A new Navy fighter, the F6F Hellcat, flies for the first time.
When WWII started, the F4F Wildcat was the primary Navy fighter. Both built by Grumman, the cats served their pilots well.
The Wildcat was too slow and ungainly to compete with the Japanese Zero well, but it held it’s own. It was so well built that it was hard to knock out of the Pacific skies, and it’s weight made it better in a dive.
Grumman took it’s advantages and improved on it with the Hellcat, which was just as tough but faster than the Zero, and armed with 6 .50 cal. machine guns.
The Hellcat and the F4U Corsair would sweep the Pacific of Japanese air power. But the Hellcat would hold the title…having downed 5,271 enemy aircraft, she holds the title for destroying more enemy aircraft than any other fighter type.
The University of Oklahoma Sooners win at the Orange Bowl.
30 games into a historic 47 game winning streak, legendary OU football coach Bud Wilkinson led his team to victory at the Orange Bowl. Wilkinson set the standard for the program.
All of that very nearly never happened.
Wilkinson had been part of several football victories in Minnesota during the thirties.
When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Bud did what many American heroes did, he put his life on hold and joined up. In his case, it was the U.S. Navy.
So it was that Bud became a member of yet another legendary team. The crew of the USS Enterprise had earned 20 Battle Stars during the war.
On May 14, 1945, Lieutenant Charles “Bud” Wilkinson was the Hangar Deck Officer. The Big E was maneuvering violently to avoid an onslaught of Kamikaze planes off the coast of Japan. Finally one of the suicide planes got through, and crashed into the flight deck just aft of the forward aircraft elevator. The explosion sent a large part of the 15 ton elevator 400 feet into the sky. Fourteen men were killed, 60 wounded.
The hangar deck was devastated, 25 aircraft aboard were destroyed.
Lt. Wilkinson happened to be standing on the opposite side of a girder from the blast…by Bud’s reckoning, had he been three feet closer to the explosion, he would have been killed. (Barrett Tillman, “Enterprise”, 2012)
How many Bud Wilkinsons did we lose? And how many owe their success in life to a matter of seconds which saved the coach’s life that day?
Bud Wilkinson would begin his OU odyssey two years later, leading the program from 1947 to 1963.
In order to direct Germany in the direction they wanted, the Nazis believed that they had to give the people someone to blame, someone to hate, for their misfortunes. The Jewish people of Germany and Austria were the perfect targets.
The Nazis used the murder of a low level diplomat in Paris as an excuse.
Hitler ordered storm troopers to ACT as if they were citizens angered by the murder and to vandalize and destroy Jewish businesses, thus “The Night of Broken Glass” from the broken windows.
Many Jews were killed and 30,000 men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. They were released if they promised to leave Germany….100,000+ did so. Kristallnacht would eventually lead to the Holocaust, during which 6,000,000+ Jews were killed in the Nazis attempt at genocide.
Casus Belli: : an event or action that justifies or allegedly justifies a war or conflict
“I will provide a propagandistic casus belli. Its credibility doesn’t matter. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth.”
— Adolph Hitler.
The Gleiwitz incident, an assault on a German radio station near the border with Poland, as part of Operation Himmler, takes place.
The assault was conducted by GERMAN SS troops, posing as Polish troops, upon a German radio station. The ruse went so far as to leave Polish prisoners, captured previously, dead at the station as “proof” of the assault.
The next day, already prepared, German troops invaded Poland in “response” to the atrocity.
Thus began the conflict which would cost millions of military and civilian peoples of many nations their lives. In a real sense, WWII had been raging in Asia and through limited German actions already, but September 1, 1939 is considered the beginning.
The victors will not be asked whether they told the truth. Unfortunately this is usually accurate, similar to “to the victor go the spoils” and “the victors write the history books.”
Either contemporaries are actually trusting, or to fearful the wolf will turn on them, to act.
We should remember our history. We are MERELY human, and always shall be. It is arrogance to believe we will not achieve the same mistakes.
The USS Nevada was the first “dreadnaught” or battleship, to use oil rather than coal for fuel, the first to use the later standard 3 main gun turrets.
Commissioned in 1914, she would serve in WWI and WWII. At Pearl Harbor, she was the only battleship on “battleship row” to get underway. Her executive officer, who was in charge in the Captain’s absence, made the wise decision to beach her at Hospital Point, as she had taken six bombs and a torpedo; had he continued his attempt to gain the sea, the massive ship could have sunk in the channel leading to the harbor, trapping other ships either in or out of Pearl Harbor.
She would be repaired and would serve in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters, at Normandy and Okinawa.
One of these photos shows her with the only remaining battleship to have served in both WWI and WWII, the USS Texas (visit her in Houston).
The obsolete warrior would be used for atomic testing at Bikini Atoll, being the subject of two atomic bomb tests.
She still would not quit, and had to be sunk with aerial torpedoes. Her only sister ship was not so fortunate. The USS Oklahoma capsized at Pearl Harbor, then sank while being towed back to the states for repair.
Just this year, the Nevada was located 65 miles southwest of Pearl Harbor on the ocean floor.
Congress creates the new rank of “General of the Army of the United States” specifically for the US Army’s commanding general, Ulysses S. Grant.
Typical of Grant’s unpretentious nature, he chose to signify the honor with a simple 4 star should board on his basic uniform.
Grant would hold the rank until elected President, at which time he was succeeded by William Tecumseh Sherman, who was succeeded by Phillip Sheridan. The rank died when Sheridan did in 1888, until WWII, when it was signified with 5 stars.
“…Law alone cannot make men see right…”. In the early morning hours Civil rights activist Medger Evers is assassinated by a rifle shot in the driveway of his Jackson, Mississippi home.
Evers was a WWII veteran, having served in the European theater. When he returned home he attended college and in the fifties became involved in the civil rights movement.
Just hours before his death, President John F. Kennedy had given a moving speech calling for civil rights legislation. Whether you grew up in the sixties like my peers and I did, or were an adult then, or are too young to remember, take 6 minutes to watch this video. Be thankful for the rights we all experience now; and for brave men like these. A little 5 months later, JFK would share Medgers fate.
The Battle of Midway and Aviation Machinist Mate First Class Bruno Peter Gaido.
In brief, US Pacific forces had been decimated by a Japanese onslaught since Pearl Harbor. The US Navy and USAAF had been fighting back, however, by bombing Japan during the Doolittle Raid, the Battle of the Coral Sea and several raids by Carrier Groups across the Pacific.
During a raid in March, 1942 on the Marshall Islands by a Task Force built around the USS Enterprise (CV 6), the ship was attacked by five twin engine Betty bombers. Under withering fire, four turn back. The lead plane however, attempts to crash into the aircraft carrier. As the bomber grew closer, Aviation Machinist Mate Third Class Bruno Peter Gaido springs from the catwalk surround the flight deck and runs to a nearby SBD Dauntless Diver Bomber. He climbs into the rear of the plane to use the rear gunner’s machine gun. He began firing at the enemy plane, maintaining the fire into it’s cockpit even as it’s wing slices the rear of the SBD away mere inches from him. The Betty crashed into the sea, and Bruno is credited with causing to miss the ship.
Bruno disappeared inside the bowels of the ship, figuring he’d be in trouble for leaving his normal battle station. Quite the contrary; Admiral William “Bull” Halsey had him brought to the bridge, where he summarily ordered him promoted to Aviation Machinist Mate FIRST Class.
Spring forward to June 4, 1942 and Bruno Gaido was in the rear of Ensign Frank O’Flaherty’s Dauntless as they dove on the IJN Carrier Kaga when Bombing and Scouting 6 from Enterprise sent her to the bottom. As many know, Akagi, Soryu and Hiryu would also be sunk that day.
Can you imagine what being a rear gunner in a WWII dive bomber must have been like? During the attack, the aircraft dove at a 70% angle, nearly straight down. Held tight by safety belts, scanning for any fighters that dared to attempt to follow the dive, the rear gunner may never have known of a crash or a hit by anti-aircraft fire.
After their bombing run Ensign O’Flaherty and AMM Gaido attempted to make it home to Enterprise, but due to a punctured fuel tank and another attack by Japanese Zero fighters, had to ditch at sea.
The pair were picked up, “rescued” by the Japanese destroyer Makigumo. The officers of the destroyer, angered by the loss they had witnessed of the Japanese carriers, interrogated and tortured the American airmen. After days of this, on June 15, they ordered weights tied the both men and had them thrown overboard to drown. The Japanese sailors who survived the war to tell said both men faced their fate with courage and stoicism. Bruno Gaido’s ship mates had expected no less…he had gained a reputation.
As for the war criminals on the Makigumo? The ship was sunk during the Guadalcanal campaign and none of the officers responsible for the murder survived the war.
“To the Allies. To the army of General Patton. This is the Buchenwald concentration camp.
We request help. They want to evacuate us. The SS wants to destroy us.”
The Allies were driving across Europe, and as a result, the German War Machine was in panic. When the Russians overtook concentration camps on their front, the Germans “evacuated” thousands of Jews, Gypsies and prisoners of war to their second largest concentration camp, Buchenwald, Germany.
Buchenwald had housed slave labor, and murdered thousands, since 1937. EIGHT interminable years of forced labor, torture, rape, experiments on human beings.
Now when the Americans approached Buchenwald, the SS planned to “evacuate” the prisoners there, and destroy the camp to destroy the evidence.
The hundreds of thousands of prisoners were…evidence.
The prisoners had managed to construct a makeshift transmitter and sent the above message in several different languages in desperation.
After years of no hope, of unimaginable horrors….they received a reply, “KZ Bu. Hold out. RUSHING TO YOUR AID. Staff of Third Army.” The prisoner who had risked his life to send the plea for assistance…fainted.
Emboldened, several prisoners who were able, charged the machine gun towers surrounding them and took control of the main camp (there were several satellite camps).
On April 11 elements of the US 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, U.S. 6th Armored Division, US Third Army (Patton’s Army) entered Buchenwald and liberated it.
US Army commanders ordered the Mayor and citizens of the nearby towns to provide food for the starving prisoners until US supplies could arrive.
Reportedly Patton ordered that the citizens of nearby towns, who had known of the atrocities but remained silent, to tour the camps that included stack after stack after stack of bone thin bodies. A lesson?
Each generation thinks that they have “progressed” beyond such inhumanity. It is a delusion. As long as man exists, evil will exist. It must be recognized and guarded against.
A Kamikaze in….London. In the 1930’s most nations were attempting to set aircraft range records…for the sake of doing so and for military purposes.
The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun sponsored the flight of the “Kamikaze-Go”, a long range reconnaissance aircraft from Tokyo to London in honor of the coronation of King George VI.
Arriving at it’s destination in a little over 51 hours, the aircraft was greeted in London by cheering crowds. It’s pilot, Masaaki Iinuma, became a Japanese national hero, hailed as the Japanese Lindbergh.
He and his navigator, Kenji Tsukagoshi would both be killed during WWII, the aircraft would crash, be recovered, and placed in a museum which would be destroyed by bombing in WWII. The aircraft type would be used as a long range recon plane during the war. The whole thing began as the Japanese designed aircraft that could reach their far-ranging territories.