3:27 | Tinian was a little easier time than Saipan and Iwo Jima, says Merrill Burroughs, who was with an Anti-Aircraft battery. He still had close calls when Japanese planes strafed the island. On the way in, he managed to hide a case of pork and beans, which was a precious thing.
Keywords : Merrill Burroughs Tinian Iwo Jima Saipan Japanese strafe K-ration C-ration pork and beans
They were an Army unit in the midst of a lot of Marines trying to take Saipan. It was an anti-aircraft outfit and Merrill Burroughs was the de facto man in charge, though only a Sergeant. As many Americans learned after landing on Pacific islands, he found out the softening up bombardment had not really done the job.
To draftee Merrill Burroughs, the toughest part of basic training was not knowing when you would be rousted and put to a task, and then not being told what the task was or where you were. He was made a training cadre and offered the option of staying stateside, but after forming a bond with the men he'd trained, he went with them overseas. He met Paul Blair, who's niece became his wife.
Just like with Saipan, the men getting ready to storm ashore at Iwo Jima were told the island had been softened up by bombing and shelling. It turned out to be deadly for Marines. Merrill Burroughs headed up an Army Anti-Aircraft unit attached to the Marines and he remembers that Japanese soldiers were everywhere. He still can't believe he wasn't hit when the bullets were "like rain."
Merrill Burroughs recalls the time on Saipan when he was told to take his men and guard a plane being loaded with cargo. It was only later when he found out it was the Enola Gay. On Tinian, he got the news of the Japanese surrender and it was a feeling like no other. Soon, he was at home trying to find a shirt.
Merrill Burroughs had a Captain who was a real good officer because he had a feel for people and how to relate to them and manage accordingly. The flip side of that was the other Captain on Saipan who informed him that he and his crew would be working on for another eight hour shift building a new command post. No way, came the reply.
Merrill Burroughs recalls his friend Paul Blair and how he told him to stay behind one time when the rest of the unit advanced. He did it because he could and he he was worried about him. He also remembers the exciting trip into Saipan with all of the might of the Navy shelling the island.
Everyone at Texas A&M took military courses and Ed Parker was no different. Electing to stay in ROTC, he received his degree and reported to Camp Wolters for infantry training. Then he was sent to Motor Maintenance school despite the fact that he barely knew which end of a vehicle the engine was in.
Tinian was a little easier time than Saipan and Iwo Jima, says Merrill Burroughs, who was with an Anti-Aircraft battery. He still had close calls when Japanese planes strafed the island. On the way in, he managed to hide a case of pork and beans, which was a precious thing.
It was thirty six straight days on Iwo Jima with no change of clothes or regular meals. Phil Wells carried an extra bandolier stuffed with fruit bars. He had come ashore with the fourth wave just as Japanese gunners really began to fire on the landing force. As a runner, he didn't come face to face with the enemy, though once he was sure he had. What's that password?
Ed Parker is still shaking his head over what he heard General George Patton say in a speech, and over how accurate the famous movie was. Shortly after that, he faced his first combat, his nervous stomach not helped by the green eggs he had for breakfast. Unfazed, he was ready to take Metz, a city which had never been taken in battle.
Lou Smith was evacuated from Iwo Jima to Saipan, then to a hospital in Hawaii. That was tough duty, recuperating with the swimming and the girls. One thing haunts his sleep, though, until this day. He had been throwing enemy grenades back the way they came when he was wounded, and this is key to his nightmares.
His company was in the 1st wave to land on Red Beach Two. Under attack from the moment he left the amphibious tractor, George Alden lost 4 of his men. Forced to keep moving in order to protect his remaining comrades, the group pushed further up the island towards the first landing strip. However, George was injured when he and his squad found themselves pinned down under Japanese fire. Injured and alone, George was forced to wait nearly a full day before he was discovered and rescued.
It was during the Battle of Remagen that Ed Parker distinguished himself in action, enough so that he was awarded a Bronze Star. He shrugs it off, saying many more did just as much as he did. He couldn't believe the British troops he encountered stopped to make tea, but there they were. A German flag made it back home with him, but not the Luger he found. The Germans probably reclaimed that.
The German interrogator knew more about his bomb group than he did and after a short questioning, Michael Gold was off to a POW camp where he was lucky to share a barracks with the other officers from his crew. The German rations were supplemented with Red Cross parcels that arrived from Sweden.
They were promised a steak dinner on the ship home and Ed Parker was really looking forward to that. Not getting that steak is the primary thing he remembers from that trip. Looking back on the end of the war, he has some tough words for those who believe we never should have used the atomic bomb.
When Marine Joseph Hiott arrived in Guadalcanal, he was assigned to the 2nd Raider Battalion, a new unit created under orders from Franklin D. Roosevelt, who admired the British Commandos and wanted an American unit to perform special operations. The Raiders, like the enemy, would fight to the death but for a very different reason. They also considered themselves the best of the best and trained accordingly.
After breaking out at Anzio. Hubert Aaron's unit marched into Rome, the only American unit to capture an enemy capitol during World War Two. He received a Silver Star for actions during that operation. When he went into St. Tropez, with dry feet for a change, he ignored his platoon leader's order to move out through an open field. Then he let his Thompson submachine gun do some talking.
It's terrible at first, but the longer you are in combat, the more callous you get. Like being keyed up at the beginning of a football game, but settled in by the half. That's how Ed Parker describes his experience. He also reveals how his wife could keep up with who had died, even though the mail was censored.
The British had battled the Germans back and forth across North Africa and American P-40's had arrived to provide some additional air power. Crew chief Gordon Markle describes what that was like with the sandstorms, the C-rations from another war, and the German air attacks. He also learned that you don't want to cross the Gurkhas.
Two engines were out, a third smoking, and they were were losing airspeed and altitude, but they were flying level and pointed home. Then time ran out for the B-17 and Don Scott had to slip down the hatch into the slipstream. Part 2 of 3.
His unit was pretty beat up in the battle to take Metz, so they were back in a holding position during the Battle of the Bulge. Ed Parker noticed that most of the German captives were either very old or very young. They were just about defeated. On leave in Paris, he did not get a warm feeling from the French people he encountered.
Hubert Aaron says, "I know I'm going to heaven because I spent three months in hell at Anzio." During this battle, he directed some artillery fire that was highly accurate, but then he was on the receiving end as an incoming enemy round put him in the hospital with a concussion. After being pinned down for three months and nearly being pushed back into the sea, the Americans finally prevailed.
It was their third mission over Berlin and they were heading home. Four German fighters pounced on the B-24 and it was engulfed in flame and going down. Clyde Burnette fought for consciousness as the other crew in the back of the plane bailed out. He woke in free fall with no idea how he had made it out, and soon he was in German custody. Everyone made it out of the plane except George "Danny" Daneau, the nose turret gunner, who went down with the aircraft.
After a nerve-wracking mission to bomb Tokyo and a typhoon, B.E. Vaughan and the destroyer O'Brien suffered a second kamikaze attack which killed all three of his hometown pals who served with him on board. Then, began the grim task of collecting the personal belongings of the dead and preparing them for burial at sea.
After capturing an entire German Panzer division, Hubert Aaron's outfit was moving up the Rhone River Valley when he was wounded in an ambush. Evacuated to Naples, he found out how great was his sacrifice.
The first operation for the 4th Division was the landing on Roi-Namur. Lawrence Snowden remembers that, though it was an easy victory, valuable combat experience and important lessons were imparted on the Marines.
Ed Parker left his division to go to Advanced Officers Training school at Fort Benning. After he returned to his unit and before he could go overseas, he went on desert maneuvers training to fight Rommel. After that situation changed, he was sent on mountain maneuvers in preparation to move on Germany through the Alps. Guess what happened?
Gene Frazier had been part of the huge mission on March 9, 1945 when a large part of Tokyo was firebombed and hundreds of thousands were killed. On the ground was an eleven year old boy, who would miraculously survive and meet the B-29 pilot years later.
They lost a lot of men in the battle to take Metz, recalls Ed Parker. Shortly after that, he was nearly killed himself when a Screaming Mimi rocket knocked him down, but did not injure him. The constant diet of C-rations got the men to thinking. Why don't we eat that old milk cow that's hanging around?
As officers, each man was issued a bottle of whiskey every week. B-29 pilot Gene Frazier didn't drink, so he traded his accumulated bottles to the sailors for all manner of goods. After the war ended, he was selected to ferry some planes to the Philippines where he acquired a small plane and had fun flying all over the area, except for the occasional potshot by Communist rebels. He turned down a chance to fly for the Chinese Nationalists, and he mailed home a parachute to his fiance, who put it to good use.
The Japanese had a presence on two Aleutian Islands and American units were pushing down the chain, ever closer to them. Ground crew member Lawrence Abel kept P-38's flying in the miserable weather. He describes the dangers faced by pilots in this unusual battleground of the war.
He arrived in England just before D-Day, but it was three months later until Ed Parker waded off a landing craft onto French soil. He was detached and put in charge of a convoy and, for a while, was part of the Red Ball Express, the famous ad hoc Army supply system for the European theater. He heard his first artillery and he saw the annihilated city of Saint-Lo.
B-29 pilot Gene Frazier tells the story of a secret war crimes trial held on Guam in 1946. It concerned atrocities on the island of Chichijima, where his cousin Glenn Frazier was captured. The incident was documented by author James Bradley in the book Flyboys.