9:37 | Robert Purdy describes the intensely political climate during the Great Depression, which had many people embracing leftist ideals. He worked in a tool and die shop preparing for engineering school, and along with his brother Harry, an accomplished writer, began to put those ideals into action. Interview donated by Margot Smith. Part 2 of 6.
Keywords : Robert Purdy Depression Social Security Works Progress Administration (WPA) Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Detroit MI Harry Purdy Cadillac Communist Socialist University of Michigan machine shop tool and die Esquire Arthur Miller Wayne University German Nazi
On the cusp of the Depression, Robert Purdy's father had a good job in the automobile industry in Michigan, but after the crash, employment became spotty and his family had to move several times to keep afloat. Interview donated by Margot Smith. Part 1 of 6.
During a break from his college education, Robert Purdy and his two brothers became increasingly angry about the Nazi aggression in Europe. After Pearl Harbor, all three enlisted in the Air Corps together. He received his wings as a fighter pilot, but losses in the bomber groups required that he move into B-24's. Interview donated by Margot Smith. Part 3 of 6.
B-24 co-pilot Robert Purdy says he was scared on every mission he flew over Greece and Italy because every one drew heavy flak and German fighter attacks. During a bombing run over Vicenza, his plane was hit and the crew had to bail out. Captured almost immediately, he was transported into Germany where an uncertain fate awaited. Interview donated by Margot Smith. Part 4 of 6.
He was told he would be taken out and shot if he did not reveal information, but captured B-24 co-pilot Robert Purdy would only give his name, rank and serial number. Expecting that fate any minute, he was instead shipped by rail into Germany, where he was interred for the rest of the war. Interview donated by Margot Smith. Part 5 of 6.
News of the war filtered into the POW camp where B-24 co-pilot Robert Purdy was interred, and the news that VE Day had come was most welcome. The tunnel digging was abandoned as the war crept closer and closer. Finally, two Russian scouts appeared at the gate. Where were the guards? Interview donated by Margot Smith. Part 6 of 6.
Chan Rogers describes what will come to be his worst 4 days in the infantry. Assigned to protect a captured german position, his unit faces attacks from unrelenting nazis, and he must bring fallen buddies down the hill on pack mules.
Jack Houston had just helped his buddy dress a wound when he volunteered to return to the Okinawa hilltop where they were getting the enemy cleared out. When he got the jump on three of them, his muzzle flash gave him away and he had to leave in a hurry. He flung himself off the hill where he came face to face with a rifle. Part 5 of 6. (This interview made possible with the support of JOHN & BARBARA MCCOY.)
The Russians were close enough that the American POW's could hear the fire in the distance. Their guards roused them all and put them on the road in a forced march, leaving their camp in Poland and heading for Germany. It was seventy nine days of freezing cold out in the open, with very little food. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
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.
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.
Chan Rogers experiences a couple of close calls on the Siegfried Line. His unit stumbles upon a nest of sleeping Nazis, suddenly finding themselves in a harrowing firefight. Later, when facing off against a group of German pillboxes, they are showered with deadly shrapnel from tree bursts.
One of the units from his group was surrounded and outnumbered by a large German force and Frank "Lindy" Fancher's platoon was ordered to keep the road open so they could escape. Later, back in a supposed safe area, he couldn't sleep and was the first to hear over the radio that the German armor was coming.
When Orlando native Chan Rogers is accepted into the Army Specialized Training Program, he believes he will enter the war as a fully trained engineer. But the army, desperate for combat leadership, pull him from school early and train him for infantry duty.
He passed a test in high school that sent him to Cornell University with the promise of a commission and an engineering degree, but the Army needed infantry more than engineers so Charles York went to basic training and became part of the 100th Infantry Division. After a queasy Atlantic crossing, he landed in Marseille where he was advised by veteran troops on the dangers he would face.
Several of the German weapons were far superior to his own, according to Frank "Lindy" Fancher. The Panzerfaust bazooka and the MG 42 machine gun were two that he really liked and he had more than one occasion to turn them on their makers. Sometimes he got orders that made no sense to him, like the time he was sent to a defensive position in a place that was impossible to defend.
He had to serve in the post-war occupation of Berlin and that was an experience in itself. Charles York describes the chaotic times and the hustles of the victorious Allied soldiers as they tried to make a buck. For a while, the currency standard was a pack of American cigarettes.
They had to take the hill. Patton needed to cross the Moselle River where the German guns were targeted and Frank "Lindy" Fancher's platoon was pinned down. He was so mad that he grabbed a 30 cal machine gun and some ammo belts and charged the hill. When it was over, the crossing was secure and Fancher had won a battlefield commission.
Charles York describes the effects his artillery fire had on enemy positions and then the frightening feeling of being under an enemy artillery barrage. You could hear mortars or artillery pieces but there was one weapon, the 88mm gun, that fired with such a rapid velocity you could not hear the round coming.
Hal Puett joined the Navy ahead of the draft in 1942. He was sent to radio school where he was top of his class and earned a rare Radioman's rating while still there. Finding some action was his goal but the Navy had other ideas and made him an instructor at Pre-Flight school, teaching communications to student pilots.
They dug in every night from the fall of 1944 through the Spring of 1945. It was always rainy, and Charles York remembers waking up cold and wet. All the men in his unit had good German down coats, though, liberated from a factory, and they avoided frozen feet, thanks to some good advice.
Shortly after the Battle of the Bulge, Charles York was startled by the sight of a German jet fighter easily outrunning two Allied fighters. It was a frightening thought, that the enemy might have been able to manufacture more of them.