6:30 | He could not see anyone else. In the predawn, he gathered up his parachute and began a futile search for his unit and his gear, including his weapon. Canadian paratrooper Dennis Trudeau joined with an American captain he found on the road and they made their way toward the small Normandy town which was his target. Suddenly, there was the ominous whistling of aerial bombs right on top of them.
Keywords : Dennis Trudeau paratrooper Canadian tracers France hedgerow Clicker French German shrapnel friendly fire Kenneth Smith D-Day Operation Overlord Varreville France
His father went north of the border to work for the railroad in Canada, so when war broke out, Dennis Trudeau enlisted in the Canadian Army as soon as he could talk his way in. The seventeen year old went to basic training and then let his parents in on it.
Canadian Army recruit Dennis Trudeau's friend played a trick on him by volunteering him for a special forces unit, so Trudeau returned the favor. Both of them became paratroopers and were soon in England, training hard for the coming assault on the mainland of Europe.
They knew that the time was close. Equipment was being loaded. Then they were bused to a highly secured camp near an air field. Canadian paratrooper Dennis Trudeau had trained hard and now he was told his mission. His targets were in a small town just inland from the Normandy coast and he would be in the first wave.
When he jumped on D-Day, Canadian paratrooper Dennis Trudeau was way off target, but he finally found his unit in the small town of Varreville. Assigned to clear out a German pillbox near a bridge that was scheduled for demolition, his situation went from bad to worse when the bridge was blown.
They were sure Patton would liberate them as he began his push, but the Allied POW's were put in boxcars and sent to Germany before that could happen. Canadian paratrooper Dennis Trudeau describes the long, slow journey, including the strafing by American fighters, the badly needed Red Cross packages they got at the first camp, and the games they tried to play while trading with the guards.
Stalag 4B was a huge camp, with thousands of POW's. Dennis Trudeau was captured just inland from Normandy and when he arrived at the camp for British and Canadian troops, he was put on a work party at a coal mine. The men thought the war would be over by Christmas, but new arrivals told them about Bastogne and dashed their hopes.
The POW's rose before dawn for their work detail, but the German guard said there would be no work that day. Instead they set out on a march toward the American lines. Canadian Paratrooper Dennis Trudeau didn't know it yet, but the Russians were approaching. After the guards abandoned them, the search for friendly forces began. Soon the hungry men would have some food, too much food as it turned out.
After his ordeal in a German POW camp, Canadian Paratrooper Dennis Trudeau returned to his home and his accumulated back pay. A strike ended the civilian job he'd taken, so he went south and enlisted in the US Army, where he went Airborne, of course, and made a career of it.
When he was transferred to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to play trombone in the band, Fred Webb was able to concentrate on improving his musicianship. He took lessons from a Hollywood studio player, played many Marine events, and then there was the occasional big band concert.
Although his contact with the enemy is limited, Nelson's time aboard the Corregidor is rife with hazards. He witnesses the loss of many great pilots attempting to operate under the rigors of war. (This interview made possible with the support of DALE GREGORY)
Robert Purdy describes the intensely political climate during the Great Depression, which had many people embracing leftist ideals. He worked in a tool and die shop preparing for engineering school, and along with his brother Harry, an accomplished writer, began to put those ideals into action. Interview donated by Margot Smith. Part 2 of 6.
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.
Erling Kindem remembers some special treatment he had the fortune of getting while stationed for training in Sioux Falls. After his time there, he transitioned to the hot deserts of Arizona for gunnery school.
It was total blackout. Newly arrived in England, Will Jasmund was led through the darkness to a mess hall for the worst meal yet, powdered eggs and terrible coffee. Quartered on the grounds of a castle, his engineering battalion prepared for the coming invasion. They knew it was on when the aircraft activity became constant, with damaged planes coming in and going right out again. Finally the word came, it was their turn. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Walter Fleming's first action is the full-scale invasion of Iwo Jima. Over several perilous days, he has many close calls with mortar fire, open-sea collisions, and artillery rounds - all the while evacuating wave after wave of wounded Marines. (This interview made possible with the support of WILLIE NELSON, JR)
Life in the forward engine room is challenging. Willie Nelson and his fellow engineers make the best of the heat and the crazy hours, and form an "arrangement" with the combative galley cooks. (This interview made possible with the support of DALE GREGORY)
During a break from his college education, Robert Purdy and his two brothers became increasingly angry about the Nazi aggression in Europe. After Pearl Harbor, all three enlisted in the Air Corps together. He received his wings as a fighter pilot, but losses in the bomber groups required that he move into B-24's. Interview donated by Margot Smith. Part 3 of 6.
The men in the new 1st Airborne Task Force ranged from experienced paratroopers to misfit replacements. Hank Krum was neither, and he took to the glider training with interest. A Japanese-American Nisei unit was part of the outfit and he enjoyed it when they were in charge of the cooking. The task force was created for the invasion of Southern France.
Dequindre McGlaun volunteered for combat by taking the place of a bombardier who got cold feet. He didn't have to go but he was trained for it and he was tired of beating around the States, waiting for assignments. They got new B-17's to fly to England but, immediately, a problem developed.
After being captured, John Rodgers met an old friend at the camp where he was being held. While being brought back to Rome by his captors, Rodgers was able to buy some sustenance for himself and his friends that kept them going as they were transferred to Poland. (Part 1)
The Germans were down in a valley and the Americans were up at the top of the hill. From the German perspective, the Americans were setting a trap. On the hill, Bob Seeley didn't want to huddle down in a foxhole and freeze so he kept walking back and forth, trying to keep warm.
There was no obvious front line, says Herman Krum. In the push up through Southern France, he never knew what was really going on. The transportation was ad hoc and one ride he took with a madman from the Bronx was memorable. They kept moving north and at one point, he was told to take a message to the General and he asked, "Where is he?" "I don't know," came the reply. "Go find him."
After a pleasant stop in Nice where he got to know an atypical French girl, Herman Krum's unit headed North to Soissons. Then the glider unit was sent to England where the 1st Allied Airborne Army was being formed, with British and French troops joining the Americans. Krum got to see Berlin by the time the war was over.
The mission to Kiel was a fateful one for B-17 bombardier Dequindre McGlaun. The group was disorganized because of a base reassignment and the men were awakened at 3 AM with no advance notice of a mission. After hitting the target, his squadron was swarmed by enemy fighters. Every 50 cal machine gun on the plane was firing as the bomber slipped lower and lower toward the water.
As Clifford Wilford's infantry diverts past Paris, they encountered a few additional obstacles that they had to overcome. Wilford had to drive a Jeep across an open battlefield while his commander mapped out the locations of German artillery stations, risking fire from incoming mortar shells.
Long after the war had ended, Erling Kindem remembers taking a trip to Europe to see some of the gravesites of his friends. Seeing the concentration camps was a very powerful reminder for him about why he fought for what he did.
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.
He decided he would rather ride than walk, so Turner Harris volunteered for the Navy in 1942. His journey started out rough in an open rail car with cinders blowing on him. After basic training, he was sent to radio school and eventually assigned to the USS New Orleans, a heavy cruiser.
He was humping through basic infantry training when Fred Moston got a chance to apply for the Air Corps and was accepted. He went from boot camp to the University of Tennessee. Talk about a change! Good food, girls, but of course that couldn't last and the Air Corps decided to send those men back to the Army. He was soon sailing to Europe on the Queen Mary.
Just before his 18th birthday, Erling Kindem enlists in the Army Air Corps. He remembers some of the physical challenges that he found as he headed to Missouri for basic training. After thinking that he would