District IV
Post 727Consolidated with Post 9957 in Taipei as of August 13, 2017.

Ex-Post 727 Commander Ted W. Steppe


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This month in history

Audie Murphy

The Great Escape Tunnel Found!

December 7, 1941  President Roosevelt Addresses Congress  (short film clip).  Size is about 8 meg. .

Pearl Harbor statistics:
Causalities:    USA:      218 KIA    364 WIA
                USN:     2,008 KIA    710 WIA
              USMC:     109 KIA     69 WIA
              Civilians:    68 KIA     35 WIA
         Total:   2403 KIA   1178 WIA
Contrary to the Hollywood movie version, none of the 134 military nurses present were killed on Dec. 7, 1941.  Not only did they care for the wounded, they also did whatever was required!  But this famously published photo was NOT one of those times!

nurses.jpg (18099 bytes)This photo often associated with Dec. 7, was NOT taken on that date,
according to Katherine Lowe (second from right).   A civilian employed at the shipyard after the war started.  This was a training exercise in fire fighting - and no nurses involved (they were sufficiently busy at the hospital!)

Battleships:              USS Arizona - Total loss - bomb hit magazine (1511 men on board, 334 survived)
                         USS Oklahoma - total loss - capsized and sunk
                         USS California - Sunk - later raised and repaired
                         USS West Virginia - Sunk - later raised and repaired
                         USS Nevada - beached to prevent sinking, later repaired
                         USS Pennsylvania - Light damage
                         USS Maryland - Light damage
                         USS Tennessee - Light damage
                         USS Utah - sunk (had been used as a target ship)

Cruisers:                 USS New Orleans - light damage
                         USS San Francisco - light damage
                         USS Detroit - light damage
                         USS Raleigh - Heavily damaged, but repaired
                         USS Helena - light damage
                         USS Honolulu - light damage

Destroyers:               USS Downes - destroyed - parts salvaged
                         USS Cassin - destroyed - parts salvaged  
                         USS Shaw - very heavily damaged
                         USS Helm - light damage

Minelayer:                USS Ogala - sunk, raised and repaired

Seaplane Tender:         USS Curtiss - severly damaged, but repaired

Repair ship:              USS Vestal - severely damaged but repaired

Harbor Tug:              USS Satoyomo - Sunk, raised and repaired

Aircraft:                  188 aircraft destroyed

Not in port:              USS Enterprise (carrier),
                        USS Lexington (carrier), 
                        USS Saratoga (Carrier), and
                        USS Colorado (battleship)


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Capt. Ed Freeman - medal of honor.

A comrade remembered:

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Captain Ed Freeman - Medal of Honor recipient
for rescue actions November 11, 1967.   You can find the details of his actions in the Medal of Honor citation -  a friend of mine owes his life to Capt. Freeman and thus included here.
Died August 20, 2008, Boise, Idaho, at age 70.


December 1944 Battle of the Bulge



Sgt Jack Edwards (UK-HK) - Few have written from personal experiences as a POW in the Japanese POW "work" camps in Taiwan.   U.S. POWS in German hands suffered a mortality rate of about one in twenty, U.S. POW's in Japanese hands throughout Asia suffered a mortality rate of more than one in three* including camps in Taiwan - and this does NOT include the additional one in ten (estimated - no clear statistics were collected) that died within 5 years of release due to the mistreatment received from the Japanese.  Why is this included in 'our' VFW site?  His book "Banzai You Bastards" is a 'must read' for WWII history buffs - and I recommend it to everyone - especially to the Japanese Government and their Board of Education, who still deny these things happened     This gem is occasionally available from Amazon.  Jack Edwards was a British prisoner of the Japanese and put to work as a slave laborer in a Taiwan gold mine (now a museum).     The existence of  POW camps in Taiwan run by the Japanese and their Taiwanese ally is seldom mentioned locally (Taiwan) nor in most western war history accounts.  Those of us in Posts 9957 and 727 have made Taiwan our home, and occasionally a book of particular significance to our location and common interest arises - this is one of those!    The first printing of this book is the first time a copy of the Japanese High Command order to massacre all POWs and 'leave no traces'   was openly published.   A similar document uncovered by the author - the Japanese high command also issued a secret order 5 days after their surrender -
(official translation)

Personnel who mistreated prisoners of war and internees or who are held in extremely bad sentiment by them are permitted to take care of it by immediately transferring or by fleeing without trace.  Moreover, documents which would be unfavorable for us in the hands of the enemy are to be treated in the same way as secret documents and destroyed when finished with.

This was addressed to several Japanese army locations -  including those in Taiwan.

To learn more about Mr. Edwards click here.     Mr. Edwards was very active in identifying and bringing to justice many war criminals and apparently a firm believer in 'Forgive - maybe; Forget - NEVER!'     I highly recommend this book!

It should be noted that not all of the identified Japanese War Crime Criminals were caught including some "class A" criminals such as Mutuhiro Watanabe - who managed to escape detection for several years until general amnesty was given.  Watanabe, "The Bird", was interviewed in 1997 when he boasted that he may have been a little "harsh" in enforcing the rules.

While on recommendations for WWII buffs, I suggest watching The Railway Man.    Another film based on a life story of a WWII POW in Japanese hands.


Okay - so maybe I need a special page for my "suggested reading" postings!  But for now....
Beyond the Call by Lee Trimble is being added to my reading list for of WWII buffs.   He relates his assignment to Russia - worthy read and available in Kindle format from Amazon.


While on books - most of us have seen Band of Brothers, and The Pacific and read some of the books from the glut of publications after Band of Brothers was aired.  Some were informative, and some were - in my opinion -  cashing in on the popularity of HBO's airing of Band of BrothersThe Pacific took a different direction to basically follow three individuals.   Well done.  
Try GOODBYE DARKNESS  by William Manchester - worthy reading from a history professor, an author, and ex-Marine "canon fodder"   on Okinawa.    Mr. Manchester has a unique ability with words and manages to portray an inkling into the fears many of the Marines experienced - and a small glimpse of the horrors they witnessed.   I recommend ANY book by William Manchester - but especially this one!


Last WWI Vet

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May 2011 issue of the VFW magazine featured Frank Buckles on the front cover - (above from VFW magazine), the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran.   Frank Buckles died peacefully at his home February 27, 2011.   Hopefully, you read his remarkable story - especially the part where as a civilian, he was taken prisoner by the Japanese in the Philippines and spent three years two months in a typical Japanese starvation POW camp.    Frank Buckles was 110 years old when he died.



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Formation "Fly-by" Over of Ellis Island!  


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Neil Armstrong Neil Alden Armstrong, a U.S. Naval Officer who served in the Korean War, died August 25, 2012. Mr. Armstrong was a civilian Astronaut and the first man to set foot on the moon - a mission in which I played a small part!

Neil Alden Armstrong and Apollo XI.    
I was with Bendix Aerospace and part of the team that tested the electronics package that went with Commander Armstrong and Apollo XI to the moon (yes, the geek with plastic pocket protectors is me), and I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Armstrong, as well as many of the other "early" astronauts.   For duration of the Apollo XI mission, I was assigned to the Guaymas Tracking Station to assist in the telemetry area.  And lastly - I have included  excerpts from a 1969 NASA publication.  There were not many of us that handled ALL of the moon electronics - other than the astronauts, and I am quite proud to have been part of that team.  

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Not many of these exist!!!  It has hung prominently behind my desk since 1969!

Excerpts from Apollo XI Log (NASA pub.)

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The Great Escape Tunnel:


Untouched for almost seven decades, the tunnel used in the Great Escape has finally been unearthed. The 111-yard passage nicknamed 'Harry' by Allied prisoners was sealed by the Germans after the audacious break-out from the POW camp Stalag Luft III in western Poland.


Despite huge interest in the subject, encouraged by the film starring Steve McQueen, the tunnel remained  undisturbed over the decades because it was behind the Iron Curtain  and the Soviet authorities had no interest in its  significance.



But at last British archaeologists have excavated it, and discovered its remarkable secrets.


Many of the bed boards which had been joined together to stop it collapsing were still in position. And the ventilation shaft, ingeniously crafted from used powdered milk containers known as  Klim Tins, remained in working order.  


Scattered throughout the tunnel, which is 30ft below ground, were bits of old metal buckets,  hammers and crowbars which were used to hollow out the route.

  A total of 600 prisoners worked on three tunnels at the same time.  They were nicknamed Tom, Dick and Harry and were just 2 ft square for most  of their length. It was on the night of March 24 and 25, 1944, that 76 Allied airmen escaped through Harry.


Barely a third of the 200 prisoners many in fake German uniforms and civilian  outfits and carrying false identity papers, who were meant to slip  away managed to leave before the alarm was raised when escapee number 77 was spotted.

 Tunnel vision: A tunnel reconstruction showing the trolley system.

Only three made it back to Britain. Another 50 were executed by firing squad on the orders of Adolf Hitler, who was furious after learning of the breach of security.  In all, 90 boards from bunk beds, 62 tables, 34 chairs and 76 benches, as well as thousands of items including knives, spoons, forks, towels and blankets, were squirreled away by the Allied prisoners to aid the escape plan under the noses of their captors.


 Although the Hollywood movie suggested otherwise, NO Americans were involved in the operation. Most were British, and the others were from Canada, (all the tunnelers were Canadian personnel with backgrounds in mining) Poland, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.



The site of the tunnel, recently  excavated by British archaeologists.


The latest dig, over three weeks in August, located the entrance to Harry, which was originally concealed under a stove in Hut 104.


The team also found another tunnel, called George, whose exact position had not been charted. It was never used as the 2,000 prisoners were forced to march to other camps as the Red Army approached in January 1945.


Watching the excavation was Gordie King, 91, an RAF radio operator, who was 140th in line to use Harry and therefore missed out. 'This brings back such bitter-sweet memories,' he said as he wiped away tears. 'I'm amazed by what they've found.'


Bitter-sweet  memories: Gordie King, 91, made an emotional return to Stalag Luft III.

(Many thanks to Peggy of Thomas Jefferson High School, Richmond VA.)


Audie Murphy - WWII most decorated soldier.

OK - we think we know a lot about Audie Murphy - but look at the medals!   These aren't "tin soldier" ornaments!  He was brave, but none of those medals were for intelligence!   He lost his money from Hollywood on bad investments, gambling, and women - and left his wife (Pamala) with huge debts.  And to HER credit, she paid them off!   And dedicated her life to veterans!


And so on......

But what about his widow - Pamela Murphy?

She worked tirelessly at Sepulveda VA hospital  for 35 years as a patient liaison.  She died April 2010.

I love these little pieces of trivia!




I  doubt if anyone reads this far!  So, I'll put in another of my two cents worth - as a vet I took an oath to protect the Constitution of the U.S.  against ALL enemies, both foreign and domestic.  With that in mind, since that time, we have lost a few freedoms that most of us hold dear and near to our hearts and were led to believe that they were our constitutional rights.     I'll list a few lost in recent years as reported by Associated press:

  • Freedom of Association.  Government may monitor religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity to "assist terror investigations".   "...the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition....." (and you can look up the rest)
  • Freedom of Information.  Government has closed once public immigration hearings, has secretly detained hundreds - if not thousands - of people without charges, and has encouraged bureaucrats to resist answering public records questions and requests for copies under the freedom of information act.
  • Freedom of speech.  Government may prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone that the government subpoenaed information related to a "terror investigation".   (Note: any further explanation is not required and if you question it, you may be "detained" indefinitely.)
  • Right to legal representation.  Government may monitor federal prison jailhouse conversations between attorneys and clients, and deny lawyers to Americans accused of some crimes.
  • Freedom from unreasonable searches.  Government may search and seize Americans' papers and effects without probable cause to assist "terror investigation".
  • Right to a speedy and public trial.  Government may jail Americans indefinitely without a trial.  (again if claimed to be "terrorist related".)
  • Right to liberty.  Americans may be jailed without being charged, or confront witnesses against them.

Not listed by Associated Press was right of privacy.  Mail may be intercepted and opened without warrant.  It used to be that your medical records were confidential.  Not anymore!   And try getting treated without signing a release form!!!  And the list goes on!

Even your vote may no be longer valid!   Electronic voting machines can be easily rigged - and often are - to yield any results the hacker desires.  Look up Hacking Democracy on You Tube.

And while I'm ranting- visit WWW.TEDSPHOTORECORD.COM