A Photo from Iwo Jima

My Grandfather and 8 of his brothers (all from New Mexico) served in various branches and all amazingly survived WWII! My Grandfather was a Marine who worked with our Navajo Code Talkers – he was one of the few Iwo Jima survivors to return home to NM.

Here is an informal photo taken before the famous photo on Mt. Suribachi. My Grandfather’s head is touching the flag pole. He returned home to marry his high school sweetheart at ABQ High School and they proceeded to have 17 children. I am now one of nearly 100 first cousins!

God Bless the United States of America and all those who fight to protect and serve Her! 

Amy Smith Maloy

Honoring our New Mexico Bataan Heroes

As a kid growing up in Las Vegas, New Mexico, I remember meeting several Bataan Death March survivors who would visit my Mom & Dad at our family home. Many of them would also visit my Uncle George Arellanes at his store, Tru Parts Auto Supply, on the Old Town Plaza.  One of these survivors, Mike Gallegos from Santa Fe, baptised my younger brother Tom. 

I heard their stories first hand about how brutal they were treated by the Japanese who captured them. They were forced to walk 70 miles in 7 – 14 days with little to no food or water. They were already malnourished to begin with after being starved for over three months. If a soldier fell from exhaustion or dehydration, they were immediately bayoneted to death. The other soldiers were forced to carry the dead soldiers. 

Over 1,800 New Mexico National Guard Soldiers were captured in the Philippines by the Japanese. Over 70,000 total were captured. One in four soldiers of the March were killed along the way. This is what our soldiers looked like while they were in the March.

Today, as the Chairman of the Hispano Roundtable of New Mexico, we will always work to honor all of our New Mexico Bataan Heroes with the Congressional Gold Medal. Just as our soldiers never gave up in these conditions, we will never give up our efforts to honor them all.

Ralph Arellanes, Sr. 

DEPARTURES

by Allen Dale Olson

Wither away? To save myself by flight…

Captain Fastolfe, I Henry VI

The most histrionic, emotional, and dramatic departures I have ever witnessed were on the track platforms of the Wurzburg, Germany, train station in 1955. In that year, as a trombonist in the First Infantry Division Band, I had a front row position while the band “played off” the departing soldiers headed by train to the awaiting troop ship in Bremerhaven. Every couple of months, we serenaded both the outgoing and the incoming soldiers whose train schedules were coordinated with the ship schedules on the  North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

The first such send off in which I was involved, I was surprised to see so many young women crowded along the platforms. The train cars were being loaded several hundred yards from the main station, and once loaded, the train would travel slowly through the station so the soldiers could hear one last time The March of the Big Red One.

It’s hard to know how much they actually heard, however, because as they let down the windows of the very slow-moving train cars, the young ladies, sobbing and wailing, ran to them with open arms, clasping hands, calling for them to write and stay in touch until the platform ended and the train left the station. Departure was indeed an emotional event. I was also surprised about how soon the sobbing stopped after the train was out of sight and even more surprised when the band returned three days later to greet the incoming troops just off the ship to see many of the same young ladies back on the platform to shout out their welcoming greetings.

Years earlier, as a high schooler, I had had my first experience with noisy departures. I was a grass cutter and grave digger in one of northwest Indiana’s largest cemeteries, suburban to Gary and not far from Chicago. For the most part our cemetery served the surrounding rural community of mostly farm families, Protestant and somewhat evangelical. There were sections dedicated to Catholics and, because of our proximity to the steel-working and commercial communities of Gary, Hammond, and South Chicago, we also had sections dedicated to Jewish, and other Catholic denominations, mostly from Eastern Europe – Poland and Hungary.

The funerals from those sections were the most interesting to me — always a bit of pageantry, rituals mysterious to my simple Protestant upbringing, and uninhibited mourning. After working around several of these funerals, I became aware that one man seemed to attend all of them. He didn’t seem part of the deceased’s family or of the Church, but he was obviously moved by the occasion and wept  and moaned continuously. One day he lingered after the party had left and asked me about a rest room. He seemed quite composed, so I felt it appropriate to engage him in conversation and asked him about the deceased.

He admitted he didn’t know the deceased or the family. He wasn’t even part of the Church. He worked as a “mourner” for a funeral director, and his job was to let attendees know that mourning is not only allowable but also desirable. He did not seem unkind or deceitful; just a man doing a job for which he was paid. After all, departures are significant events.

Having reached age 90, it should not be surprising that I have witnessed many departures whether by deaths or separations. Never mind, the departures have included family members, colleagues, friends, teammates – to disease, combat, accidents, retirements, withdrawals, or just distance and time.

But one departure, however fictional, has impressed me as much as any other, largely because it cuts across so many things that departure impacts: war, romance, love, courage, sacrifice, loyalty, humanity, and deception. When Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) gives up his Nazi-granted safe-conduct passes out of Morocco to Ilsa Lund (Carol Lombard) and Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) and turns to Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains), my eyes well up and tears flow. Always. No matter how many times or how recently I have watched that 1942 film Casablanca. Now, there was a departure. Or if it stays with you so long, is it really a departure?

As Rick says famously: “We’ll always have Paris”; I guess we’ll always have Casablanca.

AGONY OF WORLD WAR II

by Ruby Temple

Ruby Marie Temple was married to her husband James for 73 years. James served in the Navy during WWII. Originally from Iowa, she moved to Albuquerque in 1948. This poem tells of her experiences during the second world war. The Temples passed away in 2014.

SAFETY BRIEFINGS

by Allen Dale Olson

Some of the most interesting safety information I was ever given was provided in Zweibrucken, Germany, shortly after I debarked from a troop ship in Bremerhaven to board a train to the reassignment barracks near the border with France. As a new PFC I was surprised that the NCOs ordering me around were more big-brotherly than those with whom I had done basic training. They led me and dozens of other new recruits through lessons about Germany and life in the Army in Germany.

I learned a lot about NATO and that Germany was divided into four Zones of Occupation by the Russians, the French, the British, and the USA. I was told to be an “Ambassador” for America and that we must avoid humiliating the defeated German civilian population by being courteous and respectful at all times. We were told that if we saw a vehicle with a Soviet Mission license plate, we must report it to our command group as soon as possible.

But the Safety presentations really got my attention. They were given to all the new recruits in a theater. Three or four  NCOs, all WWII combat veterans, ran the briefings, all assuring us they were friendly to Germany and the Germans in spite of the recently concluded war. They wanted us to get out and see Germany, eventually to meet Germans but remember that there are some “fraternization” regulations to heed.

For our safety, they said, we must know right away that we must be careful about drinking German beer. “For one thing,” it’s stronger than American beer,” one of them said; “but there’s another reason.” He explained that sanitary conditions in most German Gasthauser were not as good as back home and that beer glasses, after use, are merely dipped into a soapy solution and rinsed, then filled with beer for serving to another guest.

They all urged us not to drink tap water. German plumbing is not up to U.S. standards, they told us.

Another NCO said we should probably avoid salads in German restaurants. He told us about the animal and human waste that fertilizes German gardens and that the salad greens are merely rinsed before going on to a plate. They were also critical of German sausages and cold cuts. “Germans don’t process their meats the way we do,” they said.

They were all really concerned about our going into France. “We know you will all want to go to Paris while you’re over here,” they said, “and you’ll be tempted by those wonderful looking pastries and cheeses and tasty cream sauces.” But, they warned, French dairy products are not pasteurized, and we are never sure just how well kept their dairy barns are. They recommended that we travel with command-sponsored tour groups and that if we do get out on our own to avoid eating cheese and pastry.

There were other presentations cautioning us against getting intimate with German and French women, and they showed a number of convincing medical films to reinforce that guidance.

Leaving Zweibrucken for my duty assignment in Wuerzburg, I felt duly forewarned, and I have never forgiven those sergeants for causing me to miss out on German beer and Bratwurst and French eclairs and croissants for my first few weeks in Europe.

Yes, better safe than sorry – but as anyone who has spent time in Germany or visited Paris knows – those sergeants took culinary safety to extremes.

 

MAMF turns 10 on 23 March 2021

Love Despite the War

Circe Olson Woessner

 In just a few days now, Phil and I have a second anniversary to celebrate –it doesn’t seem possible does it–and two happier years no one has ever lived, I am sure. Of course, we are both looking forward to, and planning for, the successful conclusion of this war, but in the meantime, we will both do our best to help just as much as we can. Fortunately, we have enjoyed and share just everything, so we have only happy memories in our past, and a very happy future to anticipate. Knowing us as well as I think you do, and appreciating the counsel you have given Phil, I expect you have many times wondered how we are “coming”. We’d like you to be assured, then, that you did a very thorough and happy job of hitching us that June 12, so you should have one more star in your already crowded heavenly halo….”

Reading this letter dated June 10th, 1942, from Betty Moore to her father wouldn’t seem too remarkable, if you didn’t know from where the letter had originated.  This letter, one of many in our museum ,was written by Army wife Betty Moore from Honolulu, Hawaii, a few short months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She describes  her living conditions further and I am amazed at how resilient and happy she was– despite the harsh conditions.

In a 1944 letter from APO NY 464 (Rome), Sgt Fran Goshlin anticipated the end of the war in a wonderful letter to his wife, listing all the things he looked forward to.

“Things here are still the same. What news there is, is very promising. Soon Darling -soon. There isn’t a thing to write so I’ll just ramble on about things I want to do and see after I get home. I want to go on a picnic- eat rolls, chicken, etc.

I want to sit on the front porch in a terrific rainstorm and then perhaps go riding in the rain. I want to ride into the sunrise on Northfield Ave. again in the morning. I want to fall asleep in front of the fireplace again.

I want to go shopping again with you on Saturdays and I also want to go for the Sunday papers as I always did—only on a bicycle. I want to wear any kind of clothes except G.I. clothes. I want to sit down and relax with the Babe at my feet and with a glass of Brandy in my hand. I want to play every record we have starting with Intermezzo and Strauss until every one is played.

I want to brush your red hair until it gleams on Sunday mornings. I want to fry pork chops and onions on Saturday nights the way we often did. I want to buy you a room full of Mums the way I used to.

I want to wake up with you in my arms in the morning. I want to go to sleep listening to the tree toads and crickets singing as they can only sing in Livingston.”

I love reading these letters, because they show a snapshot into what people living in incredibly difficult conditions thought important. Despite being  at war in Italy, Sgt Goshlin was thinking to the future—one full of hope and simple pleasures.

As I walk through stores in January and February, I am assailed by huge displays of cards, candies, cookies and items in pink, purple and red. There are so many choices  to wade through to pick a card, it becomes overwhelming. Corporations sure are cashing in on love—and making some of us wonder how we can declare our affections to our significant other via card without squirming over the overt-sentimental sappiness—or minimizing our appreciation and love by buying a funny, jokey card. Or one allegedly from the dog. What will our partner think about our card choice?

On the front lines, there weren’t many options, and troops “made do”—as one creative soldier demonstrated in his V-mail creation:

In more recent wars, technology allows troops to share their observations and thoughts through spoken word recorded in “real time.” In an audio cassette “letter” from the early days of the Persian Gulf war, it is obvious that the young man  speaking is trying to be reassuring and optimistic to his girlfriend back home—but his voice quakes and he audibly recoils as he (and we the listener) hear the explosions in the background.

Again, he is projecting optimism and he shares with her the things he is missing—the everyday things they did as a couple, the songs they listened to and the friends they had fun with.

It is the simple, everyday things we do with our loved ones, that we miss when we cannot do them together, for whatever reason. We long for the simple, authentic pleasures, the silly notes, the little routines –the acts of kindness.

After almost 38 years of marriage, I truly cannot remember one of the commercial valentine or anniversary cards my husband gave me, but I guarantee you, if he’d ended a letter like young Fran did to his wife, I’d remember that forever!

“Until tomorrow.

Goodnight Dearest Wife,

Most Pleasant Dreams

I love you

I adore you

I miss you

Sleep in my arms

Fran”

__________________________________________________________________________

We have hundreds of letters, first-hand written stories and oral interviews in our special collections library at the museum.

DDT, Aerosol Cans and WWII

Pacific Paratrooper

With millions of troops moving into tropical and subtropical campaigns, WWII military leaders and planners sought ways to fight diseases endemic to these regions. Two WWII era innovations were combined to save the lives of many combatants during the war years. Malaria was the primary concern at the time.

Malaria was commonly avoided by prophylactic treatments with quinine. Larger doses could be given to those known to be infected. Quinine came from the bark of a South American shrub that came to be grown on commercial plantations in the South Pacific. The Japanese occupied these plantations early in the war, and substitutes for it were less effective.

In 1939, Paul Hermann Muller discovered that dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) effectively killed insects.. In 1943 tests showed it to be effective against the mosquitoes that carried malaria, and the US Military started using it. At first they used hand pumps that pressurized a canister…

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An old Jalopy can bring Joy to the museum

The Museum of the American Military Family& Learning Center has partnered with One Community Auto to promote vehicle donations that will provide additional funding for the Museum’s mission of preserving military family history.

Most “vehicles” qualify: cars, trucks, motorcycles, farm equipment, etc.

WHY DONATE?

Donating a vehicle to help the Museum is easy, and costs you nothing. We accept donations from anywhere in the nation (ALL 50 states). Just call 505- 901-9510 or fill out the online form below. We provide pickup at your location, handle all the title work, and provide you a receipt. It is very simple. 

  • Towing: One Community Auto picks up your vehicle donation, running or not, at your location and convenience.
  • Easy Paperwork: One Community Auto handles everything: MVD and IRS paperwork is done quickly and efficiently. We handle all title paperwork, so you have nothing to worry about.
  • Fast Scheduling: Complete the form or call One Community Auto to arrange a convenient time to pick up your vehicle.
  • Income Tax Deduction: One Community Auto issues you a receipt for the IRS. 

It’s a lovely way to help the Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center

New Mexico families can support the Museum of the American Military Family when they shop at Smiths

The Kroger Co. Family of Stores is committed to bringing hope and help to local neighborhoods and organizations through their Inspiring Donations program. New Mexico’s Smith’s Food & Drug participates to give customers the opportunity to donate to local causes.

When you to link your Rewards card to the Museum of the American Military Family  (Organization IA946), Smith’s Food & Drug donates .5% of every eligible purchase. The more you shop, the more money the museum will earn!
If you have any questions, please email SmithsInspiringDonations@sfdc.com or visit their website at http://www.smithsfoodanddrug.com/inspire .

Here’s how it works:

1. Create a digital account.

A digital account is needed to participate in Smith’s Inspiring Donations. If you already have a digital account, simply link your Shopper’s Card to your account so that all transactions apply toward the organization you choose.

2. Link your Card to an organization. The Museum of the American Military Family is IA946

Select the organization that you wish to support. Here’s how:

  • Sign in to your digital account.
  • Search for your organization. (The museum is IA946)
  • Enter the name or organization number.
  • Select the Museum of the American Military Family from the list and click “Save”.
  • Your choice will also display in the Smith’s Inspiring Donations section of your account. If you need to review or revisit your organization, you can always do so under your Account details.

3. The museum earns. (Thank you!)

Note, if you are a customer, make sure you have a preferred store selected to view participating organizations.  Any transactions moving forward using the Shopper’s Card number associated with your digital account will be applied to the program, at no added cost to you. This is a very easy way to support the Museum of the American Military Family.