This is being assembled beginning on 21 Feb. You will probably see it late April.
Slim pickens this time but I have found some things which you should find interesting. On Jan. 30th Bob McClinton 11th Co. sent an email to several of us, subject “an interesting piece of history.” It was about Tinian, Little Boy and Fat Man. It contained pictures of the runways and the two pits from which the bombs were loaded into Enola Gay and Bockscar. The two pits are now covered with glass and contain pictures of the loading operation. For those of you with computers Google Tinian and you can see good pictures of the whole area. One of the people receiving Bob’s email was Bill Pierson 10th Co. and it prompted him to send some family history to Bob and me. I believe you will find it very interesting.
“ I am very knowledgeable of most of the content of an ‘interesting piece of history’ for reasons of which you will become well aware from the narrative in the following, as I have very close family members who were intimately involved in that history.
As you may or may not know, I am a fourth generation “army brat” whose family were career army officers since before the Civil War. My great-grandfather was an army surgeon who was commissioned as a surgeon in 1863, just before the start of that war (at that time M.D.’s were not given a rank but were given the pay date of their date of commission & advanced in pay grade along with their line-officer contemporaries; they were finally given proper ranks during or shortly after the very brief Spanish-American war of April 1898, and his first “rank” was lieutenant colonel—he retired as an assistant surgeon general of the army shortly before World War I). One of his five sons, my maternal grandfather, was a career cavalry officer who retired as cavalry regimental commander. He was a cavalry colonel in France during WW I. His daughter, (my mother) married my father, a 1920 graduate of West Point. I was born in Sternberg General Hospital in Manila back when the Philippine Islands were a “U.S. Possession” (the formal term used for that colonization, which lasted from the time of their liberation from 300-some-years of Spanish rule in 1898 (which is why Filipinos have Spanish surnames). The Spanish kept them virtually enslaved during those three centuries—the indigenous people of the Philippines were a conglomeration of tribal peoples who spoke a polyglot of different languages/dialects. Their Spanish masters did not want to see them educated, nor did they permit them to develop any sort of middle class. They were forced to accept Roman Catholicism as their sole religion. As they were clearly in no way ready for independent nationhood, we (the U.S.) told them that we would grant them their independence after we educated & created a viable middle class of doctors/lawyers/businessmen/trained a national army/etc. Another very important task was to do what the British had done for India during their 300-year “Raj” on that subcontinent. The “Brits” not only performed all of the aforementioned tasks that we saw necessary to perform in the Philippines, which united the Indian people into nationhood, but they also gave India their “lingua franca” (a Latin term meaning “common language”) which was a must if they were to become a united country. Needless to say, that language was English. We followed that example in the Philippines (today many tribal groups in the Philippines try to preserve their tribal languages/dialects keep them “alive,” but English is the lingua franca—all newspapers, magazines & money are printed in English, and all radio & television programs are broadcast in English. Dad’s primary job in the P.I. was to participate in the training of the Philippine army. Before WW II, they were called the “Philippine Constabulary.” The officers & many of the senior noncoms were U.S. Army, while the enlisted troops were Filipino.
DURING WW II, the Filipinos fought such a valiant guerrilla war against the Japanese occupation forces—many, if not most, were former members of the constabulary who had retained possession of the weapons from that force—that, by some estimates, the Filipino guerrillas tied up as many as five Japanese divisions & shortened the Pacific war as much as six-to-eight months.
Another interesting sidelight to my personal & family connection to that era is that my father’s younger (by one year) brother, Albert Pierson, was Ass’t Division Commander of the 11th Airborne . I won’t belabor all of his exploits in the Pacific War other than to mention that he was the first general officer to enter Manila as he led the column of American forces into that beleaguered city. The 11th Airborne was on Okinawa awaiting the expected “go-ahead” for the invasion of the Japanese home islands when the word came in that the Japanese were suing for peace & were willing to make the “unconditional surrender” we had been demanding. They asked that Gen. MacArthur send a general officer to Tokyo to make arrangements for the formal surrender ceremony. MacArthur asked Maj. Gen. Raymond Swing, commander of the 11th Airborne Division whether he could spare Al Pierson to perform said task. Of course, Gen. Swing replied in the affirmative—no one ever dared to go against any of “Dugout Doug’s” slightest whims. His reputation as a martinet in the army was such that everyone except his innermost circle was absolutely terrified of him. MacArthur replied to the Japanese request that my uncle would be the emissary sent to Tokyo for the surrender arrangements. The Japanese specified the exact time and geographical coordinates between Okinawa & the home islands where the C-47 carrying Gen. Pierson & his group of personnel were to be met by a Japanese fighter plane & escorted on to Tokyo. Upon landing a black limousine drove up to the aircraft. A soldier jumped out of the front seat and rolled out a red carpet. Out stepped a Japanese lieutenant general from the back seat. As Uncle Al climbed down the ladder toward the red carpet, the Japanese general, although two ranks senior, saluted Uncle Al and said as he handed his Samurai sword to my uncle something to the effect, “General Pierson, I surrender the Japanese nation to you.” They then proceeded into Tokyo where they arranged for USS Missouri to enter Tokyo Bay for the signing of the formal surrender. Several years later, Uncle Al gave that sword to me, and I still have it. It must have been an heirloom in his family for generations, as it is obviously extremely old. The leather, which covers the scabbard, appears, at least to me, to be centuries old – rotting and falling apart.
The largest & southernmost Philippine island, Mindanao is close to what were the Dutch East Indies & later became the independent nation of Indonesia after WW II. Because of its proximity to the Dutch East Indies, Mindanao has always had a large Muslim population. In reality, the division between the Philippines & Indonesia has always been to some degree an artificial one. If one looks at a map of the area, one can see that the Philippines “bend” somewhat around Southeast Asia, with the former Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, and Indonesia appears to be an extension of the Philippines. The Muslim leader on Mindanao was named Aguinaldo (ah-ghee-NAHL-doe). From 1903 to 1906 we fought a war called “The Philippine Insurrection” against Aguinaldo & his Muslim army. My great-grandfather & grandfather (William H. Corbusier & Philip W. Corbusier) spent those three years on Mindanao fighting Aguinaldo’s army.
In 1924, my Dad & mother were transferred to the Philippines, and I was born there in March 1926. I grew up on army posts all over the U.S. in the 1920s, 30s & early40s. I enlisted in the navy at age 17 right out of high school in 1943. I won an appointment to the Naval Academy in 1944 & graduated with the class of 1948B. I went straight to flight training. After getting my wings, I spent five years in Carrier Air Group Three—the first three as a squadron pilot and then two years as an LSO (landing signal officer). During those years, our air group made three Sixth Fleet (Mediterranean) deployments and two Seventh Fleet (Korean War deployments).
Skipping ahead a few years, I had transferred into the USAF in mid-1959 in order to keep flying. When I finished a three-year tour as a jet fighter instructor in the Naval Air Advance Training command in the Corpus Christi area, I was informed by my detailer in BuPers that, for career management purposes (we aviators referred to it as “career manglement”), I was to receive orders to the ComHawSeaFron staff@ Pearl Harbor, with a follow-on tour as the flight deck officer on a carrier. At the time, I was in the zone for LCDR, so it looked pretty bleak for me to ever get another “cockpit” tour, and flying was my first love. I was sent to B-47 aircraft commander training @McConnell AFB, KS, after which my crew & I were sent to a B-47 wing @ MacDill AFB in Tampa. We spent ¼ of our time on nuclear alert (remember the “Cold War”?) @ Ben Guerir AB, near Marrakech, Morocco (in the northwestern Sahara @ the foot of the Atlas Mountains & @ Moron AB, Spain (near Seville in Andalusia). Our Bomb Wing @ MacDill was part of the 2nd Air Division under the Command of Brig Gen Fred Tibbets, the aforementioned Lt. Col. Fred Tibbets, who was flying the B-29 Enola Gay that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.
Wow!! This has rambled on far too long. Please forgive my verbosity.
As ever, Bill Pierson
P.S. The Marianas (mentioned early on in your interesting history), consisting of Guam, Saipan & Tinian islands, were another acquisition of ours from the Spanish-American war. Suffice to say they would not make for a viable independent country, so they remain today American territory. I’m somewhat surprised that a certain peanut farmer from the class of ’47 didn’t give the Marianas to some other country like he gave up the Panama Canal, only to have the ChiComs take it over!!
Thanks Bill. I agree with your P.S. Dave
Scribe’s note: for those of you who still have the 50 Year book I recommend you read Bill’s bio.
Another email from a Classmate which, among other things, told of a customer service person trying to help a caller with his computer. After spending considerable time trying to determine why the computer was “dead” the customer finally said they had a power outage. The service person asked if he still had the packing materials and when told yes advised the customer to pack up the computer and take it back to the store because he was too stupid to own it. Unfortunately the service person was fired. The story prompted Tyler Dedman 13th Co. to send the following true story. Some years ago I called in to customer support, and the exchange went a bit like the story you sent. The customer support person said to me in exasperation, “Is there someone else there, either at home or a close neighbor that you think might know more about computers that you do?”
Scribe note: I spent over an hour at the Apple store yesterday while one of the geniuses tried to get me through a problem. He did not have an easy job but being face to face we managed to resolve the issue. He was so good I’ll ask for him the next time I go in, and there will be a next time.
We have said goodbye to some more good people.
1st Co. Harkins, W.D. 2/5/13*
17th Co. Ikard, WG. II 2/13/13
22nd Co. Robbins, K.M. 1/29/13
4th Co. Shea, W.L. 2/6/13
Hill, R.W. 1/23/13
Snyder, M.M. 2/14/13
*See bio in 50-year book
The next issue is due for submission on 19 April. You may contact me by phone, email or snail mail. Please take advantage of this opportunity to see your effort in print.