Tag Archives: pacific

Japanese Bonsai Charges Onto Good American Machine Guns

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Most of you probably are celebrating the return to the Philippine Islands this day in Nineteen-hunnerd and forty-four today.  Or in the instance of my charming ex-wife, Caroline, merely being born in Nineteen-hunnerd and forty-seven.  Both events teetering the scales of the human  balance in the Universe somewhat in the direction of ‘good’.

The US Military experience in the Philippines was ‘good’ mostly because contrary to previous behavior on other islands the Japanese didn’t come storming out of caves with fixed bayonets pruning trees as they ran down onto US machine guns.  Those damned trees remained intact for the most part if they weren’t hit by good US bullets and shells.  No damned bonsai forests of fancy trees for the Filipino population to deal with after the surrender.

That, and there wasn’t a problem with Death Marches the way happened the last time the US military ran up against the Japanese military in the Philippines.  That Bataan Death March was evidently most unpleasant, both for the GIs being forced to walk shoeless and hungry across the island, and for the Japanese having to shoot or stick them with bayonets for lollygagging.  Nothing of that sort in 1944.  The Japanese were perfectly well behaved, though uncompromising.  And the GIs resisted the entirely justified impulse to kill every last man of them.

The harbor at Manilla ended up being a great place for US sailors to put in and get drunk and whore.

All in all everything worked out well in the end.  Seemed almost no-time at all the US was fire bombing Tokyo and nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Then rebuilding the Japanese steel and other industries bombed to rubble during the war so’s everyone made a pile of money.  And another great place for GIs to get drunk and whore!

Heck, guys were still getting drunk and whoring in Japan all the way up into the Vietnam War.  When I was in Korea almost all the GIs took two weeks ‘rest and recuperation’ leave to Japan sometime during their tours.  The Japanese whores were generally more cosmopolitan, it was believed, than Korean ladies.

So for those of us alive December 16, 1944, it was the first day of the rest of our lives and it all turned out good.  Except for a few Japanese troops hiding in the jungles who wouldn’t listen to reason.

Think of it!  If Japan had surrendered December 16, 1944, it could have avoided having Tokyo firebombed and Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuked.  And I’d have been able to celebrate it with this blog entry.

Old Jules

Oooeee baby! Won’t you let me take you on a sea cruise


Considered 'not too bad' compared to the worst.

USNS Sultan – Considered ‘not too bad’ compared to the worst.

USNS Breckinridge - one to be avoided.  Take an extension if you have to so's to get a different troopship.  No shuttleboard on this one.

USNS Breckinridge – one to be avoided. Take an extension if you have to so’s to get a different troopship. No shuttleboard on this one.

 Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

 Back in the day GIs made it their business to find out about the troopship scheduling, which ship they would be going aboard, and how to jimmy the travel schedule to avoid the worst ones.  The two above were my homes for roughly 60 days enroute to Korea and coming home.

Vietnam or Korea – Flip a Coin

 Neither of these was a picnic, considering each carried between 1500 and 2500 seasick GIs.  Sometimes those lower decks were enough to make a person vomit just from the odor.  Or huddled on deck with several hundred other guys, top of a swell a guy at the rail hurls and as the ship falls with the wave his puke hangs above his head an hour  or so before a thousand horrified eyes.

And 500 more GIs try to reach the rail in time for the next swell.

Below decks every corner held dice games, every stairwell a 24/7 penny-per-point gin game, or rummy 500 game.  And occasional poker.  No shuffleboard, no whiskey, no female companionship.  But there were some nice stops at Honolulu, Sasebo, Yokuska.

If there’s any motivation to cut down on the number of wars this country gets itself into, one way to do it would be to start hauling the GIs around in troopships again.  Cut down on the frivolous volunteerism.

Old Jules


Book Review – Into the Rising Sun – Patrick K. O’Donnell


Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

This book ought to be required reading for all these namby-pamby ‘thank you for your service’ self-hugging smugness goodygoody submerged hypocrites, thinks I. 

These are the WWII experiences told by men who came back from WWII and didn’t talk about it.  Didn’t join the VFW, didn’t wave any flags, and grew old holding it inside their heads because what they saw and experienced as young men didn’t fit inside the picture the US Empire was drawing of itself and its conduct of WWII.

Eventually some decided it was time to tell it and O’Donnell was there to record what they said.  Into The Rising Sun was the result.  They told of being sent into places nobody needed to go, under-equipped with incompetent leadership, under-supplied, half-starved into malaria swamps against an enemy no better off than they were.

They told of the most significant experience of their lives.  A dismal experience perpetrated by negligence, mediocrity, politics, publicity and lies for the folks back home waving flags and beating drums.  Sending their own sons off to join them in jungles where getting captured meant becoming a meal for the enemy.  Where shooting all prisoners was the norm. 

Burma, the Solomons, the South Pacific they lived didn’t make its way into any Broadway musicals and the ‘thank you for your service’ expressions represented an irony too confusing to face.  Legions of men betrayed by their government for convenience, whims and indifference.  Betrayed by a failure of the military leadership to commit itself to the reality they were living and fulfill their own responsibilities, the only excuse for their existence.

The 20th Century is loaded with places a person wouldn’t care to have been.  What these men lived wasn’t unique.  Happened so many places to so many men of the 20th Century from all countries a book couldn’t list them all.

But this book probably represents as good a synopsis as anyone’s likely to produce.  It’s good the old men finally told it.

Old Jules