DAV Meets the Needs of World War II (Part 2)
Revitalized with fleets of new warships, the war in the Pacific reached a fevered pitch. The Army and Marines invaded Cape Gloucester, Saipan and Guam. At sea, the Navy beat enemy forces in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, dubbed the “Marianas Turkey Shoot.”
By 1945, American bombers were regularly raiding targets in Germany and Japan. In Europe, Allied forces from Russia and the United States and other nations began to squeeze German forces between them. By April 19, Soviet troops were on the outskirts of Berlin, and Allied troops encircled the last German armies near Bologna, in effect ending the war in Italy on April 24. The next day, Soviet and American roops linked up at the Elbe River, near Torgau in Germany.
Germany unconditionally capitulated to the Allies on May 7, after thousands of German troops surrendered across Europe in the days before. V-E Day is May 8, and celebrated around the world.
In the Pacific, American and Philippine forces landed at Luzon in the Philippines in January to fulfill Gen. Douglas McArthur’s promise to return, retaking the allied nation by March 3 and freeing hundreds of allied prisoners of war.
At the same time, U.S. Marines invaded Iwo Jima, which still inspires reverence to the Marines Corps. In a 36-day assault there were more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead and more than 19,217 wounded. But it was the bitter continuous fighting that inspired the words “uncommon valor was a common virtue” which adorns the Iwo Jima Memorial of the Mount Suribachi flag raising.
At Okinawa, the United States 10th Army would incur its greatest losses in any campaign against the Japanese. Initially made up of 183,000 Army, Navy, and Marine Corps personnel, the 82-day battle would cost 7,613 men and more than 30,000 would be evacuated from the front lines for a minimum of a week due to wounds. Further, the largest numbers of U.S. combat fatigue cases recorded up to that time would occur on Okinawa.
he Navy fought off thousands of kamikaze suicide aircraft at Okinawa that caused the largest loss of ships in its history with 36 sunk and 368 damaged. The Navy also sustained the largest loss of life in a single battle with almost 5,000 killed and an equal number wounded.
In early August, the nuclear weapons used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought an end to the war with Japan. On Aug. 15, the world celebrated V-J Day and peace returned.
During the four heartbreaking years the war raged, newly wounded veterans from the European, Pacific and China-India-Burma Theaters swelled the ranks of the DAVWW. The organization began to prepare for another post-war era by reviewing all the legislation and provisions that would be required for the returning veterans.
With the 1942 National Convention canceled, the 1943 Convention in New York was a time to catch up. The work during the past two years would take on added importance with the large number of disabled veterans returning from World War II.
The 1943 delegates were treated to one of the best collections of speakers to date. VA Administrator Frank Hines, Kaiser Shipbuilding Corp. President Henry J. Kaiser, U.S. Civil Service Commissioner Arthur J. Flemming and New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia all sounded a similar theme: “Thank God for the DAVWW: in times like these when we need them the most!”
Due to the sheer volume of service work required by returning veterans, emphasis at the 1943 Convention was placed on the National Service Program. Past National Commander Owen Galvin eloquently delivered the nominating speech for James L. Monnahan, a National Service Officer from Minneapolis. With 20 years in the DAVWW's service program, Monnahan would return to the NSO ranks when his term was up.
The National Executive Committee felt it was time to update the name of the organization, and the DAVWW became the Disabled American Veterans—DAV.
Except for the new name, there was no change in the organization's official seal. Still today, it features Columbia knighting a World War I soldier in a picture taken from the disability certificates awarded to the sick and wounded World War I veterans.