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36thIDAlex

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Posts posted by 36thIDAlex

  1. 36thIDAlex - even thanks? Wow....

    I appreciate the contributions Jerry, as said I don’t really do navy or marine stuff and hadn’t checked on this thread in awhile. Really neat photos you managed to find, hopefully some of the marine/aviation guys find all of them useful for any projects in the future! Very cool impression too.
  2. On 11/9/2020 at 2:42 PM, Kurt Barickman said:

    Really nice grouping and congrats! I have that book on the bookshelf and although it has be quite a few years since I read it, I still distinctly remember the night time Fallschirmjager  attack described in the book. To have a group from a prominent officer of the 115th is just really cool. Thanks for posting.

     

    Kurt


    Thanks both Kurt and Parks! It’s a truly special group and you can’t ask for much more out of a 29th ID uniform than to be from Major Johns’ outfit and one mentioned frequently throughout Clay Pigeons. I sped read through the entire book in about two days once I realized. They were some brave souls and Kenney was no exception.

  3. Well everyone, today is a very special day for me. I’ve been working on reuniting these uniforms for over two years now. All belonged to native Kentuckian William B Kenney, one of the real “Clay Pigeons of St. Lo”

     

    William Buckner Kenney was born to William B and Lucy Kenney. His father, William Kenney senior, was a popular doctor in the town of Paris, a fairly rural farming town about 20 miles from the long-established city of Lexington, Kentucky. His childhood was quiet despite being one of the only children in the town not raised on the large horse and crop farms surrounding the town. Despite this, he developed a strong appreciation and respect for Kentucky farmers and the agricultural nature of his community. After graduating from his local high school, Kenney decided to pursue a future in the trade and attended the University of Kentucky. While at the university Kenney joined the Sigma Chi fraternity but spent most of his time with his studies. He graduated in 1932 with a degree in Agriculture and moved back home to Bourbon County where he began his career. In 1934 he joined the newly created Resettlement Administration, a Rooseveltian federal program designed to resettle people into unused arable farmland across the United States. The program had its criticisms but in Kentucky aided in the creation of several sustainable farms in the region. In 1937 the program merged into the more well-known Farm Security Administration where Kenney was then promoted to a regional supervisor, helping oversee farmer aid and welfare programs in Kentucky during the latter parts of the Great Depression.

     

    As war broke out in the Pacific and Europe, Kenney kept a watchful eye but maintained his job which he saw as important to both his community and state. By 1942, however, the call for service became too strong and he enlisted into the United States Army as a Private. At this point in his early 30s and with a college degree, the army took note and gave Kenney a commission. Once he completed basic training and OCS Kenney was assigned to the infantry branch and traveled to England to join the 115th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division. It was here he fell under the first battalion and became a platoon leader in Charlie Company. By this time the invasion of Europe was in full preparation and he along with his men began learning amphibious tactics for the up and coming campaign.

     

    On June 6th, 1944 Kenney joined Eisenhower’s “great crusade.” While the 116th Infantry took the brunt of the first early morning assault, Kenney and his comrades stood on deck off the shore watching the distant smoke rising as they awaited their ride to France. Around 0900 he and the company received the order to board their landing craft, LCI(L)-412. Thankful to not be stuck in the smaller landing cart of the initial waves, the boys of Charlie Company were still quiet as they made their way towards the French shore. Reports came in that while the beach itself had been cleared, the beachhead was in no way secure. Smoke obscured much of the bluffs and causeway yet the small boat traveled on. Around 1025 the ship, along with those of the rest of the 1st Battalion, hit the shore at the Fox Green sector of the beach. There Kenney and his men gathered their packs and took their first steps onto the European mainland. Wading in water up to their stomachs, the unloading was somewhat uneventful until German artillery from the interior began pounding the beach once again. These first shots shook the men, but the rounds were largely imprecise and inaccurate. Kenney gathered his troops and the company joined the rest of the battalion for the drive inland towards St. Laurent.

     

    It would not be too long after the initial landing that Kenney became a critical part of his battalion. He first earned the respect of his superiors early in the campaign while leading a combat patrol under heavy fire during the battle for St. Clair sur l’Elle and quickly stood out from the other officers of the battalion as a quick-thinking and capable combat leader. On the evening of June 17th while fighting in the forests west of Bois de Bretel new battalion commander Major Glover S. Johns was meeting with his battalion staff and some company commanders to discuss an upcoming assault when a lost German machine gunner sighted the group and sprayed them thoroughly. Many of the officers were killed, including Kenney’s commanding officer of Charlie company. While Kenney was out of the company at the time recovering after literally collapsing due to exhaustion, the desperate Major had a dire need for capable commanders amidst the dense brush fighting of the hedgerows. Upon his return, Major Johns called up this bright lieutenant to test his mettle and talent as the new CO of C company. Thankfully, Kenney was an absolute natural. Not only was his talent as a previous platoon leader great for uniting the soldiers under his command, but he quickly picked up company-scale tactics and became a natural in the harsh fighting amongst the fields of Normandy.

     

    In one anecdote from “The Clay Pigeons of St. Lo,” we find Major Johns explaining to Kenney the necessity of reporting the death of a replacement officer. As Kenney called some of his men over to take the body, Johns noticed an outpost covering an important field of fire dozing on the job and not paying attention. Both officers snuck up on the enlisted men and surprised them, finishing with the Major giving the GIs and Kenney a good chewing out for carelessness. After a feeble salute from Kenney, a nearby soldier warned the two that a German rifleman had been launching rifle grenades on the exact spot they were standing. They took the word lightly and both began walking back towards the CP, but no less than twenty seconds later a large pop marked the smack of a rifle grenade on the same spot they once stood. Little did they know, but an alert squad leader just saved their lives.

     

    At this point the battle of the Hedgerows was in full swing and the “Big Red Team” was locked in a hectic battle with the German 3rd Fallschirmjager Division. Kenney’s life entirely revolved around a few hundred yards of French dirt barricades and the fields which connected them. Fighting was fierce as sporadic artillery bombardments punctured the wait between mass assaults against heavily fortified enemies. From organizing nightly combat patrols to setting up field of fire outpost, the rural Kentucky farmboy once again found his world encapsulated by whatever field was right in front of him.

     

    On July 11th Kenney and Johns were personally confronted by General Gerardt, commanding general of the 29th Infantry Division, and warned that their battalion would play a crucial role in the final drive to St. Lo which was to come the next day. Kenney spent the night preparing his men, ensuring rations and ammo were in ample supply despite their ever-waning manpower. What came next, unknowingly, was the action which netted each man the French Croix de Guerre.

     

    While waiting in the dark of night for the inevitable jump off the next morning, Kenney was shaken to arms by one of the largest artillery bombardments he had ever seen. German 60mm and 120mm mortars, 88s, 150s, rifles, machine guns and more began pounding up and down the line of the first battalion as every man clutched deep into their foxholes hoping to avoid the mist of shrapnel enveloping their section of the line. With the amount of fire incoming there was no feasible way to even look over the hedgerow to see what was happening but Kenney suspected the immediate arrival of German infantry and called back to Major Johns in warning. Less than two minutes later the first wave of German paratroopers hit Kenney’s line with grenades, rifles, submachine guns, and everything else they had. Moving up and down the line personally securing each position and outpost, Kenney worked amongst his troops to ensure there was no break in his part of the line. Without any reserves, any potential break would lead the Germans directly to regimental HQ. Kenney knew this and spent just as much time firing his Garand as the troops he commanded. The fight was tumultuous and raged for several hours of the early morning, especially since regimental HQ failed to believe the severity of the attack, leaving Kenney and his compatriots to fight off the four companies of elite German Fallschirmjager all by themselves. Finally at around 0330 did the regiment begin taking the pleas of Kenney and the other company commanders seriously. Kenney took advantage of the change and went up front with his observers, directly calling howitzer strikes on the largest clumps of Germans he could see. At around 0400 Kenney reported that the attacks on his line had let up and his flanks were secure. The battered but staunch American defenders recouped as relief swept across the line. Three well undermanned American companies had not only held off four strongly-supported companies of elite German troops, but had provided a strong enough counterattack to drive them back towards St. Lo. For their critical actions in holding the line with no help from the division, the battalion was awarded the French Croix de Guerre, an award Kenney wore for the rest of his service with pride.

     

    Just three days later on July 15th, Kenney and a rejuvenated 1st battalion found themselves preparing for a final push for the city of St. Lo. Forming up the right of the battalion flank by the Isigny-St. Lo road, no less than two miles away lay the grand prize of the US First Army. Kenney was faced by a determined German for consisting of remnants from the 352nd Volksgrenadier Division, but this didn’t stop him. The Germans beat them to the punch again, opening up heavy fire in the early morning hours, but the attack was already on the move. At 0600 Kenney and Charlie Company got on the move, passing through a large bit of marshy ground directly in front of them before the Germans even had a chance to wake up. The German outposts which had kept another battalion stuck for three days were overrun by Kenney’s men in less than a matter of minutes. The assault was stopped, however, as Germans in the next hedgerow had now manned their positions and began to fire back at the 29ers. Crawling up to the edge of their hedgerow while both sides were fully exchanging fire, Kenney peeked up his head to “develop the situation,” taking a mental note of every German position firing and its strength while his men were busy distracting them. Deciding that the German left flak was weakest due to a lack of manpower, Kenney discovered a deep ditch running alongside the main road which provided a dangerous but clear opportunity for a flanking party. Sending his best squad leader and 20 men, Kenney carefully observed as they inched forward through the trench towards German lines. At the last moment before they reached the end of the ditch Kenney ordered the entire company to perform a massive feint which almost turned into a full-out charge. Smoking the German lines in white phosphorus and artillery fire, Kenney and his men yelled and fired as fast as humanly possible to draw the attention of the German infantry. At that moment the flanking squad rushed out of their cover and began causing mass destruction amongst the German lines from their rear. The Germans sat in utter confusion at why their left flank was quickly falling apart, giving Kenney time to call for the rest of the company to charge from the hedgerow and jump straight into the German lines. The action worked flawlessly, netting Kenney 28 prisoners, a dozen dead and wounded, and not a single US casualty.

     

    The next section of ground was not as easy-going and rougher ground kept Kenney and his troops stuck behind yet another Hedgerow. Well-hidden and entrenched German fire teams kept up a steady pressure on the company and a flanking party was quickly put to rest by a hidden German machine gun. Artillery was not doing much and rifle grenadiers were shot twice by snipers, things were not looking good, but at that moment Major Johns rolled up with a 75mm Sherman ready to keep up the attack. The steel monster let out a rip from its main gun, sending a German paratrooper scurrying from his spot, and strafed the German lines with .50 machine gun fire. Kenney and the company broke loose and within seconds another 100 yards of French real-estate had changed hands. By dusk of that first day Kenney and his men had taken over 500 yards of German territory, far more than any other unit in the regiment, albeit with some heavy casualties sustained in the later parts of the day.

     

    According to Major John’s, the darkness failed to stop Kenney. Described as a “whirlwind of leadership,” Kenney worked throughout the night up and down his front from one end to the other refusing to stop for rest or food. Encouraging each one of his men, Kenney found every potential problem in the company and came up with some solution which would allow for even greater attack in the morning. He was so distracted that right before dusk he failed to notice an incoming mortar round which landed so near to him that the concussion slammed him into the side of a hedgerow, knocking him out cold. Thankfully, the round hit a shallow hole, saving Kenney’s life. While his radio operator was making a desperate call to Major Johns that Kenney had been seriously wounded, Kenney ran over, grabbed the phone, and corrected the report himself. Sadly, this was not the end of the night for Kenney, and several hours later yet another mortar shell landed almost identical to the first but this time leaving Kenney’s back and legs peppered with shrapnel. Kenney woke up before litter-bearers could arrive and began walking back towards his company. Johns would hear none of it and ordered Kenney back to an aid station with no further argument. Johns claimed that “Kenney was too good a man to risk any further and he had done his job for the time being.”

     

    For the next two days the Big Red Team led the American charge into St. Lo, becoming the first US unit to enter the city by clearing resistance street by street until all Germans had been pushed from the city proper. The defense was rough and German counter attacks came swift, heavy, and often. Johns lost many officers and lost several other company commanders as well as their replacements. Kenney, all the way back at the division clearing station, could tell the situation was getting dire by how many company officers were being sent back. Despite still being in recovery from surgery to remove the mortar fragments from his back, Kenney was not one to leave his outfit in a mess. The morning of the July 18th he woke up before any oderlies could get to him, put on a fresh set of clothes over the bandages covering his entire back and legs, and made his way on his own staggering several miles through roads and hedgerows until he reached the city of St. Lo. Walking into Johns’ command post as the sun began to go down, Kenney claimed “Major, I heard you got into town all right, but were sort of short of company commanders.” Johns’ face lit up with utter joy as he welcomed back one of his top field leaders.

     

    The next day Kenney regained control of his company as the 1st Battalion rotated out of St. Lo and to a rest station, allowing the 134th of the 35th Division to take over. These are just a few of the stories revealed about now Captain Kenney’s time in those first two months of combat. A proven, capable, and respected combat commander, Kenney became Major Johns’ right-hand man for almost any pinch on the field. Kenney led C Company through the 29th great campaigns from Vire to Brest to the defense of Teveren-Geilenkirchen. At the end of October Kenney was transferred to serve as Major Johns’ assistant S-3, a job which he enjoyed, but not so much as leading his troops back in the field. Johns granted his request to once again command a company of his own, this time B Company, as the division prepared for their drive to the Roer River. Unfortunately, this command would not last long. While advancing south of a main road through pastureland towards the town of Siersdorf, Kenney and his company came under some of the harshest recorded fire the battalion had ever undergone. German artillery sighted in the company directly and machine guns let loose from all directions. There was quite literally nowhere for anyone to go and sinches of dirt hastily piled up in front of a man made the difference between life or death. For Kenney, his desperate pleas for support were only answered with radio silence from division. Within minutes the company suffered over 25 casualties and by the time they were rescued, Kenney was among them. Although not physically wounded, I believe Kenney suffered a severe stress attack, possibly combat shock, from the devastating attack which he had been thrown. Marked as returning to a hospital as a non-battle casualty, Kenney would never return to see his boys of the Big Red Team. I suspect after seeing so much brutal combat almost consistently from D-Day up until that fateful day in November which finally broke his will, Major Johns did not want to risk the life of a man he respected so greatly, and refused Kenney’s many letters begging to once again rejoin the unit up until the very end of the war.

    Kenney spent the months afterward with a training regiment in England, preparing fresh divisions and replacements arriving from the United States for the harsh combat of the continent. He did his job well, although begrudgingly, and finished his combat career as a self-described “chairborne” commander. By the end of Kenney’s military career he had racked up an impressive amount of awards including a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts, a Croix de Guerre with Silver Star and a Croix de Guerre with palm leaf.

     

    Once back in Bourbon County he married Waller Payne in 1947 and settled once again as a farmer cultivating crops and livestock such as tobacco, beef cattle, hogs, and sheep. He was heavily invested in his community and in 1949 served on the board to create Bourbon County's first African American Youth Center which signaled a major step towards integration in the county. For many years he worked in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, at one point taking on the job of state director for the US Farmers Home Administration overseeing rural housing and farm-related loan programs for families across Kentucky. He remained in the US Army Reserves until 1968, retiring as a colonel.

     

    This is just some of a much larger grouping that a good friend of mine has maintained, I got the winter coats several years ago when the estate was first cleared. Two huge trunks were uncovered after the estate and sold to my friend and together we were able to research and find all kinds of things about Kenney. He was truly an incredible soldier and one of the craziest Kentuckians I have ever studied. Sadly I have yet to uncover his silver star citation, but there are simply so many actions he could have earned it for I will just have to wait until I visit the archives in Maryland. Among the group are his two winter uniforms, his dress tunic with British made 115th DUIs, British made pants, shirt, tie, socks, British made patches, german made knife, misc insignia, and even a named gaitor. This is a group I am incredibly proud to preserve and plan to for a long, long time.

     

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    LCI(L)-412 landing Kenney and the men of C Company

  4. Well everyone, today is a very special day for me. I’ve been working on reuniting these uniforms for over two years now. All belonged to native Kentuckian William B Kenney, one of the real “Clay Pigeons of St. Lo”

     

    William Buckner Kenney was born to William B and Lucy Kenney. His father, William Kenney senior, was a popular doctor in the town of Paris, a fairly rural farming town about 20 miles from the long-established city of Lexington, Kentucky. His childhood was quiet despite being one of the only children in the town not raised on the large horse and crop farms surrounding the town. Despite this, he developed a strong appreciation and respect for Kentucky farmers and the agricultural nature of his community. After graduating from his local high school, Kenney decided to pursue a future in the trade and attended the University of Kentucky. While at the university Kenney joined the Sigma Chi fraternity but spent most of his time with his studies. He graduated in 1932 with a degree in Agriculture and moved back home to Bourbon County where he began his career. In 1934 he joined the newly created Resettlement Administration, a Rooseveltian federal program designed to resettle people into unused arable farmland across the United States. The program had its criticisms but in Kentucky aided in the creation of several sustainable farms in the region. In 1937 the program merged into the more well-known Farm Security Administration where Kenney was then promoted to a regional supervisor, helping oversee farmer aid and welfare programs in Kentucky during the latter parts of the Great Depression.

     

    As war broke out in the Pacific and Europe, Kenney kept a watchful eye but maintained his job which he saw as important to both his community and state. By 1942, however, the call for service became too strong and he enlisted into the United States Army as a Private. At this point in his early 30s and with a college degree, the army took note and gave Kenney a commission. Once he completed basic training and OCS Kenney was assigned to the infantry branch and traveled to England to join the 115th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division. It was here he fell under the first battalion and became a platoon leader in Charlie Company. By this time the invasion of Europe was in full preparation and he along with his men began learning amphibious tactics for the up and coming campaign.

     

    On June 6th, 1944 Kenney joined Eisenhower’s “great crusade.” While the 116th Infantry took the brunt of the first early morning assault, Kenney and his comrades stood on deck off the shore watching the distant smoke rising as they awaited their ride to France. Around 0900 he and the company received the order to board their landing craft, LCI(L)-412. Thankful to not be stuck in the smaller landing cart of the initial waves, the boys of Charlie Company were still quiet as they made their way towards the French shore. Reports came in that while the beach itself had been cleared, the beachhead was in no way secure. Smoke obscured much of the bluffs and causeway yet the small boat traveled on. Around 1025 the ship, along with those of the rest of the 1st Battalion, hit the shore at the Fox Green sector of the beach. There Kenney and his men gathered their packs and took their first steps onto the European mainland. Wading in water up to their stomachs, the unloading was somewhat uneventful until German artillery from the interior began pounding the beach once again. These first shots shook the men, but the rounds were largely imprecise and inaccurate. Kenney gathered his troops and the company joined the rest of the battalion for the drive inland towards St. Laurent.

     

    It would not be too long after the initial landing that Kenney became a critical part of his battalion. He first earned the respect of his superiors early in the campaign while leading a combat patrol under heavy fire during the battle for St. Clair sur l’Elle and quickly stood out from the other officers of the battalion as a quick-thinking and capable combat leader. On the evening of June 17th while fighting in the forests west of Bois de Bretel new battalion commander Major Glover S. Johns was meeting with his battalion staff and some company commanders to discuss an upcoming assault when a lost German machine gunner sighted the group and sprayed them thoroughly. Many of the officers were killed, including Kenney’s commanding officer of Charlie company. While Kenney was out of the company at the time recovering after literally collapsing due to exhaustion, the desperate Major had a dire need for capable commanders amidst the dense brush fighting of the hedgerows. Upon his return, Major Johns called up this bright lieutenant to test his mettle and talent as the new CO of C company. Thankfully, Kenney was an absolute natural. Not only was his talent as a previous platoon leader great for uniting the soldiers under his command, but he quickly picked up company-scale tactics and became a natural in the harsh fighting amongst the fields of Normandy.

     

    In one anecdote from “The Clay Pigeons of St. Lo,” we find Major Johns explaining to Kenney the necessity of reporting the death of a replacement officer. As Kenney called some of his men over to take the body, Johns noticed an outpost covering an important field of fire dozing on the job and not paying attention. Both officers snuck up on the enlisted men and surprised them, finishing with the Major giving the GIs and Kenney a good chewing out for carelessness. After a feeble salute from Kenney, a nearby soldier warned the two that a German rifleman had been launching rifle grenades on the exact spot they were standing. They took the word lightly and both began walking back towards the CP, but no less than twenty seconds later a large pop marked the smack of a rifle grenade on the same spot they once stood. Little did they know, but an alert squad leader just saved their lives.

     

    At this point the battle of the Hedgerows was in full swing and the “Big Red Team” was locked in a hectic battle with the German 3rd Fallschirmjager Division. Kenney’s life entirely revolved around a few hundred yards of French dirt barricades and the fields which connected them. Fighting was fierce as sporadic artillery bombardments punctured the wait between mass assaults against heavily fortified enemies. From organizing nightly combat patrols to setting up field of fire outpost, the rural Kentucky farmboy once again found his world encapsulated by whatever field was right in front of him.

     

    On July 11th Kenney and Johns were personally confronted by General Gerardt, commanding general of the 29th Infantry Division, and warned that their battalion would play a crucial role in the final drive to St. Lo which was to come the next day. Kenney spent the night preparing his men, ensuring rations and ammo were in ample supply despite their ever-waning manpower. What came next, unknowingly, was the action which netted each man the French Croix de Guerre.

     

    While waiting in the dark of night for the inevitable jump off the next morning, Kenney was shaken to arms by one of the largest artillery bombardments he had ever seen. German 60mm and 120mm mortars, 88s, 150s, rifles, machine guns and more began pounding up and down the line of the first battalion as every man clutched deep into their foxholes hoping to avoid the mist of shrapnel enveloping their section of the line. With the amount of fire incoming there was no feasible way to even look over the hedgerow to see what was happening but Kenney suspected the immediate arrival of German infantry and called back to Major Johns in warning. Less than two minutes later the first wave of German paratroopers hit Kenney’s line with grenades, rifles, submachine guns, and everything else they had. Moving up and down the line personally securing each position and outpost, Kenney worked amongst his troops to ensure there was no break in his part of the line. Without any reserves, any potential break would lead the Germans directly to regimental HQ. Kenney knew this and spent just as much time firing his Garand as the troops he commanded. The fight was tumultuous and raged for several hours of the early morning, especially since regimental HQ failed to believe the severity of the attack, leaving Kenney and his compatriots to fight off the four companies of elite German Fallschirmjager all by themselves. Finally at around 0330 did the regiment begin taking the pleas of Kenney and the other company commanders seriously. Kenney took advantage of the change and went up front with his observers, directly calling howitzer strikes on the largest clumps of Germans he could see. At around 0400 Kenney reported that the attacks on his line had let up and his flanks were secure. The battered but staunch American defenders recouped as relief swept across the line. Three well undermanned American companies had not only held off four strongly-supported companies of elite German troops, but had provided a strong enough counterattack to drive them back towards St. Lo. For their critical actions in holding the line with no help from the division, the battalion was awarded the French Croix de Guerre, an award Kenney wore for the rest of his service with pride.

     

    Just three days later on July 15th, Kenney and a rejuvenated 1st battalion found themselves preparing for a final push for the city of St. Lo. Forming up the right of the battalion flank by the Isigny-St. Lo road, no less than two miles away lay the grand prize of the US First Army. Kenney was faced by a determined German for consisting of remnants from the 352nd Volksgrenadier Division, but this didn’t stop him. The Germans beat them to the punch again, opening up heavy fire in the early morning hours, but the attack was already on the move. At 0600 Kenney and Charlie Company got on the move, passing through a large bit of marshy ground directly in front of them before the Germans even had a chance to wake up. The German outposts which had kept another battalion stuck for three days were overrun by Kenney’s men in less than a matter of minutes. The assault was stopped, however, as Germans in the next hedgerow had now manned their positions and began to fire back at the 29ers. Crawling up to the edge of their hedgerow while both sides were fully exchanging fire, Kenney peeked up his head to “develop the situation,” taking a mental note of every German position firing and its strength while his men were busy distracting them. Deciding that the German left flak was weakest due to a lack of manpower, Kenney discovered a deep ditch running alongside the main road which provided a dangerous but clear opportunity for a flanking party. Sending his best squad leader and 20 men, Kenney carefully observed as they inched forward through the trench towards German lines. At the last moment before they reached the end of the ditch Kenney ordered the entire company to perform a massive feint which almost turned into a full-out charge. Smoking the German lines in white phosphorus and artillery fire, Kenney and his men yelled and fired as fast as humanly possible to draw the attention of the German infantry. At that moment the flanking squad rushed out of their cover and began causing mass destruction amongst the German lines from their rear. The Germans sat in utter confusion at why their left flank was quickly falling apart, giving Kenney time to call for the rest of the company to charge from the hedgerow and jump straight into the German lines. The action worked flawlessly, netting Kenney 28 prisoners, a dozen dead and wounded, and not a single US casualty.

     

    The next section of ground was not as easy-going and rougher ground kept Kenney and his troops stuck behind yet another Hedgerow. Well-hidden and entrenched German fire teams kept up a steady pressure on the company and a flanking party was quickly put to rest by a hidden German machine gun. Artillery was not doing much and rifle grenadiers were shot twice by snipers, things were not looking good, but at that moment Major Johns rolled up with a 75mm Sherman ready to keep up the attack. The steel monster let out a rip from its main gun, sending a German paratrooper scurrying from his spot, and strafed the German lines with .50 machine gun fire. Kenney and the company broke loose and within seconds another 100 yards of French real-estate had changed hands. By dusk of that first day Kenney and his men had taken over 500 yards of German territory, far more than any other unit in the regiment, albeit with some heavy casualties sustained in the later parts of the day.

     

    According to Major John’s, the darkness failed to stop Kenney. Described as a “whirlwind of leadership,” Kenney worked throughout the night up and down his front from one end to the other refusing to stop for rest or food. Encouraging each one of his men, Kenney found every potential problem in the company and came up with some solution which would allow for even greater attack in the morning. He was so distracted that right before dusk he failed to notice an incoming mortar round which landed so near to him that the concussion slammed him into the side of a hedgerow, knocking him out cold. Thankfully, the round hit a shallow hole, saving Kenney’s life. While his radio operator was making a desperate call to Major Johns that Kenney had been seriously wounded, Kenney ran over, grabbed the phone, and corrected the report himself. Sadly, this was not the end of the night for Kenney, and several hours later yet another mortar shell landed almost identical to the first but this time leaving Kenney’s back and legs peppered with shrapnel. Kenney woke up before litter-bearers could arrive and began walking back towards his company. Johns would hear none of it and ordered Kenney back to an aid station with no further argument. Johns claimed that “Kenney was too good a man to risk any further and he had done his job for the time being.”

     

    For the next two days the Big Red Team led the American charge into St. Lo, becoming the first US unit to enter the city by clearing resistance street by street until all Germans had been pushed from the city proper. The defense was rough and German counter attacks came swift, heavy, and often. Johns lost many officers and lost several other company commanders as well as their replacements. Kenney, all the way back at the division clearing station, could tell the situation was getting dire by how many company officers were being sent back. Despite still being in recovery from surgery to remove the mortar fragments from his back, Kenney was not one to leave his outfit in a mess. The morning of the July 18th he woke up before any oderlies could get to him, put on a fresh set of clothes over the bandages covering his entire back and legs, and made his way on his own staggering several miles through roads and hedgerows until he reached the city of St. Lo. Walking into Johns’ command post as the sun began to go down, Kenney claimed “Major, I heard you got into town all right, but were sort of short of company commanders.” Johns’ face lit up with utter joy as he welcomed back one of his top field leaders.

     

    The next day Kenney regained control of his company as the 1st Battalion rotated out of St. Lo and to a rest station, allowing the 134th of the 35th Division to take over. These are just a few of the stories revealed about now Captain Kenney’s time in those first two months of combat. A proven, capable, and respected combat commander, Kenney became Major Johns’ right-hand man for almost any pinch on the field. Kenney led C Company through the 29th great campaigns from Vire to Brest to the defense of Teveren-Geilenkirchen. At the end of October Kenney was transferred to serve as Major Johns’ assistant S-3, a job which he enjoyed, but not so much as leading his troops back in the field. Johns granted his request to once again command a company of his own, this time B Company, as the division prepared for their drive to the Roer River. Unfortunately, this command would not last long. While advancing south of a main road through pastureland towards the town of Siersdorf, Kenney and his company came under some of the harshest recorded fire the battalion had ever undergone. German artillery sighted in the company directly and machine guns let loose from all directions. There was quite literally nowhere for anyone to go and sinches of dirt hastily piled up in front of a man made the difference between life or death. For Kenney, his desperate pleas for support were only answered with radio silence from division. Within minutes the company suffered over 25 casualties and by the time they were rescued, Kenney was among them. Although not physically wounded, I believe Kenney suffered a severe stress attack, possibly combat shock, from the devastating attack which he had been thrown. Marked as returning to a hospital as a non-battle casualty, Kenney would never return to see his boys of the Big Red Team. I suspect after seeing so much brutal combat almost consistently from D-Day up until that fateful day in November which finally broke his will, Major Johns did not want to risk the life of a man he respected so greatly, and refused Kenney’s many letters begging to once again rejoin the unit up until the very end of the war.

    Kenney spent the months afterward with a training regiment in England, preparing fresh divisions and replacements arriving from the United States for the harsh combat of the continent. He did his job well, although begrudgingly, and finished his combat career as a self-described “chairborne” commander. By the end of Kenney’s military career he had racked up an impressive amount of awards including a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts, a Croix de Guerre with Silver Star and a Croix de Guerre with palm leaf.

     

    Once back in Bourbon County he married Waller Payne in 1947 and settled once again as a farmer cultivating crops and livestock such as tobacco, beef cattle, hogs, and sheep. He was heavily invested in his community and in 1949 served on the board to create Bourbon County's first African American Youth Center which signaled a major step towards integration in the county. For many years he worked in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, at one point taking on the job of state director for the US Farmers Home Administration overseeing rural housing and farm-related loan programs for families across Kentucky. He remained in the US Army Reserves until 1968, retiring as a colonel.

     

    This is just some of a much larger grouping that a good friend of mine has maintained, I got the winter coats several years ago when the estate was first cleared. Two huge trunks were uncovered after the estate and sold to my friend and together we were able to research and find all kinds of things about Kenney. He was truly an incredible soldier and one of the craziest Kentuckians I have ever studied. Sadly I have yet to uncover his silver star citation, but there are simply so many actions he could have earned it for I will just have to wait until I visit the archives in Maryland. Among the group are his two winter uniforms, his dress tunic with British made 115th DUIs, British made pants, shirt, tie, socks, British made patches, german made knife, misc insignia, and even a named gaitor. This is a group I am incredibly proud to preserve and plan to for a long, long time.

     

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    LCI(L)-412 landing Kenney and the men of C Company

  5. Hey all, does anyone know how to go about researching a 29th ID Silver Star?

     

    I’ve been doing some research on a local veteran but am having trouble figuring out how to go about finding his Silver Star Citation. Name was Captain William Buckner Kenney O-1299899 who served as CO of C then B Company of the 115th IR from DDay to the end of November. I know he earned two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star or two, and one Silver Star, but have been unable to find why he got the Silver Star. I am hoping someone on here may have access to the 29th GOs or perhaps knows where I can go to figure it out.

     

    Thanks much!

     

    Alex

     

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  6. It's probably not an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, but a New Jersey Distinguished Service Medal (same ribbon)

    Thanks for the tip! I was actually having trouble finding what it was as all I could come up with was the AF award. Makes sense seeing as he lived his whole life in NJ. That rack is a later one he had made up and it is copied onto the button-sort of thing he wore to reunions. The rack on the jumper is wartime production.
  7. The chin strap is also incorrect. Should be black for the CPO. 
     
    I find myself drooling over the boatswains pipe and lanyard!

    Thanks for the comment! Yeah the grouping only came with his CPO hat device so I’m just using that one as a temporary display until I can find an original. The pipe is definitely one of my favorite parts! Best part is it still works too!
  8. I figured id show some of the photos as well, although there are sadly way too many to post here I wish I could! There’s a lot of great subject matter

    Home from boot camp
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    Swimming call
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    From crossing the equator, the stars and stripes was replaced for the day
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    While crossing in 1941, the gentleman on the left, Billie Joe White, had his Manila hemp dress set on fire by a cigarette. The hemp is stored in partial oil and sadly he died of his burns before they could save him. It was a real tragedy on such a fun day.
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  9. Hey everyone! This group has been a work in process but has turned out to be one of my favorite Navy groupings by far with an awesome story behind it. While I have tried to shift more towards army infantry, I could not pass up such a phenomenal group from my hometown’s namesake ship, the USS Louisville CA-28. The read is lengthy but full of some awesome details John wrote down in his autobiography. Feel free to read, although a summary of the items in the group and photos are at the bottom.

     

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    Born the second oldest of five siblings, John Francis Duffy grew up amongst the suburban bustle of 1930s Palisades Park, New Jersey. The son of Irish and Russian immigrants, Duffy grew up in a fairly troubled household despite the bonding which he intensely enjoyed amongst his siblings. His father served in the U.S. Navy during the first world war and came home to take up the trade of his family over in Ireland, bricklaying. The job itself was pretty grueling as he worked alongside other Irishmen to complete the many overwhelming building projects undertaken by the city at that time. He was a hearty man with his work-buddies, often going out for drinks and buying everybody rounds despite his inability to afford it. When he came home, however, his heavy drinking addiction turned into a sullen lump of pain which John and his family suffered for many years. Whether it was the intense emotional neglect shown to John and his siblings or the verbal abuse faced by his mother, family life was far from perfect, and more than once did John have to stand between his mother and the gun his father was pointing at her. The oldest son, John was expected and utilized for any task his father did not want to do, meaning he missed out on the fun parts of being a kid and spent much of his time holding the flashlight as his dad tinkered with cars in the brutal New Jersey winter or repairing a fence line as his father silently smoked and watched onward. In any case, John makes it clear that life was rough in those early years and it was only the love of his mother and compassion of his siblings which got him through.

     

    One day near the completion of high school, John’s father raised a hammer as if to hit him out of some petty anger. Rather than run as he usually did, John stood there and stared into his father’s eyes until he backed down and turned away. his mother pulled him aside and asked him what he truly wanted to do with his life. John, long-suffering under the watch of his father, really had no idea except that he wanted to be away. It was then that his mother suggested he possibly join the U.S. Navy. While John had never considered leaving home he was not opposed to the notion and thus quit school to enlist soon after his 18th birthday. On December 12th, 1940, he took the oath down at the local courthouse and soon made his way with the other enlistees to the Naval training station at Newport.

     

    As part of Company 90, the experience of John and his 71 fellow classmates was fairly typical. Led by career Navy CPOs, their six weeks went by fast and John was able to make many friends amongst his peers. Unlike the wartime Navy, most of the men would end up staying together and in February of 1940 were assigned to the Northampton-class heavy cruiser, USS LOUISVILLE CA-28. The LOUISVILLE had been around for several years by the time John came aboard, being commissioned in 1931 as a naval modernization project. Despite weighing 10,000 tons, over 600’ long, and sporting four primary 8” guns, the LOUISVILLE was only manned by a crew of about 400 and spent most of her early days up and down the eastern coast Americas, making port in Norfolk, Guantanamo Bay, the Panama Canal, and many other smaller ports. Before long, the ship reached California, stopping briefly in San Diego before she made her way to her new home at Pearl Harbor.

     

    For around 7-8 months the crew of the LOUISVILLE spent their days drilling, equipping, and preparing the ship for any potential future action. It was around this time that the many 30mm and 40mm AA guns were installed across the ship and the crew slowly grew larger and larger. John’s jobs varied greatly during this period, from mess cook to Helmsman to deck watchman, and learned a lot about the ins and outs of ship life. In November the ship set sail to check on several bases in the South Pacific around Manila, Tarakan, and Borneo. While pulling out of Borneo to head back to Pearl, however, the terrible news reached the vessel. At one point, they even heard radio chatter from panicked Navy personnel that the LOUISVILLE itself had been sunk, which must have surely been a surprise to John and his pals onboard! Going into radio silence and painting the top deck entirely with blue paint, the ship slowly made its way back home, finally pulling into the devastation on December 16th, 1941. The entire crew stood silent on the deck staring at the dozens of sinking, burning, and tilted vessels scattering the harbor. Not long after they loaded hundreds of survivors from the attack, including Al Brick, the famous cameraman who caught the attack on film, and took them back to San Francisco.

     

    Replenished with men and refitted with supplies, the eager men onboard the LOUISVILLE found themselves finally on their way to war. Joining Task Force 17, they helped protect several troopships returning from Samoa before finally getting a crack at the Japanese during the first assault on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. Around this time the Louisville swelled to hold over 1,400 sailors so that all guns could be manned at all hours of the day. It was at this time that John received a new battle position as primary “trainer” for the #1 8” turret, meaning he was in charge of rotating the gun right and left during battle. When “on target,” both the trainer and the turner have separate triggers which must be pulled simultaneously to fire the gun. For their critical role, trainers were given an extra $6 per month, and John enjoyed this job for the next four years of service until he left the ship in April of 1945.

     

    In March of 1942, following successful operations with TF 17, John and the crew were paired up with Task Force 11 alongside the USS LEXINGTON where they attacked Japanese-held Salamua, Lae, New Guinea, and Rabaul. For each of these assaults, John manned his position at turret #1 and was directly responsible for sending thousands of pounds of ordnance into the Japanese positions. After, the ship went back to San Francisco where it was outfitted with even more AA guns and the crew enjoyed their first 20-day leave. John took advantage of the time off to travel back home, seeing his family for the first time in almost two years. It was actually on this trip that he and his cousin went to see Frank Sinatra who was performing at the Waldorf Astoria. After dinner, they waited three hours and grew tired waiting for the concert as John had to leave the next day. Walking out frustrated, they actually bumped into Sinatra walking inside, said hello, and headed back home.

     

    The LOUISVILLE stayed stateside for several more months after John returned aboard, mostly improving systems onboard and prepping for any possible action. The action came soon enough, and in June they joined the rushing Navy fleet to stop the Japanese invasion of Alaska. Heavy clothing was issued to each man as the ship pulled out of the yard and for several days no one knew the destination until the wire came in that Japanese troops had officially landed on Attu and Kiska islands. On August 7th, the LOUISVILLE officially reached the islands and bombarded the Japanese troops on Kiska. The next few weeks saw the ship based out of Kodiak running convoy protection duty against Japanese encroachment in the north. While the men enjoyed regular liberty visits to the city, the lousy weather kept spirits a bit down and the men were very happy to leave after four months of back and forth duty in the frozen north.

     

    By the beginning of 1943, the ship was once again performing operations in the South Pacific as a replacement for her sister ship, the USS Northampton, which was lost at the Battle of Tassafaronga. Here the LOUISVILLE got its taste of real Naval combat, being attacked by Japanese bombers and torpedo planes around Guadalcanal and the New Hebrides. One dark evening off the coast of Rennell Island, the LOUISVILLE sat alongside the USS CHICAGO steaming along through the night. Despite no radar warnings and reports of no surface activity, the CHICAGO’s guns began to ring out. John was manning his spot at the turret when out of the black came a Japanese torpedo bomber roaring overhead. A few moments after he turned his head to witness a huge explosion erupt from the USS Chicago and then a large thud as a dud torpedo slammed into the side of the LOUISVILLE. The men could do nothing but sit and watch as the CHICAGO burned. Eventually receiving orders to take her under tow, the crew made their way towards the tug USS NAVAJO who transferred survivors from the CHICAGO onboard and took the damaged ship in tow. Now relieved of the vessel, the LOUISVILLE made way to New Zealand but got the call several hours later that the CHICAGO had been sunk after a second attack by Japanese dive bombers.

     

    The LOUISVILLE underwent repairs for a few weeks while in New Zealand. While the ship was busy at the dock in Wellington, many of the sailors were permitted to go on extended liberty and enjoy the country. John and several of his buddies managed to hop a ride in the back of a truck and made their way into the mainland before stopping in the small town of Palmerston North. Spending the days as a guest of a local couple, John enjoyed the taste of some real food, mainly “stayke-n-aygs,” and explored the area. The men had a grand time and the New Zealanders loved seeing these US Navy boys so far from home. Eventually, they had to ship out and returned to Pearl in April of 1943. The stay at Pearl was short, as the Japanese once again made a run at the Aleutians and the LOUISVILLE was once again sent into the briny cold. John missed most of the action (which wasn't much), however, as he came down with Scarlet Fever on the way there and spent several weeks in a hospital in Kodiak. Once he came back onboard he was present for the intriguing battle of the Pips and several weeks of rough convoy duty before returning to San Francisco for overhauls which granted him a 24 day leave back home.

     

    In January of 1944, the LOUISVILLE was ready to leave Mare Island and report back to the South Pacific. It was at this time that Captain Sam Hurt relieved Captain Worhterspoon and the ship now became the flagship of Admiral J. B. Oldendorf. Oldendorf was a well-seasoned soldier and took over command of the Navy’s amphibious bombardments for operations in the Pacific Theater and would now use the “Lady Lou” as his command center. This tour would mark a new era in the war for the LOUISVILLE, beginning with the great offensive on the Marshall Islands. From Wotje to Roi and Namur to Kwajalein, the LOUISVILLE’s guns roared across the Marshall’s with devastating results. At Eniwetok, the ship took the lead position, and John, stationed at his spot in turret #1, was one of the very first Americans to fire on the island. In March the ship joined Task Force 58 for the assaults on the Palau Islands and oversaw fire support in April for Hollandia, New Guinea, Truk, and Sawatan islands. May was a bit of a slow period, however, it was around this time that John was invited to join the boxing team aboard ship. It was an opportunity he was happy to take advantage of, though mostly for the extra rations of meat rather than a love of the sport.

     

    The next month began full-scale operations in the Marianas and once again the LOUISVILLE took charge leading the bombardment groups at Saipan and Tinian. John describes how they were “always first” to arrive on the scene, usually several days before the first troopships ever arrived. Oldendorf spent the time calculating the best possible bombardments. At Saipan, he even had the LOUISVILLE break a record for most time on the firing line—11 days straight, day and night, with only a break to replenish ammo. The bombardment was not always random, however, as John recalls adjusting to specific coordinates called in by the ground troops desiring support. At one point the ship drifted too close to the shore, and Japanese shells began to fly back right at them, especially terrifying John who was on the top deck trying to raise the anchor when the shooting began.

     

    As the months progressed the campaigns continued and the men of the LOUISVILLE spent their days bombarding all numbers of tiny islands around the Pacific. The operation at Peleliu was particularly effective according to John and played a major role in supporting the Marine forces ashore. At this point, it had been about 9 months since their last liberty, and lots of the men were getting antsy. John recalls a particular group of Alabama sailors beginning to make moonshine in the forward hold out of malt and potatoes, however, the drinks didn’t hold up so well and two men ended up passing out in a small emergency ladder shoot meaning John had to come help before the CPO found them out.

     

    The long-awaited invasion of the Philippines began in October of 1944, and on the 17th, the LOUISVILLE once again led the way. Every man on board was constantly busy, and according to John, became so busy that even the boxing tournaments were canceled until further notice! It was a constant state of emergency and the call to battle stations came randomly and often. No one could rest. Their first stop was around Leyte, where Admirals Halsey and Oldendorf sought to make a final stand against the large remnant of the Japanese fleet. It was at Surigao Strait that this great battle would occur. Oldendorf was put in charge of the operation and as such the LOUISVILLE played a critical role. Sending PT boats out early in the evening to draw in the Japanese fleet to the narrow strait, before long night had fallen and the Japanese forces slowly chugged right into the US trap. Forming an ‘L’ shape at the end of the strait, the LOUISVILLE sat alongside US cruisers, destroyers, battleships, and many more all waiting for the first sight of Japanese forces. When the first was spotted, the massive battery opened fire and before long the water had turned into a gravy and of burning hulks, oily masses, and surviving sailors scattered amidst the floating wreckage. Supposedly, the LOUISVILLE fired more rounds than all the battleships present put together, and in the aftermath was responsible for gathering several floating Japanese prisoners, including a high ranking officer who was thoroughly interrogated. Needless to say, John was incredibly exhausted from the fighting and I’m sure grew mighty tired of that chair in the first turret. The battle of Surigao Strait was the last of its kind, meaning no other naval engagements since have included the face-to-face action of battleships on battleships.

     

    The celebration of the major victory at Surigao did not last long as the American forces pressed onward. November saw John and the LOUISVILLE participate in several strikes against Manila and the surrounding areas. One day, while sitting in the trainer booth of the turret when an enemy aircraft was sighted very high up and under fire by all the ships of the fleet. There was so much flak that the plane quickly went out of sight. John put a finger to his mouth, signaling quiet, as he slowly opened the door and made his way outside to see what was going on. He was only three steps out of the door when he suddenly froze in his tracks. A loud whistling sound was screeching right from above and as he looked up he caught the last second before the plane once so high above came diving down, just missing the bridge, and slamming into the water beside them. The concussion knocked John back into the side of the turret and water doused his entire back. Sliding his knees to get under the corner of the turret, a few seconds went by before a turretmate cried “Duffy’s gone!” “No, I’m not,” he shouted in response, and he scampered in shaking like a leaf thinking his back was wet with blood. John sat on the floor and counted his fingers as he begged his mate to check how much blood was on his back. He did not appreciate the response which was a big hearty laugh and reassurance that he was only simply doused in water. This was his first encounter with the infamous Kamikaze pilots, but little did he know that the worst was yet to come.

     

    At this point in the LOUISVILLE’s service, the crew was all pretty well-seasoned and promotions were handed out to replace the higher-ranking men who had transferred to fill out newer ships. John was promoted to Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class and was put in charge of the 60 men composing the 1st Division. Not only did his pay improve, but his bedding as well, receiving a private bunk inside the gear locker which shared a wall with the admiral’s quarters. In December the Admiral was replaced by Admiral Ted E. Chandler as commander of Cruiser Division 4, yet within a month Chandler would be dead and the ship’s captain would be badly burned.

     

    On January 5th, 1945 the LOUISVILLE was en route to Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. The task force was fairly large and every gun was manned. John was standing right above his turret watching the first ships to fire when he heard the cry of “here they come!” from a man above him. Looking where he was pointing, John’s eyes fixed on three Japanese planes flying low on the waterline about a quarter-mile ahead. Two planes veered off for other ships but one headed straight for the Lady Lou. As the bow guns opened fire John rushed down the stairs, flew down a ladder, and dove into the Boatswain’s Mate station. Two seconds later the Kamikaze crashed right into Turret 2, about forty feet from where he had been standing. The ship shuddered from the impact and Captain Hicks ended up badly burned. One man was dead and 52 others were wounded. While they had come under fire before, this was the first real hit on the ship and it was a blessing that turret two had not been manned at the time, however, it was now thoroughly out of action. Pieces of the Japanese pilot were collected, photographed, then thrown overboard.

     

    The next day, January 6th, the LOUISVILLE was leading the way into the Lingayen where they expected to be attacked once more. Still out of range for the 8” guns, John and his crew were sent to the rear turret door and down to the shell deck for safekeeping. Safety was short-lived and not long after the AA guns rang out, another tremendous shake rocked the boat. This time, John would not sit idly by. As soon as the hit occurred he shouted out to 60 1st division sailors “We’re hit, let's go men!” John was the first man out the door, followed swiftly by Lt. Commander Foster and Lt. Hastin, the division officers. The starboard side was a raging inferno from the forecastle deck down and a badly charred, naked body was lying about ten feet from the turret with the top of his head missing. It was the kamikaze pilot and he had made a direct hit on the communications deck. As men poured out of the turret from behind John they stood in shock. Explosions continued blasting from the ammo lockers and fire was upon the comms deck as well where screaming sailors begged for help. John jumped into action, assigning men to the many fires across the deck. Although much of the structure was destroyed, John ordered several men to scale the bulkhead and aid the badly burned victims standing at the edge of the railing like zombies. All of these orders were given only a few seconds apart and by then all the men of the division were running to act. The only thing interfering with the work was the burned remains of the Japanese pilot. Calling over to another sailor to grab the legs, John put his hands under the corpse’s arms and lifted. When he did this the head rolled back and a large dripping goop of brain and flesh fell out in one piece at his feet. John motioned to the sailor and they quickly threw the body over the side before John stooped down, picked up the mass of brain matter, and chucked it over the side. To the men who had not been assigned a task, he shouted to grab some mops. This entire time as John oversaw the rescue and repair operations in the wake of the disastrous Kamikaze attack, the division officers stood and watched, eventually putting John in for the Navy Individual Commendation which he would be awarded for his outstanding leadership in action.

     

    The damage from the second attack was severe, 32 men had been killed including Admiral Chandler and another 150 lay heavily wounded, among them Captain Hicks. The ship quickly made its way to the rear, then Pearl, and finally San Francisco where all survivors aboard were allowed to transfer for permanent shore duty. While John did not request this, instead just taking a 24 day leave, and returning to find himself promoted to Chief Boatswain’s Mate. Sadly, most of the crew he had known and loved had left the vessel and he decided that his time on the now “Lucky Lou” was finished. He officially left the ship on April 26th, 1945, and transferred to command of Navy tugboat USS ORONO YTB-190. Onboard he served with several other seasoned veterans who had been given the chance to return home for easy duty. The job was pretty simple, sailing up and down the west coast performing maintenance duties.

     

    After the war John was well-slated for discharge and received his in 1946, returning home to marry his long-time sweetheart and settling down in his hometown of Palisades Park. His love for the sea did not disappear, however, and he spent the next several decades commanding civilian tugboats, ferries, and sightseeing ships up and down the New York waters. He also picked up a hobby of tinkering with and repairing old player pianos, a fascination which turned into a legitimate business where the name Duffy became nationally renowned for his skilled work on the machines, producing several albums of player music and featuring in many major music magazines. His final job was that of a docking pilot, guiding over 2,300 ships into the New York harbor before retiring to a loving wife and many grandkids.

     

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    To say I am in love with this grouping is to say the least. While many of you may know my absolute joy in preserving the history of my state, I never expected to find such a complete and substantial grouping from my hometown’s namesake vessel. I remember walking downtown and seeing the ship’s bell so many times when I was little. Now I am more than proud to keep the memory of the USS LOUISVILLE and CBM John Duffy alive through the many artifacts and documents he left behind. This will be a group I long enjoy and I hope you all have enjoyed reading about the many exploits this veteran cruiser oversaw. By the end of his tour, John had earned a whopping 13 battle stars on his Pacific Theater ribbon (he seemed to think the silver star meant 10 and not 5), two on a Philippine Liberation Ribbon, an American Defense ribbon with a star, and of course, his Individual Navy Commendation for saving the many lives of his crewmates in the wake of the brutal kamikaze attack. John brought home many souvenirs from his service which I have listed below and shown in the photographs. The one piece which is no longer with the group is actually a large chunk from the wing of the kamikaze plane which he ended up returning to Japan when the family of the kamikaze pilot contacted him in the 1990s.

     

    Included in the grouping:

    -Two enlisted jumpers and pants

    -CBM tunic and tie

    -A full set of wartime and immediately postwar production miniature medals

    -His original boatswain’s whistle used throughout his time onboard the LOUISVILLE

    -A set of dog tags

    -CBM hat device

    -Several discharge pins

    -Many buttons

    -Several Navy ID cards

    -Laundry stencils

    -An early copy of the Navy chapters from John’s personal memoirs “The Wonderful Life of John Duffy”

    -Various cards from jobs he held while on liberty and immediately after the war

    -A large collection of Japanese money brought home from Saipan

    -A massive photo album documenting his time from boot camp to retirement. There are over 350 photographs including many incredible one-of-a-kind shots he bought from the shipboard photographer throughout his time onboard. There are also several Japanese photos. Topics included in the album are boot camp, journeys home, San Francisco, Hawaii, shipboard life, many crew photos, shipboard medical surgeries, the boxing club, a lot from John’s initial shellback ceremony on the LOUISVILLE, Kodiak, time on YTB-190, retirement, Kamikaze damage, Japanese POWs, and many more.

    -Two veteran hats

    -Probably other things I forgot

     

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    If you look closely, you can see he engraved his name on the pipe with a knife

  10. A bit of an update today with my first apartment display

    It’s been a month and a half since I moved into my first off-campus apartment for school. I brought a few things with me but had several larger purchases in line which all seemed to come in after I had already moved in. Regardless, very glad to have a roommate who has no desire for interior decorating and pretty much let me do what I want.

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  11. Meant to post this in uniforms, if the moderators want to remove the post in latest finds feel free.

     

    Carmine Landato was born to two Italian immigrants who had only arrived in New York City less than a decade before. Raised in the bustle of Brooklyn’s Italian district with working class parents, Landato was no stranger to hardship. After doing odd jobs to help the family during high school, he got a full time position with a laundromat. The job was uninspiring, however, and Carmine decided to pursue a career in the armed forces, enlisting in 1940. Selected to train as a medic, he moved to Camp Upton, NY where before long he and others were selected to reform the 9th Medical Battalion and join the mobilizing 9th Infantry Division.

     

    Upon the outbreak of war, Carmine and the 9th became some of the first GIs to engage in offensive operations. Landing at Algeria in November of 1942, Carmine began a long trek through the European theater which saw him patching up injured Americans from North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, Belgium, and in the final push through Germany. The battalion got its first taste of action under the hot desert sun, operating on 9th ID casualties while freeing French North Africa and holding off Rommel’s forces in Tunisia. Not long after, he and the battalion were part of the invading force securing Sicily from German control before receiving moving orders to begin further training in England. The battalion underwent more intensive field operation procedures in preparation for the invasion of the mainland which eventually came on D+4 in the sands of Utah Beach.

     

    From here, Carmine and the medics of the 9th began the long-winded drive to Germany. Conquering Cherbourg, St. Lo, and the Falaise, the well-experienced division began receiving its first large batches of replacements. Carmine, a seasoned vet, would see more and more young faces undergoing treatment as the division pushed further into Europe. The Bulge was a very rough time for the medical personnel, with low supplies and lots of casualties along their defensive line from Kalterherberg to the infamous Elsenborn. Nevertheless, the medics worked tirelessly, keeping the division in fighting shape.

     

    The final push into Germany went a lot faster and the combat, while still tough, was more progressive than before. Aid stations moved more often, casualties came from many areas, in all, it was a very mobile time for the battalion. While I was never able to confirm his participation directly, the 9th Medical was likely involved in the treatment of prisoners liberated from the concentration camp at Nordhausen which the 9th ID helped to liberate. I can only imagine Carmine’s thoughts seeing the atrocities after all the bloods and gore he’d experienced the prior three years. Eventually, the drive continued and the division ended the war reliving the 3rd Armor along the Mulde River.

     

    As a medic in the 9th, Carmine saw more action than most and likely more mangled bodies than civilian doctors see in a lifetime. His role as a medic in the designated division battalion ensured he was always close to the frontlines either alongside the troops or right behind them at an aid station, ready to get them back in the fight. From Morocco to Germany they were always in the front and earned a reputation for excellence under pressure, earning them the unit citation you see on his sleeve.

     

    When the war finally came to a close he did not have to wait long to come home. The US marked the 8th country visited throughout his five year tour of duty. He settled down, married, had some children, and spent the rest of his days amongst friends and family in Brooklyn until passing last fall. Sadly I was never able to meet Carmine, but his story will live on through his service uniform and will not be forgotten.

     

    The uniform itself was found in his apartment while clearing it after his death, two stars have fallen off the uniform but left clear indentions on the ribbon, meaning Carmine did see service in all 8 of the 9th IDs campaigns. The DIs are in great shape, I believe they are US made screwbacks but there are unfortunately no maker markings on them. Sadly, most of the paperwork was thrown out by the unknowing estate workers but one photo ID was saved, giving me the photo I have on the information card. The card itself is from later time in the Civil Defense Administration where it seems he continued using his medical skills in the postwar period. In all, a very great piece from a well-seasoned division. I personally knew a 9th ID engineer who served through all their campaigns as well, but he passed this summer. From hearing his stories I learned to especially respect the men of the 9th and am now proud to have this great uniform representing the division in my collection.

     

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  12. Carmine Landato was born to two Italian immigrants who had only arrived in New York City less than a decade before. Raised in the bustle of Brooklyn’s Italian district with working class parents, Landato was no stranger to hardship. After doing odd jobs to help the family during high school, he got a full time position with a laundromat. The job was uninspiring, however, and Carmine decided to pursue a career in the armed forces, enlisting in 1940. Selected to train as a medic, he moved to Camp Upton, NY where before long he and others were selected to reform the 9th Medical Battalion and join the mobilizing 9th Infantry Division.

     

    Upon the outbreak of war, Carmine and the 9th became some of the first GIs to engage in offensive operations. Landing at Algeria in November of 1942, Carmine began a long trek through the European theater which saw him patching up injured Americans from North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, Belgium, and in the final push through Germany. The battalion got its first taste of action under the hot desert sun, operating on 9th ID casualties while freeing French North Africa and holding off Rommel’s forces in Tunisia. Not long after, he and the battalion were part of the invading force securing Sicily from German control before receiving moving orders to begin further training in England. The battalion underwent more intensive field operation procedures in preparation for the invasion of the mainland which eventually came on D+4 in the sands of Utah Beach.

     

    From here, Carmine and the medics of the 9th began the long-winded drive to Germany. Conquering Cherbourg, St. Lo, and the Falaise, the well-experienced division began receiving its first large batches of replacements. Carmine, a seasoned vet, would see more and more young faces undergoing treatment as the division pushed further into Europe. The Bulge was a very rough time for the medical personnel, with low supplies and lots of casualties along their defensive line from Kalterherberg to the infamous Elsenborn. Nevertheless, the medics worked tirelessly, keeping the division in fighting shape.

     

    The final push into Germany went a lot faster and the combat, while still tough, was more progressive than before. Aid stations moved more often, casualties came from many areas, in all, it was a very mobile time for the battalion. While I was never able to confirm his participation directly, the 9th Medical was likely involved in the treatment of prisoners liberated from the concentration camp at Nordhausen which the 9th ID helped to liberate. I can only imagine Carmine’s thoughts seeing the atrocities after all the bloods and gore he’d experienced the prior three years. Eventually, the drive continued and the division ended the war reliving the 3rd Armor along the Mulde River.

     

    As a medic in the 9th, Carmine saw more action than most and likely more mangled bodies than civilian doctors see in a lifetime. His role as a medic in the designated division battalion ensured he was always close to the frontlines either alongside the troops or right behind them at an aid station, ready to get them back in the fight. From Morocco to Germany they were always in the front and earned a reputation for excellence under pressure, earning them the unit citation you see on his sleeve.

     

    When the war finally came to a close he did not have to wait long to come home. The US marked the 8th country visited throughout his five year tour of duty. He settled down, married, had some children, and spent the rest of his days amongst friends and family in Brooklyn until passing last fall. Sadly I was never able to meet Carmine, but his story will live on through his service uniform and will not be forgotten.

     

    The uniform itself was found in his apartment while clearing it after his death, two stars have fallen off the uniform but left clear indentions on the ribbon, meaning Carmine did see service in all 8 of the 9th IDs campaigns. The DIs are in great shape, I believe they are US made screwbacks but there are unfortunately no maker markings on them. Sadly, most of the paperwork was thrown out by the unknowing estate workers but one photo ID was saved, giving me the photo I have on the information card. In all, a very great piece from a well-seasoned division. I personally knew a 9th ID engineer who served through all their campaigns as well, but he passed this summer. From hearing his stories I learned to especially respect the men of the 9th and am now proud to have this great uniform representing the division in my collection.

     

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  13. Hey all! 

     

    So today myself and a fellow librarian agreed to begin a small personal project which I think might be useful for the community. My university contains a free inter-library loan program which allows us to request almost anything from almost any instutiton across the country, includign many military and government libraries. We thought it might be a good idea to find what all books, unit histories, or reports might be available contain full or partial rosters for units involved in the war.

     

    We were thinking like division level but I know some regiments published their own books which contained rosters as well. What we are hoping to do is request as many of these as we can in hopes of scanning and publishing the lists somewhere online so that researchers, collectors, and historians can get some decent access to ones that are available. I know there are a few sites out there but I know they are works in progress as well and some seem to fall off at times. 

     

    My question for the folks on here, is what books you might know that contain lists like these? Sometimes they are full rosters, other times lists of medal recipients, occasionally it might be a list of organization members. Anything that might help us start putting together units lists is what we would hope for and any help or suggestions is appreciated!

     

    Best,

    Alex

     

     

  14. Today we have a really nice uniform group from a pretty hard to find infantry division.

     

    Robert Lloyd Dresser was born to a musical and rather classy family in Akron, Ohio. His father, Clarence Dresser, served in Italy as a member of the 332nd regimental band of the 83rd Division during the great war and returned home to become a trumpet player for the Vaudeville shows in the city. A year after his parent’s marriage Robert was born and as the depression hit, his status as a single child became certain. While his early years were full of music, learning to play many instruments from his father, he began to see less and less of him as the economic crash hit his family. Now working in one of Akron’s many growing rubber factories, Robert watched his once lively and entertaining father slog his way through a long factory job in order to make ends meet.

     

    As he grew older Robert became a bit of a quiet and studious person. Performing very well academically, his first job came during high school as a bookkeeper and librarian at the Akron Public Library. The job did not last long, however, as he received his draft notice in 1942 and soon shipped off to Camp Blanding, Florida where he did his basic and joined the first soldiers of the newly reformed 66th Infantry Division. With his library experience, Dresser trained as a rifleman first but became a clerk and staff for the regimental headquarters of the 262nd Infantry Regiment. He followed the division around the United States for several years until the day finally came for all members to begin the trek overseas.

     

    Arriving in England in November of 1944, the 66th was planned to become a replacement division for the many troops who had been engaged since D-Day. On Christmas eve the division loaded onto two transport ships, the S.S. Leopoldville and Cheshire, and made their way to the French shore. Dresser, along with regimental headquarters and the first battalion of the 262nd, resided on the Cheshire while the rest joined the 264th on the Leopoldville. 5 miles out from Cherbourg, Dresser and the men of the Cheshire awoke to loud clamor and explosions coming outside their ship. Rushing to the deck, they saw the burning and slowly sinking Leopoldville churling over in the channel, the result of a German U-Boat torpedo which met the hull. Taking on what survivors they could, Dresser and the rest were forced to leave behind thousands of GIs before making a second trip back to the slowly sinking ship. In all, almost 800 soldiers died in the attack, many from Dresser’s own unit.

     

    Now soundly on the mainland, the 66th received what would become its defining role during the war. Replacing the 94th ID in northern France, they were assigned to begin operations to crush the German stronghold around Lorient, St. Nazaire, Royan, and La Rochelle. These important ports were home to many German naval facilities including several U-Boat pens. As the allies pushed further during the invasion, however, the nearly 100,00 German troops guarding these coastal facilities were left surrounded and isolated, held in place by changing Free French, US, and British forces. When Dresser and the 66th arrived in the winter of 44-45, the allies finally decided to strike back and close the pocket in retaliation for the offensive in the Bulge. Now holding a 112 mile front, the “Panthers” sent patrols day and night along the line to slowly but surely eliminate strongholds of enemy resistance. Despite lacking reinforcements and the type of support enjoyed by the main army, the Germsn fought back hard and gave the 66th a hell of a fight. The combat continued for several months but really began to lighten up by March and April. ON V-E Day, the German officers of the final, now miniscule, pocket, met commanders of the 66th and Free French forces in St. Nazaire to announce their formal surrender.

     

    During the period of combat, Dresser served primarily in his role as staff for the 262nd regiment. While he had his share of artillery bombardments, patrols, and close calls, he was luckily able to keep a pretty low profile by overseeing the strategic operations for the regiment. As they had arrived so late, Dresser and many of the Panthers had to serve their time of occupation duty from France to Austria. Eventually he was granted return home where he married and settled down, spending many years as a purchaser and inspector for the Wadsworth Sash and Door Company but never forgetting his time overseas as a Panther.

     

    In all, a really cool uniform from a pretty hard to find division. I really had no idea what the 66th did before researching this uniform but they had a very interesting story, which makes sense why they were only awarded a single campaign star for Northern France. I haven't been able to find many photo examples of 66th uniforms with DUIs and most of them I do find tend to only use the divisional ones. It was hard to find a photo of the 262nd DUI as I believe they didn't get official pins until after the war, which may explain the common use of divisional insignia. The ribbons are all plastic covered as well. I just wish we could ban size 34 jackets as they never fit on my mannequins.

     

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