December 21, 2014

MacArthur Left But Volckmann Remained

volckmann-and-valdes-07-july-1945

macarthur

Almost everyone from my generation (baby boomers) knows the quote by General Douglas MacArthur wherein he says, “We Shall Return” in reference to when he was ordered to leave the Philippines in 1942 to command allied forces in the Southwest Pacific Command.

What you may not know is that many men under his command didn’t just surrender as they were ordered, but instead they avoided the Bataan Death March and other atrocities by traveling to northern Luzon where they waged the fight of their lives. One of these men is the subject of this article. His name was Russell W. Volckmann and he was from Clinton, Iowa.

Volckmann

We first were made aware of Colonel Volckmann (his rank in 1941) after reading a small book published by the The Clinton Herald, and written by Gary Herrity. Herrity’s reference to the book written after the war entitled “We Remained” (1954) by Volckmann caught our interest, and after waiting about a week for an interlibrary loan, we were able to read this previously unknown (to us) account of Russ Volckmann’s three years behind the lines fighting against the Japanese invaders.

While Volckmann wasn’t the only person to remain on the island, he was one of four men to help build the guerrilla forces and lead them, along with many brave Filipino citizens, in a three year endeavor to survive and thwart the ruthless ‘Japs’.

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Philippine Army Chief of Staff Major Gen. Basilio J. Valdes (L) posing outside command post w. legendary Luzon guerrilla leader Colonel Russell Volckmann (R).  LIFE photo

I would like to make a special point of mentioning that if it wasn’t for the extreme courage and sacrifices that were made by the Philippine people, the outcome of the war and the survival of Volckmann and his compatriots would never  have happened as it did.

Russell Volckman went on to become a Brigadeer General after the war, and is noted even now as one of the proponents of the use of guerilla warfare that has since become one of the effective methods of defence. Volckmann was often sought out as a military consultant on this subject.

Volckmann’s book is well worth reading, not only for American historians, but for Filipino historians too.  My husband is also from Clinton, Iowa.  He said that he never remembered hearing about Colonel Volckmann, or being taught about his importance  in American history in any of his classes throughout his school years.

We cannot forget these heroes!

Sources:

Golden Oldies of Clinton History, Vol. 2 – Gary Herrity (2003-08)

We Remained – Russell W. Volckmann (1954)

Photo of the Day at Are You In My Photo

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I  had a nice surprise when I visited Are You In My Photo’s site tonight. One of the photos I posted yesterday was chosen for photo of the day.

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I added this particular photo of my dad’s Carrier Aircraft Service Unit 7 because it’s a very clear photo and the men’s names are easily read. Even their rank at the time is noted, as well as the date of Sept. 14, 1944.  I can only hope that by putting the photo on AYIMP’s site that even more people will be able to view it, and perhaps find a family member.  Clicking on the smaller photo below will take you to the full-sized photo.

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I am pretty sure this photo was taken in Hawaii, but I could be wrong. Dad’s group ended up on New Calendonia servicing planes from the carriers that were fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific. It was on that island that Dad strapped Admiral “Bull” Halsey into his parachute. I don’t have a photo of that, but I did find one in the Library of Congress archives that shows Halsey, Eleanor Roosevelt and another man (Harmon) in front of a plane in New Calendonia.

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Harmon, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Admiral Bill Halsey

CASU7 detachment at Quillayute NAS 1944

CASU7 detachment

Originally uploaded by webduckie

Today I was able to pinpoint the location of where this photo was taken using my dad’s Service Memories book. My mom must be commended too for adding all the documentation to the book.

Dad’s book says that he was transferred from Sand Point NAS to Quillayute NAS 06 March 1944. Since this picture was taken in September of 1944, it is likely they were in Quillayute.

As a side note, 26 January 1944 Dad was home on leave (from service in the South Pacific on New Caledonia) to get married 05 February 1944 at his in-law’s home in Seattle.

Dad’s WWII Love Letter To Mom

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Eighty-nine years ago today my dad was born in West Plains, Missouri to parents Will and Minnie Smith Yates.  Although Dad passed away in 1996, his life lives on through letter and photos from his past. This letter was written on the eve of his 24th birthday and he was feeling “pretty old”.

He and Mom had married in Seattle at her parent’s home on Queen Anne Hill, and way back in the 1980’s Mom and I took a trip down memory lane by going back to that house. It just so happened that the owner let us come in and look around on that sunny summer day. Mom was thrilled as she showed me her old room upstairs, and even more so to have me see the marble front fireplace which she and Dad were married in front of on February 5, 1944.

Dad’s love letter of March 15, 1944 was written from Quillayute NAS where he was working after coming back from a tour with the Navy in New Calendonia. As you read in the letter, housing was at a premium, but they did eventually find a little one room place in Forks so they could be together instead of Mom living with her parents. Mom said that place was so small they could stay in bed and reach out and light the woodstove!

I have to say, I don’t remember my dad ever calling Mom “Darling” when we were around…

Thinking of you on your special day Dad, and missing you lots.

15-march-1944-letter-from-dad

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