6:02 | The Russians were close enough that the American POW's could hear the fire in the distance. Their guards roused them all and put them on the road in a forced march, leaving their camp in Poland and heading for Germany. It was seventy nine days of freezing cold out in the open, with very little food. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
Keywords : Jack Lemonds Prisoner Of War (POW) Russian guards Stalag Luft 4 Stalag 4 death march frostbite snow cold Robert McMillan Les Eggleston watch bread
Jack Lemonds was drafted in 1943 and headed to the luckiest basic training site of the war, Miami Beach. That was the place where Army Air Corps recruits began their journey. A year later, he took his first ride in a B-24 Liberator. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
As a group of new B-24 crews readied to make the flight to England, one of them crashed into a mountain in New Hampshire. Undeterred, waist gunner Jack Lemonds and a host of others donned their heated suits and made the long, cold flight. They didn't know it yet, but their first mission would be on the the most important day of the war. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
They were anxious. The first mission for many of the B-24 crews in England was D-Day. Waist gunner Jack Lemonds was awed by the spectacle of hundreds of ships bombarding the Normandy shore as he flew towards France. Later, when the enormous cost in lives became known, he felt fortunate to have been in the air, not on the ground. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
After a three day pass to London, B-24 crew member Jack Lemonds returned to his base to find out a good friend's crew had been shot down. No one knew if they survived, but, through a twist of fate, he would see his friend again. He remembers a mission of his own that was particularly hazardous due to a swarm of German fighters. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
Jack Lemonds was over Braunschweig, Germany when his B-24 was split in two by flak. As others in the plane succumbed to flames, he managed to tumble out, attaching his parachute as he fell. In the front half of the plane, the pilot struggled in vain to control the descent until the whole thing blew. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
As he floated to the ground after bailing out, Jack Lemonds looked up and saw the B-24's make their turn to head back to England. What would happen to him, he wondered? As he gathered his chute, three German farmers tried to do him in, but he was saved by an enemy soldier. It would not be the last time. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
His German captors took care of his wounds and then Jack Lemonds was taken to Frankfurt for interrogation. The officer who questioned him was the spitting image of a post war cinema stereotype. All he got was name, rank and serial number. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
The first POW camp was near the French border, but when the Allies began to push across France, Jack Lemonds and many others were moved to another camp up in Poland. On the way, he saw the terrific devastation Allied bombing had caused all across Germany. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
After a forced march of at least 500 miles through Poland and Germany, the POW's reached the Elbe River. There, the guards made the decision to surrender when they saw the American forces on the other bank. Jack Lemonds had survived and, in a nearby office building, picked up a memento that marks his liberation day. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
One of Owen Koch's tasks was to carry and deploy big spools of wire for field telephones. Simple enough, but his partner was 6' 4' tall and that made for a comical sight as they tried to keep the spool level. The randomness of death in war was driven home when his friend Frank Reed was killed just inches away as they shared a foxhole.
It was a forced march and the POW's were quartered in a barn listening to frightful artillery, when a British soldier opened the door and said, "Cheerio, chaps!" They were free, but the British did them no favor by feeding them all they wanted. Don Ogden had survived it all but suffered one more indignity, this time at the hands of his own government. He couldn't go home, because he looked too bad.
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.
Ed Marriott recalls multiple events while on the beaches of Europe during D-Day, including commander Vaghi's insistence that the men keep moving forward and the death of Amin Isbir. He describes the responsibilities of the medics, boat repairmen, communicators, and Army engineers as well as the setup and active use of Rhino ferries.
When the war ended, Al Brown experienced high and low emotions. Happy for victory and sad for fallen comrades, and even for the Germans. The turmoil followed him on the trip home in the form of a raging hurricane.
The SS Arthur Dobbs had the toughest armed guards in the fleet, according to John Laster, so tough they were thrown out of Egypt after an epic bar fight with British soldiers. Assigned to the SS Glenn Curtiss, they finished war duty in Tinian.
All of Elizabeth Lowe's family had scars, both physical and mental, from their time in a Manila prison camp during the Japanese occupation. It failed to crush the spirit in any of them, however, and her mother and one of her brothers returned to Asia as missionaries after the war.
While traveling from the U.S. to China, Touart made many stops in different countries. At one point, they stopped in British West Africa. He describes the area as being full of people with leprosy, and he shares the lessons he learned from them.
About 5 days into a 40 day assignment in the North Atlantic, Sorensen received a message in the middle of the night notifying him that he was to pick up some passengers from England at 8 AM. Upon arriving in England, the passengers were much higher profile than he could have ever expected.
In this chilling account Elmer Wisherd describes flying into German territory before encountering heavy gunfire in Holland. After a bullet pierced his plane, he recalls what happened next.
After LT Welsh reported a failed mission to Captain Dunneran at the base of Mt. Damiano, SGT Munch and SGT Rog Hager were left alone in a mine field calling for help. Bill Savich recalls taking a group of volunteers, including SGT Jesse Cargel and SGT Parker through the minefield to rescue Munch and Hager. This action earned Savich the Silver Star.
Two strong memories are recalled by Jack Simpson, coming face to face with General George S. Patton while he reviewed the troops after the war, and coming face to face with brutality and horror as he entered the Dachau concentration camp.