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Remembering Sgt. Wendell Wiley Wolfenbarger

This blog post is one in a series on a recent tour to the Ardennes which gave Museum volunteers and staff an in-depth look into the scenes of the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler’s last desperate attempt to stop the Allied drive in western Europe in the cold winter months of December 1944 and January 1945.

During the tour, we visited two of the American cemeteries maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission, which became the final resting place for thousands of American combatants who lost their lives in the Battle of the Bulge.  One of the largest and costliest battles the US Army would fight, the Battle of the Bulge  resulted in 67,000 American casualties.

At Luxembourg American Cemetery, we visited the grave of General George Patton, laid a wreath in the chapel to honor all of those buried there, and paid tribute to one particular serviceman, Wendell Wiley Wolfenbarger, known to us previously only through the material held in the Museum’s archives. Wolfenbarger was a husband, father, and postal employee from Neosho, Missouri.

On January 1, 1945 Wendell wrote to his wife, “I still can’t say where I am , but I guess that as long as I’m not in the good old United States it doesn’t make any difference…I nearly cried when you told me about Wylene waking up & crying for me, but it can’t be helped. Try to make her understand that it’ll be sometime before I can be there.”

Three days later, on January 4, 1945, Wendell wrote;

“I wonder how everything is going down at the post office? Does Archie ever say anything about it? Man alive, how I wish I were back there. I would work 24 hours per day, Sundays included and not say a word about it, no use bitching about it though, I’m here and that’s all there is to it.

Are you & the kids all right? I really do miss you all more and more. Everytime I look at your pictures I get more homesick. But at the same time I realize why we’re here and know the job musr be done. All my love to you & the kids. Darling, keep praying. Love, Wiley”

Wolfenbarger was killed in action on January 18, 1945 near Berle, Luxembourg. He served with the 26th Infantry Division. He left behind a wife, Ruby and two small children. The collection was donated to the Museum in 2012 in Memory of Ruby May Barlow Wolfenbarger.

For more information about the tours offered by the Museum, see The National WWII Museum Tours.Stay tuned for more in the series on the April tour of Museum staff and volunteers to the Ardennes region.

Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.

COUNTDOWN TO ROAD TO TOKYO: EXHIBITS WITHIN NEW NAVAL WARFARE GALLERY

In our last blog post of the Road to Tokyo countdown, we covered the Life Aboard Ship exhibit within the New Naval Warfare gallery. Let us now examine a few more WWII stories of naval warfare in the Pacific that will be unfolded in this immersive space.

Submarines

Immediately following the brutal Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, American Admiral Thomas Hart declared unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan. Submarines were lethal weapons for both sides and played a crucial role in the fighting. This exhibit will explore the changes in submarine boats and the technologies they used as the war progressed. The US submarine force comprised just 1.6% of naval personnel, but accounted for the highest fatality rate of any US service branch at 22%. Sinking tremendous amounts of Japanese tonnage, the submarine force was the key to drawing the noose around Japan. Through oral histories and computer interactives, the exhibit will explain the dangers of submarine life and combat, while also conveying the pride and honor of belonging to these highly-skilled crews.

B-25 Mitchell bomber in flight

B-25 Mitchell bomber in flight

The Doolittle Raid

The Doolittle Raid was America’s first offensive attack on Japan, and one of the most famous American missions in the Pacific. It was also the first time the US launched bombers from an aircraft carrier into combat. Sixteen planes bombed military and industrial targets in Japan. Though the mission inflicted minimal damage, the raid served to bolster American morale and shake the confidence of the Japanese. The Japanese called units back to their home islands for defense, weakening their presence elsewhere in the Pacific. Using personal stories and artifacts, this exhibit will tell the story of the Doolittle Raid from its planning stages, to the fates of the aircrews, to the aftermath of the raid which spurred a devastating retaliation in China.

 

 Battle of Coral Sea, May 8, 1942. Japanese plane burning in sky

Battle of Coral Sea, May 8, 1942. Japanese plane burning in sky

Battle of Coral Sea

As the first naval battle fought entirely by aircraft, the Battle of the Coral Sea is a key example of the new naval warfare of World War II. For the first time in history, two fleets engaged in combat while never being within eyesight of one another and never having fired directly at each other – all strikes were delivered by aircraft launched from aircraft carriers. Both sides suffered costly losses. This exhibit will provide detailed information about the locations of the fleets, aircraft routes, and the ship and aircraft losses on both sides. The battle ended in a draw, but the Americans achieved strategic victories. By preventing the invasion of Port Moresby, it was the first battle that contained the Japanese expansion. The battle also reduced Japan’s carrier power, which would prove to be significant in the Battle of Midway.

Remembering the Wereth 11

The National WWII Museum offers a variety of opportunities to travel in the footsteps of those who fought. This blog is part of a series devoted to an April 2015 trip which brought Museum staff and volunteers, to the scenes of the Battle of the Bulge. One of the largest and costliest battles the US Army would fight, the Bulge was Hitler’s last desperate attempt to stop the Allied drive in western Europe in the cold winter months of December 1944 and January 1945. Nearly one million soldiers were engaged during the six-week battle, resulting in 67,000 American and more than 100,000 German casualties.

Eleven of the 67,000 casualties were African American soldiers, members of the segregated 333rd Field Artillery Battalion (FAB) who were murdered by the 1st SS Division against the rules of the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners of war. Seven of the Wereth 11 are buried at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery which our group visited on Day 1 and which is the subject of the first blog post in this series.

On December 17, 1944– the second day of fighting during the Battle of the Bulge– most of the 333rd FAB was overrun by the Germans (along with the 106th Infantry Division who they were supporting) and were taken prisoner. Eleven managed to escape capture and after walking through heavy snow for miles with the hope of making it back to American lines sought shelter at a farmhouse in Wereth, Belgium. The family brought them inside and offered hot food, but this shelter lasted only a brief moment, as it is thought that they had been exposed to the SS. They were marched into a field where they were brutally beaten and finally, killed. Their corpses would remain in the field, covered in ice and snow, until early February. This war crime would be part of a series of war crimes perpetuated on prisoners of war and on civilians known as the Malmedy Massacre, which counted nearly 500 victims.

The Museum will highlight African American service and sacrifice in our upcoming Special Exhibit, Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in WWII. Stay tuned for more in the series on the April tour of Museum staff and volunteers to the Ardennes region. For more information about the tours offered by the Museum, see The National WWII Museum Tours.

Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.

Road to Tokyo Countdown: Life Aboard Ship

2-3_USS_Enterprise2

Serving in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II presented a unique set of advantages and challenges which differed from the experiences of other service men and women. Life aboard ship was characterized by cleaner environments and the availability of better food than in the life of an infantryman. However, engaging in naval combat with the Japanese was often intense and terrifying, and required precision and level-headedness under fire. Battles had a high risk of casualties, as men could easily become trapped when aboard a sinking vessel.

As we travel through Road to Tokyo, and within the New Naval Warface gallery, the Life Aboard Ship exhibit will convey the experiences of the men and women in US Navy, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, of being onboard ships in the vast Pacific Ocean.

 

Donor Spotlight- Strake Foundation

George W. Strake, Sr. and Pope Paul VI

George W. Strake, Sr. and Pope Paul VI

The Life Aboard Ship exhibit has been made possible through a generous donation by the Strake Foundation.

George W. Strake was born in 1894, and raised in St. Louis, MO. He was the youngest of nine children and both of his parents passed away when he was very young. His first job was as a Western Union runner making $10 a week and putting $2 of his weekly salary into the Sunday church collection basket. Though he did not attend high school, he was admitted to St. Louis University after taking an entrance exam. Upon graduation, the United States was in World War I. He joined the Army in Florida, and became a wireless instructor in the Army Air Corps. He fell in love with a young lady from Florida but he would not marry her because “she had more money than I did.” She suggested to him to travel to Mexico as “that’s where the fortunes were going to be made.”

He followed her advice and moved to Tampico, Mexico. He began working with Gulf Oil Co. where he remained for two years. After leaving Gulf Oil Co., he began putting drilling deals together for fellow Americans. He married Susan Kehoe, from Houston, Texas. They had their first child, Betty Sue, in Houston, and they lived for a total of seven years in Tampico, Mexico.

The family then moved to Havana, Cuba where Strake sought to explore for oil but took on the Hutmobile dealership, in hopes of a quicker cash flow. Unfortunately, the dealership turned out to be an unsuccessful venture. After residing in Havana for two years, they family decided to move back to the United States. His intent was to move to Oregon to go into the timber business, but his mother-in-law became ill in Houston. In order to keep himself occupied while in Houston, Strake began putting drilling deals together in Texas. His signature accomplishment was drilling the discovery well in the Conroe Field, southwest of Conroe, Texas, in 1931. Prior to independently drilling the discovery well, he was turned down by eight major oil companies, who choose not to participate.

It was after the discovery of the Conroe Field that Strake established the Strake Foundation. This allowed him and his wife an opportunity to help many needed institutions and individuals.

George W. Strake, Jr.

George W. Strake, Jr.

The Strake Foundation continues the many charitable works that were started by George and Susan Strake today. One of their major philanthropic ventures is the Catholic Church and the Vatican. A highly significant project that the Strake Foundation supported was to fund the excavations beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, where the tomb of St. Peter was found. George Strake was bestowed the honor of Knight of St. Sylvester by the Pope. Mrs. Annette Strake’s grandparents on her father’s side, Frank & Gladys DeWalch, were also Italian and emigrated to the United States. It is because of these two facts that Strake Foundation found it appropriate to sponsor the Liberation of Rome exhibit within the Road to Berlin that opened in December 2014.

George Strake died in 1969, and his work through the Foundation has been continued by the Strake Family under the guidance of their son, George W. Strake, Jr. and their third child, Georganna Parsley. Young George graduated from St. Thomas High School in Houston, the University of Notre Dame and Harvard Business School. After George Jr. graduated from Notre Dame he was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy where he served for two years in the Pacific Fleet on an LST. This time in the US Navy inspired the Strake Foundation’s support for the Life Aboard Ship exhibit within the Road to Tokyo.

George and Annette Strake with President George Bush & his wife Barbara.

George and Annette Strake with President George Bush & his wife Barbara.

George Jr.’s love of the Navy and the United States Military began in his formative years when he was 6-10 years old during World War II. He can remember wanting to participate in the war effort with all other Americans. As a young boy he would collect newspapers, magazines and aluminum foil, taking them to the fire station “for the war effort.” He also planted vegetables for a “victory garden” in his mother’s azalea bed. His reaction was a reflection of the spirit that existed in WWII where everyone, regardless of their age, was a participant in the war effort. His uncle flew bombers in the European Theater and his two brothers-in-law, Bob Parsley and Bob Dilworth, flew for the United States Air Force and the United States Navy. George remembers his mother crocheting blankets for hours for the troops overseas. As George Jr. says, “the reason we won this terrible war, was because all Americans were involved.”

The Strake Foundation has been a generous supporter of The National WWII Museum since its opening in the year 2000. The National WWII Museum’s work helps fulfill the Strake Foundation’s mission of teaching the fact that “this is the greatest country in the world. It will not always be that way unless we are always vigilant.” We are very appreciative of the generous support the Strake Foundation provides to The National WWII Museum. George’s leadership and the foundation’s participation allow us to expand – with a sense of urgency – so we can share the stories of our WWII veterans while as many as possible are around to see it.

SciTech Tuesday–2015 Robotics Challenge

This year’s National WWII Museum Robotics Challenge, Invent for Victory, was held May 9th. Thirty-six teams from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida participated in matches with LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robots. They were given 10 objectives, and their goal was to program a robot to complete those challenges. Additionally they made a music video explaining advances in STEM during WWII.

When almost 400 4th-8th graders come to your museum, bringing family, friends, and robots, it’s hard not to have a great time. For most of Saturday they filled our Museum, and with about 75 volunteers we had a brilliant time.

Prizes were awarded in 3 Categories, and there was also a Grand Champion chosen.

Best Video:

  1. Samuel Green Charter School–Green Giants of New Orleans
  2. Metairie Academy for Advanced Studies–The Avengers of Metairie
  3. Maker Krewe–The Unbreakables of New Orleans

Best Robot Design:

  1. Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center–Bayou Builders of Ponchatoula
  2. Patrick Taylor Academy SciTech Academy–The Flying Tigers of Westwego
  3. Stephens Elementary–Bruh Legos of Alexander City, Alabama

Best Robot Performance:

  1. Alexander City Middle School–Legotrons of Alexander City, Alabama
  2. Westdale Heights Academic Magnet–Techno Tick Tocks of Baton Rouge
  3. Mandeville Jr High–Purple Phyre of Mandeville
  4. Benjamin Franklin Elementary–Red Tail Squadron of New Orleans

 Grand Champions Award:

For annually showing the teamwork and perseverance it takes to be great, Lake Harbor Middle School’s Titanium Owls, of Mandeville.

Learn more about STEM at The National WWII Museum.

Post by Rob Wallace, STEM Education Coordinator

 

The National WWII Museum Partners with NOLA.com for Local WWII Photo Search

As the anniversaries of the end of World War II hostilities and V-J Day approach, The National WWII Museum’s plans are underway for events honoring the men and women who fought for America’s freedom. On the 70th Anniversary of V-E Day, the Museum launched a community initiative regarding the local celebration pictured below. Originally appearing in The Times-Picayune, the iconic photograph was taken by Oscar J. Valeton Sr. and depicts the overwhelming exuberance felt throughout New Orleans neighborhoods when victory over Japan was declared.

“New Orleanians celebrate V-J Day and the end of World War II” Photo by Oscar J. Valeton Courtesy of the Times-Picayune

“New Orleanians celebrate V-J Day and the end of World War II”
Photo by Oscar J. Valeton Sr.
Courtesy of the Times-Picayune

With the support of NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, the Museum is asking the public for help indentifying all of the individuals in the photograph in order to connect with them and gather surviving members for a special reunion. The reunion will feature a private reception for these individuals and their families, along with a special ceremony commemorating the end of the war.

If you are in the photo, know the identity of someone who is, or simply have stories to share about V-J Day in New Orleans, NOLA.com wants to hear from you. Learn more about how to join the conversation here.

 

A POW V-E Day Memory

On May 8, 1945, World War II ended in Europe and this year, 2015, marks the 70th anniversary of V-E [Victory in Europe] Day. While jubilant celebrations took place throughout the world, others lived this moment in a more quiet and reflective way.

Yesterday we received an email from a WWII vet, blogger and former POW, James Baynham, in which he shared his own personal V-E Day experience.

Jim Baynham

Jim Baynham

James C. Baynham served in the USAAF as a B-24 pilot in the 445th Bombardment Group (H) in the European Theater of Operations. Baynham flew 11 missions before being shot down on September 27, 1944 during the raid on Kassel, Germany when hundreds of German Fw190 and Me109 fighters attacked his squadron. He was captured and spent seven months in Stalag Luft I.

Jim Baynham with his B-24 Crew.  Jim is in the second row, second from the right.

Jim Baynham with his B-24 Crew. Jim is in the second row, second from the right.

The months between January and May 1945 were some of the harshest for American POWs in Europe. The severe weather, overcrowding, forced marches, and mistreatment by captors who were on the brink of defeat all took a physical and mental toll on the POW population. In Europe during WWII, 1, 121 American prisoners of war died while captive, most in the waning months of the war. By 20 May 1945, all surviving American POWs were back in US hands, some held weeks after war’s end by Soviet forces.

Baynham recollected on his whereabouts seventy years ago:

Tomorrow will be V-E day. And those days seventy years ago are surprisingly fresh in my mind. I was three weeks shy of having my 21st birthday and woke up the morning of the seventh in a soft feather bed in Wismar, Germany. It was a town that British troops had taken, and I had arrived the day before after trekking through about 60 kilometers of Russian controlled territory.  Pat Murphy, a fellow POW and I had left Stalag Luft One and made our way to Wismar on our own. We weren’t sure how we were going to get home but we figured if we kept going West we would find American troops and now, lying  in luxury, out of the dangerous land of Russian convoys and safely in Allied territory, we were really and truly safe and for sure would see those beautiful G.I.s later that day. About a quarter million German troops had come to this town also, fleeing capture, and certain death by the Russians. They probably felt as relieved as Pat and me, but they were camped in fields all around the town while we were snug in bed. In a few weeks we would be home, but right then, seventy years ago this morning, we were good!

More of Baynham’s story can be heard in his full oral history interview on our Digital Collections site. To read more about POWs in Europe, see Guests of the Third Reich: American POWs in Europe. Jim  was one of our “Guests of the Third Reich Special Guests,” who visited the Museum during the exhibit’s run.

Post by Chrissy Gregg Baynham and Kimberly Guise and Special Guest Jim Baynham.

Road To Tokyo Countdown: New Naval Warfare

2-2_Briefing_RoomThe effort to secure victory over the Japanese military in World War II brought about entirely new methods and strategies of naval warfare. The availability of innovative resources and technologies, coupled with the need to devise an alternative naval approach after the US fleet of battleships was diminished by the attack at Pearl Harbor, forced naval warfare to evolve rapidly. The introduction of unrestricted submarine warfare and aircraft carrier-based combat completely changed the way battles at sea were waged.

As we continue down the Road to Tokyo, we stop next at the New Naval Warfare gallery, which will demonstrate how the United States employed these new strategies, point to the obstacles they faced, explore the key naval battles that shifted the course of the war, and share the experiences of those who served on ships, submarines, and aircraft in the Pacific.

The New Naval Warfare will include six major exhibits that will employ an array of artifacts, interactive displays, and audio visual presentations to capture visitors’ imaginations and bring the history of the war in the Pacific to life. Visitors will learn about sailors’ and aviators’ experiences in their own words through oral histories that recount battles and everyday life at sea. Throughout, the exhibits will communicate both the broad strategic complexity of naval warfare and the individual bravery and leadership of the service members who took part in it. The New Naval Warfare gallery will connect with visitors to cultivate a better understanding of naval warfare in the Pacific, and its significant contribution to Allied victory in World War II.

Donor Spotlight: Lt. Commander Alden J. “Doc” Laborde, USN

The New Naval Warfare gallery in Road to Tokyo has been made possible through a generous gift from the late Lt. Commander Alden J. “Doc” Laborde, USN.

Born in Vinton, LA and raised in Marksville, Alden “Doc” Laborde, came from a long line of determined and hardworking individuals. He enrolled at the Naval Academy in June of 1934, and reveled in the traditions and regulations. He took great pride in the marching orders, strict rules, and square meals that shaped him into a man of great patience and character.

According to Alden, the Naval Academy changed his life, and upon graduating in 1938, it was not long until WWII forced his skills into use. He served as commander of three combat vessels in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. His convoys took him through various training sites in the US to Okinawa in August of 1945, arriving on the Japanese shore a few days after the atomic bombs were deployed. He remained in Japan for a few months, sweeping the harbors, before returning to the US in December of 1945 during a time of peace.

After the war, Alden began working for Kerr-McGee Corporation, as a mine-marine superintendent. At his time at Kerr-McGee, Laborde believed that the need to build a platform for each new well site was inefficient and costly, and that it may be possible to construct a mobile, submersible drilling rig. Inspired, he left the company and found an investor, Murphy Corp., to launch the first offshore drilling rig, pulling in Shell Oil Company as his first customer.

Alden found that his new method was incredibly successful and went on to establish three listed offshore service companies during his life: The Ocean Drilling and Exploration Co. (ODECO) in 1953, Tidewater Marine in 1954, and Gulf Island Fabrication Co. in 1985.

According to his son Jack, Alden was “very passionate about what he did, but often said you could always do things better.” He surrounded himself with intelligent and dedicated employees. He preached moderation in all things and was a devoted Catholic, receiving daily communion until his death. His attitude of being “happy with what you have,” is a lesson that his family continues to take to heart.

The Laborde family first became involved with the National WWII Museum shortly after Hurricane Katrina. The Almar Foundation, which tends to focus its efforts on poverty and rehabilitation, recognized the importance of the Museum remaining open in a city facing such dire straits, and chose to sponsor the Museum’s Road to Victory Capital Campaign.

The Museum is fortunate to have the opportunity to honor Lt. Commander Alden “Doc” Laborde and his courage through the Laborde Services Gallery and the upcoming New Naval Warfare gallery in Road to Tokyo. We are grateful for the Laborde family and the Almar Foundation for their support of our programs and capital expansion.

Life as a Japanese American Student during WWII

The National WWII Museum’s “See You Next Year!” Yearbooks from WWII website contains a collection of WWII-era school yearbooks from across the nation that provide an excellent perspective on how student life was affected by WWII.  This site is a great way for students to interact with primary source material and understand what life was like on the Home Front during WWII.  As May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, two yearbooks in particular provide an intimate comparison of life as a Japanese American student in the late 1940’s.

Students at both President William McKinley High School in Honolulu, Hawaii and at Rohwer Center High School in McGehee, Arkansas were of Japanese descent but experienced drastically different educational environments.  Following the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the US government perceived Japanese Americans to be a threat to national security.  On February 19, 1942 President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, giving the War Department the authority to exclude any or all persons from any part of the country.  However, there was no comparable order signed that applied to the citizens of Hawaii.  Unlike students in Hawaii, the Japanese American students at Rohwer Center High School had been relocated to McGehee, Arkansas as a result of Executive Order 9066.  Despite the overwhelming differences experienced by these Japanese American students at each school, their yearbooks present similarities that show how they viewed themselves as Americans.

Excerpt from the McKinley High School yearbook remembering former students who were killed in combat. From the Collections of the National WWII Museum. See You Next Year! High School Yearbooks from WWII.

Excerpt from the McKinley High School yearbook remembering former students who were killed in combat. From the Collections of the National WWII Museum. See more pages from this yearbook at “See You Next Year!” High School Yearbooks from WWII, ww2yearbooks.org.

Student life at McKinley High School in Hawaii was typical of many other schools around the nation.  Students participated in War Bond and Stamp drives, devoted countless hours to volunteering throughout the community, planted Victory Gardens, donated blood, assisted the Red Cross by making bandages, and collected scrap metal, rubber, and paper.

Yet by 1944 numerous students had joined the military and were serving in Europe and in the Pacific.  The first pages of the yearbook served as a sobering reminder to the current students of the enormous cost of war by paying tribute to former students that had lost their lives in combat.  Even as most Japanese Americans on the continental United States were forced to relocate to Internment Camps, students of Japanese ancestry on the Hawaiian Island were making sacrifices to aid the war effort of the United States.  The yearbook’s “Dedication” reminded students that, “The life of America is involved in the present struggle, and many persons, young and old, weak and strong, of many races and creeds, are sharing the burdens at home and on the battlefield to make victory possible and quick.”  Students were repeatedly reminded of the contributions that they made in the past year ranging from a successful “Buy a Bomber” campaign, working in the pineapple fields, collecting essential war material, and the students that had enlisted for military service.

Student activities at Rohwer High School. From the Collections of the WWII Museum. See You Next Year! High School Yearbooks From WWII.

Student activities at Rohwer Center High School. From the Collections of the WWII Museum. View the entire yearbook at “See You Next Year!” High School Yearbooks From WWII, ww2yearbooks.org.

Thousands of miles East of Honolulu, students at Rohwer Center High School in Arkansas remained optimistic about what the future held for them as Americans, even though they had been forced from their homes during the war.  The yearbook’s “Forward,” taken from Joseph C. Grew’s 1943 address at the Annual Banquet of the Holland Society, attested that “the overwhelming majority Americans of Japanese origin wish to be and wholly are loyal to the United States and not only that but wish to prove that loyalty in service to their native land.”  Students participated in similar activities that others were doing across the US like: attending football and basketball games, holding annual dances, and participating in various other extracurricular activities.  Like students at McKinley High School, students at Rohwer Center High School allocated time to focus on selling War Bonds and Stamps, knitting clothes with rationed material, and planting Victory Gardens.  However, they did so behind barbed wire and beneath the shadows of guard towers.  Even while these Japanese American students were forced into Internment Camps, they continued to support the war effort.

A comparison of both yearbooks shows that the Japanese American students at both high schools experienced drastically different environments during WWII.  Students at Rohwer Center High School looked past their internment and tried to create a “normal” educational environment, while still dedicating their time to supporting the US war effort.  In Honolulu, students were confronted with the cost of war as they lost former students in combat and still made sacrifices to contribute to the war effort at all costs.  Still, as seen through both yearbooks, the Japanese American students remained loyal to the US war effort, made innumerable sacrifices for an Allied victory, and remained confident about what their future held for them as Americans.

For more information about the internment and military service of Japanese Americans during WWII, please visit our website:  From Barbed Wire to Battlefields: Japanese American Experiences in WWII

By Edward Avery, Education Intern at The National WWII Museum.

 

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“A Place of Simple Dignity”: Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery

The National WWII Museum offers a variety of opportunities to travel in the footsteps of those who fought. Included among the tours are trips geared toward Museum staff and volunteers, bringing a greater understanding of particular battles to those who guide visitors through our campus. A recent tour to the Ardennes gave Museum volunteers an in-depth look into the scenes of the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler’s last desperate attempt to stop the Allied drive in western Europe in the cold winter months of December 1944 and January 1945. It would be one of the largest and costliest battles the US Army would fight.  Nearly one million soldiers were engaged during the six-week battle, resulting in 67,000 American and more than 100,000 German casualties.

Many of these Americans were buried overseas. Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, in Homborg, Belgium, was one of the first sites that the April tour group visited where we were met by the Assistant Superintendent Ludwig B. Aske. Aske assisted as we laid a wreath at the foot of the bronze statue of the Angel of Peace. Nearly 8,000 American military dead are buried on the 57 acre site. Many of these men gave their lives during the Battle of the Bulge. The site was established months prior to the battle, on September 28, 1944, barely two weeks after the area was liberated by American forces.

While at Henri-Chapelle, we paid tribute to one particular serviceman, Carl Greise, known to us previously only through the material held in the Museum’s archives. Greise was born in Zwickau, Germany on August 31, 1920 and emigrated to the American Midwest with his parents as a child. He graduated from high school in Cincinnati, Ohio and attended art school. On August 29, 1942, he married Catherine Littmann and lived together with her in Chicago before being inducted into the Army on January 4, 1943. Greise served with the 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. He was killed in action on October 8, 1944 during the attack on Aachen, Germany, the first German city to be liberated by the Americans. Greise’s widow, Catherine, was sent his belongings, along with a picture of Henri-Chapelle and condolence letters. The Museum received these items as a gift from Dr. David C. Heins in 2010. They tell the story, one of thousands, of an American life cut short by WWII.

Stay tuned for more on the April tour of Museum staff and volunteers to the Ardennes region. For more information about the tours offered by the Museum, see The National WWII Museum Tours.

Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.