Old Marquette Info Part 2

Looking for all the information I can for this site. If you have some information you think others would enjoy, please post it.

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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Wed Apr 09, 2014 9:08 pm

What I would like to do now is give a run down of Graveraet athletics under Coach Roger Keast after this memorable 1939-40 basketball season.

* 1940 Track & Field Season- Don’t have much information, but some of the improvements will be mentioned the next season ( I have a hunch there wasn’t much to write about).

* Fall of 1940 for the ‘40-‘41 Graveraet Redmen football season:

Some of the U.P. in the lower/western portion was hit by a polio epidemic. This forced a couple games to be cancelled. According to the tatler, the football team that year “lacked the beef.” They finished 2-4.

Graveraet 1940 Football Season

Stambaugh (cancelled)
Sault Ste Marie- Lost 0-31
Bessemer- (cancelled)
Ishpeming- Lost 0-25
Gladstone- Won 12-7
Munising- Won 13-8
Negaunee- Lost 0-14
Menominee-Lost 6-19

The B team did play one game, they lost to Rock. Also per the yearbook, in the “first time in the history of the school, Graveraet boasted a ‘spunky’ little 6-man team which provided opportunities for the younger and lighter fellows who may develop into better citizens as a result of this training.”

So you can see many of things Roger Keast had been doing behind the scenes to promote and enhance athletics at Graveraet.
Last edited by Hueby on Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Wed Apr 09, 2014 9:13 pm

Coach Keast was also involved in designing new basketball uniforms. These newer ones were somewhat unique by today’s standards. Will try my best to describe them:

Gone was the “cursive Marquette” written across the front. It appears these were passed down to the B team. The varsity uniforms had that same silk/shiny material. I just saw numerals on the front & back.

Red uniforms had white trim & white uniforms had red trim. So on the red jerseys w/white numerals, running down the sides of the jerseys were thin white “rectangles” about 2 inches long, ½ inch wide. These rectangles were spaced on top of each other about 1/8 inch apart.

The shorts were “short-shorts” common back for those times with thick (about 1 1/4 in) white trim around the waist AND at the hem of each leg. Around the front of the waist there was this opening for a belt (shorts had no elastic). Now here’s the kicker for the rest of the uniform….

The socks were designed somewhat like a “candy cane”. They were long socks-went way high almost to the knees! Then they had alternating red and white strips. These strips were about 2 1/4 inches thick. In the player photos I could count 3 red strips & 2 white strips.

Here’s more….they wore knee pads. It appears opponents did too by one game photo in the yearbook. If you look back at old photos of that time, knee pads were common.

Players still wore high top tennis shoes. Graveraet’s warm-up jackets were plain but with the 2 in x ½ in rectangular strips set on top of each other running down the sides. These rectangles ran down the sides from the neck to the waist on those jackets.
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Thu Apr 10, 2014 7:41 pm

Hopefully the tatler in ‘40-‘41 wasn’t as inaccurate as the year before. According to the yearbook Graveraet went 6-8 in the regular season. Remember, the season prior they were scheduled to return 2 experienced players. Here was their season:

Graveraet Redmen 1940-41 Basketball Season

Munising - Won 27-14
Escanaba – Lost 17-21
Soo – Lost 16-26
Bessemer – Lost 26-27
Menominee – Won 37-36 (This was an exciting OT victory which snapped Menominee’s 7 game win streak.)
Ishpeming – Lost 10-22
Negaunee – Lost 25-32
Newberry – Won 33-26
Ishpeming – Lost 12-23
Menominee – Lost 32-39
Gladstone – Won 29-25 (This would take a 2nd half rally. Learned this as I scrolled past the headlines of the Mining Journal)
Negaunee – Won 30-17
Munising – Lost 36-38

At this part of the season, I found a Mining Journal article from March 1, 1941 headlined “Keast May Change Starting Five.”

Coach Keast was looking for a way to match up against Sault Ste Marie. Needing height, Keast was going to move Bernard Chapman to center. Chapman had very little varsity experience. Then he wanted to move Rodney Wasmuth to forward with Dick Keskey. Tom Cushing and Wilbert Wiitila would be the guards.

Keast was quoted “We’ll be sacrificing speed for height with that arraignment however…and I may send Wasmuth back to the pivot slot and use Fred Rydholm at forward.” Then after this game against the Soo, Graveraet would have 2 weeks off to prepare in their defense of their district title. The Redmen had won districts the past 2 seasons.

Anyways back to final game of regular season-

Soo- Won 24-20

District Tournament

Munising- Won 29-25
Ishpeming- Lost 21-29

Graveraet had a very good B team that year. Their reserves played small good schools like Palmer, National Mine and Republic. The B team was coached by “Coach Fish.”

Looking back at these past 2 seasons, the schools Graveraet played twice in basketball were Ishpeming, Negaunee, Sault Ste Marie, Munising and Menominee. Then Escanaba, Newberry, Bessemer and Gladstone once.

Then during this era for football it was Negaunee, Ishpeming, Sault Ste Marie, Munising, Newberry and Gladstone on a consistent basis. Then seemed to rotate involving Stambaugh, Bessemer, Escanaba , Menominee and Manistique. This was for a normal 7 game schedule.
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:34 am

Here is some info on how Bishop Baraga and J.D. Pierce did during this time:

Bishop Baraga was coached by Wilfred Fish. Found an article where they started the season defeating the Bishop Baraga Alumni 42-41. Defeated Gwinn (24 to something), Ontonagon 36-16, then Eben 49-35. I did catch their B team defeated Eben’s B team 20-12.

Came across an article where the Bishop Baraga Parochials were going to play Crystal Falls. Bishop Baraga had never been beaten on their home court, while at the same time they had never beaten Crystal Falls. So one of these 2 records would be shattered.

Crystal Falls would win. Sports headline on Jan 7, 1941 read “Crystal Falls Swamps Baragans” then sub-headline read “Catholics Go Down With Thud 51-27.” While I wouldn’t get all their scores, on top of what I just posted Marquette Bishop Baraga would eventually defeat Marquette J.D. Pierce twice that season, 30-24 and 30-20.

One article did mention Bishop Baraga had matched the most wins in a season they ever had-but couldn’t find what that was. Other scores I found were the Parochials would lose to Gwinn 34-18 then defeat Newberry 27-25.
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:43 pm

For the U.P. Basketball Tournament in 1941, I found the article which answered my question about Class E! On January 7, 1941 a Mining Journal write-up mentioned the addition of a “new class” for basketball- “Class E.”

This was to relieve congestion within Class D. Schools less than 75 would be Class E. Schools with 75-125 would be Class D. There would be no Class E schools in Lower Michigan-just the Upper Peninsula. The U.P. Finals for Class E would be held in Ironwood.
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:59 am

Although the U.P. basketball preview was much smaller than the year prior, here is what was expected:

Class B: Graveraet and Menominee were favorites. Graveraet was a contender because they were the defending U.P. Champions.
Class C: Crystal Falls-coached by University of Michigan standout Eddie Chambers was the clear favorite. Crystal Falls had won 4 straight (district) titles. Noted Marquette Bishop Baraga was Class C.
Class D: Hermansville was the heavy favorite. They were the only undefeated team in the U.P. Other teams considered were Eben, Marquette J.D. Pierce and Negaunee St. Paul.
Class E: The top contenders were Bergland, Marenisco, Trout Creek, Michigamme and Palmer.

District centers in 1941 to host the games were Sault Ste Marie, Newberry , Rapid River , Escanaba, Menominee, Champion, Alpha, L’Anse, Houghton and Bessemer.

From mhsaa.com, here is who would win the 1941 U.P. Championships

Class B: Sault Ste Marie defeated Stambaugh 30-27

(Remember Graveraet changed their line-up to match up better against the Soo, and it worked. Here the Redmen defeated the Sault twice in the regular season. But how things change in “the second season.”)

Class C: Crystal Falls defeated Felch 31-26
Class D: Eben defeated Hermansville 40-26
Class E: Palmer defeated Hulbert 39-29
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:30 pm

(Sources will be listed)

It was sometime in March 1941, Coach Roger Keast would receive activation orders from the U.S.Army. You see while he was at Michigan State College, Roger Keast was also in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). In those days, it was very common for most men-to include student athletes- to do some type of military service. This is why our military academies (Army & Navy) were very strong in college athletics.

America was not at war, but I’ll explain why Keast was activated in the next post. I understand the activation orders were for a 1 year period, then the Reserves and Guardsmen would return home.

Upon graduating from Michigan State College, he would receive his commission as a second lieutenant. Here is also some more information about Roger Keast’s background that was provided in the James Campbell book titled “The Ghost Mountain Boys” I will site this source using the pages. In pages 105-106 Campbell mentions:

"While at Lansing Central High, Keast was a star athlete in football, basketball and track. In a football game against rival Lansing Eastern, Keast returned a fumble for a touchdown for the games only score. A very handsome young man, Roger Keast went on to letter in 3 sports at Michigan State (football in 1932, basketball in 1932, track in 1932,1933 and 1934).

In 1932 Roger Keast recorded the 5th fastest quarter-mile in the country. He set the mile and 2-mile relay record and became an All-American. The 2-mile relay team he was a member of was invited to compete in the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, but due to illness the team had to withdraw."
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:35 pm

The Army Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall, was a student of history. Many people involved in the security of our country anticipated we would be drawn into war. General Marshall knew our country’s military needed to get prepared.

So anyways, what happened was Congress authorized a huge National Guard and Reserve mobilization in what would be called the “Louisiana Maneuvers.” It was the largest peacetime mobilization in our country’s history. National Guard and Reserve units from around the country would participate in “mock wars” to help in their readiness. These war games actually started down south in 1940. The focus was geared towards the battlefields of Europe.

So with Keast being activated, Graveraet held a series of farewell parties which included hams, chili and cake, card games and jokes about how Coach Keast enjoyed “singing in the showers” and his efforts to teach the high school boys how to dance. Both the school and community embraced Roger Keast, his wife Ruth and their young son Harry. (Eventually they would have another son, Roger Jr).

For the final farewell party, the Graveraet High School newspaper declared that “depressing talk of any kind was not allowed,” but there were a few who left the parties with “lumps in their throats.”

In the final official farewell party, Graveraet officials announced they would be dedicating the 1940-41 yearbook to him. The dedication was read, then the crowd broke into a song that began with “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” and ended with “Auld Lang Syne.” (Campbell pg 232)
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:41 pm

So with Roger Keast gone for military service, for the Graveraet 1941 track and field season the new coach who filled in that season was Norman “Boots” Kukuk. Tom Cushing spoke very highly of Kukuk. Kukuk was a senior then at Northern State Teachers College (now NMU). Kukuk had played hockey, football and track (and some basketball) and would be known as one of Marquette’s best “home grown” hockey players. I remember seeing him mentioned in Marquette Sentinals articles while researching Graveraet’s ’39-’40 basketball season.

Kukuk would go on to be inducted into the U.P. Sports Hall of Fame in 1978. Reading some of his bios, Kukuk also received a letter from Adolph Hitler to participate in the Olympics for Germany due to his German ancestry. Kukuk’s father tore the letter up.

Anyways, Keast’s behind the scenes work of getting students enthused and participating in athletics had been paying off. The 1941 track season also included a new track the team began to use at an “incomplete facility.” (There was a new football field but am not sure if it was used yet-would have to research this on microfilm). Fred Rydholm proudly served as the assistant coach to Kukuk and team captain.

One funny story was Kukuk was timing the athletes. When in the 440 yard dash a runner named Kenny Montagna had a time faster than anyone ever ran in the U.P.! After a few more amazing times, they learned the track was 40 yards short! The track would be corrected a few years later by the students and faculty (Taken from Fred Rydholm Dec 2000 Marquette Monthly).
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:06 pm

Here’s how the track season went according to the 1940-41 tatler:

In the district track meet, Graveraet finished a close 2nd to Sault Ste Marie.

Marquette had qualified more athletes to the U.P.’s than ever before- which at that time was 11. Although Graveraet finished in 7th place in Class B, all this was an improvement and something to build off of. Some of the accomplishments in track:

* Fred Rydholm took 1st place in the 200 yard low hurdles and 2nd place in the 120 yard high hurdles.
* Bob Ogle tied for 5th place in the pole vault.
* The 880 yd relay team of Howard Kitzman, Alfred Dorrow, Fred Rydholm and Tom Cushing took 4th.

While down south training, some of Keast’s players would keep in touch with him through the mail. Fred Rydholm was one of them. Rydholm would credit Keast for helping him take first place in the 200 yard low hurdles.

Also while Roger Keast was away training down south with the 32nd ID, it was common for him to share any newspaper articles on Graveraet athletics. Keast was very proud of all the student-athletes . He would talk about them to whoever in the unit would listen. He would keep part of Marquette with him wherever he went.
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:09 pm

As the track season came to an end, the 1940-41 Graveraet tatler was published and distributed. Near the front pages was the dedication to Roger Keast. Along with a portrait of Roger Keast, underneath this photo it read:

“Dedication to Roger Keast
to you, Roger Keast, is for the splendid loyalty shown in furthering athletics and a better school spirit. For this the staff bestows this honor upon you and hopes that in the years to come you will always remind us of our duty to our country and to our school.”
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:08 am

What I would like to do now is share more of Roger Keast’s story. I would also like to “set the stage” to what men like Roger Keast would be getting into. At the same time, I hope you all find this educational and informative, especially the younger U.P. football players.

To help enhance and “visualize” Graveraet coach Roger Keast’s story, I’ll be linking some videos. I think it’s important for young people to see how things really were.

Here is a short 4 minute video showing both US and Japanese combat footage of WW2. Although not all of this footage may be right from New Guinea, it’s from the same region. Much of the terrain is the same to help provide a visual of what Roger Keast was in (warning-some footage is graphic).

Here are some notes to go along with the video. I will note the time of the video then the comments which relate to it:

--11 seconds- The New Guinea natives played a huge role for both us and the Australians. I read about 70% of them did go AWOL, but the 30% who helped played a vital role in the logistics side of the operations. Roger Keast would work with the natives. According the James Campbell’s book the natives who worked with Keast’s unit would part with them prior to battle. It was a sad farewell when this happened. This should give an indicator of Keast's "people skills." The Australians would call the natives “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.”

--36 seconds- Notice how the mud could get. You can imagine how deep and muddy these trails became when heavily used. How difficult it was to walk on them. Keep this in mind when I mention the men moving miles through the jungle on a trail.

--1:26- Marines and soldiers fighting in the jungles would say they could never see the Japanese until one of their own was shot.

--1:54- The “Banzai” charge. It was successful against the Chinese. The Japanese believed that courage and bravery could overcome anything- even modern weapons and being at a disadvantage on the tactical side. They also believed Americans would turn and run when confronted by the Banzai charge.

--2:03- This scene reminds me of a story I learned from a co-worker who reads military history. Most Marine and National Guard units entered the war using the 1903 Springfield rifle, which was used in WW1. It was a bolt-action rifle, fired with a 5 round clip. Actually they did make an outstanding sniper rifle. Some years prior the ’03 Springfield would be upgraded by a Canadian (John Garand) and the rifle was named after him- the M1 Garand. The Garand used the same ammo and could fire semi-automatic using an 8 round magazine. The Army began phasing in and using the M1 Garand around 1936-37.

In the Pacific there were Army units that were attached under Marine Units. This is one reason you don’t always hear a lot about the Army in the Pacific. Another reason was the Marines had an aggressive public relations department. Anyways there was a story where a lower ranking, young “green” Army replacement shared a fighting position along side a combat experienced Marine. The story goes “the Marine took the Garand from him.” The Marine asked to see the rifle and then was like “Gimme that!....Here, I’ll do the shooting, you just keep loading the magazines.” They worked as a team- one man did the shooting, while the other spotted and kept loading/reloading the magazines. It appears this is happening in this scene.

--2:00- Carange after an attack on the US Marines at Guadalcanal. The Marines were defending an airstrip. There were many acts of heroism by the Marines on Guadalcanal. What happened was initially the Marines took an undefended airfield. But then our Navy was defeated in a naval battle and left the Marines to defend the airstrip by themselves. The Marines were not intimidated by all the martial arts film they saw of the Japanese. The Marines respected them-but they did not fear them.

--4:02- Can see how well the Japanese could camouflage. Their grenades were from the 1904-05 war against Russia. To ignite them you pulled the safety pin then tapped the grenade on your helmet. But sometimes the old ones would detonate when tapping them on their helmets. So in this video he used some hard object on the ground.
Also in the video you’ll know who the Australians are-they wear shorts. While useful in Africa, neither us or the Aussies were prepared or trained to fight in the jungles.

Hope you can remember all this. Here's the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiCcDmhm2YQ



Roger Keast would become the company commander of the “Anti-Tank” Company of the 2/126th Infantry Battalion, 32 Infantry Division. The 32nd ID was also known as the “Red Arrow” Division, a nickname given to the unit for their actions during World War 1 as they pierced German defenses. While some were drafted from other parts of the country-especially the Midwest- the majority of the men in this division were from Wisconsin and Michigan.
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:44 am

After the training down in Camp Beauragard, Louisiana, the 32nd ID’s initial orders were to deploy to Europe. Roger Keast was a first lieutenant now. Am not sure of the timeline during all this vs when Japan attacked us. Anyways the unit was transported out east- then suddenly they were diverted to the west. Many of the men including the officers were not exactly sure where they were being deployed to.

When they left the west coast by ship, some men tried to figure out the course the ship was taking. Many thought they were on their way to Hawaii. They would eventually find themselves in Australia. According to the Graveraet Weekly Feb 5, 1943, Roger Keast was promoted to the rank of captain shortly after sailing for Australia.
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:46 am

Here is a little U.P. trivia for you all-

Question: When the military draft for WW2 began, who was the very first young man drafted into the military service for World War 2?

Answer: Out of all the millions of young Americans drafted into the war, the very first one drafted was Merle Yelle- from Sands Township! Right from the U.P.!
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:38 pm

For the next 4-5 posts I would like to provide some history involving the “main stage” Americans like Roger Keast would find themselves. To show what Roger Keast and the men he commanded were getting into. I’m pretty sure other men from the U.P. were also involved in all this. Whether they played football or not I’ll never know. This is the theatre of operations the Graveraet teacher and coach would find himself a part of. Much of this history has long been forgotten. Matter of fact not much was every really known about it! One goal here is through Roger Keast-may every young U.P. football player reading this “smoke” the WW2 portion of your history class!

Some may remember back in the 1939-40 Graveraet basketball season I posted where Japan was concerned of us cutting off supplies to them. Japan’s population was growing and they needed land. They lacked natural resources. On their own initiative, Japan’s military had invaded Manchuria in China to take their coal, grain fields and rich resources. Japan would continue invading into China. As the U.S. and our allies helped supply the Chinese using the Burma Road, we also placed an embargo on Japan. Japan saw this as an act of war.

In pursuit of the rubber and oil in the East Indies, Japan plans to go get all this but knows we will get involved to protect our interests-so they bomb Pearl Harbor. Then they continued on and invaded the Philippines. We had forces there (Go back to the Monroe Doctrine and Spanish American War for those who want to learn more) who were poorly trained and equipped. Also many of the men stationed in the Philippines were ill due to the high diseases in that environment.
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:44 pm

The reason we were poorly trained-remember about 20 years prior we had fought in “The war to end all wars”- World War 1. Historically after every war, our country cuts or “hallow outs” the military. Then we pay for this in a lot of blood the next conflict.

So as Japan takes the Philippines, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent in a PT boat and submarine to evacuate Gen Douglas MacArthur and his family. But the military left behind eventually was forced to surrender. This led to the Bataan Death March. Here we would begin to learn just how brutal and inhumane Japan treated their prisoners. Soon as Japan smashed their way through the Pacific, they were on the doorstep of Australia in territory known as “New Guinea” and area islands known as the “Solomon Islands.”
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:46 pm

What happened in the meantime was Australia had their professional army (the AIF) in Africa helping us and Britain fight the Nazis there. The backup plan was Britain’s Navy could defend Australia from bases in Singapore-but that plan fell through as Japan’s military machine came crashing through the Pacific.

All Australia had for their own defense was the militia-a bunch of conscripts who many were uneducated, undisciplined and poorly trained. The Prime Minister of Australia defied the U.S. and Britain and began calling back their AIF forces from Africa. The U.S. and Britain convinced Australia to keep some of the AIF forces in Africa-but in return we would provide them American forces . The force selected was the 32nd ID, which Roger Keast was a member of. Most of these men came from the Midwest-mainly Wisconsin and Michigan.

As mentioned, the journey of the 32nd Infantry Division’s deployment to Australia and then to New Guinea is written is a very good book by James Campbell titled “The Ghost Mountain Boys.” I don’t want to steal too much thunder from the book.

Although many historians believed Australia would be an objective for Japan, at the time Japan did not have enough forces to take it. So the plan was to capture Port Moresby in New Guinea and the island of Guadalcanal. By taking those 2 objectives they could isolate Australia from the U.S. and be in a position to better control the region. Also with Port Moresby they could control nearby rubber plantations. So Japan tried to attack Port Moresby by sea, but our Navy defeated Japan in the “Battle of the Coral Sea”. In this battle, the ships did not engage each other. It was the aircraft that did the fighting. Japan instead invaded New Guinea by land from the northern shores vicinity Buna and attacked south using the “Kokoda Track “ to capture Port Moresby.
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:49 pm

In order to draw us in, the Australians “aligned themselves with us” and asked for our military help. They would also allow an American to command the joint U.S.-Austrailians forces-which would be Gen MacArthur.

In late July 1942 Gen McArthur ordered the Australian militia up the Kokoda Track where they would run into the Japanese. The Aussies were outnumbered about 80 to 900 at the time. They would conduct a series of “hit and run” operations as they withdrew. They did a very good job. Later it would be learned the Japanese thought they were fighting a much larger force in the thousands ….. not 80.

After a week long delay from resupply issues, one of the AIF forces finally joined their militia countrymen to help defend against the advancing Japanese. Forces on both sides grew and at one time it was about 250 Aussies fighting 6,000 Japanese. At times when they tried to “dig in” (using their helmets) to hold ground near certain villages, the battles were very deadly as it came down to bayonet/hand to hand combat. With constant resupply and reinforcement problems, eventually the Australians were driven back. Gen MacArthur was losing faith in the Australians ability to fight and let their generals know it. Eventually he would have the Australian commander on the ground , General Potts relieved. Some time during all this allied air forces began bombing Japanese supply lines along the Kokoda Track.

The Japanese were roughly 20 miles away when they could see the city lights of Port Moresby. There was no one between them and the city-they began to celebrate. But soon they got shocking news-they were ordered to withdraw! Their commander was livid-as he had seen hundreds of their men die in this fierce fighting. What happened was our U.S. Marines had captured the airfield on Guadalcanal and Japan needed to commit more of their forces to take it back.

Anyways, the Australians who were involved in the fighting received a talk from one of their new commanders- General Blaney ( Gen Blaney replaced Gen Potts). Those men inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese while suffering many themselves. They only had 142 left out of 600. Having been greatly outnumbered and fighting without any air or artillery support , they thought they were going to get an “At-ta boy” pep talk from their Australian General Blaney. Instead they would be shocked what they were told. They were told that their performance was unacceptable and pretty much told they were cowards! The commander also said something like “It’s not the man with the gun who gets shot, but it’s the rabbit running away.”
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:34 pm

So with the Japanese withdrawing back to the north of New Guinea, the Australians would counterattack and now the shoe was on the other foot. Now the Japanese conduct “hit and run” operations to slow down the Aussie advance. The Japanese also have serious resupply and reinforcement problems themselves. During the withdraw the starving Japanese begin to eat plants and the bark off the trees. Finally it reaches a point where they ambush Australian scouts who were leading the main elements. Some time later the Australian’s come across the ambushed scouts remains-to find the starving Japanese had resorted to cannibalism!

The Australians would also come across other war atrocities involving wounded Australian soldiers at deserted aid stations. Also in one of these battles as the Japanese withdrew, more Allied awards and decorations were awarded than any other in WW2. In time the reinforced Japanese would fall back to defend areas of Buna, Sanananda and Gona. Japan had forces there for months preparing defenses. It is during all this the 32nd ID would join the fighting. They would deploy to New Guinea on the southern portion of the island, establish a base camp and then have to move north over the Owen Stanley Mountain Range. (Source from this fighting is from the documentary “Kokoda-The Bloody Track.”)
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:38 pm

In early October 1942 General MacArthur would order the 2nd Battalion of the 126th Infantry to move 120 miles BY FOOT over the Owen Stanley Mountains to protect the right flank of the Australians. The lead element would be a 250 man “Wairopi Patrol” led by the cannon company commander- Cpt Alfred Mendendorp. The “second in command” would be Cpt Roger Keast. Then the entire 126 Infantry regiment would follow. They would also be aided by native carriers.

No, it wasn’t the “Trail of Tears” or the “Bataan Death March,” but this march would be one of the most horrendous movements in modern military history. And Graveraet’s coach Roger Keast would be a part of this nightmare. Just about every man became sick with dysentery. Many ran high fevers. Many threw away important equipment to lighten their loads. Some men were so sick they cut holes in the seats of their pants so they wouldn’t mess themselves as bad. They had poor maps. At times they were ankle deep in mud-sometimes deeper. Other times they went through waist deep swamps. They’d sweat in the heat during the day, got rained on and many evenings they were very cold. The trails they walked on became thicker and deeper in with mud. It would talk 5-6 hours to move a mile. Most of the time they couldn’t see the sky- only thick vegetation and swamp.

In a 1992 letter to Fred Rydholm from Edward L. Wernholm of Negaunee, Wernholm wrote that there were 4 other men from Marquette County in this march. He provided a veterans’ publication mentioning what you just read, and also telling how they hacked their way through dense vegetation for 42 days. Wernholm added one of their supply planes crashed and the men were forced to eat what they could find. (Rydholm MM Dec 2000).

A co-worker of mine had an uncle from Oconto Falls, WI who made this march. He told me “His uncle’s shirt rotted right off his back.”

Here’s a short 3 minute video about this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbdiPfSiuDY
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Sat Apr 19, 2014 5:32 am

When they reached and climbed “Ghost Mountain,” at times they were on mountain trails only a couple feet wide. Weakened and exhausted the men continued to throw away much of their equipment. As they moved along the mountain, at times men clung to vines- clinging to cliffs that dropped a thousand feet.

The mountain itself was very eerie. Thick moss everywhere, including on the trees. One could drive a stick through the moss 6 feet deep and not hit a thing. There were no birds, no insects. There was no sign of life. They could hear running water but not find any. If they stopped, they froze. When they moved, they got very hot and started sweating. Their bodies ached with pain. Men were so exhausted and so sick to where it took them 7 hours to move the last 2,000 feet. Many of them crawled that last 2,000 feet. (Rydholm MM Dec 2000 and 32nd –division.org)

When it was over, men lost about 1/3rd of their body weight. 18-20 year old men were about 180 pounds then. Many men on this march dropped to about 135 pounds. This info comes from 32nd-division.org. Also this is where “The Ghost Mountain Boys” book comes in. Here is a video link of James Campbell sharing information about their story in a visit to Wisconsin a few years back:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHu4F65eCEU
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:40 pm

During this terrible march over the Owen Staney Mountain Range most of the men did survive. But I remember learning 2 were lost as they were swept away from a river crossing and one died from the elements. Roger Keast , who had displayed outstanding endurance throughout the ordeal was also involved in the resupply operations. My own personal assessment, it appears as the Anti-Tank Company Commander and the 2nd in command he took on an additional role of an “executive officer” within their 250 man lead patrol.

The “XO” is usually the 2nd highest ranking officer who oversees much of the “behind the scenes work” so the unit can focus on training and/or combat. So they are tied into both the tactical and logistical side of the operation. In this case it was the logistical operations to ensure the unit could focus on the movement. It is mentioned in the book how Keast would lead patrols to secure and establish aerial resupply drops. (To verify my reasoning, later in these posts you’ll notice Keast led a patrol involving a first sergeant and cook.) Because of poor maps, both Keast and Mendendorp drew their own maps while navigating the terrain. Some of these hand drawn maps of the resupply missions are in the National Archives.
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:46 pm

Oh yes, during this march the Australians would find and seize an old airfield. While men like Roger Keast made this horrendous march, the rest of the 32nd would be flown in by aircraft.

Around late October early November 1942 the “Ghost Mountain Boys” along with the 32nd would eventually be ordered into battle. They would fight in the Buna-Sanananda Mission. Roger Keast had injured his knee, lost a lot of weight and was sporting a beard. The book covers the 32nd’s portion of the battles. They really struggled in the beginning. The Japanese had entrenched, well- fortified camouflaged fighting positions. They also held the high ground and better terrain. Both the Americans and Australians had little air and artillery support to help them. Or what little they had were ineffective. They had to resort to old fashioned frontal assaults. Many men were killed or wounded and there was little success.

Actually in one of the first battles involving the 32nd Infantry. Ku(I’m pretty sure it was the 128th Infantry) it wasn’t the script of a Hollywood movie. Everything that could go wrong-did go wrong. First their supply lines coming through the ocean were bombed. Then the Army Air Corps accidently bombed our own Americans (remarkably no one was killed but some wounded). The artillery was off too. What did hit the Japanese positions was ineffective.

So when the ground forces initially attacked, their advance halted when the leaders were killed. Many of the men hid, didn’t advance and retreated when they came under fire from the Japanese. Some just threw down their weapons and ran. It was a total disaster for us. That night as the Americans had fallen back to their lines after the failed assault, they had to painfully listen to one of their fellow Americans scream for some time. He had been captured and was being tortured for everyone to hear.

The Australian generals didn’t forgive MacArthur for slamming the Australians earlier in the campaign. So they gave it right back to him. After this military debacle General MacArthur considered bringing in more American troops. The Aussies replied something like “No thanks, we’d rather have Australians….at least they fight.”
Last edited by Hueby on Mon Apr 21, 2014 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:04 pm

A side note, during the fighting early on in New Guinea there would be a medic of the 126th Infantry from Ishpeming, Michigan named William Gauthier. Gauthier was awarded the silver star for his actions in saving many lives. He crawled out of his own slit trench to save wounded comrades during a bombardment. Gauthier survived the Buna Mission and passed away back in 2003.
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Re: Old Marquette Info Part 2

Postby Hueby » Tue Apr 22, 2014 5:45 am

Captain Roger Keast , Captain John Shirley and Captain Mendendorp would lead their companies on a successful mission. Just after their regimental commander had been killed in a plane crash, the 126th Infantry launched an attack under the new commander. Keast and Shirley’s companies were sent over to be attached to a different combat team.

The purpose of this attack was to seize key terrain in order to protect the flank of the Australians (In football it would be like throwing a key block).

The book mentions this attack. The mission was planned for November 30, 1942. What happened was this new commander downplayed the size and condition of the Japanese force they were up against. Luckily, Shirley and Keast didn’t believe him. Because while “heading to the front” to link up with this unit, Cpt John Shirley, Cpt Roger Keast and their men had passed the native carriers carrying all the wounded back from the fighting. The book also mentions how when they launched the attack in the morning hours it was very difficult to see where the enemy was.

One thing I picked up about Roger Keast- was he was highly respected and trusted by his men. This is earned through time in how you treat people and by your leadership actions. Also your leadership traits like "leading by example" and sharing hardships with the men. In the stress and fear of battle-the young men followed him. In this battle Keast and Cpt John Shirley (Commander of I Company, 3/126th) would lead their men in securing the objective –which was a critical road block. This was finally good news for the 32nd ID who had been struggling in other battles.

In this advance by the 126th, the scouts also discovered an enemy bivouac site. Keast and Shirley then led a bayonet attack which led to more bloodshed. Although they had advanced about 600 yards through the thick jungle, a slight problem was they were separated from the main force -who had little success in their sectors of the battle (from pages 182-191).
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