My Dad the U.S. China Marine

My Dad the U.S. China Marine

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Jeep is a Jeep -Or So I Thought


This morning I received the following message from Mark Tombleson of Dunnigan, California:

I am currently writing a USN/USMC chapter in volume II of a series of books on the WWII MB and would be interested in including that photo of your father in the book.
If you are interested in learning more about the MB-N.O.M.-12 contract USN/USMC radio jeep that your father used the book on that topic will be published in less than a month. The Evolution of the Willys-Overland MB Jeep by Lloyd White Volume I is out now but does not pertain to the radio jeep. Volume II covers WWII and post war radio jeeps.

Mark also sent me this military vehicle forum thread. Click here! 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Greenwich Blog: Chiang Kai-shek's Minister of War, Staff Enter Forbidden City, Beijing

You may or may not be aware that I started a similar history blog to this one on Greenwich

This is of a previous entry on the arrival of Chiang Kai-shek's war minister and his staff to the Forbidden City, Beijing, on November 18, 1945.

The above image is a screenshot. Go to this link to connect with Greenwich and my parallel blog there. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Calling All Descendants of World War II U.S. China Marine Dads! Report for Duty!

Meet Fox Battery Radio Section, "Tung Hsien, China" (Tianjin), November 16, 1945
L to R: My father, Herbert Bingham Mead, Roberts, Van Sant, Hensley, and "Red" Roesch (holding the dog).
Are you one of their descendants? I'd like to hear from you. 

Before my father passed away in the twilight moments of his 86th birthday, Dad made a request.

His wish was that I travel to China,  return to the places where he and his fellow U.S. China Marines were stationed and places visited, and publish his photos and the stories of life in those heady days. It was not to necessarily be an exclusively military history.

The history that he wanted to be told and published was  to be a more personal one. What was life like for the American Marines? What about the Chinese, the Japanese nationals and others who found themselves in China after the end of hostilities in 1945? It was quite a quagmire. 

I started this blog site to help get that process started. I wanted those who peruse this blog site to bear witness to this historical journey. It is one that is still in progress.

Meet John Leszkeiwisz. Marco Polo Field, "Hadiman Street in Back Ground." "Peiping, China." Dated January 24, 1946.
Are you related to this man?  

Believe me when I tell you that I am enjoying this project. The purpose it has provided me is more than I have words to describe. I suppose my only frustration has been that I've not been able to spend the time needed to bring this to completion.

That's Mastrodomenico on the left, and pictured again with my father. Both are in front of the barracks.
Dated January 8, 1946

But I realize now that it is time to shift gears  -big time.

One of the wonderful blessings I've received in starting this blog site has been hearing from other descendants of other U.S. China Marines.

A number of you have contacted me via email identifying yourselves, sharing pictures, stories -and a shared desire to reconnect with our father's history as the last of the China Marines in the post-World War II era.

L to R: My father, Herbert Bingham Mead, Follen, Lt. Foote, Hensley. "Tung Hsien," (Tianjin), China.
Dated November 23, 1945
During this year's Chinese New Year celebrations I was contacted by two Chinese American friends of mine. Tyrone Liu and I attended Greenwich High School in my ancestral home town in Connecticut. Dr. Dave Wang of Laurelton Library in New York City and I have been friends for years, initially connected online via his web resource on the influence of Chinese civilization on the American Founding Fathers. 

When I mentioned that I was being contacted by other China Marine descendants both suggested that I broaden this 'My Dad the U.S. China Marine' project to include those who served with my father and others in postwar China.

In other words, why not turn this into a series? In hindsight it seems rather logical to me. 

So, starting now, I want to hear from you. I want to hear from the sons and daughters of the U.S. China Marines. A few of you have contacted me. Thank you for doing so! We need to stay in touch.

I learned that this year will be the final year of the annual reunion of American China Marines. It's true. 

Let's work together to ensure that this special history is preserved, published and perpetuated. Our Dad's would have liked that, don't you agree? 

Please contact me here at We've got work to do. 

Semper Fi!

Jeffrey Bingham Mead
Memorial Day, May 26, 2014

Surrender in 1945 China -and a Birthday Samurai Sword

We are a day away from Memorial Day, 2014. Please remember to pause, and reflect and never forget those who have passed away -and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in protection of the freedoms we take for granted.

Many of the readers of this blog may not be aware that I have a similar one at the Greenwich citizen news site. Please go to this link to view my latest Memorial Day posting.

Here is the text: 

L to R: My nephew Richard Danielsen, Jeffrey Bingham Mead (me), my nephew Edward Danielsen
with my father, Herbert Bingham Mead. Date: July 4, 2008 in Stamford, Connecticut USA.

I recall that my thirteenth birthday was not typical for any American boy -or anyone else for that matter. 

It was late March, a time each calendar year in which Connecticut's winter cold was slowly but surely yielding to the inevitable change towards Spring. I was in my room in our home in Round Hill Greenwich when my father, Herbert Bingham Mead, walked in. In his hand was his samurai sword. He passed it over to me, said that it was mine now and to remember its significance. 

Coming from a family as historical as mine, transfers of heirlooms from older generations to younger ones like mine was more or less routine. 

But this was different. It was would be years later before I came to begin to understand how important this gift was -and why it resonates today as never before.

For countless generations in Japan, the Samurai sword in Japanese culture was synonymous with a noble, aristocratic warrior tradition enduring into World War II.

After my father survived the Battle of Okinawa under the command of the Fourth Marine Division, my father was transferred to the First Marine Division -and sent to Tianjin, China. In those days that city was known as Tientsin.

It was in Tianjin/Tientsin where Dad and tens of thousands of others would bear witness to history in early October, 1945. 

They would eyewitness the first formal surrender of Imperial Japanese troops in China to an American Commander, Maj. General Keller E. Rockey, who was the commander of the United States Marines there.  He did so on behalf of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of the Republic of China. 

At that time more than 50,000 Japanese nationals were in the Tianjin/Tientsin area. The defeated Japanese Imperial troops were represented by Lieut. Gen. Uchida, who signed the document of surrender.

"The ceremony was held on the street in front of the former French Concession municipal buildings," reported the New York Times, "which now serve as marine headquarters, and tens of thousands of Chinese crowded around the roped-off area and swarmed over nearby buildings to watch. 

"The Chinese clapped as General Uchida and his staff of six walked past a marine Color Guard to the surrender table. After the signing, as the Japanese officers walked to their waiting automobiles the crowd broke into a roar of boos and hisses.

"Lieut. Gen. Liu Wen-chin, deputy commander of the Eleventh North China War Area, was ranking Chinese officer present. General Sung Lien-chung, area commander, will take the surrender of the remainder of Japanese forces in North China later at Peiping. The Japanese advised General Rockey that Captain Tajiri, ranking Japanese naval officer in the Tientsin area, had committed hara-kiri."

My father told me that Japanese troops stood on one end, and when signaled to do so disarmed themselves of their samurai swords. After that process was completed, the U.S. Marines, including my father, walked over and retrieved the swords. My father had a smaller sword that he gave to a personal friend some years before. I've included a clipping found among my Dad's albums of a scene that took place in Malaysia, November 1945. 

One of the other interesting things Dad told me was that Japanese troops had been conscripted to perform traffic directing duties. Many had not been completely disarmed. 

"The disarming of the Japanese forces in the Tientsin area by the marines" reported the New York Times, " will start now and the Japanese will progressively be relieved of guard and patrol duties they have been performing for the last six weeks."

At last! Peace had come to China and the world. 

But as my historical journey into the post-World War II era progressed I would soon realize that new complications would arise. 

I could imagine those back in Greenwich, especially my paternal grandparents, who must have been elated that the war was over. While my Dad fortunately survived many tests and trials, let us not forget that there were those among Greenwich's native sons who gave their lives in ultimate sacrifice who would not return home again.

Jeffrey Bingham Mead 
Memorial Day
May 26, 2014