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Military History/Checkerboard on back of 7th Inf Div uniforms at Kwajalein


TIZWIN wrote at 2014-07-11 14:27:22
I have made an intensive study of the 1944 operation to seize Kwajalein Atoll from the Japanese, concentrating on the Army's role as my late father was a rifle platoon leader in the 7th Infantry Division and participated in that campaign.  The checkerboard panels in question were indeed used for identification of U.S. personnel for the pilots of U.S. aircraft.  The problem of "friendly fire" from aircraft (and artillery) causing casualties among ground troops persisted throughout the war, even during the division's last campaign on Okinawa.  The panels were an attempt to reduce the incidence of these tragedies.  Two of the 7th Division's regiments, the 17th and 184th, had participated in the earlier campaign to seize Kiska Island in the Aleutians and for that action were issued similar panels and also larger panels of fluorescent orange coloring to lay on the ground during bivouacs.  (An ironic note is that the Kiska campaign is known for the "friendly fire" casualties as the Japanese had previously evacuated from the island; these casualties were caused by brother infantrymen firing on each other in the both figurative and literal fog of war.  The panels did not help in that situation.) The 32nd and 184th Infantry Regiments, which assaulted the main island of Kwajalein, wore the black and white panels during the battle, but the panels were never issued again to members of the division in its subsequent campaigns.  Curiously, my father's regiment, the 17th Infantry, which captured some of the outlying islands in Kwjalein Atoll, were not issued the panels.  

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william oneill


I can answer questions on uniforms and insignia. General military subjects, British military history & uniforms European armies and histories american militia/national guard all wars weapons, equipment


I currently work for the National Museum of the Marine Corps as a Collections Management Specialist 2006-Present My previous position was the Registrar of the Virginia War Museum. The primary duties at both places was the identification and research of uniforms, insignia, flags, weapons, equipment,and preservation techniques in consultation with conservators. I wrote didactic panels and labels describing the period particular uniforms and equipment were in use. I served as the expert resource for questions on general military subjects for both U.S. and international military operations for local news media. Consulted with History Channel on camouflage uniforms, assisted other museums in identifying military artifacts in their collections, and have written extensive articles in the Virginia War Museum's newsletter, the Correspondent and given lectures on a vary of military topics relating to the operations of United States forces from 1775-Present.

Life Member- Disabled American Veterans Life Member- Vietnam Veterans of America

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BA History-Christopher Newport College-1988 MA History Canadidate- Old Dominion University-1990 Certificate- Military Policy and Strategy- Old Dominion University-1991

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Virginia War Museum Virginia War Memorial Museum U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum U.S. Army Transportation Museum Infantry Museum Ft. Riley Museum Finance Corps Museum 82nd Airborne Museum Ft. Wadsworth Harbor Defense Museum History Channel Museum of American Heroes (private museum) Mr. Don Tharpe Mr. Phil Morton

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