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 For Some, a Special Day

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Dick Stodghill
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Dick Stodghill

Number of posts : 3795
Registration date : 2008-05-04
Age : 94
Location : Akron, Ohio

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PostSubject: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptyThu Jun 25, 2009 10:15 am

A Stodghill Says So blog:

June 25. Just another summer day to most people. For those of us still living, and the ranks have dwindled considerably, it is a date that revives memories of another June 25 in the bloody summer of 1944. We were young that day when we fought on the streets and in the buildings of the port city of Cherbourg, yet old beyond our years.
For the three weeks since D-Day, Cherbourg had been the goal. Beyond it was nothing but the Atlantic and that's why it was important - a place where ships could dock.
In the plans for the invasion of Normandy, Cherbourg was to be captured within a few days. The generals who drew up those plans underestimated the tenacity of German infantrymen and they seemed to forget the thick dirt hedgerows that surrounded countless small fields lying between Utah Beach and the port that would be used to bring in supplies and fresh replacements to hurl into the cauldron. Eisenhower, the supreme commander, should have remembered those hedgerows because he had visited Normandy years earlier. All of them should have remembered that German infantrymen always fought if for no other reason than they were soldiers and that is what soldiers do.
Every field was contested. Every farmyard and village street was the scene of brutal close combat. So was a stone quarry near the little town of Montebourg and a large woods that was so close to the objective you could almost smell the ocean.
The casualties exceeded anything the generals back in England had anticipated. By the time that first stage of the Normandy Campaign ended my company had lost more men than had landed on D-Day, but many of those were replacements who barely had time to plant their feet on French soil before they were cut down.
Now we were in Cherbourg, weary beyond what any words can convey. Progress was slow so whenever we halted for even a few minutes some men fell asleep on sidewalks despite the clatter of rifle and machine gun fire and the metallic blasts as tanks fired their cannons. In the distance tremendous explosions were heard as the Germans blew up the port facilities. Instead of being usable in a few days it was three months before the port was open again.
Yes, it was a memorable day. Hardly worth a line in a history book today, but unforgettable to those who were there. That's the way it always is once the guns fall silent. Generals pin another little ribbon on their chests, politicians make flowery speeches, but few people remember. Today the Battle of Cherbourg is a video game. No one actually dies, of course.
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dmondeo
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dmondeo

Number of posts : 1485
Registration date : 2009-02-15
Age : 65
Location : UK

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PostSubject: Re: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptyThu Jun 25, 2009 11:47 am

My respect to you sir.
My gratitude also for fighting on our behalf.
Maybe you were called up or maybe you volunteered either way you have my gratitude Dick God knows what life would be like for us in England if the War had been lost. For Some, a Special Day 78793
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Don Stephens
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Don Stephens

Number of posts : 1355
Registration date : 2008-01-25
Age : 81
Location : Wherever my hat's hanging today!

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PostSubject: Re: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptyThu Jun 25, 2009 11:48 am

Idea


Last edited by D. J. (Don) Stephens on Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sue
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Sue

Number of posts : 1216
Registration date : 2008-01-15

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PostSubject: Re: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptyThu Jun 25, 2009 12:01 pm

Throughout every day I stop to think about what our soldiers are doing. Are they eating, sleeping, fighting, talking to the children, reading letters from home? At this exact moment what are they doing? I know it is a far cry from what I am doing.

What are they doing when I am eating, sleeping, chatting with my friends on the phone, posting here, and enjoying the life they are over there protecting?

Thank you, Dick, and to all those who have and who are serving to make us safe.
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Sue
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Sue

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PostSubject: Re: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptyThu Jun 25, 2009 2:45 pm

I thought the same thing, Marie, about that sentence. It stood out for me. I thought of what I had been taught: get the image across with as few words as possible. This Dick does with that sentence. Quick and to the point. You know exactly what he was saying without being graphic.

I always love Dick's writing. He so engages me.
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zadaconnaway
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zadaconnaway

Number of posts : 4017
Registration date : 2008-01-16
Age : 71
Location : Washington, USA

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PostSubject: Re: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptyFri Jun 26, 2009 8:16 am

Dick, thank you for having been there, and especially for bringing it back so we know. I think we become numb to it here, but when those who have been there remind us, it puts things back into focus. The weapons may have changed, but the horror is still alive and going strong.
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Abe F. March
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Abe F. March

Number of posts : 10720
Registration date : 2008-01-26
Age : 80
Location : Germany

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PostSubject: Re: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptyFri Jun 26, 2009 8:23 am

Dick always reminds us of the horrors of war. That is good. Working to prevent war has more valor than seeking to destroy an enemy - real or alleged.
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Carol Troestler
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Carol Troestler

Number of posts : 3827
Registration date : 2008-06-07
Age : 81
Location : Wisconsin

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PostSubject: Re: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptyFri Jun 26, 2009 12:39 pm

Abe,

I agree.

Carol
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Betty Fasig
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Betty Fasig

Number of posts : 4334
Registration date : 2008-06-12
Age : 76
Location : Duette, Florida

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PostSubject: Re: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptyFri Jun 26, 2009 5:17 pm

I canned tomatoes all day, peeled jalapeno peppers. David came home around one o'clock, it was raining and he put on the TV. A little golf and then the History Channel. The History Channel has been on all day with the battles of the wars that Dick was in and many others on this board.

It was around four when the history show expounded about MacArthur.

When I asked him how the Marines felt about MacArthur, he told me about the sign that was placed for his return to the Phillipines. I had to look that up.

. . . AND A FEW MARINES: Marines in the Liberation of the Philippines
by Captain John C. Chapin, USMCR (Ret)

Marine Artillery Arrives
On 20 October, four Army divisions made landings on the east coast of Leyte. Following them in on the next day (21 October) was not an element of Marine aviation but the Marine V Amphibious Corps (VAC) Artillery. This anomaly occurred because the normal heavy artillery of the Army's XXIV Corps had been detached to support the Marine assault in the Mariana Islands. Once there, they were not available in time for the Leyte landings, and so the Marines' big guns had been sent from Pearl Harbor to support the Army infantry in the Philippines. Thus, Brigadier General Thomas E. Bourke led ashore the 1,500 Marines of the 11th 155mm Gun Battalion, the 5th 155mm Howitzer Battalion, and the Corps Artillery Headquarters Battalion. Moving quickly into action, the cannoneers initially fired in support of the Army's XXIV Corps from positions near the beach head.
Major General Ralph J. Mitchell

For Some, a Special Day Mitchell
As Commanding General, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Mitchell was the original motivating force behind the assignment of Marine aviation to the Philippines. Headquarters duty forced him to remain in Bougainville, with only occasional visits to his subordinates at the scene of action. He was in charge of the 1st MAW from April 1943 to June 1945.
Both the Army and the Navy awarded him a Distinguished Service Medal, and he was also awarded a Legion of Merit.
Born in 1889, commissioned in 1915 after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Mitchell took an early interest in flying. He earned his Naval Aviator wings in 1921, and served with a Marine squadron in Nicaragua in 1929-30. While there he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
In 1939 he was Director of Aviation at Marine Corps Headquarters. After the war, he retired in 1948 as a lieutenant general, and he died in 1970.


Manning one of the weapons in Battery B of the 11th 155mm Gun Battalion were PFCs Frank Pinciotti, Shelby Heimback, and Walter Dangerfield. As Dangerfield remembered, after they landed and emplaced their gun, the three of them decided that "it was time [for the Marines] to have some recognition." Pinciotti came up with the idea of painting "By the grace of God and the help of the Marines, MacArthur has returned to the Philippines" on the cover of a wooden ammunition box and hanging it over the barrel of their Long Tom. "Soon one of our officers ordered us to take it down, as MacArthur would come around to inspect." Apparently other Marines saw the sign before it came down and according to reports, before long, it appeared elsewhere in the islands. It has also been reported that General MacArthur saw one of the signs and wanted the perpetrator or perpetrators found out and punished. But this perhaps is an apocryphal story.

For Some, a Special Day Fig5
My David is very emotional about this.

Love,
Betty
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alj
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alj

Number of posts : 9633
Registration date : 2008-12-05
Age : 76
Location : San Antonio

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PostSubject: Re: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptyFri Jun 26, 2009 7:03 pm

I don't know the day, I looked for my copy of the records, but couldn't find them. They will turn up soon, as they did a few weeks ago when I came across them as I was looking for something else. It's just as well, since I would be amiss in quoting from them. I'm stretching here as it is. Tomorrow I will spend a few hours with my brother. The time will be strained for both of us. We do not see the world the same way. I wish I could find a way to let him know how much I love him, and how very proud of him I am, regardless of our differences.

I know it was before November of '69. That's when Susan was born, and I have a picture of him holding her as an infant, and I recall he had just come home from Vietnam.

He never told anyone or talked about it. He just quietly gave copies of the papers to our dad.

He was stationed at Cam Rahn Bay, the commander of a Navy prop plane, a converted P3V, I believe it was called. He had flown an earlier version while he was in active duty in an ASW (anti-sub warfare) reconnaissance unit. He had served out his term, and returned home, when he learned of a newer version of tha plane being developed. This version was to be equipped for long-range night bombing. He had gone back to school to earn a business degree, to put flying behind him and follow his parents wishes. He had been away from the college scene for several years, and had problems with what he saw when he returned. As soon as he had the "piece of paper" everyone told him was a necessity, he volunteered to go back in and fly that plane. One evening, as he and his crew were over their primary target, they took a couple of hits, but were able to deliver the payload anyway. After assessing damage, he made the decision to try for the secondary target. They reached it, successfully delivered that payload, and started home. Before long, it was clear that something was wrong with the instrument panel. They also soon learned that they were losing fuel. By the time they made it back to the base area, they had almost no fuel, and no instruments. The base landing area was covered with a dense fog. Without instruments, and no visibility, and almost no fuel, they were obviously in a lot of trouble. The control tower relayed his position, and talked to him constantly as they worked together to get the plane on the ground. It made a perfect landing. My brother and his crew were all safely back on base, and the plane was quickly repaired.

The papers explained it better than I can, especially from memory. They were the citation papers for his Distinguished Flying Cross. the medal is listed on the page of U. S. Army Individual Decorations:

http://www.americal.org/awards/achv-svc.htm

Quote :
The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Army of the United States, distinguished himself or herself by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. The performance of the act of heroism must be evidenced by voluntary action above and beyond the call of duty. The extraordinary achievement must have resulted in an accomplishment so exceptional and outstanding as to clearly set the individual apart from his or her comrades or from other persons in similar circumstances. Awards will be made only to recognize single acts of heroism or extraordinary achievement and will not be made in recognition of sustained operational activities against an armed enemy.

Being a hero isn't just about winning medals. It's about situations Dick described being involved in on the 25th of June a long time ago, and so many others in so many wars. But I am proud of my brother just the same. (He also brought home two Air Medals).

Ann
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Carol Troestler
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Carol Troestler

Number of posts : 3827
Registration date : 2008-06-07
Age : 81
Location : Wisconsin

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PostSubject: Re: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptyFri Jun 26, 2009 7:39 pm

Ann,

Could you show him what you have written here? That your pride was so great you wanted to share his story with some friends on this writing board.

Carol
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alj
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alj

Number of posts : 9633
Registration date : 2008-12-05
Age : 76
Location : San Antonio

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PostSubject: Re: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptySat Jun 27, 2009 5:05 am

Carol, see my reply on the friends or family thread.


Ann
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alice
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alice

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Age : 72
Location : Redmond, WA

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PostSubject: Re: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptySat Jun 27, 2009 5:15 am

Dick,

I am so glad you survived it.

Thanks!
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Dick Stodghill
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Dick Stodghill

Number of posts : 3795
Registration date : 2008-05-04
Age : 94
Location : Akron, Ohio

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PostSubject: Re: For Some, a Special Day   For Some, a Special Day EmptySat Jun 27, 2009 6:02 am

I'm not sure I did, Alice. I lived, yes, but the scars in my mind from that war are as fresh as they were in 1944-45.

Betty, I have little use for generals, none at all for a few. From what I have heard of MacArthur, he is one of the latter. Soldiers don't coin phrases like "Strick with Mac and you'll never get back" without a reason. Any general who does much talking is a worthless publicity hound in my opinion.
That said, I imagine MacArthur was referring to numbers alone as four infantry divisions at that time would have numbered more than 60,000 men plus support units. He could have phrased it a bit more diplomatically.
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