BOSH Purple Heart

BOSH Purple Heart

There’s a Purple Heart in the BOSH Alumni archives.

Purple Heart awarded to Richard Warr

BOSH Purple Heart medal

Richard Warr's dog tags, inside a Purple Heart medal box.

I started a project to better organize the Brother Martin High School Alumni archives. Right at the start, I found a box containing a Purple Heart. The box is like the one my dad kept his brother’s medals in. While some folks engrave a name on the rear of a decoration, this one was unidentified. Whomever donated the medal to the school included a set of dog tags. So, it’s on the list of rabbit holes for me to fall into at some point.

The dog tags belong Richard Warr. All I have is the name at this point. D-Day makes a good day to present this, even if Mr. Warr was younger.

“Being wounded or killed…”

The Purple Heart began as the Badge of Military Merit. Washington authorized it on 7-August-1782. He awarded three of the medals. While the Badge of Military Merit wasn’t abolished, it was never awarded again. The military revived the decoration in 1927. MacArthur received the first medal in 1932. The Purple Heart is awarded for. “Being wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces.” The earliest eligibility date for the award was originally set at 5-April-1917. Congress later authorized its award to earlier conflicts dating back to the Civil War.

Given that St. Aloysius opened its doors in 1869, there are a lot of Crusaders and Kingsmen who are eligible for the Purple Heart.

BOSH Honor Roll

I’ve yet to find a list of BOSH alumni who received the Purple Heart, so it’s time we get that started. If you or a relative attended one of the three Brothers of the Sacred Heart schools here in New Orleans and received the decoration, let us know, in a comment, or email me at edward@ebranley.com. Tell us the recipient’s name, which school he graduated from, when he graduated, and any other notes you’d like to add.

Elysian Fields 1938

Elysian Fields 1938

Before Elysian Fields took you to UNO, there was the Pontchartrain Railroad.

ford truck at elysian fields and gentilly 1938

Elysian Fields in 1938

Photo of Gentilly Road at Elysian Fields, 1938. A Ford Model T truck heads westbound on Gentilly, Behind the truck is a dirt road which later becomes Elysian Fields Avenue. Prior to this, this Gentilly Road was the half-way point for the Pontchartrain Railroad (PRR). The PRR ran from Chartres Street in the Marigny up to Milneburg. The Louisville & Nashville discontinued the PRR in 1931. So, by 1938, the street had yet to replace the train tracks.

Hebrew Rest Cemetery is visible on the left. A consortium of Jewish congregations bought land on the Gentilly Ridge. The high ground of the ridge facilitated in-ground burials.

Railroad versus canal

The first link between the city and the lake was the combination of the Carondelet Canal and Bayou St. John. The Creoles built the canal in 1795. They leveraged the bayou to complete a waterway. The Anglo-Irish community built the second connection, the New Basin Canal. So, by the 1840s, both sides of Canal Street had a link to the lake.

Businessmen in Gentilly went in a different direction. While developers did consider a canal to the east of the city, linking Faubourg Marigny with the lake, they scrapped the plan. Instead, investors built a railroad from the established neighborhood and the lake. The PRR opened in 1831. Ships docked at Port Pontchartrain and trains took goods down to the riverfront. As Milneburg developed, passengers used the six-mile route to go to the lake for day trips.

L&N takes over

The PRR sold out to the New Orleans, Mobile and Texas Railroad in 1871. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad leased the PRR route in 1880. They bought it outright in 1881. The L&N bought the PRR to extend their system to the port of New Orleans. So, they didn’t really care much about Port Pontchartrain. So, the full run to Lake Pontchartrain became more passenger than cargo. Milneburg offered hotels, restaurants, and fishing camps to New Orleanians. By 1930, L&N lost interest in keeping up the full PRR route. The final trains to Milneburg ran in 1932.

Works Progress Administration

By the late 1930s, the tracks vanished. A dirt/shell road replaced the right-of-way. The neighborhood expanded at this time, laying the foundation for the Gentilly subdivisions that popped up after World War II. When the Works Progress Administration (WPA) came to New Orleans in 1939, paving roads in Gentilly ranked high on the project list. WPA created the grid of Gentilly streets as we know them in 1939-1940. Elysian Fields Avenue linked Gentilly Road to the new bath house facility built at Milneburg. They accepted Harry Batt, Jr.’s bid to move his amusement park from Bayou St. John and the lake to the end of Elysian Fields. NOPSI set up bus service from downtown to the new “Pontchartrain Beach” amusement area.

Sixteen years after this photo, post-war growth in Gentilly included the opening of Cor Jesu High School. The Brothers of the Sacred Heart built the school on Elysian Fields, in what was the land to the right of this photo.

The truck

I like to think the truck in this photo was one of the ones used by the Zuppardo family at this time. The Zuppardo’s started with a mule-drawn wagon, bringing over-ripe bananas from the port up into Gentilly. The business became profitable, and the family built a roadside stand on Gentilly Road. They replaced the wagons with trucks. Eventually the business became Zuppardo’s Supermarket. The family operated the store on the corner of Elysian Fields and Gentilly until Hurricane Katrina.

Podcast 42 – Martin Madness

Podcast 42 – Martin Madness

Brother Martin High School’s spring fundraising campaign is “Martin Madness”

martin madness

Martin Madness

Sharing some history, reflections, and thoughts on the influence of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, from the Civil War to the present.


Here’s the PDF

Go support Brother Martin High!

Architectural Rendering of Shushan Airport

Architectural Rendering of Shushan Airport

Shushan Airport is now known as Lakefront Airport.

 

Art Deco administration building at Shushan Airport

shushan airport

2010 photo of the restored art deco facade of the Lakefront Airport administration building. Infrogmation photo.

Architectural drawing of the Administration building of Shushan Airport. The state built the airport on the eastern side of the Industrial Canal. Then-governor Huey P. Long authorized the construction of the airport in 1929. The airport opened in 1934. Airport visitors pull up to this splendid example of art deco style. The Army Air Corps hardened the administration building at the outset of World War II. While the original art deco design remained, the AAC covered it with a “bomb proof” exterior. The building underwent extensive renovations in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Its original facade was restored, as well as the art deco fixtures, floors, etc., in the interior.

Shushan to Lakefront

shushan airport

architectural rendering of Shushan Airport administration building.

The state originally named the airport after Huey Long ally Abraham Shushan. Long rewarded Shushan’s loyalty (and financial contributions) with a position on the Orleans Parish Levee Board. Shushan became president of that board. That’s why the airport took his name. Shushan got caught up in several political scandals in the 1930s. Abe became a liability to his patron. The Long faction cut him loose and re-named the airport in 1939. It became New Orleans Airport, with the three-letter designation, NEW. When Moisant Field in Kenner evolved into the city’s primary airport, New Orleans Airport became Lakefront Airport. It still retains NEW as its code, with now-named Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport as MSY.

This rendering is part of the Franck Studios collection at THNOC. The architectural firm that created it is uncredited.

Bomber Base

As tensions increased in Europe in the late 1930s, the United States Army Air Corps created antisubmarine aircraft squadrons along the Gulf of Mexico. One of these bomber squadrons operated from Lakefront Airport. While the planes parked at the airport, there wasn’t enough space to house the squadron’s personnel and offices. The Army acquired land on the west side of the Industrial Canal. They built the support facilities for the squadron there. Pilots and maintenance crew worked back and forth across the canal. The western base later became part of Camp Leroy Johnson, an army supply depot.

 

1943 Willys MB Jeep at the National WWII Museum

1943 Willys MB Jeep at the National WWII Museum

A 1943 Willys MB jeep at the National World War II Museum has a 75mm recoilless rifle.

1943 Willys MB with 75mm recoilless rifle

1943 Willys MB with 75mm recoilless rifle. Edward Branley photo.

The Freedom Pavillion

On our recent trip to the National World War II Museum, we walked through The United States Freedom Pavillion. My firstborn, LT Branley, USN (Ret), wanted to see the various airplanes hanging above us. As we walked in, something else caught my eye, a jeep. Jeeps are pretty common, but this particular one caught my eye. It has a rocket launcher mounted in the back seat. The configuration reminded me of the old television show, “The Rat Patrol.” In the show, set during the North Africa campaign, the jeeps the “patrol” used had machine guns mounted in the back seats. I always thought this was a Hollywood thing. That’s why my eyes turned when I saw this rocket mounted on a jeep.

1943 Willys MB Jeep

1943 Willys MB with 75mm recoilless rifle

1943 Willys MB with 75mm recoilless rifle. Edward Branley photo.

While “The Rat Patrol” was fiction (it was based on a British SAS unit in North Africa), the Willys MB is authentic. Here’s the Museum’s description of the jeep:

Finally, a 1943 Willys MB is on exhibit in The United States Freedom Pavilion, The Boeing Center. This jeep, like other vehicles in the pavilion, runs; and it is moved on a regular basis to accommodate Museum events. This jeep is marked to represent the 155th Airborne Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion with the 17th Airborne Division during Operation Varsity. This unit received two 75mm recoilless rifles for use in that operation. This type of weapon was just being deployed at the end of the war and proved very useful in anti-tank operations. In addition to the recoilless rifle, the jeep features a wire cutter commonly found in the European theater and a limited collection of other accessories. The jeep has appropriate unit markings. The W number is painted in white, as is typically observed after a vehicle has spent time with a unit.

(from the article, “Shop Talk: Three Jeeps” on the museum’s website)

So, the MB jeep sports a 75mm recoilless rifle. In addition to the memories of the television show, the tube-like gun on the back reminded me of the Cold War board wargames we played in the 1980s. A common weapons system of that time was the BGM-71 TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided) missile. It was interesting to see the evolution of vehicular weapons systems.

North Africa

1942 Ford GPW in the North Africa Exhibit. Courtesy of The National WWII Museum.

1942 Ford GPW in the North Africa Exhibit. Thomas Czekanski photo, Courtesy of The National WWII Museum.

In the North Africa exhibit of the Road to Berlin Gallery, another jeep caught my eye. The display contains a 1942 Ford GPW painted and weathered to look like it had been at Kasserine Pass. Back when I taught American History at Redeemer High School in Gentilly, I used to show the movie, “The Big Red One.” That movie features the battle at the pass. What impressed me about this jeep was the weathering. This jeep’s weathering includes mud spatters as if it traveled a lot of desert miles. No machine gun mounted in the back, just a hard-working vehicle. The National WWII Museum are masters in creating the “immersive experience.”

National WWII Museum Visit – D-Day @WWIImuseum

National WWII Museum Visit – D-Day @WWIImuseum

A National WWII Museum visit is a NOLA must!

Diorama featuring a C-4 Waco glider at the National WWII Museum visit, in New Orleans. Edward Branley photo.

Diorama featuring a C-4 Waco glider at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. Edward Branley photo.

National WWII Museum Visit

My Firstborn, who spent ten years as a submariner, always wants to go to make a National WWII Museum visit when he comes home (he lives in the DMV, working for the Strategic Capabilities Office these days). We gladly oblige him, as the museum is a fun way to spend the day. He walks like he’s still on a boat and needs coffee badly, so we let him go ahead. When it’s three or four of us, it’s everyone for themselves, and we text to get back together. Being a naval officer, he usually spends most of his time in the Road To Tokyo exhibit. Being an NJROTC cadet who was often chewed out by Master Chief Brennan at Brother Martin High School, I share his interest in the Navy exhibits.

D-Day

So, this trip, I was surprised when my O-3 said, let’s start with the original D-Day exhibits in the Louisiana Pavillion. The museum evolved from Ambrose’s original D-Day focus to all of the war. In that first summer of 2000, though, Overlord dominated. There’s one diorama in particular that I like to stop at for a while. The scene features a CG-4 Waco glider. The glider crashed into a stone wall in the woods behind and to the west of the Normandy beaches. The US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions dropped into that area. They advanced, securing bridges and causeways connecting the beaches to the hedgerow country. While this particular Waco endured a hard landing (one wing is shown broken off), the jeep inside remains intact. Glider Infantry pushed the vehicle out, then drove off to connect with the rest of their unit.

It’s the stillness of the scene that gets me every time. It’s quiet, maybe this was one of the first gliders to land. The drops were a mess in those early hours of 6-June-1944. Someone’s managed to open the cargo hold. Hopefully the pilots survived. Crickets remind you that this is forest country. The display features no strong special effects, just the night sounds. The All-American and Screaming Eagles started their European campaign there.