5:10 | Fred Moston had two souvenirs under his shirt when he went on the operating table. He never saw them again. During his recovery, he met a wounded German prisoner who caused him to realize an important truth about the enemy. He also met Frenchy, a baker who was a real wheeler and dealer.
Keywords : Fred Moston souvenir German prisoner England baker British hospital Military Police (MP)
His mother didn't mince any words. Fred Moston and his friends were talking on the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor when she told them, "You're all going to die." "She was Irish," he explained. The young draftee stood in a field in North Carolina with about two thousand other men. They were divided, so many for infantry, so many for the artillery, etc. He was in the last group left and he could not believe what he was destined for.
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.
He was sent as a replacement into Le Havre where he boarded a train and headed for the front. Medic Fred Moston left the train at a stop, like most of the men. They were looking for wine, he was looking for an outhouse. When he returned, the train was gone. Rescued by a Colonel in a command car, he went into combat that day as a litter bearer.
It was on George Patton's mad dash to bail out the Allied Forces at the Battle of the Bulge, that Fred Moston saw his first jet aircraft. The German prototype made the P-51's look like they were standing still. In Luxembourg, he slept in a royal bed one night and on another night, he was sleeping on the ground in the snow when a German patrol passed right by him.
Medic Fred Moston was helping a sick man back to the rear when he crossed a field after spotting the unit he was looking for on the other side. He found out how lucky he was. "Doc, that field is mined!" He has some observations about the quality of the German weapons versus our own, and he relates how he came to have a gun shoved in his face by an American sergeant.
The 80th Division made contact with the 101st Airborne outside Bastogne. "What took you guys so long," was the first question, although posed a bit more colorfully. Medic Fred Moston saw a landscape littered with dead men and horses and wrecked tanks. The Battle of the Bulge had been the greatest battle ever fought by the American Army. He got in on the action when, upset on finding a dead comrade, he grabbed a gun and charged the enemy.
It was a probe, crossing the Rhine at night to gauge the enemy force on the other side. Medic Fred Moston was plucked from his unit and sent with this team and it was a good thing for them. They took heavy machine gun fire and he was one of the ones hit. Despite that, he managed to organize the group and get them to shelter. Years later, his account of this incident corrected the official Army record.
When Fred Moston returned home from the European Theater, the first thing he did was go looking for his dog. The news was not good. Then he found out his job was gone and, for a while, it was just the local bar with the other veterans, who were suddenly distinct from everyone else. He was successful in college and became a history teacher. His take on the Greatest Generation is that it was someone else.
After he posted his guards every morning at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, Art Staymates would often travel through the town in his jeep. One day he saw a sign for a cafe and was curious because there really wasn't much food available to the civilians anywhere. What he found inside made the whole war worth it.
It ws great soft duty. After his infantry training, Art Staymates was sent to train Air Force recruits and medics in small arms. His unit deployed in the meantime, so after a queasy Atlantic crossing, he became a replacement in the 1st Division and started training for the Normandy invasion. Not so soft.
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.
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.
The 1st Division had thousands of casualties in the frigid cold at the Ardennes and in the Hurtgen Forest. After 171 days on the front line, Art Staymates headed to the rear for some hot food and a shower and a trip to Paris. He got the first two, then a little problem came up at Bastogne.
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.
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.
He knew he would be going in the service, so Art Staymates asked a friend who became a recruiter how he could get in the Air Corps. Ask for the infantry, he was told, because everybody asks for the Air Corps. Do well and they will transfer you. So he tried that.
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.
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.
The war was over and the men piled into the trucks. Art Staymates asked the driver if they were going to Bremerhaven. That's where the ships were. No such luck. The 1st Division was to train replacements and prepare for Japan, but three companies were selected for a special task in Nuremburg.
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.
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.
The Germans had the best artillery and tanks, but the Americans had the best small arms and were too stupid to quit, says Art Staymates who had reached the top of the bluffs at Omaha Beach. Then there were the hedgerows, which were a whole new challenge. He was never comfortable among the French, but the Belgians were wonderful.
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.
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.
France was tough, but Belgium was totally different. Art Staymates trusted the Belgians so he accepted the food offered by an old woman. It was the best thing he had ever tasted. They helped the Americans in other ways and their gratitude lasted down through the generations, as Art would discover years later.
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 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.
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.
As the commander of the guard at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, Art Staymates got to know the notorious prisoners including Hermann Goring. On his first day in the assignment, the field marshal tested his resolve.
It wasn't the best trip, with most of the men seasick. Leonard Smith was on his way to the Philippines and was told that he was now acting corporal. Great, but what does that mean? A hint, he was in charge, but he was on his way to the galley. After the voyage, he was also dubious when he was told he was now in the Signal Corps.
As the landing craft neared Omaha Beach, fear gripped many of the men, but Art Staymates was determined to get ashore. Seeing that the boat was being strafed, he took them over the side instead of lowering the ramp in the face of the fire. The water was deep, and heavy packs weighed the men down. And once you could keep your head above water, there were the bullets.
He had a cushy assignment in an office building, but Leonard Smith took some R&R that he didn't really need and headed into the mountains of Japan, where he visited a resort which required some explaining to his wife years later. When it was time to go, they tried to recruit him for a civilian contractor. No dice.
Once you were off the boat and managed not to drown, there were 300 yards of beach to get across with heavy machine gun fire. Ships finally began pounding the bluffs above and the 101st Airborne dropped in behind them. Art Staymates made it from the water almost to the top of the hill when he ran up against a tangle of barbed wire.