6:06 | As the commander of the guard at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, Art Staymates got to know the notorious prisoners including Hermann Goring. On his first day in the assignment, the field marshal tested his resolve.
Keywords : Art Staymates Nuremberg Germany Hermann Goring Julius Streicher war crimes trials cell
He knew he would be going in the service, so Art Staymates asked a friend who became a recruiter how he could get in the Air Corps. Ask for the infantry, he was told, because everybody asks for the Air Corps. Do well and they will transfer you. So he tried that.
It ws great soft duty. After his infantry training, Art Staymates was sent to train Air Force recruits and medics in small arms. His unit deployed in the meantime, so after a queasy Atlantic crossing, he became a replacement in the 1st Division and started training for the Normandy invasion. Not so soft.
As the landing craft neared Omaha Beach, fear gripped many of the men, but Art Staymates was determined to get ashore. Seeing that the boat was being strafed, he took them over the side instead of lowering the ramp in the face of the fire. The water was deep, and heavy packs weighed the men down. And once you could keep your head above water, there were the bullets.
Once you were off the boat and managed not to drown, there were 300 yards of beach to get across with heavy machine gun fire. Ships finally began pounding the bluffs above and the 101st Airborne dropped in behind them. Art Staymates made it from the water almost to the top of the hill when he ran up against a tangle of barbed wire. (Caution: Graphic Content)
The Germans had the best artillery and tanks, but the Americans had the best small arms and were too stupid to quit, says Art Staymates who had reached the top of the bluffs at Omaha Beach. Then there were the hedgerows, which were a whole new challenge. He was never comfortable among the French, but the Belgians were wonderful.
France was tough, but Belgium was totally different. Art Staymates trusted the Belgians so he accepted the food offered by an old woman. It was the best thing he had ever tasted. They helped the Americans in other ways and their gratitude lasted down through the generations, as Art would discover years later.
The 1st Division had thousands of casualties in the frigid cold at the Ardennes and in the Hurtgen Forest. After 171 days on the front line, Art Staymates headed to the rear for some hot food and a shower and a trip to Paris. He got the first two, then a little problem came up at Bastogne.
The war was over and the men piled into the trucks. Art Staymates asked the driver if they were going to Bremerhaven. That's where the ships were. No such luck. The 1st Division was to train replacements and prepare for Japan, but three companies were selected for a special task in Nuremburg.
After he posted his guards every morning at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, Art Staymates would often travel through the town in his jeep. One day he saw a sign for a cafe and was curious because there really wasn't much food available to the civilians anywhere. What he found inside made the whole war worth it.
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)