Stories your father or grandfather told of the war years -- now told again. Other tributes to people and things. Second person stories and tributes to those who shouldn't be forgotten.

A visit from . . .

B-17 and B-24!

The Collings Foundation operates a WWII bomber tour with a B-17 and a B-24. These tours are made possible by volunteers. They'll even take you for a ride — for a price. Last week, they visited Pensacola. Take a look at two of their bombers and find out how to get their schedule.

B-24 Nose
B-24 Nose

 B-24 Nose Art



Click on image for a larger view

To find out when they will visit your town or to arrange a visit or ride, go to their web site at:

Yes We Won the War. . .

Korea - Not Forgotten!

by Dr. Frank Biasco. A Korean War Veteran talks about the anniversary of the "forgotten war."

I OPENED UP MY American Legion magazine for September - and there it was – a whole issue on the Korean War. In it was the National Commander, Al Lance’s column, “The Commander’s Message” with which I agree — we did not lose the Korean War. How can anyone say we lost the war – or that it was even a tie? When South Korea was invaded, we pushed them back to the 38th parallel. In my book, that’s a victory. And while some American’s may have forgotten the war, I’m sure that the South Koreans have not forgotten what the United States did for them. We lost 34,000 American lives, 157,000 more were wounded or crippled, and (lest we forget) 8100 Americans are still unaccounted for. And no, I will never forget Korea. It was this time — 50 years ago — that I was recalled to active duty with the U.S. Navy (having already served in World War II). I was assigned to the amphibious forces and attached to the attack transport, U.S.S. Montrose, APA 212. Before long we were at Inchon, Korea. No, I’ll never forger Korea, and yes we won that war.

PFC James EdgarJames William Edgar........

He was just in an old country boy. But that was not unique. He was just one of several million "Old country boys" who answered the call, either as a volunteer or a draftee, during the 1940's after Japan's infamous and dastardly attack on Pearl Harbor.

He was born in the backwoods country of Coffee County, Alabama in 1920. He graduated from high school in 1938 and immediately began working in a hosiery mill in Dothan, Alabama. He remained in this job until drafted almost immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack. He was sent to Fort Jackson, S.C. for recruit training. After completion of training he was assigned to a combat unit which was soon shipped to the South Pacific. En route the ship on which they were traveling was torpedoed and sunk by an enemy submarine. He was picked up by another ship heading for Australia. There he was taken in by an Australian family until he could rejoin his outfit.

Jim Edgar was engaged in combat in most of the major battles in the Pacific and in his letters home was beginning to talk of his homecoming. On 10 March 1944, while a member of a mopping up engagement on the island of the Bougainvillea, one of the Solomon Islands, he was fatally shot in the head by Japanese sniper. It was three years later, on 1 July 1947, before his body was returned home and he was buried in the Old Tabernacle Cemetery alongside his father.

He gave his all for his country. His mother was awarded his Silver Star and she accepted the Purple Heart for him. The citation for the Silver Star read:

"When numerically superior Japanese forces attacked our defenses Private First-Class Edgar left his dug-in position in order to deliver more effective fire against the enemy. Seeing a Japanese gun, he worked his way forward and destroyed it with a grenade. While attempting to return to his original position he was killed by enemy fire. His heroic courage and aggressive action delayed the enemy advance and enabled his comrades to withdraw safely."

He was just one of the thousands of selfless heroes of World War II. Today's young people need real heroes such as Jim Edgar to look up to and revere!

Last Full Measure

by Thomas Deas, M.D.

Hugh Summerfield wasn't quite 19 years old. He was a blonde, baby faced lad of about 5ft.9in. from West Virginia. He stood erect in the formation of soldiers in the Company street, 1st Battalion area. he was wearing his glasses at the time and they looked out of place on him. I remember the words, to some extent, for he was being awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. I can still hear the Officer reading the citation:

General orders Number 00-APO 31-00 February 1945 by the direction of the President, under the provision of the Act of Congress, approved 9 July,1918, a Silver Star is awarded by the Commanding General, 31st Infantry Division to the following named Enlisted Man, PFC Hugh Summerfield (SN) ,Medical Department of the United States Army. For gallantry in action on the Driniumor River, near Aitape, British New Guinea, on ( date-1944) …

During this action he was severely wounded and without regard for his own safety had saved several of his comrades before being evacuated to a hospital. Just as soon as he was released from the Evac Hospital he finagled his way back to his beloved 1st Battalion of the 124th Infantry Regiment. At the time, we were on Morotai Island and were in the process of staging for the Philippines invasion.

We arrived at Cotabato, Mindanao on 23 April and debarked under peaceful conditions as the 24th Division had landed here a couple of weeks before and headed due East to Davao on the East coast. We were given the assignment to move by land and by boat to Fort Pikit and Kabacan. We reached there about 27 April,1945. Then we headed North up the Sayre Highway, a wide dirt trail through fields of grass 6-7 ft. high and at times through swamps where the road was just two planks about 18 inches for wheels to ride on. Most of the bridges were blown. We passed through dense wooded areas past grass and bamboo huts made by those who lived there or the Japanese.

One river was about 4 feet deep and 50 yards across. We had to build a makeshift bridge to get our 6-7 jeeps across. Our objective was the Kibawe Air Strip where the road to off east to davao. As we passed it on may 6, we had been fighting up the road for nearly 50 miles. That is where we met a large force of well dug in enemy on each side of the road. We fought tooth and toenail and lost many good men to death and wounds.

1st Battalion was stopped and so was 2nd Battalion on the other side of the road. Many were wounded. The Japs would let us advance so far and then come out of their holes and shoot from behind. Their holes were not over 2 ½ feet wide and were 5-7 feet deep with connecting tunnels. It was a devious situation.

The medics spent most of the day trying to get to the wounded and bring them back, an almost miraculous task. PFC Hugh Summerfield worked tirelessly and seemed to have a charmed life as he brought back man after man till dark. Then he was sure that another one of his comrades was alive and in a certain place. Against all warning by his C.O.,PFC Summerfield crawled back out to get his comrade. He didn't come back that night and the next morning our troops advanced again. They found Summerfield lying over a comrade. Both were dead.

The letter to his mother that I wrote was almost as bad as being wounded. I told of his heroism and dedication to his comrades. I sent the Silver Star with an Oak Leaf Cluster and a Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster—but that letter also contained the love and admiration of the Company of the 1st battalion to which he was attached.

PFC Hugh Summerfield, a man before he was old enough and a Hero before all of his friends and comrades.


Dr.Thomas Deas,M.D. was the Regimental Surgeon in command of the 124th Medical Detachment, 31st Division.

Daybreak on SAIPAN

Click the image for a larger view of Charan Kanoa

Editor's Note: Landings of eight thousand Marines on Saipan began on 15 June 1944 in the "the most violently opposed landing that we ever had." Surprised, the Japanese, counterattacked. They moved south with a large fleet. The troops ashore had no idea that US Naval commanders decided to draw ships supporting the invasion out of danger for the battle of the Philippine Sea which was a disaster for the Japanese.

Ashore, they only knew that they were suddenly very very alone.

Who could ever forget daylight coming up over the water with not a ship in sight except for the gleaming white hospital ship anchored out. At sunset the night before there were hundreds of ships of all sizes and description out there. No one could help but wonder what was going on. Ashore we were not aware of an impending fleet action which moved the ships out.

The fleet was exercising "radio silence" so we were not receiving any information from them. We continued to send blind status reports out on our Command Net as we knew that our own people were monitoring the frequencies on the command ship.

In the meantime we continued to receive murderous artillery fire coming from the fortified caves overlooking the beach.

For many years the Japanese had refined these cave installations; some had hospital facilities, mess halls, barracks etc. They also had an artillery piece mounted on rails with which they could preset targets, roll the piece up forward and open the steel doors momentarily just to fire and slam the doors shut.

At this time we only had 105mm howitzers ashore and their rounds merely bounced off the steel doors .

We were constantly in a routine of hopping from one foxhole to another as incoming fire occurred. It was very obvious that they had some kind of spotting operation as they knew exactly just where to aim.

Out of nowhere a huge warship slowly moved abreast of the shoreline and came to a halt. We watched in amazement to see all the big gun turrets turn toward our direction. There was a big blazing flash and what sounded like a monster drum roll and the shells whistled overhead hitting the cave areas and we saw the entire side of the hill come sliding down — caves and all. We learned later that it was the Battleship Maryland that served us so well.

USS Maryland was the first US battleship armed with 16" guns.
In spite of this we still were receiving very accurately placed incoming fire.

In the nearby town of Charan Kanoa the old sugar mill had been reduced to rubble and only the tall smokestack remained.

A weary Marine sat down at the base of the smokestack to have a cigarette and noticed a telephone wire going up inside the stack.

Charges were placed and the smokestack was knocked down and it was learned that there was an observer at the top who was calling down fire on us. That put an end temporarily to the incoming artillery fire.

There are many more stories to be told about the Saipan operation; in my experience it was probably the most violently opposed landing that we ever had.

Norman Gertz,
Colonel USMC (Ret)

Image from United States Army in World War 2, War in the Pacific, Campaign in the Marianas


Norm, for years I have read books about WWII. But only since I have read comments sent to Kilroy Was Here like yours has it become so real! Thanks!

Read Bill Hoover's account of that Daybreak also

 Hand Salute

 USMC Emblem


I wrote this in April before I retired. I have never shared it with anyone. But I think that you will all understand. Hand Salute. Semper Fi. Resume the watch.

CWO3 R. A. Bethke, USMC (Ret)

"God made Warrant Officers to give the junior enlisted Marine someone to worship, the senior enlisted Marine someone to envy, the junior officer someone to tolerate, and the senior officer someone to respect."

--Fiction and Fact From Dunk's Almanac


Written by R. A. Bethke
7 April 1987 (an unpublished work)


They had us stopped.
We were pinned down, stuck in the holes.
Daly stood up.
He yelled "C'mon you Bastards, do you wanna live for forever?"
We moved forward -
Some died.

But the next objective was easier,
Easier for that crazy stunt
And easier for the ones
Who left us there outside those holes.

Maybe that's what makes legends.
Or could it just be something greater?
All I know is the objective became everything.
It became more important than life
And none of us there held our lives cheap.

I guess that's why I'm still wearing this uniform.
I found something to tag onto that was important.
So important that people I looked up to
Were willing to die for it.
A man won't find many things in one lifetime
That are that important.

When the troops ask now,
I try to tell 'em
Awful hard though
When you try to help folks understand
How to forget about themselves,
To put aside their fears
So they can reach their potential.
Maybe if I help a few of 'em figure it out
A couple of 'em 'll stick around.
Like I did.

I 'spect that Daley himself didn't understand
But he made it all happen with that one yell.
That crazy old Bastard became a legend!
And everyone knows that legends live forever.
 Editor's note: The author, Ray Bethke, after retiring from the Marine Corps became the city's own Computer Guru Laureate. He is founder and CEO of Executive Design, a consulting group. He teaches at a local college, He writes a weekly computer column for the newspaper (the only computer columnist with a real sense of humor) and runs several web sites, ALL worth your time.

My brother Swede.

Otis (Swede) Welch, , landing boat operator.

As told to his brother
Bill Kerrell


Bill Hoover commented on the fact that all ships were gone the next morning after the landings(Epilogue to Photo Album 1). My brother Swede talked about that. He operated a landing craft during the landings. A story he told helps explain it. "After the landing we all moved out to sea. They knew a big sea battle was coming up so we massed far out to sea long enough to let the Japs see us. We monitored their scout plane when it spotted us.


The LVCP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personel) built by Higgins Industries on Lake Ponchatrain in Louisianna. ". . . a world-shaking innovation, one that would defeat Germany and Japan as ineluctably as any other technology." Col J.H. Alexander, USMC (Ret) author: A Fellowship of Valor
We waited for him to report our large numbers, then shot him down. We then dispersed back to our regular assignments. The idea was to give the Japs all the erroneous info we could!"


On one trip to the landing beach we got some bad info about the depth. We got in as close as we could get but the troops had to wade in from about waist deep. The Japs were waiting! They had their artillery and automatic weapons homed in on that area. The water was literally red. My landing craft was shot out from under me. The water was so bloody and full of bodies that it made me sick. I began throwing up. I was retching so hard that I was afraid I would drown. I started swimming OUT to sea. I figured I was better off drowning out there than staying where I was. I was later picked up by a returning LVCP.


Bill is a combat veteran of the Korean war himself and has fascinating stories to tell. But, like so many from that bloody mess, he is not ready.

A Tribute to a Great Marine!

Robert Pappas wrote:

This is a note to a retired Marine. He was born in 1929 and Joined the Marine Corps in 1947. He served in Korea at the Chosin Reservoir and two tours of combat duty during the Vietnam conflict.

Dear Capt. Keller:............................................

Earlier today I read a piece about IWO JIMA that, like Chosin where you and other Marines fought so valiantly, was a momentous event in annals of the Marine Corps and United States History. Considering the Corps' illustrious history and special character, I think that God will bestow upon many Marines a place of special trust and confidence in the "Great Beyond." That thought suddenly gave meaning to the writer's words in the last stanza of the Marines Hymn, the last part of which reads as follows:

"...If the Army and the Navy ever visit Heaven's scenes, They will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines."

Marines like you have always dedicated themselves to the preservation and furtherance of freedom, liberty and the greatness that this magnificent land enjoys today like no other in the history of the world. Your years of service contributed more toward that greatness than any civilian, no matter how wealthy or powerful, including the holder of the highest civilian office in the United States; for without Marines like you this great land would not be what it is today. For that sir, I, no, we thank you and salute you.

The time will come when each of us will face life's final battle. No one knows the time or place that the call will come to relieve the "Post" on Heaven's streets, but if you get there before I do, tell all my friends, I'm comin' too.

God bless you sir,

Semper Fidelis,

Robert Pappas


Robert. I join you in this heartfelt tribute. Semper Fi Capt. Keller:

Do you know...?

Sgt. Francis(Frank)H. Byrne

73rd Heavy Tank Battalion, Korea

Mark Byrne wrote:

Following the tradition of my family, I have served in the Army proudly for 18 years and was recently released medically but, this is not my reason for writing. The reason for this letter is that my father served in the Korean War and then in Vietnam. I'm not to sure of the unit in Nam, but I am sure of the one in Korea; it was the 73rd Heavy Tank Battalion. My parents both live a retired life in PA. He is an humble but proud man. I respect him so much. In my years listening to him he has talked some about the things that went on in the Korean War. Especially, I remember stories of the extreme cold, frost-bitten feet, hands, and anything else that was exposed. Also, he spoke of tanks getting stuck in the mud during the days and the bitter cold at night. He was wounded while taking enemy fire and caught shrapnel in both legs . There are still times that I see him pulling out small pieces, even after all these years.

What really bothers me is that when I asked him about his Purple Heart and other awards, he said that he received the Purple Heart in a M.A.S.H. Hospital but never had the paperwork to go along with it. I guess, what I'm asking for is if there is anyone that was in the 73rd who can help me get the things that my Dad so much just deserves. His name is Francis(Frank)H. Byrne. He made it to Sgt in Korea Thank you,


Note to readers: If you know this veteran, please contact the editor. Click here or on the link at the bottom of the page!
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