Dad Is 97 Years Old Today


Well, amazingly, dad turned 97 years old today.

Have I said amazing yet?

Born in Seattle in 1919 of (legal) immigrants who came across the Pacific from Hiroshima, he is the last of his family.  He was the fifth of seven kids.  All his siblings left in Japan at the outbreak of WWII died early in their lives while his siblings who were fortunate to have returned to the States before Pearl Harbor survived into their 90’s.

16171698835_e943db7bef_o
Dad on right; his younger brother on the left. Circa 1924 in front of his father’s Seattle barbershop.

 

dad suetaro field
Dad on right with his younger brother, Suetaro, in front of their Hiroshima home. Circa 1927.

 

e4ba8ce4b8ad11e38080e98791e69cace5bab7e4b889cropped1
Dad for his high school graduation portrait as shown in his 1937 yearbook. He was a track star in the Hiroshima region. He returned to Seattle immediately after. His beloved high school was destroyed by the atomic bomb.

 

15985637439_3b0493ae63_o
My guess is around 1939, standing in front of his home on Fir Street in Seattle and sporting his “varsity” sweater he brought back from his Hiroshima high school.

 

image0-84
Dad’s WWII draft card mailed to him while imprisoned at Tule Lake, CA. FDR’s administration changed his classification from 1A to that of an enemy alien, “4C”, as were all other Japanese-American boys. This is the only item I have of him from 1941 through WWII’s end due to his imprisonment. No politics implied; just facts.

 

Dad in his US Army duds in Tokyo while serving in the 8th US Army’s Military Intelligence Service (MIS). Behind him and to the far right and only partially visible is the Dai Ichi building, headquarters of the Far East Command. MIS’s military activity was kept Top Secret until the early ’70s. Circa late 1947.

 

Dad at Hiroshima with two of his nieces. Namie in the center went with us to Leyte in July 2015 on a pilgrimage to honor his brother’s death in combat in 1944.

 

25247482825_990bbcf747_o
Dad translated during the war crimes trials in Occupied Japan. He said the “lesser” war crimes were tried in the Quonset hut behind him. Tokyo, circa 1948.

 

6830346311_3a7e1b7e7e_b
Dad’s Day of Infamy. LOL February 1951, Tokyo.

 

My dad (R) returned to Hiroshima for a vacation in 1997; Masako is in the center. This was taken at his family home. Notice the stepping stone; it is the same one Masako stood next to in a picture taken in 1948.
My dad (R) returned to Hiroshima for the first time in 40 years for a vacation in 1997; Masako is in the center. This was taken at his family home. Notice the stepping stone; it is the same one Masako stood next to in a picture taken in 1948.

 

7682167134_9214c31f2d_o
Up to 2014, folks that had connections to Japanese battle flags collected as souvenirs by their fathers tried to return them to the soldier’s descendants. They asked Dad to read the names and hometowns in hopes of finding them.

 

16027234553_e8dfe04794_o
Dad in 2014 with his first and only great-granddaughter, Emi.

Happy birthday, Dad!

Just Some Snapshots 16


Although it’s February and climate experts said we’d have a helluva El Niño, it hasn’t really appeared.  Even if it starts to rain here and there from now, the deluge they’ve been warning us Southern Californians about for half a year will not materialize.

So the drought will continue…

In the meantime, I thought I’d take advantage of the clear blue skies and took some snapshots out in front.

Some winter hummingbirds.  They love the tree aloe blooms in my neighbor’s yard:

c-10-647

c-10-663

c-10-653

c-10-660

c-10-662

c-10-664

Just a sprinkle:

c-10-636

And there’s a bazillion of these Kalanchoe Lavender Scallops Variegata (Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi) blooming:

c-10-666

c-10-667
This little succulent bloom is at the tip of thin, bright green stalks and is about maybe 1/3″ in diameter.  The photo below shows the blooms in different stages of opening.

c-10-668

 

Combat! – Part 4 and Conclusion


comzbat 082
Lt. Hanley runs to the aid of a badly wounded Sgt. Saunders, hung up in enemy barbed wire. You will notice the bayonet on Lt. Hanley’s M-1 carbine. As bayonets could not be fixed on WWII-era carbines, this would indicate this prop gun was built post-WWII.

I Dream of Jeannie and Combat!

I am going to make a statement.

I Dream of Jeannie and Combat! are unbelievably similar.

How can that be? you must be thinking.  He’s off his rocker…

comzbat 104
“I Dream of Jeannie” publicity photo.

Well, I’m not off my rocker.  Why?  They are both fantasies.  They aren’t real.  Combat! is as far from reality as I Dream of Jeannie is.. although I wish Barbara Eden would blink herself into my home.

Screenshot (66)
Fantasy. TV’s D-Day.
comzbat 114
Real. D-Day.
comzbat 107
Real. A 101st Airborne paratrooper never made it to the ground on D-Day.
comzbat 110
Real. A very dead Nazi tank man. Combat survivors took visions such as these back home for the rest of their lives.
comzbat 117
Real. A hand.

Real combat footage from the Battle for Berlin:

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying I know what war is truly like as I do not.  I do NOT know what being on a battlefield is like.  I do NOT know what being at the receiving end of an enemy barrage feels like.  Only folks like Old Man Jack and Mr. Johnson know and they are no longer with us.

And as much as I liked to watch the series, I do know war is not as shown on Combat!

More in the conclusion below.

Combat! Trivia

Here’s some trivia I’ve collected from various sources on the internet.

Screenshot (87)

  1. “Selmur Productions” comes from the husband and wife team, “SELig” and “MURiel” Seligman.
  2. The D-Day landing footage in Episode One was taken at Franca’s Beach in Malibu, CA.  Rick Jason, to avoid getting muscle spasms jumping off the LST into the then chilly waters, wore a corset.  Oddly, his uniform is dry when he is crawling on the sand although getting wet up to his chest jumping off the LST moments earlier.  One of their first bloopers.
  3. In order to prepare for their new roles, Morrow, Jason, Jalbert and another regular at that time went to Ft. Ord for a week for “basic training”.  While they were offered a less tough training regimen, they turned it down.  They threw live grenades and crawled under barbed wire with real .50 caliber rounds whizzing overhead.  Jason was about twice as old as the real trainees being about 40 years old, followed by Jalbert then Morrow.   (Most in actual combat were in their teens or early 20’s.)
  4. The tone of the script was actually slowly set by Morrow and Jason.  When they got the scripts, they made their own edits (pretty much cutting most of the talking out) and forced management to accept them…or else.
  5. Pierre Jalbert, or “Caje”, had never acted before auditioning for Combat!  He was by trade a film editor and a professional ski instructor.  Some of his credits were for “Shogun” and “Star Trek: the Motion Picture”.
  6. A US Army colonel, serving as consultant for the show, said he had never seen a soldier that could reload a Garand M-1 as fast as Jalbert.
  7. The regulars said that Jack Hogan (“Kirby”) was the most talented actor in the bunch.  He was keenly adept at bringing “Kirby’s” lines to life on set.
  8. For the footage filmed in Loire, France at a chateau, the regulars – including Vic Morrow – stayed in LA.  The man you see walking with the Thompson and camo helmet was his double, Earl Parker.  Morrow himself remarked Parker even had his walk perfectly mimicked.  He also had several roles in episodes.
  9. In spite of smoking thousands of unfiltered Lucky Strikes, none of the regulars died of lung cancer.
  10. In Episode 10 of Season 3, Lt. Hanley pulls a blooper by calling Little John by his real name; he orders, “Peabody, bring up the rear.”
  11. In the next Episode 11 and after playing a number of uncredited roles, Tom Skerritt gets a featured role.
  12. In many scenes, the stunt men actually play both sides.  In the morning, they may be in American uniforms then shoot a Nazi.  Later in the day, they would switch to that Nazi’s uniform then would get killed.  In essence, the stunt man would shoot himself.
  13. Jack Hogan had starred alongside Mickey Rooney in “Silver Service”.  Hogan said that when a scene was cut and actors would want to take a break, Mickey Rooney would just keep on talking to them, keeping them from taking a break.
  14. Vic Morrow was initially cast for the role of Lt. Hanley but turned it down as “nobody likes officers”, or something to that effect.
  15. In his first roles on Combat!, Jalbert’s name was “Caddy”.  His name changed to Caje when he became a regular.  Amazingly, he was in four more episodes than Jason (114 vs. 110).  Morrow was first at 121 appearances followed by Hogan with 120.
  16. Vic Morrow’s and Rick Jason’s contracts required the studio to give both equal times their names would appear first in the opening credits.  As such, you see their names alternating as to whose came first.  Unbelievably, each received top billing 76 times (152 episodes) although Morrow had 11 more appearances.
Screenshot (88)
Opening credits.

But the most fascinating bit of trivia I had come across was… Combat! has a huge following in several countries and most incredibly, Japan.  Maybe my mom wasn’t so far off base afterall.

comzbat 093
Source: http://dvd-no1.com/usa/combat.html

Life Destinies

It is well known that unlike the cast of the original TV series “Star Trek”, the regulars of the series had established a very close relationship.  They had very much become a family; they got along tremendously well and kept in touch for the remainder of their lives.

Vic Morrow

comzbat 120
Vic Morrow later in life. Uncredited source.

By all accounts (including blogger Jeanne Rene who waited on him many times at a diner he frequented), Vic Morrow was kind and humble, even as his fame grew.

In 1958, he married actress Barbara Turner and had two children, Carrie Ann and Jennifer Leigh.  However, during the course of filming Combat!, Barbara involved herself with the series’ director, Robert Altman.  Primarily due to that, Barbara initiated divorce just five years later.  The divorce was finalized in 1965.  Although he was one of the highest paid actors, he went into a tailspin and depression from which he never fully recovered from.

comzbat 119
Jennifer Jason Leigh in Backdraft.

After the series was canceled, he found it difficult to land decent movie roles; he even tried a stint in Japan which also failed.  To add onto his drinking habit, his daughter Jennifer became a very popular actress.  Somewhere along the way, he felt betrayed by her success and they had a tremendous falling out.  It appears the last straw in their relationship was when Jennifer officially changed her name to Jennifer Jason Leigh to completely distance herself from her father.

However, as many of you know, Vic Morrow was killed along with two child actors while filming for the “Twilight Zone: The Movie” on Friday, July 23, 1982, at Indian Dunes in Valencia, California.  John Landis was brought up on murder charges but was acquitted after a long trial.

comzbat 118
Sadly, note the word “I”. It’s not “we”. Source unknown.

Rick Jason

Like Old Man Jack, Rick Jason was a bit of a mischievous youth although born into a well-to-do family in 1926.  He was apparently very friendly and approachable.

He turned down his father’s introduction into the business world and instead, enlisted in the US Army Air Corps during WWII.  After discharge he pursued acting.

After the popular five year run of Combat! and unlike Vic Morrow, Jason did succeed in landing roles in TV and movies.  His first movie role he landed after Combat! was as a Portuguese gun runner in a… Japanese movie (鉄砲伝来記).

comzbat 094

I’ve got to hand it to Rick Jason.  After the contract was signed, he knew he would have to live in Japan for about half a year.  To that end, he took Japanese lessons from a Japanese woman for three months, six days a week.  He would then practice speaking it with his house man, Hiro.

It was a huge press affair in Japan.  Upon arrival, there was a large press conference and a translator was provided.  Instead, he had a speech prepared which had been translated into Japanese by Hiro.  Following perfect Japanese etiquette, he read it perfectly while seated as per custom.  He finished it by bowing slightly, still seated as he should be.  He had won them over.

comzbat 103

He had married numerous times, his last wife in 1983.

comzbat 098
Apparently taken at the Combat! reunion in 2000. Uncredited source.

In the year 2000 and just days after a Combat! reunion gala, he was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Simi Valley home.  No note was reportedly found.

comzbat 099
Source unknown.

Pierre Jalbert

Screenshot (50)
Screenshot of Pierre Jalbert later in his life. He still sports a beret he made famous in Combat!

Born in 1925, Jalbert had no idea he would become a fixture in an extremely popular TV show in America.  Before his by-chance starring role, he was a teen ski champion and was the Canadian team captain in the 1948 Olympics.

After serving in the Canadian air force during WWII as a drill instructor, he moved to Los Angeles in 1952 to pursue film editing.  Some of his pre-Combat! work included films such as Ben Hur, Mutiny on the Bounty, and An American in Paris.

Screenshot (52)
Screenshot of Jalbert in an interview at this home.

After Combat! and a few acting stints in movies and TV, he returned to his job as film editor.  Some of his credits at Paramount include Concorde, Bloodline, Grease, The Godfather, and the TV miniseries Shogun where he was nominated for an Emmy for sound editing.

A very friendly and talkative man, he enjoyed masonry work, remodeling, studying French history and fine wine.

While known as a lady’s man, he remained married for 53 years with his wife Joy Lee until his death just last year from complications after a heart attack.  He passed away on January 22, 2014 in Los Angeles.

combat 036
A reunion. Date and source unknown.

Dick Peabody

comzbat097
Dick Peabody later in life. Uncredited source.

Richard “Dick” Peabody was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1925.  Both parents were teachers but his father also wrote.

With WWII raging, Dick enlisted in the US Navy at just 17 years of age.  A true representative of a great generation.  He survived the war and was honorably  discharged; his rate was Electronic Technician’s Mate First Class.

According to what he had written, he decided to switch to a liberal arts course after starting an electrical engineering program.  He said no electrical engineer became famous and he wanted to be famous.

After launching a career in TV commercials, he caught the eye of Robert Altman, the first director of Combat!  He was then hired to make educational films.  Later, he landed a job as a news anchor then moved to Denver to host a jazz show and freelance writing.  In 1962, he felt his eye-catching height and appearance would be an attention getter in Hollywood.  When he was broadcasting at an all night gig on KMPC radio, Robert Altman again approached him for a role in Combat!  The rest is history.

After Combat!, he was successful in the movie and TV industries and in 1971, he ran a radio talk show on KFI and interviewed hundreds of celebrities.

Screenshot (84)

Peabody and his wife, Tina, a former model, lived happily married and remained in constant contact with the regulars.  In 1985, back pain ended his television career, and he moved to El Dorado County, California.  There, he started a weekly column, doing what he enjoyed most – writing.  This is where Peabody wrote of Vic Morrow’s tragic accident.  He wrote that he and his fellow actors – knowing full well of working with explosions after five years of Combat! – strongly believed Landis was responsible for this death.  He wrote that in addition to Landis hiring illegally the two children and working them at night (prohibited), he allowed for crews under the influence of booze or drugs to use explosions much more violent than necessary, thereby bringing the chopper down on the actors.  Further, Landis had ordered the chopper to fly closer and closer with a bull horn.  There was solid testimony Steven Spielberg was also on set but he denied being there.

In 1996, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and continued to remain active until his death on December 27, 1999 in his Camino, California home.

Jack Hogan

Jack Hogan is the last regular still alive from the days of Combat! Born in 1929 in North Carolina, he was the youngest of the regulars.

comzbat 122
Publicity still from Adam-12.

Although he started to study architecture in college, he wanted a change and enlisted in the US Army in 1948.   During his service, he served in the Far East, with his last duty station in Japan.

After being honorably discharged, he enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse to learn acting.  He then moved to New York in 1955 for one year to continue to learn his trade then returned to Hollywood where he fortunately landed good roles in both TV and films.  His mentor was Anthony Quinn.  Similar to some of the others, Robert Altman sought him out for the character of Private Kirby on Combat!

After Combat! ended, he continued to be successful in TV, having co-starring roles in shows like Adam-12 where he played a police sergeant.  He also starred in his own show, Sierra.

comzbat 121
Screenshot from Magnum, PI.

He then took a short break from show business, starting and managing his own construction company in Hawaii.  He then got back into the entertainment industry, serving as the casting director on Magnum, PI in which he guest starred twice.

Twice divorced with two children, he enjoyed fishing, arguing “friendly like” on politics with friends and reading.

____________________________________

Conclusion

I guess I need to thank my mom for her love of Sgt. Saunders and his machismo as Combat! very likely sparked my keen interest in WWII and its impact on our world.  Yes, to a young boy, the action on the TV appeared real.  True life.  And most of all, it did show honor and duty.  (EDIT, 2/10/2016: I failed to note that there were plans in motion to produce a movie version of Combat! in 2010.  I understand they had selected their “Sgt. Saunders” but the project was canned.)

But as I grew up and became entrenched in reading about WWII (and dinosaurs), I fortunately realized somewhere along the way real war was nothing like what I saw for years on Combat!

Having said that, I had mentioned a thought to a most intellectual blogger friend, historian and “retired” Marine Mustang that seeing a “Nisei” playing a role as a Marine in TV’s “Gomer Pyle, USMC” was so unrealistic so soon after the war.  A political message for sure, I felt.  Here he was in a US Marine rifle squad on TV when the number of Japanese-Americans in the US military all together was very low.  Even today, I understand only about 45,000 Asians of all ancestries are wearing our uniforms.

He pointed out that when Combat! came onto our TV screens, we had a bona fide war hero in the White House (Kennedy)¹.  Wars were fought to be won back then.  Then comedic shows like “McHale’s Navy” and “Hogan’s Heroes” began to proliferate on our TV screens, possibly leading the viewing public to think actual combat is something not to take seriously.  Also, LBJ became president replacing the war hero Kennedy, making misguided decisions of how to win the Vietnam War along the way.  At this time, “M*A*S*H” hit the screens and helped anti-war sentiment grow  – as well as the public’s misconception of the ugliness of true war.  Yes, there were brief moments of philosophy but by far, comedy ruled at a makeshift field hospital during the brutal Korean War.

When you think about “Combat!” in its entirety, there was an anti-war “sentiment” thread running through it but thankfully, it gave focus on what a GI Joe had to confront out on the battlefield.  Morals.  Honor.  Duty.  Horror.  Orders.  Bravery.  Cowardice.  Survival.  Killing.  Compassion.

In that light, I feel it completed its mission.

As often said in the episodes, “Checkmate King Two.  Out.”

comzbat 108
France.  A killed American soldier being honored by French villagers. US Archives.
comzbat 085
Hollywood.

Part I is here.

Part II is here.

Part III is here.

NOTES:

  1.  In addition, Ike was President before JFK.