4:01 | They were pinned down by German artillery when the platoon leader told Jack Myers to put a shell into a church steeple where he thought a spotter might be. It worked and they moved on. It was the kind of thing he did all the time but it had resonance after the war.
Keywords : Jack Myers tank destroyer Ruhr Rhine church Baltimore MD Bronze Star shrapnel helmet tank Albert Haskey
He almost enlisted after Pearl Harbor, but he waited for the draft to make sure no one stole his girlfriend. After taking care of that, he became a gunner in a tank destroyer battalion. He trained on three inch guns that were both towed and self-propelled and he was a little annoyed with the discipline, but it paid off later.
It was a huge convoy to England and almost everyone on the troop ship was seasick. Jack Myers did not get sick but he had gone up on deck as the ship sailed from New York harbor in the middle of the night and that made him a little apprehensive. His first big battle was at Antwerp, where he had to intervene when his squad leader went a little crazy.
It wasn't easy at the Siegfried Line, says Jack Myers. There were tough pillboxes and bunkers, but he was a gunner on a tank destroyer and he could put a three inch shell right through the gun portals. The Germans had much better tanks, but the American armor was endless, a massive force that could not be stopped. Especially once they got the new 90 mm gun. Mr. Meyers also describes a Christmas Eve incident that shows the human side of war.
It was a pre-dawn mission and Jack Myers was a little nervous about going out ahead of the lines in the big tank destroyer, but that went OK. It was when they got back that things got scary. Soon after that, they were redeployed by rail through Southern France and into Southern Germany where they picked up a little fresh pork.
The war in Europe was over and Jack Myers returned to England, where he had an amazing chance encounter. After his voyage home, he used the GI Bill to great effect, learning a trade which supported him for over fifty years. He has some words for those who criticize Harry Truman for using the atomic bomb.
When Combat Engineer Will Jasmund reached the Rhine, it was at the Remagen bridge. When it fell, he was on the German side and had to be ferried back across to rejoin his unit. The urgency had eased to the point that he was able to nap under a jeep on a warm day. Someone then kicked his foot and told him the best news he could ever hear. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
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.
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.
His brother had already been drafted and he gave Will Jasmund this advice about going into the Army, don't get sent to Texas and don't get assigned to the engineers. Never one to agree with his big brother, he wanted both. He was anxious to go, but first he had to break the news to his parents. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
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.
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.
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)
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.
After his good friend was killed, Will Jasmund would not get close with anyone else. He was camped outside Bastogne when the Germans surged into the area, causing cooks, clerks and engineers like him to man the front line. He recalls an incident in which six soldiers wandered into camp on foot after abandoning their truck convoy in the face of enemy tanks. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Combat Engineer Will Jasmund got plenty of action along with the road and bridge repairs he was there to do. The German surge meant that he was defending those bridges along with the line companies. One of the men in his company took out a tank with a bazooka, and once, he found himself one the wrong side of the line, facing the gun barrels of his own army. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
He was driving a jeep when he felt something like a splinter or a bee sting on his leg. Will Jasmund put his hand down to feel the area and when he put his hand back on the wheel, it was covered with blood. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Following VJ Day, Nelson's ship heads back to the US with a boatload of marines - braving stormy seas on the way. Their passage through the Panama Canal is a tight fit, and they're forced to make modifications to the ship. (This interview made possible with the support of DALE GREGORY)
Will Jasmund was helping a friend get a large trailer rig turned around, when a jeep with an officer and two enlisted men drove up. They asked directions to a town that he knew was held by the Germans, and he told them so, but they insisted. Before he knew it, he was staring at his own weapon pointed at him. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
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)
The brass wanted to go into Paris for a fun evening. The city wasn't completely secure, but driver Will Jasmund had a good time anyway. There was only one problem. The jeep was gone when he woke up. He hitched a ride back to his outfit where he was informed that there was a much bigger problem. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Before he left Europe, Will Jasmund had the task of driving the mess hall garbage to the dump. When he saw the French civilians digging through it, he felt so sorry for them that he began to save good food and brought it for them. He volunteered for the Pacific, but the war ended there, so he made a triumphant return to New York. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
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)
They worked within two miles of the Normandy coast, repairing roads and bridges. Will Jasmund and the others in the engineer battalion had no doubts they were in the middle of a war. The strafing, shelling and, eventually, the friendly fire made them sure of that. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)