YOUR NOVEMBER/December article “American Samurai” was a great tribute to our 442nd Infantry Regimental Com bat Team. The photographs were new to me—would love to have a few for my collection.
The timing of the article corresponded with our recent visit to Washington, D.C., where we, the 442nd, received the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony on November 2, 2011.
Thanks again for the wonderful story of our “go for broke” days in the army.
I REALLY ENJOYED Craig Symonds’s January/February article on the Battle of Midway. That fight was arguably the pivotal moment in World War II, and yes, it would not have been won if, to coin a phrase from another Pacific battle, uncommon valor had not been common among those fighting sailors, Marines, and airmen.
However, I believe that luck was a more prominent factor at Midway than Symonds does. Indeed, all of us who have faced a strongly determined enemy in battle know that luck always plays a major role in downing that enemy. As victors, we Americans who are observers of military history cannot afford the hubris of thinking that we would have succeeded no matter what happened on the other side, or on our own side for that matter.
LIEUTENANT COMMANDER John Waldron and Torpedo Squadron 8 merit mention in any article about Midway.
From the article, Waldron appears to have left with Torpedo Squadron 8 from his carrier last. Nevertheless, using skill and wisdom, he located the Japanese first. His squadron attacked without fighter support, losing all their planes and all their pilots but one while drawing the Japanese fleet air cover fighters down to the deck. Later the dive bombers had their five minutes of glory largely due to the absence of Japanese air cover.
The B-17s, the planes based on Midway, etc., had a very frustrating day until that five minutes. Their collective courage made it possible, however. Remember that and apply it today.
I HAD A NEIGHBOR who refused to fly in a commercial airliner, and I was always under the impression that he was naturally afraid of flying.
It was not until his passing a few years ago that I learned he was awarded two Navy Air Medals for his service. He was a tail gunner in the Navy Air Corps, and was shot down on the morning of the Midway battle. After being rescued and getting into dry clothes, he was again up in the air—and shot down a second time, all in one day. Then I understood why he refused to travel by plane.
WITH REFERENCE TO the “Their Darkest Hour” article on a surviving kamikaze in the January/February issue, I think you might find the following of some interest:
About five years ago I visited the Chiran kamikaze school in Kagoshima, Japan. Hundreds of farewell letters were displayed and translated to English; all were addressed to the pilots’ mothers, none to a father—practically all humbly apologizing for the pain they will bring to the family upon this their final day, and the glory their death will bring to Japan and family. Most asked their family not to mourn their death. Around the exhibition hall were photos of 1,200 kamikaze pilots who had gone to their deaths for the emperor. The training school is now called The Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots—a most unlikely name.
NEW YORK, N.Y.
Navajos in the Pacific
I ENJOYED THE article about Navajo code talkers in the January/February issue. A couple of years ago I met the author, Chester Nez, at the Southern Maine College where he was introduced as one of the original 29 code talkers.
I was a Marine on Okinawa in 1945 and worked with code talker Rex Koentz. I used the Shackle code machine for non essential messages directing troops and firepower; code talker messages were up to the minute of action. It was my pleasure to meet up and work alongside of them.
JOHN J. MCLEOD
IN THE FIRST WEEK of January 2012, I read about the death of Keith Little, one of the last Navajo code talkers. Thanks for your deep commitment and analysis of so many of these topics. Keep up this great work.
THE BEGINNING OF the article shows a picture of Navajo code talkers on Bougainville. (I’m Choctaw myself.) I’m curious about the weapon in the picture. At the risk of exposing my complete ignorance, I believe it is a variant of the Thompson submachine gun.
FOLSOM A. WHITE
The gun is a Reising M55 .30-caliber selective fire automatic/semiautomatic carbine, used only by the Marines until supplies of reliable M1 carbines became available. The Thompson also had a long clip but not the M55’s folding metal stock.
THE “WEAPONS MANUAL” in the January/February 2012 issue mistranslated the slogan on the Soviet tank as “For The Soviet Ukraine.” My Russian friends tell me the actual translation would be “To motherland Ukraine.” Ukraine and the Soviet Union were never very good pals.
L. MICHAEL HOWARD
In the January/February issue, “Artillery men” was incorrectly used to describe ordnance crews. On page 35, TBD torpedo bombers were incorrectly called TDB.
Originally published in the June 2012 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.