4:10 | Called up in 1943, Herman Krum went to Camp Crowder in Missouri for basic training and radio school. While there, he learned that not everyone in the service was noble. There was also a fatal accident involving politicians and company officials flying in a glider demonstration. He didn't know it at the time, but he was going to get real familiar with gliders.
Keywords : Herman Krum Philadelphia PA Fort Meade Camp Crowder Missouri Joplin MO Saint Louis Dispatch Waco Aircraft Company glider Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) Grinnell College Camp Reynolds Newport News VA Strait of Gibraltar Oran Algeria
There was no choice when you went to the induction center, says Herman Krum. If they had an order for ten cooks, the next ten men that walked through the door were going to be cooks. During radio school, he volunteered for a shift as an auxiliary MP. It was uneventful until he returned to the police station where several GI's had been brought in for intoxication.
The troop ship landed in Oran, where you did not want to mess with the local women, as Herman Krum learned from the old hands. Soon he was sent to Italy on a slow, miserable convoy, though the cabin was nice. In Naples, his name was called and he set out with others to a seaside town where the men were told they were now in a glider unit. Some of them turned around and ran back to the trucks.
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.
The glider pilots had new instructions regarding the tow rope in light of some problems during the Normandy invasion. The 1st Airborne Task Force was preparing for the invasion of Southern France and Herman Krum was part of it. As he was approaching the landing zone, he saw many gliders coming from all directions, which was a little alarming. They had a rough landing, but the unit was intact and ready to fight.
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.
While Herman Krum was stationed near London, he had two memorable encounters with British civilians. One was a young boy who was awestruck by a simple piece of fruit. The other was a wealthy gentleman with several estates who wanted to meet a typical GI.
While serving occupation duty in Berlin, Herman Krum almost got to meet General Eisenhower and Mickey Rooney. He showed some mercy to German workers who were unloading sugar and he learned a song that was a lament directed to Harry Truman.
Jack Houston was part of an ad hoc group of Marines from several hard hit units on Okinawa. He was worried because a major was talking kind of funny. It sounded like he wanted them to move on a hill at night, which was not standard procedure in the Marines. Part 4 of 6.
In the spring of 1945, paratrooper Rock Merritt was selected in a program that sent one man from each line company home for a ten day leave. He returned to Europe on the day the war there ended. His outfit, the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was then chosen to be the honor guard for Eisenhower's headquarters in Frankfurt.
After the hard fought battle for Okinawa, Jack Houston's unit had some easy duty in China, transferring prisoners and guarding an airfield. He had a curious encounter with a Chinese officer who regaled him with Communist dogma. Then, interlopers from the Navy messed up his shopping in the local market.
He was set to join the Marines but when Rock Merritt saw a poster recruiting paratroopers that promised extra pay and a special uniform, he went Army. The 508th Parachute Infantry regiment was activated at Camp Blanding and prepared to join the fight in Europe. The first order of business was trimming the number of men, which was an interesting process.
The Marines were way ahead of schedule moving through the northern end of Okinawa. Jack Houston found out that the rear was more dangerous than the front when his buddy fled the aid station back at the beach. He watched two ragged Japanese planes tangle with a Hellcat and a Corsair. He cheered when one was shot down but there was some bad news with that.
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.
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.
Jack Houston had just helped his buddy dress a wound when he volunteered to return to the Okinawa hilltop where they were getting the enemy cleared out. When he got the jump on three of them, his muzzle flash gave him away and he had to leave in a hurry. He flung himself off the hill where he came face to face with a rifle. Part 5 of 6.
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.
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 battle for Guadalcanal was long over when Jack Houston arrived. Even the mosquitoes had been defeated. After training in the jungle and in a mock village, he headed to Okinawa with the 22nd Marines. They were amazed at the lack of resistance when they landed and moved north.
Rock Merritt had no knowledge of what he was training for in Nottingham, but soon the paratrooper was part of the vast invasion of Normandy. He describes the huge scope of the effort, the airplanes they used, and a unwanted responsibility he had regarding a bicycle.
Jack Houston tried to enlist in the Navy after all his friends from school had left. His parents quashed that because he was only 16, but they promised to sign for him when he graduated high school. In December of 1943, he enlisted in the Marines and headed for Parris Island, where he shattered the M1 record on the rifle range.
They jumped at 0230. Paratrooper Rock Merritt missed the drop zone and he was lucky because it was flooded. After struggling out of his parachute and unpacking his weapon, he deployed his Crackerjack cricket and clicked once when he heard a noise. Part 1 of 4.
Normally, there would have been two Marines to a foxhole, but the 22nd had lost so many that most men were alone. Jack Houston remembers getting no sleep that long, Okinawa night because of the falling parachute flare casings landing all around him. When he moved out the next day, a bullet cracked past his ear, which caused him to begin a bad habit. Part 3 of 6.
Rock Merritt had no idea where the rest of his unit was. The paratrooper had dropped into Normandy and soon became part of a group of 37 men from many outfits. A chaplain among them did a great job of keeping up morale as they tried to get a foothold and move on the Germans. When his unit finally assembled, his platoon was issued weapons with which he was totally unfamiliar. Part 2 of 4.
Jack Houston was finally heading home from the Pacific. A Humphrey Bogart picture was playing on deck when a fire broke out and the confused crew reacted to the soundtrack. He wasn't yet done with danger, even on the train ride across the States.
The Marines moved out with tanks and infantry and got shot all to hell, so they advanced to the rear. The same thing happened the next day and Jack Houston barely made it back. That's when he saw the bullet holes in his sleeves. His rifle was broken so he had to improvise. Part 2 of 6.
Rock Merritt was dug in listening to a German propaganda speaker when a machine gun started up. The paratrooper grabbed some Gammon grenades and crawled 500 yards under constant fire. He was able to walk back and the push into France continued. Part 4 of 4.
A month after the Allies began retaking Europe, Richard Delle Rose was drafted and sent to Fort Sill for basic training. He was a good shot so they put him in the infantry component of the 13th Armored Division. He was a lucky man on the way over. He avoided seasickness and got double bunk space. (This interview made possible with the support of DOUGLAS & PHYLLIS SEIBERT In Memory of VICTOR L. SEIBERT, 8th Air Force, KIA December 29, 1945.)
After three days of hellish fighting on Okinawa, Jack Houston heard someone yell that the 22nd Marines were relieved. He had just narrowly missed being killed by a mortar shell and, when he started back to the rear, everything seemed in slow motion. Part 6 of 6.
Operation Market Garden, a huge airborne drop into Holland, was considered a failure, but, to paratrooper Rock Merritt, it was a great success following the chaos of Normandy. Years later, he would meet the author of A Bridge Too Far, which documented the battle.
Richard Delle Rose recalls how the actions of a platoon sergeant made the men in the company uneasy. He was advancing across Germany and into Austria when the war ended. The men in his unit became responsible for a camp full of displaced persons and they made good friends among them. (This interview made possible with the support of DOUGLAS & PHYLLIS SEIBERT In Memory of VICTOR L. SEIBERT, 8th Air Force, KIA December 29, 1945.)
After the northern part of Okinawa was secured, the Marines of the 22nd Regiment moved south. Jack Houston was sent to be point man for the whole division and he was given two flares. Red if he found nothing, green if he found the enemy. Warily he moved out. Part 1 of 6.
Late in the war, Richard Delle Rose finally entered combat when his unit left Le Havre and moved toward the enemy's heartland. Put under General Patton's command, they made good time while contending with German 88's and delaying tactics. (This interview made possible with the support of DOUGLAS & PHYLLIS SEIBERT In Memory of VICTOR L. SEIBERT, 8th Air Force, KIA December 29, 1945.)
The paratroopers traveled through Belgium to the cheers of onlookers, but they were miserable in the open trucks. Rock Merritt says it was the coldest he's ever been. There had no cold weather gear except snow shoes as they rushed to defend Allied gains in the Battle of the Bulge.