Saturday, November 25, 2017

An Alabama Family in World War II, Part 35

A Battle at Palermo, an Induction in Georgia and a Troop Train in Alabama - July 1943 
by Glenn N. Holliman

 By the summer of 1943 three of the four sons of Ulyss and Pearl Caine Holliman of Irondale, Alabama – Melton, Bishop and Ralph - were in military service, along with their daughter Virginia’s husband, Walter Cornelius.  Son Euhal, soon the father of four children, was deferred due to his large family responsibilities. 


 Left, in 1927, 2300 3rd Avenue, N. in Irondale, Alabama, Pearl Caine Holliman holds Ralph, her youngest child, flanked by Bishop and Virginia. Virignia's husband, Walter Cornelius, would serve in the Pacific during World War II, Bishop in the Navy in the Mediterranean and Ralph in France.

Bishop, b. 1919, my father, was on the USS Butler in Sicily July 1943.  After shelling the Herman Goring Panzer Division at Gela, Sicily and saving the 1st Infantry Division from annihilation, the Butler and other ships left Sicily and refueled and restocked in Algiers.  Shortly thereafter, Dad’s ship and other destroyers were directed to Palermo, the capital of Sicily.  The city had fallen to U.S. troops, and the Navy was to lend fire support along the coast.

A Sunday in July, 2 a.m. the German Air Force paid a visit, dropped flares over the harbor and then their high explosive bombs.  Bishop, a radioman, age 23, was at his battle station, the radio shack exposed on the aft of the 1,000-ton destroyer.  There he experienced the intensity of the air raid.  He wrote later:


“The ship immediately got under way and headed out of the harbor.  And the bombs started falling all around us.  We could not shoot back because we couldn’t see them.  We fellows in the shack didn’t know what was going on outside.  We could hear the bombs falling and feel the ship shake.  At times like that it is hard to sit there at a typewriter. Everyone remained calm though. However, I did not have to exert any pressure on my fingers. I just held them over my typewriter keys, and my hands shook so furiously that they pushed the keys down.  We sat there for 30 or 40 minutes wondering if they would get us….the raid lasted almost two hours.  Finally, our fighters arrived and shot down 4 or 5 planes.”

Two days later, the Luftwaffe returned, dropped more bombs and sank an adjacent ship to the Butler.  The ship escaped damaged, and later the destroyer picked up a downed German flyer who had been drifting for four days in the Mediterranean.   Finally, Bishop’s destroyer was released from duty, sailed to Oran, picked up a convoy and sailed home, arriving in late August 1943 in New York City.

While sailing home, Bishop typed up a 12-page letter about the events in Sicily, and as it was against regulations at that time to publish stories about the invasion, he went ashore in New York and posted the article to his niece Mary Daly in Irondale, Alabama.  A copy of this manuscript survives in the family to this day.


Left, one of the faded pages of Bishop's manuscript.

The military forces of the United States continued to expand in 1943, and older men with dependents were drafted to fly the airplanes and drive the tanks and ships coming off American assembly lines in greater and greater numbers. 

The oldest son of Ulyss and Pearl Caine Holliman, Melton, b. 1908, married and now with a child, Patti, was drafted August 4th into the U.S. Army at Mobile, Alabama and shipped by train to Atlanta, Ft. McPherson, Georgia, the reception station.  He wrote his first letter home on August 5th that the group of men he was with looked older than he (!) and all were married with children.


Melton, a pharmaceutical salesman in civilian life, was assigned to a medical training company 1,200 miles from Birmingham, as he wrote in ‘a God forsaken place’, Camp Barkley, Texas.  The letters home to his wife Ida, and newly adopted daughter, captured the home sickness and difficult adjustment to the regimen required of Army life.  My Uncle Melton’s sacrifices were only beginning that summer of 1943. 



Right, Melton in uniform in Texas, 1943

Ralph, who had been inducted in April of 1943 into the Army was shipped by train from basic training in Florida to Colorado in July 1943.  His train passed through Irondale and stopped in Birmingham.  For two hours Ralph nor any other soldier could leave the train to even make a telephone call.  Later his Mother, desperately worried about her three sons in the military, wrote these anguished words.  

“They moved him (Ralph) to Denver, Colorado. He came through Irondale and his train stayed in town for over two hours and we didn’t know it. He could not call.  I could hardly stand it.”

Left in 1952, Ralph with his two children, Pam and Kathy.  

The story of the sealed train has resonated in the extended Holliman family for generations, reflecting the worries of loved ones in those anxious years.



Next, more on the War that changed the lives of a close-knit Alabama family.



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

An Alabama Family in World War II, Part 34

by Glenn N. Holliman

Invasion Day at Gela Beach, Sicily - 10 July 1943

It was the greatest invasion fleet in world history - greater even than D-Day 1944.  More than 3,000 allied ships and boat of all sizes carried or escorted seven divisions of British and American troops.  These men stormed the beaches of Sicily and seized the first bit of European territory from Italian and German fascism.  

One of those ships, the USS Butler, a 1942 destroyer carrying submarine depth charges, torpedoes, 5 inch guns, and over 200 young sailors, one being my father, Bishop Holliman, provided anti-submarine and anti-aircraft protection for this massive fleet. The deck guns would be called upon to shell Herman Goring's crack German Division at Gela Beach. 

The Butler to the right.



For my father, and hundreds of thousands of others, it was a baptism of fire and fear. Here are more of his words written in August 1943 and mailed surreptitiously to avoid censorship to his niece, Mary Daly (Herrin) in Irondale, Alabama.  Caught up in describing those days in July 1943, he moves back and forth from past to present tense.  I have done some minor editing for clarification.


For historical background, I am using Rick Atkinson's excellent work, The Day of Battle, the War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944.  When appropriate, I add notes from this work in red amplifying my father's narrative.

H. Bishop Holliman, b 1919, writes:

"Arriving there (Bizerte), there seemed to be hundreds of ships - all kinds-transports, landing barges, British, American, etc. There were several sunken ships at the harbor entrance. There was hardly a building in the city that had not been damaged or totally destroyed. The city looked like a cyclone had swept through. Moreover there were many farm houses which seemed to escaped the bombs.  It was terribly hot (t)here."



Bizerte had been evacuated by the Germans in May 1943, but not before scuttling a dozen ships at the narrow neck of the Bizerti bay.  Navy divers had worked feverishly to clear the channel. What my father saw was 'a solid forest of masts, and many species of amphibious vessels ready to transport the 1st and 3rd Infantry Divisions to Sicily.

"On Monday night (5 July 1943) we fueled up from a tanker in the harbor and tied up there for the rest of the night.  All of us remarked how dangerous it would be to have an air raid while we were tied up there.  I went on watch at 2 a.m. the next morning (6 July 1943) and as fate would have it at 3:30 a.m. the Germans came over.  The shore batteries and guns of other ships started firing before we did. Simply because the officer on watch thought 'It was target practice', my job, during battle is the same as the other work I do, copying code. So I have to sit there at the  typewriter typing away as if nothing were happening.  There are about six others so we are able to relived each other from time to time.  The raid lasted about an hour.  But no bombs fell close to me.  There were hits on other ships.  Two fellows were killed on one, and a destroyer was hit. We not able to tell how many of the planes were shot down."

Atkinson writes "Luftwaffe raiders sometimes sneaked across the Sicilian Strait before dawn...alarms wailed, smoke generators churned out a thick gray blanket to hide the ships, and searchlight batteries impaled the planes on their beams as hundreds of antiaircraft guns threw up fountains of fire...."

"On Thursday morning (8 July 1943) we left for Sicily where the captain had told us the afternoon before we were to take. On Friday he gave out all the information - how many ships, time and place of the attack, who the leaders were, etc.

He also said he expected to fight the ship to the very last.  There would be no giving up or thoughts of abandoning ship!

Friday noon and night (9 July 1943) we were fed as much as we could eat, such as it was. There was very little concern or unnecessary excitement.  There were many ships in view, arranged in convoy units.

Early Friday afternoon the sea began to get rough, and I was off watch so I lay down part of the time. But the sea got rougher.  There were no clouds for rain, but the wind blew strong. Believe it or not this was the only rough weather we had encountered up to that time.  By supper time the ship was rolling and almost impossible to eat.  I went on watch at 5 pm and I got sick, and I mean sick.  There were many others in the same fix.  It was not a comforting thought to be going into battle so sick you could not raise a finger to protect yourself and furthermore you don't care."

Atkinson writes that a polar cold front briefly collided with a secondary cold wave over the Mediterranean hemmed in by a low mass of air over Yugoslavia.  The results were 37 knot winds and very heavy seas for over 12 hours.  The troops and sailors suffered mightily from the storm.  US Naval Vice Admiral Henry K. Hewitt on the flagship Monrovia even considered calling off the invasion during the height of the storm, but trusting his meteorologist continued on.  The storm abated around 2 a.m. on 10 July 1943, Invasion Day.

"My watch was over at 9:30 pm and we were scheduled to take our battle stations at 11 p.m. zero hour being 2:45 a.m. (Saturday, (10 July 1943) so I lay down on the deck in the radio shack where my station is and tried to sleep until then.  I blew up my life jacket and used it for a pillow.

I woke up a little before 11 and the captain was talking over the loud speaker.  We were approaching our place of rendezvous (that's the place where all the ships were to assemble, Vena). The captain was telling us of what he expected and the usual line of talk, also he read a few verses from the Bible, some religious poems and prayed the Lord's Prayer.  He had wanted to have a religious service that night, he said, but was impossible due to the rough sea."

Vena was Bishop's oldest sister, married to Robert W. Daly, Sr. and mother of Mary Daly Herrin and Robert W. Daly, Jr.  The rendezvous of hundreds of ships, sixty miles long and a mile wide,  took place just east of Malta before turning toward Sicily during the night.

The captain was Lt. Commander Michell Dudley Matthews (1903-1985) who retired in 1957 as a Rear Admiral.  It was a young man's war with many ships and too few trained officers.

"The rest of the night some of us would lie down on the deck and snooze while others would copy and then exchange.  The sea had become much smoother around 2 a.m. but I think the invasion was held up about an hour. There was very little action until 3 or 4 a.m. An officer from the deck describes what is going (on) through the loud speaker.  Otherwise the men below deck would not have any idea what is going on.

After the troop ships unloaded and landed, there was considerable firing on the beach. Many fires but no opposition to speak of. This is at Gela, Sicily where the American troops landed." 

Below, the US 7th Army landings under General George Patton at Gela Beaches.  The 1st Infantry landed on the middle beach on 10 July 1943 and overcame some Italian resistance. The next day and the arrival of German tanks would be another story.



Unloading the ships began at 3:30 a.m. at Gela with confusion and courage.  There was more opposition at Gela than my father, with his limited view at the time, knew. Mines were the major danger and some shore guns. The 1st Infantry secured the beach but with casualties. The Italian defenders soon were overcome.  The real test was on 11 July 1943 when German tanks moved on the beach head.

"No one was frightened and it seemed just like a drill. Our ship's job was to act as part of anti-submarine patrol. However, we got word we could expect an attack at dawn. Over thirty planes were supposed to be coming. At dawn everyone was tired and worn out.  Until the tension slacks off you do not realize the strain you have been under.  All we had for breakfast was orange juice and two boiled eggs.

All day Saturday I was at watch or at General Quarters (Battle Stations). There was firing from the beach and firing from some of the ships.  There was so much going on I was never able to remember just what all was taking place.  The only thing I remember doing that day was eating breakfast.

Early Saturday morning the captain announced the (censored)  had been sunk with only 69 survivors.  He seemed pretty shaken up about it and it made us all realize there had been more danger than we had suspected.  At that time no one knew what had sunk her."

                  

The unfortunate ship was the USS Maddox, serving as a destroyer screen as was the USS Butler for German U-boats.  One German airplane dropped two bombs and within a few minutes the ship sank dragging down 212 men. A tug rescued only 74 survivors.

There were personal reasons for the young captain Matthews of the Butler to be upset.  Above left, the photograph taken from the USS Thorn (647) shows in the background the Butler  (636) right moored in Brooklyn harbor next to the USS Maddox (622), left in the fall of 1942.  The two captains would have known each other.  The Maddox captain went down with the ship. Above right, the USS Maddox on sea trials.


The Battle for Sicily against 300,000 Italians and a very determined two German divisions would continue until late August, and the USS Butler would face more enemy fire....to be continued.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Gathering at Mary Daly Herrin's Home

by Glenn N. Holliman

Several weeks ago, my father, Bishop Holliman, b. December 17, 1919, in Irondale, Alabama, returned to his childhood home to visit his niece, Mary Daly Herrin.  Dad now lives in Avilla, Indiana, just north of Fort Wayne.  That is the childhood home of his wife, Ellen Parks Cox Holliman. They have been married for sixteen years.

While I posted photographs that Mary's son David had emailed me, David's sister, Linda Herrin Bradley sent several more.  Taken together, these deserve a more permanent place on this blog.

On the left, right to left, Ellen, Bishop, Patti Holliman Hairston and Linda Herrin Bradley. 

Patti is the daughter of Melton (1908-1958) and Ida Hughes Holliman (1905-1995) and Linda, the daughter of  E.C. (1930-2015) and Mary Daly Herrin. Mary is far right in the right picture.


Patti and Mary are first cousins, both with numerous grandchildren. Mary, a matriarch of the extended family, is the daughter of Robert W. and Vena Holliman Daly. She is the first born grandchild of Ulyss (1884-1965) and Pearl Caine Holliman (1888-1955). Ulyss and Pearl were born in Fayette County, Alabama, married there in 1906, farmed and around 1917 moved to Irondale, Alabama.

Irondale was a growing suburb of Birmingham, a city then exploding in population due to its steel industry and World War I. Ulyss, who had wood working experience, went to work for the Birmingham Electric Company which ran the street car lines.  The trolleys were then wood frame with wooden benches.  In 1921, a large family house was constructed at 2300 3rd Avenue North in Irondale sans painting and running water. There tw0 children were born and seven grew to adulthood.  This writer in 1946 spent the first two weeks of his life in the house with Grandmother Holliman teaching my mother, Geraldine Stansbery Holliman Feick (1923-2015) how to be take care of a wiggly, loud infant.

The day before the above pictures were taken, Ralph Holliman (b 1924) and his wife, Laura, living in Gulf Shores, Alabama drove up to Birmingham for the reunion.  Bishop and Ralph are pictured below.  The ladies left to right are Ellen, Bishop's wife, Mary and Laura Mills Holliman, Ralph's wife.



In the picture below, Mary's two sons - David (b 1964), left, and Clayton Herrin (b 1953), far right, join their great uncles in group pose.

Bishop and Ralph are the two surviving children of Ulyss and Pearl who had seven children between 1908 and 1924.  The children who have passed away are Melton, Vena (1909-1990), Euhal (1912-1989), Loudelle (1914-1998) and Virginia (1922-2011).

Writers have called the generation of these seven children 'The Greatest Generation' because they survived the Great Depression, fought World War II and helped build the largest economy in the world.  To all my aunts and uncles, I tip my hat and thank them for raising the 18 grandchildren of Ulyss and Pearl!

Monday, October 31, 2016

An Alabama Family during WW II, Part 33


by Glenn N. Holliman

My Father, Bishop Holliman, a young sailor from Irondale, Alabama, wrote a long document in August 1943 detailing his experiences in the Allied invasion of Sicily the previous month.  So fresh were his memories that he moves his writing back and forth from present to past tense.

Moving to the Front

June 1943, the USS Butler, a one year old destroyer crewed by freshmen sailors, joined a convoy of transports and warships in Hampton Roads, Virginia and crossed the Atlantic on a course to the Mediterranean.  The objective was to invade Italy's island of Sicily, a stepping stone to Adolph Hitler's Fortress Europe.  Under dictator Bineto Mussolini, Italy had allied itself with Nazi Germany, part of the famed Pact of Steel, the Axis of Germany, Italy and Japan.

Upper right, the port of Oran in 1943.  U.S. and British troops on November 8, 1942 invaded North Africa to engage Vichy French, Italian and German forces.  In May 1943 in Tunisia the last Axis forces surrendered to the British, USA and Free French.  North Africa, cleared of German power, became the staging point for the attack on Italy and additional German divisions.  Just like the USS Butler, the US Army and Navy were 'new', filled largely with troops and sailors who were serving in combat for the first time and commanders who were learning how to command massive numbers of men, war assets and supplies.  

Fresh from radio code school in Maine, Bishop Holliman's first war cruise was also his first trip across the Atlantic.  And it was a voyage into combat.  Below are his words from a letter he wrote in August 1943 after arriving back in the States.

"On June 22, we entered the Med. and saw land for the first time in two weeks. My greatest desire was to get a view of the Rock of Gibraltar, but unfortunately I was asleep or on watch when we went by.  However, we could get a view of the Spanish and African coasts.  We arrived in Oran (Algeria)...our stopover...for the purpose of refueling.  There was plenty of evidence of the USA there - army jeeps, guns, ships, etc." 

Below, a map of the western Mediterranean Sea during Operation Torch.  On November 8, 1942, USA and British forces invaded Morocco and Algeria, at that time French colonies.  Oran was taken by the American First Infantry Division which took casualties before subduing French forces who believed they were defending against hostile invaders. Oran became an important port for the clearing of North Africa in the winter and spring 1943 and the invasion of Sicily in July 1943.




"We proceeded on to Algiers, 24  hours away.  Upon arrival...we did not go into port immediately but spent another 24 hours on maneuvers with landing barges and other craft.  We knew then the time and place were drawing near.


The harbor was filled with Allied ships of all kinds.  It seems impossible that the Italians or Germans did not expect an invasion of some kind.  There was no reason whey they could not find out about the equipment and ships at these Med. ports.   

The first to do at Algiers was to get the mail off-and that we did-my first card had been mailed back at Oran.  We also had church services in the mess hall-on the way over too-conducted by one of the officers.


A couple of days after arriving, liberty was granted.  I went ashore on Sunday afternoon- the Sunday before the Fourth. There were many modern buildings in the city but most of the places were filthy and unattractive.  There was no place to buy any refreshments or food. The place was filled with army trucks, jeeps, cars and there were thousands of soldiers and sailors from every allied country including native Africans and Free French.
The only place Americans could go was to the Red Cross building where they were able to get ice cream at certain hours, and which wasn't any good. and something they called sandwiches.  They also have movies there, but the place is so crowded we can hardly move about.  It is the only place for the boys to go.  It is pitiful to see the boys walking around with nothing to do. 

I talked to one soldier from Iowa, who had been over there since November.  He said the mail was about the only thing they had to look forward to.  However, he seemed to be pretty well satisfied and not going hungry.  Probably getting better food than we were on the ship.  I told one fellow I had not tasted a Coca Cola in over a month.  He said he had not had one in a year.  So it isn't the service men who are getting all the drinks.

Up until about the 7th of July we did patrol work around the Algiers' area.  Each day we hoped that would be the day to get started to wherever we were to go.  During our stay here there were rumors to the effect that there had been air raids, but were not concerned. All this time weather was very hot in the day and cool at night.  In the crew quarters though it was always too hot to sleep."

Right, Algiers during a 1943 air raid.


"On Sunday afternoon, we left Algiers to move 'closer' to the front so the captain said...to Bizerte"...to be continued.


Monday, October 3, 2016

The Invasion of Sicily - An Alabama Family at War - Part 32

A Son under Fire!
by Glenn N. Holliman

By the summer of 1943, three sons and a son-in-law of Ulyss and Pearl Caine Holliman of Irondale, Alabama were in uniform serving in World War II.  One son went into battle that July, H. Bishop Holliman, a radioman on the USS Butler, a destroyer escorting transports and warships during the Allied invasion of the island of Sicily.  The ship's guns supported the American infantry facing the German crack Herman Goring Division.  Later in the battle the Butler fired on German bombers that attacked the ship.

By May 1943, Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery had pinned Nazi and Italian forces in a vice in Tunisia forcing the surrender of almost 250,000 troops.  The Americans and British now turned their energies on the island of Sicily, a part of Italy as their entry into Occupied Europe.  


Sicily is in red below, a triangle shaped island 
seemingly about to be kicked by the Italian boot.



Bishop Holliman, fresh from radio school, crossed the Atlantic for the first time and found himself part of the greatest invasion yet in world history, the taking of Sicily by Eisenhower's forces.  Upon returning to the States, unharmed in August 1943, he typed an 11 page synopsis of the engagement and mailed it to his niece, Mary Daly Herrin. I am quoting liberally from that document which can be found at www.bholliman.com. Click on the Records page and insert and click Sicily in the Search box.


Right 1943, Mary Daly Herrin and her Uncle Walter Cornelius in Army uniform at her home in Irondale, 2300 block of 3rd Avenue North.  Walter had married Virginia Holliman in 1942.

Below is page one of his transcript, typed on Navy time and paper. While faint of ink now, he writes of returning to the ship in Norfolk, and being advised to send home his 'blues' and other non-essential items.  The ship dispersed to the Chesapeake Bay and waited for several days for escort duty.  All liberty was cancelled and rumors flew fast.



"We pulled out on Tuesday June 8th, and the group were about 25 freighters, troops, etc, 15 destroyers and 3 cruisers. While in the Atlantic the captain announced this was a 'high speed' convoy.

All the way over there were lectures on what to do if captured by the enemy, etc. what to say.  And also information on injuries, how to protect yourself from certain woulds, First Aid Stations on the ship, etc. The expectation of seeing action kept the time from being dull."

 

Above Bishop home at 2300 3rd Avenue North, Irondale, Alabama after the war. With a new bride and the G.I. Bill, he returned to his interruped education at Birmingham-Southern College.

Below is a three day watch schedule as lived by Bishop in 1943 in which he writes this was one of the easier schedules on the ship!  He was earning his $77 a month!


Below the USS Butler at sea.  The ship was commissioned at Philadelphia in 1942 and quickly decommissioned after hostilities in 1946.  The ship was broken up for scrap by 1948 after dodging bombs in both the Mediterranean and Pacific. War is expensive and wasteful.



Next posting arriving in the Mediterranean, shore leave and then the invasion.

Monday, September 12, 2016

How a World War Changed an Alabama Family, Part 31

by Glenn N. Holliman

The War Continues to Disrupt the Lives of an Alabama Family....

In the summer of 1943, the Holliman family of Irondale, Alabama became fully engaged in World War II as three sons and a son-in-law were in military service.  Ralph, b 1924, left his young new wife, Motie, and did his basic training in Miami, Florida.  In mid-summer he was transferred by troop train to Camp Buckley, Colorado.  There he learned to be an Air Corp clerk, later to serve in France.



Right, decades later Ralph, Motie Chism Holliman (1925-2003) and Virginia Holliman Cornelius (1922-2011). Virginia's husband, Walter, went to the Army that spring of 1943 also.

Ralph's despondent mother, Pearl Caine Holliman (1888-1955) wrote her sailor son, Bishop Holliman, b 1919 - "They moved him (Ralph) to Denver. He came through Irondale and his train stayed in our town for over two hours and we did not know it. He could not call; I could hardly stand it."



From his new posting in the West, Ralph wrote July 2, 1943 to his brother-in-law Robert W. Daly, Sr. (1901-1959): "You meet any kind of person here, and I would not take anything for the friends I have made in the Army.  Most of the fellows are in the same boat. They all left their homes (believing) that something was to be done and the sooner that was over, the sooner we would get back to our homes. I think I was lucky to get into the Air Force and into clerical school.  The school is seven weeks."


Ralph had received a  letter from his brother, Euhal Holliman (1912-1989) in Gadsden, Alabama.  "It was signed from the five of us.  He said he had been working hard. I hope he doesn't have to go."  

Left, Euhal in 1982 fishing 
in Alaska.  He and wife, Edna Westbrook Holliman, had six children of whom, Terry and Jerry, the twins, would make their homes in Alaska.

In the summer of 1943, Euhal was 31 years old and supporting three children - Terry, Jerry and Anne Holliman Phillips. A fourth child, Jean, was born in 1944. Fortunately for his family's sake, Euhal, who perhaps had a physical injury, was never called.

Below, the summer of 1943, front row left to right - Charles H. Ferrell, Patti Holliman Hairston and John Ferrell.  Back row left to right - Carolyn Ferrell Tatum, Mary Daly Herrin and unknown.




Loudelle Holliman Ferrell (1914-1998), sister to her siblings and the wife of Dr. Charles Ferrell, Methodist minister in Jacksonville, Alabama, wrote to announce her Victory Garden already had produced beans and beets.  She also reported the apprehension by the police of an Army deserter, missing for four months, who had taken shelter under their church.  



My grandmother, Pearl, wrote of her great distress when her oldest son Melton, (1908-1958), age 35, was drafted into the Army.  He was ordered to report to Ft. McClellan,
Alabama for his physical in July 1943.  He passed the examination and at age 35, he prepared to leave his lucrative career as a pharmaceutical salesman, his young child and wife and do his duty.


 Right, Melton and Ida Hughes Holliman, 1942, when visiting Melton's brother, Bishop, who was stationed in New Orleans for training.

While his brothers were training for war, Bishop Holliman, a radio specialist in U-boat tracking, was about to engage in the first hostilities a member of the family would experience - the July 1943 Allied Invasion of Sicily, the first attack on Hitler's Europe.

That is the subject of our next posting. 


Have questions about Holliman family history? You are invited to join the Hollyman Email List at Hollyman-Subscribe@yahoogroups.com and the Hollyman Family Facebook Page located on Facebook at "Hollyman Family". Post your questions and perhaps one of the dozens Holyman cousins on the list will have an answer. For more information contact Tina Peddie at desabla1@yahoo.com, the list and Facebook manager for Hollyman (and all our various spellings!).




There is also a massive Ancestry.com Holyman and Associated Families Tree available for review.  For an invitation to this collection of over 30,000 individuals, please write glennhistory@gmail.com.  

Blog sites are available not only at http://ulyssholliman.blogspot.com but also at 

http://hollimanfamilyhistory.blogspot.com.  For archival materials and manuscripts of Holliman and associated families, visit www.bholliman.com.  If you would like to 
save your family materials and photographs at this site, please contact glennhistory@gmail.com. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

After 46 Years...a Trip Back in Time, Part 15

by Glenn N. Holliman

Grass by Carl Sandburg

“Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work.

I am grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg, and pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.

Shovel them under and let me work.

Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:

What place is this?  Where are we now?


I am the grass.  Let me work.”

My war time is long since over.  The grass has grown back in Vietnam.  But still the damage lingers in Southeast Asia and in the memories and wounds of aged service persons living. Unexploded weapons still pocket the fields of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  Agent Orange, sprayed liberally over bush and forest, haunts the bodies of older Vietnamese and Americans.

Below, the tarmac of the Lai Khe,  Vietnam  US Army1st Infantry Division air field is still visible in the foreground.  On the edge of the field stand two  new schools, replacements for the Cobra, Huey and Chinook helicopters that once hovered and landed on these grounds.

Right, one of the few remaining concrete bunkers left intact.  My first night in Lai Khe, I was sent to guard the perimeter and spent the night (and numerous more) in a bunker like this.  During that February 12, 1969 night, the earth shook to the north as a massive B-52 raid saturated a suspected North Vietnamese placement.



Our group visited the Chu Chi Tunnels north of Ho Chi Minh City.  I discovered studying the map above that this complex was located 12 or so air miles from Lai Khe.  Now I realized where all those income missiles originated almost 50 years ago.

Below, my daughter, Grace, demonstrates how a thin person such as herself could hide in the  tunnels.


Meanwhile Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) continues to grow and prosper.  I have left ghosts behind, as well as my youth.  My thanks to cousins Jim and Karen Holliman for making the travel possible, and my daughter for sharing the nostalgic adventure with me.


The young soldier below center, skinny, all my black hair, working with some orphans in Ben Cat April 1969.


Below, the old man, now 50 years on, at 3 score and ten.  Filled with memories and more than filled with the grace of life.  Here a new generation of children, untarnished by warfare, smile with the exuberance of youth.  May they forever be spared the pain of their grandparents.  This picture was made outside of the Presidential Palace in Ho Chi Minh City.

And in our bit of whimsy, my grand children's chicken, that traveled with us from Virginia to Asia and back, bids her own farewell to a Vietnamese replica of that fowl and beautiful species!




For additional reading on this tragic American and Southeast Asian war, read the former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's mea culpa and his conflicted emotions about championing the conflict in the middle 1960s.
May we as a nation learn from our mistakes!