8:04 | Ed Harrell describes in detail the sinking of the USS Indianapolis from Japanese torpedoes, which left nearly 900 Sailors and Marines in shark-infested Pacific waters. Part 1 of 4.
Ed Harrell remembers his first impression of the USS Indianapolis and his first experience being at sea headed into combat during World War II.
Ed Harrell recalls the bombardment and successive invasion of Saipan during World War II.
Stationed aboard the USS Indianapolis, Ed Harrell remembers his ship being hit by a kamikaze aircraft near Okinawa.
Ed Harrell describes the events leading up to the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the threat that kamikaze aircraft posed to U.S. ships during that battle.
Ed Harrell makes the case that invading the island of Peleliu was a costly mistake on the Pacific front.
Ed Harrell recalls the bombardment of the island of Okinawa prior to the landing-force invasion.
Ed Harrell recollects the mystery surrounding a very important and dangerous package the USS Indianapolis was tasked with delivering to the Pacific front - the first atomic bomb.
After his ship was sunk by Japanese torpedoes, Ed Harrell continues his story of survival, fighting off hallucinations and sharks, while adrift in the Pacific Ocean. Part 2 of 4.
Ed Harrell continues his story of survival into the third day adrift in the Pacific Ocean. Part 3 of 4.
After being adrift in the Pacific for four days, Ed Harrell concludes his story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, which only a quarter of the crew ultimately survived. Part 4 of 4.
Ed Harrell describes the injuries he suffered after surviving the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and floating in the Pacific Ocean for four days, for which he received a Purple Heart.
Ed Harrell shares the efforts he and other former crewmembers went through to clear Rear Admiral Charles McVay's name after the admiral was court-martialed for his accused role in the sinking of the USS Indianapolis.
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.
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. Vaughn 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 brand new carrier USS Shangri-La carried out an attack on Tokyo, then participated in the Okinawa invasion, and then returned to attack Tokyo again. Curt Beckham was a mess cook on the ship and he had a battle station as well, down in the ammunition room.
Clyne Veal talks about the role of the USS Emmons after the Normandy invasion, during which time they conducted sub patrols in the N. Atlantic and then headed for the Mediterranean. The Emmons finally ended up at the invasion of Okinawa where the ship came under attack from kamikazes and was sunk after being struck 5 times.
Robert Gibbs only used his Georgia Tech engineering degree for two months before he was called up. He was already an ensign in the Navy, thanks to ROTC. There was a feeling that war was coming, he remembers, and when it did come, he was on a destroyer in the Caribbean, which was a hunting ground for German submarines.
Thanks to ROTC, Lyman Taylor already knew how to drill when he got to Navy boot camp in 1943. When he was done there, he was assigned to a specialty school where he learned cryptography. The discipline was so new, he was classified as an electrician, right down to the shoulder patch.
Former WWII Chinese fighter pilot Fred Chiao was recruited by Col. Ed Rector to help build a new Chinese Air Force on Taiwan. Regional politics ensued as President Marcos used Clark Air Force Base as a bargaining chip with Washington.
He'd passed the flying exam but Don Ogden was so tired that he began stammering and he was rejected. Determined to fly in combat, he became a gunner and in a strange turn of events, his tendency towards air sickness would actually save his life.
Although he didn't choose to become a mess cook, Curt Beckham learned that, in the Navy, a cook is godlike. He recalls the great leave policy they had while in port and he remembers some bad things, like having to wake up other cooks and not seeing land for three months.
Eric Holmes talks about his training journey, which took him to Mississippi, Texas, Utah, Iowa, New Hampshire, Wales and Britain. These stops were where he and other members of his crew trained to fly bombers.
As a special treat, some actresses came to Biak to put on a show for the enlisted men. All the lights were turned off except the klieg lights. Around 8:30 that night, the show had started and a lone Japanese bomber saw the lights. He approached the airstrip and bombed it.
A Marine doesn't like to say he retreated, but they didn't have enough men, so the word came to withdraw back toward the beach. Braswell Deen was out ahead of most of the unit. In his book, "Trial By Combat," he credits the medic, Bill Jenkins, with saving his life. Jenkins told the others there were men out there, and under heavy fire, crawled up to pass the word.
Chinese pilot Fred Chiao remembers how homesick the young Americans were, sent to the Chinese front from their farms back home. But they got to rotate out after 24 missions while the Chinese got no reprieve from the fight for their homeland.
Eric Holmes describes what he was doing after he was taken off regular bombing duties. These included helping organize and staff missions that came down from headquarters. He also tells the story about a non-human crew member that would go with a certain crew, and his friend Dale Stillwell who was injured on a bombing run.
The ending of the war resulted in everyone going back home except Leonard Meyer. He was ordered to gather all the supplies and turn them in to the quartermaster. After completing his order, he saw three Filipino girls with absolutely nothing, so he gave them two torn blankets and some K-rations. Moments later, two MPs came by to arrest him for the improper distribution of government property.
His father said that if you join the Army, you'll be cannon fodder and if you join the Navy, you'll be shark bait. Braswell Deen went for the Marines and became both. After boot camp he sailed for the island of Pavuvu where he trained further with his squad leader Joe Daly and his fire team leader Bill Thompson.
Grover McMichael joined the Navy in 1942 just ahead of getting drafted and was assigned to the USS Emmons, a destroyer. After a short time patrolling the North Atlantic, the ship was reassigned to duty in the Mediterranean, where the convoy sunk a submarine. In May 1944, the order came to head for England to take part in an unnamed assault.
The age limit to become an officer was lowered to 20. Jim Tysinger took advantage of this opportunity and headed towards Camp Davis in North Carolina. After being commissioned, Jim was ordered to transfer into the 214th Coast Artillery Anti-Aircraft regiment in California. He then visited New Caledonia and went on to Guadalcanal. During this time, his battery commander got promoted which resulted in him being his replacement.
Braswell Deen recalls getting ready for the amphibious landing on Peleliu and then the chaos of the landing itself. The shelling had been tremendous, but as on so many other islands, the enemy survived and the Marines faced heavy resistance as they hit the beach.
Eric Holmes and the rest of his B-17 crew arrived in England the afternoon of D-Day. Mr. Holmes talks about conditions on the plane and what a typical mission day was like. He also talks about his first bombing run problems, which resulted in the bombing of a not so important target.
The fire was heavy from the ridge above, remembers Braswell Deen. His company was pinned down in a tank trap just inland from the beach on Peleliu. He and a couple of other Marines had advanced just past the trap and almost missed the word to fall back. The night that followed was spent in a shell hole with rounds going overhead all night.
Curt Beckham tells what it's like to ride out a typhoon with a Navy fleet. Besides that ordeal, he also was sunburned to a crisp on R&R and, because it would have gone on his record, was unwilling to report it and get treatment. Another time, he and his buddy had a bright idea about a cooler place to sleep up on the flight deck.