Nobility In Response To Oppression – By Jeffrey Worthington, iHistory Project-WW2

The call to arms rang out across the land.  Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor and from every corner of the nation men and women answered the call.

Stop.  Think about those from whom the American dream was often, possibly even universally withheld; those whose heritage disenfranchised them from the words “all men are created equal.”  Among them was a young Navajo, Jack Jones.   His culture, even his name, was taken from him in the U.S. government’s drive to erase the Native Americans’ ways of life.

Jack could have said this wasn’t his fight.  His was a hard life.  As a child he was sent to boarding school where he was taught his native language, and all that made him Navajo, was bad.  He ran away from home and from boarding school.    He rode the rails, accepting the transient life of a hobo to that which awaited him on the reservation.  Are you angry, yet?  Are you ready to say,  ”Jack, don’t go?” His response will surprise you!

Jack, and many other young men of the Navajo nation, answered a very special call to arms.  Their language, once reviled, became a secret military code never broken by the enemy.  The Code Talkers, as they were known, coordinated combat operations, calling in air strikes and providing other essential battlefield communications.    Jack felt honored, even grateful for the chance to help his native language endure and to be an asset to the defense of the country.  He held no grudge.  He took solace in saving American lives, though he never rejoiced in killing.

History is witness to the Code Talkers’ contributions.  Jack Jones’ vision is realized.  Oppression was stopped.  The Navajo culture and its language continues, now living in a special place of honor and respect.

I hope you will support me (and hundreds of World War 2 enthusiasts and volunteers around the world) in challenging American teens across America, who are interested in military history, to participate in the iHistory Project-WW2.  We are committed to preserving these great World War 2 stories and memories and to bringing them to life so future generations will understand and appreciate the events of this conflict and how they shaped our world.

For more information, visit the iHistory Project-WW2 or contact me directly at jeff@ihistoryproject.org.

Yes Sir, General Patton, Sir! by Jeffrey Worthington, iHistory Project-WW2

What would a brash, determined old horse soldier do when he was told he couldn’t accomplish a seemingly impossible mission??  If that trooper was General George S. Patton, Jr., he’d call on his best units to get the job done. When his impossible task was to relieve the 101st Airborne at Bastogne, Patton called on the 4th Armored Division, Bob Eamello’s division, to help get the job done.

Bob Eamello grew up in the Great Depression.  He, like so many in his generation, already knew deprivation and personal sacrifice.  As a boy, he recalled, he would climb cherry trees and apple trees to find food and a meal of rabbit, squirrel and even an occasional blackbird was welcomed fare.  Maybe the hardships of youth prepared him for what was ahead.

Preparations ended for Bob Eamello shortly after the D-Day landings on the Normandy beaches.  The following month he and his comrades blazed a mechanized trail across Europe that ultimately brought him face to face with George Patton, himself.  Along the way Bob ran headlong into fighting against some of the fiercest fighters of the war, the famed and feared Panzer Armies.  When he recalled his meetings with Patton, Bob recalled that the only words any soldier needed, when addressing the general, was “Yes Sir!”  Bob and his brothers in arms marched with Patton to Bastogne, relieving the beleaguered 101st Airborne and helping to secure the Allied victory in the Battle of The Bulge.

The March to victory for Bob Eamello and the 4th Armored Division was never easy.  They helped liberate the Buchenwald death camp; looking into the faces of those who suffered at the hands of absolute evil.  They endured the bitter winter of 1944-1945 and they felt the loss of all who perished in freedom’s name.  Recalling the last day of the war, Bob said it was the day the men of the 4th Armored Division met their Russian and Czech allies.  “The captain yelled “quit fighting.”  It was over.  Speaking with a voice that still reverberates with profound relief, Bob said: “It was the best day of the war.”

Bob Eamello’s story is his own.  Each serviceman and every servicewoman has a story that is shared with others but is still personal and unique.  In their own personal stories, they all said “Yes Sir” just as Bob did when he stood toe to toe with General George S. Patton, Jr.

I hope you will support me (and hundreds of World War 2 enthusiasts and volunteers around the world) in challenging American teens across America, who are interested in military history, to participate in the iHistory Project-WW2.  We are committed to preserving these great World War 2 stories and memories and to bringing them to life so future generations will understand and appreciate the events of this conflict and how they shaped our world.

For more information, visit the I-History Project-WW2 or contact me directly at jeff@ihistoryproject.org

“I Made It My Mission To Come Home!” – By Jeffrey Worthington, iHistory Project-WW2

Whenever I think of tough going in war, I’m drawn to images of men fighting amidst the blaze of gunfire and cannon blasts.  Medic Ralph Rodriguez showed me another image of bravery and of sheer determination.  The story starts with the Bataan Death March and plays out to its end at Camp O’Donnell.

Camp O’Donnell was a U.S. military installation.  There is nothing in the name that makes it stand out but what happened there is quite remarkable.  On April, 1942, when the United States and its allies surrendered the Bataan peninsula to the forces of the Japanese Empire, the Death March of Bataan began and thousands of Americans and their Filipino allies either perished, or spent the next three years in unimaginably horrific conditions.  Ralph Rodriguez survived and he is adamant that clinging tightly to hope was the difference between life and death.  “I made it my mission to come home,” he recalls and it was that dogged determination that was his strength throughout the years of misery.

The atrocities started along the march.  “As soon as you fell,” Ralph told me, “the Japs butchered you…They killed people right and left for little or no reason.” He recounts instances in which soldiers were bayoneted for being as little as one or two steps behind on the tortuous sixty mile march.   The Red Cross insignia he wore, he added, may have helped him escape the onslaught of Japanese bullets and bayonets to which so many innocents fell.  Ralph made it, despite eight episodes of Malaria, a disease that often kills its victims in the first round, despite the malnutrition and the inhumanity of his captors.  “I made it my mission to come home, he said, and emphasized that only hope could save the men destined to endure the ordeal.  Even a perfectly healthy man who gave up hope would die within a day, he added.  One thousand in his camp never did get home.  There was no escape, just a constant struggle to stay alive.

Days turned to into months and then into years.  Finally, in late January, 1945, units of the Sixth U.S. Army Rangers, in a daring covert operation 20 miles behind enemy lines, rescued Ralph Rodriguez and his comrades, the men of Camp O’Donnell.  Ralph remembered the day vividly:

“The Rangers came in and started shooting…  All Hell broke loose…Within fifteen or twenty minutes it was all over.”

The men started off on another march.  This time it was a march not to enslavement, but into freedom. Elements of the 6th Army Rangers made sure the pursuing Japanese forces never again took these men prisoner.  The Rangers accomplished their mission of liberation and Ralph Rodriguez accomplished his, to never give up hope and to make it home!

I hope you will support me (and hundreds of World War 2 enthusiasts and volunteers around the world) in challenging American teens across America, who are interested in military history, to participate in the iHistory Project-WW2.  We are committed to preserving these great World War 2 stories and memories and to bringing them to life so future generations will understand and appreciate the events of this conflict and how they shaped our world.

For more information, visit the I-History Project-WW2 or contact me directly at jeff@ihistoryproject.org

Change in iHistory Project’s Submission Dates

Due to circumstances beyond our control, iHistory Project has changed the submission dates for the competition to June 2011.  I will announce the exact dates later this month so please stay tuned to our blog and YouTube channel for updates!

Note: High school students that graduated in the class of 2011 will still be able to participate and eligible to win.

I apologize for any inconvenience but I hope students will take advantage of the additional 90 days to make their videos.

Sincerely,
Jeffrey Worthington
Project Director

The Road To Citizenship Passes Through Bastogne- Part Three: The Journey Home – By Jeffrery Worthington, iHistory Project-WW2

The war in Europe ended.  When I had asked Chavez where he was when Pearl Harbour was attacked, he couldn’t recall.   When I asked where he was when he heard Germany surrendered, he knew exactly where he was, back in Street, Somerset County, England, recovering from the shrapnel wounds he got in Germany.  This city was the place from which he set sail to Normandy at the outset of his tour.   Now, with reason for joy, he celebrated with friends he made while awaiting orders to join the forces already at Normandy. 

As a passenger on a Liberty Ship, one of a fleet of functional but simple transport vessels, our hero, reached New York City and retraced his steps back to Fort Bliss, the installation at which he joined the Army. The government gave him fifteen cents, the going fare to return home to his family.  His war was over, but not his journey.  You see, although in many ways he was just like his fellow soldiers, unlike many of them, he was not returning home as a citizen.  There is one more chapter in this story… 

World War 2, WW2, World War 2 Contest, World War 2 Video Contest, You Tube Contest WW2, You Tube Contest World War 2, iHistory Project,   WW2 Volunteers, Jeff Worthington, Jeffrey Worthington, Military History Contest, High School You Tube Competition, World War Two Video Contest, History Contest World War 2, Great Project for High School History, High School History Contest, Battle of The Bulge, 23rd Cavalry Reconnaissance, US Third Army, US 4th Armored Division, Street  (Somerset County) England, Fort Knox, Fort Bliss, Camp Lucky Strike, Liberty Ships, US Citizenship For Undocumented Immigrant Soldiers In WW2 The service to his country, the only home he had ever known, entitled him to become a naturalized citizen and in 1946, T-5 C.E.  Chavez became a citizen of the United States! His journey began twenty two years earlier, in a small town in Chihuahua, Mexico.  Like Odysseus, the great Greek hero of the Trojan War, he traveled across continents, he met adversity and he prevailed.  He is a real American hero!   
For more information, visit the I-History Project-WW2 or contact me directly at jeff@ihistoryproject.org

The Road To Citizenship Passes Through Bastogne- Part Two: Joining The Fray – By Jeffrery Worthington, iHistory Project-WW2

C.E. Chavez was, by his own account, a typical child growing up in El Paso Texas.  He left Mexico when he was very young, so, as he said, America was the only home he new.  He was typical, but he wasn’t a citizen.  That would change, but not until his life’s journey took him to another place and through another difficult chapter in his story. 

At age eighteen Chavez got a letter.  It came from the President and the Congress of The United States.  The exact words he remembers are:  “Your friends and neighbors need you.”  This was his draft notice.  Recalling reactions, Chavez recounts that some of his relatives were expecting the news and were surprised it hadn’t come earlier.  Some knew his service would reduce the probability any of them would be repatriated to Mexico and the income from his military salary was a welcome addition to the family income.  It was his duty, so he became Private C.E. Chavez, U.S. Army!

World War 2, WW2, World War 2 Contest, World War 2 Video Contest, You Tube Contest WW2, You Tube Contest World War 2, iHistory Project,   WW2 Volunteers, Jeff Worthington, Jeffrey Worthington, Military History Contest, High School You Tube Competition, World War Two Video Contest, History Contest World War 2, Great Project for High School History, High School History Contest, Battle of The Bulge, 23rd Cavalry Reconnaissance, US Third Army, US 4th Armored Division, General George S. Patton, Jr., Street  (Somerset County) England, Fort Knox, Fort Bliss, Camp Lucky Strike, Liberty ShipsInducted at Fort Bliss, Chavez was sent next to Fort Knox, KY and then to Newport News, VA.  From there he shipped out to the city of Street, Somerset County, England.   On June 8, 1944, not yet assigned to a unit, he arrived at Normandy and then, in July, he was assigned as a replacement troop in the 23rd Cavalry Reconnaissance.   Sometime after the breakout at St. Lo, in the vicinity of Nancy, France, Chavez was wounded (in the arm) while on reconnaissance.  His team was attacked from across an open field, a common danger situation for reconnaissance operation.  He returned to the rear to recover.  He chuckled when he recalled that rear echelon troops offered to buy his shirt, the one that was hit by German fire.  He sold it for forty-dollars, a hefty sum in those days!   

Following recovery, our hero returned to his same unit, something uncommon in the fray of war.  The 23rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Unit was part of the 4th Armored Division of General Patton’s 3rd Army.  Although he never saw Patton (nicknamed “Old Blood & Guts”) Chavez was along for the ride when Patton promised General Eisenhower he could relieve the 101st Airborne Division, entrenched and surrounded at Bastogne.   In fact, he joined his unit on December 23rd, just in time for the trip!

Along the way Private Chavez earned the rank of T-5, a technical rank, one that carried no hierarchical authority. Chavez was, and still is, the essence of the soldier who quietly does his duty, who fights on without complaint and without fanfare.  When I asked what it was like to have liberated Bastogne and the 101st Airborne (dubbed “The Battered Bastards of Bastogne”) he told me his unit wasn’t selected to go into the town. He claimed no glory.  He was just doing his job.   He was a soldier.

As the war neared its end, the 23rd Cavalry Reconnaissance unit continued the push into the German Fatherland.  Regular army (Wehrmacht) troops were giving up the fight, but Chavez noted the Hitler Youth, young men, teenagers, continued resistance.  One day the 23rd was approaching a town where residents were flying white flags from their windows, a signal of surrender.  Two Germans opened fire and in the ensuing battle, Chavez was again wounded, this time taking shrapnel (sharp pieces of metal typically from weapons like bombs, artillery rounds or hand grenades).   Back he went to the rear, and eventually to Street, England.  There he stayed until the end of the war.  When I asked how he felt when he heard the war was over, he told me that even today, words can’t express the emotions.

Our story doesn’t end with Germany’s surrender.  Just like the great Greek Hero, Odysseus, Pvt. Chavez still wasn’t home.  The final leg of the journey will be the topic of the next blog…
   

For more information, visit the I-History Project-WW2 or contact me directly at jeff@ihistoryproject.org

The Road To Citizenship Passes Through Bastogne: Part 1: The Beginning – By Jeffrery Worthington, iHistory Project-WW2

Anyone who has read the Odyssey, the epic tale of the wanderings of Odysseus following the Trojan War, will remember these opening words: “Of arms I sing, and of the man…”  At the end, our hero returns home, reunited with family and friends.    Today you’ll read the story of another great wanderer, C.E. Chavez, whose journey during World War Two is no less miraculous; but is one thing Odysseus’ journey was not: It is real.  

World War 2, WW2, World War 2 Contest, World War 2 Video Contest, You Tube Contest WW2, You Tube Contest World War 2, iHistory Project,   WW2 Volunteers, Jeff Worthington, Jeffrey Worthington, Military History Contest, High School You Tube Competition, World War Two Video Contest, History Contest World War 2, Great Project for High School History, High School History ContestC.E. Chavez’ journey begins in 1924. Born into a typical Mexican family, he was the eldest boy of a family of six children.  Tough economic times drove his family to move to Guadalupe and his father, a field worker, went to labor almost 60 miles from their home, where he died, presumably a victim of the harsh environment.  Mrs. Chavez moved the family to Juarez and then, in 1929, across the Rio Grande, to the U.S. border town, El Paso.  There C.E. (his preferred name) grew up.  He describes his childhood as typical for the place and the time.  The depression had started and the Chavez family was not spared the hardships of the era.  Mrs. Chavez worked at any domestic jobs she could find.  She was literate in Spanish, but not in English.  In fact, she never learned the English language and this, her son recalls, limited her opportunities.  They survived, in part due to the housing provided by their church and through the church he had access to education.  Chavez describes himself as a less than stellar student and after attending three schools, he left at the end of the sixth grade.  I spoke with him and I was impressed with his vocabulary, a command of English that reflected a competency far beyond that of a typical sixth-grader.  It was during his time in the service, C.E. noted, that he became an avid reader, something he has continued throughout his life.

Chavez described his life as typical.  Childhood was a time of play.  In this era, before television, before video games and before internet applications, neighborhood children gathered outdoors to play. Swimming in the irrigation canals was a particular favorite. 

One childhood memory Chavez recalled (and which he connected to some of the bleakness of the war years) was that the children raided the farms of Japanese-American families.  “They grew cantaloupes and corn,” he remembers.  “That was good eating, at least for a couple of days.”  The farmers discouraged the children by shooting at them with shotguns loaded with rock salt; a practice which is hard to forget for those on the business end of the shotguns.  From personal experience, Chavez said it burns!   This all came to an end, he said, when the Japanese-Americans were moved to internment camps following the Empire of Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbour.

Where was C.E. Chavez when Japan attacked the US Pacific Fleet?  How did he enter the war?  What was his war experience?  We’ll talk about that in the next post!    
I hope you will support me (and hundreds of World War 2 enthusiasts and volunteers around the world) in challenging American teens across America, who are interested in military history, to participate in the iHistory Project-WW2.  We are committed to preserving these great World War 2 stories and memories and to bringing them to life so future generations will understand and appreciate the events of this conflict and how they shaped our world.

For more information, visit the I-History Project-WW2 or contact me directly at jeff@ihistoryproject.org

A Generation Later… What Uncle Bob Did Made a Big Difference! by Jeff Worthington

World War 2, WW2, World War 2 Contest, World War 2 Video Contest, You Tube Contest WW2, You Tube Contest World War 2, iHistory Project,   WW2 Volunteers, Jeff Worthington, Jeffrey Worthingon, Military History Contest, High School You Tube Competition, World War Two Video Contest, History Contest World War 2, Great Project for High School History, High School History Contest,The war was ended.  Civilian Robert H. McAllister, like many veterans, returned home and began the healing process.  He settled in the small town of Massapequa, NY, living at 12 Boston Avenue.  Baby-Boomers abounded and in his corner of Massapequa, former Sgt. (and now civilian) Robert H. McAllister was called “Uncle Bob” by the children of the neighborhood.  They grew up and some were called to serve during the Viet Nam War.  One, Kevin Hurley, was an Army MP stationed in Saigon during the Tet offensive of 1968.

In the early 1970’s Kevin’s sister, Deborah, was wed.  The McAllister family attended and in a conversation with former Sgt. McAllister’s son, Hugh, Kevin said that only he and one other person came out of their building alive.  Hugh recalled that Kevin told him how during the time they were under siege, he would lay at night and wonder: “What would Uncle Bob do?”  The stories of survival McAllister told had made a strong impression on Kevin.  He said he believed those stories and the survival strategies he learned, helped him survive.  Kevin carried out of the building his sole surviving comrade.            
          
“What would Uncle Bob do?”   The stories of a single soldier, one who enlisted because of an insult; who selected the rigors of an enlisted soldier over the relative comforts of a
seafaring officer‘s service, may be the difference between life and death for another; even though they were separated by a generation and served in a very different conflict.  

I hope you will support me (and hundreds of World War 2 enthusiasts and volunteers around the world) in challenging American teens across America, who are interested in military history, to participate in the iHistory Project-WW2.  We are committed to preserving these great World War 2 stories and memories and to bringing them to life so future generations will understand and appreciate the events of this conflict and how they shaped our world.

For more information, visit the I-History Project-WW2 or contact me directly at jeff@ihistoryproject.org

What Would “Uncle Bob Do?” by Jeffrey Worthington, iHistory Project-WW2

World War 2, WW2, World War 2 Contest, World War 2 Video Contest, You Tube Contest WW2, You Tube Contest World War 2, iHistory Project,   WW2 Volunteers, Jeff Worthington, Jeffrey Worthingon, Military History Contest, High School You Tube Competition, World War Two Video Contest, History Contest World War 2, Great Project for High School History, High School History Contest,We see wars as individual events, periods of time that have beginnings and ends.  The connections across time are often ignored.  I’m not talking about political events that link conflicts, but rather, the individuals’ stories; the human connections.  One such story binds the European Theater of Operations in WW2 with Saigon in 1968.  It’s the story of a soldier in the 137th Signal Radio Intelligence Corps, Sgt. Robert H. McAllister, later known as “Uncle Bob.”

Sgt. McAllister was the son of Hugh Robert McAllister, an Irish born sea captain.  All his life, he was groomed to be a seaman.  The problem was, he hated the sea.  He earned his Third Mate’s papers at the age of 17, but left the service to pursue a career in business.  When the U.S. entered the war he was a sales manager for a cork company, a title which earned him a deferment.  He told his son, Hugh McAllister that one day while renewing his deferment, a soldier at the draft office commented that he was “another Irishman afraid to fight.”  A fight ensued Robert H. McAllister enlisted that day. His son recalls that “my Dad never got the connection that the army staffer got what he wanted, another recruit, and all it cost him was a black eye.”  McAllister selected the US Army Infantry because of his admiration for an uncle, James Kelly, who served admirably in the “Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment” during the First World War. 

Even following enlistment, offered based on his earlier commission as a Third Mate in the Merchant Marine; he was offered a commission in his choice of the US Navy or the Merchant fleet.  Hatred of the sea and admiration for his uncle “Jimmy” conspired to keep him in the army.  Radio operation, a skill learned on board his father’s ship, got him a ticket to the signal corps, where he served until the end of the war.  His unit arrived in France on September 3, 1944 and served in France, Luxemburg, Holland, Germany and Belgium, leaving Europe on August 14, 1945, from the port at Lahore, on the Liberty Ship “Joseph Leidy.”  Along the way the 137th Signal Radio Intelligence Company engaged Nazi troops in the Battle of The Bulge.  Sgt. McAllister experienced war, operating in areas frequented by German Panzers and SS units.  He was lucky.  He survived. 

In the next post we’ll fast-forward to see how Uncle Bob made a big difference in another soldier’s life, in another, very different time and place.

I hope you will support me (and hundreds of World War 2 enthusiasts and volunteers around the world) in challenging American teens across America, who are interested in military history, to participate in the iHistory Project-WW2.  We are committed to preserving these great World War 2 stories and memories and to bringing them to life so future generations will understand and appreciate the events of this conflict and how they shaped our world.

For more information, visit the I-History Project-WW2 or contact me directly at jeff@ihistoryproject.org

What Are You Doing Next Saturday At 4:00PM? by Jeffrey Worthington, iHistory Project-WW2

War is Hell.  Ask anyone who has been there and the story is the same.  Still, amidst the death and destruction; despite the hating and the killing, humanity shines through, a beacon and a sentinel letting us know there is hope our spirit of good will prevail.  Frank and Jean Bausmith lived through the ravages but stood as a beacon of goodness in the face of inhumanity.  This is their story:

Frank was a quarterback and Jean was a cheerleader.  She wanted a football boyfriend for whom she could root and he admits he was watching Jean from afar.  They were both shy, but through the encouragement of friends, and the intervention of the local paperboy, who asked Jean if she would go out with frank, they began a dating relationship that was described as “back and forth.” Then came December, 1941…

The Japanese attack on December 7, 1941 was something Frank could not ignore.  “Pearl Harbor,” he recalled, “was what turned us on to joining the service.  That was it.  We had to do something, so I volunteered.”  He enlisted in the Marine Corps and served honorably as a medic with the 4th Marine Division.  Frank got a Purple Heart after a Japanese hand grenade hit him.  In another attack, while attending to a fellow Marine, he was wounded, again, when a Japanese bullet went through a palm tree and stuck in his arm. The wound was so minor that he didn’t get a Purple Heart for it.  The real magic of Frank’s time in the war, however, wasn’t his valor under fire.  It wasn’t the  wounds  he received nor was it the many fierce battle locations he survived, places like Saipan, Okinawa and Iwo Jima.  The real magic was the humanity he maintained despite the inhumanity around him. 

At Saipan, fighting was characteristically fierce and the Japanese held tightly to every inch of ground.  They had convinced the local people that surrender to the Americans would bring unthinkable horrors, so many committed suicide or tried anything, regardless of how desperate, to avoid capture.  In a cistern the Marines found bodies of dead civilians who had hidden themselves there and died.  Frank saw a baby move and jumped into save him.  A fellow Marine sent the baby to the aid station.  Amidst the horror, humanity survived.  In his personal life, too, Frank put love above the fray. Here is their story…

Frank and Jean maintained a long distance romance by mail.  He recalls that letters came from her every other day, under most conditions.  Sometimes the war interrupted mail flow, so occasionally a week would go by with no letters in the mail pouch.  He wrote, faithfully, every day.

The romantic intensity grew as the months and even years passed and Frank even bought a ring while on leave and sent it to jean, with no explanation.  The price tag was still on it.  She decided that, as she remarked, “it better be an engagement ring” and she put an engagement announcement in the newspaper.  When Frank returned home, he asked Jean when she thought they might marry.  She asked him:  “What are you doing next Saturday at 4:00PM?”   They have been married for sixty-seven years. 

War is Hell.  Still, somewhere beyond the horror, humanity can survive.
     
I hope you will support me (and hundreds of World War 2 enthusiasts and volunteers around the world) in challenging American teens across America, who are interested in military history, to participate in the iHistory Project-WW2.  We are committed to preserving these great World War 2 stories and memories and to bringing them to life so future generations will understand and appreciate the events of this conflict and how they shaped our world.

For more information, visit the I-History Project-WW2 or contact me directly at jeff@ihistoryproject.org