7:37 | Herb Suerth remembers the time he was injured in battle and the time he spent in the hospital.
Keywords : injured artillery hospital medic nurse amputee nun surgeon German 88mm
Herb Suerth tells of his early life and upbringing in thinking of joining the military. While stationed in New York City, they had a lot of thrills while living in a hotel downtown.
While training for the 101st Airborne Division, Suerth and his company took many test jumps, with varying levels of success. He describes what drew soldiers to Airborne and the trials they all went through to have such a designation.
Herb Suerth tells of some members of his company and one particular encounter with General Patton that he will never forget.
Herb Suerth remembers a memorable moment he had burying a German soldier and the events that transpired after that.
Herb Suerth remembers the time he was seriously wounded in battle and the toll it had on his family.
Herb Suerth remembers a leave he took with some members of his company to Cuba and a particularly close encounter they had while spending time there.
At the Rhine, one of the 44th Infantry Division's units directed the first ground fire across the river into Germany. German resistance stiffened at that point because they were now defending the Fatherland. He recounts an operation to capture a bridge at Heidelberg and another incident which cured him of a strange phobia.
Pushing on after Normandy, Guy Whidden was in the Netherlands and surrounded by Germans. His unit took a pounding from mortars and shrapnel from a round hit his leg. As he treated himself, the barrage continued to take lives around him. Crawling from the field to a ditch, he was noticed and picked up by an officer who carried him to safety.
They were trying to advance across a railroad cut but the Germans were on top and firing down the cut. As Bob Uhl struggled up the bank with his bazooka, his friend Bill Miley was hit and killed instantly. It was hard to leave his buddy, but he had to press on.
Before he went overseas, Paratrooper Guy Whidden went on maneuvers in Tennessee. One day, he was assigned to guard four prisoners, chronically AWOL soldiers awaiting court martial. It was a long night and they were hungry, which led to a sad situation for the reluctant guard.
Bob Uhl was a freshman at Georgia Tech but he was also a soldier on paper, having gone into the Army Reserve in 1943. Eventually, the manpower needs of the infantry caught up to him and he was off to basic training. When he shipped out, his convoy was the first to land in France instead of England.
The foxhole was a pretty good thing, if you had time to dig it right and reinforce it, according to Bob Uhl. When he left it, he had to contend with the German 88, a devastating weapon that fired a shell at supersonic speed. It was a multi-purpose weapon, used for anti-aircraft, anti-tank and anti-personnel situations. He managed to dodge that, but a conventional artillery shell sent him to the rear to face an unusual medical situation.
It took a long time to get to England. The ship Guy Whidden had boarded was damaged, so he took a detour to Newfoundland. Finally, a new ship was brought, a British ship, complete with British food, of course. No one wanted to be in the bottom hold, which was knee deep with water.
The Germans kept falling back through small towns until they got to one they felt like defending, then the pattern would repeat. Bob Uhl was a bazookaman, then a runner. As a runner, he was paired with the medic and he pays tribute to the bravery of those men.
With a bad leg wound, Guy Whidden began an odyssey through crowded aid stations and hospitals in the Netherlands and Belgium. When he realized he was in a queue for amputation, he put a hand on the Luger in his waistband and resolved not to let that happen.
The German 88 was a formidable weapon, but it had one disadvantage. The high velocity of the shell didn't allow for a timed burst, which was a great tactic to use against ground troops. American technology had developed a new proximity fire shell, which would always explode at a set distance from it's target. This made it very effective.
Guy Whidden had a Luger in his waistband which he almost used when the Army doctors were going to amputate his leg in Belgium. Here, he tells the story of how he acquired that Luger after having it pointed right at his forehead. This was one of the experiences that convinced him that his German enemies were very much like himself.
It was a cruel winter leading up to the Battle of the Bulge and Bob Uhl recalls how the Germans dropped propaganda leaflets urging the Americans to surrender and get a warm bed. There were no takers. His unit was south of the battle, keeping pressure on the enemy. When the order came to "straighten out the line," he knew he had to leave his safe foxhole and go to work.
There were a lot of washouts in the first week of jump school, but Guy Whidden was not one of them. The athletic soldier was enjoying the whole thing, even being the first one out of the plane. He was ready to go to the war, but he had to wait for what seemed to him like a long time.
After passing through the devastated city of Reims, Bob Uhl couldn't feel much pity for the German citizens. After all, they had started the conflict. After the war in Europe concluded, he felt the same way about the Japanese who had suffered the atomic bomb used on them. His unit was designated to take part in the invasion of Japan, so naturally he has an opinion on whether President Truman did the right thing.
He started walking and running with his wounded leg way before he was supposed to. Then, back in the States, he requested an assignment at Airborne school. The only problem, he had to qualify for the course to teach it. Looking back on the war, he draws solace from something he apparently didn't do.
There were other things than combat going on, recalls Bob Uhl, during the push into Germany. There was the guy who snored loudly, the shovel handle shaped bruise on his posterior, and the amphibious truck driver with a five gallon can of schnapps.
Guy Whidden parachuted into Sainte-Mere-Eglise and as soon as he was on the ground, an equipment bundle landing at the same time hit him in the head and knocked him out. He was too dazed to find his "Cricket" to signal friendlies and this nearly got him shot. He hooked up with another Airborne unit because his own was nowhere to be found. It was absolute chaos and there were bullets flying everywhere.
When Bob Uhl was made a runner, he was given a carbine. It was lighter than his M-1, but the limited range caused him to go back to the powerful rifle for his personal weapon. He never had an incident in his unit of men wounding themselves to get out of duty, but there were plenty of wounded feet from improper footwear. Fortunately, new boots designed for the cold, wet winter conditions were issued.
He was quartered on the grounds of a palatial estate west of London. Paratrooper Guy Whidden was able to go into town on leave, and unlike the rest, he sought out a good vantage point to watch the nightly German bombing. He kept getting busted to private because of a weakness for pretty girls, which made him late back to the base every time.
There was a German observation post in a church steeple and every time Bob Uhl's unit tried to move, mortars and artillery pounded them. It was a pretty church and they hated to destroy it, but it had to be done. After conventional artillery failed to take it out, a new weapon was called up. After that, he was disturbed when World War I tactics came into play.
A week before D-Day, Paratrooper Guy Whidden's unit moved to a fenced in camp near the coast. The orders were shoot to kill anyone leaving. The food was good, too good if you really thought about it. On the day, he was sickened by the tobacco smoke and the stench on the plane over the Channel. It would be a relief to jump and get away from it.
Michael Vernello recalls how it was so cold at the Battle of the Bulge, the ground was frozen and they couldn't dig in. At the end of the war, he met his Russian counterparts in a heavy artillery unit and was very surprised. With four Bronze Stars and many battles behind him, he was one of the first to go home.