Today in History, January 24, 1972:
28 years after the end of WWII, Shoichi Yokoi, Japanese Army Sergeant, was discovered hiding on Guam, living as a survivalist, still awaiting the return of the Imperial Japanese Army…completely unaware that the war had ended in 1945. He was considered a hero in Japan after his repatriation.
Today in History, January 23, 1957:
Walter Frederick Morrison sells the rights for an invention to the Wham-O Toy Company.
He and his wife had begun on the invention by selling “Flying Cake Pans” in 1937.
Nearly a decade later, after having learned more about aerodynamics while flying combat missions over Italy in a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter (shot down, spent time as a POW), Morrison began working on the invention again after WWII.
He and an investor began working with plastics, and he eventually came up with what he called the “Pluto Platter”, which is what he sold to Wham-O. Once college students began referring to it as a “Frisbee”, Wham-O changed the name.
Today in History, January 7, 1945:
The Battle of the Bulge.
After the American 101st Airborne held out against overwhelming German forces for days, refusing to surrender (Gen. Anthony McAuliffe replied Nuts! to a surrender command, confusing the hell out of the Germans); after American Gen. George S. Patton turned his entire 3rd Army 90 degrees and ran full tilt through winter conditions to reach his comrades; after American air power helped save the day when the weather cleared,
British Gen. Bernard Law Montgomery held a press conference during which he took credit for the hard won victory.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill had to address Parliament to assert the truth that The Battle of the Bulge was solely an American victory after the political fall-out of Montgomery’s typically arrogant statements.
Today in History, January 3, 1944:
Moments after he became the top fighter ace in the Pacific Theater by shooting down his 26th enemy plane, USMC Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington was himself shot down over the Japanese base of Rabaul.
He would be captured by the Japanese and held prisoner, brutally treated until rescued from a Japanese prisoner of war camp.
Boyington had been one of the American servicemen to resign their commissions to serve in the AVG, the American Volunteer Group, or “Flying Tigers” in China prior to America’s entry into the war. After Pearl Harbor he rejoined the Marines and fought in the Pacific.
Boyington was a Medal of Honor recipient. A warrior. And a drunk. In his good will tours after the war, he stated bluntly, “Show me a hero, and I’ll show you a bum.”
Today in History, December 22, 1944:
The 101st Airborne Division was surrounded by the Nazis at Bastogne, Belgium, after the Germans had broken through Allied lines in their last major assault of WWII. The “Battle of the Bulge” had caught the Allied command (well..not all, but thats another story) by surprise. The weather had Allied air support grounded and the German mechanized units (tanks) helped them quickly overrun the Americans. Freezing temperatures contributed to their woes.
Low on supplies and ammo, no air support due to the weather, three days before Christmas, their commander, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe received a demand from the German commander to surrender.
It took the Germans a bit to comprehend the one word, typically American vernacular,
The 101st would not surrender and fought on in desperate conditions until finally relieved by General Patton’s Army Corps and Allied Air Support when the weather broke.