Mission 89 part 1: Earle’s 100th A note from his friend: Earle Kask was born in Chicago, City, MN in 1923. He signed up with the USN at the Minneapolis Courthouse in 1941 but wasn’t called-up until 1942. He served from 1942-1948, first as a Seaman and then after completing pilot training, serving as a Pilot, he was promoted to Ensign. At the end of and after WWII, he flew the PBY amphibious airplane on Search and Rescue and logistical missions and was stationed and flew throughout the Pacific including Hawaii, the Philippines, Saipan and Enewetak Atoll. After the war, he made his home in the St Paul. MN area where he raised his family and was married to the late Freya for 66 years. There was a glut of pilots after the war, so he became a meat cutter at Swift Meats until they closed their local plant in 1969 and then he went to work at Harmon Glass as a glass installer, until he retired. Until age 90, Earle enjoyed fishing, particularly ice fishing, and deer hunting. He was a world class-agate hunter and continued to do that well into his 90s. Mailing Address:Pam Benson Attn: Earle Kask 1453 Hwy N Roberts, WI 54023Birthday: 4/5 Send in time to arrive in WI by 4/3 : Earle’s 100th birthday is April 5, 2023. His family will present all the cards to him on that day. Feel free to send early!
Mission 89 part 2:
A note from his niece: Elwood Umbenhauer’s hometown is Pottsville, PA. His time in the service started in St. Mere Eglise, France; he was in an ordinance attached to the 8th Air Force, 406th fighter bomber group, 512 squadron. They then moved to Belgium and various parts of Germany, moving often to avoid detection. One remarkable mission was when he helped make an airstrip at Normandy 2 weeks after D-Day. He finished as a corporal. Left photo is from when he was serving, he is sitting on bombs that they would fuse and load on planes!
Emma Bertsch Attn: Elwood Umbenhauer 9 Eastwood Lane Pottsville, PA 17901
Send in time to arrive in PA by 4/13 : Elwood’s 100th birthday is April 15, 2023. His family will present all the cards to him on that day. Feel free to send early!
This is one veteran where (if the dog/owner agrees) you may want to hug or at least shake a paw.
K-9 Veterans Day is celebrated on March 13. On this day, K-9 breeders and handlers honor the service of their furry companions. K-9s serve vital roles in the military and law enforcement. They get embedded in border patrol and customs, airports, the Coast Guard, the F.B.I., the police, and even the Secret Service. This holiday also recognizes other service dogs that help people with disabilities and support animals for those with mental health issues. Service dogs often risk their health and lives to accomplish their missions. It’s only fair that we should celebrate their efforts at least once a year.
“K-9 Veterans Day is celebrated on March 13. It’s a day that K-9 breeders and handlers honor the service of their furry companions. These dogs serve vital roles in the military and law enforcement, and often risk their health and lives to accomplish their missions. At Imbue, we feel that it’s important to celebrate their efforts at least once a year.
K-9 Veterans Day was started by Joe White, a Vietnam War veteran from Jacksonville, Florida. White was a dog handler who saw firsthand how valiantly K-9s served in the conflict and was disturbed by the (now abolished) euthanasia of these K-9 heroes at the end of their military service. To help raise awareness and honor the sacrifices of military working dogs, he came up with the idea of a holiday commemorating them. At Imbue, we are also most mindful of these less-recognized veterans of our armed forces; the countless canines who have valiantly served, many making the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
Many of you are aware of our connection to Dobermans. And as Doberman Pinscher owners, we are perhaps more aware of the history of this breed in connection to the wartime sacrifice they made. The very first Marine War Dog Training School was established at Quantico Bay, Cuba, on January 18, 1943, under the direction of Captain Samuel T. Brick. Fourteen Doberman Pinschers were donated by the Baltimore, Maryland and Canton, Ohio members of the Doberman Pinscher Club of America. The school’s location was short lived, however. A week later, the War Dog Training Center was established at Camp Lejeune, NC
According to the Doberman Pinscher Club of America “When United States Marines landed war dogs on Bougainville in the South Pacific, the first of November, 1943, it marked the first use of trained military dogs in combat by the United States. Dobermans, the official U.S. Marine Corps War Dogs, served throughout the South Pacific, courageously leading patrols in the steaming jungles, giving timely warning of the enemy waiting in ambush or hiding in caves, saving untold lives. They guarded exhausted sleeping troops in foxholes by night, preventing infiltration by the foe.”
More than 1,000 dogs had trained as Marine Devil Dogs during World War II. Twenty-nine war dogs were listed as killed in action, 25 of those deaths occurred on the island of Guam. Today, the U.S. Marine Corp maintains a War Memorial on Guam, for those 25 War Dogs that served and died there during WW II.”
Just like May 4th (aka May the For(ce) be with you) is known as Star Wars Day, March 4th is the only date that is also a military command. Soldiers in the U.S. military — including members of the Army, Air Forces, and Marines — have been referred to as G.I.s since 1940, and today is the day that we celebrate everything they do for us with a big hug, either literal or metaphorical.
Soldiers, airmen, and Marines
Out of uniform not always seen
But they're on duty 24/7
Earth and space
Hell or heaven
Duty stations not always choice
The nation has the final voice
on where they serve and how long they stay
Please thank or hug a GI today.
One of my jobs as a military librarian was to provide monthly book kits to deployed soldiers, sailors (both ashore and afloat), and Marines on Embassy Duty around the world. Those paperback book kits were the lineal descendants of the World War II’s Armed Serviced Editions.
My friend Liza Aquirre-Oviedo shared this picture with me on email
The color reminds me of the Army in World War II series that we used to receive for free when I worked at Ft Myer. United States Army in World War II is the official history of the ground forces of the United States Army during World War II. The 78-volume work was originally published beginning in 1946.
USS Midway (CV-41) was the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century. Named after the climactic Battle of Midway of June 1942, Midway was built in only 17 months, but missed World War II by one week when commissioned on September 10, 1945. Midway was the first in a three-ship class of large carriers that featured an armored flight deck and a powerful air group of 120 planes.
Over on the ‘treaty cruiser’ USS New Orleans (CA-32)……. Lt.(jg) Howell Forgy, the Chaplin never got the service going that morning ….. (Dec 7, 1941) the ship was at berth 1010 in the Shipyard for major repairs on the ships engines …. soon they lost shore power ….
The crew manned their 5″ guns but the ammo hoists were down …. so other sailors formed a human chain…. and soon were passing 85 lbs shells – hand-to-hand – from the magazines up through the ship and out to the 5″ mounts ….. it was stressful work, and some were tiring … all Morphy could do was encourage them …. and out of no where he called out ….. “Praise the Lord… and pass the ammunition” .….. it soon became the title of a popular wartime song ….
The Midway (CV-41) was built in 17 months and missed World War II by one week when she was commissioned on September 10, 1945 in Newport News, Virginia. She was the lead ship of the Midway Class Aircraft Carriers. Deemed too valuable because of the possibility of nuclear warfare, she did not serve during the Korean Conflict. Instead she was stationed on the East Coast and did several Med tours in the 1940s and 1950s.
In 1955, a round-the-world cruise took Midway to the west coast where she was temporarily decommissioned and rebuilt with an angled deck to improve jet operations.
To our friends and shipmates who sacrificed it all…….
A little history most people will never know.
Interesting Veterans Statistics off the Vietnam Memorial Wall:
There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2010.
The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized. It is hard to believe it is 36 years since the last casualties.
The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth , Mass. Listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.
There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.
39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger.
8,283 were just 19 years old.
The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old. 12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.
5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.
One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.
997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam ..
1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam ..
31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.
Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons.
54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia . I wonder why so many from one school.
8 Women are on the Wall. Nursing the wounded.
244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of them are on the Wall.
A mother from Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons.
West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.
The Marines of Morenci – They led some of the scrappiest high school football an d basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci’s mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.
The Buddies of Midvale – LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to Vietnam. In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.
The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 – 2,415 casualties were incurred.
For most Americans who read this they will only see the numbers that the Vietnam War created. To those of us who survived the war, and to the families of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that these numbers created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers, because they were our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.
The Libraries and Veterans National Forum was born out of efforts from librarians at the Texas A&M University Libraries and their desire to better learn from others libraries’ efforts to support the veteran and military communities. Collaborating with librarians from academic, public, school, state, and VA libraries, the Libraries and Veterans National Forum project team gathered 250 librarians engaging in this work to share their success stories, brainstorm solutions to their challenges, and gain new ideas to bring back to their libraries. The online Forum took place during the Fall of 2021, and recordings of the Forum sessions will be made available on this site Librarians across the U.S. also had the opportunity to apply for microgrants that could seed veterans’ programming at their local libraries. In an effort to help librarians just getting started working with veterans, as well as those looking for new ideas to bring to their libraries, an online toolkit was created to collect the shared knowledge of librarians working with the veteran community. It contains lesson plans, program outlines, collection development policies, best practice documents, and more to help ease the way for those just getting started in this work – and to make it easier for those already engaged to find new ideas and new strategies to increase the success of their programs.
1. You wrote the book Sisters In War to honor your great aunt Flo who served in W.W. II. Tell us about her.
When the Women’s Army Corps was established in 1942, she was one of the very first to enlist. She owned a beauty salon in our home town. She closed the door to her shop and stated ‘my country needs me.’ The age range for the WAC was 21-45. She was 37. Her first assignment was basic training in Fort Des Moines, Iowa. It had been used in W.W. I by the Army Calvary. There were no barracks built for the women so they swept out the barns and set up cots to make barracks. She was then trained as an Administrative Specialist. In October of 1943 she was sent to High Wycombe, England, assigned to the 8th Army Air Force Headquarters as a teletypist to send and receive messages for the command. The office she worked in was three stories underneath a mountain. She sat in open trenches during German air raids and lived in a steel Quonset hut which was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. On the evening of 5 June 1944 she typed the orders to the B-17 squadrons that would attack that night and on D-Day. She took the message when President Roosevelt died and the one declaring the German surrender. She was discharged in August 1945. I could write volumes about her. She was a woman way ahead of her time. She was my hero and role model for many reasons throughout my life. And she was the main influence for me to join the Navy after high school. I wanted to recognize her for those three short years of her life, yet exceptionally significant ones. She was one of the shining stars of the Greatest Generation.
2. Your biography briefly describes your seven years in the U.S. Navy, some of it during the Vietnam War. What did you do in the Navy?
I was in the aviation side of the Navy. My title was Aviation Maintenance Administrationman. I worked in the maintenance control center of squadrons where we briefed the pilots on the operational condition of the planes they would be flying that day. On their return, we debriefed with them to take down any ‘gripes’ (discrepancies) they found with the plane during their flight. We then radioed the gripe to the appropriate maintenance shop to be corrected. When fixed, the paperwork would be turned into us, and we would write the corrective action in the aircraft flight log. Maintenance control was the ‘heart beat’ for the operational readiness of the aircraft. It was a great job. I enjoyed it. During those seven years I worked in squadrons at Norfolk, VA, Washington, D.C., and San Diego, CA.
3. In your Zoom meeting, you indicated these stories began as an assignment for a course. What was the course and how did you select this particular project?
I was teaching in 2002 but began working on a photography certificate in my spare time at the University of California San Diego. One of the very first classes was ‘Family Portraits’. My large extended family all lived in Ohio, so I asked my instructor if I could center my project around my great aunt’s W.W. II Army photograph and interview. I then went to the Veteran’s Home of California in south San Diego to photograph and interview nine other W.W. II women veterans to display with my aunt’s picture and service story. I received an ‘A’ on the project and put it away. Two years later I pulled it out to show another instructor. Before I even had it completely out of it’s folder, she said, “Oh Peg, you can’t stop here. You need to continue and try to get this published.” At that instant, a fire lit deep inside me. I knew I would do just that. It was her few words that led me to write the book. So the book found me — I didn’t find the book.
4. Did your Navy service allow you to have more empathy or at least an idea of what the 53 women you interviewed may have gone through?
My Navy service certainly gave me a huge advantage to write stories of military members. However, there is no amount of empathy, or ever could be, strong enough to identify with what all these women had to go through. I listened to them in awe! They were the ‘very firsts’ in every single aspect of women in the military. They were forming something that had never existed prior to them. From sleeping in horse barns; to having no uniforms until time of their basic training graduation; to being trained by only men instructors; to not seeing their homes and families for three years; to enduring the name calling and nasty rumors from both their fellow military brothers and civilians who didn’t want women in the military. Many men believed ‘a woman’s place was in the home and that’s where they should stay.’ These brave women truly are the shoulders on which every woman veteran has stood on to further advance military women’s places/positions in the services. Any woman in the military down through all the years should be so thankful and full of admiration for their bravery, strength and dedication. Women in W.W. II endured a long, rough road of being ‘a first’ woman in the military compared to any woman’s enlistment tour of duty since.
5. How did you choose the women to interview? How did you learn about these women?
When interviewing the nine women at the Veterans Home in San Diego, several of them gave me names and contact information for other women veterans they knew. Often when interviewing a W.W. II woman veteran, she would lead me to another. I also went to the other two California Veterans Homes in Yountville and Barstow as well as one in Sandusky, Ohio. In each facility a few women would say, “Here’s my friends name and phone number. We served together in …….” I also got names from friends of mine once word got out I had taken on this project. They knew grandmothers of some of their friends who had served. So I never was in need of names. They always seemed to find me, and eventually I had a list. The women were anxious and excited to be photographed and interviewed because the history of their contributions and sacrifices were finally going to be recorded.
6. Your book covers a wonderful variety of women who served including all of the services, plus the WASPs. Do you have a favorite story? Who was the most challenging to interview?
It’s very hard to pick just one. I have several, each for different reasons. But if I had to pick one it would be Corporal Norma Gallagher, U.S. Army. She lied about her age to enlist. She was first assigned to hospital work but disliked it. She called herself a ‘bedpan commander.’ Then she was assigned K.P. duty and listed as a cook. On one inspection she told the base colonel she was no cook and wanted a transfer. She was transferred to Muroc Army Air Field in the middle of the Mojave Desert. She did do well there, working twelve hour shifts in maintenance control and was thought of highly by the base colonel. But trouble always seemed to be around the next corner for her. One evening she and five other WACs consumed a little too much to drink at the local watering hole. They missed the truck to return them to base and had to walk back the three miles. They laid down and fell asleep on a 650’ wooden replica of a Japanese heavy cruiser used by the planes for target practice. Early the next morning they were awakened by floor bag ‘bombs.’ (Real bombs were not used for practices.) She didn’t get her sergeant stripe because of that adventure. Prior to Norma enlisting, her mother said she would go along with it as long as she was not sent overseas. She had two sons overseas and did not need a third child over there to worry about. But after a year at Muroc, she did request overseas duty and hoped she could get there before her mother found out. She did not know about the Army’s letter notifying the parents of a WAC being sent overseas. The Army sent the standard letter to her mother informing her of Norma’s request. In return, her mother sent a copy of her birth certificate to the base colonel. She was honorably discharged six weeks later. These are just a few of her shenanigans she told me about. She was an unforgettable character! The hardest interview to take was with a Navy veteran. I asked each woman to hold something from her war time service, connecting the past with the present in the photograph. One veteran said she didn’t have anything. When she was discharged and returned home to her small home town, her father made her burn everything she had brought back with her including all of her uniforms. He told her never to tell anyone in town where she had been for the last three years or what she had been doing. He did not want anyone to know his daughter had served in the military. She told me he was ashamed of her. I had a hard time holding myself together throughout our session together.
7. Do you have any plans for additional stories?
Unfortunately, gathering more stories today would be a very big challenge. Those few women veterans who are still alive are in their late nineties and more than likely in fragile health. The last living one of the 53 that I interviewed for the book turned 100 last year. I don’t doubt there are a few still alive who would be able to be interviewed, but it would take some deep searching. Of the 16 million Americans who served (approximately 400,000 of them women) 167,224 are alive today. They are dying at the rate of 180 per day. It is estimated they will all pass away within the next ten years.
8. What was the most difficult part of writing this book? What was the most rewarding?
The most difficult part would have to be working full time but wanting to be home to write. Once the idea of writing a book presents itself, a ‘passion’ takes over your heart and mind. You eat, breath and dream it 24/7. Work just gets in the way. At least that’s how it was for me and I have talked to other writers who had the same experience. As a teenager, I knew I wanted to teach and I loved every minute of those twenty-six years of teaching. But after teaching 400 very noisy and rambunctious middle school P. E. students all day — which I describe as ‘controlled chaos’ — I found it almost impossible to change gears to a quiet, creative state of mind to write in the evenings. From 2004 to 2008 I spent weekends, summer breaks, holiday breaks and even a few ‘sick days’ interviewing, researching, and writing. Time wouldn’t go by fast enough until I could get back in the den and get lost for hours in my ‘labor of love.’ There were two rewarding parts that stand out to writing the book. The first was to have the honor of sitting and listening to these women heroines. What a humbling experience it was each time I met with one. They have my highest respect and admiration. In the beginning of the interview, many times the veteran would begin with, “Well, I didn’t really do that much.” Historically, and even today, many women tend to minimize themselves. Yet, I would sit there astounded to hear about the job she did and the conditions she had to do it under. I was captivated with every story. Each one captured my highest esteem for its’ teller. The second rewarding part was when I placed the book in their hands. To see the wide smiles, pride, joy and happy tears on their faces was the greatest form of repayment I could ever receive. No words were needed.
9. Do you think the American public is aware that during W.W. II, women served on more than the Homefront and as Rosie the Riveter?
Most people only think of the military nurses when they associate women with W.W. II. After many of my book presentations, at least one person would approach and tell me they never knew women did all those different jobs in the war. One of the problems I had in writing the book was finding other books about W.W. II women veterans for my research and fact checking. The few I could find, again, were about the Army and Navy nurses. That fact became an added reason for completion of Sisters In War and to the significance of hearing the women’s voices tell their own histories
Peg Trout, herself a Navy veteran, interviewed 53 different women who served in World War II. These women served in all branches of the Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Women Marines and the Coast Guard. Over all, “nearly 400,000 women veterans served in World War II.”
The impetus for the book was her childhood heroine, Great Aunty Flo who shut down her beauty parlor in a small town North Baltimore, Ohio in 1942 to enlist in the Army as soon as women were permitted to enlist. At 37, she decided that her country needed her. She served until 1945, including an overseas assignment at High Wycombe, Headquarters for the 8th Army Air Force where she was an Administrative Specialist.
For each of the 53 women, Peg asked four questions:
What was your family background?
What did you do before you entered the service?
What was your military experience?
What did you do after you were discharged?
“Each woman chose the place the place she felt more comfortable and at east for the interview. Almost all had at least one treasured item of their military time to hold for the portrait. By holding these cherished souvenirs, the connection was made between their past and the present.”
The care and affection that Peg has for each of the women she interviewed is evident throughout each chapter. The sheer variety of the women is a testament to how diverse the military role of women was during the war.
If people even thought of military women during World War II, it was mostly as nurses. The first nurses and first women in the military were appointed to the Army Nurse Corps on 2 February 1901. The United States Navy Nurse Corps was officially established by Congress in 1908. However, just glancing at the Table of Contents for Peg’s book shows that women served as both officers and enlisted in a variety of roles including pilot, storekeeper, administrative assistant, postal carrier, photographer, and of course nurses. Women of all colors enlisted, just like the men. They served in the United States (CONUS) and in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters (OCONUS)
I would very strongly recommend this book to anybody that wanted to read first hand accounts of the women who served in the military during World War II. Although you can buy a used copy of the book from Amazon or Ebay, the best way to buy a new copy of the book is by contacting Peg directly at email@example.com. For $35, she will mail you a copy of the book (autographed if you request it). That is how I got my copy of the book after hearing Peg give a Zoom interview.
If you want to learn more about Peg Trout, read her interview tomorrow
Mission 83: Send by 11/10 WWII Army Nurse Turning 100! About Agatha: Agatha served as an an Army nurse during World War II, and went on to be a professor of Psychiatric Nursing for Purdue University. Her hometown was Dexter, MI and she attended Marygrove University and Catholic University in Washington. Her birthday is 11/27, but they will have a party for her on 11/12. Send your cards on or before: Nov. 10 Agatha Tourney 3715 Union Chapel Road, Apt. 218 Fort Wayne, IN 46845