THEN AND NOW
MARK BANDO'S WEBSITE
Location of the Month for November-December, 2014:
A note from the webmaster, September, 2014. Since the debut of the Trigger Time website in August 2000,
I have put a new and different Then & Now location-up every month. In recent months, I have been remiss
in posting new locations, because I have been swamped with work on my final 3 military books and because I am
starting to run-out of locations.
So, the T&N features are now presented on a bi-monthly basis. MB
Copyright Mark Bando, 2014
Trooper of the Month for November-December, 2014
1st Lt Clair L. Hess F Co. 501st PIR
Clair Hess was a lightweight college wrestler, who left school to enlist in the Infantry and attend OCS. He volunteered for parachute duty and after graduating from TPS, he was assigned to F Co. 2nd Bn 501st PIR. At the time, (fall
of 1943) the 501 was about to enter 2nd Army Maneuvers in Tennessee. Clair became platoon leader of 3rd platoon, with Lt Quincy
M. Couger as his assistant P L.
On D-day, Lt Hess was jumpmaster of a stick which landed as planned, on Drop Zone 'D', but this area was heavily defended by
German forces and Clair was shot through the leg, while running toward cover from the DZ. He wrapped-up in a parachute and
feigned death, lying in No Man's Land for 2 days, before being evacuated. It was a realization that the war was a cold and impersonal business and he would have to rely on himself to survive it.
Lt Hess recuperated from his wound soon enough to parachute into the Netherlands on 17 September, 1944. He was wounded again, but he returned to Fox Co. a few weeks later, while they were on the Island SW of Arnhem.
During the fighting at Bastogne, Clair Hess took over more than once, as acting company commander, due to casualties. The company lost 21 soldiers killed in action there and went through several company commanders. Despite Lt Hess' repeated proven leadership, always replacement officers were brought-in from outside, to take over F Co., the last of which was Captain Cady, from RHQ Commo.
After finishing the war with F Co. in assignments in Alsace, Mourlmelon le Petit, Obersalzberg and Mittersill, Austria, Clair Hess chose to make a career of the Army. He went to Korea with the 187th Airborne RCT and served in stations around the world until his
retirement in the late 1960s, as a LTC.
Clair Hess is a regular attendee at the annual 501st PIRA reunions and has outlived most of the soldiers who served under him. He is a diminutive man, about 5'7 and slender, but his background in gymnastics and wrestling made him a formidable fighter. He was also extremely handsome in the 1940s, causing his fellow officer Lt. Bill Sefton to nickname him "Horrible Hess."
They're Gone Now-the Railroad Tracks in the Bois Jacques
The railroad track running NE through the Bois Jacques forest from Bastogne,
was ripped-out for salvage around 1995. Visiting there now, one finds just a gravel-covered path, where the tracks used to be.
The tracks crossed the Foy Bizory Road near the Halt station, which still stands and is currently an occupied dwelling. In
December 1944-January, 1945, the rail line separated the 506th and 501 PIRs. This 1989 photo was taken facing NE from a point
several hundred yards NE of the Halt station. Around this spot, there was once a wooden bridge across the track. About a mile
farther NE was a steel overpass, which remained in place, bullet damage and all, until 2008.
War Production Tour
Back from Bastogne-survivors of the defending and relieving forces were selected to tour the U.S. war production plants in early 1945, to tell of their experiences.left to right: Sgt Fred Wheeler, Sgt Hugh Thompson, Sgt Sam Hendrix, 1st Lt Walter J. McDowell, Capt.James Cruickshank (Inf.), Sgt Jim Colucci (H/502), Cpl. Henry C. Gogola (B/506) and Sgt Elmer Forrest (4th Armored Div.). The African-American soldiers are presumably from the 969th Artillery Bn.,(VIIIth Corps artillery, with 155mm howitzers.) Their radio callsign was "High Price". Colucci and Gogola met for the first time on this tour and Colucci later traveled from N.Y. to Chicago, to be best man at Hank's wedding. Hank passed-on in 2001. photo courtesy Hank Gogola
First Reunion of the 501 PIRIn late 1945, former members of the 501 met in a hangar at Ft Benning, GA. These officers and men were stationed in the 1st and 2nd Parachute Training Regiments, serving out the duration of their Army time. Colonel Robert A. Ballard, the last regimental C.O. is seated in the center, and I see Lts John Mc Nulty and Clair Hess of F Co., seated at far right. Also in the photo are Lt Hugh Hendriksen (F Co.), Captain Stanfield Stach (A Co.), S/Sgt Ed Hughes(F Co.), 1st Bn Pathfinders Clarence Jack and Dave Hadley were there, because they were captured in Normandy and sat out the rest of the war. This caused them to have insuficient points toward discharge in 1945. After a recuperation leave, these former PWs were ordered to serve as riggers or instructors at TPS, until they had enough points to get out of the Army.
First Reunion of the 101st Airborne Division, Indianapolis 1946
These recent former members of the 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion got together quite soon after the war ended. Don Peterson of B/326th (2d from left) provided the photo. Also shown are Sam Weiner(wearing glasses, a B Co.medic), Captain Charles Roden, C.O. of B Co.(2d from right), and LTC Hugh Mozley, who commanded the 326th Bn. after the death of LTC Pappas in Normandy(extreme right).
1st Reunion of 3rd Bn 506th PIR
Responding to LTC Robert Wolverton's sentiment, in which he suggested the survivors of his battalion meet the first D-day anniversary after the war at the Muhlbach Hotel in Kansas City, these veterans actually showed-up.
Identifications: Rear, l. to r.:
James DeRoin (visitor from 501), Robert Harwick (H Co.), Dominic Nazzalorso (H), Dudley Hefner (H), Daniel Seasock (G), Harold Johnson (I), James Bradley (HQ/3), John Alison (HQ/3), Ivan Glancy (HQ/3), Audrey Lewallen (HQ/3), Fred Bahlau (H & HQ/3), John Luteran (I), Walter Lukasavage (I), Ray Calandrella (HQ/3)
Front row, l. to r.:
Robert Nash (I), F.D. Troxel (HQ/3), Dick Campbell (visitor from 502), E.J. Austin (I), Ed Shames (I, HQ/3 and E), James R. Morrow (HQ/3), Bill Bowen (G), James Martin (G), Oscar Saxvik (G), Sam Snobar (G), Vincent Michael (G), Norm Capels (G), Cecil Hutt (G), George Rosie (HQ/3), E.E. Lee (HQ/3), Charles Stewart (HQ/3), and Johnny Gibson (3rd Bn Medics). There are stories about some of these men in my 'Vanguard of the Crusade' book, including Bob Harwick, Jim Pee Wee Martin, Cecil Hutt, George Rosie, Johnny Gibson and Fred Bahlau.
photo c/o F. Bahlau, captions c/o Briggsy, via Carol Luteran.
EARLY REUNION OF EASY Co.506th PIR
Taken several years after WWII, this photo shows the following, standing l. to r.:Amos 'Buck'Taylor, Darrel 'Shifty'Powers, Herb'Junior' Suerth, Robert Rader, and Ed Tipper. Below l. to r.: Floyd 'Tab' Talbert, Wally Wentzel, Don Moone, and Walter 'Smokey' Gordon.
Photo courtesy of Bob Talbert, 11th Airborne Division.
The occasion was the 1954 premiere of the Hollywood movie 'Screaming Eagles'. Members of the Detroit Nuts Club got
free passes to the opening, and here discuss the film at the Broadway Capitol Theatre. At top, Leo Gillis (F/501), and Phil Hooper, (B/327th). Center l. to r.are: Ed Agnetta (F/327), Ken Parker (C/506) and Joe Haller HQ/1 501 and Pathfinders. In front are l. to r: Walter Wentzel (E/506), Everett 'Bud' Berry (HQ/1 501), and Fred Roe (HQ/506). Photo courtesy L. Gillis
In 1966, when Lt General Mike Michaelis was stationed at Chicago, in command of 5th Army, a delegation of vets from the 101st Chicago Chapter visited him at his HQ. An honorary membership in the Chicago Chapter was conferred on the general at that time. Shown from left to right: Francis Sheridan (Sgt, HQ/1 502 WW2),Frank Palys (Sgt H&H S-2 506th WW2), Ed Wierzbowski (Lt H/502 WW2), General Michaelis, Fred Patheiger (Sgt H&H S-2 502 WW2), Neil Sweeney (Lt B/502 WW2), and Morton J. Smit (Lt C/502 of 'Smit's Pond' fame, WW2) photo from Nadine W's archive.
Historical Figures at Reunions of Yesteryear
Harrison SummersS/Sgt and later Lieutenant Harrison C. Summers of B/502 was the legendary hero at the 'XYZ' complex Mesieres, France, on D-Day. He was a one man army and received the D.S.C., although some of his buddies thought he should have received the Congressional Medal of Honor. A coal mine inspector from West Virginia, Summers was a modest man-S.L.A.Marshall described him as "laughing boy in uniform".
But one of his buddies says: "He was a Tiger in combat- he really went after those Germans!" In addition to his D.S.C., Summers received two Purple Hearts for German machinegun fire, which ripped through his chest and back in Holland and again at Bastogne.
The photo above shows Summers (left) at the 1964 reunion of the 101st ABD Assn. in Washington, D.C. With him are Douglas Garrett (see War Stories), and S/Sgt Meredith Singleton. photo courtesy Hank Baur, B/502.
Taken at the '68 Vegas reunion, General Tony McAuliffe, Father Francis Sampson, and Guillermo'Bill'Garcia of 3/502. We were attending the Ft Campbell reunion in August, 1975, when the unhappy news arrived of General McAuliffe's passing. Photo courtesy of Bill Garcia.
I don't have a date on this reunion photo, but I suspect it was taken in the late 1960s, on one of Father Sam's return visits from Vietnam. l. to r: General Maxwell D. Taylor, General Anthony C. McAuliffe, and General (Father) Francis L. Sampson, Chief of all Chaplains in the U.S. Army. Fr. Sam was 501st Catholic Chaplain in WW2.
webmaster's collection c/o George Koskimaki
Above, Vietnam War hero, Sgt Joe Hooper, and Ed Wierzbowski, shown at a memorial service in Holland in the 1970's. Joe won the Congressional Medal of Honor while serving four tours In-Country, with the 501st Infantry, and became known as "The Audie Murphy of the Vietnam War". I had the honor of meeting Joe several times before his untimely death. He was not yet 40 years old when he died, probably as a result of his many serious war wounds.
When Joe visited Holland for the first time with WW2 101st vets, he was greatly moved by the pelican monument near Best, in memory of another MoH winner, Joe Mann. Mann laid on a German grenade to save his buddies, was killed in the process and received the Medal of Honor posthumously.
Upon visiting the Joe Mann monument, Joe Hooper, a "GI Joe" of another war, climbed the monument and hung his own Medal of Honor around the neck of the statue.
Joe Hooper was truly 'Airborne All the Way', and he is one of the greatest individuals I've ever had the honor of meeting.
Ed Whizbow was also a bonafide historical figure and a true Airborne hero.
Houston, Texas, 1973-101st ABD National Reunion. I photographed General Pat 'Hopalong' Cassidy and Sky Jackson with a visiting Dutch maiden in her native costume. Cassidy served as 1st Bn commander and Regimental EXO of the Deuce in WW2. Schuyler 'Sky'
Jackson was a Demolitions Sgt in RHQ. Sky was truly 'larger than life' and will long be remembered for his big heart-a great guy! At upper right is a shot of two more retired generals.
Joseph 'Bud' Harper commanded the 327th GIR as a colonel in WW2. H.W.O. Kinnard was S-3 of the 501 PIR and later G-3 of the 101st Division. The two men were perusing a photo showing a diorama at the Bastogne Historical Center museum, when I snapped their picture together.
MARK BANDO'S WEBSITE
The Webmaster's Time Machine
The following are shots of the webmaster at reunions in the 1970s-80s, interacting with WW2 101st ABD veterans.
Here's my first meeting with warrior poet Melton H.'Tex' McMorries in Houston, August, 1973. Tex was the legendary machinegunner from G/501 PIR, and resided in Tarzan, TX until his death in 1995.
At the 1975 reunion at Ft Campbell, KY, the webmaster is perusing WW2 vintage photos, with Harry Mole, Nick Schmidt and Ralph Smith, all of HQ/2 501.
Leonard Rapport was one of the authors of the official 101st Airborne Division WW2 history book 'Rendezvous With Destiny'. Leonard was a replacement Lt. in C/502 and in 1977, was employed as a fulltime archivist at the NARA.
When this photo was taken, we were in the D.C. area in 1977, for dedication of the 101st memorial monument at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. At right is truculent G/506th trooper Norman Capels.
At Hot Springs, AR in 1979, I finally met the legendary Pawnee Indian trooper Ben 'Chief'McIntosh, of Companies 'H' and 'B', 502 PIR. Bennie was a very modest man and wouldn't tell me any war stories. He kept repeating :"I'm just a guy...I'm just a guy..."
The next time I saw him, at a B/502 reunion in Vegas around 1997, he had been stricken with Alzheimer's and could only smile and say hello. Bennie died in the new milennium-he was one of the greatest. He had fought as a pro lightweight boxer in Madison Square Gardens before joining the Army, and Earl Ralph Kelley describes him as "A one-man wave of destruction."
With 3/501st medic Luther 'Luke'Hambruch in Lockport, NY, 1981. Luke was aboard Major Blinky Braden's plane on D-day. The pilot stood the plane on it's tail near St Marie du Mont and the troopers slid to the tail, past the exit door, in puke. The plane returned to England with all aboard. Luke and others were flown back over France around 1830 hrs on June 6th, and dropped-in late afternoon of D-day.
Visiting the webmaster's house in 1981 are l. to r: F.Leo Gillis F/501, Lyman Allen Hurd, and Fred Baynes, both of HQ/2, S-2, 501PIR.
In this 1987 photo, the webmaster was dining with Fred Linacre (D/506) and John Hendrikes (C/506). Fred (since deceased), was one of the pathfinder security personnel aboard the plane that ditched in the Channel on D-day.
Lt. Wallace Strobel and the Most-published Photo of WWII
The webmaster posed with Lt Wally Strobel, who became a WWII icon in
the famous photo of Ike talking to the troops at Greenham Common airfield on the eve of D-day. This was at the 502nd
Dinner, held at the 101st National Reunion in the summer of 1990. This event coincided with the big parade in D.C.
to observe the 50th Anniversary of Airborne forces in the U.S. Army. At the same table as me for the Deuce dinner were
legends like Wally Strobel, Wally Swanson, and Frank Palecko (H/502 PW in Normandy). I also ran into Mr Strobel at
DeGaulle airport in Paris in 1994. He lived in Saginaw, MI. Wally told me he went all through training with 'A' Co.
and was only transfered into E/502 shortly before the Invasion. As such, he didn't know any of the troopers shown in
the famous airfield photo.
Candace took this photo with a 35mm camera and I lost my only print many years ago.
The negative surfaced in December, 2008, when I moved to a new house and was going through storage boxes.
The Changing Face of the Michigan Lunch Bunch
I would venture to say that many if not MOST of the history fans who are
now regulars at the SE MI Lunch Bunch started coming within the past 8-10 years. Therefore, most of the guys
shown in this 1992 photo will be totally unfamiliar to them. They are, l. to r.: Dick Gilmore SV/501, Howard
Matthews F/502, Glenn Johnson A/502, Charles 'Sweede' Carlsen SV/501 Riggers, Al Favrow SV/501 Para Maintenance,
Robert Speer 2/502 C.O., Leonard Schmidt HQ/3 506th, and Wendell 'Skip'Smith, C/326th AEB/PW Normandy. Of all
those depicted, only Len Schmidt and Skip Smith are still living as I write this in mid 2009.
Louis Merlano of Able Co. 502 PIR was a friend of many years. We first
met in Philly in 1971. This photo was taken by Candace at the 1993 Snowbird Reunion. Lou was a supporter of
charities that benefitted young people and an annual Merlano Memorial Fund Raiser is held each year in Bucks County,
Captain Ian Hamilton
is pictured here, circa 1995, with the webmaster. Ian was the 2nd C.O. of B/501 after Captain Bogart was murdered at
Graignes in Normandy. Ian lost an eye when seriously wounded outside Bastogne, near Mont, Belgium, in December, 1944.
Ian's entire stick of B/501 did not jump in Normandy, because the pilot missed the Drop Zone. The pilot never turned-on
the green light and he returned the entire planeload of troopers to England. Unlike some other troopers, who came back to
the U.K. that night and were inserted behind Utah Beach later, on the evening of June 6th, Lt. Hamilton and his men were
forced to sit-out the Normandy Invasion. Ian did make the Holland jump and the story of how he tossed a SIW out the door
of his taxiing C-47 is in my 2nd book and also in 'Vanguard of the Crusade'.
After the passing of Mrs.Lydia Taylor, in 1997, some V.I.P.s posed in Arlington National Cemetery, at the grave of General Maxwell D. Taylor.
l. to r.: Captain Thomas Taylor (the general's son), Joseph Beyrle of I/506th, and Joe Beyrle II. photo c/o Joe B II
"I Wasn't Sure How I'd Feel, Coming Back Here"In the summer of year 2000, my little tour group accompanied 506th vet Fred Bahlau on his first pilgrimmage back to Normandy since WW2. Among other things, we visited the American Cemetery at St Laurent. There, we joined Fred in paying respects at the markers of half a dozen men he had known personally. One of them (shown above), was the marker for T-4 Stan Stockins. Stan had joined H/506th in England before D-Day and became an 'extra' supply sgt. He had some friction with Fred, who was already supply sgt, as to who would take and give orders. They had engaged in a fistfight in the supply room, which was broken-up when another trooper happened to walk-in.
On D-Day, shortly after returning from the German-held south bank of the Douve river near Brevands, France, Fred had taken-up firing position just to the left of Stan Stockins on the north berm. Some of the troopers present were briskly exchanging shots with the Germans across the river. Suddenly, a German bullet struck Stockins a fatal wound to the head.
Seeing this happen from less than 2 feet away was a traumatic experience for Fred. 56 years later, Fred was overwhelmed with emotion as he and his grandson, Troy, knelt beside the grave of Stan Stockins.
This is where the above described incident happened. Fred Bahlau of H/506th and C/506th, was a Sgt and field-commissioned officer, and two-time Silver Star winner. Troy Bahlau, one of Fred's grandsons, who was a Recon Marine during the Gulf War, was with us in June, 2000. We found the berm on the north shore of the Douve river, across from Brevands, where Fred posed for the photo at left on D-Day. He was facing away from the river with his TSMG, as enemy troops also attacked from the direction of le Grand Vey. I dressed Troy in an authentic reinforced M42 suit and he wore a Dick Kos repop D-ring helmet, painted with 506th stencils. We didn't have the time, inclination or shovel with which to dig a foxhole, so I had Troy squat with an IMA Thompson, creating a pretty close recreation of how Gramps posed 56 years earlier along the same berm.
People in Carentan-Then and Now
For the past decade, I've kept in touch with Odette Letteneur, a resident of Carentan, who was a teenager living in Auvers, France in 1944. Odette was a daughter of the town butcher and she posed for a photo with her sister Marcelaine in mid June of 1944. In the center of the photo above left, is Sgt Joe Pistone of F/502, whose camera was used to make the photo.
I first visited Marcelaine on the 45th anniversary of D-day. At the time, she was living in Meautis. Then Odette started writing to me and I visited her in 1992.
In the spring of 2004, I got a card from Odette, informing that she had moved to a apartment building for retirees on rue Sebline in Carentan. So one afternoon in August, my tour group dropped-in on Odette. By a bit of good fortune, we found that her sister Marcelaine happened to be over visiting-so we got a 2 for one comparison. I hadn't seen Marcelaine since 1989 (when her hair was still dark brown). The result of this recent metting was a comparison photo, above right, with the webmaster standing-in for Sgt Pistone.
Many of you have seen Signal Corps footage of the Silver Star ceremony held in Carentan, France's 'Place de la Republique' square, in June, 1944. Following the ceremony, one of the recipients, S/Sgt Fred Bahlau of H/506th, was kissed by a local girl in her early 20's.
In year 2000, I accompanied Fred B. on his first trip back to Carentan since WW2. A reception was held for him at the Mayor's office in Carentan and many vintage locals turned-out, mostly elderly members of the local chapter of French Airborne Friends.
I kept watching the locals arrive and when one lady walked-in about 20 minutes late, I immediately knew she was the girl in the film. Her name is Jacqueline Viel and she lives on rue du Preche, south of the railroad tracks. Jackie is a typical Gemini, with longevity beyond most of her contemporaries.
A day or two later, we visited Jackie and drank wine toasts in her apartment, which is when the photo above was taken.
When Fred returned to Carentan circa 2004, he again met with Jackie, which many people thought was their first meeting since 1944.
We already bin there and done that!
From the enemy side: Oberleutnant Walter Schad, Combat surgeon in 3rd Bn, Parachute Regiment 6
Walter Schad was a 1st Lt in the Luftwaffe in WW2. Dr. Schad was with 3rd Bn 6th Para at Carentan and in subsequent fighting above Perriers, France in mid 1944. He became a prisoner of war that summer, but survived to practice medicine as an eye specialist in postwar Germany. Dr Schad passed away in November, 2007. He was an occasional visitor at the Snowbird reunions in Florida. wartime photo c/o Dr Schad, and author's 2002 photo.
Leutnant Walter Hlinetzky German Army 1944-45
Walter is now a U.S. citizen and resides in Michigan.
He is a personal friend of the webmaster and a fascinating source of WW2 information. Walter's older brother Ernst, was
a member of the Panzer Grenadier Regiment 'Der Fuhrer' of the 2nd SS Panzer division, 'Das Reich'.
After surviving the initial battles on the Eastern Front, Ernst came back on leave to Germany as one of the less than
85 survivors of the original 'DF' regiment. He implored Walter not to join the Waffen SS and to content himself with
the regular Heer (German Army). Walter followed the advice of Ernst, who was killed in the gigantic battle of Kursk
Leutnant Wolfgang Kloth 2nd Panzer Division
Wolfgang Kloth served as tank commander on a Mark IV Panzer
in the 3rd Pz Rgt, 2nd Panzer Division on the Eastern Front in 1943. He was promoted from Unteroffizier to Leutnant
(2nd Lt) and taught at a Panzer training school near Berlin. Returning to the Eastern Front as commander of a Sturmgeschutz
(75mm Self-Propelled Artillery vehicle), he fought in the Kurland pocket, until the war ended in May, 1945. Herr Kloth
became a prisoner of the Soviets for several years, then immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1950s. He has been a resident
of Western Michigan ever since. Decorated with the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd class, the Panzer Assault Badge in Silver and a
silver wound badge for four wounds, Herr Kloth is well-known to reenactors from the 2nd Panzer Division reenactment group,
as well as other history buffs in the midwest. The webmaster met him at Mark Klutchko's annual 'Panzerfest' for model tank
builders, in Nov, 2006.