USMC related - WWII History

pmclaine

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    Former co-worker sent me an email yesterday......

    May be my fathers uniform... he landed on Okinawa on the first day of the battle of Okinawa... he was there for two weeks ... I thought he may have met up with Desmond Doss... but he came towards the end!
    My dad was a medic just like him, attached to the Army.
    Do you recognize the patches and button?

    Thanks! Hope everyone is healthy!!


    The photos he sent....

    1586517283955.png


    1586517305774.png


    My reply...

    Your father was a Navy Corpsman.

    That is a Marine Corps Eagle Globe and anchor that Corpsman are allowed to wear and we are honored to have them wear it.

    Your father served with the Second Marine Division. My old Battalion was one of the Regiments in the 2nd Mar Div and your father may have been serving with my unit the 8th Marines.

    The Marine Corps landed on Okinawa April 1, 1945. I went to Okinawa on April 1, 1987 with the 8th marines.

    The first Marine operations had them secure the north of the Island. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly.

    The Japanese main line of defense was on the southern end of the island.

    The Army was traveling south and the Marines thought "whats holding those guys up"

    What followed was likely the most horrible of battles the USMC and their Corpsman were involved in.

    If your father served with Second Mar Div on Okinawa as a Corpsman he was a very brave and lucky man. I cant imagine the horrors he witnessed. The fact he was as high a functional human after that experience speaks greatly of him.

    Those uniforms are treasures. The wool in that blouse is of high quality. Karens dad has a similar blouse and its weight blows the one I was issued away. Please if you have other stuff speak to me to identify the items. If he has any Japanese souvenirs they can be valuable. That stuff is priceless to me.

    If you want to delve into the horros your Dad endured read "With the Old Breed at Pelelieu and Okinawa" by Eugene Sledge. Eugene sledge is one of the characters portrayed in the HBO show The Pacific.

    Desmond Doss is quite the man but your father was a Navy Corpsman, and NCO at that, attached to the Fleet Marine Force and that is on a plane higher than any Army dog.

    Please fire away more questions. Id love to tell you more because this needs to be known.

    Hope all the ******** are healthy!


    His father came back from the war to work in a pharmacy as a pharmacist in their family business. It was the old school drug store with the soda fountain and all that. In the town they live the family is still revered and my former coworker is still the gad about "mayor" of sorts.

    Rereading I saw where his Dad was on Oki for two weeks starting April 1. Guessing he might have been an early casualty or as an NCO maybe only there to set up facilities than head back to a ship.

    Keep in mind Okinawa was the only island campaign where the Navy casualties challenged the shore based troops due to the Kamikaze attacks decimating their ships.

    That family will have a different understanding of Dad going forward.
     

    EddieNFL

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    Thanks for posting.

    I covered most of Okinawa back in the early '80s. So much history. Can't explain what it feels like to stand in a foxhole or a bomb crater on Yomitan airfield. Humbling is as close as I can get.
     

    littleeagle52

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    Thanks for posting this. It was a great read. It also hits close to home. I had a uncle who was also with the Marines in Okinawa at that time. He was killed on May 18 1945. He was awarded the Navy Cross. Thanks for sharing.
     

    pmclaine

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    Thanks for posting.

    I covered most of Okinawa back in the early '80s. So much history. Can't explain what it feels like to stand in a foxhole or a bomb crater on Yomitan airfield. Humbling is as close as I can get.


    Sadly youth destroyed my Okinawa experience...........too dumb to take advantage of opportunites.......too excited to spend time in a bar in Kinville only to end up throwing up Yaki Soba all over the side of the taxi on the ride home - perhaps less booze, less "Hubba, Hubba Honcho" and more Boonie Stomping would have made for a better experience.

    I did tour Shuri Castle and the MLR headquarters. I ran my fingers through the pock marks left in the wall from suicide grenades as the Japanese soldiers blew themselves up.

    My time was at Camp Schwab, living in the one story squad bays along the water......beautiful....but field daying those windows sucked.

    Just before leaving our Corpsman, another Marine and I took a trek along the shore line from our barracks, turning south behind the theatre than along the shore beyond the perimeter of Camp Schwab.

    The shore along the southern side of the Camp was loaded with caves. Most were concreted up and painted with graffiti.

    We found one pile of rocks with a crawl space under it and inside were some rib bones and a lower jaw. We stupidly didnt report it. It was 42 years after the war and we dumb 19 year old kids assumed there were bodies everywhere.

    That was the second body I didnt report there.

    First was a drowned Marine.

    4-5 of us were swimming along the cliffs behind our barracks. We were sharing one scuba mask and I happened to be wearing it at the time. The water was pretty cloudy from a recent storm, usually it was like clear azure blue.

    Anyway one of the other Marines hit something under water and asked me to check it out with the mask. I swam to where he indicated and dived down. Going through the haze I first recognized a shit ton of white Budweiser cans as was the habit of Marines drinking on the beach to throw them in the water. Swimming more I noticed a sneaker, than a sock, than a calf and that set me to swimming like Hooper when the head rolls out of the side of the boat in Jaws.

    When I swam about ten feet onto the rocks everyone asked what was wrong and I said "Your going to think Im nuts but I think I saw a sneaker, with a sock and a leg".

    The other Marines were like "Really?". The Corporal with us got excited and said give me the mask. He swam all around the area I was at but didnt come across anything. It was considered a case of the "Terminal Lance" seeing shit.

    Later that day while we played volleyball the MPs and the JPs shut the beach down and recovered a Marine from a sister company. He fell from the cliffs while drinking the night before.

    When my First Sgt heard our story he called me in the office.

    He asked why I didnt insist on reporting what I saw. I told him we checked the area with negative results and Id never seen a dead body in the wild before and it freaked me out.

    At the last comment he looked at me quizzically and said "Never saw a dead body? I guess that could be scary, Ive never seen a whole one........dismissed!" That was First Sgt Terry Bennington - literally the last man out of Vietnam, heloed out of the Embassy as one of the MSGs guarding the compound.

     
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    pmclaine

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    Thanks for posting this. It was a great read. It also hits close to home. I had a uncle who was also with the Marines in Okinawa at that time. He was killed on May 18 1945. He was awarded the Navy Cross. Thanks for sharing.


    Hoping to hear more from my friend.

    His family needs to know what their Dad did.
     

    Ravenworks

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    I was stationed at Camp Hanson in the early 80's.
    When I rotated back I took leave,my father asked me what the island looked like.
    After that he said, when I left Okinawa there wasn't even a weed growing there.
    Dad never really said much about WWII except bits and pieces, he never talked about the action he seen.
     

    EddieNFL

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    Sadly youth destroyed my Okinawa experience...........too dumb to take advantage of opportunites.......too excited to spend time in a bar in Kinville only to end up throwing up Yaki Soba all over the side of the taxi on the ride home - perhaps less booze, less "Hubba, Hubba Honcho" and more Boonie Stomping would have made for a better experience.

    I did tour Shuri Castle and the MLR headquarters. I ran my fingers through the pock marks left in the wall from suicide grenades as the Japanese soldiers blew themselves up.

    My time was at Camp Schwab, living in the one story squad bays along the water......beautiful....but field daying those windows sucked.

    Just before leaving our Corpsman, another Marine and I took a trek along the shore line from our barracks, turning south behind the theatre than along the shore beyond the perimeter of Camp Schwab.

    The shore along the southern side of the Camp was loaded with caves. Most were concreted up and painted with graffiti.

    We found one pile of rocks with a crawl space under it and inside were some rib bones and a lower jaw. We stupidly didnt report it. It was 42 years after the war and we dumb 19 year old kids assumed there were bodies everywhere.

    That was the second body I didnt report there.

    First was a drowned Marine.

    4-5 of us were swimming along the cliffs behind our barracks. We were sharing one scuba mask and I happened to be wearing it at the time. The water was pretty cloudy from a recent storm, usually it was like clear azure blue.

    Anyway one of the other Marines hit something under water and asked me to check it out with the mask. I swam to where he indicated and dived down. Going through the haze I first recognized a shit ton of white Budweiser cans as was the habit of Marines drinking on the beach to throw them in the water. Swimming more I noticed a sneaker, than a sock, than a calf and that set me to swimming like Hooper when the head rolls out of the side of the boat in Jaws.

    When I swam about ten feet onto the rocks everyone asked what was wrong and I said "Your going to think Im nuts but I think I saw a sneaker, with a sock and a leg".

    The other Marines were like "Really?". The Corporal with us got excited and said give me the mask. He swam all around the area I was at but didnt come across anything. It was considered a case of the "Terminal Lance" seeing shit.

    Later that day while we played volleyball the MPs and the JPs shut the beach down and recovered a Marine from a sister company. He fell from the cliffs while drinking the night before.

    When my First Sgt heard our story he called me in the office.

    He asked why I didnt insist on reporting what I saw. I told him we checked the area with negative results and Id never seen a dead body in the wild before and it freaked me out.

    At the last comment he looked at me quizzically and said "Never saw a dead body? I guess that could be scary, Ive never seen a whole one........dismissed!" That was First Sgt Terry Bennington - literally the last man out of Vietnam, heloed out of the Embassy as one of the MSGs guarding the compound.


    We definitely "patroled" some of the same ground. Had a buddy at Schwab. We did a little boonie stomping together, but he rotated out after a year. I was there for five.

    Did you ever see the squares cut out of the lava along the beaches? From what I read/heard, the Japs used it to fortify machine gun positions. EOD had a large map with red pins indicating UXO that needed to be cleared. Looked like it had the measles. I found several items including a shape charge used to disable a nuke. My neighbor found a "neat" item she was using as a doorstop. I told her it looked like a mine. Called my bud at EOD...sho 'nuff. Went high order. I remember areas fenced off with signs declaring UXO. In '84, new housing was going up on Kadena when they found a bomb. EOD responded and uncovered more than 200. An F15 jock broke the sound barrier as they were moving them. Word was he was permanently grounded.

    I remember going to Hacksaw Ridge, but hadn't heard the story, so didn't spend as much there as I should have. As you said, youth.

    Discovering bodies in the water seemed to happen a couple times each year.
     
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    pmclaine

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    We definitely "patroled" some of the same ground. Had a buddy at Schwab. We did a little boonie stomping together, but he rotated out after a year. I was there for five.

    Did you ever see the squares cut out of the lava along the beaches? From what I read/heard, the Japs used it to fortify machine gun positions. EOD had a large map with red pins indicating UXO that needed to be cleared. Looked like it had the measles. I found several items including a shape charge used to disable a nuke. My neighbor found a "neat" item she was using as a doorstop. I told her it looked like a mine. Called my bud at EOD...sho 'nuff. Went high order. I remember areas fenced off with signs declaring UXO. In '84, new housing was going up on Kadena when they found a bomb. EOD responded and uncovered more than 200. An F15 jock broke the sound barrier as they were moving them. Word was he was permanently grounded.

    I remember going to Hacksaw Ridge, but hadn't heard the story, so didn't spend as much there as I should have. As you said, youth.

    Discovering bodies in the water seemed to happen a couple times each year.


    Dont recall the quarried lava stone. Saw lots of pock marked "Womb Tombs".

    Was told "Sugar Loaf" no longer existed but it has since been rediscovered down in Naha.

    Dont recall finding any war debris in the NTA but there was only dispersed fighting in the north.

    Down in the PI I remember jumping into the remains of an old foxhole on the edge of Subic. The sandbag construction was mummified - the canvas bags gone but the sand now rock hard and maintaining the canvas bag shape/texture. Only thing I was thinking there was how bad I had to deuce and moments afterward learning how difficult it can be to cut the crotch and sides out of undies with an abused KaBar to use said undies as asswipe - Good training for Covid-19. Likely the position was a leftover from the war - might have been one of the last places members of the old 4th Marines fought.
     

    pmclaine

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    Got another email and copy of a service record book...

    First…I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to look over these things for me!

    He never talked about it… I’m piecing things together… my records request came after watching “Wind Talkers”…immediately after viewing that, I went on the website to try and get his records. It was the Okinawa references in the movie that got me interested…I did remember him speaking of the islands he was on. The Navaho code was fascinating.

    Mary’s dad was in Germany at the same time… I have the Luger and Nazi arm band, blood stained!...he took from a dead German Soldier.

    I’m attaching Sandy’s service record…take a look at it when you can… I also know he landed on Nagasaki about 45 days after the bomb was dropped…I can imagine what he saw there as well.

    I remember a story about my sister, back in high school, wearing something of my dad’s military things uniform to Harvard Square and “losing something he valued greatly”… that’s why I am trying to authenticate the “blouse”… maybe the records will give some clues as to whether or not it actually was his.

    I have in the basement, what my dad called a Japanese mortar launcher… ill shoot over some pics of that!

    A few Flett jobs are running… Bruce has applied for some payroll relief… he’s a good man! I can only imagine what Big Jim would be thinking about this Covid Pandemic!!!

    I can’t thank you enough for your time and efforts, Fast Phil!


    What I could find out and sent to him.....

    The ship your Dad took to Pearl Harbor....

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Baxter

    USS Baxter - Wikipedia
    USS Baxter (APA-94) was a Sumter-class attack transport that served with the US Navy during World War II.. Baxter (APA-94) was launched 19 September 1943 by Gulf Shipbuilding at Chickasaw, Alabama, as Antinous under a Maritime Commission contract, transferred to the Navy 30 November 1943; placed in reduced commission the same day, sailed to New York and placed out of commission for conversion ...
    en.wikipedia.org
    The ship your Dad took from Pearl to Eniwetok Atoll and on to Saipan as he transited the theater to the War

    https://digitalcollections.ohs.org/371n5242

    Kota-Baroe moored in Portland - OHS Digital Collections
    Photograph of a ship, the Kota-Baroe, moored on the Portland waterfront. A building that may be the Portland Vegetable Oil Mills is partially visib...
    digitalcollections.ohs.org


    On April 1 your Fathers unit, the Second Marine Division, with the second Med BN which your Father was attached to made a feint landing on Okinawa, than returned to Saipan.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=5... a 2nd med battalion 2nd mar division&f=false

    Landing Force 48
    /
    books.google.com
    It appears your Dad spent 14 days on Oki and was awarded a battle star for participating in a campaign.

    He left Saipan in September 1945 on this ship....

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Menifee_(APA-202)

    USS Menifee (APA-202) - Wikipedia
    USS Menifee (APA-202) was a Haskell-class attack transport that saw service with the US Navy in World War II and the Korean War.. Menifee was laid down as MCV Hull No. 670 by Kaiser Shipbuilding of Vancouver, Washington on 21 July 1944; launched 15 October 1944, and commissioned 4 November 1944, Comdr. Paul P. Spaulding, USNR, in command.
    en.wikipedia.org
    He was sent to Nagasaki. He was authorized to wear the WWII Victory Medal.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_Victory_Medal_(United_States)

    World War II Victory Medal (United States) - Wikipedia
    The World War II Victory Medal is a service medal of the United States military which was established by an Act of Congress on 6 July 1945 (Public Law 135, 79th Congress) and promulgated by Section V, War Department Bulletin 12, 1945.. The World War I Victory Medal is the corresponding medal from World War I
    en.wikipedia.org
    In December 1945 he departed occupation duty on this ship....

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Hyde_(APA-173)

    USS Hyde (APA-173) - Wikipedia
    USS Hyde (APA-173/LPA-173) was a Haskell-class attack transport acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II for the task of transporting troops to and from combat areas.
    en.wikipedia.org
    He arrived in San Diego 22 December.

    His proficiency and conduct marks were 3.6/4.0. Doesnt appear he was a trouble maker.

    February of 1946 he was discharged in Boston. His awards include WWII Victory Medal, American Theater Medal, Asiatic/Pacific Medal with 1 Star.

    His ratings include Able Seaman, Seaman second Class, Hospital Apprentice Second Class and Hospital Apprentice First Class.

    Very cool stuff Al. Glad to help I love this stuff.
     

    DustBun

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    Hoping to hear more from my friend.

    His family needs to know what their Dad did.
    Thank you for helping this family and for honoring him and all the other brave veterans that endured that. Very humbling.

    Ironic, I just read the thread on the current day heros. The veterans that endured Okinawa and the other battles are the definition of heroes. Sorry, not trying to sidetrack this thread.
     
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    EddieNFL

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    Dont recall the quarried lava stone. Saw lots of pock marked "Womb Tombs".

    Was told "Sugar Loaf" no longer existed but it has since been rediscovered down in Naha.

    Dont recall finding any war debris in the NTA but there was only dispersed fighting in the north.

    Down in the PI I remember jumping into the remains of an old foxhole on the edge of Subic. The sandbag construction was mummified - the canvas bags gone but the sand now rock hard and maintaining the canvas bag shape/texture. Only thing I was thinking there was how bad I had to deuce and moments afterward learning how difficult it can be to cut the crotch and sides out of undies with an abused KaBar to use said undies as asswipe - Good training for Covid-19. Likely the position was a leftover from the war - might have been one of the last places members of the old 4th Marines fought.

    Found a series of connected foxholes along either side of two facing hills overlooking a small valley below. Looked like someone was ambushed. I didn't find it, but there were remains of a Corsair pretty deep in the jungle not far from our unit's command section. Lots of battle sites on "the Rock." Used to jog around craters on the old Yomitan Airfield. Korea is pretty much the same.

    Deployed to the PI once, but didn't have time to see much outside of Subic.

    The most haunting thing I saw in the Pacific, hell, anywhere, were the human shadows at Hiroshima. No matter how much we talk about "nuking 'em," that will make you hope and pray it never happens again.

    I appreciate you sharing your experiences. I rarely talk with civilians about such things. Their eyes usually glaze over and you can tell they're bored.
     
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    pmclaine

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    Found a series of connected foxholes along either side of two facing hills overlooking a small valley below. Looked like someone was ambushed. I didn't find it, but there were remains of a Corsair pretty deep in the jungle not far from our unit's command section. Lots of battle sites on "the Rock." Used to jog around craters on the old Yomitan Airfield. Korea is pretty much the same.

    Deployed to the PI once, but didn't have time to see much outside of Subic.

    The most haunting thing I saw in the Pacific, hell, anywhere, were the human shadows at Hiroshima. No matter how much we talk about "nuking 'em," that will make you hope and pray it never happens again.

    I appreciate you sharing your experiences. I rarely talk with civilians about such things. Their eyes usually glaze over and you can tell they're bored.


    Got to have an appreciation and respect for it to understand.

    'Nother local family was going to Normandy this spring and hoped we would join them.

    Though a very nice family I wouldnt be able to do such a trip with them as they wouldnt understand why I had to see the tiny bridge at Carentan, why I felt it important to stop and read every small marker along the way, why I want to walk miles rather than car travel from spot to spot.

    Such a visit would have to be on my schedule and my itinerary.

    Covid-19 has killed both our planned vacations anyway.
     

    Zuul

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    Found a series of connected foxholes along either side of two facing hills overlooking a small valley below. Looked like someone was ambushed. I didn't find it, but there were remains of a Corsair pretty deep in the jungle not far from our unit's command section. Lots of battle sites on "the Rock." Used to jog around craters on the old Yomitan Airfield. Korea is pretty much the same.

    Deployed to the PI once, but didn't have time to see much outside of Subic.

    The most haunting thing I saw in the Pacific, hell, anywhere, were the human shadows at Hiroshima. No matter how much we talk about "nuking 'em," that will make you hope and pray it never happens again.

    I appreciate you sharing your experiences. I rarely talk with civilians about such things. Their eyes usually glaze over and you can tell they're bored.

    In my teens I went to the Nagasaki museum with my Japanese girlfriend. The stuff in there will make the hardest person shed a tear. The two things I still remember vividly 25 years later are the section of wooden fence with the outlines of the people who were standing in front of it when the bomb detonated, and a 6 pack of glass coke bottles that were melted together.

    I got to go to Okinawa a few times for school trips, I wish I was more into history back then, I would have checked more places out. The coolest thing that I saw on mainland Japan were pits of buried ceramic grenades, they were given to the civilian population as a last ditch effort if America invaded mainland Japan.
     
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    pmclaine

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    In my teens I went to the Nagasaki museum with my Japanese girlfriend. The stuff in there will make the hardest person shed a tear. The two things I still remember vividly 25 years later are the section of wooden fence with the outlines of the people who were standing in front of it when the bomb detonated, and a 6 pack of glass coke bottles that were melted together.

    I got to go to Okinawa a few times for school trips, I wish I was more into history back then, I would have checked more places out. The coolest thing that I saw on mainland Japan were pits of buried ceramic grenades, they were given to the civilian population as a last ditch effort if America invaded mainland Japan.


    Your last line is the one to remember.

    100,000 Okinawan civilians died in Okinawa.

    Cant imagine what the casualty numbers would have looked like if an invasion had been necessary.
     
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    EddieNFL

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    Your last line is the one to remember.

    100,000 Okinawan civilians died in Okinawa.

    Cant imagine what the casualty numbers would have looked like if an invasion had been necessary.

    Department of War estimated 400,000 - 800,000 US deaths and 5 - 10 million Japanese. Always wondered if we would have used another (more?) nuke.

    I had the honor of talking with a few Okinawans who lived through the war including a man who lost his left leg. We used to jog through an area where the locals grew vegetables and would see him regularly. He would collect his crop and put it on a basket strapped to his bicycle. Only one-legged man I ever saw ride a bike. Those people have a work ethic that should shame us. I think it's the same as our parents and grandparents who remembered the Great Depression and WWII.
     

    pmclaine

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    Department of War estimated 400,000 - 800,000 US deaths and 5 - 10 million Japanese. Always wondered if we would have used another (more?) nuke.

    I had the honor of talking with a few Okinawans who lived through the war including a man who lost his left leg. We used to jog through an area where the locals grew vegetables and would see him regularly. He would collect his crop and put it on a basket strapped to his bicycle. Only one-legged man I ever saw ride a bike. Those people have a work ethic that should shame us. I think it's the same as our parents and grandparents who remembered the Great Depression and WWII.

    I dont think we had a third nuke to use..........

    When I was on Oki the war was what I would consider "recent past".

    Wounds were still fresh to many that were than in their middle age.

    I am rereading "Semper Fi, Mac". It was written early 80s and the Marines are still in the prime of their lives. These guys are all in their mid to late 90s now.

    Interesting to think that when our grandparents were young there were still Civil War veterans at age similar to todays WWII vets.

    My kids have accompanied me to the Marine Corps birthday with my Guadalcanal vet friend Mario.

    He will still be living when my kids are in their 80s because they will have that first person meeting attachment to him.
     
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    pmclaine

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    Not in stock.


    Wonder if the press would have excoriated Truman.

    "President Truman why have you not replenished the national strategic stockpile of atom bombs? Is that a failure on the part of your administration?"