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36thIDAlex

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Posts posted by 36thIDAlex

  1. A couple others along with myself are looking into what the documents say, and we shall see what comes up when we get into the weeds......what we know to start within the reports is that his rank is never indicated as a SGT or a promotion to SGT, but does show a promotion to PFC from PVT in late December 1944 and his MOS was that of an admin. He was still a PFC in Feb. 1945 when rotated home for 3 months TDY at Jefferson Barracks in Missouri, and stayed that way until dropped from the personnel rosters on 21 May 1945.

     

    Also, the reports do not indicate any travel by him from the Battalion to England to be with Metcalf, so that’s another thing......so on we go.

     

    As an aide or clerk to the Bn. Commander, he would very likely be in the position of processing the requests for valor awards, including his own......we shall see where this leads.

    I appreciate the help! I had looked at those online reports the association have and I think the parts mentioned are simply missing elements of the compiled records. I have other 115th uniforms that came with original documents that the online resource does not line up with perfectly or entirely. I’ve attached below the excerpt from Aecks personal testimony I found where he mentions several of these things. The Sergeant rank I imagine may have come as a last-minute sort of discharge thing, bumping him to NCO before getting out completely which I have seen happen before. In his account he also mentions remaining with Metcalf and rejoining HQ afterwards. If you can find valor awards he would have had please do let me know, I would love to see.

     

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  2. I find it a bit odd that if the actions took place as described, that nothing below a MOH was considered for him— numerous soldiers earned valor awards on 6 June, lots of Bronze Stars, Silver Stars......and there were 22 DSC’s awarded to 116th soldiers, most if not all on 6 June.

     

    I guess it could have been just how the circumstances took place, and it just wasn’t meant to be.

    I think that is likely the case. With the unique situation of not many witnesses or survivors on their section of the beach, the death of the colonel, the level of award, and the amounts he tried to issue) I believe he tried to nominate 33 men for higher awards is why the article is titled that) that it got mixed up in the batch. In a brief synopsis Aeck wrote he mentions having 3 or 4 Bronze Stars (and so does his obituary) but from its placement in that statement (mentioned in the same place he talks about the number of months served overseas and the time with the unit) I believe this to be the common misstatement referring to his campaign stars. If there are any 29th division archives I’d love to see if they have anything on him or possibly the nomination, but as far as I know he became a clerk after the colonel died and served as an HQ Company staffer for the next 7th months after

  3. What kind of jacket is that? I have never seen anything like it before. Am I seeing it right, a waist band with a very short skirt below and no bottom pockets? Or is it modifies into an Ike and that is the shirt tail I see hanging out below?

     

    It is a very heavily modified four pocket tunic. He was 5' 11'' so I am not sure whether the "skirt" part was simply meant to extend the jacket or if it was meant to be tucked into the pants, but I believe the former. It is not a shirt tail or anything, but seems to be part of a four pocket that had been cut and resewn underneath the new waistband that was created by the tailor.

  4. Very nice grouping and thanks for posting.

     

    Question for you: Did Metcalf put any statement into the official record concerning the MOH nomination..? Did any communication about this move up the chain of command at all...?

    I am not sure if he was able to or not, if he did it would have been in that month between DDay and his death. From what I know, there was an article written after the war called 33 GIs Who Saved DDay which was authored by General Marshall. Aeck says that the specific details about the actions he did and the nomination are mentioned in this but I have been unable to locate it. He did state that Marshall turned the award down, so I am guessing the citation was submitted officially at some point.

  5. Hello everyone, today I get to share with you a very special uniform I received from a good friend of mine. We both are very involved with using our collections in public displays for education and felt this piece truly deserved to play a role in that, thus I have been entrusted with its care and thought I would first practice telling his story on here.


    Stanley Vincent Aeck was born in Sioux City, Iowa on 9 April 1916. A grocer and store clerk with the local Sherman Fruit Company, life was busy but predictable in the growing city. As he worked vending, packing, and distributing his fruits, Aeck followed the rise of Hitler and the growing global tensions through his radio and newspapers. Although satisfied with his job, Aeck felt called to do something more and decided to enlist in the United States Army in April of 1941. Inducted in Omaha, Nebraska, now Private Aeck trained at Camp Claibourne, LA before traveling to Ireland in January of 1942 with the 34th Infantry Division. From Ireland he shipped out to England where he became a member of the 29th Infantry Division. Trained in no specialty, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion Headquarters of the 116th Infantry Regiment where he was to work as a clerk in the staff personnel. It was here that he quickly became the personal aid of Colonel John Metcalf and was assigned to handle the many logistical and organizational issues of the battalion as the 29th began the field exercises preparing them for the inevitable invasion. Aeck got very close to Metcalf and their friendship would last throughout the war.


    On June 1st, 1944, the time had come. After years of training and operations in England the invasion for which they had long-prepared had arrived. Moved to Portland Harbor near Dorset, England, Aeck and the men of the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment boarded the S.S. EMPIRE JAVELIN, a British transport, for the beginning of what would become most of the men’s final journey. The ship was quickly crowded but the crew and GIs got along well. Most interaction was silent as the men could not be sure whether this was just another exercise or the real thing. This time, however, the air was quite different. It dawned upon Aeck and the rest of the 1st Battalion that the next few days aboard may well be their final days on earth. As the invasion convoy began to come together, the massive fleet began its journey to the French coast and after holding off for the weather, prepared for debarkation and invasion.


    No one on board knew what section of the beach they would hit until the night of June 4th, when they were told that Dog Green would be their designated area. At 1600 on June 5th, the EMPIRE JAVELIN formed up with the other ships of Assault Force “O” and anchored off Omaha Beach around 0330 on June 6th, about 21,000 yards off the shore. It was around 0500 when the first wave of men, primarily Company A, boarded their LCAs and LCVPs to land precisely at H-Hour, 0630. Aeck, loaded down with his rifle and gear, stood near Metcalf as they both watched the first boats make their way to the now not-so-distant shore. The deck was silent. The men knew they had a job to do and that it had finally come time to do it. Aeck, along with Metcalf, 14 other men from the HQ Company of the 1st Battalion, and a handful of other officers for other units landing in the following waves, boarded one of the ship’s LCAs around 0640 in preparation for their landing. The boat was planned to hit the beach at H+40 and the men did not have time to wait and hear reports on the status of the first wave. Going in nearly blind, the three boats carrying the men of HQ Company made their way towards the Normandy bluffs.


    It was at this point that the trouble began, the three boats did not come in on a line, but were launched a few minutes apart, giving the Germans a perfect opportunity to concentrate fire on each boat individually as they reached the shore. Colonel Metcalf and Aeck were in the first of the boats to arrive. They met no heavy German concentration on the ride to the beach, only some light automatic fire. Like the other waves of the 1st Battalion, the HQ Company was brought in on the wrong section of beach, several hundred yards west of the sector and under the large cliffs west of Vierville. This section of the beach had seen no troops in the first wave and was far away from any remaining survivors. Isolated and alone, Aeck and the first boat hit a sandbar just off the beach to a storm of machine gun and sniper fire. The men had prepared to disembark in three files, with the center going first. As the ship got stuck, however, the organization quickly fell apart. Some of the men began jumping over the side of the ship into 5 ft water. Running up to the closest defilade with full equipment attached, many were killed in the crossfire which was now peppering the sandbar with lead. Those who went out in the first file from the front of the boat were killed almost immediately. The CO of the 58th Field Artillery was hit as he stepped from the boat and died in the water. Captain Robert Ware, MC, was hit as he got to the sand. Lieutenant James Limber, Battalion S2, was wounded in both legs while getting through the water and was then hit by a shell fragment between the eyes while crawling to the shore. Aeck and the surviving soldiers began to break any way they could to avoid the constant machine gun fire. Aeck’s boat was typical of the company experience and the other two landing craft, and by the end of the first day, all but two of the men lost in HQ Company were officers or non-coms.


    The beach ahead was fat, barren, and coverless for about 100 yards where it ran into a cliff. Metcalf, Aeck, and the surviving soldiers ran nonstop to the cliff base as neverceasing German fire poured into their scattered ranks. At this point only around 24 men remained from the original 29. Crossing the beach however, cost 6 more men their lives and found half of the remaining troops wounded. Reaching the base of the cliff, still loaded with packs and having not fired a shot, Aeck and the 7 remaining survivors plunged behind a series of boulders which barely blocked them from the sight of the German machine guns. Pinned down, the group was quickly immobilized and deprived of any organization. Luckily, their radio was still intact. The other two boats of the HQ Company hit a hundred or so yards away from Aeck’s, and when their survivors reached whatever cover they could find under the cliff, the groups began communicating with each other through radio contact. For the vast majority of the first day of the invasion this was the situation of HQ Company.


    Aeck’s group found no rest from the German guns, describing the fire hitting the boulders as “heavy and almost unceasing.” After securing their position, Aeck and two other remaining privates began making several excursions to sally from behind the boulders and pull in wounded men. Managing to rescue 2 or 3, Aeck was eventually driven back by the hail of bullets reminding him of his situation. It was at this point then, destroyer fire against Point de Rez began affecting the group, burying some of the men under a collapse of earth who were then dug out by the others under machine gun fire. For the next several hours Aeck, Metcalf, and the others sat behind their boulders in hopes of deliverance. Around 1400, this deliverance came. It is unknown whether the Germans retreated or were killed by allied reinforcements, but the fire eventually stopped. Moving cautiously, Aeck began tending to the wounded before shoving off towards the battalion objective of Vierville, which had by now been secured by the other soldiers at Dog Green proper.


    On D-Day, HQ Company of the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, suffered major losses with nearly all officers and NCOs killed or wounded. Aeck was one of the few survivors but continued with Metcalf to organize the 1st Battalions drive into Normandy. Replacements eventually arrived from other companies, but of all the units to land on Omaha, HQ of the 1st was one of the hardest hit. Isolated and under heavy fire, their experience on the beachhead was disastrous. They reorganized quickly, however, and continued to secure the gains made on the first day.


    Aeck would go on to serve another 8 months with the 29th Division as Colonel Metcalf’s personal aid. Fighting at places like Vierville, Brest, Aachen, St. Lo, and countless others, Aeck saw some of the worst action of the European Theater from its first hours until the fighting neared its end as they drove into Germany. For his actions on Omaha Beach in securing the line and saving the lives of his fellow men, Aeck was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor by Colonel Metcalf. The award would go unreceived, however, as Metcalf was wounded and died a month later in an English hospital, with Aeck right by his side. As two of the only survivors by that point in the war, no one could truly vouch for his medal to General Marshall and Aeck went home with his highest award being the Good Conduct Medal. Having served since 1940, Aeck was given the opportunity to leave early and transferred back to the states in late February of 1945. Getting two months of light duty and leave, Aeck met his future wife, Rose, while attending a USO show one evening at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. Aeck was discharged in May of 1945 at Jefferson Barracks in Missouri and would marry Rose in 1946. The couple settled back in his hometown of Sioux City and then to Issaquah, Washington where they established a kennel and began training national award-winning dogs. Aeck passed away in 1996.


    To be entrusted with this uniform has been one of my greatest honors. Aeck was one of the very few men who made the “Great Crusade” possible from its opening hours and survived to tell the tale. This is a piece I will long love and cherish, using his story to educate the future and current generations for years to come. I hope you all enjoy this significant piece of American history and the sacrifices he made that we may retain our freedom.


    Best,
    Alex

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    The S.S. Empire Javelin
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    The misplaced landings of HQ Company
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    I could not find an exact picture of the boulders, but this is near the stretch of cliff
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    LCA 1063 was one from the Empire Javelin used to land elements of the 1st Battalion
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    Photos of Aeck
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    Article from his enlistment
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  6. Hey everyone, meant to update this yesterday in honor of the 75th of Iwo Jima’s D-Day. I have done some more research and found a photograph of Randall right before he enlisted. I also found that the LCVP he operated would have brought to shore elements of the 24th Marines, 133rd Seabees as well as their related supplies.

     

    The second photograph is from the perspective of an LCVP carrying members of the 24th

     

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  7. Hello!

     

    I was doing some research over the weekend and stumbled across a mention of an article written by General George Marshall entitled "33 GI's Who Saved D-Day." The article is referring to a group of 33 soldiers who had been put in for the Medal of Honor for actions on Omaha beach. While none of them were awarded the medal, I believe this article was written by Marshall in the 60s recounting their story. I was hoping someone on here may have heard of the article or know where I could find it. Any help would be much appreciated.

     

    -Alex

  8. Hey everyone, just got a brief update on this group. When I met with Mrs Van Diver she mentioned a photo album from her husband which she had been unable to find. Well, after a few weeks she managed to come across it. The lot included around 40 photographs from his time in Vietnam ranging from September of 1970 to July of 1971. Subject matter varies from Fire Support Base 4-11, operations around Quang Ngai, locals, and more. I’ve scanned them all and the many captions he wrote on the back. I’ve picked out some more interesting ones and included them below.

    Enjoy!

     

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    Cecil receiving his BSM and the firebase

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    Officer board with his name and a resupply chopper

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    Some Slicks, photo of an eagle flight from his helicopter, field ops using flares for resupply, and a field communion service

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    Cecils platoon in the field, Xong their Kit Carson Scout washing himself in the river, and one of his men on road sweep duty. It’s hard to see in the scan but clear in the original, there is a peace sign graffitied on his helmet

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    Cecil by their bunker, the bunker for his platoon, a truck blown up by a VC mine, and the view of local farms from a resupply chopper

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  9. What a coincidence I was at Ikea yesterday and was looking at getting a Turbo for storing extra uniforms. Glad to hear its great for this use because I really the solid look that it has to it. You have a great war room going.

    I would definitely pick one up. I was not totally convinced at first but I put some weight on it in the store and it held up pretty well. It does great with the uniforms and as you can see I have a pretty good amount on there right now. Thanks for the comment, let me know how yours looks if you end up grabbing it!

  10. Well I have updated the room once again. The most notable addition is a great new clothes rack I would highly recommend. It’s from Ikea and called the TURBO. It is very light but very well made and extremely solid. It holds all of those uniforms up extremely easily. Highly suggest for anyone looking to get one.

     

    I tried to make a more open concept for this one. Not sure how much I like the main table display Atm but it is there for now.

     

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    The TURBO

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  11. I can truly say that your collection is - in my opinion - one of the best i saw... Maybe not the biggest but quality always goes above quantity! Thank you for posting it! Is the 8th Air Force Ike identified?

    Thank you very much for your comment, it means a lot. I’m gonna update my war room post as I have tried to redo it recently so feel free to check that out soon. I always consider quality first, always above quantity, and have come to find many wonderful pieces to preserve.

     

    The 8th Ike is named, I’ve linked my post. It came from a friend of mine who was given it by the veteran. I was able to research it further and find every mission and plane he flew.

     

    http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/332532-lt-robert-a-adams-b17-pilot-780-bs-452-bg-8-af/

     

     

  12. 4 or 5 men from my town were in the 192nd. One came home. Extremely touching history there , my friend.

     

    Thank you all for the replies, it isn't the most flashy grouping but it's full of a lot of personal and state history which needs to be saved. I cannot say I was completely dry-eyed as I read through his accounts of the march and life as a POW, it was truly harrowing and some of the worst things I have read about in awhile.

  13. Hi, definitely WWI period. When I saw this, I figured the first letter was not an 'H' but a 'B', so did a little digging and here you go:

     

    Barry Hayes Piggott

    Born 1896 NY state

    Died 1976 New York

     

    Enlisted July 17, 1918 USNRF at recruiting station Buffalo, NY

    Served:

     

    NTS Great Lakes 7-20-18 to 8-12-18

    Naval Operating Base Norfolk VA. 8-12-18 to 8-23-18

    USS Kentucky 8-23-18 to 11-11-18 (keep in mind this date is pulled from his NY service card, and so it only shows dates between April 6, 1917 and November 11, 1918 for the most part.

    Discharged July 14, 1919 at Receiving Ship New York. His highest rank was Engineman 1st Class.

    That's great! Thanks so much for the help! Where did you go to find this info??

  14. Hey everyone,

     

    This is my first WWI/Post Span Am Donald Duck cap. I just picked it up off of the Facebook forums and just had a few questions.

     

    I’m always a fan of any interesting objects which relate back to my home state so you can imagine I was excited to find this. The Kentucky was a Kearsage class Dreadnaught commissioned in 1900, sailed in Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, participated in our detachment to the Mexican Revolution, and later trained sailors during WWI.

     

    I loved the history on the hat already, but was wondering if there were any good ways to date this? There are a few condition issues, mostly with the interior liner. It suffers from pretty bad deterioration as it appears the original owner stuffed newspaper between the leather and the cloth to keep shape. The acid from the paper must have reacted to the leather as it is now fairly crumbly.

     

    I do not know nearly anything about WWI and prewar Navy items so I was hoping someone could help me properly date this piece. I found a photo of the shipboard band wearing identical caps in 1907 but don’t know how much the flat cap construction differs throughout that period. It also has a name, H H PIGGOT, which I have yet to identify. I have never researched Navy this early so if anyone has some leads or pointers it would be much appreciated. I’d love to find the exact time and place this hat was aboard.

     

    Alex

     

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    Good close up of the hats in action

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  15. Hey everyone, this weekend I received an amazing grouping from two wonderful Kentucky veterans. The two are father and son and I could not be prouder to preserve their items.

    I’ll start with the father, Corporal Cecil R. Vandiver. Born in Mercer County, Kentucky, Cecil worked on the family farm until joining the Kentucky National Guard in 1939 where he became a member of our famed “Harrodsburg Tankers." As a mechanic and cook in the 38th Tank Company, the unit would go on to train with M2 Stuarts and other “junk” at Fort Knox to become Company D of the new 192nd Tank Battalion in November of 1940. Training for nearly a year with new tactics and equipment, the battalion eventually underwent a month long journey which found them in the Philippines as part of MacArthur's Army.

    In early December the unit was put on alert and sent to defend Clark field from possible air raids. When Cecil and the fellow cooks heard about the Pearl Harbor attack they laughed, they thought the story had been the start of their extended maneuvers which were to soon take place. This belief was upheld until noon on December 8th when the skies became full of aircraft. Thinking these were the reinforcements meant for the airfield, his levity was quickly lost as bombs began falling from the planes above him. He stood in awe watching the attackers before a CO shoved him into cover. Following the initial attack Cecil recalled how sick he felt. The airfield had been totally destroyed and everyone was trying to save the wounded, many of whom were missing limbs. That night, full of air raids and bombing, would be the last time Cecil slept on a bed until 1945. He recalled the constant retreat into Bataan and the never ending bombings. At one point an ammo dump was hit right next to his cooking station and it was then he realized the end was near.

    Cecil and his company were captured the next day after destroying any and all usable equipment preventing it from capture. He and his fellow Kentuckians were then driven to the Mariveles airfield where they were stripped of any valuables and nearly executed, luckily, a Japanese officer walked by and told the soldiers to lower their guns. Suffering from lack of food and water, the move from Mariveles would begin what become the Bataan Death March. Below is a quote from Cecil

    “Then the death march started, at a little town called Mariveles. We marched all night the first night. We marched on for days, it seemed endless. They would tell us food was at the next stop, but there wasn’t any. My mouth swelled up and my tongue burst open. When we came to water, the Japs would post guards around the water holes and wouldn’t let us have any.”

    What made things worse was as they marched, they came across artesian wells and watering holes, but they were denied their request for water. The Japanese would chase the POWs away from the wells. It got to the point that even though the Japanese attempted to keep the prisoners from the water they still went to the wells. This resulted in the deaths of many men who were bayoneted while getting water.

    Cecil recalled,

    “The Filipinos would try to help us. One woman tried to slip us some rice wrapped in a banana leaf. The Japs saw her and knocked her down. She was pregnant. They jumped up and down on top of her until she was dead.”

    Other Filipinos believed that the POWs had money and attempted to sell rice to them. One of these vendors had rice in a sock. As Cecil passed him he grabbed the sock. The Filipino yelled at Cecil to give him his money. Cecil told the man that he did not have any which caused the man to pull a gun a Cecil. Cecil was so tired that he did not care if the Filipino shot him or not. Cecil looked at the man and told him to shoot.

    Of the event, he said,

    “It was a nightmare. I can’t remember the number of days we walked or anything. Every water hole was a scene of a lot of people killed because we were so thirsty that we would crowd on in regardless of the Japanese and they would bayonet us down.”

    What little food Cecil and the other POWs got, consisted of burnt rice, tree bark, and green banana shoots. At one point Bland (a friend from home) and Cecil got a hold of half a canteen full of burnt rice. Bland, Pvt. Earl Pratt and Cecil split the rice among them. Cecil even saw a suicide while on the march. A major jumped off a bridge that they were crossing. Before he jumped, he said, “I can’t take it another step!” He leaped off the bridge and sank into the mud of the riverbed up to his shoulders.

    At another point on the march, Cecil fell out under a large tree, because he felt that he could not take another step. Bland Moore and another, Pvt. Earl Pratt, of HQ Company, carried Cecil between them so that the Japanese would not kill him. These two did this although they themselves were having a hard time walking. That night Bland gave Cecil some water and a half of a cigarette which seemed to revive him. The next day, Cecil was able to continue on the march alone.

    “I fell one day under a fig tree. Bland Moore and another boy from Oklahoma got me up, half dragged me between them until the Japs put us up for the night. It was plain hell. It was death every day, all around us. Each day the Japs would take some boys off; we’d hear a rifle shot and the boys wouldn’t come back.”

    After several days, Cecil made it to San Fernando. He was so sick at this point that he laid down in the bullpen they were put in. Bland Moore saw him and told him not to give up. When the order came to form 100 men detachments, Bland picked up Cecil and told him to go. The men were marched to the train station, there, the prisoners were crammed into wooden boxcars that were used to haul sugarcane. The cars were known as “forty or eights,” since each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each boxcar and closed the doors. The POWs were packed in so tightly that those who died could not fall to the floors. At Capas, the POWs disembarked and walked the last few miles to Camp O’Donnell.

    While I could go on about his terrible experiences at the hands of the Japanese, I will summarize the rest. He went to spend most of the rest of the war here in hellish conditions. Random killings were often, disease was rampant, and over 50 GIs would die every day. One day, Cecil was working the burial detail when he recognized the man he was burying a friend from Harrodsburg, Edward G. Wills. Cecil did not want his friend to be buried in a mass grave and attempted to bury him alone. When the Japanese guard noticed what Cecil was doing, he pushed Cecil into the grave and had bodies thrown on top of him and began to have the POWs bury Cecil in the grave. Cecil made his way around the trench and found a spot where there was no Japanese guard and climbed out. The guard told Cecil that if he ever tried this again, he would be buried alive.

    Stories and experiences like this are found constantly throughout his interviews and records. All I can say is that he went through the closest to living hell that I’ve ever heard. He transferred around Asia, traveling on a Hell Ship and ending up as a working in a gun, cement, and rubber factory in Manchuria. The rest of the war went on just as terribly as before, he was eventually freed by the Russians in 1945. He returned home, after a long hospital stay in 1946, to Kentucky and married Ruby Hawkins. The couple had two sons and a daughter. He spent the rest of his life in Harrodsburg and remained friends with Earl Pratt for the rest of his life. He received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, POW Medal, and PUC with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters for his service. Of the 67 men from Kentucky who began the war with him, only 32 returned home from imprisonment.

    Part of this grouping includes the documentary "Bataan: The Harrodsburg Tankers." It is free on youtube and Cecil even begins the documentary. It is well worth the watch, but truly gut-wrenching.

    One of his sons, Cecil H. Vandiver, saw the pain his dad suffered. He never fully recovered from the psychological and physical damage the Japanese has done to him, so now Cecil (this is his son from now on in this text) became head of the household and a primary breadwinner. His compassion for his dad and those suffering led him to become involved heavily with his church and created a life-long love for the poor, needy, suffering, or generally less fortunate.
    He was a good student and received an ROTC scholarship at Eastern Kentucky University, graduating in 1969. Managing to avoid Vietnam as a cadet, Cecil quickly married a woman who would become his lifelong love, and traveled around serving as a lieutenant at Fort Bliss, Fort Benning, and Fort Knox.

    Cecil was a quiet but determined man, and according to his wife, he was simply good. His quiet but solemn repose earned the respect of every person he came in contact with, including the many generals he served under as a staff officer at the various forts. In the summer of 1970, however, Cecil struggled over what to do next. As the war heated up he felt guilty to remain stateside and desired to serve and do his bit overseas. His wife desired him to stay in the cushy, pencil pushing jobs which had managed to keep him out of combat, but Cecil’s sense of patriotism and duty got the best of him. He soon volunteered for active duty in Vietnam.

    With only 7 months remaining on his commission, Cecil was assigned as an infantry platoon leader in C Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 11th Light Infantry Brigade, 23rd 'Americal' Division and was stationed at Firebase 4-11 in Quang Ngai province. Upon arrival Cecil found many of the men in his company had personal situations quite different from his own at home. While Cecil had managed to do well for himself, at this point in the war most of the army was full of draftees, many of whom were racial minorities or from low income households. Some men had been released from prison and given service to commute their sentences. Cecil saw his father and his struggle in these men and made it his personal mission to ensure they went home in one piece. While I am still waiting to hear back from the veterans organization he contributed to, I learned a few stories from his wife whom he only told very little of the war.

    Quang Ngai is a very flat province near the sea, the firebase stood west of the main city in the middle of a very large flatland surrounded by hills. The area had been occupied by the North Vietnamese for a long time and as such, the land was full of booby traps, mines. and tunnels. For most patrols, Cecil and his men were transported by helicopter into the brush of their AO. On one particular mission his wife recalled how they were moving through a dense brush path when all of the sudden his radioman, whom he was very close with, struck a very light wire attached to a mine. On every mission Cecil made sure his men were treated equally, sharing dangerous duty, and receiving fair breaks. Every lost man was a personal blow which Cecil never forgot. Cecil also sought to instill good habits into his men, teaching them valuable skills and trying to make sure they stayed out of destructive ones, such as taking drugs. His passion for serving others was well respected as a platoon leader and for his valorous service over the course of his tour, he was awarded the Bronze Star. An award of which he would never really tell anyone about, for he was too humble, quiet, and servant-minded.

    Cecil passed away one year ago and while I was unfortunately never able to meet him, I have learned from his wife and friends that he was truly a happy, simple, quiet, and noble man. He only did what he saw as his duty and sought to help anyone in need for the rest of his life. When he returned he suffered from mild PTSD in his own way, never really seeking anyone out, but this was fine for a man like him. His sacrifice, service, and passion for people will never be forgotten.

    To begin the year, I couldn’t be happier. A friend of mine mentioned my collection and display to the widow of the gentleman who was preparing to donate everything to a thrift shop. She is an extremely sweet and humble lady, luckily we were able to meet up where she told me all about her husband and his father. Coming straight from the family these items mean a lot, they will be well cherished and used to further educate the public on our military heritage.


    For the items included, there are actually more than I have pictured. Most of the rest, however, is paperwork, so I have photographed the most interesting bits.

    From his father I received many items, including an entire box of postwar newspapers and veteran materials. I have his Bataan Survivor veterans cap, a copy of the documentary, some editions of The Quan veteran newsletter, and a very nice book about the Harrodsburg Tankers. From the war I have the only photos of him from the war. One shows him in Kentucky, one is him with his friend Paul the day they were liberated in Manchuria, and another shows him in full dress upon returning home. I also have several pieces of foreign currency he took off of the guards and a copy of the code of conduct he kept on him. There is also one of the most beautiful challenge coins I have ever received and was only given to men from the unit at a late 90s reunion. There are also several photos of the items he brought back from the camp with him of which I still need to inquire the widow as to their location.

    From her husband there is a lot. She claims he was a bit OCD and kept everything and in order. I have four of his full uniform sets (including pants and ties/bowties), one from Fort Knox, two from when he returned to the states after Vietnam, and his khakis. There are two Vietnamese pocket hangers from the 23rd Division and 11th Light Infantry Brigade. I also received some patches he brought back from Vietnam as well as the watch he wore while over there. It is scratched up and clearly saw some action. On the mannequin and in the case you will see two bib scarves, one blue for infantry and the other duck hunter camo, which I have not seen too often. As for paperwork, there is much. Some of the most interesting pieces include his Bronze Star Award and Citation, several photographs, postcards, and countless pieces from his time in the states. He also kept several of his stamps from time as a staff officer. There is a lot more in boxes but I did not have the time or ability to scan or post it all. The widow also is trying to find his photo album of pictures from Vietnam so I will update the post once she finds it.

    Best,
    Alex

    I’ll post the photos in order, if there’s anything y’all would like to see closer just ask.

    548b2c13fcd87787ddd5ed2466d9f4f3.jpg

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    An ironic card mentioning surrender, the money was supposedly taken from a guard when he was liberated. The photo on the right shows them the day they were liberated
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    Awesome challenge coin
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    Photos show the company in KY, the Philippines, at ODonnell, and a mass grave like Cecil was nearly buried in alive
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    The photo on the right here is the only one I have from him directly that shows his platoon in the field, it apparently shows a communion service.
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    9b00a0f98ad639b1492cc7f10faabc6c.jpg

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