3:27 | Ed Harrell remembers his first impression of the USS Indianapolis and his first experience being at sea headed into combat during World War II.
Ed Harrell recalls the bombardment and successive invasion of Saipan during World War II.
Stationed aboard the USS Indianapolis, Ed Harrell remembers his ship being bombed by a Japanese fighter near Okinawa.
Ed Harrell describes the events leading up to the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the threat that kamikaze aircraft posed to U.S. ships during that battle.
Ed Harrell makes the case that invading the island of Peleliu was a costly mistake on the Pacific front.
Ed Harrell recalls the bombardment of the island of Okinawa prior to the landing-force invasion.
Ed Harrell recollects the mystery surrounding a very important and dangerous package the USS Indianapolis was tasked with delivering to the Pacific front - the first atomic bomb.
Ed Harrell describes in detail the sinking of the USS Indianapolis from Japanese torpedoes, which left nearly 900 Sailors and Marines in shark-infested Pacific waters. Part 1 of 4.
After his ship was sunk by Japanese torpedoes, Ed Harrell continues his story of survival, fighting off hallucinations and sharks, while adrift in the Pacific Ocean. Part 2 of 4.
Ed Harrell continues his story of survival into the third day adrift in the Pacific Ocean. Part 3 of 4.
After being adrift in the Pacific for four days, Ed Harrell concludes his story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, which only a quarter of the crew ultimately survived. Part 4 of 4.
Ed Harrell describes the injuries he suffered after surviving the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and floating in the Pacific Ocean for four days, for which he received a Purple Heart.
Ed Harrell shares the efforts he and other former crewmembers went through to clear Rear Admiral Charles McVay's name after the admiral was court-martialed for his accused role in the sinking of the USS Indianapolis.
Navy Corpsman Frank Walden went ashore at Omaha Beach with the Beach Battalion, a unit charged with managing the beach during the assault. After the shock of seeing the first bodies, and after a frightening rush to find safety in the chaos, he began to treat the wounded.
Trained as a Beachmaster, Mortimer Caplin shipped out for England on the Queen Mary. His unit had a lot of specialized gear and he had to form a guard detachment to keep other units from walking away with it. After they got it all to the Southern English coast, they participated in the ill-fated Exercise Tiger out of Slapton Sands.
John McGinty well remembers the end of the war in the Pacific. There was a huge "V" formation of warplanes and they had a little party on a tiny island. He thought he had it made with only a point and a half to go to get his discharge, but the Navy had other plans.
The pilot was ready to die. Louie Clark saw him after he crashed his kamikaze into the deck of the destroyer USS Haynsworth. There were many casualties, including a big pot of beans that caught a machine gun from the kamikaze after it crashed through the deck. Clark describes the bravery of men that day and the solemn ceremonies of the burials at sea.
When his buddy George Farris was hit by a sniper, Bob Royce and two others started back to battalion headquarters to get help. They had to hit the ground when the same sniper targeted them. Royce decided to get up and run for it. After he secured aid and was returning to the front, the sniper struck again.
When he arrived in Burma to join Merrill's Marauders, Stanley Sasine had to jump from a moving plane, run for cover and dig a foxhole. He did not have to face the daunting challenges of the original Marauders, but the perils were plenty. When the General found out that Sasine was color blind, he was made 1st Scout because he could spot the hidden enemy so well. His first kill came suddenly, though, when he came face to face with a Japanese scout.
The man had been shot up pretty bad, remembers Herman Buffington, who carried him back to the camp. All the way the wounded soldier had pleaded with him to leave him there, but once safe in a foxhole, he wouldn't let go of Buffington's hand, even when the medics prepared to evacuate him.
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.
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.
Herman Buffington was hunkered down in his foxhole on Okinawa when a mortar round hit close by and a piece of red hot shrapnel tore through his leg. It sounded like bacon frying, but a medic got the bleeding stopped and he was going to be OK. He refused the morphine because he was already exhausted and didn't want anyone else to tend to his tourniquet.
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.
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.
They were trying to take a ridge on Okinawa where the Japanese had dug trenches and the persistent Americans tried repeatedly to take the position. Herman Buffington got close enough to vault over into a trench where he used the old helmet-on-a-bayonet trick to judge the enemy fire. He received the Bronze Star for his actions in this firefight.
It was late night guard duty and Herman Buffington heard something. Then he saw a figure crouched in the brush. When the next flare went up, he sighted and fired. The figure didn't move so he shot him again. When he found out why there was no reaction, all he could do was laugh. He did get a souvenir out of the encounter, a silk Japanese flag.
The Austrians and local Germans had no heart for the fighting anymore. That was the observation of Lou Mafrice as his unit moved into Austria. Soon, the war in Europe was over and they headed back through Germany, back to Le Havre and then back to the United States. A forty day furlough sounded great, but one week into it, Lou got some urgent orders.
Herman Buffington was taking some potshots at Japanese troops on the other side of a large ravine where they were foolishly cooking their rice out in the open. When an officer came by and asked how he was doing, he remarked that he was trying to mix a little lead with the rice. The man asked for the rifle so he could give it a try and he proved to be an excellent shot. Buffington could smell the brass and he was right. It was General Simon Buckner.
It was a rough crossing for Lou Mafrice. Not only was he seasick, but a bulkhead door slammed on his hand and took off a bit of finger. When his unit got into combat in France, the commanding general insisted on leading at the front. That cost him. As the Battle of the Bulge loomed, Lou's armored outfit was put under the command of George Patton.
They started in the eleventh grade, military recruiters giving tests and reminding students about the draft. John Mcginty joined the Navy two months before the draft would take him in 1944. He went aboard the brand new light cruiser USS Atlanta while the welders were still working. As a Projectileman, he had to load shells that presented a unique challenge.
"I want to be a machine gunner on a tank." That's what Lou Mafrice told the interviewer at the newly formed 13th Armored Division. So, of course, they sent him to the medical battalion, where he became a halftrack driver, among other things. As the unit prepared to deploy to the European Theater, they discovered they were short one radioman. Lou had another job.
The German tanks and guns were far superior to the weaponry of the Americans, says Lou Mafrice of the 13th Armored Division. It was the bombing of their factories that became the deciding factor in the war. While on a reconnaissance mission at the Austrian border, he was startled to see a large mass of soldiers coming straight for him and his driver.
If you treated your Navy hat with salt water, you could roll it up in a really sharp way that also let you show off your Pompadour. That was how John McGinty hit the streets of Long Beach, but it wasn't long before the Shore Patrol noted his breach of grooming regulations.
B-17 bombardier Dequindre McGlaun was inspired by his leaders in the 94th bomb group, including Frederick Castle, who was awarded the Medal Of Honor posthumously for guiding his crashing bomber away from American troops at the Battle of the Bulge. Ira Eaker and Curtis LeMay also were important commanding officers in his career