radio silence briefly, and this enabled US radio direction finders to locate the attack force. Also, both the British Intelligence Code Breakers and the Dutch knew that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor.

Upon receipt of the war warning in Honolulu, Admiral Kimmel and Lieutenant General Short, planned for the “surprise attack” by moving the United States Navy aircraft carriers out of Pearl Harbor and sent them to the high seas where the Japanese couldn’t find them. Pacific Commander Rear Admiral William F. Halsey then decided to place the most valuable of the remaining ships on the inside of the docks, while the least valuable were put on the outside, in case of a “surprise attack” on the harbor by the Japanese.

On December 6, President Roosevelt composed a last-minute plea for peace to the Emperor. On the same day, a Liaison Conference in Tokyo approved the decision to have Nomura deliver Japan’s final note at 1300 hours the next day, thirty minutes before the scheduled launching of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Thirteen of the fourteen parts of the message were in American hands that night. Unidentified aircraft, presumably Japanese, were observed over Luzon, where by this time, a full air alert was in effect. The troops had already moved into defensive positions along the beaches.

In Tokyo on the evening of December 6, the Navy General Staff sat anxiously awaiting correspondence. They were stunned when the Japanese spy in Honolulu sent the final report stating that Pearl Harbor was full of battleships, but not a single aircraft carrier! This put the Naval Staff into a last minute panic; they believed that there were six carriers in the Pacific. Where were the aircraft carriers? Were they waiting to ambush Admiral Nagumo? When Admiral Yamamoto was advised, he contemplated having Nagumo send out search planes, but was afraid of tipping the location of the attack force. When Admiral Yamamoto decided to notify Admiral Nagumo, he advised him that there were no carriers in Pearl Harbor, and Yamamoto left the final decision to Nagumo. As mad as Nagumo was, he felt he had no choice but to proceed and at least try to sink the battleships.

In Washington, DC, on the morning of December 7, Japanese Ambassador Nomura called Secretary Hull to request a meeting promptly at 1:00 PM local time in Washington, DC. Although the Naval Intelligence code breakers thought otherwise, both Roosevelt and Hull believed that the message from Hirohito/Japan contained the worst—a declaration of war. At that point, Roosevelt elected not to pick up the phone, though he could call any major installation in the Pacific. He and the other advisors ignored their hard intelligence and believed, based on what they knew, that Japan was going to attack Malaysia. Roosevelt knew that all of the US Pacific Stations were at “third alert”, meaning they were expecting sabotage only.

So the Japanese didn’t get the honor of announcing their war plans before the “surprise attack” all as desired by Roosevelt. Now he could call it a dastardly surprise attack and rally the American Public, who never knew the whole story! The government withheld information from the public so it could manipulate them. Wow, what a surprise!

As a final test to your knowledge of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, do you know who fired the first shot?Silhouette fedora

Okay, time’s up… the United States did. The USS Ward sunk a mini-spy sub that had moved into place to assist the war planes with their surprise attack at 6:45 AM.As you can now see, that was one full hour before the first Japanese planes flew over Pearl Harbor.

Audie Murphy, World War II War Hero

Growing up, I heard that Audie Murphy was a great war hero, but I never knew his story. Now I know that Audie Murphy was the most-decorated soldier in World War II. By the end of the War, he had attained the rank of First Lieutenant in the Army and was decorated with thirty-three medals, including three Purple Hearts and one Medal of Honor.Silhouette fedora

At the beginning of the War, it was difficult for Murphy to get into the Military, and the Army, the Navy and Marines rejected him because he was too young—only 16 years old—and too small at 5’5” and 110 pounds. Murphy didn’t let that stop him. He altered his birth certificate, and eventually he was allowed to enlist in the Army, as the war had continued and more soldiers were needed. During his basic training at Camp Wolters, Texas, he passed out, and his company commander almost transferred him to cooking school. Fortunately, Murphy talked the commander out of this transfer.

Murphy was assigned to the Third Platoon, Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in Casablanca, Morocco. In Murphy’s first combat, he participated in the invasion of Sicily, and for his brave actions, he was promoted to corporal, but unfortunately contracted malaria. Next, Murphy was part of the invasion of Italy. While participating in the Italy campaign, the Germans ambushed his night patrol. Due to Murphy’s heroic actions that night, they not only won the battle, but also took some German prisoners. For these measures, Audie Murphy received a promotion to sergeant. Murphy’s division moved forward, and next he participated in the fighting near Anzio, where he earned two Bronze Stars, one for personally destroying a German tank.

Sergeant Audie Murphy was then sent to France. In one particular incident, he witnessed the death of a close friend when a German soldier faked surrender, then killed the man. Murphy went ballistic, and all by himself, he wiped out a German machine gun perch, then grabbed a German weapon, killed a few German soldiers and forced several others to retreat. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for this valiant action.

By October of 1944, he had been promoted to second lieutenant. Later that month, Murphy was wounded in the hip while leading his platoon into battle, causing him to recover in the infirmary for ten weeks. On January 25, 1945, just after returning to his platoon as a company commander, he was impaled with shrapnel from an exploding mortar round. Despite this wound, he did not leave the battle field. The next day as he led his men into battle, they came under far-superior enemy fire. He ordered his platoon to fall back, and while they followed his orders, Murphy didn’t. Instead, he stayed in position and provided cover so that his platoon could be pulled back safely. Eventually he ran out of ammunition, but still he didn’t fall back. He mounted a burning M10 Army tank and used its .50-caliber machine gun to force the Germans to hold their position. Again, Murphy received a leg wound, but for one hour, he maintained his position until his men could regroup and counterattack with air support. Murphy’s men succeeded in removing the Germans from their position. For this gallant feat, he received the Medal of Honor on June 2, 1945.

After the war, Audie Murphy was invited to Hollywood by James Cagney. Cagney talked Murphy into playing himself in a movie based on his autobiography. Murphy went on to play in forty-five movies in twenty-five years. Next, Audie Murphy began to write country music.

Despite his bravery and patriotic deeds, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following the war. Audie Murphey died in a tragic plane crash near Catawba, Virginia, on May 28, 1971.

Have you ever seen any of Audie Murphy’s movies, or have you heard his country songs? Were you aware of his distinguished service before reading this post?

Doolittle’s Raid on Tokyo

Historical MarkerApril 18, 1942, is a very important day in the history of World War II. On this day, Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle launched his fighter-bomber group, consisting of sixteen B-25Bs in a six-hundred-mile bombing mission over Tokyo, Kobe, Nagoya and Yokohoma, Japan. The original plan called for Vice Admiral William Halsey to maneuver the US Navy fleet, so that the bombers, after dropping their bombs, could fly and join up with Chennault’s AVG Flying Tigers.

This significant event was very important to the United States, as it was the first offensive mission against Japan after their attack on Pearl Harbor. However, the attack on Japan didn’t go exactly as planned. While the US Navy aircraft carriers Enterprise and Hornet attempted to slip undetected close enough to Japan to launch the attack, they were spotted by Japanese patrol boats. These eighty brave men immediate went to their back-up plan, launching some four-hundred miles earlier than planned, changing the already-dangerous bombing run over the enemy’s country to a ditching mission, after completing their bombing run. While they were told to spare the Japanese Imperial Palace, Doolittle himself buzzed the palace in his plane. Fifteen of the sixteen planes made it to China. The remaining plane made to the Soviet Union—our great World War II ally—where its crew was interned.

Doolittle and his fighter-bomber group practiced their mission at Lake Murray, South Carolina, a recently constructed lake. They practiced on Doolittle Island, Shull Island and Dreher Island, flying out of Columbia Army Air Base, which is now the commercial airport for Columbia. Following the raid, Doolittle’s B-25s continued to train at Lake Murray for the duration of the war. Sixty-four of these men continued to fly throughout the remainder of the war.

While Doolittle’s raid did little damage to Tokyo, it gave the United States hope during a very dark time in our history and showed the Japanese that they were indeed venerable. Hirohito had grossly miscalculated that the United States would be willing to enter into peace talks after their six-month campaign throughout the Pacific. But Roosevelt and his Joint Chiefs had a different answer than the Japanese had anticipated. This surprise attack forced the Japanese to attempt to extend their defensive perimeter, which led to the Battle of Midway, ending their offensive war.Silhouette fedora

Doolittle and his crewmen held annual reunions around the country, up until last year. They often came to Columbia, SC for these reunions, the last time being April of 2009. In 1956, Hennessy Distillers presented Jimmy Doolittle with a bottle of 1896 cognac, in honor of his birthday. Three years later, the City of Tucson present them with eighty gobbles (shot glasses) commemorating the airmen, thus starting the annual reunion ritual.  Each living member would toast the mission, those who had passed and the remaining survivors. Last year, the four remaining living members celebrated with their last toast of cognac at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, FL. One of the survivors was too ill to make the trip.

How should we continue to honor these brave men from the greatest generation on their anniversary date this year? I recommend that a toast of cognac or our favorite adult beverage would be very appropriate, along with a moment of silence to commemorate their brave mission.

PRESIDENTIAL EXECUTIVE ORDERS AND INTERNMENT OF UNITED STATES CITIZENS

Yesterday was an important day in history, on February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an Executive Order No. 9066.  This Executive Order came at the insistence of several members of his Joint Chiefs of Staff and his personal advisors, Roosevelt issued this order that required U.S. citizens from Italy, Germany and Japan must register with the Department of Justice and receive a Certificate of Identification for Aliens of Enemy Nationalities. One of the conditions of this Executive Order permitted their arrest, detention and interment.

President Roosevelt had called the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor a dastardly deed, but as I have written earlier, Roosevelt knew the attack was coming and he also knew that Japan’s ultimate plan was to put ground troops in Hawaii, then attack both the Panama Canal and the west coast of the United States. Roosevelt and his advisers were afraid that the Japanese citizens were more loyal to their homeland than the United States. Some speculated these United States citizens could be either spies or spotters for bombing or the landing of troops.

Within a month, the United States began rounding up Japanese American citizens who lived in western States. This included first generation and second generation Japanese. During Congressional Committee hearings, Department of Justice representatives raised constitutional and ethical objections to the proposal, the elected officials were concerned about how this was perceived by their electorate. So the U.S. Army was assigned the task to carry out the round up those considered a potential threat.

The West Coast was divided into military zones, a total of ten sites, six in western states and one in Arkansas.  The U.S. Army would soon incarcerate almost 70,000 Japanese American citizens. No charges were made against them nor were any grounds made for their potential appeal. An additional 50,000 non-U.S. citizens were also taken into custody. Some of the Japanese Americans challenged these orders but the Supreme Court upheld the U.S. Government and their actions.Silhouette fedora

During the early part of the 20th Century, many Japanese migrated to Hawaii, while others still went to the west coast of the United States (predominately California) to work as contract labors in the agriculture business. A segment of the Japanese emigrants were opposed to the United States diplomatic positions on Japan’s aggressive Asian War. Many resented United States laws and policies that prevented or inhibited the Japanese from competing on equal terms with the American farmer. However, most had assimilated and were on the side of the United States. Still many Americans resented the Japanese for a variety of reasons including their agricultural success. Their hard work and techniques soon yielded magnificent results, they controlled less than four percent of California’s fertile farms but their yield exceeded ten percent of California’s farm resources.

I am curious what my readers think of this Presidential Executive Order and incarnating of U. S. citizens without due process.

STOLEN GOLD AND OTHER ARTIFACTS

Within the next couple of weeks, a movie will be coming out called The Monuments Men.  This movie is based on a startling, real-life event that occurred in the final days of World War II in the European Theater, the discovery of the Merker Mine.

In the last days of the Third Reich, Hitler had the German Central Bank move all their currency and gold to this mine, which already housed the gold and artifacts stolen from the Jews and the conquered countries throughout Europe.Silhouette fedora

The real story behind this discovery is compelling. Sometime around April 5, 1945, French individuals were interrogated by US Army Counterintelligence Corps from the Ninetieth Infantry and learned of the potassium mine at Merker, Germany. This information was passed on up the Army intelligence chain to G-2. Soon, Lieutenant  Colonel William A. Russell entered this mine and made the startling discovery. As the artifacts were being documented, even General Dwight D. Eisenhower showed up at this mine to review the findings.

Do you know that the same things happened in the Pacific, following the defeat of Japan? Why have we not heard about it? The events in Europe were treated completely different from the events in the Pacific. Why? After the War in Europe, the British, the French, the United States and the Soviet Union divided Germany into four parts, with each country providing supervision in each region. Information was shared among the Allied Parties, except, of course, for the Soviet Union. In the Pacific, it was solely the United States.

I was hired by an international banker to research an owner’s missing gold, which led to more than a decade of researching World War II in the Pacific. This evolved into researching the events that lead to the war and the events immediately after the war. More particular, my research was focused on what happened to the gold and the Asian country’s treasures. The results of my research were placed into a three-volume history book of over one thousand pages that focuses these events. Later, I prepared a series of fiction books with my historical research serving as the underpinning. “We the people” need to be educated about these events. Were we taught these things in school? No, history and geography have been largely ignored in school for the last three or four decades. However, this is not where the answer lies: the government never wanted us to know what happened in the Pacific following World War II. Before and during World War II, we supported the wrong leader in Nationalist China, Chiang Kai-chek. President Franklin Roosevelt had big plans for China following the defeat of Japan; however, when China fell to Mao and the Communists, President Truman had to scramble to make quick changes. With General MacArthur running occupied Japan, Truman decided that Japan would become the country to rebuild. This was a country the United States had virtually destroyed; the infrastructure and many of its young men died in that conflict—those who would be critical to revitalizing the country.

Under the watchful eyes of General MacArthur, Japan got to keep all of their stolen gold and virtually no public record was made of the discoveries or even its existence. Then amazingly, within fifteen years, the world was touting Japan as the Economic Miracle.

Can anybody figure out how that happened?