Dave Doyle, thank you for your very kind and insightful comments. Bulgaria! How did you find the WWII Scrapbook website? Were you referred by a friend, or did you come across it by chance?
Creating this tribute to Joel was a true labor of love; his photos and fascinating stories presented me with a ‘mission’ to record and share it all with anyone who might be interested.
Off-topic: Coincidentally, I played in a band for several years with a Bulgarian friend from Plovdiv who lives in the states. We played a lot of traditional Bulgarian and Roma music.
Here is a link to one of our recordings: Opa Zupa by Balkan Spirit
Spent this cold wet Sunday here in Burgas, Bulgaria reading this amazing history of one amazing, brave, wonderful human being, Joel. I am humbled, sad, happy, amazed at all that this man went through in his life. Given his socialist leanings in his early life, did he think it was all worth it, or was he simply doing a job and trying to survive. I guess he was doing a job and trying to survive.
Paul you have done a fantastic job with this. Putting this man’s life into written words. Joel has passed on now i read. I hope God is good to him, that he is at peace and happy. He lived through an evil era, and it seems this evil hasn’t left us despite Joel’s heroic efforts. They would still send out the Joels of this world to kill and be killed in pursuit of power, they actually still do. Not one human being of whatever race or colour should have to go through what Joel did.
But the world never changes.
Thank you Joel and Paul.
The several years of grueling action in New Guinea (January 1942 thru the War’s end in August 1945) don’t seem to get quite as much attention from historians as some of the other, more high profile campaigns such as Iwo Jima or Guadalcanal. In fact, the Japanese had numerous airfields scattered throughout New Guinea, some of which posed a very real threat to Australia.
The Battle of Biak, (beginning in May ’44) in which Joel was badly wounded by a direct hit on his MG by a 90mm Jap mortar, was an interesting case in being one of the first instances of the Japanese ‘allowing’ the Allied forces unopposed amphibious landings on the beaches, and to make their way inland, where the enemy had numerous very well camouflaged and provisioned positions with which to ambush and otherwise harass the Allies’ further progress. This tactic proved very effective for the Japanese, and it was repeated at the Battles of Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. The Biak campaign cost the Americans nearly 3,000 casualties, and ultimately gave the 41st (formerly the “Sunset Division”) their most famous nickname, the Jungleers. Biak cost the Japanese over 6,000 dead, and another 4,000 MIA and presumed dead. One cannot overstate the difficulties the Allied soldiers suffered in these Jungle campaigns, where they were for the most part under-trained, poorly equipped, and up against an enemy who had been preparing for them for several years…
My father was in company B, 162nd, 41st in New Guinea. Their experiences are hard to comprehend, their survival, amazing ! We shall be forever proud and appreciative of these men!
My son is with B-2/162. My Wife’s cousin (Deceased) was with the 162nd in New Guinea. He was wounded at Roosevelt Ridge. Good to see this site. RIP Sir.
I haven’t been able to log on to edit, moderate comments, update the site, etc for many months.
Good old Jarrett came thru for me (again) and fixed the bug. Thanks Buddy!
FYI, Joel passed away just four months before his 100th birthday. He lived an amazing, long and full life; he enriched the lives of everyone who was fortunate enough to have met him, and I am glad that I was able to chronicle some of his achievements, experiences, and superb photographs so they could be shared with you all. A couple of his photos were recently used in a History Channel series, “American Pickers”, in an episode that dealt with the 1917 US trench knife, which Joel took many excellent pics of. (The episode is called “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”; the photos are used in the first 10 minutes of the show.)
Anyway, I’m ‘glad to be back’ and able to do further updates and additions; in the near future look for more ‘video vignettes’ from my video interview with Joel. I still have approximately three hours of raw footage to sort through and edit bits that fit with the stories here.
Paul Data, WWII Scrapbook
This design is wicked! You obviously know how to keep a reader entertained.
Between your wit and your videos, I was moved to start my own blog. Wonderful job.
I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost.
Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for
a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused ..
Any ideas? Many thanks!
Your style is very unique in comparison to other folks I’ve read stuff from.
Many thanks for posting this, I’ll bookmark this site.
My name is Alexandra V and I am a Visual Researcher for the TV show “American Pickers” on the History channel. I am contacting you because I found some images on your website that we would love to include in an upcoming episode of our show.
We are interested in a few photos with the M1918 trench knife, found on this page:
For allowing us to use your images we would be glad to list a credit for you at the end of the show.
If you are interested, please contact me as soon as possible on my email
Thank you in advance for your consideration!
Here is the link to our show if interested:
Truly enjoyed browsing your site. My dad was a sniper with the 162nd (? I think) serving in New Guinea at about the same time as Joel. He too received a “battlefield” promotion to 2nd louie there. Also received Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
I wish I had some of the memorabilia he returned with, but he was always reluctant to relive his experience. I do remember him having a headhunter spear which my older brother ended up with.
They truly were Americas Greatest Generation. Thanks for the site. Wish I could find more like it.
Jim Crockett, DK2, USN
Great work on the site , read through it all today and just would like to say God bless Joel and thank you for your service .
I’ve just sat down reading this small piece of art all afternoon.
Thanks for sharing this astonishing histories and pictures.
Congratulations from Spain.
Many congrats again on a great job–whatever you put your hand to–you do it really well… with heart/soul and deft execution! speaking of music… got any links to Data?!? Also, where are your cool Army men?!? I’d like to see those again…
Best to you,
Hello Paul! How are you my friend? It’s been a while have tried to email at times but with no response; hope you are well. Drop us a line will be glad to catch up. PS: Hope you still have the music!
Thank you Nancy!
I had the great honor of spending Sunday afternoons with Joel for six years; coaxing out and absorbing his stories, making prints from his photo negatives, eventually shooting several hours of video interviews for the clips included here. (Not to mention the two of us consuming large quantities of coffee and donuts at Krispy Kreme on West 72nd.)
This project was over ten years in the making; I wish you could see the original paper scrapbook mock-up manuscript that I prepared for print, and which became a ‘template’ for this site.
It’s a shame that paper publishing is waning; this would have been a superb large format book…
I was pleased to have got it all online in time for Joel’s 98th birthday in April 2012!
In the process of doing research for the biography of a GI who served with the 41st in Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, I’ve been looking for first-hand information about our troops in New Guinea and our efforts to wrest the Japanese from the territory. But good information, especially of the 41st, is hard to come by. The struggle for New Guinea, as brutal as it was, is often overshadowed by other more strategic events in the Pacific such as Midway, Guadalcanal, Leyte Gulf, and Hiroshima. Nevertheless, New Guinea served up the worst conditions our troops had ever encountered and we lost more men there than on Guadalcanal. Our allied forces deserve the utmost respect and gratitude for their service and sacrifices there. This is why it is so fitting to see Joel’s scrapbook online for all to read and remember. I’ve spent the last two hours totally immersed in each chapter of Joel’s stories. He plants you right into the steaming jungles and putrid swamps of his daily life, never knowing if the next second will be the last. Graphic, brutal and honest, Joel’s is one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read about WWII in the Pacific! I wish it was in hard copy – I’d order it in a heartbeat.
Joel, as difficult as it may have been, thank you for sharing this part of history with me and the rest of the world. God Bless!
Nancy Reeves Casey
Joel, I knew you from SuCasa but never knew you were a WW2 vet. Thank you for your service, ( My Dad was a WW2 vet also) and for saving our way of life . My life was made richer knowing you. May God keep your soul in the palms of his hands and may he bless your family and friends.
Erudite and evocative this scrapbook is such a wonderful accomplishment. The photos and stories are breathtaking! Thank for bringing this labor of love to light for us to experience!
Joel, I have been searching for you for years! I hope this note finds you well. I am delighted to have found your scrapbook published online. I was just going through files and found your notes and letters, and decided to see if your experiences had ever been published. Please email me..
Joel, your scrapbook really brings me back to my youth. My Dad served in the Pacific and his naval stories were always quite colorful. Washing Machine Charlie was one he told time and again.
Though my Dad is now gone, you’ve provided a smile to me while reading your stories.
Thanks much –
Really liked your WWII Scrapbook, thanks for the good read!
Joel, thank you so much for your services to this country. It was men like you who men like me have to thank. The website is amazing. The photography, the stories, man. I am envious of your taxi days, ferrying around Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Burroughs. And thank you Paul for capturing and saving Joel’s stories.
OUTSTANDING!! My Grandfather was in WWII and I met the author today. This site is definately something of value a person can get lost in.
Joel is my second cousin. I never saw any of these pictures before. I did see some of the family pictures here and recognized all of them. Amazing what the internet brings.
REALLY COOL SITE. HELPS TO REMEMBER HOW IT WAS AND THE ULTIMATE COST 0F FREEDOM.
Unusual and evocative WWII website. Fab Fotos!
Welcome Toby! I am glad you found this site, and that you are enjoying getting to know a part of Joel that you weren’t familiar with.
If you can, go visit with him at the VA in the Bronx; I’m sure he would love to see you!
Joel is my uncle. I’ve heard bits and pieces of these stories all my life, and was very moved to see his whole story. I know he was very anxious to see this in print.
Joel and his wife, Pearl, were a large part of my childhood. Joel used to tell me stories about Schleime Shovel, and of course, he made the most delicious blueberry buckwheat pancakes. As a child, I didn’t know about his war experiences or how they had affected him — he was always filled with energy and fun. I have a large collection of the wonderful photographs he took of our family when I was a child.
Thank you for working with him on this project.
wwiiscrapbook.com amazes me!
Fantastic. Love all the oddball stories, the pictures are amazing.
Thank you Betsy. I know you took a special interest in Joel while you were working at the VA, and I was sorry to hear that you were leaving. I’m glad that the nurses have become so interested in Joel’s past exploits; they also loved the photos, especially the ones that show off his ‘physique’ all those years ago…
Many thanks to the VA Hospital
Great job! The staff at the V.A. Hospital were happy that you came with the long-time-in-the-making WWII Scrapbook. They were impressed with the iPod – music you so carefully chose for Joel. You must have been very busy while at the hospital. It’s a thrill for me to be able to see Joel on-line. And, I was honored to see that you gave me credit for the ‘drop in the bucket’ contribution. (about as close as I’ll get to being published, probably.) I was sorry to miss you. TWO SPECIAL MEN!
Congrats, Paul. It’s totally engrossing, even for people like me who are not into war related stuff. Love the photos and clips and the short chapters. They’re like potato chips – you just have to have one more. Great stuff!
Paul I’ve only seen a small portion of the site and what I saw is amazing. When I have more time I will view the rest. You and your associate have done a superb job. I’m so happy that you stuck with the project and commend your efforts. Bravo!
Paul, what an amazing amount of information and detail; it will take me weeks to get through the whole thing. You and Jarrett are to be congratulated. I am stumbling through the site and absolutely impressed.
Wow Paul and Joel–this is quite the amazing and engrossing life-story… Brings new meaning to the tired old phrase ‘war is hell’–it’s a vivid and at times shocking account of what men will do to survive–and to survive their country’s idiotic warmongering… With the revelations on the total weirdness of Iraq (collecting body parts, posing with bodies)–some things never change…