The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Our Heroes

Another Father’s Day without Daddy…

April 22, 1944. LVTs (Landing Vehicles Tracked...

LVTs 22 April 1944; Daddy would be on one of these landing vehicles

should be the norm now since he died in November of 1979. The one thing most lacking after losing my father is that my children will never know the meaning of what a ‘Gran’ or a “PaPaw” can be. For as my first cousins can attest; it is the gatherings of family on special occasions that jolts our memories of good times and family, especially extended family. Sadly, my children really have never known much extended family. So, I must tell them my firsthand accounts and stories that will give them a sense of what ‘family’ could be and should be. So, dedicated to my children, my grandson, and my great-grandchildren, I proffer this about my soldier father:

Four buddies during WWII

Daddy on the left with three of his buddies during WWII

James A Murray — a member of  THE GREATEST GENERATION

“The Victory Division”

24th Infantry Division, US Army  1941 to 1996*

   There are some histories of the battles of the 24th Inf. Div. and  its men and women over its 55 years of service to  country, especially  for the Victory Division who fought so valiantly  in the Pacific in  WWII. They were truly the greatest generation. And we are free because of them.

 Nick named the “victory division” and the ” pineapple army” because it was formed in Hawaii in early 1941. It also carried other nick names and mottos; “First to Fight” and ” Taro Leaf “, which is now  the name of its association’s news letter.

         World War II:      Campaign Participation Credit

1.          Central Pacific;

2.          New Guinea (with arrowhead);

3.          Leyte (with arrowhead);

4.          Luzon;

5.          Southern Philippines (with arrowhead) 

The Victory website welcomes us to the official Web site of the 24th Infantry Division Association, the Pride of the Pacific Theater.  Our motto is, “First to Fight.”   An Act of Congress confirms this.  We were first to take arms against Imperial Japanese forces, and we were first to engage the North Korean aggressor in 1950.   We are the division Japanese Army General  Yamashita said broke the back of the Japanese Army at Breakneck Ridge on Leyte, and we are the division the liberated people of the Philippines called, “Victory”.  Taromen have always stood ready to defend freedom and the democratic way of life, anytime, anywhere, against all aggressors . . . in the jungles, through the snow, or on the sands in far off lands.  We are fiercely Proud of our heritage, and when our nation calls upon us once again . . . we will be, First to Fight!!! The 24th Infantry Division (Mech) inactivated on August 1, 2006 at Fort Riley. Its most recent operations included preparing Fort Riley for the return of the  1st Infantry Division, previously stationed in Germany.                                                  

World War II

The 24th Infantry Division was among the first to see combat in World War II and among the last to stop fighting. The Division was on Oahu, with Headquarters at Schofield Barracks, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, and suffered minor casualties. Charged with the defense of northern Oahu, it built an elaborate system of coastal defenses. Pvt. James Murray arrived in Hawaii on May 17,1942. In May 1943 it was alerted for movement to Australia and by 19 September 1943 had completed the move to Camp Caves, near Rockhampton, on the eastern coast of Australia. After a period of intensive training, the Division moved to Goodenough Island, 31 January 1944, to stage for the Hollandia (currently known as Jayapura)Tanahmerah campaign. The 24th landed on Dutch New Guinea, 22 April 1944, and smashed its way to and seized the important Hollandia Airdrome despite torrential rains and marshy terrain. Shortly after the Hollandia landing, the 34th Infantry Regiment moved to Biak, 18 June, to reinforce the 41st Infantry Division, and captured Sorido and Borokoe airdromes before returning to the Division on Hollandia in July. After occupation duty in the Hollandia area, the 24th Division landed on Red Beach on Leyte, 20 October 1944, as part of the X Corps, Sixth Army, and driving up Leyte Valley advanced to Jaro and took Breakneck Ridge, 12 November 1944, in heavy fighting. While mopping up continued on Leyte, the 19th RCT moved to Mindoro Island as part of the Western Visayan Task Force, landing in the San Jose area, 15 December 1944. Airfields and a PT base were secured for operations on Luzon. Divisional elements effected a landing on Marinduque Island. Other elements supported the 11th Airborne Division drive from Nasugbu to Manila. The 34th RCT, landing at San Antonio, Luzon, 29 January 1945, ran into a furious battle on Zig Zag Pass and suffered heavy casualties. On 16 February 1945 the 3d Bn. of the 34th Infantry took part in the amphibious landing on Corregidor and fought Japanese under a hot sun on the well-defended Rock. After numerous mopping up actions in March, the Division landed on Mindanao, 17 April 1945, cut across the island to Digos, 27 April, stormed into Davao, 3 May, and cleared Libby airdrome, 13 May. Although the campaign closed officially on 30 June, the Division continued to mop up Japanese resistance during July and August 1945. Patrolling continued after the official surrender of Japan. On 15 October 1945, the Division left Mindanao for Japan.

                  United States Army

                   U. S. 6th Army

                   X Corps

                                    24th Infantry Division

                                    1st Cavalry

 

Commanders

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

                                    General Douglas MacArthur

                                                      Gen Walter Krueger

                                                                      Major General Roscoe B. Woodruff, Commander of the

    • 24th Infantry Division and
    • 19th Infantry 
    • 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team

All the little ones, at least those not experienced enough to escape, would get the perfunctory pinch and twist of the jaws by this man, my Daddy. I am here to tell you, it would be something that you would not soon forget. Daddy had a sense of humor. That humor is attested to in the following postcard that he sent home while in the service during World War II:

On leave Postcard Daddy mailed home during WWII dated 20 Feb 1942

On leave Postcard Daddy mailed home during WWII dated 20 Feb 1942

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Honoring our veterans…

on Memorial Day weekend continues with Marine Cpl Larry Luster. He was killed in Vietnam in July 1969.

Marine Cpl Larry Luster was killed in Vietnam


A lot of us have those hands…

those Peebles’ hands. I like to think that I carry a little bit of Gran around with me as I too have those hands. I have often wondered who gave those hands to Gran (Robert Duncan Peebles) and how many generations they go back. There are many of us who have those hands. I could name a few: mother,
Free: Transportation to Allah
Ellen,me, Gran, Rayburn, Sandra, and Chad. I never notice them on anyone else, but with age I have learned that they are a symbol of strength and so
what if jewelry and nail polish could never make them look more ladylike – every time I look at my hands I remember. I remember Gran. Gran as stated before was one who when he died left each and every grandchild believing that he/she was his favorite. And I consider that a great accomplishment.
Chad Peebles has those hands, as does his Dad. Chad is right now using those hands to grasp those big bullets (I guess they are actually grenades) and load them into those pop guns that could cause someone to meet Allah sooner than they may wish to ordinarily. He is a Marine, our favorite Marine, currently serving this country that we so love. His father, Anthony Peebles, served in the military and was one of those who went to Grenada; he is another of my heroes. And sure as God made little green apples, he would druther, if he had his druthers, be home holding those he loves in those Peebles hands attached to those Peebles arms.
One of Chad’s sisters, Beth, cross-stitched the following poem about her Daddy’s hands many years ago. It describes those Peebles’ hands pretty well, I think.
 
Rayburn Peebles hugs his Marine, Chad Peebles
Daddy’s Hands
I remember Daddy’s hands folded silently in prayer,
And reaching out to hold me when I had a nightmare.
You could read quite a story in the calluses and lines.
Years of work and worry had left their mark behind.I remember Daddy’s hands, How they held my Mama tight,
And patted my back for something I’d done right.
There are things I’ve forgotten that I loved about that man,
But I’ll always remember the love in Daddy’s hands.Daddy’s hands, were soft and kind when I was crying.
Daddy’s hands, were hard as steel when I’d done wrong.
Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle,
But I’ve come to understand,
There was always love in Daddy’s hands.I remember Daddy’s hands working till they bled,
Sacrificed unselfishly just to keep us all fed.
If I could do things over, I’d live my life again,
And never take for granted the love in Daddy’s hands
~ Unknown author
Godspeed Chad Peebles. Thank you for your service to our country. Your family anxiously awaits your return and the return of all those brave boys and girls who are serving in the military. I would wager to say that there will be a lot of those Peebles’ hands waiting to shake your Peebles’ hands when you get home.

History: First Hand photo page 12…

that did not get attached when the article published:

Photos of the Vietnam War courtesy of Bill Presley


History: First Hand photo page 11…

that did not get attached when the article published:

Handsome, even if in a hot sweaty steaming jungle.


History: First Hand photo page 10…

that did not get attached when the article published:

Harold Hovater pays tribute to his friend Ray Ashnault. I love that poem.


History: First Hand photo page 9…

that get not get attached when article published…

The photo of Harold was an attempt to document the scars on his head from wounds received while serving in Vietnam; that injury was the impetus for one of his two Purple Hearts.

Harold Hovater, Vicky Laster Hovater, and some of Harold's awards


History: First Hand photo page 8…

that did not get attached when the article published:

History: First Hand page 16

In photo: weapons, gravemarker photo of Dennis Lavern English, and cemetery where Ray Ashnault is buried Saint Gertrude’s Roman Catholic Church located in Colonia, Middlesex County, New Jersey.


History: First Hand photo page 7…

that did not get attached when the article published:

Howard Brown Handley Remembrances page 2


History: First Hand photo page 6…

that did not get attached when the article published:

Howard Brown Handley Remembrances

Howard Brown Handley Remembrances, page 1