World War II

Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen

Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen

Twenty-five years after her passing, Audrey Hepburn remains the most beloved of all Hollywood stars, known as much for her role as UNICEF ambassador as for films like Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany's. Several biographies have chronicled her stardom, but none has covered her intense experiences through five years of Nazi occupation in the Netherlands. According to her son, Luca Dotti, "The war made my mother who she was."  Audrey Hepburn's war included participation in the Dutch Resistance, working as a doctor's assistant during the "Bridge Too Far" battle of Arnhem, the brutal execution of her uncle, and the ordeal of the Hunger Winter of 1944. She also had to contend with the fact that her father was a Nazi agent and her mother was pro-Nazi for the first two years of the occupation. But the war years also brought triumphs as Audrey became Arnhem's most famous young ballerina.  Audrey's own reminiscences, new interviews with people who knew her in the war, wartime...

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Famous Marine Corps Unit: The 2nd Marine Division (2nd MARDIV)

Famous Marine Corps Unit: The 2nd Marine Division (2nd MARDIV)

When activated at Marine Corps Base San Diego in Feb 1941 to succeed its forebear, the 2nd Marine Brigade (est. 1936), our 2nd Marine Division, "The Silent Second," consisted of the 2nd, 6th, and 8th Marine infantry regiments; 10th Marines, an artillery regiment; engineer, medical, service, and tank battalions; and transport, signal, chemical, and antiaircraft machine gun companies. The Journey Through the History of the 2nd Marine Division During WWII, the 2nd Marine Division (HQ) participated in the Pacific Theater of Operations, including combat and other action at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Saipan, Peleliu, Tinian, Cape Gloucester, Okinawa and Nagasaki (less than a month after the atomic weapon detonation there). Also, in WWII, two Seabee battalions were posted to the 2nd MARDIV; the 18th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) was assigned to the 18th Marines as the third Battalion of the regiment. The Division did not take part in a major action again...

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Col Edward McMahon, U.S. Marine Corps (1941-1966)

Col Edward McMahon, U.S. Marine Corps (1941-1966)

Ed McMahon, the iconic television personality and beloved sidekick to Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show," was not only a legendary entertainer but also a dedicated patriot who served his country with honor and distinction. Let’s review the remarkable life and military service of Ed McMahon, a man whose laughter resonated across generations. Ed McMahon’s Early Life Born on March 6, 1923, in Detroit, Michigan, Edward Leo Peter McMahon Jr. grew up in a modest household during the Great Depression. His childhood revolved around traveling from town to town with his parents, as his father was a professional fundraiser for charity projects. At a young age, McMahon worked for three years as a carnival barker in Mexico, Maine, before serving as a fifteen-year-old bingo caller in the state. As a boy, he dreamed of becoming an entertainer and did impersonations of stars, using a flashlight as his microphone and his dog, Valiant Prince, as his audience. At 17, McMahon landed his first job as a...

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SSG Wilson Watson, U.S. Army (1942-1966)

SSG Wilson Watson, U.S. Army (1942-1966)

Within the ranks of the military, there exists a certain rivalry between those who serve on the front lines and those who serve in the rear with the gear. While all jobs contribute to putting Americans in the fight, the Marines have long prized their beloved infantry above all. In modern terms, it is referred to as the "grunt versus POG debate" with POG referring to "persons other than grunts." In Vietnam, one might have heard the term REMF. Whatever one might call those in the rear, it would serve students of history well to hold their tongue before calling men like Army mess hall cook Wilson Watson a POG or REMF. Little would they know that they would be speaking of a former Marine who fought the Japanese Army alone for 15 minutes on Iwo Jima before the rest of his platoon caught up. The cook serving up a healthy dose of S.O.S on a plate had previously served up violence on Iwo Jima that would lead to the deaths of 60 enemy soldiers. Yes, quite literally, the soldier cracking eggs...

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Witness to the Storm by Werner T. Angress

Witness to the Storm by Werner T. Angress

On June 6, 1944, Werner T. Angress parachuted down from a C-47 into German-occupied France with the 82nd Airborne Division. Nine days later, he was captured behind enemy lines and, concealing his identity as a German-born Jew, became a prisoner of war. Eventually, he was freed by US forces, rejoined the fight, crossed Europe as a battlefield interrogator, and participated in a concentration camp's liberation. Although he was an American soldier, less than ten years before, he had been an enthusiastically patriotic German-Jewish boy. Rejected and threatened by the Nazi regime, the Angress family fled to Amsterdam to escape persecution and death, and young Angress then found his way to the United States.  In Witness to the Storm, Angress weaves the spellbinding story of his life, including his escape from Germany, his new life in the United States, and his experiences in World War II. A testament to the power of perseverance and forgiveness, Witness to the Storm is the compelling...

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General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Meteoric Rise

General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Meteoric Rise

Speaking of Eisenhower, Field Marshal Lord Montgomery once said, "nice chap, no general." General George Patton once lamented that it was too bad that Eisenhower had no personal knowledge of war. General Omar Bradley would write that Eisenhower "had little grasp of sound battlefield tactics." That might seem like some pretty harsh criticism considering the West tends to look back on Eisenhower as the man who led the allies to victory in Europe. His iconic status was further cemented in history when he became President of the United States in 1952. However, the historical facts would prove that Eisenhower was but a LtCol at the start of 1941 and an officer who had never personally seen combat. Yet, that wouldn't stop him from getting the keys to one of the largest military force the world has ever known. General Dwight D. Eisenhower: A Mediocre Rise to Power Dwight D Eisenhower entered the halls of West Point in 1911 with a greater chance of becoming a football star than the Supreme...

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I Should Have Written a Book by Tom Grannetino

I Should Have Written a Book by Tom Grannetino

One might think that by now, every World War II story there is to tell has already been told, but people tend to forget just how massive the scale of that conflict really was. More than 16 million Americans served in the armed forces during World War II, and each of them that came back did so with unique experiences.  William Grannetino had more than a handful of stories to tell. His son Tom grew up listening to the stories his father told about his service in the Second World War. In 2019, he gathered them into a compendium, using his father's mantra, his most used phrase whenever he discussed his exploits in the war: "I should have written a book."   That's how "I Should Have Written a Book: A Sailor's Journey From Omaha Beach to Japan During World War II" came to be.  "I Should Have Written a Book" is More Than Just the Accounts of the Battle Just like the title suggests, Grannetino's story begins shortly before the June 6, 1944, landings in Nazi-occupied Normandy. The sailor...

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2LT Beauford Theodore Anderson, U.S. Army (1942-1952)

2LT Beauford Theodore Anderson, U.S. Army (1942-1952)

The tiny village of Soldier's Grove, Wisconsin, has a population of only 534 people, but it has a rich history. In the 1980s, it became the first town in America to get more than half its energy from the sun, making it the country's first "solar village." It's also where World War II veteran Beauford Theodore Anderson came of age.  The Heroism of Beauford Theodore Anderson Born in 1922, Beauford T. Anderson joined the Army at age 20 and was sent to the Pacific Theater. He returned to Wisconsin, briefly starting a floor sanding business before rejoining the Army as a recruiter. There could be no finer example of an American soldier than the one Beauford Anderson made. While fighting on Okinawa, he received the Medal of Honor for an act of valor that felt like it could only come out of a movie.  The invasion of Okinawa in April 1945 would be the largest amphibious landing of the entire Pacific War, called the "typhoon of steel" by those who fought there. With Allied naval support, the...

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Thunder Below! by Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey

Thunder Below! by Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey

The thunderous roar of exploding depth charges was a familiar and comforting sound to the crew members of the USS Barb, who frequently found themselves somewhere between enemy fire and Davy Jones's locker. Under the leadership of her fearless skipper, Captain Gene Fluckey, the Barb sank the greatest tonnage of any American sub in World War II. At the same time, the Barb did far more than merely sink ships-she changed forever the way submarines stalk and kill their prey. This is a gripping adventure chock-full of "you-are-there" moments. Fluckey has drawn on logs, reports, letters, interviews, and a recently discovered illegal diary kept by one of his torpedomen. And in a fascinating twist, he uses archival documents from the Japanese Navy to give its version of events. The unique story of the Barb begins with its men, who had the confidence to become unbeatable. Each team helped develop innovative ideas, new tactics, and new strategies. All strove for personal excellence, and success...

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Capt. David McCampbell, U.S. Navy (1933-1964)

Capt. David McCampbell, U.S. Navy (1933-1964)

All available fighter pilots! Man your planes!" boomed the squawk box in Essex' ready room. The ship's radar had detected three large groups of Japanese planes coming in. David McCampbell, the CAG, and the Navy's most famous aviator considered this announcement. Earlier that morning, Admiral Sherman himself had forbidden McCampbell from joining a dawn sortie. Given his responsibilities as Commander of Essex' Air Group and his public prominence as a top ace, McCampbell was too valuable. He decided that he was indeed "available" and headed for his airplane, Minsi III. His plane crew hurried to fuel Minsi III, which had not been scheduled to fly that day. With the Hellcat only partially fueled, the Flight Officer ordered it off the flight deck - either into the air or below to the hangar deck. McCampbell went up, leading Essex's last seven fighters toward the Jap strike force. He and Ens. Roy Rushing got out in front of the other Hellcats, putting on all speed to intercept the...

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SM1c Douglas Munro, U.S. Coast Guard (1939-1942)

SM1c Douglas Munro, U.S. Coast Guard (1939-1942)

During the World War II fight for Guadalcanal, three companies of United States Marines were cut off from the main force fighting along the Matanikau River. Surrounded and outnumbered, Marine Corps leadership believed the men would be annihilated - all but one, that is. Lt. Col. Lewis "Chesty" Puller wasn't about to let three whole companies die if he could do anything about it. If anyone could, it was Chesty. He flagged down the destroyer USS Monssen, organized a relief force of Higgins boats to withdraw the men, and directed the Monssen to provide cover fire. The officer in charge of the Higgins boats was Signalman 1st Class, Douglas Munro. Rarely, if ever, has the U.S. military had such a legendary one-two punch of heroism as it did that day at Guadalcanal.  Douglas Munro is Only Coast Guardsman to be Awarded The Medal of Honor Munro was a lifelong patriot who spent time living in Canada with his family. When they returned to the United States in 1922, young Douglas...

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WW2 – Battle of Guadalcanal

WW2 – Battle of Guadalcanal

Though it probably didn't feel like it at the time, the Allies in the Pacific Theater of World War II were able to respond to the Japanese advances relatively quickly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor wasn't the only surprise target that day. The Imperial Japanese Navy also struck targets held by the Dutch and British and the American-held Philippines.  The Naval Campaign at Guadalcanal By August of 1942, just nine months after its coordinated surprise attacks across the Pacific Ocean, a combined Allied force landed on Guadalcanal in the first land offensive against the Japanese since the start of the Pacific War.  Things looked pretty bleak for the Americans (and the Allies in general) after the Japanese surprise attacks. Soon after, Japan's Axis partner Nazi Germany also declared war on the U.S. With much of the Pacific fleet knocked out; no one would blame the Americans for being a little depressed about their chances. In fact, the Japanese were hoping they...

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