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Tuesday, March 07, 2017


Steve Cole¹s thoughts on a very personal connection to military history.
Germany surrendered in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe. The US Army knew it had another war to fight (in Japan) and that it needed to transfer a dozen or two of the divisions from Europe to the Pacific theater. They divided the divisions in Europe into three groups: those needed for the occupation (and to keep an eye on the Russians, British, and French), those being sent to the Pacific (mostly infantry divisions, including the 45th Infantry Division), and those not needed for either mission (including my father¹s division, the 14th Armored).
The problem was that every division in Europe was 10% to 30% under-strength because the US Army had run out of manpower. The third group became the replacement pool to bring the second group up to full strength. Thus my father and 2,000 others from the 14th Armored Division were transferred to the 45th Infantry Division and sent to coastal ports to board ships and head for the invasion of Japan. Casualties were expected to be very high, and my father had been transferred from a safe headquarters job to the infantry, which would take most of the casualties.
 Just days before the 45th Infantry Division boarded their ships, the Japanese surrendered. The war being over, the Army came up with a "point system" to decide who got to go home first. You got points for time in combat and special situations (paratroopers, wounded, former prisoners of war). My father was way down the list and would probably have been transferred to a division staying on occupation duty and remain in Europe for another year or two. But because the 45th Infantry Division was literally sitting right next to their troop transports, some Army staff type had a sudden and rare flash of logic and decided that the 45th Division might as well just get on the boats and go home. So, dear old dad got to go home, get out of the Army, and go to college faster than he should have, which made his future bride happy. (The two literally lived across the street from each other.)
 Even better, Dad didn¹t get killed in Japan. (Mother had just become an Army nurse and was also scheduled to go to the invasion of Japan. The Army just tore up her paperwork and told her to go home.)
But for the sudden end of the War with Japan, I very likely would not have been born, and Star Fleet Battles would never have existed.