5:43 | 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.
Keywords : Jim Bard Boston MA Camp Myles Standish HMS Queen Elizabeth England Cheltenham London V2 Le Havre France Reims Belgium Siegfried Line messenger
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Serving in the Air Force, Lammie Spivey served on multiple ships during his time on the water. After being discharged and sent to shore, he stayed on in the Army Air Corps to serve in the air instead of the sea. 6 years in Japan and 3 years in France was good to him, as he got to have family with him while serving.
Departing on the U.S.S. New York to Pearl Harbor, where he transferred to Guam. While heading back to the U.S. on discharge, he had an incident on deck that led to him taking a big fall which he miraculously survived. He decided to start Army Air Corps training, where he stayed for the rest of his service.
When Georgia native William Forbes hears of the attack on Pearl Harbor, his first question is "what's a Pearl Harbor?" He soon develops a keen understanding of what's at stake, and enlists in the Army. The first casualty: his civilian clothes.
On D-Day, William Forbes' platoon storms the beaches of Normandy and fights their way through the French countryside all the way to Cherbourg. After a month of non-stop combat, he leads his team to Saint-Lo, where a bewildering explosion drastically alters his role in the war effort.
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)
Forbes' postwar career takes him from Europe to Puerto Rico, back to Germany, on to Korea and finally to the Pentagon, where he serves under the Secretary of Defense. He retires from the Army to become a writer and a "Beltway Bandit" - and learns to appreciate Single Malt Scotch.
Charles Fallis was in the ninth grade when the war started, but he became part of the effort when he entered the Navy in 1944. Assigned to the beach party on a troop transport, he was surprised when he had to learn to do what soldiers do every day. (This interview made possible with the support of KENNETH ANTHONY WEST.)
Forbes undergoes extensive training on the road to the European theater, earning his place as a platoon leader. His company trains in England for amphibious landings and strenuous combat. In the weeks leading-up to D-Day, they are moved to a sealed camp to await orders.
The Japanese knew that Okinawa was the last step on the Allied move toward the mainland, so they went all out with suicide attacks. Charles Fallis remembers the kamikaze alerts when he was anchored there. His ship was part of the task force that readied to invade Japan, and then after the surrender, part of the occupation. (This interview made possible with the support of KENNETH ANTHONY WEST.)
Walter Fleming arrives at boot camp in San Diego, where he trains in boxing, firefighting, and piloting a Landing Craft. During an exercise at sea, he and his crew learn that horsing around can have consequences. (This interview made possible with the support of WILLIE NELSON, JR)
He was seasick the first two weeks, but it went away and he was never bothered by it again. Charles Fallis was on the USS Grimes, a troop transport that ferried troops to Iwo Jima, and then picked up the wounded for evacuation. When a severely wounded Marine died, he witnessed a burial at sea, something he will never forget. (This interview made possible with the support of KENNETH ANTHONY WEST.)
He went home on a 30 day furlough and never went back to Europe. Bob Seeley's leave was extended, his back problem tied him up for five months, and he was shuffled around to different bases until he wound up in Maine. Rather than face the cold, he resorted to drastic measures, reenlistment.
Walter Fleming's first action is the full-scale invasion of Iwo Jima. Over several perilous days, he has many close calls with mortar fire, open-sea collisions, and artillery rounds - all the while evacuating wave after wave of wounded Marines. (This interview made possible with the support of WILLIE NELSON, JR)