Saturday, March 29, 2014

10th Army Photo Interpretation Group

Orders issued to the Photo Interpretation Group attached to the 10th Army during World War II. The group was a small one with Lt. Reinhart T. Kowallis and Lt. Martin M. Martinson as group leaders. The other men in the group were Sgt. Jack E. Gill, Wiley J. Langston, Frederick J. Kuchndorf, Borborian A. Borgo, and Washington I. Newman. The group departed from Washington State in January 1945 and traveled on a ship to Hawaii. After spending a few weeks in Hawaii, the group was attached to the 10th Army and departed for a couple months in Guam after which they were moved to Okinawa, arriving there just in time for the last of the fighting and the surrender of the island by the Japanese. Here are a few photos my father (Lt. Kowallis) brought home of the group and their camp area.

Lt. Kowallis (on right) with another officer on Guam in the 10th Army Camp.

In about April 1945 on Guam, Lt. Kowallis (third from left) with other officers who lived in the officers quarters. Lt. Martin Martinson, also in his photo interpretation group may be the second from left in the photo.

 LDS servicemen on Guam in April or May 1945.

Sgt. Jack Gill of the photo interpretation group at the beach. Lt. Kowallis and Sgt. Gill spent many hours of their free time at the beach collection cowrie and other shells to send home.

Lt. Martin Martinson doing his laundry in the 10th Army camp on Okinawa.

Aerial photo analyzer used during the war by the photo interpretation group.

One of the colorful signs posted around the 10th Army Camp.

10th Army Camp area on Okinawa in 1945.

10th Army mess tents on Okinwawa.

10th Army Camp area after the typhoon hit Okinawa in October 1945. Only a few tents survived the storm.

10th Army commanding general's quarters on Okinawa in 1945.

Lt. Kowallis (left) heating water for his laundry on Okinawa in 1945. I do not know who the other soldier is.

Lt. Martinson on Okinawa in 1945.

Men of the 10th Army photo group and perhaps others enjoying a steak fry on one of the rare occasions when they got some fresh meat.

Post exchange on Okinawa in 1945.

Movie night for the 10th Army soldiers.

Propaganda dropped by the Japanese into the area of the U.S. forces.

You can read more about the Battle of Okinawa on Wikipedia, PBS.org, and History.com.
Other good sites for information on the Battle of Okinawa during 1945 include:
And for post-war Okinawa, this is a very good site with lots of pictures from 1945 through 1972: Remembering Okinawa

[Note: Be sure to visit my earlier blogs on the people of Okinawa, casualties of war, capture of a Japanese soldier, LDS servicemen and women in Okinawa, more faces from Okinawa, and Shuri Castle.]


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

To DNA or not to DNA, that is the question...

 


DNA testing has become widespread in our society today. DNA is collected and analyzed by police and security forces around the world, newborn infants are routinely screened for a number of genetic conditions, lawyers make use of DNA in paternity suits, and genealogists are using it to solve family inheritance problems as well as to peer into their deep genetic roots. But questions, fears, and misconceptions arise in many people when they contemplate having their own DNA tested. What are the issues? Why are some people afraid to have a test? Here are some possibilities:

1. You are a crook or have committed some type of crime and don't really want anyone linking you to a crime scene. This is a valid concern and if you fit into this category, I would recommend you avoid getting a DNA test.

2. You plan to become a crook or felon in the near future. Again, a valid concern (see #1 above).

3. You are afraid that Johnny and Mary will find out that you are not really their biological father (or biological mother). This is also a legitimate concern and, again, if you fit into this category, I would recommend against getting a DNA test. Johnny and Mary, however, may be interested in the results of such a test.

4. You would really prefer not to know if you predisposed to get colon cancer or Alzheimer's disease. For many people life is much more pleasant if they have no idea what the future might hold. If you are one of these, then you probably do not want to get a DNA test, at least not one that reports back on your health tendencies. However, knowing that you might be susceptible could help you get early therapy and prevent these types of things from ever becoming a problem.

5. You have no interest in who you might be related to, and in fact, no interest in humanity in general. Yes, I agree, if this is your category, then DNA testing is not for you.

6. You are afraid that you might have more than your share of Neanderthal DNA. See my earlier post (Yes, I am a Caveman) on this issue if you fall into this category.

7. You are afraid that you will lose your health insurance if your DNA shows you have a predisposition toward certain diseases and conditions. This was a legitimate concern, but President Obama and the U.S. Congress have fixed things. Now, the more preexisting conditions you have the easier it is for you to get insurance. It's those of us who are healthy most of the time that have to worry.

8. You are afraid that your identity will be more easily stolen. This is, of course, just the opposite of the truth. Your DNA is completely unique to you and cannot be stolen by anyone else. Someone can easily duplicate your ID cards, they can get a hold of your bank accounts, they can even have plastic surgery to make themselves look just like you, but they cannot steal your DNA.

For more information of DNA testing, here are a couple of good articles:
 Come back soon for my take on the DNA tests and services offered by the three main companies that do it for genealogical purposes: FamilyTree DNA, 23andMe, and AncestryDNA.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

More Faces from Okinawa

These photos are part of the collection of Lt. Reinhart T. Kowallis taken in 1945 while he was stationed on Okinawa and working as the leader of a photo interpretation team assigned to the 10th Army. Most of these photos have no names, some have dates and short comments on the back.

Captain Mac Jurry talking to some native Okinawan boys (July 1945).

 Young Okinawan girls carrying babies (July 1945).


 Curious native Okinawan boys watching the soldiers of the 10th Army encampment (July 1945).

 More of the boys hanging around the army camp in July 1945.

Two young Okinawan boys.

Okinawan boys in the 10th Army camp (July 1945).

 An Okinawan woman and her son.

Typical load of wood carried by Okinawan woman.

 Traveling the road with their loads of wood are a number of Okinawan women who seemed to do most of the work, at least the work of carrying heavy loads on their heads (July 1945).

Full baskets atop these women's heads. No indication on the photo what the women were carrying (July 1945).

Okinawan cart driven by native man with boy riding on the back.

This native woman and her two children seen in these two photos were found hiding in a cave to avoid the war raging around them (June 1945).


You can read more about the Battle of Okinawa on Wikipedia, PBS.org, and History.com.
Other good sites for information on the Battle of Okinawa during 1945 include:
And for post-war Okinawa, this is a very good site with lots of pictures from 1945 through 1972: Remembering Okinawa

[Note: Be sure to visit my earlier blogs on the people of Okinawa, casualties of war, capture of a Japanese soldier, LDS servicemen and women in Okinawa, and Shuri Castle.]

Saturday, March 15, 2014

LDS Servicemen and Women in Okinawa 1945



Tenth Army Chapel used by several different religious groups including the Latter-day Saints group to which Lieutenant Reinhart T. Kowallis belonged.  Among the photos taken by Lieutenant Kowallis were a number of friends and acquaintances he met at church. He mentions some of these in his letters home to Norma.

On the 8th of July, R.T. wrote, "Today conference was held down at the 24th Corps, and it was realy an inspiring meeting. We had 287 present among which were five L.D.S. chaplains. I wanted to get a program to send you but they were all gone before they got back to me, but I can tell you what we had. After the sacrament was passed the quartette sang “See The Mighty Angle flying.” They were realy good to. Then Chaplain Smith spoke followed by Chaplain Jones. Then another number by the quartet, “My Prayer,” followed by a talk by Chaplain Widdeson. It had been a long time since I felt the spirit of God as it seemed to be present today. The meeting was held in the shadow of the historic Nakagusuku Castle of which I will write you more later when I develop the pictures I took of it."


Here are three of the five LDS chaplains: (left to right) Jones, Evens, and Widdeson.

On the 24th of July, Lt. Kowallis explained in his letter home that, "We only have about 300 yards to go to church so we can always get there. Every Sunday there are about 40 or more present. We have some very good meetings."

Reinhart had an old LDS buddy from his school days at the Utah State Agricultural College with him on Okinawa, Ray Hales. Although I have not been able to positively identify any photos of Ray taken in Okinawa, he is mentioned frequently in Reinhart's letters and below is a photo of him from the College yearbook.

Ray Hales of Spanish Fork, Utah in a photo from the The Buzzer (1938), the annual yearbook published by the student association at Utah State.

On the 29th of July Reinhart wrote this in a letter home, teasing Norma about some LDS nurses he had to pick up for church: "Ray got a call from one of the Chaplains this morning asking him to drop down to one of the hospitals and pick up a couple of nurses who want to come to church. Ray wasn’t allowed to go so he asked me to take his place. I just hate to do it you know, but it is my duty, and when duty calls I must. But I promise to sit way to the back of the jeep and I won’t even move because there will be two nurses sitting on top of me. But I still won’t look at them. I’ll just keep looking around them until I see the church. That way I can tell when I’ll have to let go of my hold on em. Anyhow, I’ll be thinking how I wish you was them cause there is only one of you so you couldn’t be nearly as heavy!"

LDS nurses: Lieutenants Spry, Richardson, and Hyatt. Spry and Richardson were from Salt Lake City, Utah according to the notes on the photo and Lt. Hyatt was married. Lt. Spry met another LDS serviceman at church named Brown who was an old friend from Salt Lake (they are shown below).

Here are a few other LDS servicemen in Lt. Kowallis' photo collection.

Brother Swensen in July 1945 on Okinawa.

Brother Childs in July 1945 on Okinawa.

LDS servicemen Swensen, Zenger, and Childs on Okinawa in July 1945.

Later in August of 1945 Reinhart wrote this in a letter home to Norma: "Chaplain Widison brought some negatives over to me yesterday to print up for him. He is sending pictures of the cemeteries to the parents and relatives of our boys who were killed out here. The least I can do is print them up for him." Below is one of the cemetery pictures with two graves in the foreground that are likely LDS servicemen. Their names are R. L. Dunn and D. E. Smith.

Lt. Kowallis did not just attend church, he was also asked on occasion to give lessons or lead discussions. He wrote Norma on 19th of August 1945 that, "Our meetings are growing each week. I think we had 79 out yesterday. But even so, out of all those people I have to give the lesson next Sunday. Now if only you had been here I am sure I could have swung it your way. It would be much easier for you to give it because just looking at you people would be satisfied without your saying a word."

 Lt. R.T. Kowallis having his photo taken with a small donkey on Okinawa in 1945.

You can read more about the Battle of Okinawa on Wikipedia, PBS.org, and History.com.
Other good sites for information on the Battle of Okinawa during 1945 include:
And for post-war Okinawa, this is a very good site with lots of pictures from 1945 through 1972: Remembering Okinawa

[Note: Be sure to visit my earlier blogs on the people of Okinawa, casualties of war, capture of a Japanese soldier, and Shuri Castle.]


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Okinawa 1945: Capture of a Japanese Soldier



There were only a few occasions when Lt. Reinhart T. Kowallis (seen above stirring the hot water for his laundry) was not occupied with his photo team, but actually got out into the hills of Okinawa. On the 9th of July 1945, he was leading a group of men in helping to locate and remove Japanese soldiers from some of the caves on the south end of the island. The Japanese soldiers in these caves were cut off from any central command and were unaware that the fight for the island was over. Lt. Kowallis recounts this day in his letter home to his wife Norma.

                                                                                Okinawa
                                                                                9 July 1945
Dearest Norma,
    What a contrast today has been from yesterday. Yesterday I went to conference, today I was down on the South tip of the island where the Japs still infest the country. We went down to check some Jap installations and caves. There were only five of us went down, but when we got down to the escarpment to be inspected we met a five man patrol out looking for Japs. They told us that the day before they had killed three within fifty yards of where we were standing. With us only five men it didn’t sound so good to be wandering around in the rocks by our selves, so we asked them to join us for a ways, which they did. We had not moved forward fifty yards until someone spotted a Jap ducking into a cave. We went up to where it was and one of the boys saw him duck out of sight. Twice after that some one saw his head come to the light and then disappear. We tried to get him to come out by calling to him, but he would not come so we threw a smoke grenade. The smoke came out of the ground in at least a dozen different places around us, but no Jap showed up. After the smoke cleared out a couple of the boys got down into the entrance of the cave, which was not very large, and shined their lights in. They could make out two Japs. One was lying under a blanket which had been set afire by the grenade. The other one we could only see his foot sticking out from behind a box. We didn’t know what they had in the way of weapons so no one would go in after them, which is a very unwise thing to do in any case. We kept talking to them although they couldn’t understand us. Finally I guess the smoke got too hot and heavy for the one under the blanket. We heard him coming and backed up so we could cover both entrances to the cave. He came on out very slow and cautious like, carrying a grenade in his right hand. We motioned for him to drop the grenade, which he did. As soon as he was in the clear, we cut off his clothing he had left on. He had no other weapon. He was pretty much afraid at first until one of the boys gave him a smoke. Then by means of sign language he told us there were still two more in the cave. We then got him to call to the others to come out with no results. When we tried to get him to go back in to get them, he would not, and again by means of signs gave us to understand they would kill him if he went back in. We kept trying for another half hour or so to get them to come out, but no soap. Then all at once out comes a grenade right through the entrance where we were standing. You never saw ten men take cover so fast in all your life as we did. At the same time the grenade went off outside, one went off inside. The Jap we had told us they had blown themselves up. We went down into the entrance once more, and could still hear someone moving, so we threw in three grenades. Our prisoner told us that in the cave to the right of us ten more Japs were hiding, and in a cave just a little to the left were five more. One of them he said was a captain, and he thot they had two machine guns. He also said in the cave he had come out of were about 200 rifles. We thot we had better get out of there while the getting was good, so we loaded our prisoner in the back of the Jeep and took off for camp. He was very cooperative all during this time, especially after he found out we weren’t going to hurt him. On the way up the coast his eyes almost popped out when he saw all the trucks, ships, & other equipment. We gave him a candy bar to eat on the way and he downed it in about two gulps. He had been making signs to tell us he was hungry and I guess he was, in spite of the fact that he was in excellent physical condition. We brought him right up to the G-2 section so the boys couldn’t help but believe our story, then we turned him over to the MPs. He was very grateful for what we had done, and when we left him, he gave us a big smile and sort of half saluted.
    I guess this story should do for tonight, but don’t go worrying because I’ll be as careful as I can. I don’t go on the trips for enjoyment but because I have to.
                                                                            All my love to you,
                                                                            Reinhart


Here are the photos of the caves and of the Japanese soldier they captured.

 One of the team trying to talk to the Japanese soldiers in the cave.


One soldier emerges from the cave.

The soldier is stripped and searched for weapons.

 Then he is offered a cigarette.

After the other soldiers inside the cave blow themselves up, the team marches back to their jeep with prisoner in tow. I wonder who this young Japanese soldier was and if he lived to have a family and children of his own. I hope so.



You can read more about the Battle of Okinawa on Wikipedia, PBS.org, and History.com.
Other good sites for information on the Battle of Okinawa during 1945 include:
And for post-war Okinawa, this is a very good site with lots of pictures from 1945 through 1972: Remembering Okinawa

[Note: Be sure to visit my earlier blogs on the people of Okinawa, casualties of war, and Shuri Castle.]