5:41 | Guy Whidden had a Luger in his waistband which he almost used when the Army doctors were going to amputate his leg in Belgium. Here, he tells the story of how he acquired that Luger after having it pointed right at his forehead. This was one of the experiences that convinced him that his German enemies were very much like himself.
Keywords : Guy Whidden machine gun German knife Luger surrender prisoner 6th German Parachute Regiment French Carentan
Guy Whidden wasn't too excited by the Boy Scouts, but he liked the National Guard. The maneuvers were fun and he had a job he liked, orderly to the Colonel. That was before a barnyard prank got him.
To Guy Whidden and his friends, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the onset of war was exciting. Told by a recruiter he could join the Air Corps, he noticed the train was getting mighty far South. He was in the infantry and, since he didn't really know what that was, he wasn't disappointed. After a couple of stops, he applied for jump school and went to Fort Benning in 1942.
There were a lot of washouts in the first week of jump school, but Guy Whidden was not one of them. The athletic soldier was enjoying the whole thing, even being the first one out of the plane. He was ready to go to the war, but he had to wait for what seemed to him like a long time.
Before he went overseas, Paratrooper Guy Whidden went on maneuvers in Tennessee. One day, he was assigned to guard four prisoners, chronically AWOL soldiers awaiting court martial. It was a long night and they were hungry, which led to a sad situation for the reluctant guard.
It took a long time to get to England. The ship Guy Whidden had boarded was damaged, so he took a detour to Newfoundland. Finally, a new ship was brought, a British ship, complete with British food, of course. No one wanted to be in the bottom hold, which was knee deep with water.
He was quartered on the grounds of a palatial estate west of London. Paratrooper Guy Whidden was able to go into town on leave, and unlike the rest, he sought out a good vantage point to watch the nightly German bombing. He kept getting busted to private because of a weakness for pretty girls, which made him late back to the base every time.
A week before D-Day, Paratrooper Guy Whidden's unit moved to a fenced in camp near the coast. The orders were shoot to kill anyone leaving. The food was good, too good if you really thought about it. On the day, he was sickened by the tobacco smoke and the stench on the plane over the Channel. It would be a relief to jump and get away from it.
Guy Whidden parachuted into Sainte-Mere-Eglise and as soon as he was on the ground, an equipment bundle landing at the same time hit him in the head and knocked him out. He was too dazed to find his "Cricket" to signal friendlies and this nearly got him shot. He hooked up with another Airborne unit because his own was nowhere to be found. It was absolute chaos and there were bullets flying everywhere.
Pushing on after Normandy, Guy Whidden was in the Netherlands and surrounded by Germans. His unit took a pounding from mortars and shrapnel from a round hit his leg. As he treated himself, the barrage continued to take lives around him. Crawling from the field to a ditch, he was noticed and picked up by an officer who carried him to safety.
With a bad leg wound, Guy Whidden began an odyssey through crowded aid stations and hospitals in the Netherlands and Belgium. When he realized he was in a queue for amputation, he put a hand on the Luger in his waistband and resolved not to let that happen.
He started walking and running with his wounded leg way before he was supposed to. Then, back in the States, he requested an assignment at Airborne school. The only problem, he had to qualify for the course to teach it. Looking back on the war, he draws solace from something he apparently didn't do.
Marine recruit Walter Marshall left the cold of New York for sunny San Diego and boot camp. It was tough, but he loved it because he was already used to discipline. His first stop in the Pacific was New Zealand, where he was treated wonderfully by the locals. It was a good life there, but the men knew what they were headed for.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.)
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.)
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.
The men of the USS Radford were desperately trying to rescue as many of the men in the water as they could. The men were from her sister ship, the USS Helana, and three times the rescuers had to break away to fend off Japanese attacks. After a near miss from an enemy torpedo, Hank Sturgess and the rest of the Radford's crew managed to pull 500 survivors from the water. Part 2 of 3. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
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.)
The destroyer USS Radford was being refueled and restocked when word came of a large Japanese task force moving in. During the battle that ensued, the ship made a frontal assault on the enemy, firing a bank of torpedoes and speeding off. As they maneuvered away, RADAR officer Hank Sturgess got a contact on his screen that could not be identified. Part 1 of 3. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
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.)
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.)
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.
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.)
It was a hard lesson. Walter Marshall learned it in the Marines in the Pacific. Don't get too close to anyone. That meant that he, and anyone else in the unit who'd learned that lesson, was alone in a crowd. And in the middle of combat, any one of these solitary warriors could arise to the occasion.
Hank Sturgess was trained as a torpedo officer, but when he joined the crew of the destroyer USS Radford, the skipper said what he needed was a radar officer. The new technology was secret and destined to be highly important for the rest of the war. It was on the job training for the young ensign, who helped convince a skeptical admiral that it would work. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
He was ready for the Marines after a disciplined, patriotic upbringing, a stern principal at his school and training in the National Guard. Walter Marshall was also influenced by movies about the Marines, especially the uniforms. When war broke out, he was already aware of conditions in Europe, as told to him by Jewish friends.