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Finding someone without military specifics

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#1 karenlalaniz



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Posted 14 May 2012 - 08:50 PM

I would like to find someone on behalf of my father, a 91-year old veteran of WWII. Here is what we know;

  • Name - Mal, Mel, possibly Melvin Boehme. We've assumed the Mal or Mel was first name but possibly last.
  • He was stationed on Oahu, Hawaii.
  • He was probably trained at a code breaking school.
  • He was only 19-years old but had a brilliant mind.
  • Killed when hit by shrapnel off of Okinawa approximately March 21 to April 7, 1945.
  • Was part of 5-person team who broke code based in Japanese diplomatic language, Katakana.
  • Copied code
  • Naval intelligence
  • Possibly from midwest - seemed to have that type of speech/dialect
  • Was about 19 at time of death in 1945
  • In addition to Okinawa, he was also at Iwo Jima prior to the initial invasion on Feb. 1, 1945 copying code
  • The shrapnel that killed him, hit him in the head. It was from a Kamikaze that hit the water very close to the ship
  • The ship was a communications ship that was bristling with antenna's.
I know someone will ask, so no, I do not know the names of the ships or submarines he was on. I also do not know his last name. Thank you in advance! ~Karen Fisher-Alaniz
http://s201.photobucket.com/albums/aa223/karenlalaniz/?action=view¤t=BtCwithAlaniz.jpgMy memoir, BREAKING THE CODE: a Father's Secret, a Daughter's Journey, and the Question That Changed Everything is about my father, a WWII veteran who began having PTSD more than 50-years after the war, and my quest to find out why.

#2 Belasar


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Posted 14 May 2012 - 10:34 PM

Karen, you have left us with a puzzler indeed.

A few starting points.

Awile back a fire consumed much of the government's WWII military personel records, and it is hard enough for those seeking information with considerably more information to work with. the 'Mel-Mal' could be a first name, last name or even a middle name. It is not entirely unthinkable that 'Mel/Mal' might even be a nick-name as some people were saddled with family names they hated and went with something completely different.

You should also keep in mind that code breaking was a highly secret matter and anyone involved was cautioned about speaking about what they do. Put simply, there could be a fair amount of embellishment going on here. Thats not to say he did not work in this area, just that commonplace record keeping and the like is still a part of this highly secret work, and even filing reports and filling out requisition forms had to be done and this usually fell to lower ranking ratings, which would be in line with his age group.

Your best avenue is to search for information would to be look at ships damaged by Kamakase attacks and then try to look for a listing for those Killed in Action (KIA) during the period in question for those ships. Sadly this could be anything from a LST (Landing Ship, Tank) to a Battleship, but judgeing from your information I would seach smaller ships first as they would be more likely to have somebody killed by a near miss. Another factor to consider is that Japan used on occasion 'mixed' attacks of conventional airplane attack along side with Kamakase and it was often difficult for a ship fighting for its life to tell the difference, so if nothing presents itself in just Kamakase, search out casualties due to air attack of any type.

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#3 TD-Tommy776


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Posted 15 May 2012 - 12:06 AM

Never mind. I was checking the Army records. Doh!

Freedom is precious and many gave their lives for it. It is the duty of the future generation
to remember that sacrifice, and offer some sacrifice for themselves if Freedom is threatened.

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#4 LRusso216



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Posted 15 May 2012 - 01:24 AM

This is really a poser, Karen. I would follow what is suggested by Belasar. NARA will be of little help, so I would look for naval deaths by kamikaze. It will probably take a long time. Best of luck.

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#5 George Patton

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 03:17 AM

The key to solving this is that the man was on a communications ship. Assuming this was a dedicated communications ship (ie: not a battleship, which would have had extensive radio equipment), this greatly narrows down the search.

There were a few ship classes that fit this category, but the first thing that comes to mind are the Appalachian class amphibious force (invasion) flagships. These had large antennas and at least one was present at every major amphibious operation. Have a look at the class listing, and find which ones were present at Okinawa. From there, try to track down which ones suffered kamikaze attacks. It might be worth looking at those "under constant air attack", as a near-miss by a kamikaze might not have made it into the record if the ship wasn't damaged. If you can narrow it down to a few possible ships, see if you can get in touch with a veterans association. Each ship may have one, if you're lucky. If so, someone would likely have a record of a crewman's death in that manner.

I would look myself, but its late now and I don't have time at the moment. Tomorrow I might have a look.

Good luck.
Best Regards,

#6 karenlalaniz



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Posted 19 May 2012 - 04:13 AM

Thank you...thank you! I have begun my search again. With a few more times from you all, maybe I'll find something this time. I've considered hiring a private detective, but feel like the people here on this forum are probably more helpful, and have more expertise in the area. So anyway, I'll check those suggestions and come back. Thanks again! ~Karen
http://s201.photobucket.com/albums/aa223/karenlalaniz/?action=view¤t=BtCwithAlaniz.jpgMy memoir, BREAKING THE CODE: a Father's Secret, a Daughter's Journey, and the Question That Changed Everything is about my father, a WWII veteran who began having PTSD more than 50-years after the war, and my quest to find out why.

#7 693FA



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Posted 21 May 2012 - 07:10 AM

Done a little digging and looks like there was at least six of the class at Okinawa. However only one fits the category of possibly being near a devastating kamikaze attack.

During the capture of Ie Shima and until mid-June 1945 Amphibious Group 4 retained responsibility for naval support of troop operations in northern Okinawa. For Panamint this was a two-and-a-half month period of nightly aerial attacks.
Kamikaze planes were in evidence from before D-Day, but the first mass enemy air attack occurred on 6 April. No ships of the Northern Attack Force were hit. Other large scale attacks came on the 12th, 16th, 22nd, and 28th. On the 30th a plane crashed into Liberty ship S. Hall Young, 800 yards from Panamint, and carrying ammunition. A bomb from the plane pierced the shell plating on both sides of the ship in the vicinity of the No. 5 hold. The plane itself struck the after boom and fell into the hold, starting a fire. Panamint’s fire and rescue party boarded the S. Hall Young and extinguished the fire.
On 6 May when a plane approached Panamint from the starboard beam, Panamint, her sister ships, and shore batteries on Ie Shima commenced firing. The plane circled to port for a suicide dive, but the anti-aircraft fire proved effective. He overshot Panamint, splashing 1500 yards off her port bow.
On the 11th two enemy planes were sighted low over the water approaching the Ie Shima transport area on the starboard beam. The planes were following an evasive course to get through the screening vessels which had commenced firing.
Panamint opened fire on one of the planes, which dropped a torpedo. Panamint put her rudder hard right at full speed and swung on the anchor to a position paralleling the course of the approaching plane and torpedo. The plane erupted into flames, passed 150 yards astern of Panamint, glanced off the cargo boom of Dutch ship Tjisadane, and splashed into the sea. The torpedo passed the stern of the ship. The second plane closed on the starboard bow, dropped a torpedo which passed to starboard and cleared Panamint’s stern by 30 feet.

USS Panamint (AGC-13) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I know its wikipedia but it fits the scenario hopefully someone else can add more.


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