9:20 | Eugene Whitfield tells the story of the twin kamikaze attacks on the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga. The first plane caught them by surprise when the Japanese pilot came straight down out of the sun. The second one hit the bridge and the captain was wounded, but he proved to be very tough.
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After basic training, where he learned the art of fire fighting aboard ship, Eugene Whitfield went to a Naval air group in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. New aircraft for carriers were received and prepped for battle, and this task began a long career for him in aviation munitions.
He decided to stay in Naval Aviation and soon, Eugene Whitfield found himself on the brand new aircraft carrier, the USS Ticonderoga. After a shakedown cruise in the Atlantic, the ship passed through the Panama Canal and on to Pearl Harbor, which was still reeling from the surprise Japanese attack.
The routine for an Aviation Ordnanceman meant rising long before dawn to prepare the planes for battle. Daylight meant they were on their way. Eugene Whitfield recalls how they worked with lamps strapped to their arms.
Aviation Ordanceman Eugene Whitfield recalls the stoic actions of Captain Dixie Kiefer during the kamikaze strike on the Ticonderoga. As if the crippling attack wasn't enough trouble for the crew, a typhoon lurked nearby.
Eugene Whitfield said goodbye to the USS Ticonderoga after it returned to Seattle, too damaged to continue. Put in charge of ordnance at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, he didn't have to dodge any more kamikaze attacks and he even had time to develop a special skill and teach it to new pilots.
After the war ended in the Pacific, Eugene Whitfield decide to make a career of it and served aboard many different carriers. A visit to Hiroshima was a sobering experience, and a search for a missionary led to an amazing coincidence.
Signalman Alvin Waldron was a little more tense than most sailors. He wasn't seeing much combat but he was on board an ammunition ship and was well aware of the potential. Tokyo Rose told the Marines on Guadalcanal that it was sunk and they had no ammunition, but the Captain had outsmarted the enemy.
Eugene Whitfield tells the story of the twin kamikaze attacks on the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga. The first plane caught them by surprise when the Japanese pilot came straight down out of the sun. The second one hit the bridge and the captain was wounded, but he proved to be very tough.
As Al Brown's unit moved North from Italy into the Rhone Valley, the Germans fought very skillful delaying actions. Digging in near Belmont, France, he noticed an officer and a radio operator casually sitting in the open. Before long, they were all running.
After a mission, Mitch Touart and his crew notice that one of the planes has gone missing, only to find out that it has crashed into an embankment. COL Dunning ends up having to make a tragic decision about SGT Edelman, who is trapped in the aircraft.
Gilbert Jensen had a best friend named Billy Ricketts. The war caught up with their friendship on a three man patrol in the jungle of Guadalcanal. Other combat memories from this time include a night attack on a Japanese camp and nighttime Japanese banzai attacks.
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.
His last duty in Europe was guarding a truck repair operation in Austria. Andy Staruch was responsible for going to Czechoslovakia with a pile of invasion scrip to bring back a load of safety glass. Finally released, he headed home to rejoin a successful business he had been in before the war.
The first encounter with death was less striking to Andy Flock than the absurd aspects of the war, like invasion scrip and non-fraternization. He recalls his youth in the Bronx as he explains why he never liked the police, and by extension, the MP's.
In the Army, he'd been a typist, a mess boy, a cook and a Ration Corporal. But then Andy Flock was told he had a high IQ and off he went to the University of Utah. It was only a few months, though, before he found himself in the guardhouse and busted to buck Private through a couple of strange turns of events.
It was a silly injury. As Alvin Waldron jumped over and into a hatch to slide down the ladder, he caught his foot and went tumbling down, banging his head and knee. After a day he felt fine, but like so many others with minor wartime injuries, years later that knee started barking.
Shortly after shipping out from the United States and arriving in Algiers in late 1942, Ed Benson experienced his first Luftwaffe bombing attack. This shocking introduction to war left him so distraught he forgot to perform an important task in the aftermath.
After Pearl Harbor, Bronx kid Andy Flock just wanted to be the guy who slogs through the mud. But they found out he could type, so instead of going to basic training, he went to Governor's island to begin his Army career. Next stop, cooking school.
Ed Benson remembers his most frightening experience during World War II. Passing the Rock of Gibraltar in June of 1944, while heading back towards the United States at the end of his deployment, a squadron of German dive bombers attacked his ship.
Every single boy who graduated from high school in 1943 with Andy Andrews went into the military. Andy details his basic training, his "exciting" Atlantic crossing, and the intensified training in England where the religious boy who didn't want to kill anyone learned how to slit a throat quietly.
He'd been busted from Sergeant down to buck Private, so the PFC stripe he got in France didn't excite Andy Flock very much. He was only a tank gunner, but proved very valuable as the unit's translator. In every German town, his first job was to find the Burgermeister and tell him to gather up everyone's guns.
Hill 232 was probably his worst battle. 35 Americans held off 250 Germans and when the smoke cleared, only 5 Yanks were still alive. Andy Andrews was one of those and he thought it was over when he saw a German rise up and throw a grenade at him. Remarkably, they were soon friends.
The massive preparations and staging for the Normandy Invasion are vividly recalled by Andy Andrews. As his unit came up from below deck to board the landing craft, he heard the Beachmaster on the radio describe the chaos and destruction that awaited them on the beach.
After coming ashore at Normandy, Andy Andrews made his way across France with an eight man machine gun squad that included his good friend Jesse Beaver. They were mopping up the German delaying actions and receiving the gratitude of liberated civilians, thanks to Gen. Bradley's fateful decision during the early part of the invasion.