Korean War and Rosie’s Bar

Actually known as Rose’s Bar, this popular watering hole in Seoul Korea was made famous during the Korean War. The bar became a household word during the television series MASH. This diorama at Armed Forces History Museum is accompanied by audio and features Rose behind the bar serving a soldier who stops by for a drink and a little rest and relaxation. The sign outside the bar is a replica of the sign that hung outside this bar in Seoul, Korea. A brief write up of the history of the bar is mounted at the entrance to the diorama.

A Brief Look at Rosie’s Bar

Photo taken by Stan Malcolm photo, 1972

Rosie’s Bar was a local watering hole in Seoul, Korea for US soldiers and other US troops in the area. Located down an alley just outside Camp Mosier, the area was a thriving district for local nightclubs during the Korean War. Once the American troops were pulled out, however, the area reverted back to being mainly a residential area. Land development in the area later became difficult, which saved Rosie’s Bar from being demolished. Rosie’s Bar (which was actually titled Rose’s Bar) became an American household icon through the television series MASH. Had it not been for this exposure, Rose’s Bar would have probably just become a distant memory.

French Army Special Forces Brigade

Based in Pau, Pyrenees-Atlantiques France, the French Army Special Forces Brigade – one of the top special forces in the world was first activated in July of 2002 and are still an active .  They are one of three units which train together annually in an exercise known as “Gorgones” a name meaning ‘three mythological figures’.  The purpose of this Special Forces Brigade – which in French is Brigade des Forces Speciales Terre, BFST – is to support peacekeeping operations in Cote d’Ivoire and Afghanistan.


The French Army Special Forces Brigade is composed of the following three units:

1)      1er RPIMa is highly skilled and experienced, specializing in areas such as counter-terrorism and patrol operations (amphibious, jungle, mountain or motorized).  They are among Europe’s most highly trained Special Forces, partly due to their continued operational deployments over the past thirty years.  They are based in Bayonne.

2)      13e RDP, the French Army’s Long Range Recon Patrol, is comprised of seven squadrons.  Three of these squadrons are dedicated to intelligence, two head up long-range communications and the final two are training squadrons.  This unit is based in Martignas-sur-Jalle.

3)      4e RHFS is responsible for providing air transportation and support anywhere in the world to France’s Special Forces.

Not much information is available on the selection and training process for the BFST.  However, this lack of information, in no way, implies a less elite or less experienced group of individuals.

The French Army Special Forces Brigade is still considered one of the top Special Forces worldwide.

Top Tank Battles of World War II

The top tank battles of World War II, despite their crucial victories and severe losses, do not carry the same notoriety as other battles throughout the war.  Throughout WWII, tanks were used as an effective force which allowed a quick tactical victory.  Their involvement in World War II was vital.   Listed below, in no particular order, are some of the top tank battles of World War II:

(1941)  Battle of Brody

Germans:  800 tanks        Soviet Union:  2,500 tanks

The Battle of Brody was a fierce tank battle between the Germans and the Red Army. It remained the largest tank battle of WWII until the Battle of Kursk two years later.  Despite being outnumbered, the Germans were victorious.

(1940)  Battle of Hannut

France:  600 tanks          Germans:  618 (up to 674)

This World War II tank battle occurred in Belgium between the French army and the Nazi invaders.  Despite inflicting a significant number of casualties on the French, the Germans were unable to neutralize the French army and withdrew.

(1944)  Operation Goodwood

United Kingdom – 1,100 – 1,300 tanks     Germans:  377 tanks

In Operation Goodwood, the British attacked the German forces in northern France.  What ensued was a battle some would arguably defend as the largest tank battle ever fought by the British Army.  In the end, some would refer to this as a strategic Allied victory, but a tactical victory for the Germans.

(1943)  Battle of Prokhorovka

Soviets:  800-850 tanks     Germans:  500-700 tanks (possibly far less)

This WWII tank battle was part of the Battle of Kursk and is one of the largest tank battles in military history.  Though the victory of this battle was not immediately clear, it did show the continued force and determination of the Soviets.

(1941)  Battle of Raseiniai

Soviets:  749 tanks                   Germans:  245 tanks

Battle of RaseiniaiDuring the Battle of Raseiniai, the Soviet armored forces were almost completely destroyed.  This cleared the way for the German offensive to continue their drive and cross the Daugava River.

 (1942)  Second Battle of El Alamein

Allies:  1,029 tanks              Axis:  547 tanks

The German’s lost this battle and were unable to gain possession of Egypt and the Suez Canal.  The Allies received Sherman Tanks from the Americans, which reinforced their forces and allowed them to outlast the Germans.  The tanks were critical in this Allied victory.

The world has seen many epic tank battles before and since.  But those listed above are definitely some of the top tank battles of WWII.

Carrier Pigeons Used During World War I

carrier pigeonCarrier Pigeons, used to carry communications during World War I, proved to be instrumental in the war.  Because advanced telecommunications had yet to be developed, the carrier pigeon was often used by both sides, not only for critical dispatches, but also often sent from the front line carrying status report messages back to the main headquarters.  The messages could then be relayed to the proper military authorities.  In all, it is estimated that more than 100,000 carrier pigeons were used by both sides during the war.  They are recorded as having a 95% success rate in navigating successfully to their intended destination.

Crude Communications

Though communications during WWI were still crude, the telecommunications at that time was still the preferred method of communication.  However, oftentimes, troop’s positions sometimes took them into areas past the existing lines.  They would have to delay their communications until new line was laid down – this sometimes delayed their transmissions for days.  In some cases, the terrain was so difficult, laying wire was impossible.

Carrier pigeons were fitted with a small carrier, which was attached to the pigeon’s leg.  Once a message was completed, it would be folded and placed inside the canister.  The pigeon would then be released to fly back to headquarters.

French_soldiers_ditch_1914During the First Battle of the Marne, pigeons were shown to be the most effective means of getting messages to the French headquarters.  Astonishingly enough, even if the pigeons were gone when the pigeon lofts advanced with the troops, when they returned, they still managed to find their loft.  Their ability to find their way back to those who used them as messengers, was vital.  Along with its acute homing instinct, the pigeon was also able to travel at great speeds, making it almost impossible to shoot one down.

Carrier pigeons were also found on board warships and seaplanes, where they could be used as a backup should radio communications, for any reason, break down.

US Army Signal Corps

One of the oldest groups of soldiers was known as the US Army Signal Corps.  During WWI, they were given 600 pigeons to use as a means of communication.   These are the men who were (and always have been) responsible for assuring that messages between units, as well as those from the other branches of the US service, got through.

At the start of the First World War, the United States received the pigeons as a donation from Great Britain bird breeders.  Then, it was up to the American Soldiers to train them for their jobs.

Cher Ami

One of the most noted carrier pigeons from WWI was named Cher Ami – translated Dear Friend.  This pigeon, in the fall of 1918, spent several months on the front line and flew 12 vital missions.  It is believed the most important message, however, was carried on 4 October 1918.

cher-ami-war-pigeonThe day before, US Army Major Charles Whittlesey and 500 of his men found themselves trapped in a small hollowed area on the side of a hill.  They were surrounded by the enemy.  Many of the men trapped were killed or wounded on the first day.  By day two, just over 200 were alive and unwounded.  Major Whittlesey sent out a number of pigeons to inform his commanders, not only of his position, but alert them of how dangerous the trap was.

The following day, Cher Ami was the only pigeon he had left.  That afternoon, the US sent some protection.  The only problem was they were unsure of the American’s exact location so some of the artillery they were firing was landing right on top of Whittlesey and his men.  The Major wrote a quick note instructing the men firing the artillery guns of his location and asking them to cease.

As Cher Ami was released, the German soldiers spotted the pigeon and began opening fire.  Whittlesey and his men thought they were doomed, as they observed Cher Ami plummeting to earth.  The pigeon, however, did not stay down for long.  He managed to once again spread his wings and rise.  Cher Ami flew high above the enemy fire and covered 25 miles in just 25 minutes.  When he arrived at his coop, he was found severely injured, but the silver canister, which contained the all-important message, was still attached.  The bird’s perseverance is credited with saving more than 200 lives.

Dedicated medics from the 77th Infantry Division worked valiantly to save Cher Ami.  Though successful, they were unable to save his leg.  They did, however, carve him a wooden leg.  When the French soldiers (who the American’s trying to assist) received word of Cher Ami’s courage and determination, they awarded him one of France’s great honors – the Crois de guerre with a palm leaf.

Once the pigeon was well enough to travel, it was sent by boat to the United States.  Back in the states, Cher Ami’s story was all over the news.  But eventually, on June 13 1919, less than a year after his brave journey, Cher Ami succumbed to his wounds.  He was preserved by a taxidermist and has served as inspiration for millions over the years.  In fact, Cher Ami, one of the most well-known carrier pigeons of World War I, is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

It should be adequately noted that this legend has grown and changed over the years.  Some feel it actually occurred during the Lost Battalion mission sometime in October of 1918.  In the telling of that story, no mention is made of Cher Ami being wounded just out of the pocket.  However, it is not important where or when Cher Ami was wounded.  What is important is that this World War I carrier pigeon’s bravery and determination is, in fact, still completely accurate.

The Role of Native American’s During World War II

For the most part, the role of Native American’s during World War II is greatly overlooked.  In fact, Native American’s made a greater per capita contribution to the war than any other group.

Childers (left), with General Jacob L. Devers after receiving the Medal of HonorChilders (left), with General Jacob L. Devers after receiving the Medal of Honor. It is estimated that approximately one million Native Americans lived in what is now known as the United States when Christopher Columbus arrived.  Less than 400 years later, the population had dwindled down to around 250,000 Indians.  By 1940, that number had risen to around 350,000.  Of that 350,000, 44,000 of them saw military service during WWII.  The Native Americans were involved in all conflicts and received numerous medals, awards and citations.  Three even received the Congressional Medal of Honor – Lt. Ernest Childers from the Creek tribe, Lt. jack Montgomery, a Cherokee Indian and Lt. Van Barfoot a Choctaw.

The United States Enters the War and So Do the Native Americans

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, many Native Americans either enlisted in the armed forces, or went to work in the war plants.  According to one survey, by 1942 the majority of the Native Americans in the service had enlisted voluntarily.

Back in 1917, the Iroquois Confederacy had declared war on Germany.  At the start of WWII, they still had not made peace and were more than ready to fight.  Other tribes were also ready as well.  Some were willing to wait for hours in bad weather in order to sign their draft cards.  Others showed up with their rifles, ready to fight.  It is estimated that about a quarter of the Mescalero Apaches enlisted voluntarily.  This was the same for many of the remaining tribes throughout the United States.  These Native Americans were prepared to overlook their past disappointments and resentments.  They understood the importance of defending one’s own land.

By mid-1942, the annual enlistment for Native Americans was approximately 7,500.  By the beginning of 1945, the yearly average had jumped to 22,000.  Selective Service reported in 1942 that 99% of all Native Americans who were eligible for the draft (healthy males between the ages of 21 and 44) had registered for the draft.  On the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, approximately 5,000 Indians were in the service.  That number escalated to over 44,000 (both reservation and off reservation) by the time the war ended. This accounted for more than ten percent of the Indian population during the war time-frame.American Indian woman]

In addition to the Indian males who served during the war, the women of some of the tribes also contributed serving in the WACS, WAVES and Army Nurse Corps.

Language Barriers

During WWI, the Choctaw language baffled German code-breakers.  With World War II looming in the not too distant future, Germans feared Indian language would once again be used against them.  Throughout the 1930s, German Nazis, infiltrated the reservations disguised as anthropologists and writers in an attempt to learn the language while others attempted to dissuade the Indians from registering for the draft.  Some German Nazis whirling-log-basketbelieved the Indians would chose to revolt rather than fight against Germany since the Swastika was quite similar to a symbol used by the Indians (though once they learned of the Nazi Swastika, the Navajo discontinued using the symbol).  Not only did the Germans fail to convert the Indians, some speculate it was the fuel that encouraged them to register in such staggering numbers.  In all, an average of 80,000 men and women (roughly 20% of the Indian population) fought in the armed forces both at home and abroad.

Some of the tribes had to memorize key English phrases and learn how to write their name.  Others, such as the Navajo were so determined, they began remedial English training classes on the reservations in order to qualify for the military.

The way the draft was structured meant Indians and whites would need to operate together while defending the United States.  As a result their lives, as well as their land-based culture would be forever changed.

On the Home Front

As war was declared on the Axis by President Roosevelt, it felt as if he were speaking to each and every citizen individually.  The Indian tribes interpreted this as meaning all would be permitted to participate.  As a result, an estimated 40,000 Indians (men and women ranging in age from 18 to 50) left their reservations for the very first time and sought jobs in the defense industry.  As a result, they acquired vocational skills, increased their cultural sophistication and elevated their awareness when dealing with non-Indians.

buy war bondsAdditional support from the Tribes came from their large purchases of Treasury Stamps and Bonds and in way of donations to the Red Cross.  In 1944, it is estimated that Indians purchased close to $50 million in bonds.

Also at home, an estimated 2,500 Navajos participated in the construction of the Ft. Wingate Ordnance Depot in New Mexico.  The Pueblo tribe assisted with the building of the Naval Supply Depot in Utah, while the Alaskan Indians were engaged in territory defense.

Back on the reservations, the women assumed the traditional duties of the men.  In addition to sewing uniforms, tending livestock and canning food, they also manned the fire lookout stations and learned to be mechanics, lumberjacks and farmers.  Despite their reluctance in leaving the reservation, many of the women worked in aircraft plants as welders.  Others donated time to the Red Cross, the Civil Defense and the American Women’s Volunteer Service.

Native Americans in the USMC

After the successful use of the Choctaw language (to befuddle the Germans) in World War I in sending messages to field phones, the USMC began recruiting Navajo Indians for the same purpose.  They would become known as Navajo_Code_Talkersthe Navajo Code Talkers.  Their code allowed for faster transmitting and deciphering and it was a code the Japanese were never able to break.


The Marine Corps welcomed the Indians.  They respected their warrior reputation; a reputation they felt matched their own ‘elite’ fighters.  When the Marine Navajos ended their ceremonial chants, they would do so by singing the USMC Hymn in their native tongue.  They started a signal unit comprised of all Navajos in order to encode messages in their native tongue.  They formed their own words for various military and naval terms so they could transmit orders and/or instructions.  The Code Talkers were first used in 1942 on Guadalcanal, but eventually, they were each assigned to one of the USMCs six Pacific divisions.  By the end of the war, more than 400 Navajos had served as Code Talkers, a service which is credited with saving countless lives.

 Other Areas of Service

Native Americans excelled at basic training, were proficient in marksmanship and bayonet fighting and were capable of enduring thirst and food deprivation better than the average soldier.  The Native American soldier had an acute sent of perception, excellent endurance and exceptional physical coordination.

Along with the Pacific Theater, the Indians also saw action in Bataan and Corregidor, Italy and Central Europe.

Post World War II

After the war was over, many of the Native Americans remained in the mainstream (as opposed to returning to the reservation).   Leaving their traditional culture was not rejection of their heritage.  Instead, they began to identify and cope with various differences they saw between themselves and the white man.  Others, despite learning to make the necessary adjustments to live in white America, still chose to return to their reservations.  Despite a better standard of living and job and education opportunities, these Indians were not willing to give up the security offered by the reservation.

The Native Americans, no doubt, played an outstanding role in America’s WWII victory despite the challenges they faced both as individuals and as a group.  They left the comforts of the only land they ever knew and travelled to far away strange places where people did not understand their traditions.  They gave up their dances and rituals and had to learn how to adapt to working under a ‘white man’.  Despite all this, the Native Americans did learn to adapt to their various World War II roles and in the process, they went from being American Indians to Indian-Americans.

Interesting Facts About World War II

Below is a list of interesting facts about World War II:

  1. World War II, to date, caused more destruction and cost more money than any other conflict. Russia alone suffered more than 21 million casualties – more than any other country involved in the war.
  2. Four of every five German soldiers killed in the war, died on the Eastern Front.
  3. Only 20% of the males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 survived the war.
  4. An average of 27,700 tons of bombs was dropped per month by the Allies from 1939 to 1945 for a total of 3.4 million tons.
  5. Facts about Pearl Harbor:
    1. At the time of the attack, 96 ships were anchored
    2. 18 of the ships were sunk or seriously damaged – this included eight battleships
    3. A total of 2,402 American men were killed with another 1,280 being injured
    4. A total of 350 aircraft were either damaged or destroyed
    5. President Roosevelt used Al Capons’ bullet proof car (which had been seized by the US Treasury in 1931 and was the only bulletproof vehicle available) as a means of safe transportation to deliver his infamous Pearl Harbor speech.
  6. Back in 1942, the radio DJs in the United States were forbidden to accept listener requests as officials feared enemy spies could imbed secret messages.
  7. In World War II, the youngest serviceman in the United States military was Calvin Graham – age 12. Graham lied about his age when he enlisted in the US Navy.   His real age was not discovered after he was wounded.
  8. A number of historians credit the Battle at Stalingrad as the turning point of the war in Europe.
  9. The Battle of the Atlantic is the longest battle of the war, lasting from 1939 to 1945.
  10. Only one out of every four men serving on U-boats survived.
  11.   The Japanese use the term ‘niju hibakusha’ to refer to survivors of the atomic bombings. Literally translated, the word means ‘explosion-affected people’.
  12. The earnings of a private jumped from $21/month in 1941 to $50/month in 1942.
  13. German U-Boats are credited with sinking 2,000 Allied ships. A total of 781 U-Boats were destroyed in the process.
  14. Production of war related items soared in the United States during World War II, including the following:
    1. 650,000 Jeeps
    2. 300,000 military aircraft
    3. 89,000 tanks
    4. 3 million machine guns
    5. 7 million rifles
  15. More than 80,000 US soldiers died in the Battle of the Bulge, making it the largest and deadliest battle for United States troops to date.
  16. Hard to believe, but the Siege of Stalingrad resulted in more Russian deaths (military and civilian) then the United States and Britain sustained (combined) in all of World War II.
  17. During WWII, the Japanese launched more than 9,000 ‘balloon’ weapons at the United States. These ‘wind ship weapons’ carried combustible bombs over the states with 1,000 of them actually hitting their intended target. Some reached as far as Michigan. The only deaths reported as a result of these bombs were in Oregon – five children and one pregnant woman who found a bomb that had not detonated, but did so after they moved it.
  18. The use of Kamakaze (divine wind) pilots was proposed in October of 1944 by Vice Admiral Onishi. Onishi felt the tactic would help to balance the technological advantages of the advancing US forces. It is believed that as many as 2,000 pilots died while sinking 34 US ships, damaging 368, killing 4,900 sailors and wounding an additional 4,800.
  19. The United States’ defense budget during the war (1940-45) increased from $1.9 billion to a staggering $59.8 billion.
  20. Jet fighters were first used during World War II by the Germans. Their late development made their impact insignificant, however, in changing the course of the war.
  21. During World War II, General Karl Becker designed the most powerful artillery gun. The Karl – as it was appropriately named – was mainly used against the Russians. This artillery piece was capable of shooting a 2.5 ton shell over three miles. Each shell was 24 inches wide and had the capacity to pierce through 8 or 9 feet of concrete.
  22. To avoid using the German sounding name ‘hamburger’ during World War II, Americans used the name ‘Liberty Steak’.
  23. The top ace fighter of all nations involved in WWII is Germany’s pilot Erich Hartmann – known as the Blond Knight. Hartmann is credited with 352 ‘kills’.
  24. Adolf Hitler’s nephew, William Hitler, served in the US Navy during World War II. It wasn’t until after the war that he changed his name.
  25. The following Hollywood actors served in WWII and received military decorations:
    1. Henry Fonda – Bronze Star in the Pacific
    2. Walter Matthau – 6 Battle Stars
    3. David Niven – US Legion of Merit
  26. Though infamous for starring in more than a dozen World War II movies, actor John Wayne was unable to serve during the war due to a football injury.
  27. Oddly enough, both Adolph Hitler and Henry Ford each kept a framed picture of each other on their desk.
  28. Private Eddie Slovik was the only deserter of WWII shot for this crime. He was executed in January of 1945, the first since the Civil War.
  29. During WWI, Japan fought with Britain, France and the US. Minimal territory gain from the peace treaty and a change of government in 1920 (fanatical nationalists) eventually provoked Japan to side with the Germans.
  30. Germany also had a number of grievances after its defeat in WWI. First, it was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles. They lost all their overseas empires and even land mass to its neighbors. Germany was further prevented from maintaining a large army. The resentment that followed eventually nullified the settlement and led to World War II.
  31. The 442nd regimental Combat Team was (and continues to be to date) the most decorated unit in United States history. Their motto for this Japanese-American volunteer group during the war was ‘Go for Broke’. They received a total of 4,667 medals and citations which included the following:
    1. 560 Silver Stars – 28 of these had oak-leaf clusters
    2. 4,000 Bronze Stars
    3. 52 Distinguished Service Crosses
    4. One Medal of Honor

This unit is also noted as never having a case of desertion.

  1. The United States camouflage print for the service uniforms used during World War II was designed by Norvell Gillespie. Gillespie was the garden editor for the Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.
  2. From July 4-22, 1943, more than 3,600 tanks took part in the Battle at Kursk. This tank battle between the Germans and the Russians is the greatest tank battle in the history of warfare.
  3. During World War II, the largest Japanese spy ring was actually located in Mexico. Here, they could spy on the United States Atlantic Fleet.
  4. The mortality rate for POWs in Russian camps was 85%.
  5. During WWII, Germany lost twice as many generals than the United States. Germany lost 3,363 while the United States lost just over 1,500.
  6. When the war was over, the majority of German war criminals gained their freedom by claiming to be refugees at various displaced persons camps.
  7. Had it been necessary for a third atom bomb, the city targeted would have been Tokyo, Japan.
  8. The United States is the only country that Germany formally declared war on in World War II.
  9. A new weapon – the Katyusha – was introduced by the Soviets in July of 1941. This weapon is capable of firing 320 rockets in as little as 25 seconds and is still considered an effective weapon today.
  10. A little trick used by Britain during the war was the use of inflatable barrage balloons. These balloons would be launched around major towns and cities just before a raid. Beneath each balloon was a network of steel cables, which forced bombers to fly high in order to avoid entanglement within the cables. As a result, their accuracy was greatly reduced.
  11. Many attribute the success of the Blitzkreig to the use of dive-bombers. These bombers – such as the Stuka (Junkers Ju87) -would support the tank units. They were fitted with sirens which made a screaming sound that terrified the population.
  12. A Norwegian leader – Vidkun Quisling who held office from 1942 to 1945 – was found guilty of collaborating with the Germans after its occupation. During World War II, the word quisling in the Norwegian language became a synonym for traitor.
  13. Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier, emerged from the jungle of the Pacific Island Lubang in 1974. Unaware that Japan had surrendered, he remained hidden in the jungle for 29 years.
  14. Russia and Japan have never signed an official peace treaty. An attempt – as recent as 2000 – failed when Russia refused to return four offshore islands they had taken from Japan after the war.
  15. During WWII, the Navajo Code Talkers were able to devise a code using their native language. The code allowed for quick sending and deciphering. Unlike earlier codes, which required far more time, the Japanese were never able to break the Navajo Code.
  16. The first Allied paratroopers did not appear until 1940, five years after the Russians.
  17. Newly developed blood transfusion proved to be the most important medical advancement credited with saving lives of soldiers.
  18. During WWII, all major powers had chemical weapons, such as poison gas that was first used in WWI to break the trench war stalemate. However, only two countries actually used them:
    1. Japan – in China
    2. Italy – in Ethiopia
  19. Total casualties for World War II totaled between 50 – 70 million people. A staggering 80% of this total came from only four countries – Russia, China, Germany and Poland. Over 50% of the casualties were civilians, with the majority of those being women and children.

These interesting facts about World War II are just some of the little known facts regarding the war.

World War II Pearl Harbor Exhibit

Pearl Harbor Ships WS copyAfter leaving the WWI Trench Exhibit, visitors at the Armed Forces History Museum enter the World War II Pearl Harbor Exhibit dedicated to the infamous day in American history – December 7, 1941 – when the United States was attacked by the Japanese on their own soil.  This large room houses a number of incredible Japanese artifacts.  At the center of the room (appearing to be at sea) are large scale models of Japanese ships, actually used in the filming of the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!  The 20 ft. theater screen in the background shows continuous authentic film footage of the actual bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Akagi WSAlso included in this exhibit is a large replica of the deck of the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi, designed and built at the AFHM using the ships original plans acquired from the Japanese.  The members of the Japanese navy aboard the Akagi are wearing uniforms that were also used in the filming of Tora! Tora! Tora!

In addition to these two impressive displays, the WWII Pearl Harbor exhibit boasts of seven cases of authentic Japanese memorabilia housing a number of incredible items.  Uniforms, books, weapons, personal items such as a Samurai sword, Japanese Saki pitchers, Japanese money, a Cavalry saddle and saddlebag are just a few of the pieces which make up an incredible collection difficult to find anyplace else.

Japanese Weapons Case WSAnother display case in the WWII Pearl Harbor exhibit showcases a number of rare authentic Japanese weapons including a Nambu pistol, a Japanese Type 92 Hotchkiss Heavy Machine Gun, a Type 96 Light Machine Gun as well as its training model and a WWII Knee Mortar Grenade.  Many other pieces round out this impressive collection of firearms and ordnance.

A replica of a Japanese lookout post is also part of the Pearl Harbor exhibit.   Two Japanese soldiers stand watch from the tower above, while below, visitors are awed at the two chairs Japanese Post and Displays WSon display which once belonged to Admiral Yamamoto, the gentleman who gave the order to bomb Pearl Harbor.

Large scale model planes fly overhead as part of this detailed exhibit.  Even the walls in this sizable gallery are covered in murals completing the incredible feel of this area.  The museum went to great lengths to heighten the experience of the visitors with these murals and others throughout the museum which enhances the overall authentic effect of their exhibits.


Read about the other outstanding exhibits at the Armed Forces History Museum by clicking on the links below:

  • Salute to Service Exhibit
  • Firearms/Ordnance and Mines/Grenades Exhibit
  • World War I Trench Exhibit
  • World War II Pearl Harbor Exhibit
  • USMC South Pacific Exhibit
  • WWII US Navy Exhibit
  • WWII Normandy and French Village Exhibit
  • WWII German Farmhouse Exhibit
  • WWII Communications Room Exhibit
  • Korean War Inchon Landing Exhibit
  • Korean War MASH Unit Exhibit
  • POW/MIA Exhibit
  • Rosie’s Bar Exhibit
  • Korean War Frozen Chosin Exhibit
  • Vietnam Ho Chi Minh Trail Exhibit
  • Vietnam Firebase Exhibit
  • Saddam Hussein and Gulf War Exhibit
  • Additional Exhibits
  • Outdoor Exhibits

WWII – First USMC Native American Minnie Spotted Wolf

minnie spotted wolfJuly 2013 marks another WWII milestone – the 70th year anniversary of the first Native American woman enlisting in the USMC Women’s Reserve – Minnie Spotted Wolf.  Minnie – a member of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe – was born in an area just outside of Heart Butte, MT close to White Tail Creek.  She grew up on a ranch and spent much of her time working as a ranch hand.  Minnie learned to cut fence posts, drive a 2-ton truck and even break a horse.  The physicality of ranch work prepped Minnie for the rigors of boot camp.  She is quoted as noting Marine boot camp as ?hard, but not too hard’.

Minnie served a total of four years in the United States Marine Corps.  She was not only a heavy equipment operator, but also drove for the visiting generals on bases in California and Hawaii.

Minnie spotted wolf 2After four years in the Marines, Minnie Spotted Wolf returned to her home state of Montana.  She met and married Robert England.  In 1955, Minnie earned her two-year degree in Elementary Education.  Eventually, in 1976, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.  Minnie taught for 29 years before passing away in 1988.

Though Minnie Spotted Wolf was the first Native American woman to enlist in the Marine Corps, she was certainly not the only Blackfoot to give service in the US Armed Forces during WWII.

USMC Women’s Reserve

The history of the USMC Women’s Reserve began in World War I when Maj. Gen. Commandent Barnett requested permission from the Secretary of the Navy to enlist women to assist with electrical duties.  On 13 August 1918, Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the United States Marine Corps.  By year’s end, she was followed by an additional 300 women.  These women took over a number of stateside clerical duties.  They received the nickname ?Marinettes’.

Major Ruth StreeterOn 13 February 1943, the USMC officially established the Women’s Reserve with first director Maj. Ruth Streeter.  Training for the women began in March of 1943.  At the time, the USMC used Navy training facilities for both the officer candidates and the enlisted women.  Within the first month of accepting women, the USMC had their first class of officer candidates.

Women in the USMC were given over 200 different jobs stateside.  By the time the war ended, more than 85% of the enlisted at USMC headquarters were women.  While many women were positioned in clerical positions, others were assigned as radio operators, photographers, cooks, drivers, control tower operators and auto mechanics to name a few. More than 20,000 women served the USMC throughout WWII, with only 1,000 continuing on in service after the war ended.

women in warIn June of 1948, the US Congress officially passed an act – the Women’s Armed Service Integration Act – which made women a permanent part of the USMC.  Within two years, these women would be mobilized once again for the war in Korea.  Almost 2,800 women were called to active duty during that time.  During the Vietnam War, close to 2,700 women were serving stateside as well as overseas.  Except for roles in the infantry, artillery, armor and pilot-air crew, women were given approval by the USMC for assignment in all occupational fields by 1975, a far cry from the basic roles given to the first Native American woman – Minnie Spotted Wolf – in World War II.

Sticky Bombs of WWII

The sticky bombs used during World War II were originally produced by the United Kingdom. These hand grenades were designed as a solution to the shortage of anti-tank guns, which was evident after the Dunkirk evacuation.

Development of the Sticky Bomb

It is believed that Major Millis Jefferis began thinking about an anti-tank weapon as early as 1938. His idea was to have an explosive charge deform so it could cover a substantial area of close contact with a target’s surface. Once detonated, the charge would create far greater destruction in a more condensed area making it capable of rupturing a thick armored plate. This type of explosive device was known as a ‘poultice’ or ‘squash head’.

Eventually, he enlisted the help of Dr. Bauer and Dr. Schulman from the Colloid Science Department at Cambridge University. The men began experimenting with various lengths of bicycle inner tubes, filling them with a type of modeling clay to represent the explosive. Next, wooden handles were fitted on the tubes and then dipped into a rubber solution causing them to become sticky. They soon discovered their prototypes were not only difficult to aim, but they also did not adhere to the metal bins used in the trials to represent the tanks.

By 1940, after the incident at Dunkirk, a German invasion of the UK seemed imminent. The British Army was not properly equipped for such an invasion. Among other things, they were short on anti-tanks guns. The 840 they had in France had been left behind, leaving them with only 167, for which ammunition was scarce.

Jefferis realized his sticky bomb idea may now have general applications for the British Army. But problems still remained with developing this device. In searching for solutions, he turned to Robert Stuart Macrae, who realized a flexible bag capable of holding an explosive gel would be required. This design, in theory, would allow for better adhesion on the target. At trials though, difficulty throwing the bag was still an issue.

Next, Gordon Norwood, who was a master printer and happen to overhear the problems being experienced, had an idea. He secured every day light bulbs in an effort to demonstrate his theory that a spherical glass flask placed inside a sock of woven wood is rigid enough to allow a good throw. However, upon making contact, the glass breaks allowing the bomb to bend and adhere to the necessary shape. In order to provide the thrower time to create a safe distance between himself and the explosive, a sticky substance was used to cover the bomb which allowed it to remain in place a few seconds before detonation.

The development of the sticky bomb continued to be refined and arguments over a number of issues persisted. The War Department refused to grant approval for the British Army to use this devise. However, Prime Minister Churchill intervened and production of the bomb commenced. Between 1940 and 1943, more than 2.5 million were made. During World War II, in addition to the United Kingdom, the sticky bomb was also used by Canada and Australia.

Poland’s Special Forces – GROM

Poland’s Special Forces – GROM – was first activated in July of 1990 and has since become one of the top special forces in the world.  Translated, its name means “thunder”.  The GROM are involved in several types of special operations including anti-terrorism.  They are also called upon when additional power is needed at the back of enemy lines.

The Establishment of GROM

Initially, a proposal for a special, fast response team in 1982 was declined.  General Edwin Rozlubirski had made this proposal after Poland’s Embassy in Bern was seized by terrorists.  Then in 1989, the fear of Islamic terrorism surfaced when Jews were permitted to leave the USSR and flee to Israel – something the Islamic terrorists vehemently opposed.  At that time, Poland was one of the few countries willing to provide assistance in organizing this operation.

Following the shooting of two Polish diplomats in Beruit,  Lt. Col. Slawomir Petelicki went to Lebanon to assist in the secure transfer of civilians and diplomats.   Once he returned to Poland, he recommended a plan of action for establishing a special military force.  This time, the Ministry of Defense approved the idea.

Training for GROM

GROM recruits are required to pass a psychological test, a durability test and what is known as a “trust” test.  The purpose of the trust test is to exhaust applicants physically and mentally, filtering out any weak recruits.  The balance of applicants go on to be trained in a number of specialized areas including anti-terrorism, special operations, scuba diving, sniping and parachuting.  The units are set up in teams of four, each learning the responsibilities of the others.  About 75% of the recruits are also trained as medics or paramedics and each group receives the support of a physician.

GROM teams are skillful in rescue operations that are complex – such a terrorist hostage situations.  They are trained to operate on the land, the sea and in the air.   The motto for Poland’s Special Forces GROM is “Tobie Ojczyzno!”  or “For you, Fatherland!”.