World War II

Did World War II Soldiers Mutiny after V-J Day?

Did World War II Soldiers Mutiny after V-J Day?

On May 8, 1945, the Allies accepted the formal surrender of Nazi Germany. The capitulation of the last Axis power in Europe marked the end of World War II there. The war in the Pacific, however, was still raging. American troops, along with the rest of the Allies, began to reorient their forces to concentrate on fighting the Japanese. But they didn't have to work for very long. Just a few months later, the Japanese Empire also surrendered. On August 15, 1945, the Japanese forces officially surrendered, and World War II was finally over (V-J Day). The Allies had won the war.  What Was before V-J Day? Over the course of four years, the United States had enlisted, trained, equipped, and shipped some 7.6 million men and women overseas. They had done their duty, and they were ready to go home - they wanted to make it home by Christmas.  Unfortunately, four months was not enough time to move millions of men from the four corners of the globe back to their stateside homes. Many GIs were not...

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Gen Louis H. Wilson, U.S.Marine Corps (1941–1979) – Medal of Honor Recipient

Gen Louis H. Wilson, U.S.Marine Corps (1941–1979) – Medal of Honor Recipient

There have been a few Commandants who had been recipients of the Medal of Honor, but Louis H. Wilson was the last. And given that the entire ranks of the modern Marine Corps are currently devoid of any officers with the nation's highest military honor it could be quite some time before the world would ever see it again. His tenure as the nation's top Marine from 1975 to 1979 would be one of remarkable transitions. The World War II generation had all but faded out, and the Commandant who followed him would, in fact, be the last World War II veteran to serve in that position. The nation had wound down from the war in Vietnam, and the Marine Corps was subsequently struggling to reorganize and refit for a new generation. Who better to lead them through this task than the man who received the Medal of Honor for reorganizing and refitting Marines under heavy Japanese fire on the island of Guam 30 years prior. Louis H. Wilson Military Service Louis Wilson was born in Brandon, Mississippi,...

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2LT Jack “Jackie” Robinson, U.S. Army (1942-1944)

2LT Jack “Jackie” Robinson, U.S. Army (1942-1944)

Hall of Fame Major League Baseball Player, Social Reformer, famed baseball player and civil rights advocate, Jack "Jackie" Robinson became the first African-American to play in modern major league baseball. Jack "Jackie" Robinson Was Assigned to a Segregated Army Cavalry Unit at Fort Riley In 1942, Jack Robinson was drafted and assigned to a segregated Army cavalry unit in Fort Riley, Kansas. Having the requisite qualifications, Robinson and several other black soldiers applied for admission to an Officer Candidate School (OCS) located at Fort Riley. Although the Army's initial July 1941 guidelines for OCS had been drafted as race-neutral, practically speaking, few black applicants were admitted into OCS until after subsequent directives by Army leadership. As a result, the applications of Robinson and his colleagues were delayed for several months. After protests by heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis (then stationed at Fort Riley) and Truman Gibson's help (then an assistant...

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Joachim Ronneberg (1941–1945) – The Man Who Crippled The Nazi Atomic Bomb Project

Joachim Ronneberg (1941–1945) – The Man Who Crippled The Nazi Atomic Bomb Project

The plan was audacious, requiring a midnight parachute jump onto a snow-covered mountain plateau, cross-country skiing in subzero temperatures and an assault on an isolated, heavily guarded power plant in southern Norway. And the stakes, though no one in the five-man commando team knew it at the time, were spectacular: Destroy the Nazis' sole source of heavy water, a recently discovered substance that Hitler's scientists were using to try to develop an atomic bomb or risk the creation of a superweapon that could secure a German victory in World War II. "We didn't think about whether it was dangerous or not," Joachim Ronneberg, the 23-year-old Norwegian resistance fighter charged with leading the mission, later told Britain's Telegraph newspaper. "We didn't think about our retreat. The most important decision you made during the whole war was the day you decided to leave Norway to report for duty. You concentrated on the job and not on the risks." Joachim Ronneberg is One of The Great...

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WW2 – D-Day Landings: The 82nd and 101st Airborne

WW2 – D-Day Landings: The 82nd and 101st Airborne

The amphibious landings of D-Day were hours away when the first combat missions by the US Army started in France. The Normandy invasion, also called Operation Overlord or D-Day, began with a large-scale parachute drop that included 13,100 Soldiers of the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Divisions. During the night in the early hours of June 6th, 1944, the attack occurred and was the vanguard of the Allied operations in Normandy. What Was the Mission of the US 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions on D-Day? The troops were all part of the United States VII Corps assigned to capture Cherbourg, the coastal city in Normandy, and thus project power across the strategically essential Cotentin Peninsula. With Cherbourg secure, it could serve as a supply port for the Allied troops after the landing. They were also tasked with a specific mission: to block approaches into the vicinity of the amphibious landing at Utah Beach, to capture causeway exits off the beaches, and to establish crossings over the...

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Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

On June 23, 1943, three American soldiers had been drifting in the Pacific Ocean for twenty-seven days. The rafts were deteriorating, their bodies were covered in salt sores, and they didn't know it at the time, but there would be another twenty days of drifting ahead for them. Only two of the three would survive. One of them was former Olympic runner Louis Zamperini whose life would never be the same.  Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken is an amazing study in resilience, defiance, and strength that takes you on the journey of one man's lifetime. Zamperini was an incorrigible child, a natural runner, and a man who would not be broken. He survived unspeakable torture and deprivation at the hands of his Japanese captors only to find himself being tortured by his memories after returning home at the end of the war. Being overtaken with the reoccurring tortures that resided in his mind, Zamperini turned to alcohol. He reclaimed his life after hearing an inspiring speaker in a tent on a street...

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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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Eileen Nearne – British WWII Heroine

Eileen Nearne – British WWII Heroine

The "Croix de Guerre" or "Cross of War," is a French military decoration honoring people for their resistance against the Nazis in WWII. Furthermore, being appointed a "Member of the Order of the British Empire" by King George VI for services rendered in France during the enemy occupation was a high British honor. Any man who was awarded such honors must have been a remarkable one. Only, in this case, we are dealing with a woman and a brave and tenacious one at that. The Perilous Life of Eileen Nearne in WWII Eileen Nearne, the woman who received these accolades, lived a perilous life in WWII. To a large extent, her exploits mirrored those of Charlotte Gray in the 2001 movie bearing the same name. The film, based on the novel by Sebastian Faulks, features the adventures of female agents in German-occupied France. But why have most of us never heard of Eileen Nearne? Is it because her missions were so top-secret that information never leaked out? Or is it like many events during the...

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Famous Army Units: 1st Alaska Combat Intelligence Platoon

Famous Army Units: 1st Alaska Combat Intelligence Platoon

The Aleutian Islands are unknown to many Americans and in 1941, upon entry of the US into WWII, even fewer. Remote volcanic islands (1200 miles from Alaska), barren and plagued by harsh weather and unforgiving winds make them seemingly unlivable and bear little consideration except to the native Aleuts that call them home.  Nonetheless, with US-Japanese tensions running high, as early as February 1941 efforts were underway to form the Alaskan Defense Command.  Recognizing broad strategic value in the Alaskan territories, Colonel Lawrence Castner argued that ultimate success in these regions lay in creating an intelligence brigade, resources that knew the land, how to live off it unaided and move about undetected-a perfect fit for spying on the Japanese.  Given authorization only weeks prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor recruiting began to form the 1st Alaskan Combat Intelligence Platoon, or Alaska Scouts.  Shortly thereafter (February 1942), by authority...

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Famous Army Units: 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Demolition Platoon

Famous Army Units: 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Demolition Platoon

By 1944 the tide of battle in World War II was turning in favor of Allied forces across the various theatres.  With momentum building in Europe and the Mediterranean through the successive invasions of North Africa in November 1942 (Operation Torch), the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 (Operation Husky), and the invasion of Italy in September 1943 (Operation Avalanche) a much broader front was necessary to redirect Axis forces and free Russian troops.  A keystone to accomplishing this was debuted by US forces in 1942 and would prove invaluable in spearheading further ground combat operations, the parachute infantry.  Though the US was late in establishing airborne capability it would quickly become the centerpiece of Operation Overlord, the assault of Western Europe on June 6th, 1944.  And one fledgling unit in particular would prove the most audacious of US airborne troops leading this invasion, the 1st Demolition Platoon, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment...

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Cpl Mel Brooks, U.S. Army (1944 – 1945)

Cpl Mel Brooks, U.S. Army (1944 – 1945)

Mel Brooks's Military Service “Springtime for Hitler” is one of the songs that made Mel Brooks famous. But did you know that this prolific actor, comedian, composer, and filmmaker served in World War II as a young man? Mel Brooks’s Early Life Mel Brooks was born Melvin James Kaminsky in 1926, the youngest of four boys. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in a Jewish family of modest means. When Brooks was two years old, his father passed away from kidney disease. Mel was raised by his mother and three older brothers: Irving, Lennie, and Bernie. It is often said that his father’s untimely death fueled Brooks's comedy career.  Later in life, Brooks reflected on his father’s death with these words: "there's an outrage there. I may be angry at God, or at the world, for that. And I'm sure a lot of my comedy is based on anger and hostility. Growing up in Williamsburg, I learned to clothe it in comedy to spare myself problems - like a punch in the face." Brooks was a small, sickly boy,...

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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 became...

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