13:09 | 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.
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While plowing behind a horse one day, on his family farm in South Carolina, B.E. Vaughan decided he didn't want to be stuck behind that plow forever. "I want to be somebody." So he enlisted alongside three friends who were drafted.
B.E. Vaughan already knew how to drill. In a Home Guard group he'd done well but when he got to boot camp, they executed the "Halt" command a little differently and this led to a little tension with the Drill Instructor.
Shipping out on a newly commissioned destroyer, B.E. Vaughan went straight into the chaos of the Normandy invasion. All around him was "a slaughterhouse," but the crew performed a valuable role as soldiers struggled to get a foothold, knocking out pillboxes on the bluffs.
Setting out from Portsmouth after a short break following the overwhelming experience of D-Day, B.E. Vaughan and the O'Brien joined a task force with the battleship Texas supporting the landing at Cherbourg. Their support was so good that they drew the fire from the Texas onto themselves.
One of B.E. Vaughan's shipmates on the O'Brien went over the hill as they prepared to head to the Pacific, sure that he wouldn't make it back. He walked up the gangplank in Hawaii, though, after a change of heart. In one of their first Pacific actions, they came to the rescue of the USS Ward, whose captain had fired the first shot of the war an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor began.
It was Condition One Easy, which means B.E. Vaughan could step outside the gun mount and have a smoke. But before he did, everyone started running by and he saw the sailor just outside the hatch look up and "his eyes just about popped out of his head."
The atomic bombs had ended the war and B.E.Vaughan had the experience he'd hoped for, sailing into Tokyo Bay in dress blues. The things he'd seen haunt him to this day and he wonders how it was that he lived and others died. He recalls the moment when, as a typhoon bore down on his ship, he decided he was ready to die and it was OK.
While still in Tokyo Bay before heading home, B.E. Vaughan was tasked with running the whale boat to shore to transport some personnel. It didn't work out so well.
The war was over but B.E. Vaughan faced one more trial, getting home without any money. As in war, those who served looked out for each other.
He liked the Belgians because they would actually let you speak your bad French to them. What he did not like was all the mud on the chewed up roads. Art Fox was a Draftsman but he became a construction foreman, digging ditches to drain the water. At the Rhine, he was surprised to be included in a reconnaissance mission, but it was a rewarding experience.
He had been speaking to groups of kids and Stanley Sasine tells what happened when he decided to change his approach and ask for questions. He describes life in the Burmese jungle, how they enjoyed water buffalo steaks, the dysentery that affected them all, and the superior attitude shared by Merrill's Marauders.
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.
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.
Home from the war, Art Fox was able to return to school and finish his civil engineering degree. He also had some work to do when he found out his girlfriend was engaged to a Marine. Writing letters home had given him a taste for writing, so he set out to somehow use that skill in the engineering field.
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.
They were driving to Southampton in blackout conditions when Art Fox was awakened and told he had to drive the truck. He was the designated assistant truck driver but he was never told and had no idea how to work all those gears. But he made it and soon the 312th Combat Engineers were moving across France. Waiting out the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, he attended a moving Christmas Mass.
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.
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.
He thought he had it made. Art Fox had found a box spring and he figured he would be comfortable for the rest of the war. It didn't work out. The conditions were tough that winter in Europe, sleeping on snow and bathing in a helmet. At least the cooks tried to keep them happy.
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.
Twice he was approved for Officer Candidate School and twice he never got to the top of the list. Art Fox didn't like that but he did like the unit he deployed with. Great soldiers and high esprit de corps. His letters home reflected that and one was so inspiring, it was read by Raymond Massey on CBS radio.
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.
At Fort Jackson, preparing to go overseas, Art Fox managed to get into the engineering battalion of his division, which was great because he was an engineering student. The training was hard but he enjoyed beach time in South Carolina on the weekends with his newly muscled frame courtesy of Army basic training. Finally, they sailed.
Stanley Sasine was wounded during the final assault of Merrill's Marauders. He was unimpressed with his Chinese allies who were under the wing of General Joseph Stilwell. According to Sassine, Stilwell favored the Chinese Army and let Merrill's men do the dirty work.
He was working towards a civil engineering degree when Art Fox entered the Army. His enlistment allowed him to finish the school year, but after after the Allies began the push across France, all the college students were taken into the infantry.
New Yorker Stanley Sasine was drafted in 1943 and initially qualified for the Air Corps. That was over when they found out he was color blind and he went back to the infantry. He thought he was headed to Europe, but he found out that form he just signed meant he volunteered for Merrill's Marauders.
They met little resistance and moved fast across Germany. It was Art Fox's job to reconnoiter every night and make updated maps detailing road conditions. On one of these missions, a wrong turn sent the team right into a town full of Germans.
The difference between the B-17 and the B-29 is like night and day, says navigator Sy Glauser. You had to wear three layers of clothing in the non-pressurized B-17 but in the B-29, you could fly in a t-shirt. He arrived in the Pacific theater just as the first atomic bomb was used so his crew never saw any combat.
While recovering from the wound he received during the last assault of Merrill's Marauders, Stanley Sasine was trained to drive a truck on the Lido Road. With sufficient points in hand, though, he was soon back home.
The war had ended and the airmen were getting antsy. They paid an outrageous amount for a bottle of booze to take their minds off the fact they were performing enlisted men's duties. The enlisted men had mostly gone home. so the officers had to pitch in. Navigator Sy Glauser became the supply officer.
They were already drinking plenty of liberated German wine and the end of the war was one more excuse. Art Fox relates the tale of a rail station full of armed German soldiers who were amused by the Americans changing a flat while they watch. He got a quick visit to Paris before he sailed home, financed by American cigarettes.
It was the last assault for Merrill's Marauders by that name. During the operation, they officially became Rangers. Years later, Stanley Sasine finally received his Ranger tab and then, the Bronze Star that every Marauder was due.
While waiting in France for passage home, Art Fox was assigned the task of drawing up a map detailing the unit's movement from Le Havre to Czechoslovakia. This he displays, while lamenting that at no point on that map did the USO catch up to them.