Edition No. 5
March 17, 2017
EIGHT--COUNT ’EM, EIGHT--
DAYS UNTIL DRAFT DAY
Believe it or not, the funnest day of the year is only eight days away. On Saturday, March 25, 2017, commencing at 11:00 a.m., we will gather in the HRC1 Conference Room (formerly known as the “Washington” Room and before that the “War” Room) for the 33rd Annual Hot Stove League Draft. Between now and then, I will be in Mexico raising funds for The Wall, while Itchie will be spending some time in the Valley of the Sun under the watchful eye of Sheriff Joe.
As always, Draft Day will be a gas. I can’t wait.
KILLING THE RISING SUN:
How America Vanquished World War II Japan
I just finished reading the most recently published book in the “Killing” series by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, Killing the Rising Sun, copyright 2016. For those of you who have read Unbroken (and/or seen the movie by the same name), Killing the Rising Sun is practically a sequel to that book, in that it describes in a vivid and credible way the ruthlessness of the Japanese military leaders and soldiers, and the complicity of Emperor Hirohito in the atrocities visited upon the fighting forces of the Allied military; and too upon the innocent citizenry of the many countries invaded and attacked by the Japanese leading up to and during World War II, including China, Burma, Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, and, of course, the United States of America.
Until reading Unbroken, and now Killing, my knowledge and discernment of the horrors of World War II were mostly centered around the despicable behavior of the Nazis, and their slaughtering of millions of defenseless Jews through the gas chambers and otherwise, their abominable treatment of the infirm and the handicapped, and their unspeakable medical, dental, and other experiments on live human subjects--for which many a Nazi has presumably been damned to eternal hellfire. However, when it comes to evil and unspeakable treatment of captured soldiers and innocent citizens, the Germans don’t hold a candle to the Japanese.
The statistics are unbelievable. The great majority (92,820 out of 93,941 total) of the American Prisoners of War in Germany survived their ordeal in captivity by the Teutons. Conversely, the percentage of American POWs who survived their inhumane treatment by the Japs is dramatically less (22,409 out of 36,260). I am now starting to understand why so many World War II veterans loathed the Japanese people after WWII, and Harry S.2 Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb not once but twice is also much more understandable, in light of these readings.
Because the Japanese soldiers were trained from an early age that to surrender was to disgrace oneself and one’s family in perpetuity, there is little doubt that the Japanese would have savagely fought to the last man to save their sacred homeland of Japan, and Allied deaths likely could have been in seven figures if the planned invasion of Japan had actually happened.3 The book describes well the incredible courage of the U.S. Marines and other fighting forces who suffered immeasurably while in combat in the Philippines and Okinawa and the other islands in the Pacific Ocean, as the Allied Forces moved closer and closer to the Japanese mainland.
Through reading about their heroic exploits, I was reminded that my dad, Private First Class Jack Ernst, was in the Philippines and in Okinawa during his stint in the Navy. Like many World War II veterans, my dad always downplayed and essentially pooh-poohed his part in World War II4, claiming that his boat (the LST 802) was only in the area for “mop-up” duty, and not involved in active combat. However, after reading Killing, I pulled out Dad’s scrapbook from his Navy years, blew off the dust, and read through the diary of events. I found the following among the scores of entries therein:
4 April 1945
Detached 4th anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, Fleet Marine Force. Left Saipan for Guam.
12 April 1945
Left Saipan, Marianas Is. en route to Okinawa, Ryukua Is.
16 April 1945
U.S. in plane crashed 2000 yards off our port bow. Pilot was rescued by D.E. The plane’s compass went on the blink, pilot decided to crash land.
17 April 1945
Arrived at Okinawa, Ryukua Is. LST 802 was the first LST to beach on east side of island. Took Chimu Wan. Launched pontoon barges. Detached Twentieth U.S. Naval Construction Battalion; and Forty-Second U.S. Naval Construction Battalion.
[Ed. Note: The Battle of Okinawa (codenamed Operation Iceberg) lasted from April 1 to June 22, 1945 (82 days), and involved the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War in World War II. More than 20,000 Americans died in the Battle of Okinawa, and it’s estimated that as many as 110,000 Japanese soldiers died in combat there.]
18 April 1945
Went ashore on island. Ernie Pyle killed on LeShima twenty miles from us.
20 April 1945
Launched LCT 1372 off our top deck.
1 May 1945
Left Saipan, Marianas Is. en route to Okinawa, Ryukua Is.
12 May 1945
Aided in repelling Jap air attack at 1915.
15 August 1945
War with Japan unofficially over. Had liberty here.
10 September 1945
LST 936, second ship behind us, was hit by a floating mine or something, tearing a 15-foot hole in side of ship.
8 October 1945
Departed Okinawa, Ryukua Islands due to typhoon.
11 October 1945
Returned to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, Ryukua Islands. Worst typhoon in 20 years. Cruised 430 miles riding out the storm.
20 October 1945
Arrived Tokyo, Japan.
Holy smokes, I only now come to find out (or realize) that Dad’s boat was in fact in harm’s way several months before Victory in Japan Day (V. J. Day), and had Truman not decided to drop the nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, my dad might very well have been one of those brave American servicemen who gave their life for their country while fighting the Japanese Empire. In fact, if not for Little Boy (Enola Gay) and Fat Man (Bockscar), you might not be reading these words today.5 In any event, after reading Killing the Rising Sun and then perusing my dad’s Navy diary through a different lens, I had goosebumps down my spine and tears in my eyes, all at once. God bless former Seaman Jack Ormond Ernst, and God bless all of our country’s heroic servicemen, past, present and future.
The newest Killing also reminded me of the heroism of former president George Herbert Walker Bush. When he appeared in front of the television cameras recently in Houston (after he got out of the hospital, around inauguration time), he looked so old and frail, but the man has the heart of a lion. According to O’Reilly, at age 19 Bush flew in more than 50 combat missions for the Allies, and was shot down and had to parachute into the open ocean, where he fortunately was picked up by a ship and survived the ordeal. Bush may not have been a great president (he was ranked 25th in the recent poll after the inauguration, quite a few spots ahead of his son at 33), but he is indeed a great man.
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
I just got some mixed news just this morning from Brother Itchie. First, it seems that our oft-unemployed amigo is unemployed once again, having recently “retired”6 from his most recent venture. I view this as good news for all of us, because Itchie is a whole lot more fun when he isn’t stressing over his sales numbers, and fretting and stewing about how to flim-flam yet another customer with his “I Sell Dreams” pitch. And it’s good for Itchie, because he can get back to his 80 rounds of golf per year quota.
The other piece of new information about Itchie is a true good news/bad news situation. The good news is that he and Anne were able to sell their family home and acreage, which had been on the market for a number of months. Good for John and Anne. The not-so-good news is that they have purchased a new home--wait for it--which is a chip shot from our house, located at 901 N. 190th Street in Five Fountains. Are you effing kidding me? I checked it out earlier today, and Itchie will very soon be able to sit on his back deck and look over the pond at our back deck and our swimming pool. If the deal goes through, Peeping John won’t even need a high-powered telescope7 to peer into my business and leer at the lovely young beauties who will be swimming in our pool this summer.
This is unprecedented. First Foster moves right next door to me in Pepperwood, when we were both single, and scared off all the good looking chicks. Then I get married the first time, and so he gets married. Then I buy my acreage on South 180th Street, and he buys his acreage 4 blocks away on 184th Street. And now this. Good Lord. Looking ahead, I won’t be able to tell anyone the name of the nursing home that I’m moving into, or he’ll be following me there as well, I’m sure!
My only hope is that when the Theilens have their current house inspected before consummating the sale of that home, they discover a Rod Kush-like black mold problem in the basement, so bad that they not only cannot sell it to the current buyers, but they will end up giving it away to the Fire Department for a training exercise, like Kush.
Unfortunately, because we leave for Mexico tomorrow morning at o’dark-thirty, I don’t even have time to get down to the courthouse and ask for a protection order, but that’s obviously going to have to be the next step.
Wow. I mean, wow. I am truly alarmed.
· I saw this truck on the streets of Omaha the other day. Cracked me up:
· I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that read, simply, Reading is sexy. I’m sorry, it’s not. Reading is enjoyable, enlightening, edifying, advisable, recommended, I’ll even take awesome, but sexy it’s not.
· Who here doesn’t think that Trump leaked his own 2005 tax return. Is this guy fascinating or what?
Gotta go. Gotta get some work done and get packing for Mexico. See you next Saturday!
1 Hillary Rodham Clinton.
2 “S” stands for nothing. Give-’Em-Hell Harry merely had an initial to go between his first and last names.
3 As General Douglas MacArthur dreamed about every night when he fell asleep, putting a smile on his face. The dude was a warmonger.
4 This apple did fall a long ways from the tree. Had it been me, I would have been bragging up my war service to beat the band, not underplaying it like Pops.
5 Not to be a drama queen or anything.
6 Technically, this is accurate, and it sure sounds better than “Forced Out Due to Suspected Embezzlement.”
7 Like the one he uses now.