4:00 | After his call up, Jim Bard wound up at Fort McClellan for infantry basic training. To him, it was just an extension of the Boy Scouts and then he was sent to Auburn University, of all places. At the time, it was called Alabama Polytechnic Institute. It was the Army Specialized Training Program, an effort to build up the military's brain trust, but men were needed on the battlefield in Europe and the program was ended. He was sent to the newly formed 106th Division.
Keywords : Jim Bard engineering Anniston AL Fort McClellan Boy Scout Auburn University Alabama Polytechnic Institute Camp Atterbury 106th Division Cleveland OH ASTP
Very soon after Jim Bard was captured by the Germans, he was amazed when an English speaking officer said to speak up about any casualties known to be out in the woods. They were marched off down the road, where he saw the macabre aftermath of a tank battle that didn't go well for the American armor.
To Jim Bard, the orders were confusing. The inexperienced 106th Division was told to move out, then to hold. When his unit finally moved out in the opening days of the Battle of the Bulge, they were quickly pinned down and surrounded. As he tried to dig a foxhole in the rocky ground, the 1st Sergeant approached with some startling news.
He had started school at Penn State and was studying metallurgy when the attack on Pearl Harbor jolted the nation. Jim Bard joined the Enlisted Reserve Corps and continued studying, but after a few months, he was called up and encountered his first challenge, KP.
His Atlantic crossing was swift. The Queen Elizabeth could outrun any warship and delivered the men of the 106th Division to England in five days. Jim Bard had one furlough in London where he heard the explosions of V2 rockets. Ferried to Le Havre, the unit made it's way through France into Belgium.
The POW's were packed into boxcars and parked outside a prison camp where there was no room for them. When a British bombing raid began, Jim Bard bolted from the rail car and ran blindly in the dark right into a fence. Taken further down the line, he was almost a zombie when he arrived at another camp where British prisoners welcomed him.
After examining the prisoners to see who was healthy enough to work, those deemed usable were formed into work parties for German factories. Jim Bard was sent to a snowbound little town that looked like a Christmas card, where his job was to stack logs for a wood chipping operation.
The POW laborers were roused at night to see the firebombing of Dresden just a few miles away. It wasn't long before they began a road odyssey with their guards that took them around the area without apparent purpose. Then, the guards disappeared. Part 1 of 2.
The war was over and he had been freed when his German guards disappeared on the road, but Jim Bard and his buddies were stuck in Czechoslovakia with no contact. After staying with a German family for a while, they boarded a train that was supposed to take them to the American lines, but it kept getting sidelined. Finally they saw an American jeep with an American officer and they were on their way. Part 2 of 2.
The men at the Army petroleum testing lab hated the food in their own mess hall. Nathan Radin explains that, since they had to board the tankers at anchor to get samples of their cargo, it made since to visit at lunchtime. Back at the lab, there was a mysterious project going on for some unknown VIP. (This interview made possible with the support of KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
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.
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.
After a three day pass to London, B-24 crew member Jack Lemonds returned to his base to find out a good friend's crew had been shot down. No one knew their fate but through a twist of fate of his own, he would see his friend again. He remembers a mission of his own that was particularly hazardous due to a swarm of German fighters.
Paratrooper Mario Patruno made good use of his time in England before the big invasion. After attempting to recover some Italian real estate, he hitched around the country, making friends wherever he went.
As he floated to the ground after bailing out, Jack Lemonds looked up and saw the B-24's make their turn to head back to England. What would happen to him, he wondered? As he gathered his chute, three German farmers tried to do him in, but he was saved by an enemy soldier. It would not be the first time.
There was a sniper who was getting mighty close. In the Dutch town of Nijmegen, Paratrooper Mario Patruno waited for the shooter to reload, then ran to a wrecked vehicle to fire back. Unfortunately, there was another German with a bead on him. He didn't hear the bullet that got him. It was like a punch in the face.
His German captors took care of his wounds and then Jack Lemonds was taken to Frankfurt for interrogation. The officer who questioned him was the spitting image of a post war cinema stereotype. All he got was name, rank and serial number.
After nearly being sliced up by a shattered plate glass window, Paratrooper Mario Patruno scrambled behind a pile of rubble to return fire to a German across the street. He sensed that there was someone next to him firing, and when he saw who the local hero was, he could barely believe it.
In the Dutch town of Eindhoven, Paratrooper Mario Patruno made a foolhardy charge on an enemy barricade. As he disarmed the German officer there, he had a surprise related to his own weapon. When the battle was over, joyous civilians thronged the streets and brought out food and drink. Then it was on toward Germany, riding on British tanks.
As a group of new B-24 crews readied to make the flight to England, one of them crashed into a mountain in New Hampshire. Undeterred, waist gunner Jack Lemonds and a host of others donned their heated suits and made the long, cold flight. They didn't know it yet, but their first mission would be on the the most important day of the war.
There were 40,000 paratroopers deployed in Operation Market Garden, an assault into the Netherlands and Germany. Paratrooper Mario Patruno approached his target bridge, only to see the Germans blow it up. Before taking Eindhoven, he captured a frightened young enemy soldier and, immediately, several more showed up.
They were anxious. The first mission for many of the B-24 crews in England was D-Day. Waist gunner Jack Lemonds was awed by the spectacle of hundreds of ship bombarding the Normandy shore as he flew towards France. Later, when the enormous cost in lives became known, he felt fortunate to have been in the air, not on the ground.
With a chemistry degree in hand, Nathan Radin headed home from Berkeley to New York City. He forgot to notify the draft board, but they found him eventually, working for the War Department in a parachute flare factory. (This interview made possible with the support of KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
Jack Lemonds was over Brunswick, Germany when his B-24 was split in two by flak. As others in the plane succumbed to flames, he managed to tumble out, attaching his parachute as he fell. In the front half of the plane, the pilot struggled in vain to control the descent until the whole thing blew.
He was a non-combatant, but Nathan Radin saw the consequences of war up close, a toll on both human bodies and the environment. He looks back and wonders how it happened and how it could be happening still. (This interview made possible with the support of KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
As the Navy prepared to move beyond the Solomon Islands, a large fleet assembled at Fiji. Hank Sturgess had Shore Patrol duty the first night of leave on the island. It started out well, bit soon the sick sailors began showing up. Back at sea, an important task on his ship was the rescue of downed airmen. This led to a peculiar arrangement with the aircraft carrier crews. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Most guys were already assigned and shipped out of camp but Nathan Radin found himself in charge of marching new recruits around. Finally, he got an assignment that matched up with his college degree, a medical dispensary in Charleston. Then it was on to a laboratory in Ohio where he trained pilots in a decompression chamber. His eventual wartime assignment was still waiting for him. (This interview made possible with the support of KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
During one battle, the destroyer USS Radford was guarding some small carriers when a Japanese submarine got in close and sank one. Soon, Hank Sturgess picked up a blip on SONAR and the fast ship closed in to seek revenge. On another occasion, a well known pilot was missing and the men of the Radford joined the search. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Nathan Radin felt badly for the natives in New Guinea, who were malnourished and poorly treated by their supposed allies. He succumbed to the environment himself when he contracted Dengue Fever. As he was traveling homeward, the atomic bomb ended the war. With his academic background, he understood immediately when he heard about it. (This interview made possible with the support of KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
The Japanese civilians usually paid no attention to POW Jack Litchfield, but one day, as they huddled in an air raid shelter, he received intense, hateful glares from them. What he didn't know and would find out later, is that the first atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. He also found out something later regarding the targeting of the second bomb that made him feel lucky to be alive.