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Subject: Memorial Day

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Steve Dabrowski    Posted 05-27-2019 at 15:12:02 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Memorial Day
  • Memorial day used to be a day full of war movies, from morning to evening WWII was played out numerous time on the TV screen. That was the last war we really won decisively but it is fading into memory as the last veterans pass away. I for one still go back and watch a few of the films that were made after the war, while it was still fresh in everyones mind.

    My best list of five films of the period are as follows:

    First place is William Wilder's "The Best Years of Our Lives". This three hour film still places number 37 of the best 100 films ever made and won the academy award for best picture in 1946 and best supporting actor for Harold Russel in his first and only film. Stephan Spielberg says he watches it once every year and he rates it number one. Well worth watching

    Second for me is "The Gallant Hours" with James Cagney as Admiral William Halsey covering his time in 1942-43 as commander of Naval Forces during the Guadalcanal campaign. Really an excellent film with Cagney and Dennis Weaver and produced by James Cagney and Robert Montgomery.

    Third is the "Cain Mutiny" with Humphrey Bogart and Fred McMurray. This is a great film, the characters are true to the Navy in every way except there was no mutiny resulting from the typhoon depicted. However Herman Wouk based this part on the actual experience of the USS Hull, a destroyer in Halsey's 3rd Fleet that capsized and sank during that 1945 storm. The ship was caught without power broadside to the storm and the captain refused to take action to bring her about. The officers attempted to relieve the Commanding officer (Lt Cmdr Marks) but the XO prevented it.

    Fourth is "They Were Expendable" John Fords 1945 film about the last squadron of PT boats left to pose some delaying action against the Japanese invading the Philippines in 1941. This was based on actual events although some of the spectacular special effects of ships exploding from torpedo hits stretches what actually took place somewhat, but watching those Elco PT's running at full speed is well worth the time. Ford was very hard on John Wayne during the filming because he had not taken part in the war and berated him once on the set because he could not salute properly. Still Wane and Robert Montgomery (who actually skippered a PT boat during the war and at the time of filming was a full commander in the USNR) both give good performances and is as usual an excellent John Ford film.

    Fifth in my book is "Mr. Roberts" just because I like it. Henry Fonda reminds me of some of the best officers I served under or with during my time in the Navy and it all just is done right.

    Finally as a special mention I like "12 O'Clock High" with Gregory Peck. The opening scene with Dean Jagger riding his bicycle out to the closed Allied Airdrome in England and recalling the war as introduced by the starting cough and gradual clearing of a B-17's radial engine always is a favorite scene for me.

    Best wishes to those who served and should never be forgotten.

    Mower    Posted 05-29-2019 at 16:14:27 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • I don't think I could sit around and watch the idiot box as a way to celebrate Memorial day.

    We spent most of Friday and part of Saturday setting out US flags on the grave markers in two area cemeteries. Then Sunday and Monday we spent much of the day shuttling veterans families (mostly elderly widows) to the cemetery-they didn't have a way to get there otherwise. Then we spent time with them-ran an errand or two, etc. on the way home.

    That's usually how we honor veterans who have passed-help their families. Far better than sitting around watching tv pretending that somehow honors them.

    And yes, I'm a veteran too and would hope that when I pass someone would do the same for my wife, rather than sit around watching the idiot box.

    Steve Dabrowski    Posted 05-31-2019 at 13:44:59 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • I believe the films I listed were some of the finest recognitions of the people who served in the second world war and were made in order to give the average person an emotional connection with a time and experience they could never have themselves. To say that watching them or spending the day watching television is an idiot's effort is in itself a pretty arrogant response. Motion pictures at their finest teach and give life long impressions and for the war which is becoming further and further from our national conscience these films can help bring it back into the light and a realization that it was fought by everyday people-not a volunteer army.

    I would say what you do is a fine example for everyone, but save your judgmental opinions of those who watch television for both entertainment and education. Popping up with a ready insult is what is wrong with much of our society right now.

    Ed Gooding (VA)    Posted 05-29-2019 at 20:52:31 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • were in the virtue signaling corp?????

    John in Mich    Posted 05-29-2019 at 18:28:58 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • Very commendable and I'm sure greatly appreciated. Thank you for your service, then and now.

    Tim Daley(MI)    Posted 05-27-2019 at 18:43:17 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • Hi Steve. First, thank you for service to America. I know it's Memorial Day, a time to honor those who have fallen in their service, but thank you. I too am a WWII history fan and agree with your list. I have to add my favorites as well. In no particular order they are: "TORA TORA TORA"; "THE DAM BUSTERS"; "THE BATTLE OF BRITIAN"; "MIDWAY"; "GUNS OF NAVARONE"; "THE DIRTY DOZEN"; "MEMPHIS BELLE"; and "KELLY'S HEROES"; to name a few though the latter three or four were not based on real facts or slightly altered facts.

    Tim Daley(MI)

    John in Mich    Posted 05-27-2019 at 17:55:16 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • All excellant films. My son and I participated in the Milan, Mich. parade riding in his 1942 Ford GPW (jeep) and with a friend who owns a '42 GPW and a '43 GPW. This is not a big parade but there was a lot of enthusiasm from spectators.

    Steve Dabrowski    Posted 05-27-2019 at 19:21:41 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • Back in 1971 when I was doing an internship with the Facilities engineering group at the Alameda Naval Air Rework Facility, there were two engineers that I worked with in that group who had interesting backgrounds. One had served in the German army during WWII and had emigrated to the U.S. after the war. He was a very detailed engineer and insisted that all drawings adhere to standards of quality and clarity. The other was Japanese and had been a Kamikaze pilot waiting to fly when the war ended. He had a camera store in San Francisco across the bay in addition to his engineering job at the Navy facility. Just goes to show!

    John in Mich    Posted 05-27-2019 at 20:44:05 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • Interesting. A cousin served at the end of WW2 in occupied Japan. He met his wife there and brought her back here. She and her parents had lived here before the war and were moved to an interment camp during the war. They went back to Japan.
    Cousin and wife raised a fine family here who are productive Americans.
    I have visited predominantly Germanic cities here. There are those who say that the holocaust did not happen. Go figure.
    We are experiencing our own forms of radicals and corruption. We better get a grip soon.

    Ed Gooding (VA)    Posted 05-28-2019 at 04:54:23 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • John, if you also like to read books about WW II, for something very different but interesting I highly recommend "D-Day Through German Eyes" - both volumes. They are interviews with German soldiers who were stationed on the cliffs of Normandy. Each chapter covers the interview results with a single soldier, from grunts to junior officers. It's a very interesting perspective in reading their comments about being amazed by the number of aircraft flying over and first looking out on the horizon and seeing the HUGE number of ships approaching. Both volumes are quick reads and very interesting.

    John in Mich    Posted 05-29-2019 at 08:34:54 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • "D-Day Through German Eyes" I ordered them yesterday. Thanks, Ed.

    Steve Dabrowski    Posted 05-28-2019 at 13:44:44 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • When I was growing up in Modesto, Ca, in the central valley, the Volkswagon dealer was a guy named Deet Eichel. He had a big photo of an ME109 banking through the sky in his office. He had been a Luftwaffe fighter pilot and it was said that occasionally at business get togethers in town that he would get a few drinks into him and tell everyone how many Allied aircraft he had personally downed over France and Germany. Still he was a pretty popular guy and well regarded.

    Ed Gooding (VA)    Posted 05-28-2019 at 18:57:28 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • He most likely was not near the landing sites at Normandy. One of the things that surprised me the most was commentary from multiple German soldiers that were in awe of the number of allied planes flying over them but NO sign of German aircraft. The combination of no German planes and the fact that the allies attacked with so many ships and that everything the allies had was mechanized while the German army still used a lot of horse-drawn equipment instilled a lot of fear in the Germans. Some of the German soldiers told the German army interviewer and eventual author that they started to suspect then that things were not going to end well for Germany. Your VW dealer may have shot down allied planes before D-Day, but was most likely a no-show for the big landing.

    Steve Dabrowski    Posted 05-29-2019 at 14:00:42 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • Well Ed after reading your post I decided to see if I could find anything on him. Using my well trained research skills, honed to a fine point with years of academic study for advanced degrees, I began my search by typing "Deet Eichel Volkswagen" into the Safari Browser of my wife Macbook Pro.

    Surprisingly there was several articles on his VW dealership. But about a third of the way down the page was a site named Luftwaffe Aces: Diethelm von Eichel-Streiber. Turns out he definitely had bragging rights-96 victories (8 less than Adolf Galland) The vast majority from 1942-1944 over the Eastern Front against Russian aircraft, but included several P-39's and his last victory was a USAAF P47 over the Aachen area on November 28, 1944. His first was a RAF Hurricane over Crete in May of 1941.

    He was born in 1914, flew a bomber as part of the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War, and then flew a variety of fighter aircraft including the FW190 and the Me262 jet fighter near the end of the war. He was awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross in 1944. He spent the last weeks of the war recuperating from the shock of the loss of many family members the bombing attack on Dresden and the death sentence of his uncle who was implicated in the conspiracy to kill Hitler on 20 July 1944.

    The last paragraph of his record said that Von Eichel-Streiber survived the war and emigrated to the USA where he became a successful Volkswagen distributor in Modesto, California.

    Ed Gooding (VA)    Posted 05-29-2019 at 15:39:53 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • Sure sounds like he has legit bragging rights for downing allied planes then.

    Tim Daley(MI)    Posted 05-28-2019 at 16:11:38 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • I have numerous books in my library of WWII on technical facts and figures. There are also "Stalag 17" and "Bridge Over The River Kwai" to add to my favorite WWII movies. "Hogan's Heroes" was loosely based on Stalag 17 but it was a comedy. Nobody ever was shot in any episodes or shown being killed. Just like on "Bonanza" nobody ever had bullets in the gun belts. Anyway, one of the 3 maybe 4, TV shows I watch is "NCIS", the original, with "NCIS:NOLA" a second, and "SEAL TEAM" third. (IMHO NCIS LA sucks). In the original series, Season 13, main character Leroy Jethro Gibbs, (Mark Harmon) gets a call from his father, Jackson Gibbs (Ralph Waite) saying he got a letter from an old Air Force pilot friend, Walter Beck (Tom Fitzpatrick), who is dying and wants to see him. A search turns up nobody in his crew named Walter Beck so Leroy Jethro thinks his dad is having dementia issues. Later his dad reveals Walter was not from his crew rather he was a German Luftwaffe pilot who saved Jackson's life when his plane got shot up and turned around so Walter made sure he guided Jackson in the right direction to safely make it to an allied base. The two pilots salute each other before Walter quickly turns around and hightails it back out of enemy territory. Jackson tells Leroy Jethro he wanted him to meet Walter because if it wasn't was for that gesture, he never would have made it and thus there would never be a Leroy Jethro born. The episode supposedly was written based a few similar true stories from both sides of the war. It is one of my favorite NCIS episodes. It was the last TV appearance ralph made as he died shortly after that aired.


    John in Mich    Posted 05-28-2019 at 07:04:24 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Memorial Day
  • Title noted. Thanks, Ed. In the late 60's I read a hard cover book;
    "Inside The Third Reich", by Albert Speer. A very hard read.
    More resently, I read "On The Wings of Dawn" by Laura Edge. Laura, a friend, wrote this about her father's service, primarily about surviving as a POW in Germany after his B-17 was shot down.
    Originally I bought the paper back edition at the Yankee Air Museum. Since then I bought a hard cover and I asked her to sign it.
    An interesting side note, her father graduated from the Henry Ford Trade School in 1941.

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