The Scuttlebutt by Pat O'Connor
Welcome to the Scuttlebutt. We strive to provide information to local veterans and share a little bit about life in the military.
75 years ago, our troops were continuing the battle in the pacific to capture the islands of Saipan and Guam. Guam was ringed by reefs, cliffs, and heavy surf, Guam presents a formidable challenge for any attacker. Initially, the American forces landed on both sides of the Orote Peninsula on the western side of Guam, planning to secure Apra Harbor. The 3rd Marine Division landed near Agana to the north of Orote, and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade landed near Agat to the south. Japanese artillery sank 20 U.S. LVTs and inflicted heavy casualties on the landing troops, but by 09:00 marines and tanks were ashore at both beaches. By nightfall, the U.S. Marines, and soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division had established beachheads. Other members of the U.S. Army's 77th Infantry Division had a more difficult landing on 23–24 July. Lacking amphibious vehicles, they had to wade ashore from the edge of the reef where the landing craft dropped them off. The men stationed in the 2 beachheads were pinned down by heavy Japanese fire, making initial progress inland quite slow. Supply was very difficult for the landing troops on Guam in the first days of the battle. Landing ships could not come closer than the reef, several hundred yards from the beach and amphibious vehicles were scarce. The Japanese counterattacks against the American beachheads, as well as the fierce fighting, had exhausted the Japanese. At the start of August, they were running out of food and ammunition, and they had only a handful of tanks left. Lieutenant General Hideyoshi Obata withdrew his troops from southern Guam, planning to make a stand in the mountainous central and northern part of the island, "to engage in delaying action in the jungle in northern Guam to hold the island as long as possible". Rain and thick jungle made conditions difficult for the Americans, but after an engagement with the main Japanese line of defense around Mount Barrigada from 2–4 August, the Japanese line collapsed. The 1st Provisional Brigade formed up on the left flank of the 3rd Marine Division on 7 August because of the widening front and continued casualties, in an effort to prevent the Japanese from slipping through the American gaps. The Japanese had another stronghold at Mount Santa Rosa, which was secured on 8 August. On 10 August, organized Japanese resistance ended, and Guam was declared secure, but 7,500 Japanese soldiers were estimated to be at large. The next day, General Obata committed ritual suicide at his headquarters on Mount Mataguac after he had sent a farewell message to Japan. As this article describes it, fighting was fierce on both sides. We must be eternally grateful to all who sacrificed so much to protect our country. If you know of a current veteran, or their family, who is having trouble and need help, please contact us at the numbers listed below. At the very least, please, be kind others and PRAY FOR PEACE!
Military Hero’s - PFC LUTHER SKAGGS, JR. US Marines
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as squad leader with a mortar section of a rifle company in the 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on the Asan-Adelup beachhead, Guam, Marianas Islands, 21-22 July 1944. When the section leader became a casualty under a heavy mortar barrage shortly after landing, Pfc. Skaggs promptly assumed command and led the section through intense fire for a distance of 200 yards to a position from which to deliver effective coverage of the assault on a strategic cliff. Valiantly defending this vital position against strong enemy counterattacks during the night, Pfc. Skaggs was critically wounded when a Japanese grenade lodged in his foxhole and exploded, shattering the lower part of one leg. Quick to act, he applied an improvised tourniquet and, while propped up in his foxhole, gallantly returned the enemy's fire with his rifle and hand grenades for a period of eight hours, later crawling unassisted to the rear to continue the fight until the Japanese had been annihilated. Uncomplaining and calm throughout this critical period, Pfc. Skaggs served as a heroic example of courage and fortitude to other wounded men and, by his courageous leadership and inspiring devotion to duty, upheld the high traditions of the U.S. Marines.
On the Light Side- “Look out pig”
Bill O'Reilly and his chauffeur accidentally hit and kill a farmer's pig while driving through the country. O'Reilly tells the chauffeur to apologize to the farmer. They drive up to the farm, and the chauffeur goes inside. He is gone for a long time.
When the driver returns, he explains his long absence, "Well, first the farmer shook my hand, then he offered me a beer, then his wife made me some cookies, and his daughter showered me with kisses." "Why were they so grateful?" O'Reilly asks. The chauffeur replies, "I don't know. All I told him was that I was Bill O'Reilly's driver and I'd just killed the pig."
New Military Suicide Report May Revive Debate Over Gun Restrictions www.military.com July 20
A new report from the Defense Department is likely to revive debate over the prospect of using "means restriction" -- limiting access to firearms -- as a way to reduce the number of suicides among U.S. troops. According to a DoD report on military suicides in 2017 released Wednesday, two-thirds of suicides among active-duty personnel that year were by firearm, a statistic consistent with the previous five years. In a study published last month in JAMA Network Open, researchers found that the suicide rate among soldiers who owned guns was higher than that for their peers who didn’t. And storing a loaded gun at home or carrying one was associated with a fourfold increase in the odds of suicide death among soldiers. The study suggested that promoting separate storage of guns and ammunition, as well as discouraging public carry when not on duty, could reduce the military suicide rate, which in 2017 was nearly 22 deaths per 100,000.
Four important things to know about Appeals Modernization www.va.gov July 15
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (Appeals Modernization Act or AMA) improves the appeals process for Veterans and their families. AMA gives Veterans choice over how VA reviews their disagreement with a claim decision and ensures Veterans receive faster, clearer decisions. Here are four important things Veterans need to know about AMA:
1. AMA provides Veterans choice and control when they disagree with a VA claim decision.
2. Veterans keep their effective date under the new appeals process.
3. Veterans can check the status of their appeal with a VA appeals status tracker.
4. Resources are available to inform Veterans about AMA
Upcoming Events and Meetings
American Legion – 3rd Wednesday at Legion Hall - Dinner @1800, meeting at 1900
VFW – 3rd Monday of month at Cameron Veteran’s Home Chapel -1900 hours
For more information or to offer help: Contact Pat O’Connor (816) 575-2568
Veterans Clinic (CBOC) @ MVH (816) 632-1369
Veterans Crisis Hotline 1-800-273-8255