From the Desk Of Col George Dodenhoff, USMC – Part 2

September 27th, 2015 by xformed

Subtitle: Gear issue

Click for the large image

I do not have any indication of the date of the picture, but judging from the flight gear (the headgear in particular), it would be pre-Korean War era, since hard style helmets were in place during those times based on my research. The plane is a Corsair airframe of some sort, of which his logs showed, across the many hours, both the F4U and FG-1 models, which would appear the same in this view.

From his DD 214: Born in Brooklyn, NY on 2February 28th, 1923, George also was claiming residence when he was commissioned in the Marines on June 1st, 1944, showing that as his home of record. I don’t have a record of his date of actual entry into service, but he must have been in an aviation cadet program of some sort, as you will see in his logbook as we explore his history. Other service noted was 1 year, 5 months, 23 days for his total service time. That would put him enlisting for his service on December 9th, 1942. He was 19 years old when he raised his right hand and took his oath of office for military service.

Opening the logbook, the first page is the record of equipment issued:

Click for a larger image

Note in the picture of the equipment issued, the rank of “A/Co” seems to be scribbled through and “2ndLT” written next to it. Equipment appears to be mostly issued ar Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, TX on June 2nd, 1943 under the signature stamp of CAPT J.M. Easter (SC). That date aligns with the next important event in the retelling of the history of Dode.

A connected bit of history from the NAS Corpus Christi wikipedia page is George was on the base at the same time President George H.W. Bush was graduating from his fight training in June 1943.

Next stop: First flight!

Category: Aviation, Col Dodenhoff, History, Marines, Military | Comments Off on From the Desk Of Col George Dodenhoff, USMC – Part 2

A Date with Destiny – Part IX

April 24th, 2014 by xformed

Since 2009, I’ve had a nagging voice in the back of my head that says “You should try to get recognition for LT Ray Everts. It’s been very insistent and persistent this past week. This year, I’m asking for an effort of the greater group of shipmates, who may be able to find some puzzle pieces. Keep reading, I’ll get to it. First a little background:

I began this story in 2007, 19 years after the fact because I realized it was a story worth telling of the professionalism of my shipmates on USS CARR (FFG-52) and the sailors from USS KENNEDY (CV-67) who saved those men in peril on the sea on April 24th, 1988. I wasn’t there, I reported aboard USS CARR (FFG-52) in late September that year, but in time for the awards to flow in. During that time I heard the first person stories of my crew.

For many years, it was an integral part of the history of the ship, but that ended as a story among a crew March 13, 2013, when the USS CARR (FFG-52) decommissioned. The story is alive around the web. Part of it here. As I sought out first my shipmates via Navy: Together We Served. I later reached out to those who may have been there, by dates listed aboard the USS BONEFISH (SS-582), USS KENNEDY (CV-67) and USS MCCLOY (FF-1038). While got some dry holes, I found LCDR Pete Wilson, USN who provided a detailed, multi-page input. All those stories, from the several sailors and officers who took the time to provide their view of history, added more context to the day.

Again, I began to tell a story of professionalism, but found a story of heroism, one that had not been reported for the record: It came first from a comment left by Jim Chapman in 2007: He had been the aircrewman in the back of Dusty Dog 613 right on top (they had been practicing dipping on BONEFISH when the fire occurred). Jim lives right near by and we met and he told me what was happening in the helo. They knew sailors were in trouble and needed help, and they did more than the helo was supposed to do, nearly resulting in a crash while trying to hoist more men. That takes guts to keep working a few yards off the water in extreme conditions. Thankfully they and the sailors they pulled aboard all are here to tell the story. In the April 2008 annual post, I recorded Jim’s story to share. He added to my view (and if you read his post, you’ll see he was clear about making sure I had the story right). Jim: BTW, I called CAPT Johnson about 2 years ago and pointed out you and your crew knew exactly what you were doing.

On April 15th, 2008, FT2(SS) Bill Baker left a comment on the 2007 post that told a story of heroism beyond even what the helo crew: LT Everts died in his lap, having safely gotten the boat to the surface, ensuring he didn’t add a collision with a surface ship to the already chaotic, deadly situation. He didn’t put on an EAB, as it would have obstructed his use of the periscope during surfacing. I emailed Pete Wilson, the former XO, and he said that was never related at the debriefings. That began the little voice in the back of my head. The April 2009 anniversary post quoted Bill Baker’s comments and put what history of Ray Everts I could track down via the internet.

Here’s my request to my shipmates and family members who may wander by here, it’s also three parts:

  • I’d like to find out how to contact LT Evert’s family. Sounds like he wasn’t married by the many comments, so I’m assuming his parents would have been the NOKs.
  • I want to mount a campaign to complete a virtual 1650 for the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, to acknowledge his selfless sacrifice for his shipmates, the 89 who survived.
  • Help to figure out who to submit this to in DoN, or possibly via the serving Congressional senator or representative.

Who’s in? Spread the word, reach out to commenters on other blogs (that’s another part of the story), let’s see if we can crowd source the answers and move forward to get this medal in the service record of Ray for the ages.

Leave your comments here, so it can be a group effort. eMail is nice, but this space can be the virtual bulletin board to share anything someone knows.

To those who have, here, and on other blogs, added to this entire story, thank you. The connection of the internet has allowed this moment in time to become a fuller story than any one person has, and also has connected a few sailors from that day.

And to those, not on the sub, or the helos, or the whale boat, who scrambled to comfort and care for the sailors of the BONEFISH, your efforts were greatly appreciated (go back and skim the comments that have appeared over the years). BZ.

Category: "Sea Stories", History, Leadership, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy | 3 Comments »

WRAPing up the year – 2011: Breakfast with history

January 2nd, 2012 by xformed


Click for a larger version

The year (last one, that is) finished with the annual picture of the assorted old guys and “guests” after we had breakfast, a week before Christmas. One from last year was unable to join us, having passed away this year after fighting against MRSA.”

Protecting privacy, and making it more fun, this photo includes the restaurant’s owner, a solid supporter of vets, and always thankful we come around. The waitress for the day, and who normally is our regular one lately. There are three ex-“Shoes,” a Navy Cross wearing A-6 pilot, the high time pilot, with the most traps, also, in the venerable F7U Cutlass (began as a PBM tail gunner in WWII and subsequently became an enlisted pilot), an NFO who knew the thrill of flying over an already bombed target(s) to gather BDA photos in RA-5s, thre retired USMC colonels, who began flying in WWII, one F4Us and later became a USAF Fighter Squadron Commander while on an exchange tour), one in PBYs and one in PBJs. Rounding out the scoundrels that morning were two P-2/-3 pilots, one of which was the USNA roommate of my second CO, during my XO tour. The USA representative spent his Vietnam years making sure the Office in Sigonella was efficiently run. Not pictured of the regulars is a VN era heavy equipment operator, who also is a very suitable professional Santa, so he was absent, and the 4 hours short of the most combat hours guy in a year’s tour in Vietnam flying “Slicks.”

If you can’t find a great unique story any given any other Saturday around the table with this group, you need your hearing checked….

So, the invitation for those of you passing through the Tampa/St Pete area on weekends is this: You’re welcome to come and sit and hear a few stories, tell a few, and meet some who made history, but don’t make a big deal out of it…..just email me or a leave a comment and I’ll get your the “every other” Saturday schedule.

Category: "Sea Stories", Army, History, Marines, Military, Military History, Navy | Comments Off on WRAPing up the year – 2011: Breakfast with history

Do You Have Any Pensacola Fight Training Stories?

March 16th, 2011 by xformed

If so, are you willing to share? Yes, you have your opportunity now to relive those days and share them in print!

Via the WRAP Pac crew, I was asked if I could get the word out that published author Bob Taylor (“A Few Good Memories”) has embarked on a second writing project to collect and edit your stories.

He has a site up: Getting Your Wings to allow for easy input, but his email address is roarta at hotmail.com.

Time to ante up and share your personal history, high and low jinks with the rest of the world. Just remember, it’s all for the sake of history.

For those reading this, with and without your personal experience in Pensacola, please pass it along to your shipmates and family members and friends who may be connected with those who would like to participate.

Category: Blogging, History, Marines, Maritime Matters, Military, Navy, Public Service | Comments Off on Do You Have Any Pensacola Fight Training Stories?

2/25/2011 “WRAP Pack” CNA and Birthday Celebration

March 11th, 2011 by xformed

As is the manner of it is to gather every other Saturday AM, last time we met, we celebrated the birthday of two of our members (2 USMC (Ret) Colonels), as well a recognition of the Centennial of Naval Aviation (CNA).

If you have an excellent eye for history, there is some of them in the video…..

The creator of the document that became known to me as the “EDORM” (Engineering Department Regulation and Organizational Manual) is present,

along with the high time and most traps pilot in the Vought F7U Cutlass. A RA-5C NFO, several P2V/P-3 pilots, three “‘Shoes,” two Army types from the Vietnam Era, a A-1 pilot with VA-196, and a Navy Cross recipient are all around the table, as well as the two senior Marines, who both flew in WWII.

Category: Army, History, Marines, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy | Comments Off on 2/25/2011 “WRAP Pack” CNA and Birthday Celebration

News Release: Documentary “Chosin” at The Navy Memorial 12/15/2010

December 13th, 2010 by xformed

Received via email:

MEDIA ALERT

Navy Memorial Screens Award-winning Documentary “Chosin”

On Battle’s 60th Anniversary

Contacts:        Taylor Kiland                                                    Linda Heiss

tkiland@navymemorial.org lindah@lindarothpr.com

United States Navy Memorial                            Linda Roth Associates, Inc.

(202) 380-0718                                                  (703) 417-2709

WHAT: The Navy Memorial is screening “Chosin,” a documentary about one of the most savage battles of the Korean War: the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir.  Despite being surrounded and trapped by more than 200,000 Chinese troops, 15,000 U.S. troops fought 78 miles to freedom and saved 98,000 civilian refugees.  Survivor accounts combined with never-before-seen footage take the viewer on an emotional journey.  A panel discussion with the filmmakers and two DC-area Chosin Reservoir survivors will follow the screening.

Participating Filmmakers and Chosin Reservoir survivors:

  • Anton Sattler, Producer and Marine veteran from Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Brian Iglesias, Director and Marine veteran from Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Col. Warren Wiedhahn, USMC (Ret.), Chosin Reservoir survivor
  • Dr. Stanley Wolf, Chosin Reservoir survivor

WHEN:          December 15, 2010; 6:00 PM

WHERE:       United States Navy Memorial

Naval Heritage Center

701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C.  20004

www.navymemorial.org

Metro: National Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter (Green and Yellow lines)

COST: Free and open to the public

About the United States Navy Memorial

Conveniently located on Pennsylvania Avenue – halfway between the White House and the Capitol, the United States Navy Memorial provides a living tribute to Navy people and a place for them to gather and celebrate their service. The outdoor plaza features a “Granite Sea” map of the world, towering masts with signal flags, fountain pools and waterfalls and The Lone Sailor© statue.  Adjacent to the plaza is the Naval Heritage Center, where visitors can find educational displays about the contributions of the men and women of the Sea Services (Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine).  Also housed in the Naval Heritage Center is the Navy Log – the online place for Navy people to stay connected with each other, celebrate their service and preserve the memories of their service.  There, Navy veterans can build a record of their service online.  Call (202) 737-2300 or visit www.navymemorial.org for more information.

Sounds like a great opportunity for those in the DC Area for this Wednesday!

Category: Geo-Political, History, Leadership, Marines, Military, Military History | Comments Off on News Release: Documentary “Chosin” at The Navy Memorial 12/15/2010

A WWII English Love Story

June 6th, 2010 by xformed

In rememberance of D-Day today, a story about three men:  An American pilot, an Englishman, and the pilot’s son.

I first met Doug Kirkland in Oct/Nov 1976, while attending Communications Officer School in Newport, RI.  We never really talked, he being a LT, seasoned aviator and me merely an Ensign with no permanent ship assignments in my record.  In Oct, 1989, as I emceed the Change of Command, a face in the guest seats kept attracting my attention.  It was Doug.  At the reception, we both realized we knew each other, but it took about 30 minutes of the “were you ever stationed at…” conversation to finally get us to the point were we figured we had been in Newport for school at the same time, and other than that, our paths had not crossed professionally or otherwise since then.  Fast forward to 2009, when I began going to the every other Saturday breakfasts with a group of local vets…there was Doug again, and one morning, he told me this story and has been kind enough to share it, particularly with the hope the story will maybe connect a few more people who are involved in this story.

Here’s my request:  Pass this story along, please.

A Model of a US Navy PB4Y-l Bureau # 231

English Love Story – Why FAW-7 Loves the people In tbe Devon countryside

This was written by Captain Douglas I. Kirkland ( Delta Air Lines) of Reddington Beach, FL about his father.

My father, Lieutenant Commander Lawrence A. Kirkland, Jr. ( deceased 1990) was a Navy pilot in World War II.  Dad graduated Naval Pilot Training in class 2B41J at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida early 1941.  During the early part of the war he flew PBY aircraft first in the Pacific Asiatic and later in North Africa. When VPB-U4 was commissioned, Dad was assigned as Plane Commander and according to bis squadronmates, he was one of the “war weary”, well seasoned veterans at the squadrons beginning in August of 1943.

VPB-114 deployed to Dunkeswell Abbey Airfield Near Exeter in Devon, England and this history is well documented at the museum.

To cope with the rigors and stress of the 41 missions Dad dew from Dunkeswell in PB4Y-1 aircraft, be would take a shotgun and hunt on farmland in the Honiton to Broadhembury area just south of Dunkeswell Airfield.   He would then take his fresh kill to The inn at Broadhembury (which still has a great thatched roof’ pub), and have it cooked, dine with his favorite libation in hand, and finally relax a bit.

The Frost Family farm near Broadhembury was a favorite hunting place of Dads, and the descendant of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Frost still lives on the farm today  (John and Jean ( Frost) Barker) Incidentally, both Jean and John Barker remembered my father when I visited them in December of 1998. The Barker’s mentioned that lots of the men stationed at Dunkeswell hunted their farmland and one man in particular liked to hunt rabbits with a Thompson submachine gun (guess the ammunition and the rabbits were plentiful then)!

According to Dad, one day white relaxing at the Inn at Broadhembury, be met a man named Theo Church from Ex-Axminister, a carpenter by trade. Thea Church was making aircraft parts on jigs in his shop for the war effort.  In conversation, Dad discovered that Theo Church had never been in an airplane, even though he was making aircraft parts! Dad invited Theo to go on a training flight from Dunkeswell, and he provided Theo with a flight suit and the necessary instructions for the flight.  All went off with out a hitch, and several months after the flight, Theo Church came to Dad and presented this hand made, wooden model of a P84Y-1 ship 8ureau #231.

Dad asked Theo to keep the model for the duration of the war, and then ship it to me, because of the the “uncertainties” in his schedule and his longevity. Dad later gave the model to me and after he died, I found a scrapbook from WW II with pictures of the actual plane # 231 in a revetment at Broadhembury.  The box, the stamps, the model, everything you see is just as be received it from Theo Church after the war. This model and its history have always symbolized for me, the spirit of cooperation and combined efforts of our countries in defeating our enemies. Truly, the men and women who served our Countries in WW II deserve our eternal gratitude.

For the most part, they were ordinary citizens who performed extraordinarily. When the war ended, they returned to their families and civilian life and built the better World we now enjoy.

I welcome any additions or input from this word of mouth story about my father.

CDR Douglas I. Kirkland, USNR-R (Ret)
16500 Gulf Blvd. Unit 455
North Redington Beach, FL 33708
850-960-8866 cell
727-320-0012 home
douglas.kirkland@1972.usna.com

Captain Meyer Minchen of Houston, Tx., offers the following information about # 231. Jack McGarry ( Plane Captain) and Jim Baird AMM in Crew 11 were prefiighting the plane for a patrol, and were not in the picture at left.   However they did help in identifying the crew members of #231 in VB-114. Left to right: John Paul Woods, Harold Coffin, Cliff Halls, Larry Kirkland, More Slouch, Don Burns, Oren W. Clark (PCP), Meyer Minchen, Ed E. .Elmwood.

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Category: Air Force, Army, History, INternational Relations, Leadership, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy | 1 Comment »

Breakfast and History?

August 29th, 2009 by xformed

How better to begin a day, than to be invited to a long standing group os mostly Naval Aviators, and some Marines, who span military history from 1942 to the mid-90s (I was the youngest one…and moved that goal post)?

Via business networking and meeting and doing business with told me to show up for breakfast. I didn’t get al the names right, I’m sure, but a Navy Cross winner, a retired Admiral who wnet “downtown.” The man with the most CUTLASS traps every. A P-3 pilot who was one of my CO’s roommates at USNA, and…we had met at the change of command, and figured out he and I had crossed paths in Dec 76 @ Comm School in Newport. And that’s not all the history I sat in the middle of, but, I was the lone “Shoe,” and non-USNA. They still welcomed me in and told me to come back…They do this every two weeks.

More later. Much more I’m sure….maybe an interview from a Cutlass pilot….

Category: "Sea Stories", Blogging, Marines, Military, Military History, Navy | Comments Off on Breakfast and History?

Monday Maritime Matters: Memorial Day Edition

May 25th, 2009 by xformed

It’s Memorial Day.  This is my tribute to one who went before me:  Seaman 1/C Omer Dee Simms, USN.  Here is some of the story of this man’s life that we are lucky to have heard.

(Note:  All pictures below are the small versions.  Click to get the original size provided)

Omer Dee Simms was a sailor aboard USS FRANKLIN (CV-13) on March 19th, 1945, when a Japanese kamikaze slammed into the flight deck and created a hellish place at sea for the crew of that aircraft carrier. 50 miles from the island of Kyushu, they were without power, on fire, and aircraft, on deck and in the hanger bay, loaded with aviation gas and ordnance were “cooking off.”

Who was Omer Simms? He was a son, a brother, a husband and a father.

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He was born in McKinney, Texas Nov 17th, 1911. When he was called to serve his country on Dec 16th, 1943 he was working at a boot factory. He was enlisted in the US Navy on Dec 31st, 1943.

He was the father of Richard Don Simms.

His wrote his wife, Blanche, and his son, Richard.

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In Boot Camp, he got to experience the wisdom of the military medical system, and he shared this with his sister in a letter:

He was assigned as a cook aboard USS FRANKLIN (CV-13) and rode her into battle, as the noose of the Allied Forces tightened around the virtual neck of the Japanese Homeland. The Japanese we’re going down without a fight, and, on the 19th of March, 1945, a single pilot brought hell to earth for that crew. Omer was 31 years old when he joined the service, so, the service being what it is across many generations, I imagine he picked up a nickname of “Pops” or “Gramps.” They probably looked up to him, because he had more life behind him than they did.

Nothing to Lose full movie

(Click on the picture for the archived photos of the attack on NavSource)

725 dead, 265 wounded in the attack. Omer Dee Simms was a hero that day. He saved 12 of his shipmates, by not giving up on getting the door open, to allow the 13 of them to remain trapped in a compartment, with fire raging around them. Once he led that group to safety, he went back inside the skin of the ship to help get others to safety. He did not survive the day.

Here is the notice Omer’s family received from the Department of the Navy:

George Black owes his life to Omer Simms. He made the following statement to describe the efforts and situation he faced that horrible day in battle:

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Eulogy trailer

Click here for this file scanned and converted to PDF

There are no bridges, streets, museums, schools or military barracks named after Omer Dee Simms, but, he, like so many others, had courage in the midst of battle and chose to carry on, to get the mission done, in this case to save your shipmates.

For a detailed story of a newly built carrier, that entered the Pacific and went straight to combat, took a seemingly mortal wounding off Japan, yet was underway on her own power the later that day, and steamed stateside herself to arrive at the shipyard for repairs, get the book “Inferno” by Joseph Springer. The story of Omer Dee Simms is in there, with the other reports of danger and death and courage.

The memory of Omer Dee Simms is kept alive by his son. Richard Don Simms, pictured above, who graciously provide me with the information and materials for this post. Richard shared in his items, a letter he sent to his father, but was returned unread:

In addition to that help, he has been one to help keep the memory of the crew of the USS FRANKLIN (CV-13) in the public eye, having attended the reunions and being declared an honorary crew member of the storied vessel.

Richard also shows his appreciation to our service members today, providing them with his presence at the DFW Airport, as reported in these two articles:

To complete my post, it is worthy of note that Seaman 1/C Omer Dee Simms, USN, has been honored by his home state of Texas in the following resolution in 2006:

Category: Navy | 1 Comment »

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