241st Signal Corps – WWII

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I know little of my father’s service in World War II since 80% of the Army Records kept at the National Personnel Records Center were lost in a fire in 1973.

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Photo of the 241st taken in 1943 (my father is not present). Photo courtesy of Carl Kotlarchik

My father never spoke of his service in the war, so I have relied on photos and letters. One of his long time friends, Joe San Pietro, a retired New  York detective still corresponds with my mother on a regular basis and was recently honored at Yankee Stadium.

In 2011,  Joe sent my mother his recollections of their passage to Okinawa. My only edit is removal of email addresses:

Sent: Fri, Apr 15, 2011 11:28 am

Subject: Re: 241st Sig. Opns. Co., Signal Corps. U.S. Army….

We left from Ft. Lawton Washington on December 27th, two days after Christmas, 1944.  I remember the music on the loudspeaker was The Andrews Sisters with Bing Crosby, singing “Don’t Fence Me In.’, as we shoved off.   It was a troop ship , one of many,  built by HenryJ.Kaiser, and built for the sole  purpose of transporting troops.   

It took around 13 days to reach Honolulu where we got to see the USS Arizona, as it lay in the bay. It’s hard to recall every detail, but from memory that is the way I recall it.  We stayed at Schofield Barracks while undergoing Jungle and Amphibious training.  We stayed till around some time in March, of “45 when we boarded our ‘transportation.’

Our transportation was a Navy LST, and we were the flagship of the 40 or so ships in the convoy.  I don’t knows if you’e familiar with the term LST, but it was a sort of flat barge built for the purpose of transporting armored tanks, except they were transporting troops.

Now, on top of the top deck (this may be a little confusing) was another craft.  this craft that was placed on top of the deck was called a LCT, and it rode sort of, piggy back on the topside of the LST.   Before I go any further I have to explain that term LST  means “Landing SHIP Tank”.  

LCT; means “Landing CRAFT Tank.” The LCT just sits atop the LST for the length of the journey.

Beneath the LCT, there is a spacer of about 3 feet between the topside of the LST, and the

bottom of the LCT. THAT IS WHERE WE HAD OUR BUNKS. Underneath the LCT. That is how we bunked for 36 or so days on our trip to Okinawa! We sort of, had to crawl back and forth to our assigned bunks whenever  we had to move about. Our ceiling was the bottom of the LCT  (I’ll have to finish this in the A.M. I seem to be getting a little tired,)  

OK, I’m back now.After about 36 days or so, our convoy arrived at Okinawa.  When we arrived, around April 1st (called ‘love day’), we were joined by hundreds of all types of warships, from Aircraft Carrier to battle cruisers, destroyers,, all kinds of ships and boats.  You never saw fireworks like the tracer and incendiary missiles that were unleashed during that period. Naval planes –Corsairs —flying about, all kinds of excitement.  

I was designated as a munitions carrier–meaning i had to keep supplying the ackack guns (40 mm) so that they could keep firing.  There was all kinds of gunfire shelling the  island

continuously and unendingly!  We had to stay aboard until we got the signal to land at the beach. I say this regretfully, that during all that firepower, i saw at least three of our aircraft, Corsairs, being fired upon by our own ships. you could see the white star on the side of the airplanes, and see them ultimately catch fire and burn landing in the bay. They call it friendly fire but it was inevitable. There was too much firepower and great confusion.  There were also several Kamikaze planes that would deliberately land on our ships causing great fires and thereby sinking of the ships they landed upon.

I would like to get back to the LCT and LST for a moment. The purpose of the LCT, which contained armored tanks to be used by the ground crews after landing on the beach. The LST would list (or tilt) from the side about 11 degrees. Now they would somehow hack away at the cables holding the LCT until the craft was completely loose, then because of the angle of the tilt, the LCT would slide off the LST and splash and land in the water and continue to the beach where it would unload the armored tanks for the armored ground crews.  I don’t know if I explained this intelligibly. but that’s about the best I could do. I’m sure if you could speak with your dad, he would be able to explain it to you more clearly.

Anyhow, that’s a synopsis of our trip to Okinawa, of which your dad was part. When we finally landed on the Okinawa Beach we proceeded to YonTan Airfield where we began to run the communications for the entire island. Some of us worked out of Kadena Airfield,which I believe was a little further to the north of the island.
Now as far as my citations (or medals), I have never received them mainly because I have never applied for them. I never had the right information therefore I never received them.  If you know how I can acquire these medals, by all means, go ahead and try.  I’ll give you whatever information is necessary. This was quite an achievement, writing all this at one time. As I went along I seemed to pick up on names and places I haven’t thought of in over 65 years.

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My dad is in the front row second from left (looking at camera)

Tony Poltrack

Dad operating a teletype

Tony Poltrack

Old school signals. This is one of my favorite photos.

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The destruction of War

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The “Good Luck” flag (hinormaru yoesegaki ) the tradition gift for Japanese servicemen deployed during WWII. Ironic name considering the outcome.

 

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Not exactly a jacuzzi

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