4:27 | His oldest brother went to war, then the second brother. When Leonard Smith's time came, he was glad to go, but was immediately in a state of confusion as names were called and men left the hall, but he was still there.
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When Leonard Smith arrived at basic training, he was put in a group for possible officer candidate training. He wasn't chosen, but the reason is understandable. He did manage to win a contest.
They made a pitch for him to join the regular Army and Leonard Smith was buying. But first he had to decide, Army or Navy? That was easy. He continued in the Army and readied to serve in the postwar Pacific.
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.
When he got to postwar Tokyo, the old hands told him he had it made. It was an office job for General MacArthur. They were set up in a building with all amenities and Leonard Smith thought that, for an eighteen year old, he was doing pretty well. All he had to do was follow the General's simple rules. When he found out what he could do with his cigarettes, he quit smoking.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.)
With victory in sight, Fleming is sent on a series of missions to wrap up loose ends. During a suspenseful evacuation of woefully outgunned Chinese soldiers, he is forced to leave men and boys behind to face a vengeful enemy. (This interview made possible with the support of WILLIE NELSON, JR)
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.
January 21st, 1945, John Rodgers and his fellow officers began on the longest forced march of World War II. From Szubin, Poland, they were forced to march over 300 miles in 47 days. It took some time, but General Patton’s forces were able to liberate the prisoners as the war in Europe came to an end.
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)