Thursday, March 29, 2018

WW2 USMC Driver's License, Marine Corps Assault Battalion, Yokosuka Japan, Occupied Japan 1946, E.E. Hoermam Pfc., Pacific Theater of Operations

Today we'll be looking at a small historical artifact that comes to us from the "cross roads of history", the transition from WW2 to the Post-War era.  

This little piece of paper once belonged to a USMC Private First Class (Pfc.) who served in the 6th Marine Division, USMC Assault Battalion.  This bit of paper is a USMC driver's license issued in Yokosuka, Japan, in January,1946, just months after the surrender of Imperial Japan.

These Marines, serving with the USMC Assault Battalion, were some of the first US soldiers to set foot in mainland Japan and start the occupation, after the surrender, and end of the War in the Pacific.

You can read more about this chapter of history here (and download the .pdf publication as well):

This driver's license is a real time capsule of information.  The issue date was January 16th, 1946.  It was issued to the US Marine E.E. Hoermam Pfc., in the newly Occupied Japanese Military Base of Yokosuka, Japan.

The license permits our marine to drive all vehicles from "jeep to 10 ton crane", basically all USMC vehicles that would be operating in the area.  I am guessing that this marine was going to be in Japan for quite awhile, or this license would not have been so carefully filled out and issued.

The issuing officer's signature is on the card, with his tittle abbreviation below it. M.T.O, or Marine Transportation Officer.

I wish I knew Pfc. Hoermam's story, but at least this little bit of his history still survives to give us a hint of his time in japan.

Here is the album of this wonderful bit of WW2 history, and the ending of the War in the Pacific.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

First Aid Packet, US Army, Pre-WW1, August 21, 1910, Fort Flagler, Washington

While I was out visiting a very dear relative the other day, I was gifted a very unique bit of Pacific Northwest military history.

At first sight, this bit of old, corroded brass, is nothing but a bit of scrap.  However, on closer inspection, its true nature is revealed.  This is the lid from an original "First Aid Packet, US Army" dating to the pre-WW1 era.

This lid was picked up on the beach below the old Fort Flagler, on Maristone Island, in Washington State.  It was found on a beach walk, quite a number of years ago, in the same condition that I received it in.

Fort Flagler is currently one of three forts that are now Washington State Parks, located on Admiralty Inlet, at the entrance to Puget Sound. 

Fort Flagler was activated in 1899, and up until the start of WW1, it was a very active US Army Coastal Artillery Fort.   At the outbreak of WW1, most of the bigger guns were removed and sent to the Western Front in France.  After the war, it never regained its larger guns.  In fact, after WW1, the fort was only manned by a "caretaker detachment" and many of the barracks building were torn down.  During WW2, it was home to antiaircraft batteries, observation posts, and some smaller guns.  It was finally decommissioned in 1953 and transferred to to Washington State ownership.  It is currently a very popular state park with a beautiful natural forest, beaches, and what is left of the old gun emplacements and buildings.

All of this brings us back to the old, metal lid that we are here to look at today.  
In 1904, the US Army developed a small first aid packet for issue to each individual soldier.  In 1906, they started issuing them out to the troops.  Originally a small canvas case was issued that was carried on the web belt, to carry the First Aid Packet.

These little first aid kits contained two sterile bandages and two safety pins.  The case was made from two halves of brass that were bonded together.  A metal D-ring on a pull tab was located on the bottom of the case.  To open it up, the D-ring was pulled and a strip was peeled loose around the two halves, allowing them to open up.  After use, the two halves were meant to be discarded.  

You can still see where the D-ring was originally attached on this lid.  The tab is there, but the ring is missing.

These First Aid Packet, US Army kits were in use until the Army developed an improved version in 1940.  This improved version was also housed in metal, and carried in a similar belt pouch.  The new version was called the "First Aid Packet, US Government Carlisle Model".

My little lid comes from the early days of the original kits and from the active, Golden Age, of Fort Flagler.  It is dated August 21, 1910.

Unfortunately we will never know how this little lid came  to rest on the beach below Fort Flagler.  For now it will be preserved in "The Bunker"

Let's take a closer look at this lid.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865 Medal, DUVCW Membership Medal, 1940's - 1950's

After my last post of my newest medal, the G.A.R. membership medal, I felt inspired to dig out another old "veteran" medal that I've had tucked away in the bunker.

This medal is a membership medal from the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.  This is a civic, and patriotic organization of women who are all directly descended from a Union Civil War veteran.

My particular medal most likely dates to the early post-WW2 era, based on the older, copper colored bronze used in the medal and top hanger.  I picked this up at a yard sale, years ago, so I don't know much about it.

The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865 was formed on June 3, 1885.  The organization was originally called The National Alliance of Daughters of Veterans of the United States of America.  It was officially endorsed by the G.A.R (see my previous blog post) in 1900. 
gar-membership-medal-us-civil-war Blog Post

The organization changed its name to "Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865" in 1944. In 1985 they were granted a Federal Charter by public law.

Here is a link to the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865 website, where you can learn more about them.

Basically the D.U.V.C.W. has the mission of preserving history, Civil War Battlefields, participating in the celebration of national holidays, preserving patriotism, granting scholarships and maintaining a free Civil War Museum.  

Here is a comparison photo of my D.U.V.C.W. medal up against a US $2.00 bill to give a good idea of the size.  The medal is a bit on the small size as medal go, but is very nicely detailed.

The "FCL", on the top hanger stands for "Fraternity, Charity, Loyalty".

Now let's take a look at the album.  


Monday, March 19, 2018

G.A.R. Membership Medal, US Civil War Grand Army of the Republic, Union Army Veteran Samuel Rouse, GAR, Type V 1891 - 1892

Today we'll be taking a look at the newest medal that I have added to the collection. 

This last weekend I picked up a beautiful G.A.R. Membership Medal from the original veteran's great great granddaughter.  It is not often that I have the chance to put a name to an artifact this old, but in this case luck was with me!

This medal belonged to a US Civil War, Union Army veteran named Samuel Rouse.  I don't know anything else about his service in the Civil War, so that bit of research will continue.

The Grand Army Of The Republic, also known as the G.A.R., was founded in 1866, immediately following the Civil War.  It wasn't really a "force to be reckoned with" until it was reorganized in the 1880's.  During, and shortly after, the US Civil War, the US Government had promised pensions for the Union Soldiers who had fought for so many years.  When the war was over, the government realized that what they had promised was going to be tough to deliver and the stalling began.  The G.A.R. stepped up and became a powerful, organized advocate for veterans, and the pensions started rolling in.  The membership started growing as well.   

In the late 1880's, when the G.A.R. reorganized, the G.A.R. Veteran's Membership Medal was born.

 The G.A.R. remained active until 1956, when the last Member passed away.  In 1954, the US Congress chartered the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War as the successor organization.  The "Sons" are still active today.

Here is a wonderful history if the G.A.R. on the "Son's" website: 

In the 1880's, the G.A.R. designed a medal that was to be required for all members to purchase and wear.  If these old medals look a bit familiar, it is because they bear more than a slight resemblance to the original US Army Congressional Medal of Honor!  In fact The G.A.R. medal used the same star,  and a slightly rearranged Eagle and Crossed Cannons hanger.........they even chose a ribbon that was nearly identical! 

This medal caused quite a bit of controversy with the military and instead of designing a new medal, they simply changed the color of the ribbon on the later versions of the US Congressional Medal of Honor.  Here is an interesting comparison between a Civil War Medal of Honor and a G.A.R. medal of the time. The G.A.R. medal is on the right.

Photo form Gettysburg National Park Collection
 After the G.A.R. was reorganized, and the new membership medal was designed and required, the new members started purchasing them.  Each member was required to purchase their medal from the official quartermaster.  To prove that the medals were authentic and properly obtained, a small serial number was stamped on every official medal.  The first was letter that corresponded to the G.A.R. Commander of the year, and the next digits were a sequential number.  Unfortunately, there were no records kept on which veteran purchased which medal.  During membership inspections, each veteran's medal was checked to see that had a proper serial number.  If it was missing, I understand the vet was drummed out of the unit!

The serial number on my medal is P3249.  

The original veteran-owner of my medal was Samuel Rouse.  His granddaughter said that she believed that Samuel purchased this particular medal in the 1920's.  A quick check of the list of G.A.R. Commanders showed that in 1921-1922, the Commander was Lewis Stephen Pilcher.  So, the "P" in the number and the granddaughter's story line up.  However........ second hand information can often send a researcher in the wrong direction!  As you will read int he update below, my first deduction was wrong......

Update 8-13-19:
I was contacted by a fellow collector and advised that the GAR medal I have is actually,  a "Type V 1891, Commander in Chief John Palmer" version of the medal.  The medal was dated to that time period, based on the style of star and eagle depicted on the medal.  It is also matches up with the "P" in the serial number.  The commander in 1891 was John Palmer.  Another match.  Palmer was the GAR commander for 1891 to 1892.  So it would seem that our veteran, Samuel Rouse, actually received his medal back in 1891 or 1892.

A check of Union Civil War Soldier's Roster, shows that there were 7 soldiers named Samuel Rouse, who served in various infantry units and a Sr. and Jr. that served in a home guard unit.  With a little bit more information, I should be able to figure out our veteran's Civil War history.

I have had an old photo of a Civil War G.A.R. veteran in my collection for over 30 years.  I believe it was taken in the teens or 1920's.  It fits the time frame for my medal, so I will be displaying them together.   Unfortunately I have no information on the veteran in the photograph.

Various GAR encampment medals with a G.A.R. Officer medal on the left.

So with all of that said, let's take a closer look ant this amazing medal.