Courage Under Fire: Growing up in the South Pacific of WWII. Pt 2


The Louisiana Maneuvers

Fred Jacobs spent his 18th birthday in Louisiana. Camp Beauregard was a case of embrace the suck. The troops grew to refer to the place as Camp Dis-regard. The camp was equipped to handle a single regiment. The entire 32nd Division was sent there anyway. The troops set about training for whatever the future would bring.

On August 12, 1941 congress passed legislation extending the federalized service of the National Guard units from 12 months to 18 months. At the same time congress approved the use of National Guard units outside of the Western Hemisphere. The 32nd Infantry Division was destined for overseas service.

Soldiers conducting daily exercise in a bivouac area during the Louisiana Maneuvers in September 1941.

During August and September of 1941 the state of Louisiana became the mock combat zone for massive war games meant to prepare the troops for war. The exercises included over half a million troops and covered nearly 16 million acres of territory.

in a series of the most grandiose field exercises and full maneuvers ever staged any time, anywhere, before or since, by American troops

then Col. Jim Dan Hill, CO of the 120TH Field Artillery Regiment regarding the Louisiana Maneuvers

December 7, 1941

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor altered the United States’ approach to the war rampaging across the world. The sleeping giant was awake. The United States officially joined World War II on December 11, 1941. Fred turned 19 the next day.

Australia bound.

On March 25, 1942 the 32nd Infantry Division received orders shipping the division to Australia.

April 10, 1942 troops of the 32nd Infantry Division boarded trains for San Francisco. The last train carrying troops arrived in San Francisco on April 14, 1942. The troops were loaded up on ships in San Francisco. They set sail for Australia on April 22, 1942.

Fred had been in the military less than 2 years. He was 19 years old. Fred and his fellow soldiers of Company E set sail from San Francisco for Australia on the converted luxury ship USAT Lurline. The entire 32nd Infantry Division sailed from San Francisco. 10 ships were required for the trip. The convoy marks the first time in history an entire division was sent overseas in one convoy. On May 14, 1942 the division arrived in Adelaide, Australia.

Photograph of the SS Lurline in the 1930’s. Fred rode the Lurline to Australia.

Interesting Fact: For the men of the 32nd Infantry Division the day of May 7, 1942 never existed. Their convoy crossed the International Day Line on May 6, 1942. On the other side of the line the date was May 8, 1942.

Japanese Domination

The Japanese forces dominated the Pacific in the fall of 1942. There was concern some concern that the Japanese might set sights on invading Australia. The Japanese were running amok in the south Pacific. The United States forces were tasked with the job of harassing the enemy. The 32nd was ordered to help put the Japanese on the defensive.

“I shall return.”

General Douglas MacArthur’s promise to the Philippines in March 1942.

General MacArthur was still blistering from the Japanese victory on the Philippines in March of 1942. He and his family had been forced to flee the island by boat. The famed general had a standing promise to return. It was the 32nd Infantry Divisions job to help make that promise a reality.

General MacArthur ordered the Red Arrow Infantry Division to New Guinea on September 13, 1942. The initial deployment to New Guinea included Fred’s 126th regiment. On September 15, Fred and the rest of the men of Company E, were the first unit to take off from Amberly Field in Brisbane, Australia. It was a 1000 mile flight to Port Moresby.

The Three Spearheads

Once can only imagine the mood on that flight. Excitement? Fear? A strange combination of both? The men were woefully unprepared for the struggle they were about to face. They had trained for service in Europe, and even that training had been disrupted as the division moved from place to place.

“In the rush of getting ready on short notice, there was not time to get the fatigue uniforms which had been sprayed with green camouflage dye thoroughly dried, and they were dried out on the men’s backs as they flew north”

-Blakeley

The men of Company E must have had some sense of pride as they headed into New Guinea. General Harding had addressed the men before they left on their mission. He explained to them that as the leading element of the 126th, which was in turn the leading unit of the Division they were “the spearhead of the spearhead of the spearhead”. From that point on Company E proudly began to call itself the Three Sprearheads.

The rest of the 32nd Infantry Division would arrive in Port Moresby on September 29, 1942.

The men of the Red Arrow Division were about to get battle tested. Stay tuned for the next installment in my series on Fred Jacobs during the South Pacific of World War II.

Courage Under Fire: Growing up in the South Pacific of World War II. Pt 1

History remembers the celebrated. Genealogy remembers them all.

Fred L. Jacobs service photo

Frederick L Jacobs has been a topic of genealogical curiosity for me. Like most my research subjects I never met him. He has been the topic of many stories, most of which are long on vagueness and short on detail. Fred was my husband’s grandfather.

Fred Jacobs spent a fair portion of his life haunting a bar stool at the bar in a small Michigan town by the name of Paris. His wife tended that same bar. Every day he could be found wearing blue jeans, a pocket t-shirt, suspenders, and his highly decorated American Legion hat. Fred was a popular relic in the small town farming community where he spent most of his life.

This blog series is my attempt at trying to trace his life during World War II.

Just a small town boy

I had all the genealogical vital stats on him. Fred Jacobs was born to Joseph Jacobs and his wife Eula Payton. Fred was the third son. He was born in Michigan on December 12, 1922. His family had recently made the move to the region from Cabell County, West Virginia in the months before he was born. His father, Joe, worked in the road construction industry.

Fred Jacobs grave

In the Army now.

Fred was just shy of his 18th birthday when he enlisted in Big Rapids, Michigan on 15 October, 1940. He lied about his date of birth by a year when he signed paperwork to join the Army. He would spend the next 5 years experiencing some of the most brutal jungle warfare of World War II.

During his time in combat Fred Jacobs would be awarded the purple heart three times. With the passing of time, information about the circumstances of those awards is undoubtedly lost to time. The medals remain a token to his sacrifice while the sacrifice has been lost to history.

Purple heart medal

Like so many soldiers who served during World War II, Fred’s service record was destroyed. The disastrous fire in 1973 of the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri resulted in near total destruction of a majority of the Army records held there. A request to the National Archives turned up one of the disappointing form letters and the offer of a scant scrap in the form of a last pay statement. So much valuable information up in a puff of smoke.

It would be easy to admit defeat and stop the search there. Call it a day and a lost cause. For years I did just that as I avoided devoting any precious research hours to the cause. I wasn’t motivated to dig deeper. Time and again conversations would turn to that old box of medals and those three purple hearts. Like a book unread it was time to crack the cover on this tale.

I turned my attention to the box of medals and military memorabilia. Inside was a red arrow patch. I had an enlistment card transcription. A mystery….and this series…was born with the effort to sleuth out details about Fred Jacobs and his service during World War II.

red arrow patch

Dig Deeper

I started by learning more about the unit patch. He kept that red arrow, it had significance. The Red Arrow Division, a nickname for the 32nd Infantry Division, is a military division with a long and storied history. One of the units in the 32nd was 126th regiment. Company E was the National Guard unit called up from Big Rapids, Michigan on October 15, 1940. Big Rapids, Michigan was the station where Fred enlisted on October 15, 1940. Using this information I have tried my best to retrace what were his possible steps over the next 6 years.

In the fall of 1940 the United States was not officially at war. Tensions in the world were growing more strained and it seemed inevitable that the U.S. would be pulled into the world’s conflicts. That was the circumstance which led to President Roosevelt ordering over thirty-five thousand men to active duty on September 15, 1940 with a report date of October 15, 1940. The United States was preparing for war. Fred Jacobs enlisted in the Army.

Training

During the last week of 1940 the 32nd Infantry Division was ordered to Louisiana for training. The division would participate in a training action known as the Louisiana Maneuvers. The units traveled by train to Camp Beauregaurd in Louisiana for the first step in what would be a long journey around the world.

Infantry Soldiers of the 32D Division stand at attention in a company street at Camp Beauregard, LA.

Stay tuned for more about Fred Jacobs in my next post in this series.

Free Genealogy Sites. My Top 3 For Michigan.

Localized Research

One of the best research tips I have ever learned is to look local. If possible, pinpoint an area or region where your ancestors lived for a long time and focus on performing research in that area. Dig deep, look for those regional resources that don’t get picked up by the larger records databases.

I find a lot of great free genealogy sites by performing pinpoint research to discover what more is out there. A great many generations of various branches of my family have lived in Michigan. That has made me have to dig deeper to learn where to look for Michigan related genealogy sites.

My Favorites

Time after time I have often found myself turning to these three sites to further my research.

  1. Michiganology – This is the new manifestation of the retiring Seeking Michigan site. This site is great for locating copies of historic vital records from the state of Michigan. It has a ton of Michigan based historic information and access to the Michigan state census records. Some of the sections I love on this site include the land plats. Michiganology.org contains Michigan death records from 1897-1952 and of greater research importance the site has the Michigan state census for years 1884 and 1894 which is a great boon for anyone bemoaning that missing 1890 Federal census.
  2. Flint Genealogical Society – Flint is my hometown and the local genealogical society has been working over 50 years to help preserve the history of this proud industrial town. The site has great localized indexes of the cemeteries in the city with burial information for those interred. It has a searchable database of birth, marriage, divorce, and death records for the city for the years of 1867 – 1930. With a great deal of relatives who flocked to Flint during its heyday I find myself frequently needing information which is located on this site for free without having to sort through millions of records contained on some of the larger sites.
  3. Michigan Digital Newspaper Portal– Central Michigan University has created an amazing database of digital copies of historical newspapers from around the state. I have managed to locate some intriguing articles about some of my relatives in the state by digging through this treasure trove of information. I have realized that both my Great Grandfather and his Father were very noteworthy during some of their earliest years in the state. Not necessarily in the positive way. The digital copies of the articles are easy to search and provide great quality scans of the entire paper.

These are my top 3 favorite research sites when I am working on Michigan genealogy projects. Find these sites and more genealogical research resources on my research page.

Looking local can turn up a lot of free resources that can get lost in the noise of bigger sites. Whenever possible take the time to pinpoint research with local genealogy research sites. Keep an eye out for more of my favorite localized resources coming soon!

This article was obtained from the Digital Michigan Newspaper Library and Central Michigan University. It appeared in the Isabella County Enterprise in Isabella County, Michigan on October 30, 1925. My Great Grandfather, William Spence, had a run in with authorities for making liquor. 100 gallons of mash sounds like the start of quite a Halloween party! This is just one of several instances where dear old Great Granddad had run ins with authorities.

Honor and Valor: Military Service as a Family Tradition

It’s Just a Family Tradition

Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

All families seem to have their own set of traditions. In mine it seems to be military service.

My husband was in the military. My son is in the military. My son in law is in the military. My Grandfather was in the military. I had an uncle who was in the military. My husband’s Grandfather was in the military. He had an uncle who was in the military. It goes on and on.

I often joke that my ancestors showed up for every war. We don’t get along with anybody.

In reality, the reasons for military service have been various. For some of my relatives signing up for military service, even during times of conflict, was the safer alternative to the major industries in their hometowns. Coal mining I’m looking at you. Some I am sure were seeking adventure, while others were motivated by financial means. Others still were called to arms to support a vision of something bigger than they could imagine at the time in conflicts such as the American Revolution and Civil War.

A part of Something Bigger

Though the reasons were various, generation after generation, members of my family have been called to serve as part of something bigger.

With the approach of Veteran’s Day I thought I would take a look back at some of the relatives who have been called to serve.


Roll of Honor

In no particular order here is a list of some of the notable service members related to either me or my immediate family. For privacy issues it contains only deceased individuals.

Elden F. Shuck

Elden F. Shuck

Elden, my maternal Grandfather, was a Korean War Veteran of the United States Army. He served as a cook. The Shuck brothers were notable in their Korean War service because so many of the family signed up for service together. Elden signed up to look out for his younger brother who also joined to help appease his Mother. At one point in time 3 Shuck brothers were together in Korea at the same place and the same time, an event which was recorded in the newspaper of his hometown.

Coal mining was a main industry in the mountain region of West Virginia where he was born and raised. At the time it was safer to enlist in the military than it was to go to work in the coal mines. After the military Elden went onto work in the automotive industry in Flint, Michigan. He raised 6 children with his wife, Sally. Elden is buried in the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan.


Fred Jacobs

Frederick Jacobs has the noteworthy distinction of having served in both World War II and the Korean War. Fred Jacobs was my husband’s maternal grandfather. Fred and his brother Charles “Bud” Jacobs both served.

Fred’s service record was lost in the records fire so there are more gaps than information about his years in the service. It is known beyond a doubt that Fred was injured in combat. He carried the scars of his injuries for the rest of his life. Legend and lore states he lay injured on a battlefield for days presumed dead before being rescued. Fred received 3 purple hearts during his service. He married and adopted one daughter. Fred is buried in Parkhill Cemetery in Paris, Michigan.


Leming “L.J.” Eckler

L.J. Eckler was a paternal 3x great grandfather. This ancestor of mine has made the blog roll in the past for the amazing things he had to survive during his service in the Army during the American Civil War. It would be a farce to not mention him on a military honor roll.

Leming served under the infamous George Armstrong Custer long before that fateful battle where the general made his fated last stand. L.J. survived the worst of the Confederate prison camps. He spent time at Andersonville Prison. Amazingly, L.J. survived the war and went onto live a long life. He has many descendants and is buried in the Almer Township Cemetery in Tuscola County, Michigan.


Daniel E. Adams

Daniel E. Adams was another of my 3x great grandfather on my father’s side. Daniel is noteworthy for the fact that he claimed to have served both under Jefferson Davis during the Mexican War and against Jefferson Davis during the Civil War. The claim is dubious. Some suspect it could even be a tall tale.

It is beyond question that Daniel served in the Civil War but questions remain about this service in the Mexican War. He would have been a child soldier if he did indeed serve in the Mexican War under Jefferson Davis. Daniel E. Adams is buried in the Smith Hill Cemetery in Otisville, Michigan.


Dexter Adams

While Dexter Adams was not a direct ancestor, he left no descendants and a significant bit of family lore. Dexter was the brother of Daniel E. Adams. One undisputed fact about Dexter Adams is that he was a musician who played the drums in the Army during the American Civil War. A second undisputed fact is that Dexter played the drums in the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln.

The more questioned information? Who has the drum sticks that Dexter used to play his drum during the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln. There are at least two different branches of the family that I have heard claim ownership of the drum sticks. Dexter is buried in the Aventine Cemetery in Flint, Michigan.


First Five

This list is the start of my military roll of honor. These are some of my favorite or more noteworthy past service members hanging around my family tree. My family has a long and remarkable tradition of military service.

Cousins Made Easy: Calculate Relationship with this Quick Video

We’re Related How?

I think anyone who has ever done any cousin fishing has asked or been asked the question about degree of relationship.

Are you my first cousin once removed, no maybe you are my second cousin. The waters get muddied pretty quickly. Here is a short video that will help you become confident with explaining cousin relationships.

Fascinating DNA Revelations. A Quick Look at Math and Matches

Genetic Puzzles

The cross roads of genetics and genealogy is a exciting new frontier right now. Individuals everywhere are quick to provide a DNA sample to one of the various testing companies. Then they sit back and wait. Anticipation builds waiting for the grand revelations that the sample will show.

Then the results come back.

When an overwhelming amount of matches and information is suddenly dumped into their laps after weeks of waiting a lot of people are chased off.

For those who actually dig into the matches and start to work out the various connections it can either be a fascinating new addiction or a confusing new version of trigonometry that will make your brain hurt. Often it can be both.

Puzzling it all out.

I went down the rabbit hole of genetic genealogy and quickly found myself hooked. Where traditional genealogy can often be questioned because people can provide incorrect information or people can be confused during records research, DNA doesn’t lie.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have been lucky in the aspect that many of my known relatives have tested with one of the various DNA testing services. It has provided me the opportunity to evaluate various connections and how genetics have passed down through different lines. There have been several revelations have have been interesting to me.

By the numbers.

I share more DNA with my maternal uncle than I do with my paternal half-sister. Both relationships match up for the correct range of shared centimorgans but I found it interesting that I share 300 more cm’s of DNA with an uncle than I do with my half-sibling.

By the chance of recombination in DNA my half-sibling and I both inherited vastly different portions of DNA from our shared parent. I share a heavy dose of DNA with relatives of our shared grandfather, she shares a heavy dose of DNA with our shared grandmother. Our shared DNA is approximately 1500 cm’s.

In fact I share so little DNA with some of the relatives that she matches up to that I would be left to question the validity of those relationships to me if not for her test results.

Final Thought

Don’t use just one test when coming to final conclusions. Just like with traditional genealogy research, it is important to build a case based on various pieces of information and not just one tiny snippet that fits a theory.

Have you had any interesting match math in DNA results?

Privacy: How to Protect Your Information Online – free webinar by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL now online for limited time — GeneaWebinars

The recording of today’s webinar, “Privacy: How to Protect Your Information Online” by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, is now available to view at http://www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com for free for a limited time.Webinar DescriptionProtecting privacy online is a continuing concern. Family historians need to decide what personal and family history information we’d like to keep private while still…

Privacy: How to Protect Your Information Online – free webinar by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL now online for limited time — GeneaWebinars

FREE WEBINAR! Decoding Secret Societies: Finding Your Female Fraternal Ancestors

I love free webinars. They are a great way to pick up new tips and tricks for better genealogical researching. Female ancestors can be one of the toughest challenges in family history research. Check out this great free webinar that might provide a great tip to work through these often challenging ancestors with the use of secret societies.

Source: FREE WEBINAR Decoding Secret Societies: Finding Your Female Fraternal Ancestors

What Do 2 Hangings, a Burned Body, and an Axe Murder Have In Common?

Odd Coincidences

Today I read the tale of Alice Lake.  I came upon the tragic story of Alice while researching my own family tragedy in the death of Rebecca Cornell and the subsequent hanging of her son Thomas Cornell II for her murder.  Rebecca and Alice both suffered horrible deaths.  Rebecca was possibly murdered and her body burned past recognition while her family ate dinner in the next room.  Alice was hanged for witchcraft after being plagued by haunting visions of her lost child.  Rebecca and Alice also shared one other detail in common; their daughter in law was Sarah Earle.

Continue reading What Do 2 Hangings, a Burned Body, and an Axe Murder Have In Common?