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Month: November 2015

Interview with James Gann of the 182nd Infantry

  • James Gann sits for an interview in 2015. Source: Dave Colamaria.
  • (L to R) James Gann, Allen Moore, Carl Fowler, taken in 1943 (likely Fiji). Source: James Gann Collection.
  • Company street, Headquarters Company, 182nd Infantry Regiment, Bougainville. Source: James Gann Collection.
  • James Gann on Cebu, 1945. Source: James Gann Collection.

Last week, I traveled to Arizona to visit with James Gann, who served in the 182nd Infantry during World War II. He joined Company G in 1943 on Fiji, survived the Battle of Hill 260, and finished the war (Leyte, Cebu, and Japan) in the Wire Section of 182nd Regimental Headquarters. James was kind enough to allow me to interview him about his experiences, and we recorded 90 minutes of his detailed first hand accounts of the war. He also allowed me to digitize his photographs from the war, which include many of the men of Company G in various Pacific locations. Some years ago, James had sent me photocopies of these pictures, but now we have the ability to share them in digital high resolution. Of particular importance to me was to get a good scan of his photos of James “June” Edwards, one of the men who was killed in action during the war.

I’ve included a few of James’ photos on this page. In the future I hope to upload either a transcript of the full interview, or perhaps the interview itself to YouTube. I’m still working out the best strategy on that, so please stay tuned.

World War II Veterans at the 2015 Americal Division Reunion

  • Six World War II veterans of the Americal Division gather at the 2015 Americal Division Veterans Association Reunion in Norfolk, VA. (Source: Dave Colamaria)

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 reunion of the Americal Division Veterans Association (ADVA), held in Norfolk, VA. There was a great crowd for the event, somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 people. This was primarily comprised of Vietnam veterans of the Americal and their spouses. But we were lucky to have 6 veterans of World War II on hand. One of the men, Ken Vander Molen (second from right in the above photo), is 182nd veteran from Company G – and a good friend. Ken made the trip down from Michigan with his two daughters. I also had the chance to meet another 182nd veteran, whose full name I believe was Devel McGriff (far left in the photo above). He served in Company G, and took part in the action on Cebu. He told me that he had not known about our trip earlier this year to Cebu, or he would have come along. What a shame, it would have been amazing to have him along with us. At dinner, I shared a table with Ken Vander Molen and a veteran of the 164th Infantry, Fritz Klein (far right in the photo), who attended with his wife and daughter. 70 years after the end of World War II, this was his very first reunion.

The ADVA treated the World War II veterans like royalty. Their rooms at the hotel were provided free of charge. And they were singled out and recognized at the Saturday evening banquet. Each was presented with a gift bag including an ADVA pocket knife and DVD. And most impressively, their great sacrifice and service was thanked with a booming, rousing, standing ovation from their veteran brothers from Vietnam. It was a real thrill to see these men treated like the heroes they are – particularly from a room full of fellow veterans.

(Incidentally, if Mr. McGriff or his family should read this story – please contact me if you feel like it, I would love to hear more about his war experiences.)