Category Archives: Diary Entries

Remembering George S. Eisenberg, February 16, 1921 – August 5, 2014

Remembering George S. Eisenberg, February 16, 1921 - August 5, 2014

 Remembering George S. Eisenberg  –  February 16, 1921 – August 5, 2014

For those of you who do not know me, I am Joe Janson, George’s son-in-law.

I ‘ve always felt fortunate to have known the man who has meant so much to so many. Over 2Remembering George3 years ago when we first met, George’s appearance was that of a running back;   tall, cut and hands like bear paws. It was not what I expected of a man of 70 years.  he smiled, reached out and shook my hand, and it dwarfed mine. I was amazed those same hands were capable of such extraordinary precision with a paintbrush and pencil.

Over the years, I came to realize that George was the personification of gentleness, kindness and strength.

He seemed most happy just sitting and admiring the activities around him, as long as he had his pencil set and could draw his favorite subject: FAMILY….people.

I will miss watching George transform a blank piece of paper into a cherished memory. His genius capturing the moment both on canvas, and conveyed in his verbal observations, were uncanny.

I will miss our discussions on politics, science, religion, and our common bond of shipboard life. George was well versed on just about everything, and I always gained new perspectives from him.

I will miss his jokes, albeit not necessarily funny to the rest of the family, he always made me laugh.

Remembering George S. Eisenberg, February 14, 1921 - August 5, 2014

Joe Janson and George S. Eisenberg

Example: George are you comfortable? I said when he was seated in the cockpit of our sailboat.

George Responded: I make a living!

I can’t tell you how many times I heard that one liner, and to this day it still makes me think of him.

I always watched in amazement the collection of diverse friends that would gather during a holiday or family event. I could just feel the bond and love between them. It’s an energy that was, and still is, awe inspiring.

Whether the topic was science, politics, religion or just daily life, George’s perspective made us re-consider our prior wedded convictions.

George was always the optimist. He sought the GOOD in people and never dwelled on their mistakes in life. He had a calming power about him, another gift I will always admire.

Remembering George

George, the always loving grandfather.

Those of you who knew George also knew that he was not a religious man in the formal sense, but extremely proud of his Jewish heritage. His faith came from his loyalty to his family, friends, and the human race.

His abundant love for his family was a constant. He always had time for his grandchildren and their friends. He would spend hours with Eric and Margot either on his lap at any given time, or sitting side by side conveying the basic principles of drawing.

His extraordinary and radiant admiration for his beloved Gabrielle was an example to me, and to any husband, of what true love looks like.

Remembering George S. Eisneberg

Gabrielle and George Eisenberg

I knew I had been accepted by George when I appeared in a drawing, now transferred to a metal plaque on display in the USS Cassin Young DD793, a floating Naval museum in Boston. George depicted me bandaging a wounded WWII sailor. He made me look fitter and much younger than I was. I really appreciated that George!

George S. Eisenberg’s drawing of what the wardroom during battle would have looked like on the USS Cassin Young DD793; a floating museum at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston.

I then came to find out from my wife Julie, that George did that with many of his portraits, always seeing beauty in everyone.

Bottom line…He would just make his subjects better.

George and I had a common bond, both being in a sea going service and sharing stories of shipboard life. Though I was in the Coast Guard, McHale’s Navy to George, he still considered me a part of the bretheren. Thank you George.

I think George would agree with these words, so I would like to close with a quote from Carl Sagan:

The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together. Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective… is precious. If a human disagrees, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another!

George enjoy the Cosmos!   Love you more.   Joe

Posted in Artifacts, Diary Entries, Drawings, Humor, Letters Home, Paintings, Photographs | 3 Comments

Taking of Corregidor, February 14, 1945

February 14,1945 Battle of the Recapture of Corregidor, Philippines "We are going in now...all the way...one YMS was sunk here a little while ago. Fletcher made rescue through smoke screen. Hopewell hit on torpedo tubes here. Fletcher on bow. We are right in cross fire...that is between 16" 14" 6"...batteries on Corregidor Bataan. Cruisers firing on beach.

Valentine’s Day holds earnest memories for George S. Eisenberg and the crew of World War ll Destroyer, the USS LaVallette DD448.  On February 14, 1945 , the LaVallette  was hit by a mine at Mariveles Bay, Bataan, Philippines in the historic battle, The Taking of Corregidor. Seven crew members were killed and 24 were wounded.

George’s annotated cryptic sketches were rendered under fire, recording the sinking of minesweeper YMS-48 and coastal gunfire damaging the USS Fletcher and USS Hopewell.  The USS Radford and USS LaVallette were also disabled by mines in this landmark conflict.

February 14, 1945 Corregidor, Philippines "Going in very close to Corregidor. Japs shooting from caves all morning....mines sweeping this area. Still more...Montpelier + us..may fire now."

 

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Not a Repeated Dream, Just a Repeated Happening

1942-1945  South Pacific Ocean

I often wonder just what the hell I am doing out here in the middle of this crazy war, deep in the South Pacific, shooting at an enemy equally as puzzled. There is no glory in killing anything.

A sudden, sobering moment of reality is the piercing shock of sound, beeping the ship to General Quarters. Our bodies explode in a frenzied rush to our battle stations. There is a strange clarity during this unconscious traverse. It’s as though one were a passenger in someone else’s body with total concentration on the one thought … Kill the enemy! Kill! Kill! It’s self-preservation. It’s them or us! There are no idealistic thoughts of saving the free world. It’s save your ass because this is no moving picture and it’s not a dress rehearsal.

Check fast! Got your life belt? Helmet? Knife? Rope? Rawhide? Once at my battle station, amidst the excited voices and waiting, micro-fraction blitzes of thought flash through my head. “Do I buy it today? Shit! Not yetl Not yet!” My mind turns off. Not me. Not me! Then an imaginary explosion rips through my mind. I’m in the water – it’s warm, black, endless. Oh my gawd, I’m floating – it’s pitch black except for the light from the burning ship. The water is thick with diesel oil and the stench is choking. Thoughts of sharks, fire and the bottomless sea are frightening ! My mind shuts off–off again!  “No, no, no, no more !” I now find great comfort in the fact that I’m still at my battle station.

“Range and bearing on the nearest target!”

“zero three zero degrees at five thousand yards!”

“Give me another!”

“zero four five degrees at thirty five hundred yards! The course is one-eighty at three hundred miles per hour.”

The action continues fast. This is reality. The flashes of gloom are gone. The bogies are coming in on us! Our guns are on target blasting away! It’s exciting, exhilarating, and now there is a feeling of power-a sense of invincibility. There is no fear. I keep cranking out information to gun control. They’ve locked onto my targets! The heavy five-inch cannons and forty-mm guns trace criss-cross pattems across a smoke-pocked sky.

“We got him! We got him!”

Down, down, down came a Japanese bomber in a trail of brown smoke, hitting the water and exploding into a huge ball of fire. The whole ship cheered like it were a touchdown at a football game. The game was far from over! Another bogie bearing at one-eighty-five at twenty-five hundred yards coming in fast. Victory was only momentary.

Somehow these events repeated themselves over and over with near misses, hits, and dispersal … then fatigue. And despite our fatigue we clean up the mess of shells, cork, and dirt only to prepare ourselves for a repeat of the same. Somehow we manage to maintain our strength to get through the ordeal and then sleep.That wonderful escape through sleep.

This had to be a bad dream-but it wasn’t!

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Ashore Olongapo Zambalas, Luzon, Philippine Islands

April 28, 1945  Ashore Olongapo Zambales, Luzon, Phillipine Islands

While ashore (slightly off limits), I sketched five year old “Anita Ragad”, the youngest of a family of eight whose living conditions, however clean, had not progressed much in over two centuries. Cooking was accomplished over an open fire on a large stone slab outside the thatched roof house. Running water is still a thing of the future. The only signs of the twentieth century were her cotton dress, metal containers, knives and the great city of Manila not many miles away.

Angela Revise was one of the few proud girls with shoes in Philippines since the beginning of the war.

A quick sketch of 5 year old Anita Ragad, or Ragate. Olongapo Zambalas, Luzon, PI April 28, 1945

Angela Rives Olongapo Zambalas, Luzon, Philippines April 28, 1945

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Special Liberty Trip to Manila, Philippines

April 4, 1945 Special Liberty Trip to Manila, Philippine Islands

You can’t imagine how happy I am at this minute heading towards the shores of Manila, weaving past an estimated seventy-five sunken Japanese ships. They present dangerous navigational obstacles for the traffic that fills this bay daily. Most of these monuments project partially above the surface of the water, with buoys to mark their dangerous presence to boats and shipping.

Thirty crewmen from my ship and as many from other ships were picked to go on the first liberty allowed into the recaptured city of Manila. A large cruiser, acting as host and hotel, brought us here for a two-day holiday. Continue reading

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Jumping Ship At Night

April 22, 1945 – Subic Bay, Luzon, Philippine Islands

We were enjoying all the comforts of a South Sea Island vacation resort.  Our hotel of course was the enormous, bathtub-like ARD7, a US Navy floating dry dock. Its main suite was occupied by our ship, the USS La Vallette DD448, now being patched up after being hit by a mine during the taking of Corregidor.

Dockmaster at dry dock ARD7, Luzon, Subic Bay, Philippines March 31, 1945

These days of repair have been fun and games for all of us. We were bursting with joy, knowing we would soon be heading for home. This was a given. We all knew that each of us would be awarded a thirty-day survivor’s leave, and then by the time our ship was overhauled and ready for action, we would have enjoyed a few more months of peace and safety. Now that’s happiness! Continue reading

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The Powder-Blue Brig

May 14, 1944 – Noumea, New Caledonia

I couldn’t believe we were dropping anchor in this bay at the southern tip of New Caledonia. The word was passed that only ten percent of the crew would get ashore on liberty. We all knew that the senior officers and higher rated crew members would be given first preference. I definitely was not among this elite level. I really didn’t mind that much because I had so much to do for my own pleasure aboard ship.

One of many cartoons making fun of fellow USS LaVallette shipmates aspiring for female affection on liberty during WWII in the Pacific Theater.

I do admit that Noumea is considered a great little liberty town. It would have been a welcome relief to see some pretty young French girls whose reputations had already given us good reason for winning the war, just to accept their feminine tokens of appreciation.
Continue reading

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Slot Duty

October 6, 1943

The Marcus Island raid, 900 miles from Tokyo, was a success. Out carrier task force destroyed eighty-five percent of this island, leaving a message to Japan of its vulnerability to our reach. Our task force headed back to Pearl Harbor for fuel, ammunition and supplies. In preparation for my ship’s new assignment, we conducted test firing of all guns at sea while heading for Purvis Bay in the New Florida Islands, where we joined forces with other destroyers for operations in the Solomon Islands. In just a few days we will be sent to destroy Japs up the Slot. Continue reading

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Metamorphosis

The Brooklyn Navy yard served as our base during our shakedown period. The adjustment to being with so many new shipmates was fun.

Brooklyn Navy Yard, September 1942.

We certainly were diverse in so many ways. Human nature and temperament helped in understanding one another. Character graded the measure of friendship we would develop. A good sense of humor was a major plus. Prejudices raise red flags and second thoughts. Being thrown together with 350 men from every conceivable background of ethnic, economic and cultural persuasion makes for a most fascinating family.

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It Happens In The Best Of Families

“Reveille, reveille!”

I awoke with a start. Being awakened out of a dead sleep at night by the loud speaker system is usually associated with the emergency command for sounding “General Quarters”—meaning “Man your battle stations” My sack was ringing wet with perspiration. I rolled over hoping this was just a dream.

“First division man the crash boat!”
Continue reading

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