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Wildcats On LIFE Cover

December 24th, 2012

Wildcats On LIFE Cover

Colorado Springs, Colo. - MLEON finds memorabilia which sheds light on the June 5, 1944 cover photo for LIFE magazine.

Accounts of the 81st Infantry Division printed in 1948 explain that this photograph was taken during a May 10, 1944 parade and ceremony when the Division was training in California. The event was held to award the Expert Infantryman's Badge to 806 men. News photographers attending the event posed a photograph with some of these men - one of the images made the magazine cover announcing D-Day in Europe.

A personal hand-written letter from Colonel Arthur P. Watson to his wife dated June 7, 1944, found recently provides some additional insight. Watson was the 323rd Infantry Regiment commander - my dad's regiment. A copy of the letter was given to MLEON by Watson's youngest son John.

"Guess you saw the 'Wildcats' on cover of June 5 LIFE, tho it didn't say it was 'us'," the elder Watson wrote in the letter. "LIFE certainly hurt 'D'-Day on the...

Captured Japanese Flag

December 12th, 2012

Captured Japanese Flag

Colorado Springs, Colo. - MLEON obtained a captured WWII Japanese with battle honors for the 81st Infantry. The writer/artist is writing and drawing for his book SoldierHeart, which is a journey to understand a boy's perspective of the war his father fought in. His father was assigned to the 81st.

"This is another amazing item that helps make my dad's war real to me," MLEON said. "It appears to be an authentic silk flag actually taken by an unidentified soldier in dad's Division. It's hard to say where exactly the flag was captured. Since the heaviest fighting the Wildcats faced was in the battle for Peleliu, it would seem that would be the most likely location to keep a victory flag.

The 31" by 27" flag was dirty, wrinkled and bloodied. The words “Wildcat Division” is handwritten right above the meatball with a number of battle honors lightly written in ink in the white areas. These include "HAWAII, GUADALCANAL, ULITHI, ANGUAR, PELELIU, ADMIRALTY ISLAND,...

Artist Trying To Identify Japanese WWII Album

December 11th, 2012

Artist Trying To Identify Japanese WWII Album

Colorado Springs, Colo. - MLEON announced this week that he has obtained a WWII photo album that was taken from the hands of a Japanese soldier killed on a battlefield in the Pacific. The writer/artist hopes that information and photographs found within the album will help inform his current work on the war. He is writing and drawing for his book SoldierHeart, which is a journey to understand a boy's perspective of WWII.

"This is really an amazing find," MLEON said. "The story here fits perfectly within the story of my dad who was an American soldier who fought in the Pacific and carried its scars through his life. My book is about healing, so I am hoping to identify as much as I can about the Japanese soldier. Hopefully we will be able to eventually return it to its home."

The album, with 189 images, was brought home as a war trophy by a US Army soldier.

"I acquired this album in 1998 from an attorney that I had worked for in Iowa," said the...