Thursday, April 29, 2010

USS Pintado Serves as a Memorial to those in WWII’s Submarine Service

It is to the everlasting honor and glory of our submarine personnel that they never failed us in our great days of peril.
-Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

When visiting the National Museum of the Pacific War, it would be impossible to miss the submarine surfacing in front of the newly renovated building. Yes, Fredericksburg is land-locked but the fairwater of the USS Pintado (SS-387) has been architecturally placed to appear as if it is emerging from below. The Submarine Memorial truly is a sight to be seen.

On December 6, 2009 – one day before the Grand Opening of the new George H. W. Bush Gallery – the Submarine Memorial was dedicated in honor of the Submarine Service of WWII and in memory of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation’s late Executive Director, Rear Admiral Charles D. Grojean, USN.

The Dedication Plaque reads:

Dedicated to the Men of the United States Navy’s Submarine Service in World War II, and to the 3,505 officers and enlisted men lost and now on Eternal Patrol. In proportion to their numbers, they extracted the highest price from the enemy of any of our armed forces in the Pacific, and paid the highest price in return.

Established in honor and memory of Rear Admiral Charles D. Grojean, USN. His vision and leadership as Executive Director of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation made possible both this memorial and the National Museum of the Pacific War.

Fifty-two submarines along with 3,505 enlisted men and officers were lost during World War II and are now on Eternal Patrol.

The Presentation Plaque reads:

Pintado made six war patrols in enemy waters, during which she disposed of five naval vessels and ten merchantmen of the Empire of Japan, sunk or otherwise disabled, totaling 132,900 tons of enemy shipping. During her fifth patrol, she rescued all twelve crewmembers of the B-29 “City of Galveston.”

Pintado was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism during her first three patrols, the Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia with three stars, and five Battle Stars for her AsiaticPacific Theater of War participation.

The National Museum of the Pacific War obtained the Pintado’s fairwater and periscope as loans from the United States Navy, with the assistance of the USS Pintado Association.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Okinawa Photos

The following are photos from the Battle of Okinawa from the museum's collection.

Narrow Escape (3 May 1945). Photographed at Guam, Army Nurse First Lieutenant Mary Jensen of San Diego, California, looks up through the hole in the concrete and steel deck of the Navy hospital ship Comfort, punctured when a Japanese suicide pilot dive-crashed into the ship off Okinawa with his bomb-laden plane. Nurse Jensen, who had stepped out of the main surgery supply room less than one minute before it was completely demolished by the explosion, is standing three decks below where the crash occurred.

A Son is Buried (11 May 1945). Marine Colonel Francis I. Fenton, kneeling prays at the foot of his son’s grave. Private First Class Mike Fenton was killed in a Japanese counterattack on the road to Shuri. Bereaved friends, officers and men stand reverently by.

My Buddy (12 May 1945). A Marine comforts a brother Leatherneck who broke down and cried after witnessing the death of a buddy on an Okinawa hillside. These First Division Marines participated in the furious drive on Shuri Castle, the enemy fortress two miles east of the capital city of Naha.

Naha Finale (30 May 1945). Perched on the rim of a gaping hole in the wall of a theater in the Ryukyu capital, a Marine rifleman views the result of the American bombardment of Naha. Skeletons of structures are all that remain of the city with a pre-invasion population of 66,000 people.

Midget Warriors (17 June 1945). Marine First Lieutenant Hart H. Spiegal of Topeka, Kansas, makes with the sign language as he tries to strike up a conversation with two tiny Japanese soldiers captured on Okinawa. The boy on the left is “18” while his companion boasts “20” years.

Seeing the Light (21 June 1945). A Marine rifleman signals his companion to hold his fire as a Japanese soldier emerges from a cave on Okinawa. Persuaded by a smoke grenade, the occupants of the hideout surrendered to the Leathernecks, adding to the large bag of prisoners taken during the island campaign.

Strong Hands Uphold the WeakOkinawa photosOkinawa photos (1 April 1945). Three Marines offer their services to an aged native of Okinawa. Two aid the old man while a third carries his possessions as they make their way over the rough road to the safe areas behind the Marine lines. During the first few days of the campaign, the Leathernecks encountered only civilians as they pushed inland.

Abandoned (1 April 1945). As the Marines landed, the Japanese military fled, leaving the aged, the infirm, and the too-small children in the path of the Leathernecks. Marine Corporal Fenwick H. Dunn of Lynn, Massachusetts, shares the candy from his K ration with an aged woman.

Ma and the Kids (1 April 1945). The Marines came on shore on Okinawa in time for the blessed event in this goat family. Marine Private First Class Donald P. Chatterton of St. Paul, Minnesota, was the self-appointed guardian.

Okinawa pho

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mr. James Parkinson and "The Inheritance of War"

Today is the first day of the first annual Hill Country Film Festival (HCFF). Over the course of two days and three evenings, five feature films along with a selection of short films will be shown at the Stagecoach Theater right here in Fredericksburg. You may be wondering what this has to do with the National Museum of the Pacific War. Besides being a great event for the community of Fredericksburg, the museum is very fortunate to be hosting a special speaker as part of the film festival.

Mr. James Parkinson, an esteemed lawyer from California, produced and narrated “Inheritance of War,” a feature film that will be aired at the HCFF on Saturday at 3:00. Mr. Parkinson took on the case of WWII veterans who were taken prisoner by the Japanese, survived the Bataan Death March and were used as slave labor by Japanese corporations. I won’t give away the outcome of the case for reparations from the Japanese, but the details are sure to leave you searching for more answers. The former POWs involved in the case would not accept being called heroes. Rather they wanted to tell their stories both for the sake of those who didn’t make it through the horrors as well as to educate future generations and ensure that something like this never happens again.

In the Grand Ballroom of the Admiral Nimitz Museum on Main Street, at 6:30 on Friday evening, Mr. Parkinson will be speaking about his experiences with the POWs, his book on the subject, Soldier Slaves, and the film. His book will be available at the event that evening as well as ahead of time in both the Nimitz Bookstore and the Bush Gallery Museum Store. Mr. Parkinson will be available to sign them after the presentation. This event is free to the public. We would like to thank Chad Mathews, HCFF Director, for helping to arrange this presentation. We wish the HCFF all the best of luck and success this weekend!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

USS Juneau Sinks: 5 Brothers Lost

Between the Solomon Islands and Tarawa in the George H. W. Bush Gallery, you will find an in-set exhibit honoring five brothers who gave their lives when the USS Juneau was sunk after being hit by a Japanese torpedo. They were Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison and George-“The Fighting Sullivans.”

The five boys from Waterloo, Iowa signed up for the Navy together requesting that they get to serve together. Although there had been a decision made before that time that forbid brothers to serve on the same ship, their request was honored. In January of the following year, rumors began to fly around their hometown that the boys had been lost at sea. Their mother Alleta Sullivan, wrote the Bureau of Naval Personnel for more information. In the exhibit, Albert’s granddaughter Kelly Sullivan Loughren reads the letter:

“I am writing to you in regards to a rumor going around that my five sons were killed in action in November. A mother from here came and told me that she got a letter from her son, and he heard my five sons were killed. It is all over town now, and I am so worried.
My five sons joined the Navy together, January 3, 1942. They are on the Cruiser, USS JUNEAU. The last I heard from them was Nov. 8th. Their names are George T., Francis Henry, Jospeh E., Madison A. and Albert L.
If it is so, please let me know the truth. I am to christen the USS TAWASA, Feb 12th, at Portland, Oregon. If anything has happened to my five sons, I will still christen the ship as it was their wish that I do so.
I hated to bother you, but it has worried me so that I wanted to know if it was true. So please tell me. It was hard to give five sons all at once to the Navy, but I am proud of my boys that they can serve and help protect their country...”

Mrs. Sullivan received a personal response from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The text of this letter is displayed in the exhibit.

After the tragic event, the only surviving sibling, Genevieve, joined the WAVES and both Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan continued to support the war effort by going on a war-bond tour and speaking at war plants and shipyards. In 1943, Mrs. Sullivan helped launch USS The Sullivans (DD-573), and in 1995, Kelly Sullivan Loughren christened USS The Sullivans, DDG-68.

The museum was honored to have Kelly Sullivan Loughren present at the Grand Opening of the new George H. W. Bush Gallery in December 2009.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What's Happening at the Nimitz

Last Saturday we had a very successful barbecue and fundraiser! We would like to thank the Corpus Christi Mustangs for generously cooking up and serving over 500 plates of excellent Texas barbecue. That combined with great music from Almost Patsy Cline, cold beer, beautiful weather, and wonderful silent auction items made for a great time for everyone!

This Saturday at 1:30 Hugh Ambrose will be talking about and signing his book, “The Pacific: Hell was an Ocean Away,” the companion book to the HBO series The Pacific. His presentation will be in the West Exhibit Hall of the new George H. W. Bush Gallery and books are available for purchase at the Bush Gallery Museum Store and the Nimitz Bookstore. The presentation and book-signing is free of charge.

If you’re looking for some action-packed entertainment, Living History is this weekend. If you’ve never seen it, you’re missing out. The show is at the Pacific Combat Zone and just one of the things to look forward to is the use of a WWII flamethrower. Shows are at 10:30, 1:00 and 3:30 both Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for children and are sold at the gate.

It’s springtime in Texas and there is always something fun happening in Fredericksburg!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

'Face to Face'

In the newly re-modeled National Museum of the Pacific War there is a temporary exhibit gallery that currently houses a series of busts of World War II veterans called ‘Face to Face.’ There are currently twenty-three busts on display, all of which are of veterans of the Pacific War. It is also notable that these busts are the first out of the exhibit of one hundred to travel out of their home state of California. The exhibit will be on display through the end of May.

“Face to Face is a cultural and visual arts project centered on the sculpting of one hundred life-size busts of men and women who served in World War II. Veterans of World War II were part of a defining era in history. Many are still very active today, but to younger generations that war seems far in the past and difficult to comprehend. The clay busts have been sculpted by three artists – Claire Hanzakos, Kaija Keel, and Jilda Schwartz – who came together in community over the past two years to execute the one hundred portraits. The resulting exhibition is their collaborative effort to honor the veterans of WWII, to recognize their accomplishments, and extend the meaning of their war experiences through visual documentation – before they are forever lost and unrecorded.
The artists began by asking friends who were vets to sit for them, to share wartime photographs, and to recount stories. Many veterans were hesitant at first. They weren’t heroes, they said, just soldiers doing their duty. Would the artists be disappointed if they didn’t tell stories of great courage and daring? Some feared they would have to relive painful memories. Nevertheless they came in. In turn, they put the artists in touch with other veterans, and the scope of the project grew.
The artist soon found the rhythm for their work. The veterans arrived in threes, and each sculptor paired off with one of them in the studio. In a three-hour session, a rough portrait in clay was made, then the subject was photographed from multiple angles. These photographs were subsequently used to finish the busts.” -Exhibit Text Panel

The above photo of three busts is of brothers Irvin and Arnold Spielberg and their cousin Alvin Lerman. Both Spielberg brothers served in the Army Air Corps. Mr. Lerman was a Naval Aviator. All three of the young men served their country in the Pacific War.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Have you been watching 'The Pacific?'

If the answer is yes, you’re becoming familiar with E. B. Sledge. His Okinawa Marine uniform is on display in the new George H. W. Bush Gallery!

For anyone who is not familiar with the name, he was a remarkable man. E. B. Sledge is author of With the Old Breed: at Peleliu and Okinawa and a former Marine. Ken Burn’s documentary The War was based partly on Sledge’s book. He was assigned to Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division and served as a Private First-Class on Peleliu and Okinawa in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Originally he served as a 60mm mortar man but when the fighting grew too close for mortars to be effective he provided rifle fire and served as a stretcher bearer. His book was drawn from his notes that were taken throughout his time in the Pacific in his copy of the New Testament. Sledge was discharged from the Marine Corps as a Corporal in February 1946.

E. B. Sledge’s book is available at the Nimitz Bookstore, the Bush Gallery Museum Store and through our online store -

And, just a reminder, episode five airs Sunday night on HBO.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sons & Daughters of WWII Veterans

As a kid, most people look up to someone in their family and many times even find a hero there. I know my first hero was my grandfather, when I was younger it was because we always went fishing together and he was always so happy to see any of the grandkids. When I got older I started to recognize what an amazing man he was and then after he passed more started to come out about his days in World War II and my respect for him continues to grow still today. It is the stories of the men and women of World War II that inspire so many family members to want to know more about the battles, the glories and the hardships that came with that war. So many young men and women signing up to defend their country in whatever way possible, they truly are the ‘Greatest Generation.’

When people come to Fredericksburg and tour the museum they will probably see a World War II veteran with a ‘special guest’ name tag and he will almost definitely be accompanied by proud family members. Every year at the annual symposium, Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day celebrations, and any other special event at the museum, there will be families of WWII veterans posing with dad or grandpa for a picture or bragging about what he did in the war. A month ago today, the museum hosted a regional premiere of the new HBO series ‘The Pacific’ with a book-signing that afternoon featuring WWII veterans Sid Phillips and RV Burgin. Both of them had family members with them who were glowing with honor to be related to such heroes. It truly is a powerful feeling to see people who weren’t on those islands or in those landing craft but still feel so strongly about keeping those stories and memories alive.

Well, now the museum has an opportunity for those family members to be part of an association that promises to honor that legacy. Membership for Sons and Daughters of WWII Veterans is slated to begin January 1, 2011. The organization is a hereditary society that will certify descendants of an American veteran of WWII. These genealogical records will become part of the Nimitz Education and Research Center for future historians and genealogists to access. Besides the physical records being maintained here at the Admiral Nimitz Foundation, on-line access will be provided through the International Genealogical Index website - Family Search.

This assures that through family members, names and stories will live on for generations to come and history won’t be lost. For more information on how to become a charter member of this organization, visit

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kids in WWII

Jack was born in Hawaii in 1936. The following is an excerpt from his memories of being a child during WWII.

“We were living in Honolulu at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. My dad was on the USS Sacramento. I was five years old and watching the attack from the porch until my mom pulled me inside and we crawled under the bed until the attack was over. I had to carry a gas mask to school with me in Honolulu, but the holder was also great for carrying your lunch in. There were barbed wire coils on Waikiki Beach but when we wanted to swim during the day, they would open a gap so we could get through to the water. One of my fond memories of that time was when two radiomen from the SS Trout met my mom and me and took me on board while the bullion from the Philippines was being off-loaded. I still have a peso as a reminder of that day. My father and my four uncles who served in the war all made it home safely. My dad was the national treasurer of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association for many years.”