The Church at Angoville

(another re-post D-Day tribute…
May we always remember that the success at the invasion of Normandy,
and the eventual ending of WWII in Europe and later in the Pacific,
was not so much a matter of great men doing certain things great nor of making
great decisions but rather it was the matter of ordinary men and women doing
ordinary things that would become,
in the end, great things that continue to affect us today—
and we are the better for it and are a free people to this day because of those ordinary folks!)

“All my life I made it a matter of principle to tend all soldiers
equally whatever their uniforms could be. I could not say to the Germans:
“You sit there and if you are bleeding to death. I don’t care”

Army Medic Robert Wright


(Église Saint-Côme-et-Saint-Damien d’Angoville-au-Plain..
the humble church at Angonville / Julie Cook / 2018)

Despite it being September 22 it was an unusually cold and blustery day…
or so it seemed for our little group of four from both Georgia and Florida.
However, this was Northern France, just inward from the North Atlantic coast.

The rain came in spurts…sometimes blowing sideways, sometimes merely misting.
The temperature was in the low 50’s but the howling 35 mph gusts made it seem much colder.

Somber weather for a somber day.

Our driver turned the van we were calling home for the day around a sharp corner along
a quiet narrow street as we came to a stop on a gravel drive just aside a large
ancient oak.

We exited the van, with umbrellas in hand, huddling together, as a small group of 5—
the four from Georgia and Florida and one from Holland who now made
Normandy, France his home as we readied ourselves for something that we all
sensed was going to be so much greater than ourselves.

The guide’s name was Mike.
Mike Van Den Dobbelsteen with Bayeux Shuttle Service.
Mike is a Dutchman who has a nearly perfect British accent…
but of course, this particular day was his 12th wedding anniversary…
his wife hails from England which helped to explain his heavy British accent.

His enthusiasm and depth of knowledge regarding history…in particular this history
was immense.

It was still early in our day’s adventure,
although having just come from the German Cemetary in Normandy,
we now found ourselves standing outside the doors of an extremely humble
little stone church.

A church that would be easily overlooked by passerbys.
A church that harkened back to a different time.
A church that was named for two martyrs who had actually been medical doctors.
An odd coincidence given the role this church played during a day that changed
our world’s history.

The beginning of this tiny church dates back to the 11th century, to 1088 to be exact…
but it was what happened in the middle of the 20th century, 9 centuries following the
inception of this church, that actually puts this church on the map of modern history.

As we stood gathered under the large tree shielding us from the cold pelting rain,
my eyes immediately gravitated to the dark granite cross-like marker standing stoically
on the grounds of this seemingly humble French church.

Toccoa.

My uncle and aunt had made Toccoa, Georgia their home for nearly 50 years.
It was in that small northeast Georgia town in which my cousins had spent their
childhood growing up…
Was there some sort of a connection between this tiny town in northwestern France and that
of the North Georgia town bearing that stone cross’s inscription?

Yes.

Yes, there was indeed a connection.

In the early 1940s, Toccoa, Georgia found itself home to the World War II
“Screaming Eagles” paratrooper corps.
E Company to be exact.
E Company was based at Camp Toccoa, a rustic training base located in
northeast Georgia that operated from 1942 through 1945.

It was that same E Company which trained in Toccoa, Georgia that would find itself
falling from the sky on June 6, 1944, into and around the tiny French Village of
Angonville-Au-Plain. A far cry from the north Georgia skies where they had practiced
for this very moment.

The French Village Angoville-au-Plain lies between St-Côme-du-Mont and Vierville,
at the D 913 in Normandy. It is a small village with at its center a small church.
The village was part of DZ (drop zone) D in June the 6th 1944.
Drop zone D was the most southern drop zone of the 1st and 2nd Battalion,
501st PIR (Klondikes) of the 101st Airborne Division.
The first 48 hours after the jump heavy clashes found a place between American
paratroopers and German Fallschirmjäger, which are rather elite German airborne infantry.

By Guido Wilmes
Translation Thijs Groot Kormelink

Mike offered us a briefing regarding the Nazis who had hunkered down in and
around this tiny village as well as the allied airdrop of paratroopers who had
floated out of the sky behind enemy lines…

This was to be the first line of a hoped-for offensive.

“Serg. Jim Cox was fighting at Angoville with 52 Paratroopers.
The shelling by mortars and 88 mm guns were so violent that they decided to rejoin
the command post of Bob Sink.

The area of the church at Angoville changed hands several times.
When the Germans arrived in the village they saw the Red Cross flag at the door of the church.
Noticing that German casualties [that] were lying on the pews together with the paratroopers
[so] they left.
The church protected by the Red Cross remained a heaven [haven] of peace
in the middle of a battle.

(excerpt from a brochure provided by the city of Angoville-Au-Plain/
brackets are my corrections)

The impromptu medical clinic was manned by two American airmen, members of the Toccoa
Screaming Eagles, who had only a month’s worth of medical training between them.
75 badly wounded men, both American and German, were under the care of these two haphazard
medics—
Medic Robert Wright and Private Kenneth Moore.

“Robert Wright and I, said private Kenneth Moore, a stretcher bearer,
were the only once to look after the casualties in the church of Angoville.
In the evening we had got 75 of them.
Our own folk had come to tell us that they could not stay any longer.
So we were left alone with the wounded soldiers.
A German officer soon arrived.
He asked me if I could tend the Germans as well.
We accepted.
During the night the churchyard was the scene of a battle.
Two of our casualties died.
But among those I could tend, none lost their lives.
I tended all sorts of wounds, some were skin-deep but others were more serious
abdominal cases.”

The blood stains, stains that soaked deep into the wooden pews,
remain clearly visible all these 74 years later.

It is said that the two medics would move the more critically wounded to the front of
the church in order to be near the altar of as they wanted these men to
find a sense of peace should this be their last night on earth.

At one point two German soldiers, who had been hiding in the loft of the church, came down a
side set of stairs holding arms high in the air as they attempted to surrender
to these two bewildered American medics.
They told the German soldiers that there was no time for surrender…they needed them to go
out and fetch some fresh water as they needed their help tending to the wounded men.
The German soldiers willingly obliged.

As I type my recollection of this emotional visit with its surreal story,
I feel the warm tears filling my eyes.

There are so many links to a wide array of sites (some I’ve listed below) that can tell
the story of Angoville with greater detail than I can.
Those who are much more knowledgeable than I…

I wish I could somehow convey the tremendous emotions…emotions from humility to gratitude
that now fill me as I try to share and convey this individual tale…an individual story of
duty and humanity that is but one out of thousands of tales during this particular time of madness.

It makes me feel very very small…and given our current days and time…
I think we might all benefit from feeling small.

The fact that two men who fell woefully short in medical training saved all but two
of the men who were entrusted to their care…men from both sides of battle,
all the while behind enemy lines is short of miraculous.

As miraculous was the fact that a mortar came crashing down through the roof of this tiny church’s
ceiling landing in the middle of and sticking with a thud smack dab in the center of
the ancient slate floor…

A mortar that did not explode.

Had it exploded, as it should have, the church would have been leveled and all the men killed…
leaving the village of Angoville as just another forgotten causality of war.

Some say it was the saints Côme and Damien who watched over this motley crew of wounded
soldiers and hapless caregivers.

“What allowed that medic to hold for 72 hours without food and rest?
Wright later explained…”The simple concern of helping other people.
When you do something that is worth doing you don’t think of your own life.”

In 1999 Robert Wright made a pilgrimage back to this tiny church.
He noted that “the church at Angoville will never be on the list of the important
churches to be visited in Europe. Yet however small the building is,
it does not prevent God understanding where hearts and prayer are.
They were many in this place.”

Robert Wright passed away at the age of 89.
His wish was to be buried in the cemetery of the same small church where he
had worked alongside Kenneth Moore to save the lives of 80 men.

His grave is simple and yet speaks volumes in its simplicity.

Today there are only 53 people who remain living in Angoville-Au-Plain.
The local mayor asks those who visit to please remember the importance of this
special place.
I will be sending them a donation…the euros I brought home along with a US monetary donation.

I want to do so because places like Angoville are too important for us to simply allow them to
succumb to the fickleness of time…
because time has an odd way of making us forget what once was while we busy ourselves
so as to not see what will be but rather we allow ourselves to wallow in the current moment
which only hopes to swallow us whole.

There are two stain-glass windows which were installed not long ago which commemorate
the importance of this church.

</a

This will be the first of several tales that I’ll be sharing regarding the big retirement
adventure trip which focuses on the real reason for the trip…that being the visit to
Normandy, France, and the D-Day Memorials…

https://www.rockdalenewtoncitizen.com/news/local/a-veteran-s-story-the-little-church-that-could/article_47f87fc0-5330-554b-8326-4b8cb975a3d9.html

501st Aid Station in the church of Angoville-au-Plain

https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2018/august/28/toccoa-georgia

Why we must remember….

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.
It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
Ronald Reagan


Theodore “Ted” Melvin Peterson

Periodically I receive emails from Fold3 HQ–a site similar to something like an Ancestry.com but
directed more toward Military Service records.

Yesterday the blog site offered the story about 1st Lt. Theodore Peterson,
a member of the WWII 8th Army Air Corps.

Today, Memorial Day, seems to be the perfect day that I, in turn, share it with you.
Petersosn’s story is but one of a myriad of stories as to why we pause today…
not to go to a picnic or to the beach or lake…but a day to remember and recall
that our freedom is, as President Reagan so eloquently stated, “freedom is never
more than one generation away from extinction”

You may click on the link at the bottom of the article in order to visit the site and read
the article in full or other articles…as this is a site worth visiting.

On May 29, 1943, 1st Lt. Theodore “Ted” Melvin Peterson was shot down near
St. Quay-Portrieux in German-occupied France. He was rescued by brave villagers and the French resistance,
spent two months making his way across France,
and then hiked 11 days over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain and freedom.
In a remarkable twist of fate, Peterson and his rescuers would meet again in an emotional
reunion 33 years later.

A member of the 8th Army Air Corps, 379th Bomb Group and 526th Bomb Squadron,
Peterson was based out of Kimbolton Airbase near London.
On the afternoon of May 29th, Peterson and his crew received mission orders.
They were to fly their B-17 “Flying Fortress” and bomb the submarine pens at St. Nazaire.
As they approached the French coastline, a volley of German anti-aircraft fire riddled Peterson’s plane,
blowing a large hole in the wing.
Several engines caught fire and they were losing altitude.

Peterson ordered everyone to bail out.

As captain, Peterson was the last man out, and just 1,000 feet off the ground when
he donned a parachute and jumped. “The ride to the ground took about 30 seconds.
I landed by a small tree in an open field. I quickly pulled out my pocket knife
and cut the shroud line.
One of the procedures in attempting to escape from enemy territory is to destroy the
evidence that you have landed,” said Peterson. The plane crashed into the bay moments
after Peterson bailed out.

The Germans saw Peterson’s chute descending and were speeding towards his position
when villagers quickly came to his rescue. They escorted him to a quiet, wooded ravine.
“I had a few moments to contemplate my position.

I remember being alone on my knees thanking my Father in Heaven for my life being spared,”
he said. Villagers brought him a change of clothes and guided him to the center of
a tall wheat field where they directed him to lie down and hide.
As darkness fell, Peterson heard the snapping twigs of someone approaching.
To his surprise, a small boy about 2-years-old emerged from the wheat.
He presented Peterson with a gift – a rose and a handkerchief.

To the French, Peterson was a hero.

The boy snuggled up next to Peterson and fell asleep.
Over the next two months, with the aid of the French underground, Peterson made his way to
Paris and across France. By August, he arrived at the foothills of the Pyrenees.
For 11 days, often without food or water, he was guided over the snow-packed mountains.
Finally, on August 16, 1943, he made his way to Barcelona and hitched a ride on a Royal Air Force
plane back to England.
Peterson had become the 69th Allied aviator to escape occupied France.

The passing of time and the trauma of war dimmed some of Peterson’s memories.
He’d returned home with the rose and the handkerchief as mementos from the war and kept
them carefully stored, but had forgotten where he received them.
In 1976, Peterson and his family returned to St. Quay-Portrieux.
With the help of local people familiar with the Resistance,
Peterson attempted to identify significant landmarks, specifically the field where he landed.
Finally, at a loss, the Petersons’ pulled their car to the side of the road and got
out to reevaluate.

They hailed a passing truck to ask for assistance.
The driver got out of the truck and immediately threw his arms around Ted in recognition,
despite the many years.
He said, “Do you remember my little brother, Gilbert?
He came out to visit you in the field the day you were shot down.
He fell asleep next to you and we searched frantically for him all night long!
Did you get the rose and handkerchief my mother sent for you?”
A sudden spark of memory flooded over Peterson as he remembered the boy presenting him with the gift.
The two men embraced with tears streaming down both of their cheeks.

As a tribute to young aviators like Peterson, the village of St. Quay-Portrieux salvaged
the propeller of Peterson’s plane from the ocean floor and restored it to stand as a monument
to Peterson and others who came to save France.

To learn more about WWII and aviators like Peterson, Search Fold3 today.

Shot Down Over France

humility lives among us…we just happen to over look it.


(Master Sargent William Crawford)

During his daily readings, my husband recently stumbled on a story that touched his heart.
It was a story that he, in turn, felt compelled to share with me.

It’s that type of story.

It is so much that type of story, that I, in the same like spirit, felt compelled that I should
now share with you.

It’s a story of war, sacrifice, loss, life, discovery as well as that of a quiet and very deep humility.

A forgotten story really.

And it seemed that it was to remain a forgotten story…that was until one day
in 1976 when a young airman cadet, studying at the United States Air Force Academy,
who much like my husband happened upon a particular story during his daily reading…
a story that in turn, deeply touched his heart.

One that he knew he would not only need to investigate but would be compelled to eventually
share in like kind.

It is a story that I pray continues to touch all of our hearts…

It is a story that unfolded in the mid-1970s when a couple of young Air Force Academy cadets
discovered a hidden unknown little fact about their school’s quiet and unassuming janitor.

A story that would have our current culture’s minds racing to the muck and mire of the nefarious…
but rather it was to be a tale that harkened to the amazing and the near miraculous.

Perhaps it was the way he carried himself in an unassuming and humble manner,
but day after day hundreds of Air Force Academy cadets would pass this janitor in the hall
oblivious to the greatness that was among them.

In the mid-1970s, William Crawford might spend one day sweeping the halls and another cleaning
the bathrooms, but it was a day approximately 30 years prior that would create for him a special
place in the history of war…

Fast forward to a military dinner in 2011…

Retired Air Force Col. James Moschgat shared Medal of Honor recipient
William “Bill” Crawford’s story last Friday night with about 200 people gathered
at the annual Pueblo Medal of Honor Foundation Golf Tournament Dinner.

Moschgat was a cadet at the Academy when, one day in the fall of 1976,
he was reading a book about individual experiences from World War II.

Moschgat said he was reading about a Colorado man named William Crawford,
an Army private who, in September 1943 in Italy, raced through intense enemy fire —
three times and on his own initiative — to detonate hand grenades on enemy gun sites.

After the battle, Crawford later was captured by the Germans and was presumed dead.
In 1945, the Medal of Honor was presented to his father, but later that year,
Crawford was found alive when a group of soldiers were rescued from German control.
Crawford re-enlisted in 1947 and retired in ’67 as a master sergeant.
After the Army, he went to work at the academy where, according to Moschgat,
he blended in and developed a reputation for being a shy, shuffling janitor.

Moschgat said he wondered if this war hero was the same man who cleaned his squadron’s quarters.

“I looked at my roommate and said, Jim, you’re not going to believe this,
but I think Bill our janitor is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.”

The next day, Moschgat said he showed Crawford the book and asked if it was him.
“He looked at it a moment and said it was him. He said,
‘That was a long time ago and one day in my life.’

Read the full article here:
https://medalofhonornews.com/2011/05/story-told-of-medal-of-honor-recipient.html

Crawford’s was a tale of the ordinary doing the extraordinary.
As well as that of a forgotten prisoner of war.

Once released and back home, Crawford reenlisted in the Army and eventually retired from
the Service in 1967.

Eventually making his way to that of janitor at the United States Airforce Academy.

Crawford was once heard to lament that his one regret was that he not had been awarded the medal
honor in person once it was discovered that he was actually alive as a prisoner of war and not
dead as it was presumed.

So unbeknownst to Crawford, in 1984 when then-President Ronald Reagan came to offer the commencement
speech at the Academy’s graduation, a special presentation had been arranged.
President Reagan would present the Medal of Honor, during the commencement, service to an
unsuspecting Crawford.

When Crawford passed away in 2000, he was awarded one final and unique honor for a non-airforce veteran.
He was buried in the United States Airforce Academy’s cemetery—the only member of the
United States Army afforded such a fitting tribute.

Crawford’s story reminds us of the importance of humility as well as how the ordinary
can always be extraordinary albeit humble and quiet.

https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world-war-ii/air-force-academy-janitor-medal-of_honor-x.html

Bataan Death March. Have you forgotten yet or did you even know?

The Bataan Memorial Death March is a challenging march through the high desert terrain of
the White Sands Missile Range. The memorial march is conducted in honor of the
heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II,
sacrificing their freedom, health, and, in many cases, their very lives.

The New Mexican

“A common lament of the World War II generation is the absence today of personal responsibility ”
Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation


(Batan Death March, American Prisoners 1942)

My cousin just got back from a trip to New Mexico.

No, she didn’t go on a ski trip or vacation.

She actually went to participate in a commemorative march.

Big name walks and marches, such as the March of Dimes, the Susan G. Komen march
and even the Relay for Life are marches most of us are familiar with.

They are marching money raisers for various good causes.

But what about a commemorative death march?
What might that benefit?

Perhaps it, like other marches, benefits our future.

Perhaps it is the commemorating of the past which in turn benefits our future…

What a novel idea.

Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl shares in his memoir Man’s Search For Meaning that
“it did not really matter what we expected from life,
but rather what life expected from us.”

So what exactly does life expect from us?

Does Life expect that our idiotic politicians run about willy nilly telling children
that life, as we know it, will end in 12 years?

Does it matter that our pathetic politicians keep screaming “the Russians are coming,
the Russians are coming” when they were never coming in the first place?

Does it matter that we have youthful arrogant imbeciles, for the lack of a better word,
in leadership positions trying to play government while running around screaming
that we all need to be embracing Socialism just so we can level life’s playing field.

Yet did anyone catch the memo that life isn’t, nor will it ever be, fair?

Or what about the politicians screaming for some pie in the sky, far fetched,
new green deal that rings in at a price tag of 93 trillion bucks.

Mo Money…

Your money, my money…all God’s little children’s money…

Don’t they know that nothing in Life comes free—as in somebody will have to pay…
and that my friends will be you and me—the thinly stretched middle core of America.

However, one thing they, those far-flung left thinkers, fail to understand is
that life expects more from us than a left or right leaning or the embracing of
some uber new think…

Ben Shapiro in his new book The Right Side of History:
How Reason And Moral Purpose Made The West Great, notes that
without individual moral
purpose granted by a relationship to a Creator,
we seek meaning instead in the collective, or we destroy ourselves on the shoals
of libertinism.
We live lives of amoral hedonism,…

“if we do not pursue that purpose, we pay a price; we serve foreign gods,
which cannot provide us any sort of true fulfillment.
Lasting happiness can only be achieved through cultivation of soul and mind.
And cultivating our souls and minds reqiures us to live with moral purpose.

Something our politics and politicians cannot achieve for us.

My cousin told me that during the course of the commemorations surrounding the
The Death March of Bataan was that she had the opportunity of listening to a
98-year-old veteran who candidly expressed his deepest fear in life…

That being that these current generations and those following generations,
those generations that no longer have members of his generation, will simply forget.
They will forget the sacrifices made on behalf of the betterment of the free world.
They will forget the moral purpose and responsibility that we are all
held to in order to maintain the freedom of man.

That freedom is indeed not free.

Below are two excerpts explaining the Bataan Death March and why it is
so important that we never forget.

Taken from the Bataan Museum information page
bataanmuseum.com

The infamous Bataan Death March was one of the greatest atrocities of
World War II.

Approximately 1,800 men from the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery Regiment deployed
to the Philippines in September 1941. When the Regiment reached the Philippines they
immediately moved to Fort Stotsenberg, 75 miles north of Manila. Over the coming months,
they would train under simulated war conditions. By December things would change drastically.

On December 8, 1941, Japanese bombers made their appearance and the war was on.
It was the 200th Coast Artillery (Anti-aircraft) — the original full Regiment —
who is credited as being the “First to Fire” on December 8, 1941.
That night, the 515th Coast Artillery (Anti-aircraft) was formed from the ranks
of the 200th.
The Japanese landings on Luzon began on December 10, 1941,
with more Japanese forces landing on December 12, 1941.

The 200th and later the 515th could not do much damage as their powder train fuses
only had a range of 20,000 feet and the bombers were flying at 23,000 feet.
The main Japanese invasion forces landed December 22,
1941 and the decision was made to withdraw the forces into Bataan.
The 200th covered the retreat of the Northern Luzon Force into Bataan and the 515th
for the South Luzon Force. They were able to hold the Japanese air and ground
attacks back, thus saving the bridges –
and the North and South Luzon Forces found a clear, safe passage to the Bataan peninsula.

For months the American and Filipino troops fought bravely as the war situation worsened.
By April 3, 1942 the Japanese received sufficient reinforcements and began to drive down
the Bataan peninsula. Four days later, the Japanese broke through allied lines.
After holding off the Japanese from December to April – four long months –
the battle for Bataan ended on April 9th

Following the fall of the Bataan Peninsula, on April 9, 1942 the United States
surrendered to the Japanese and instantly, more than 75,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers
were forced to become Prisoners of War. The POWs were soon forced to make the 65 mile trek –
with no food or water – to confinement camps throughout the Philippines.
Thirsty and exhausted, those who attempted to steal a sip of water from roadside streams or
collapsed along the way – were shot or bayoneted on the spot by their Japanese captors.
In total, 10,000 men – 1,000 American and 9,000 Filipino –
died during the Bataan Death March.

Those that survived the march would spend the next 40 months in horrific conditions in
confinement camps. Most were transported to the Japanese man island aboard “death ships.”
Many did not survive the voyage. Given very little food,
water and even clothing, the men were tortured, malnourished and riddled with disease.
Two-thirds would die from disease, starvation, horrendous conditions,
and beatings or were murdered. More than 11,500 American soldiers died during
the three plus years in confinement.

It wasn’t until late summer of 1945 that these prisoners of war would see freedom.
Survivors were diseased, frail – emaciated, skin and bones, some blind,
others unable to walk. Sadly one third of the former POWs would die of complications
within their first year of freedom.

Of the 1,816 men 200th & 515th Coast Artillery men identified, 829 died in battle,
while prisoners, or immediately after liberation.
There were 987 survivors. See the “Casualty Report” attached.
The attached report is the result of 12 years of research and is a must read.

UNITS

The 200th Coast Artillery was inducted into federal service on January 6, 1941,
for one year of active duty training.
Unit designations and home stations at the time of induction were:

Regimental Headquarters – Deming
Headquarters Battery – Deming
Regimental Band – Albuquerque
Medical Detachment – Albuquerque
HQ & HQ Battery, 1st BN – Albuquerque
Battery A – Albuquerque
Battery B – Albuquerque
Battery C – Santa Fe
Battery D – Gallup
HQ & HQ Battery, 2nd BN – Clovis
Battery E – Clovis
Battery F – Carlsbad
Battery G – Silver City
Battery H – Taos

SURVIVORS

There are currently (69) 200th & 515th Coast Artillery survivors living today.
Not all of the 200th & 515th Coast Artillery men made the Bataan Death March.
At least 100 were sent to Camp O’Donnell by truck; some were immediately assigned
to details throughout the Philippine Islands and did not make the Death March.
A handful of men were patients at one of the field hospitals on Bataan and were
eventually moved to Old Bilibid Prison in Manila, never making the March.
(107) 200th & 515th Coast Artillery men were ordered to evacuate to Corregidor
on April 8, 1942, or made their way to Corregidor by any means possible,
never making the March. Some of these Corregidor men did begin the March,
escaped, and then made their way to Corregidor. At least 14 men are known to have
escaped to fight as Guerrillas with only a few of the 14 beginning the
Death March before making their escape into the mountains

The 200th & 515th Corregidor men’s experience is worth taking notice.
Initially, they endured the hunger and disease on Bataan while in action
against the enemy for several months. When Bataan fell,
the Japanese turned their attention to Corregidor, and the island was subjected
to constant shelling for the next month.
Many of these men were absorbed into other units on Corregidor and continued
the fight until Corregidor was surrendered.
Many soldiers, now prisoners of war, were held as
hostages while the Japanese coerced General Wainwright’s cooperation to convince General Sharp
to surrender on Mindanao. The prisoners of war were held in the open,
exposed to the elements with little water and only the food they could steal from the food
stores the Japanese denied them. Another way the prisoners of war got food was to volunteer
for burial details. After about 10 days, the prisoners were loaded into boats
and taken to a stretch of shoreline south of Manila, near Paranaque,
dumped in the water short of the beach and made to wade ashore.
They were then marched up [then] Dewey Boulevard [now Roxas Boulevard],
past the University Club where General Wainwright and his senior officers were being held.
General Wainwright watched his men in their misery paraded through the streets in
what has come to be known as the “Gloat March” to Old Bilibid Prison.
They were held at Bilibid for about five days, and then marched to the train station,
loaded in to the same 40×8 type boxcars as those who made the Bataan Death March.
These men experienced suffered through the same conditions as those on Bataan:
extreme heat and humidity, filth, and extreme overcrowding with at least
100 prisoners to a car box car meant to hold only forty men or eight cattle.
They were unloaded at Cabanatuan City and then marched about 20km
(or about 12 miles) to Cabanatuan prison camp.

Two 200th Coast Artillery men were awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action on Corregidor.

Nationwide, there are less than 1,000 Bataan & Corregidor survivors.

There are, that we know of, two men who made the Death March, one who was surrendered
on Corregidor, and one who was captured at Java,
who were attached to other units, not the 200th or 515th, living in New Mexico today.
There may be more.

——-

New Mexico survivors fear Bataan Death March will be forgotten
By Robert Nott | The New Mexican

Evans Garcia used to tell his daughter Margaret that freedom is not free.

He and hundreds of other New Mexicans — as well as soldiers from other
states and native Filipinos — learned this lesson 76 years ago as they made a valiant
stand to stave off a superior force of Japanese invaders on the Bataan peninsula
in the Philippines.

Their four-month defense bought America and its allies much-needed time to
organize forces and derail a Japanese plan to invade Australia,
among other places. But it also resulted in one of the most infamous and brutal events
of the early years of World War II: the Bataan Death March.

The Battle of Bataan, the first major military campaign of the Asian theater
in World War II following the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,
took a huge toll on New Mexico. Of the 1,800-plus New Mexico soldiers who fought
in that battle, only half survived. Many returned home physically,
mentally and emotionally scarred after surviving the 65-mile Bataan Death March and
subsequent incarceration and inhumanity in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps.

Just over a dozen of those soldiers are believed to be alive today.
As they and their descendants prepare for another annual commemoration of that
campaign in Santa Fe — 11 a.m. Monday, April 9, at the Bataan Memorial Building
on Galisteo Street —
some wonder if their story will eventually be overlooked as those survivors pass away.

“We descendants are often concerned that the legacy and sacrifices our fathers,
uncles and other family members made on Bataan will be forgotten,”
said Margaret Garcia, whose father died in 2011.
“So many people in society today, especially our youth,
do not appreciate what our World War II veterans fought for.”

Consuelo “Connie” DeVargas, wife of Valdemar DeHerrera,
a 98-year-old survivor of the march who lives in Alamogordo, agrees.
Two of her grandchildren came from Colorado to take part in the annual
Bataan Memorial Death March commemoration hike of up to 26 miles
on White Sands Missile Range in late March.

When they returned to their school the following Monday,
replete with stories about the march and materials pertaining to the 1942 campaign,
the other students and teachers “didn’t even know what they were talking about,”
DeVargas said. “I think it will be forgotten.”

But others, including historians and history teachers, disagree.
They say that as long as the story of the “Battling Bastards of Bataan,”
as the defenders were known, remains in the textbooks, they and other
educators will continue telling their story.

“It’s one of the state standards [for education] set by the state’s legislators,
many of whom knew the people who were involved with it, and who see it as an important event,”
said Capital High School teacher Steve Hegmann, who incorporates the story of
the Bataan campaign into his New Mexico history class for ninth-graders.
“It would take a long time for it to be forgotten, at least here [in New Mexico].
Most teachers in the state realize that New Mexicans were involved in the campaign.”

Stephen Martinez, a professor of U.S. and New Mexico history and
Western civilization at Santa Fe Community College, agrees.
“It’s always a sad chapter in the story when we lose the survivors,”
he said. “But New Mexico is very proud of its history,
and it’s a very long history, and because of that,
I think their voices and stories will never be lost, even though they pass on.”

Both Hegmann and Martinez said they blend coverage of the Bataan campaign
with other New Mexico-related events tied to World War II,
including the story of the Navajo Code Talkers and the creation and detonation of the atomic bomb.
In Hegmann’s case, he also uses the Death March and its aftermath as a way to discuss
the issue of war crimes, a still-relevant topic.

“I can tie it to current atrocities … and the idea that there are rules that society
has decided are not acceptable in wartime,” Hegmann said.
“The question my students often ask is,
‘What were the consequences of violating the Geneva Convention code of conduct
[regarding prisoners of war]?’ ”

Jon Hunner, a professor of history at New Mexico State University,
puts the battle of Bataan and the ensuing tragedy into the context of the Japanese Bushido —
or samurai — code of conduct. To a Japanese soldier in World War II, Hunner said,
“If you surrendered, it was so dishonorable that you could not be treated like a human,
so it was perfectly justifiable in that Japanese code of war to treat your
prisoners as less than human.”

He said many historians overlook the actual battle of Bataan and focus on the
Death March and the atrocities “because it is very tragic; it shows the inhumanity of man.”

Capt. Gabriel Peterman, who runs the New Mexico National Guard Museum
in Santa Fe, agrees.

“We always talk about the surrender and the Bataan Death March,
but we don’t talk about the four-month battle that those men fought,” he said.
“They were low on ammunition, low on food, low on supplies. …
They shut down a lot of plans the Japanese had to take over Australia and other islands.
I don’t think it’s too much to say that their defense helped us win World War II.”

He added: “If we don’t maintain the annual Bataan ceremony and the tradition
it was built upon, there is a fear that we will forget Bataan.”

Hunner said he thinks that with the passing of each Bataan veteran,
as well as the passage of time, there is legitimate concern that the
story of Bataan could fall by the wayside.

“As generations get away from the time of any historic event,
they lose sight of it because other historic events that are recent become more
relevant and they can find someone living to talk to about those,” he said.

As such, he said, these history stories “are like a ship sailing over the horizon.”

Lifeline

I think of prayer as a spiritual lifeline back to where I most want to be.

Marianne Williamson

(US Sailor Petty Officer First Class Joe George / Photo: George-Taylor family / Speical for The Republic)

(****for some bizarre reason, the post I wrote yesterday and attempted to post
via my phone this morning did not post in its entirety.
I’ve had to delete it and go back in to find what I had last written and saved.
I’ve cut, paste and fixed the original post intended…which you will see here…)

Last night with the television on, while the news played on in the background
as some sort of mindless white noise,
I was perched on the couch with my trusty little laptop in my lap.
I was struggling with my ponderings.

I didn’t know what to write.

What was to be the next day’s post??

Time, or the lack thereof, has been such an issue so being short, sweet and concise
seemed essential.

Suddenly, a familiar voice caught my attention, pulling me back to the moment.
The voice was that of Gary Sinise and it was coming from a trailer for a new story coming
to PBS.

As most folks know, Gary Sinise is most remembered for his iconic role as Lt Dan
in the movie Forrest Gump.

I was not a fan of the movie.

I found it just way too silly and bordering on stupid.

Sure there was that hoped-for lesson at the end of unconditional love, but I just
wasn’t won over by the attempt.

However, my appreciation for Gary Sinise runs deep and comes from his tireless work for
and with veterans along with and for their families.
He actually oversees a foundation that focuses on our veterans, first responders
and their families…

At the Gary Sinise Foundation, we serve our nation by honoring our defenders,
veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.
We do this by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate,
inspire, strengthen, and build communities.
Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take
for granted.
We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly
sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security.
While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders,
we can always do a little more.
-gary sinise

So now it seems that there is a new documentary coming to PBS about Pearl Harbor.

The trailer is narrated by Gary Sinise.

The story is about the heroism of an unsung naval roughneck and boxer,
Naval Petty Officer First Class Joe George.

With only seconds to make a life-altering decision, to defy or not to defy the orders given
by his commanding officer, a 26-year-old Petty Officer George unwittingly turned hero.

It was within those few seconds of wavering that meant the saving of 6 men who
were caught on the burning USS Arizona, men who without the quick thinking and action
of Joe George, would have all burned alive–
right in front of the eyes of this young sailor.

However, despite his selfless act, Petty Officer George was never recognized for
his action of heroism nor was he to ever talk about what happened that
fateful December 7th day…
not until very late in his life did he verbally recall a very visceral nightmare.

Fast forward to our current day.

Joe George passed away in 1996, at the age of 81, but that did not stop efforts to
bring a long overdue recognition to a man who was never acknowledged as the one man
who made the difference between life and death for the lives of the last living
6 men on the USS Arizona on that horrific Sunday, December 7, 1941.

PBS will be airing his story.

President Donald Trump posthumously awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor to George’s
daughter in 2017.
The ceremony took place on the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii–it was the first
time a medal ceremony had ever taken place at the Memorial.

But there would never have been a ceremony or a PBS story had not two of the
surviving 6 men, who now in their mid to upper 90’s, made it their mission to
make certain that Petty Officer George was recognized for saving their lives
as well as for his actions of bravery and heroism.

In a previous article written in an Arizona newspaper, the story ran that,
“Donald Stratton, 94, and Lauren Bruner, 96, will go to Washington, D.C.,
next month and hope to meet with lawmakers,
Navy officials and representatives from the White House.

Their goal is to secure a posthumous award for the sailor, Joe George.

“He should have the Navy Cross,” Stratton told The Arizona Republic last year.
“He saved six people’s lives. Joe saved six lives and he didn’t get crap.”

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-best-reads/2017/06/05/honors-forgotten-hero-uss-arizona-survivors-take-their-case-washington/364303001/

Their decades-long efforts were finally acknowledged when Petty Officer Joe George
was officially honored by the Navy and the US Government on December 7, 2017…
76 years after the very day he risked everything for his fellow sailors.

The story is full of the providence of God’s hand.

George had been confined to his to repair ship which was tethered to the
USS Arizona there at the Pearl Harbor docks…

Had George not gotten into trouble the day prior for brawling in town,
he would not have been on the repair ship, confined to quarters.

He would not have seen those last 6 men stranded on the deck of a ship engulfed
in flames.

With the final bomb dropped, engulfing the Arizona in a massive fireball,
had George not defied the orders given to cut the tether, he would
have left those 6 men to perish in the flames joining the other 1177 men
who perished on that ship that life-changing day in 1941.

Instead, he managed to throw another rope 70 feet to the stranded men, who quickly
tied it off and began the hand over hand climb from the burning and sinking
death trap to the safety of the repair ship.

Once the men were safely aboard, the tether was cut allowing the repair ship
to slip away unharmed from the dying Arizona.

Stratton and Bruner both acknowledge that George saved much more than 6 men.
He saved the lives of the children and the grandchildren and the
great-grandchildren that would grow from those 6 men.

Generations of families now exist because of the bravery of one man.

Stories of men like Petty Officer Joe George are so important.

They remind us of what was.
They remind us of what we can be.
They remind us how fortunate we are and just how much we owe to one another,
our fellow human beings.

They remind us, a currently hate-filled and divided people,
that we are better together then we are separate.

To forget such stories, allowing them to slip away into the fog of the past
is not an option.

We are who we are because of who they were.

I somehow doubt that many of our current day, angst-ridden, hate-filled,
angry progressive liberal culture understands the gravity of the actions of men
like Petty Officer Joe George nor of the lasting impact such actions have had
on our own lives today.

If we opt to ignore and forget our past, we are bound to repeat our mistakes.

https://www.foxnews.com/shows/the-story

http://www.wwiifoundation.org/films/sinise/

https://www.aptonline.org/offer/LIFELINE-PEARL-HARBOR-S-UNKNOWN-HERO

https://www.nps.gov/valr/learn/historyculture/joe-george.htm

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:12-13

To all those who won’t be making it home this Christmas

Christmas is a time when you get homesick —
even when you’re home.

Carol Nelson

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time;
a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of,
in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open
their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were
fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

Charles Dickens


(an odd site here at home / Julie Cook / 2018

Driving home yesterday after visiting the dentist, I was cutting through an area of town
full of some of our communities older homes, when I found myself driving behind a
vintage WWII Army ambulance.

An odd sight but suddenly I felt strangely transported to a different time and era.

The vehicle, the homes, the time of year.

If you didn’t happen to notice the small security company sign out front of this house,
you might just think it was 1943.

My thoughts drifted across time and space to places that were far away from
my own current little corner here in Georgia.

Despite there being such a heightened sense of urgency wafting through the air
this time of year…
What with the odd increase in mid-day traffic and the massive number of folks hustling
here and there…along with that unseen force that was moving the masses of folks
to go out and buy, buy, buy with a frantic frenzy…

And despite the current pull I was personally feeling to race from the dentist to some
local den of commercialism, seeking out those last minute items to fill in the blanks…
I felt a tinge of warming nostalgia instead.

I heard Bing Crosby’s crooning…his rich melodious voice echoing deep in my head.

A small smile spread across my face for no one in particular to see.

A simpler time, yet a precarious time.
A warmer time of humanity, yet a violent time for our world.

No matter that it was an ominous time,
we knew what our collective civilization was fighting for.
We were a united civilization standing against a giant monster of tyranny and an invasive evil.

There was a decisive and determined collective willingness to sacrifice.
Rations, victory gardens, sharing and giving when there wasn’t ever much to give nor share.

There was a joint desire for unity.
A shared experience of apprehension blanketed by a blessed sense of thankfulness.

I found myself gently humming a familiar yet comforting tune.

My gift to you today…

“In 1943, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” joined “White Christmas” to become one of
America’s most popular homegrown holiday songs.
Recorded in a rich baritone by Bing Crosby,
“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” shot to the top ten of the record charts
(as “White Christmas” had for Crosby the previous year)
and became a holiday musical tradition in the United States.”
Library of Congress

“His mission was not his own”

“His mission was not his own”
Words shared by The Rev Russell J. Levenson Jr
during his eulogy of his friend and parishioner, President G.H.W.Bush


(18 year old Lt George H.W.Bush in naval uniform)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you came out on the other side
wondering how in the world you made it through?
How you survived and made it out alive?
Or more likely that you fared better than those around you?

Have you ever found yourself wondering or even lamenting “why me?”

Why me Lord?
Why was I spared and they weren’t?
Why did I win when I shouldn’t have–
knowing that someone else should have won?
Why was I so fortunate, or so lucky, and why were “they” not?

These can be haunting questions for anyone.
They can be a life’s curse or a life’s blessing.

For there is a great responsibility to whom much is given.
(Luke 12:48)

And life, for those who have had near brushes with death, know all too well, that
life suddenly becomes a tremendous responsibility.

Yet such a question as ‘why me’ can be particularly haunting
for one so young. For one who actually stares at death and yet surprisingly,
is allowed to walk away when others were not.

We have seen this in wars and sadly in recent terror attacks and mass shootings.

And it just so happened that this very overwhelming life issue of ‘why me’ actually
happened for a newly turned 20-year-old boy who found
himself alone in a small rubber yellow life raft, bobbing up and down in the middle of
the Pacific Ocean after having baled out of a burning airplane…
coming to the stalk revelation that he’d been spared while his friends had not.

This same “why me” question came up three times Wednesday during the funeral of our
41st president, George H. W. Bush.

First, the question was raised by Jon Meacham, the famed author, and presidential historian.
He painted the scene vividly as only such a gifted writer could.
A young naval pilot and his crew taking off from a Navy aircraft carrier with a bombing mission
on the docket.
They were to take out a Japanese radio tower on a tiny Pacific island.

“Shortly after dawn on Saturday, September 2, 1944, Lieutenant Junior Grade
George Herbert Walker Bush, joined by two crew mates,
took off from the USS San Jacinto to attack a radio tower on Chichijima.

As they approached the target, the air was heavy with flack.
The plane was hit.
Smoke filled the cockpit; flames raced across the wings.
“My god,” Lieutenant Bush thought,
“this thing’s gonna go down.”
Yet he kept the plane in its 35-degree dive, dropped his bombs, and then roared off out to sea,
telling his crew mates to hit the silk.
Following protocol, Lieutenant Bush turned the plane so they could bail out.

Only then did Bush parachute from the cockpit.
The wind propelled him backward, and he gashed his head on the tail of the plane
as he flew through the sky.
He plunged deep into the ocean, bobbed to the surface,
and flopped onto a tiny raft.
His head bleeding, his eyes burning, his mouth and throat raw from salt water,
the future 41st President of the United States was alone.

Sensing that his men had not made it, he was overcome.
He felt the weight of responsibility as a nearly physical burden.
And he wept.
Then, at four minutes shy of noon, a submarine emerged to rescue the downed pilot.
George Herbert Walker Bush was safe.
The story, his story and ours, would go on by God’s grace.

Through the ensuing decades, President Bush would frequently ask,
nearly daily— “why me?
Why was I spared?”

Next in line during this service, this looming question was raised by the former
Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney who also eulogized his former world leader compatriot
and more importantly, his dear friend.

Mulroney opened his verbal tribute to his friend by asking those in attendance if they could
remember what they were doing just after their 20th birthday.

Most should remember the joy and gaiety found in the passing a milestone—
that being the leaving behind of the tumultuous teenage years as they were
now standing on the great periphery of adulthood.

And yet I wonder as to how many of us know that at 20, one is more child than adult?

Mulroney shared that as he had just turned 20, he was working as a laborer in the outskirts
of Quebec while still living at home and thankfully enjoying his mother’s cooking.

All the while his one-day dear friend was bleeding and clinging to life in a liferaft
out in the middle of the Pacific ocean weeping “why me??”

For a third time this somber day of a State funeral, another speaker addressed the question…
“Why me?”

This time the speaker was President Bush 41’s parish priest,
The Rev. Bruce Levenson who once again raised the question but who rather matter of factly
gave us the answer.

Father Levenson explained that “his mission was not his own.”

His mission was not his own.

It was other than and much more than that liferaft bobbing up and down in the
ocean…

Yet that is not to say that the lives of his comrades at arms on that fateful day
were any less important.
Any less than, as some might think with such a response to such a question.
That somehow, they were simply “allowed” to die while young George was allowed to live.
The issue of allowance is not to be the issue here nor are we to be recipients of such
deep knowledge.

For God uses our lives and our deaths to extend far beyond our simple understanding.

It is the ripples that reverberate outward from the dropped stone in the pond.

The ‘why me’ questions that have been asked by countless individuals who have lived to tell of
another day all live with a tremendous burden of guilt and a tremendous burden of responsibility.

Father Levenson, James Baker, Al Simpson, Brian Mulroney and even son George H. Bush
each reminded us that a day did not pass in George Herbert Walker Bush’s life that he did
not ask that question…nor not feel the heavy responsibility.

He either asked the question audibly or silently…but he asked none the less each and every day.

I am reminded of the 1946 Christmas Classic It’s a Wonderful Life.

The entire premise of the movie, for Jimmy Stewart’s character George (so aptly named),
was what would life have been without him. How in turn would the lives of those who
were a part of his own life turn out without a George Bailey to interact with them?

One dark and lonely Christmas eve night so long ago, George was inches away from ending his
own life, by jumping into an icy cold river.
Yet God needed to give George a wake-up call.
He still needed George to do some important things.

Much like in the real-life story of a young George Bush…God still needed
for him to do some things.

Now I can’t say that all such stories have happy endings.
Nor can I say that all spared lives seem to turn out better than imagined.
So why George H. W. Bush?

That is the question remaining for all those lives that have been affected,
touched and even created because of him to ponder…as well as those of
us who have been directly or indirectly affected by his actions, choices,
legislation as well as leadership to ponder…

Yet the one thing that I do know…the same thing that President Bush knew…
is that God will have has His ways.

Ways that elude us.
Ways that often frustrate us, but they are His ways and His alone none the less.

What President Bush learned, one of life’s most important answers, was that his life,
his mission was indeed not his own…
it was God’s.

That we should all bend our ways to be His ways…

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!
You have been faithful with a few things;
I will put you in charge of many things.
Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:23