Wednesday, April 3, 2013 1:00 AM
During the last week of March 1945, an Allied fighting vessel, the battleship U.S.S. New Mexico, poured 1,500-pound shells into the Japanese Island of Okinawa for six days in preparation for an invasion on Apr. 1, 1945.
Two Neshoba County sailors, Seaman First Class Charles Symion Adcock and Gunner's Mate Third Class Laulen McGrue Kilpatrick were aboard the New Mexico and participated in "clearing the way" for a battle later remembered as the greatest amphibious landing in the Pacific Theatre.
Before dawn on Apr. Fools' Day 1945, Adcock and Kilpatrick, among hundreds of other crewmen, arose at 2:30 a.m. ready for action as the battleship moved into position to begin her final bombardment on pillboxes, airplane revetments, observation posts and caves. Crewmen quickly manned their battle stations and the ship gunners in short order dispatched to the bottom of the sea, three Japanese suicide fighters which made futile runs at the New Mexico.
At 6:30 a.m. other battleships of the task force along with Navy aircraft began hammering away at enemy positions, while seaward landing craft slipped through the waters toward the beaches of Okinawa.
An hour later smoke screened the island from the crewmen of the New Mexico, who anxiously awaited the outcome of the amphibious assault. At about 8:30 a.m., mates with binoculars watched through the haze as the first waves of Marines crashed ashore.
Later when the ship's loudspeakers blared the news of the capture of the strategic Yontan airstrip, the men on board the ship cheered, their work now done.
South of the landing on Okinawa, Japanese Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima watched the invasion with little concern from the ramparts of Shuri Castle, a 15th century fort that once housed Okinawa feudal kings.
He planned to cede the northern two-thirds of the island to the Allies, and challenge the invading troops as they moved through a series of jagged ridges in southern Okinawa, some over 300 feet in height.
The strategy, while eventually defeated, forced the Americans to engage in the bloodiest land campaign in the Pacific, lasting eighty-one days, costing 7,613 killed and missing in action, 31,807 wounded and 26,211 other casualties, mostly from combat fatigue.
Staff Sergeant Samuel R. Adcock perished on Okinawa on Sept. 16, 1945, well after the War Department declared the island secured on June 21, 1945. Among the wounded were Corporal Lester L. Brown, Apr. 11, 1945; Corporal Aloysius E. Duncan, June 22, 1945; Corporal Ernest L. Eldridge, Apr. 13, 1945 and Private William C. Palmer, Jr., May 5, 1945.
Motor Machinist's Mate James Ely received a wound in Apr. 1945; Seaman First Class James G. Madison, Jr., Apr. 2, 1945 and Seaman James C. Williamson in May 1945.
While many faced the perils of death and other horrors of war in the Pacific or European Theatres, some Neshoba servicemen suffered from things such as loneliness on duty in the American Theatre.
Private First Class James V. "Old Griff" Gordon wrote the following poem, entitled, "No Letter Today:" "Are you dead and gone forever, or forgotten I exist? Are you sick or have you crossed me from your list? Don't you like to read my letters, or does my chatter wear you out? Or has Uncle Sam forgotten I'm in a postal pouch? Are you subjects so time-filling, and your work so hard to do, That you can't find time for writing, just to tell me howdy-do. Are you lost or strayed or stolen, or has amnesia dulled your brain? Or forgotten that you knew me, has my address been mislain? If none of these things have happened, and if you're feeling fine and bright, Why heck, I just can't understand why you don't have time to write."
Civil War Veterans
Perry, Josiah G., Jr.* - Second Corporal; mustered on Apr. 13, 1861, at Neshoba Springs, Mississippi, in the Neshoba Rifles; age twenty; clerk. Served as second corporal with the Neshoba Rifles; appointed second corporal of Company D, 11th Miss.; Infantry Regiment at organization, Apr. 24, 1861; Muster Roll, June 1861: "Sick at Winchester on leave;" re-appointed second corporal at re-organization, Apr. 21, 1862; received $45.85 for pay and clothing, Aug. 19, 1862; oldest brother, Third Sergeant Isaac G. Perry*, also of Company D, killed at Sharpsburg, Sept. 17, 1862. Hospitalized at Camp Winder General Hospital at Richmond, Virginia, Nov. 15 to 17, 1862; older brother, Private Lawrence W. Perry* of Company D. Wounded at Bethesda Church, June 2, 1864; Muster Roll, July-Aug. 1864: "Absent-sick in Richmond hospital;" captured, along with younger brother, Private William H. Perry* of Company D, at Hatcher's Run, Apr. 2, 1865; had $27.00 on person when imprisoned at Point Lookout, Md. Released at Point Lookout, June 16, 1865; transportation furnished to Macon, Miss.; described as five feet four and three-quarters inches tall, light complexion, dark hair and grey eyes; epitaph reads: "Through four long and arduous years he served his country on the field of battle."
World War II Veterans
Perry, Wendell Holmes* - Private to Staff Sergeant; enlisted on Aug. 26, 1943 at Camp Shelby, Miss., in the United States Army; age eighteen. College student; served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations at Moorhead, Minn., Santa Ana, Calif., and at Keesler Field, Miss., with the Army Air Corps, Oct. 1943. Stationed at a flexible gunnery school at the Kingman Air Field, Ariz., to June 1944, at a gunnery school at Lincoln, Neb., July 1944, and at Dyersburg, Tenn., Sept. 1944; served also in the European Theatre of Operations as an aerial gunner with the 750th Bombardment Squadron, 457th Bombardment Group, Eighth Army Air Force; manned tail, waist and ball turret positions on B-17 Flying Fortress bombers; participated in the campaigns in the Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe; completed 36 flying missions from Glatton Field, England, between Nov. 23, 1944 and March 28, 1945; stationed again in the American Theatre of Operations at Greensboro, North Carolina, May 1945; awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, European-African Eastern Campaign Medal (with two bronze service stars) and the Air Medal (with six bronze oak leaf clusters); discharged at Camp Beale, Calif., Oct. 23, 1945, demobilization; described as five feet eight inches tall, weighing 165 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.
Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum
Steven H. Stubbs, Curator
303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350 (601) 656-1284
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.;
Monday thru Friday