Vietnam War POW: Foreign Service POW Returns! Vietnam POW – Philip W. Manhard’s Escape




Two years ago I was lucky enough to purchase a large collection of 35mm color slides from a family in New Hampshire. The 5000+ 35mm slides were taken by an unnamed member of the US Foreign Service who was a key member in international affairs in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I’m being judicious and only posting very interesting photos from his collection, and in this example I’m posting a photo of Philip W. Manhard upon his return from Vietnam.   This was his “welcome back” party from being  POW.

I’ve sent a bulk of the 35mm slides to a close member of the Manhard family and hope they will trickle down to the younger relatives.  Special thanks to Dick Manhard for responding to my letter and accepting the slides seen in this post.

Philip W. Manhard as a POW:

Ambassador Henry Broade, Philip Manhard, Noel Gaylor

Original caption: Clark Base, Philippines. U.S. Ambassador to the Phillipines Henry Byroade, gives a handshake to Philip Manhard, highest ranking Civilian captured by the communist, after he arrived here 3/16 following his release. Mayhard, of McLean, Virginia, was a provincial advisor when caaptured in 1969. Center os admiral Noel Gayler, commander Oacific Naval Forces.

Manhard Leaving Plane

Manhard Leaving Plane



Name: Phillip Wallace Manhard
Branch/Rank: CIVILIAN
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record:
Date of Loss: 01-February-68
Country of Loss: SOUTH VIETNAM
Loss Coordinates: 162736  North  1073302 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident:
Refno: 1013

Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews and CACCF = Combined Action
Combat Casualty File.




No further information available at this time.

WWII Snapshot – Four Pilots of Blackburn’s Jolly Rogers, VF-17 Identified F4U Corsair Pilots

Windy Hill, Merl William Davenport, John Orrin Ellsworth and William Lee Landreth in Bougainville

Windy Hill, Merle William Davenport, John Orrin Ellsworth and William Lee Landreth in Bougainville







Merle William Davenport

 “Butch” Merl is the only true fighter ace pictured in the snapshot.  He was credited with 6 confirmed aerial victories during his time in the PTO. Merl passed away in 1989.

John Orrin Ellsworth

John's Stateside Grave Marker

John’s Stateside Grave Marker

William Lee Landreth- The last Living Original Pilot from VF-17

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From Country’s 2012 obituary:

“He grew up to pilot the powerful F4U Corsair with fighter squadron VF-17, the Jolly Rogers, and was eventually its last surviving original pilot. “Country”, as his squadron mates dubbed him, was credited with 3 kills and 1 assist while his squadron destroyed 154 planes in 76 days of combat in the South Pacific. No bomber escorted by VF-17 was lost to enemy aircraft, no ship ever hit by a bomb or aerial torpedo. – See more at:
Mr. Landreth eventually passed away due to complication from a WWII injury sustained during his stint with the VF-17.  My heart goes out to his family. I hope they find this page and this snapshot of him with his comrades.

WWII Portrait Photo Identification: PFC John M. Holland, 11th Airborne, 675th GFA

A recent eBay photo grouping purchase has landed me with a fantastic identified and easily researchable photo of an 11th Airborne paratrooper.  An often looked-over paratrooper group, the 11th served in the PTO and has been sadly back-burnerned due to the popularity of the 101st and 82nd Divisions who fought in the ETO and who have inspired such works as Band of Brothers and other films, books and video games.

PFC. John M. Holland in Japan

PFC. John M. Holland in Japan

This portrait photo was taken by M. Kimura in Yonezawa, Japan in late 1945.  The sitter is John M. Holland, a Dallas, Texas WWII veteran who served with the 675th Glider Field Artillery in the Pacific Theater of Operation(PTO) during WWII.  He was born on June 2nd, 1924 at 821 East Dallas Street in Dallas, TX.   After the war he went on to play professional baseball for two years in the Texas Leagues until he injured his throwing arm in 1947.  He next went to work in the Cotton Exchange Building in the cotton and textile industry.


And I was able to find an incredible account of his wartime experiences here:


I’m copying it here:

John writes of his Army record:

“Feb. 18, 1943 – Assigned and shipped by train to Camp MacCall, Hoffman, North Carolina. Arrived February 22nd. The US Army started their first Airborne Division to be trained as Airborne Troops. This was the 11th Airborne Division, which included glider and paratroops together. This Division of about 8 to 10 thousand, included artillery, infantry, engineering, anti-aircraft and tank, and support units.

“I was assigned to the 675th Field Artillery, Battery A Unit. This was a unit of 105 Howitzers, short barrel with split trails, to fit in the gliders for transport to battle areas. I was assigned to the Communication Section, which had to set up telephones and switch boards to all positions: Headquarters, guns and forward positions by wire (laying lines), and also radio.”

John served throughout the Philippines during World War II where he supported the infantry in capturing Los Banos prison camp and liberating its prisoners, and later was ordered into Japan with the occupation forces. Among the medals he received were the Asiatic-Pacific medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, Philippine Liberation Ribbon as well as Parachute/Glider Wings.

Of the invasion of Leyte, Philippines John writes “Further action did not occur until just before dark when three Japanese planes came in from the East over the high area inland and dropped two bombs; one was a dud and the other exploded just east of our area. The planes circled and started back to us, then turned away as seven of our planes intercepted and shot down one Zeke. “

“Then about dark, we heard incoming shells and we all hit the fox holes. All shells hit either on the beach or short of our position. At about 2000 hours, a group of Japanese soldiers started hollering and running to our position. We killed all but one and he fell into a large hole before he got to us.”

“The next day there was a lot of movement off shore, just to the North of our position, and several LST’s landed with cameramen and reporters….standing in front of the last LST was “the man with the pipe,” General Douglas Mac Arthur, with cameras firing off as fast as possible. He was about 100 yards from our position and that is where he made his famous “I have Returned!” statement.”

John’s unit stayed on that beach for two more days and nights under fire from enemy planes and troops on the ground. On the fourth day, they began to move inland. It took them two weeks to push through the center of Leyte Island to the east coast. When they finally got there they helped the people of the villages put their houses back together.

“Many of our soldiers were stricken by yellow jaundice and malaria. We received replacements and started moving to several other small islands, securing them and cleaning Japanese pockets of soldiers from them.”

“At about 06:45 A.M., we hit the shore of Luzon, (Manila) at Nasugbu.” John received the Presidential Unit Citation for his part in the Battle of Manila. “This operation covered almost one month…Then we rested for one week by scouting villages in and around our area. After the Manila operation, this area was always free of any Japanese aircraft.”

Not long after that, John’s unit was told they were going to be dropped into Japan to take and secure Atsugi Air Field just outside of Tokyo. On the flight over the senior officer on the plane told them “do your jobs again like we did in Manila and Nichols Field and we again would be the victors as We are the Airborne!” The men all yelled with him, then settled down, got some rest, and prayed.

“About four hours later, we were awakened and told that the atomic bombs had been dropped and that Japan was willing to surrender….. We all hollered and, after many handshakes and hugs, the officer told us we were headed back to Okinawa…..we all got on our knees and gave thanks. Many of us shed tears of joy!”

Now that the war was ending, there was a race to get to Tokyo. MacArthur wanted his favorites, the 1st Cavalry, to be there first.

John was chosen as part of the honor guard to go to meet MacArthur. When “Mac” and the 1st Cavalry arrived at Atsugi Air Field, John and the 11th Airborne were there to welcome them!

After the Surrender of Japan on the USS Missouri, John got his orders to go home. He arrived in Seattle December 24th, 1945 and about four days later got to Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. He was discharged February 1946.

To see footage of the Los Banos POW camp on the day of it’s liberation please click the photo below:


And to hear an incredible interview with  released POW’s from the camp click the photo below (they reference the paratroopers dropping in):


All of the information in this post has been acquired through the biographical website of John M. Holland:



WWII in Color – Rare Marine USMC DUKW Boat in Color! Saipan Quack Corps 35mm Color Slides

I always try to pick up groupings of WWII color slides whenever possible, but they are incredibly expensive.  I don’t want to say what I paid for these slides, but they weren’t cheap!  This small selection of slides comes from the WWII 35mm slide collection of a fighter pilot who spent some time on Saipan and shot some incredible images of the things he witnessed while on the island.  In this set we wee a DUKW of the 2nd Marine Division complete with painted duck logo, serial codes, and prisoners/laborers in the back. A rare color glimpse into the paint schemes and battle-wear of a wartime DUKW.  I would love to find more info on the unit, but don’t know where to start!

Saipan498 Saipan499 Saipan501

WWII Identified Photo – Lt. Peter Figler of the 45th Division in Northern France, 1944

Lt. Peter Figler

Lt. Peter Figler

eBay listings can be a treasure chest of great genealogical and WWII material.  My favorite photos are ones that can be linked to a direct individual in a combat unit serving overseas in WWII.  In this case, I was able to purchase a signal corps shot taken by the well-known combat photographer Irving Katz.  His last name is mentioned on the reverse side of the image.  Luckily, I’m familiar with Katz’s work from my familiarity with the Smithsonian article about the famous discovery of the Rothschild furniture in a German warehouse.  More on that in a later post.  Also, I’m friendly with a 196th Signal Corps photographer who lives locally. The 163rd and 196th served together in similar capacities in Italy and Southern France.

(August 25th, 2017 UPDATE)

I was just informed that this photo was taken by a different Katz that served in the same unit. Irving didn’t make it to the continent until January, 1945. Thanks to Barry S. for clearing this up!


45th Division Insignia

45th Division Insignia

Back to the identification portion of the blog post.  Lt. Peter Figler posed for his snapshot while holding a French fire helmet next to a fire engine in the Northeastern French town of Brouvelieures.  Figler was a Lieutenant with B Battery of the 160th Field Artillery of the 45th Division when they participated in the Vosges Mountain Campaign.  The photo is dated October 23rd, 1944 which places it in the early portion of the campaign.

The reverse caption identifies Lt. Figler as being from the Pennsylvania town of Larksville.  With a name and town I was able to easily identify him and track down some basic info on him from  He was born on September 28th, 1919 and enlisted on June 16th, 1941, well before Pearl Harbor. That would likely account for his status as a Lieutenant in 1944.  Sadly, he passed away in 2006.  I’ve attached his obituary at the bottom of the post in hopes of connecting with his family.  I love to reconnect family members with images of their relatives and provide unwatermarked photos for them.

1940 Census Record

1940 Census Record

French Brass Fire Helmet

French Brass Fire Helmet


2006 Obituary

PETER FIGLER Peter Figler, 86, of Colonial Park, Harrisburg, formerly of Larksville, passed away Monday, June 26, 2006 at Community General Osteopathic Hospital in Harrisburg. He was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Eleanor (Sheridan) Figler, Jan. 11, 2002. Born Sept. 28, 1919, he was a son of the late Peter and Eva (Yasenchak) Figler. He graduated from Larksville High School. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he served his country in World War II. The Army took him to numerous countries including Germany, Italy, France, Africa and Austria. He received the Bronze Star Medal for Heroic Achievement in Action, in France, in September, 1944. He worked for the United States Postal Service, retiring after more than 30 years. His family says he will be remembered for his strong family values. Mr. Figler was an active, founding member of St. Anns Byzantine Catholic Church in Colonial Park, Harrisburg and the former president of the Holy Name Society. During the early part of his retirement, he enjoyed traveling with his wife to Florida, Canada and Cape May, NJ. He was a former member of the ABC North Senior Bowling League. Surviving are his two daughters, Margaret Wolfe and her husband, Robert, of Lansdale and Elaine Witmer and her husband, Jonathan, of Harrisburg; four grandchildren, Pamela, Michael and his wife, Kim, Robert and his wife, Janelle, and Karen and her husband, Pietro; six great-grandchildren, Devon, Camron, Brandon, Elizabeth, Adriana and Arden; a sister, Helen Zalora of Wilkes-Barre; a brother, Paul Figler of Shavertown; and numerous nephews and nieces. Friends will be received from 6 to 8 PM, Sunday, July 2 at Neill Funeral Home, 3501 Derry St., Harrisburg. Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 11:30 AM, Monday, July 3 at St. Anns Byzantine Catholic Church, 5408 Locust Lane, Harrisburg, PA 17109, officiated by Father Michael Shear. Burial with military honors will be at Resurrection Cemetery, Harrisburg. Memorials in Peters memory may be made to St. Anns Byzantine Catholic Church, at the above address.

WWII Color Slide – Berlin Street Scene Reshot 68 Years Later!

One of my favorite WWII color slide groupings was shot by a US Engineer who was stationed in Berlin at the end of the war.  Quite the shutter bug, he was able to track down German Agfa color film and shoot some of the scenery around Berlin.  In one image, Captain Smith captures a brisk October, 1945 morning on Curtiusstraße in Berlin.  An intrepid researcher was able to track down the original location using information from the store signs.  Special thanks to Berliner Niko Rollmann for reshooting the image for me.

Here’s a link to a google map image:,13.296139&num=1&t=h&gl=us&z=18

Berlin, 1945

Berlin, 1945

Berlin, 2013

Berlin, 2013

A Canadian in Holland During WWII: Photographic Journal of Captain William J. Klyn – 1945

For those interested in views of Holland during WWII I present the following set of unwatermarked images.  Please enjoy, and if you plan on using these for publication, please contact me first.  I assume most were taken in Amsterdam, but some may have been snapped in other places in the Netherlands and possibly Germany.

Want more?  I have over 200 images taken in Holland during WWII.  Add a comment asking for specific topics and I should be able to help you out!