Taught you E&E since you were five, eh? Good man. I remember SERE training well. For one thing, I learned to carry some extra body fat if possible, because vittles are real, real slim pickin’s if you have to run for it.
By any chance was your uncle who was a POW in New Guinea with the 32nd Infantry Division? That was an activated Guard outfit dropped straight into the Kokoda Track - Buna - Gona - Sanananda fighting with no real training, no air support, no artillery support, and no logistical support for many months, no ammunition, food, or medical evacuation until Kenney got the flyboys straightened out. The outfit was raised right around where I sit this minute. Knew some of those old boys years ago. They also saw heavy fighting on Leyte.
Desperate, desperate fighting on New Guinea in those days. Combined with Guadalcanal, the New Guinea boys left the Japanese with the insoluble dilemma of deciding where the American “schwerpunkt” was. Not the sort of decision the Japanese are good at, as can be seen today at Fukushima Daiichi.
We owe a lot to our boys of 1942.
No enlisted rotation out, eh? Stilwell used his men up to the last drop of blood. Don’t like Stilwell. The Hump was his baby.
The US Army infantry in Europe were badly trained and poorly lead. Constant retraining was needed, but not supplied, to get replacements up to speed. Raw men were thrown into meat grinders. There were exceptions, of course, I am fond of General James Gavin of the 82nd Airborne.
Man, you have to be able to SEE the fields of fire from your enemy’s point of view. Have to. I looked at the world around me from that point of view until the late 1970’s, just could not stop. Super easy to turn it back on even after all these years. Being shot at and missed leaves a permanent mark.
“The US Army infantry in Europe were badly trained and poorly lead. Constant retraining was needed, but not supplied, to get replacements up to speed. Raw men were thrown into meat grinders. “
Yes, The Battle of Hürtgen Forest is a prime example of American generals leading from the rear.
I am not sure what outfit my uncle was with in New Guinea. My grandfather died in Robert Lee TX in the early 30’s and the younger kids went to the Masonic Home in Ft. Worth and the older ones went to the CCC or the army so I believe he was already in the service 12-07-41.
Another of my mother’s brothers landed on Omaha Beach but I don’t know what wave but I belief it was Day 1. He landed as a private but 2-weeks later was wounded badly enough to be sent home as a 2nd Lieutenant. The one time I met him, when I was about 12 y/o, I asked him what did to get a battle field promotion and he said he was the only one left of the original platoon. He became the fire chief of Cheyenne, Wyo. My father, if asked, used to say he was awarded the DFC for surviving. That is all he would say.
Regarding SERE, my father had just turned 19 when he landed in India and was almost immediately shot up and had to bail out. They jumped out very high and his chute did not open at first. He pulled the D-ring completely out and squirmed around and clawed part of the chute out. He said when it opened it almost ripped his crotch up to his nose.
He then almost immediately slammed into the top of the mahogany trees and was knock unconscious. When he became aware he could not get out of the harness so he cut the cords and then fell a 100 feet or so bouncing off limbs and end up at the bottom of the tree. When he regained consciousness again he was in a sitting position with 7 of his teeth in his hand. He did not know what to do so he tried to stick them back in.
He was terrified and on the verge of despair because he had no clue where he was and all he had was a knife. At that point a jeep drove up and the driver just stared at him and asked where they were. Apparently my father had landed next to a jeep trail that was used about once a month.
He liked to talk about the good times but if I asked him about the bad times he became quite depressed and would almost never talk about the bad times.
I have his letters. He was quit optimistic in ‘43 and was glad to be part of saving the world. His penmanship was beautiful. By late ‘45 he was very bitter and I can see where he stabbed the paper with the pencil as he complained about good men dying in unfit planes months after armed conflict ended. His penmanship was such you would think a different person wrote the last letters. In fact, the war had changed him to the point where he probably was a different person.
Thank you for your service.