Veterans Days 1921 – Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Original Ceremony Service Attendant


As of September 1920, the US Quartermaster Graves Registration Service had successfully identified over 90% of the bodies of US servicemen who died overseas during WWI.  The nation was still in mourning from the losses of the war, and the government looked to other countries for a suitable ceremony to honor those whose bodies were never identified.  In the fall of 1920, the caskets of four unidentified U.S. soldiers were chosen for reburial in Washington D.C.  One pallbearer, SGT Edward Younger, chose one body to be the Unknown Soldier of WWI.

The remains were transported aboard the USS Olympia, the flagship of Vermont’s Own Admiral Dewey, and arrived home on November 9th, 1921.  The body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda for two days, where over 90,000 people quietly filtered through.  This Unknown Soldier was buried with full services on November 11th, 1921.

As I pawed through my large collection of WWI and WWII photography looking for a suitable candidate for a Veteran’s Day post, I came across one photo that stood out as a perfect blogpost.

This veteran is wearing an Indian Wars medal on his chest, and looks distinguished in his black cap and jacket.  This photo was taken only moments after he was a member of the first Tomb of the Unknown Soldier ceremony on November 11th, 1921.  He inscribed a quick note to a loved one on the reverse.  I can’t find a list of the members of that first delegation anywhere, but I’m sure he is one of the visible veterans standing around the casket in this photo:

Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Although his identity is a mystery to me, maybe his name will come to the surface after this post hits the web.  What a fitting photo post for Veterans Day!

Special thanks to David R. Berry for the following message:

May I submit to you that the identity of the distinguished gentleman is Mr. Isaac B. Millner. US Navy, Civil War veteran –a seaman aboard the USS HARTFORD, flagship of Adm Farragut at the Battle of Mobile Bay 5 Aug 1864. Millner had a life-long interest in Adm Farragut, attending several commemorations of Farraguts life and career.

He was affiliated with the Dept. of Anthropology at the National Museum; holder of several patents; a specialist in Native American and Micronisian Indian cultures; a modeler for the Smithsonian working in the medium of paper’ machete and a member of the US Geological Survey. Author of the book: The Last Cruise (1917)

You will find many notations for him in Google under his full name as well as his initials I B Millner. He is mistakenly noted in the 1920 Census as Isaac B Mi-(one L) ner. What his relationship with Mrs. Clara A Wright Of Wincasset, Maine, might be is unclear, but one might note that the description and the address texts on the back of the portrait were written in two distinctly different hands. It could be that Mrs. Wright was a friend of his wife Mrs. Mary Millner.

A 1929 photo of IB Millner appears here:

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3c31287/

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WWII Snapshot – Four Pilots of Blackburn’s Jolly Rogers, VF-17 Identified F4U Corsair Pilots


Windy Hill, Merl William Davenport, John Orrin Ellsworth and William Lee Landreth in Bougainville

Windy Hill, Merle William Davenport, John Orrin Ellsworth and William Lee Landreth in Bougainville

 

Reverse

Reverse

 

 

Merle William Davenport

 “Butch” Merl is the only true fighter ace pictured in the snapshot.  He was credited with 6 confirmed aerial victories during his time in the PTO. Merl passed away in 1989.

John Orrin Ellsworth

John's Stateside Grave Marker

John’s Stateside Grave Marker

William Lee Landreth- The last Living Original Pilot from VF-17

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processed by IntelliTune 4.5 on 14062012   111148 with script EDIT RGB to Gray

 

From Country’s 2012 obituary:

“He grew up to pilot the powerful F4U Corsair with fighter squadron VF-17, the Jolly Rogers, and was eventually its last surviving original pilot. “Country”, as his squadron mates dubbed him, was credited with 3 kills and 1 assist while his squadron destroyed 154 planes in 76 days of combat in the South Pacific. No bomber escorted by VF-17 was lost to enemy aircraft, no ship ever hit by a bomb or aerial torpedo. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/venturacountystar/obituary.aspx?pid=158047970#sthash.OJ6tGm6u.dpuf
Mr. Landreth eventually passed away due to complication from a WWII injury sustained during his stint with the VF-17.  My heart goes out to his family. I hope they find this page and this snapshot of him with his comrades.

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WWI Doughboy Letter – Barre, VT Boy Compares Streets of France to the Granite Streets of Barre


A letter was delivered to Mr. Elmer Clark of 76 Maple Avenue, Barre, VT. in February of 1918.  I’ve included a snapshot of 76 Maple in the photo below:

76maple

76 Maple Avenue, Barre, VT

The letter provides the Vermont World War One historian with a wonderful snapshot of life in France in the early days of American involvement.  Sgt. Edward Clark was a truck driver who delivered supplies to front line troops but had the security of rear echelon  protection to write his letters.  Please enjoy this transcription and try to put yourself in Ed’s shoes:

Edward Clark  Letter Cover

Edward Clark Letter Cover

(Page One)

Dear Sis,

Just a few lines to let you know that I am well and feeling fine.  We are stationed about 100 miles from the front and have to go up there every other day with supplies.  To get back to when we first landed in France we received out trucks at a certain place and then drove them over land to General Headquarters.  On reaching that place we were attached to that troop and have been with them ever since. The trip overland was about 400 miles so we had a good chance to see that part of the country.  [Sgt. Clark appears to have refreshed his ink supply] From what I heard about France before I came over I thought that I would see greater things than we have in the States.  But now if you should ask me I would say that France was 600 years behind the U.S.A.  All there is to see is stone (Page Two)buildings two and tree stories high and the streets of Barre would make these streets look like a dump. When they talk about sunny France they will have to talk about it to someone else besides me.

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I have received six or seven letters from Gin but none from you.  What is the trouble, have you forgot that I am living?  What is Elmer doing?  From what I hear it must be a hard winter on him. We are in luck for one thing and that is we can go around part of the day in our shirt sleeves but in the morning and night we need our coats on.  Not that it is so cold but it is damp and it goes right through you.

(Page Three) Is Royal staying with you yet? Gee it must seem good to him to get off the farm.  How is Steve and all the rest of the folks?  Well sis from the way things look over here we will be here for some time to come.  Gee if I could only get back in the gold old U.S.A. They would never get me to come over here again.  Well it is time for lights out so I will have to bring this to a close.  Love to all.  Write soon and often.

Brother,

Ed

Sgt. Edward Clark

Motor Truck Co. 304

General Headquarters

A.E.F

Want to read the letter in the original script?

Page 3 of Letter

Page 3 of Letter

Page 2 of Letter

Page 2 of Letter

Page 1 of Letter

Page 1 of Letter

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WWII Portrait Photo Identification: PFC John M. Holland, 11th Airborne, 675th GFA


A recent eBay photo grouping purchase has landed me with a fantastic identified and easily researchable photo of an 11th Airborne paratrooper.  An often looked-over paratrooper group, the 11th served in the PTO and has been sadly back-burnerned due to the popularity of the 101st and 82nd Divisions who fought in the ETO and who have inspired such works as Band of Brothers and other films, books and video games.

PFC. John M. Holland in Japan

PFC. John M. Holland in Japan

This portrait photo was taken by M. Kimura in Yonezawa, Japan in late 1945.  The sitter is John M. Holland, a Dallas, Texas WWII veteran who served with the 675th Glider Field Artillery in the Pacific Theater of Operation(PTO) during WWII.  He was born on June 2nd, 1924 at 821 East Dallas Street in Dallas, TX.   After the war he went on to play professional baseball for two years in the Texas Leagues until he injured his throwing arm in 1947.  He next went to work in the Cotton Exchange Building in the cotton and textile industry.

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And I was able to find an incredible account of his wartime experiences here: http://www.johnmorganholland.com/Military_John_M_Holland.html

 

I’m copying it here:

John writes of his Army record:

“Feb. 18, 1943 – Assigned and shipped by train to Camp MacCall, Hoffman, North Carolina. Arrived February 22nd. The US Army started their first Airborne Division to be trained as Airborne Troops. This was the 11th Airborne Division, which included glider and paratroops together. This Division of about 8 to 10 thousand, included artillery, infantry, engineering, anti-aircraft and tank, and support units.

“I was assigned to the 675th Field Artillery, Battery A Unit. This was a unit of 105 Howitzers, short barrel with split trails, to fit in the gliders for transport to battle areas. I was assigned to the Communication Section, which had to set up telephones and switch boards to all positions: Headquarters, guns and forward positions by wire (laying lines), and also radio.”

John served throughout the Philippines during World War II where he supported the infantry in capturing Los Banos prison camp and liberating its prisoners, and later was ordered into Japan with the occupation forces. Among the medals he received were the Asiatic-Pacific medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, Philippine Liberation Ribbon as well as Parachute/Glider Wings.

Of the invasion of Leyte, Philippines John writes “Further action did not occur until just before dark when three Japanese planes came in from the East over the high area inland and dropped two bombs; one was a dud and the other exploded just east of our area. The planes circled and started back to us, then turned away as seven of our planes intercepted and shot down one Zeke. “

“Then about dark, we heard incoming shells and we all hit the fox holes. All shells hit either on the beach or short of our position. At about 2000 hours, a group of Japanese soldiers started hollering and running to our position. We killed all but one and he fell into a large hole before he got to us.”

“The next day there was a lot of movement off shore, just to the North of our position, and several LST’s landed with cameramen and reporters….standing in front of the last LST was “the man with the pipe,” General Douglas Mac Arthur, with cameras firing off as fast as possible. He was about 100 yards from our position and that is where he made his famous “I have Returned!” statement.”

John’s unit stayed on that beach for two more days and nights under fire from enemy planes and troops on the ground. On the fourth day, they began to move inland. It took them two weeks to push through the center of Leyte Island to the east coast. When they finally got there they helped the people of the villages put their houses back together.

“Many of our soldiers were stricken by yellow jaundice and malaria. We received replacements and started moving to several other small islands, securing them and cleaning Japanese pockets of soldiers from them.”

“At about 06:45 A.M., we hit the shore of Luzon, (Manila) at Nasugbu.” John received the Presidential Unit Citation for his part in the Battle of Manila. “This operation covered almost one month…Then we rested for one week by scouting villages in and around our area. After the Manila operation, this area was always free of any Japanese aircraft.”

Not long after that, John’s unit was told they were going to be dropped into Japan to take and secure Atsugi Air Field just outside of Tokyo. On the flight over the senior officer on the plane told them “do your jobs again like we did in Manila and Nichols Field and we again would be the victors as We are the Airborne!” The men all yelled with him, then settled down, got some rest, and prayed.

“About four hours later, we were awakened and told that the atomic bombs had been dropped and that Japan was willing to surrender….. We all hollered and, after many handshakes and hugs, the officer told us we were headed back to Okinawa…..we all got on our knees and gave thanks. Many of us shed tears of joy!”

Now that the war was ending, there was a race to get to Tokyo. MacArthur wanted his favorites, the 1st Cavalry, to be there first.

John was chosen as part of the honor guard to go to meet MacArthur. When “Mac” and the 1st Cavalry arrived at Atsugi Air Field, John and the 11th Airborne were there to welcome them!

After the Surrender of Japan on the USS Missouri, John got his orders to go home. He arrived in Seattle December 24th, 1945 and about four days later got to Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. He was discharged February 1946.

To see footage of the Los Banos POW camp on the day of it’s liberation please click the photo below:

 

And to hear an incredible interview with  released POW’s from the camp click the photo below (they reference the paratroopers dropping in):

 

All of the information in this post has been acquired through the biographical website of John M. Holland:http://www.johnmorganholland.com/Military_John_M_Holland.html

 

 

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Digitized 10th Mountain Division Unit History: Mountaineers


I’m starting a new thread here on PortraitsofWar in which I plan to post scanned versions of popular divisional, regimental, and company histories.  I have access to 98% of all published WWI and WWII unit histories and can field most requests given adequate time.  I’m starting with one of my favorite WWII units, the 10th Mountain Division.  I personally own a copy of this history, but I’m posting a link to the Bangor (Maine) Digital Commons page with a PDF download of the book available.  Enjoy!

 

Here’s the details on the book (from the Bangor Library website listed below):

 

Description

It was Washington, D.C., July 15, 1943. At the War Department it was noted that a new division was being ac­tivated as of that date – the 10th Light Division. Out in Colorado the usual afternoon cloudburst broke loose as the journal clerk recorded the fact that the division had been officially activated. A month later there was a formal oc­casion; Pando, Colorado witnessed the parade and cere­monies honoring the birth of the Tenth. Major General Lloyd E. Jones reviewed the troops.

 The cover art was done by Jacques Parker, a MG squad leader and artist in C Co., 86th Mountain Infantry Regiment.  To hear an audio recording of Mr. Parker recorded in Telluride, CO in 2009 check out this site: http://www.tellurideinside.com/2009/07/10th-mountain-veteran-jaques-parker-in-telluride.html
Jacques Parker Photo By: Clint Viebrock

Jacques Parker
Photo By: Clint Viebrock

Mountaineers Cover Art

Mountaineers Cover Art

To download a PDF copy of this unit history, please click here

Publication Date

1950

Keywords

United States Army Mountain Division 10th World War 1939-1945 Regimental histories United States 10th Division World War, 1939-1945 Campaigns Italy

Disciplines

Military History

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Crosspost: Valor is Timeless – Caleb Cushing and the Congressional Medal of Honor


Crosspost from http://www.militarytrader.com/jagfile/valor-is-timeless

 

“Our line of battle stretched along the ridge overlooking the valley between it and the southern armies…The thunder of artillery was like a continuous roar…Among the first to receive a serious wound that fateful afternoon was Cushing himself. Both thighs were torn open by a fragment of shell—under which ill fortune, said General Webb in his report, “He fought for an hour and half, cool, brave, competent.”

First Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing, Battery A, 4th US Artillery, challenged the admiration of all who saw him in action at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. In fact, his brigade commander, Colonel Hall, reported about Cushing on the final day of the battle, “Three of his limbers were blown up and changed with caisson limbers, under fire. Several wheels were shot off his guns and replaced, till at last, severely wounded himself, his officers all killed or wounded, and with but cannoneers enough to man a section, he pushed his gun to the fence in front an was killed while serving his last canister into the ranks of the advancing enemy.”

Others reported how he simply laughed when a bullet that hit him in the shoulder, calling to his division commander, “I’ll give them one more shot—Good-Bye!” As he served up that last round, another bullet struck him in the mouth, passing through the base of his brain. He fell forward, lifeless, into the arms of his orderly sergeant, Frederick Fuger.

 

Caleb Cushing Studio Portrait

Caleb Cushing Studio Portrait

A WISCONSIN NATIVE

Alonzo was the second youngest of five Cushing brothers. Born in 1841 in what is now the city of Delafield, Wisconsin, Cushing grew up in Fredonia, New York. In all, three of the brothers grew up and served the Union during the American Civil War. His younger brother, William, became a Union Navy officer. One of his older brothers, Howard, served in the 1st Illinois Artillery before taking a commission in his brother’s unit, the 4th Artillery in November 1863. After the war, Howard served in the 3rd U.S. Cavalry until he was killed in action fighting the Chiricahua of Arizona, in 1871.

Cushing entered the United States Military Academy in 1857 and graduated with the the class of June 1861, when he received commissions as second and first lieutenant on the same day. He was brevetted major following the Battle of Chancellorsville. The 22-year-old Cushing commanded Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery at Gettysburg.

Battery A was at the key point called “the angle” in a stone wall facing the brunt of the charge by Confederate troops under Maj. Gen. George Pickett on July 3, 1863. Historians have called this spot the “high-water mark of the Confederacy.” Commanding a section of guns only a hundred yards in front of the Confederates  converged at the wall, Cushing fell from a third, fatal wound. Contemporaries described his actions before he was killed as nothing less than heroic.

His body was returned to his family and then interred in the West Point Cemetery in Section 26, Row A, Grave 7. His headstone bears, at the behest of his mother, the inscription “Faithful unto Death.” Cushing was posthumously cited for gallantry with a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel.

History did not forget Alonzo, however. In fact, more than four decades later, Morris Schaff would remind the American public of the young man’s gallantry when he wrote in the Atlantic Monthly, “On the field of Gettysburg more than once I stood where the brave Cushing gave up his life, right at the peak of Pickett’s daring charge. Oh that day and that hour! History will not let that smiling, splendid boy die in vain; her dew will glisten forever over his record as the early morning dew glistens in the fields. Fame loves the gentleman and the true-hearted, but her sweetheart is gallant youth.”

 

Civil War Medal of Honor

Civil War Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor

Federal law requires the Medal of Honor to be awarded within three years of the event unless Congress waives the requirement. Though the Civil War has generated more medals than any other American war, Cushing’s case was complicated by the fact that so few of them — 29 out of 1,522 — were awarded posthumously.

In the 150 years since, debates have raged inside the War Department (now the Department of Defense) about the propriety of posthumous medals. Cushing was nominated for a belated award of the Medal of Honor, beginning with a letter campaign in the late 1980s by constituents of Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin. The measure has been also been advocated by Congressman Ron Kind of Wisconsin’s 3rd congressional district. In 2002, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin nominated Cushing for the Medal of Honor, and, following a lengthy investigation, the U.S. Army approved the nomination in February 2010.

It was announced on May 20, 2010, that Cushing would receive the Medal of Honor, 147 years after his death.  The provision granting Cushing the Medal of Honor was removed from a defense spending bill by Senator Jim Webb of Virginia in December of 2012, however.

Finally, in December of 2013, the Senate passed a defense bill that included a provision which granted Cushing the Medal of Honor. The nomination was sent for review by the Defense Department, before being approved by President Barack Obama.

Finally, on August 26, 2014, the White House announced Cushing would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. In its announcement, the White House said Cushing “distinguished himself during combat operations against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863… “Refusing to evacuate to the rear despite his severe wounds, he directed the operation of his lone field piece continuing to fire in the face of the enemy.” The White House said. “With the rebels within 100 yards of his position, Cushing was shot and killed during this heroic stand. His actions made it possible for the Union Army to successfully repulse the Confederate assault.”

Yet to be resolved is who will receive Cushing’s medal. The Army will accept the award on Cushing’s behalf, since he had no direct descendants. The city of Delafield — a town of about 6,000 people 30 miles west of Milwaukee — would like to display the medal at City Hall, said David Krueger, who serves as the mayor’s representative on the Cushing Medal of Honor Committee.  A date has not been set for the actual award of the medal, though it is likely to occur at a Medal of Honor at a ceremony scheduled for Sept. 15 at the White House. At that ceremony, President Obama with decorate Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, an Army Special Forces or his actions in Camp A Shau, Vietnam, over three days in 1966; and Spc. Donald P. Sloat, a machine gunner who distinguished himself during combat near Hawk Hill Fire Base, Vietnam, in 1970. Adkins will attend the ceremony. Sloat’s award, like Cushing’s, will be posthumous.

Valor is, indeed, timeless.

Preserve the memory,

John Adams-Graf
Editor, Military Trader and Military Vehicles Magazine

- See more at: http://www.militarytrader.com/jagfile/valor-is-timeless#sthash.SKLCh7lS.dpuf

 

 

 

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WWII Photo – Lancaster, PA WWII Veteran Portrait Photos on Display, 1944


Straight from the dusty PortraitsofWar archives comes an incredibly unique 8×10 photo of a window display in Lancaster, Pennsylvania during World War Two.   I typically shy away from purchasing and posting “press photos” taken during the war, but this shot has so much potential research  that I felt it deserved to be digitized.

Lancaster, PA WWII Portrait Photo Display

Lancaster, PA WWII Portrait Photo Display

 

I purchased this photo while visiting a friend in the Philadelphia area.  The reverse side of the photo identifies the photo as the F.W. Woolworth building in Lancaster, PA.  The store identity is confirmed in the image; the tiled entrance and gilded placard identify the establishment as such.  The date of the photo wasn’t noted, but the presence of the 4th Liberty Loan Bond dates the image to 1944.

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4th War Loan Drive Poster, ca. 1944

My guess is that the store asked for portrait photos of local veterans to post in the storefront.  A rough estimate puts the number at 100 portraits visible in the window.  The shots runt he gamut of WWII service branches, including the Marine leathernecks, Army Air Force pilots, female WAC and Waves, Navy Sailors as well as regular Army soldiers.

 

4th Loan Poster

4th Loan Poster

I plan on contacting a number of Lancaster, PA historical societies, veteran groups and newspapers in hopes of identifying a few of the veterans posed in the Woolworth’s window.

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