THE BATTLE FOR GUAM

THE BATTLE FOR GUAM

Guam is a territory of the United States of America.

It is the largest, and southernmost of the Mariana Islands.

Guam was first populated over 4,000 years ago. Ferdinand Magellan landed there on March 6th 1521. It was controlled by Spain until 1898, when it was surrendered during the Spanish – American War.

As the largest island in Micronesia and the only U.S. – held island in the region before World War Two, Guam was captured by the Japanese on December 8th just hours after the attack at Pearl harbor.

Guam is about 28 miles long and four to eight miles wide.

19,000 Japanese defended the island. They had an extra month to prepare the defenses, due to the prolonged time it took to secure Saipan. They created inland barriers that would be their trademark for the rest of the war, while at the same time preparing to take on the Americans on the beaches as the invasion began. This was the last time they would try to defend the beaches in any significant way for the rest of the war.

D -Day for Guam had been set for June 18th 1944. Since Saipan took longer to control than anticipated D – Day was moved to July 21 1944.

The island received air and naval bombardment, including a thirteen day continuous naval bombardment, the most prolonged of the war to date.

20,000 3rd division Marines landed on July 21st. Altogether over 30,000 Marines participated. 1,082 were killed, 125 missing, and 4,582 were wounded. More than 17,000 Japanese were killed.

The 1st Batallion 4th Marines,{Former Raiders}, repulsed a banzi attack by 5,000 “Japs” on July 22nd and, between the 25th and 27th of July the enemy took heavy losses, and the 38th infantry was destroyed.

The Fourth Marines were the first to reach both the north and south ends of the island during the campaign.

The 1st and 2nd War Dog Platoons as well as the Navajo Code talkers were integral in taking the island.

Guam had been in the hands of the Japanese for two years, seven month and ten days.

This was a great morale booster since it was the first American land taken back from the Japanese.

In spite of how difficult the fighting was, the American Flag was raised eight minutes after landing on July 21st. Guam was declared under control on August tenth 1944.

27 years later in 1972 sergeant Soichi Yokoi was found living in a cave. He finally surrendered when convinced the war was over.

Prior to this epic battle, the 1st Marine Raider Regiment was disbanded, with most Raiders being given the honor of reforming the historic 4th Marine Regiment that fallen in the early days of Corregidor in the Philipine Islands.

The story of “The Battle of Guam” was taken from the book, REAL BLOOD REAL GUTS By James Gleason. He gets all credit. I have edited for the sake of brevity.

I met him in Sandiego years ago, and he signed the book with a generous dedication to my father. I dwell on the 4th Marines, and the Raiders because that’s where my father was.

Doc Gleason, {as they called}, him was a humble and amazing man. He gave me a lot of his time, and didn’t care that I carried a note book, and wrote down so many thing he told me.

We spoke in the hospitality room, where he did his book signings, and had a couple meals together, and drank beer with other Raider who were ready to open up at this point in their lives.

My plan is to from time to time tell the story of these brave men and women, and yes… the Dogs.

Never forget the Dogs!

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THE LAST MAN STANDING

THE LAST MAN STANDING

This picture was taken on the island of Guam.

The men you see make up two machine gun squads. Every man in this picture was either killed or wounded before World Two ended, except for the small muscular man on the left. He was the squad leader. He was my father.

Each squad was made up of seven men. There are thirteen men in the picture. The fourteenth man was taking the picture. He was also the squad leader of six of these men. These two squads worked closely together on Guam. That is evident in their body posture.

The night before they set an ambush at an advantageous spot on Harmon Road. The Japanese that had not yet been killed, captured, or surrendered, were completely surrounded and out numbered. The Marines knew some of them would try to break through during the upcoming night. That’s what they would have done.

At one thirty a.m. the squads were in place on ridges over looking Harmon road. One squad on one side and one squad on the other side. Harmon Road made a big turn just below them and then began up hill. The Japanese faced a blind spot at the bend and the Marines waited until they were close enough, and the bazooka knocked the tank off it’s tracks.

The Americans didn’t really have a hand held weapon that would destroy a tank. That’s why they had to wait until they were perilously close to begin the attack.

Once the bazooka was fired, the two machine guns opened up. My father fired one, and the other squad leader fired the other. Since the bazooka didn’t kill everyone in the tanks, soldiers began to climb out and flee. The machines guns killed everyone of them and the dozen or two foot soldiers who accompanied them.

If you read my last post you can at least try, to begin to imagine and understand, how young men from all walks of life morphed from boys to Warrior Men. They saved our Country.

These guys ran, from water craft under fire, and took this Island from the Japanese. This was no small feat, since the Japanese were formidable adversaries and well prepared. It was one of the last times they would try to defend against the American forces and their Allies head on. After this they would move inland to defend their territory, and build tunnels and bunkers and even remodel tombs to force their enemy pay a terrible price for victory.

You thought the Vietnamese invented that, didn’t you.

I don’t know for sure, but I believe this picture was taken the day after they took total control of Guam.

This story is not fiction. My father never talked about it, but I interviewed survivors, and the story is mentioned in at least two books I have. I even met the bazooka man at a Marine Raider reunion in Nashville Tennessee.

I was looking at a table of Raider souvenirs, when this great big Sioux Indian from Kentucky pulled out a picture of a heavily damaged Tank that he shot on Guam. He was telling everyone, about how once he shot the tank, the Japs, [ that’s how they talked, and I’m not going to try to be politically correct. I’d rather be factual}, began to jump out of the tank and run for their lives and the machine guns began to mow them down.

I interrupted him at that point and confirmed that he did this on Harmon Road. I then told him that my father was one of the machine gunners doing the shooting. He remembered my father well, as did a lot of the men at those reunions. He filled in a lot of gaps for me, and since dad was gone by then, it was moving to talk to men who knew him and fought beside him.

I learned a lot that day.

EVEN CITY BIRDS HAVE TO EAT

EVEN CITY BIRDS HAVE TO EAT

City birds and country birds are a lot different. City birds have a shortage of traditional food sources. Berries are scarce, as are worms, bugs, and water.

They have to make do on whatever scraps the humans waste. Fortunately for them, humans waste a lot of food. Trash cans and streets outside restaurants are great places to forage.

I met this fellow outside a modern high rise made almost entirely of concrete. I didn’t get his name, so lets just call him Raven.

His ancestors would never have been caught dead in an environment like this. Actually, they would have been dead in an environment like this.

They had skills that Raven has lost. He has skills that they did not have.

It’s much like humans. The folks who understand nature survive much differently than their relatives who understand urban ways.

Raven has just noticed a Restaurant in this big concrete building.

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He’s going to read the menu, and then decide whether to move on or not.

Scotland 10-11 Randy 064 He has adapted quite well as you can tell from his plump breast.

City birds have to eat too.

PATIENT PREDATOR

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I be watching you!

This is a Cooper’s Hawk, and that’s exactly what he’s thinking.

A Cooper’s Hawk is about eleven or twelve inches tall and less common than some of the larger Hawks around these parts. I like to capitalize Hawk, because I really like them. Hawks and Eagles are like warrior birds. That’s probably why there are so many stories and songs and mythology about them.

This one hung around our place for a couple seasons, but I could never get a good shot of him. I think he must have eyes like a hawk.

Finally one day several years ago I got lucky, and took these pics through my office window.

Is it really thinking he’s up to, when he’s so locked on to just finding something to eat? It’s all about staying alive. Sure; he’s processing, but just how that takes place regarding brain synapses, and the way we perceive thinking, I’m not so sure.

Where does a Buddhist Monk go, when he stops his breathing and heart beat for hours or even days?

We feed the birds and have a Koi pond and lots of cover for his prey to hide, and also for him.

He’s in a Mulberry tree with English Ivy around him.

Oh! Oh!: He’s spotted something. Did you see his head turn?

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Do I have to show you everything?

He’s about ready to spring into action. The result is going to get your attention.

You have to wait until another post to see what happens. It’s kind of like a soap opera.

I learned that from years of show business. Never give em what they want.[ That’s how we talk in southern Indiana]. Always leave them wanting more.

I be watching you. I’m a patient predator.

A Country Boy can survive

A Country Boy can survive

Did anyone notice it’s been FREEZING COLD?!!!!

I swore, I’d never heat with wood or coal again. It’s so much work and the house gets dirty and etc, and etc.
That was a long time ago , and my wife and I were were first married and lived in the middle of Pike county Indiana, and our nearest neighbor was a half mile away. We had no money, and lived in an old house bordering the State Forrest. We could see it from three different directions. Except for hunting season we pretty much owned thousands of acres of land. I loved it, since I was an avid hunter and outdoors man. It was a dream come true for a young man who lived week to week, and thought the first day of squirrel and deer season were Religious Holidays.
When I first met my wife I could remember her birthday because it was five days before squirrel season began. That’s the truth. She was also the first girl I had ever dated, who went hunting with me and would even shoot a shotgun. Do you see why I fell in love with her?
It had nothing to do with her beautiful green eyes and long blonde hair and hourglass figure. No really it didn’t.
Now I’m lying and changing the subject. For men; the subject always seems to migrate in a certain direction. It takes so much concentration and self discipline for a man to be civilized. I really don’t know how you women accomplished it.
I’m trying to be civilized, but I keep having flashbacks to sixty thousand years ago.
Now it’s years later, and we don’t live week to week. We have a very comfortable life and I am semi retired. You would think at one hundred and sixty four years old total retirement would be the case, especially since the economy is thriving and the recession is over. RIGHT!!
The truth is I don’t work much anymore. Just enough to keep a couple businesses alive
and to pay the heating bill.
It all started a few years ago when we had a horrific January cold wave caused by Global warming. You know. Kind of like this year now that I think about it.
We lost our power for seven days, and everyone on our street fled except my tough country girl wife and her one hundred sixty four year old husband.
By fall we had a wood stove installed in the beautiful fireplace we swore we would never use when we bought the house.
I did the work myself with the help of one of my best camping and fishing buddies.
The wood in the picture comes from a saw mill in Pike County. It’s white oak and burns great. We couldn’t get it without the truck.
Like another of my oldest and best buddies said; ” A Country boy without a truck is like a Cowboy without a horse.

Stay warm

The Robins Return

The Robins Return

There is a phenomenon, that the women in my wife’s family noticed over twenty years ago. It all has to do with my wife’s mother’s birthday and the return of the Robins.

They way we remember it, is one year on her birthday they noticed hundreds of Robins had descended upon everything. There were Robins in trees and bushes and in the driveway and on the roof and even on vehicles.

What was going on?

They watched from the windows, which is where you watch things in the winter, when you are trying to stay warm in the house.

Being highly trained bird watchers one and all, they noticed the Robins were feeding on the plentiful berries on the Holly trees.

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These berries are poisonous to humans. I learned this from a friend long ago who thought it would be a good idea to make wine from them.

The Robins shook branches and cleared the ground and generally did a Biblical Locust thing for no more than two hours, and then they were gone and so were the Holly berries.

The next year the same thing happened within a day or two of the same date, which was easy to remember because of the birthday. This we have witnessed each year for over twenty years.

How do they know? Who decides? I’m pretty sure they don’t have Facebook or electronic social media. They do seem to have a flashmob culture kind of thing going on there.

Well, today was Return of the Robin day. Maybe it should be a holiday.

I declare it thus. All you have to do is pour a cup of coffee, lay your newspaper out before you pretending you are about to comprehend more than a fraction you are about to read, and watch Nature do her magic just for you.

The Beech Tree Caper

The Beech Tree Caper

Uncle Buddy probably ran across this tree while squirrel hunting, since he lived a short distance from the Patoka River In Winslow Indiana, and the tree was several hundred yards north of the river. He and we, often walked those banks during squirrel season, since the hunting there was good.

This is not the tree you will be told about,since that tree fell victim to certain circumstances. I was fourteen years old when these circumstances occurred, and that was very long ago. Try to imagine fifty years ago. I know most of you can’t. Now try to imagine remembering every detail from that long ago. I will do the best I can.

The tree was behind a ball field that was just north of the river.

Do know why they call them ball fields? It’s because long ago not every baseball diamond had a fence to knock the ball over. They were lucky if they had a backstop. If a player could hit the ball between the outfielders then they had a good chance for an inside the park home run. I’m not sure if you could call that inside the park, since there wasn’t anything inside. It was just a field. Well, anyway that’s where ball fields got their name.
I dwell on the ball field so long, because it is the place of my very first memory.

I was two and a half years old, and sitting on the hood of a nineteen forties something Dodge. My dad came to bat, and hit the ball between the outfielders, and being quite fleet of foot hit a home run. I remember my parents questioning me about this later in childhood, when I brought up the story of dad’s home run. They very much doubted that I could remember something at such a tender age, but when they grilled me on the details they were convinced that I most certainly did remember the event.

Uncle Buddy discovered a bee hive in a big hole in the tree. As I recall the hole was shaped almost exactly like the picture. It was in a most precarious position, in that it was too high to reach from the ground, and we were unable to reach it with the feeble ladder we had available especially with the threat of bee stings, if we were so foolish as to reach in to steal the sweet nectar the Bees were willing to die for.

Beech trees have very thin bark and are easily scarred. That’s why young lovers use them so often to carve art work to express their eternal love.

The problem is the scars make the trees prone to disease and such. This one looked like it may have lost a limb during a storm. A bad thing for the tree but an opportunity for the Honey bees.
Now, just how do we harvest this plentiful bounty?
Well, Uncle Buddy; half uncle and half brother because of age proximity always had a plan. These plans usually led to conundrums of one kind or another. The posse, as we called ourselves, were as usual oblivious to these conundrums. The posse was made up of boys ,thirteen and fourteen and fifteen, and Uncle Buddy who was closing in on thirty, so what could go wrong?

The plan was to cut down the seventy five or so foot tree. It would land perfectly with the honey bee hole pointing straight up toward the sky, and we would then work our woodsman’s skills.

Our tools as I remember were two axes. We started in the early afternoon.We took turns each until they were exhausted, and were just about to call it a day when we heard the crack of wood.

It was just about dusk and visibility was a problem. Uncle Buddy explained to us which way the tree would fall and where we were to stand, and a signal was given for when to take off running, since all Lumberjacks took off running when a tree was about to fall.

Somehow, a chop or two before things were supposed to happen a scary loud crack rang out, and we ran in four different directions. That big old tree came down fast and loud, and taking smaller vegetation in the way like it wasn’t even there.

I was certain I was going to die. When the quiet sat in, and I was still alive, I knew for sure, someone else had been crushed.

From the quiet came Uncle Buddies voice.” Everybody O.K.? Where are you?”

One by one we answered giving our position and announcing that we were alright. My cousin Steve was the slowest runner of us all, but announced he was about a hundred and fifty yards away. Turned out he was. Go figure.

Now we approached the tree, only to find that it had landed with the bee hive hole in exactly the wrong spot. It was flat against the ground.
Exhausted and dark coming upon us we decided to come back tomorrow with a new plan.

We didn’t get there as early as we had planned, since Uncle Buddy drank quite a lot of beer, and stayed up to the wee hours doing it. Uncle Buddy Liked his beer.

When we arrived a little after noon we had all the tools needed to complete our task. We had both axes from the day before and two splitting wedges and I think a maul.

The plan was to chop our way down from the top into the hive. It was Uncle Buddy’s idea, and since no one else had a better one, then that was the plan.

As we chopped and split and slowly made our way through the hive Uncle Buddy gave us a tutorial on honey bees and, how we would get the honeycombs out without being stung to death.

It seems that his expertise in beedom had taught him ,that there were different types of bees we would encounter. Most he said were worker bees and were harmless. There was a Queen bee that ruled the hive and was much bigger than all the others. The only ones we had to worry about were the fighter bees. I had never heard of fighter bees and was a little apprehensive about this news.Uncle Buddy of course had a plan to handle them.

Once we had chopped our way far enough to confirm we were approaching the hive, we would start a fire under the tree right where the hole met the ground. This would rile up the fighter bees, and draw them out of the hive in their effort to protect it.

Once we thought we were close enough, we lit the fire and carefully continued chopping and hacking, and all that other real careful stuff we had been doing to get us to this point.

Soon we reached the hive well enough to consider removing some of it. At the same time the smoke was so thick that we could hardly see, and were coughing and hacking. The bees didn’t seem to like it much either as scores of them began to leave the tree in all directions, causing some commotion and waving of hands and questions for Uncle Buddy. I don’t know if these were fighter bees or not, but they really weren’t much of a problem. I think they just wanted to get out of there. I sort of did too.

Then Uncle Buddy did a most amazing thing. He stuck his whole arm into the hole we had created, and grabbed a big chunk of honeycomb. He did this bare handed, and was immediately covered all they way up to his elbows with bees. ” See”, he said. “These are worker bees. They won’t hurt you”.

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My cousin Steve was the first one of us brave enough to imitate Uncle Buddy. The result was the same. He was covered all the way to his elbow, and if either one of them was being stung they were not letting on at all.

So now, because of the age pecking order it was my turn to show bravery, of which I was totally lacking. I still remember the eerie feeling of hundreds of bees covering my hands and arms. It was the same for me, in that I felt no stings at all. After a while we got more cavalier about the whole thing and only an occasional ouch would be heard. I remember I was stung three times. Each time it was because I swatted at a bee on my ear or mouth or some sensitive spot. If you left them alone they wouldn’t bother you. Near the end we could even brush them off slowly and gently and they fell off like so much sawdust or some such thing.

We placed our bounty in a couple small buckets, and started across the ball field towards Uncle Buddy’s house.

When Aunt Nina saw how little we had after two days she laughed until she hurt. When she placed it all on the stove to work her magic and turn it into honey, only two four quart pans were needed.

It really didn’t taste as good as I had hoped.

But we did it , by God.

That’s the story of the Beech tree caper.