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.
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.
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.
Being on the 20mm gun crew of a minesweeper, Mr. Weston had to think quickly after a nearby battleship was hit by a Japanese bomb during an inconvenient time for Mr. Weston. He received a Purple Heart for his injury, but not before heading off to fight at Saipan and Tinian.
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.
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 being captured, John Rodgers met an old friend at the camp where he was being held. While being brought back to Rome by his captors, Rodgers was able to buy some sustenance for himself and his friends that kept them going as they were transferred to Poland. (Part 1)
Willis Brown was drafted out of college into the Army and headed south to Turner Field in Georgia. He didn't like the way he was treated there and asked for a transfer, but was denied. He reveals how he beat the system and got out of there.
His unit went ashore at Oran, Algeria and Willis Brown says it was beautiful and exotic. He was good with languages and he tells how he made friends among the locals. He did the same thing when they moved on to Italy.
When Willis Brown returned home after his deployment to Africa and Italy, he made full use of his GI benefits. After getting two history degrees, he picked up a degree in education, which served him well in a long teaching career.
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.
William Weston remembers minesweeping and how they would assist American ships navigate through minefields. There were many instances where ships would be hit by a mine and get sunk. He was also in charge of manning the large machine guns during a deployment in the Philippines.