8:22 | As Al Brown's unit moved North from Italy into the Rhone Valley, the Germans fought very skillful delaying actions. Digging in near Belmont, France, he noticed an officer and a radio operator casually sitting in the open. Before long, they were all running.
Keywords : Al Brown France Rhone Valley Rhine River Salzburg Austria German delaying action Vosges Mountains Belmont machine gun 40 mm AA gun 30 cal machine gun My Comrades And Me
Al Brown came out of rural Florida to join the war effort with his brother, Frank. In basic training, he remembers being "singularly unimpressed" with the light bazooka that was demonstrated. He knew there was no way that weapon would stop a German tank.
Joining the 3rd Infantry Division as it prepped for Anzio, Al Brown's first experience taught him a valuable lesson, that one had to look out for himself. It started with the first shift of guard duty as he walked a muddy ridge.
A dozen men had made a pact to try and stay together after training and deployment. They made it intact to a replacement depot in Naples, but while Al Brown was on KP, all the rest had joined the Darby Rangers. That turned out to be the most important KP he ever did.
Moving toward Rome, Al Brown knew his brother's unit was nearby, and for an awful moment, he thought he had found him mortally wounded on the battle field. He never found his brother but a mortar round nearly found him.
Al Brown slept right through D-Day. He was nowhere near Normandy, he was in Rome and exhausted from the campaign. Hearing the news of the invasion in the north, he wondered how they could have gotten so far inland in one day.
When the war ended, Al Brown experienced high and low emotions. Happy for victory and sad for fallen comrades, and even for the Germans. The turmoil followed him on the trip home in the form of a raging hurricane.
As the Victory Ship entered New York Harbor, the fog cleared just in time for Al Brown to see the Statue of Liberty. It was a good feeling to be home.
As Al Brown's unit moved North from Italy into the Rhone Valley, the Germans fought very skillful delaying actions. Digging in near Belmont, France, he noticed an officer and a radio operator casually sitting in the open. Before long, they were all running.
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.
Gilbert Jensen had a best friend named Billy Ricketts. The war caught up with their friendship on a three man patrol in the jungle of Guadalcanal. Other combat memories from this time include a night attack on a Japanese camp and nighttime Japanese banzai attacks.
Eugene Whitfield tells the story of the twin kamikaze attacks on the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga. The first plane caught them by surprise when the Japanese pilot came straight down out of the sun. The second one hit the bridge and the captain was wounded, but he proved to be very tough.
After a mission, Mitch Touart and his crew notice that one of the planes has gone missing, only to find out that it has crashed into an embankment. COL Dunning ends up having to make a tragic decision about SGT Edelman, who is trapped in the aircraft.
To Howard Margol, Wurzburg meant the old castle and the questionable actions of a couple of soldiers. Schweinfurt meant the well engineered gun emplacements and the rangefinder he and Ed Joos tried to hack open for the lenses. And Furth meant the stash of German parachutes which were cut into scarves. He wouldn't have made it to Furth if he and Ed had not stopped banging on that rangefinder when they did.
Jack Simpson went from high school to the FBI, but his 1A draft classification was holding back his career. He decided to just get it over with and enlist. He soon found himself hurried up and waiting in North Africa as troops massed for the invasion of Axis-held Italy.
At the end of the war, Irv Press was given a special assignment and an unusual partner. The partner was a former Wermacht captain and the mission was the liberation of farm workers forced into labor on German farms by the Nazis.
Serving occupation duty in Salzburg, Austria, Howard Margol's unit was stationed at a large displaced persons camp. Each soldier had to take ten German prisoners into the woods on firewood detail. This led to an ironic situation when a prisoner escaped from one of the crews, though it wasn't the one you might think.
After Anzio and Rome, Jack Simpson entered Southern France and, at that point, it became a chase. The Nazis were in full retreat and the 45th was right behind them. There was delight on the faces of the French as they showered the Americans with gifts and hospitality, and there was puzzlement on the faces of the Americans when they saw an incredibly fast German plane with no propeller.
Looking back on his days as a B-24 gunner, Arlie Aukerman wonders, "Why wasn't I scared more?" Like most young flyers, he kept going by thinking it was the other guy who would get killed. One of the other guys in his squadron was Jimmy Stewart, who took the same risks as all the men.
Bella Solnick was his neighbor for 31 years, but had never told her story of escaping the SS. When he heard that, Howard Margol was taken back in his mind to the snowy days in Munich, when he was greeted by civilians waving white flags, some of them from the Dachau camp where Bella had been.
Arlie Aukerman was on his way to New Mexico to train for Pacific action in the B-29 when Japan surrendered. They locked the doors on the train to keep the troops from bolting. After his discharge, he declined to join the reserves. He'd had enough of guys like his drill instructor back in basic training.
As they were setting up a new gun position, everyone in Howard Margol's artillery unit detected a strange odor. Some said it was a chemical factory but Howard Margol said no, that was the smell when his mom burned chicken skin. The new gun position was near the town of Dachau.
It was determined that Al Morehouse's armored unit was perfect for retraining for the Japan invasion so they shipped back home very quickly after the war ended in Europe. As he waited at home on furlough, Al got the best news he ever heard.
He was there when Dachau was liberated, but a more emotional experience for Howard Margol occurred on a convoy of several thousand Jewish camp survivors being taken to luxury resorts high in the Austrian Alps. Even though they were only 20 minutes away from their destination, it was sundown on Friday and they all got out and sat down on the side of the road.
Elbert Dobbs got a six month reprieve from the draft because his wife was expecting. Then it was infantry basic and right into a convoy to Le Havre, France and on into Germany. It was 1945 but the war wasn't over, yet.
Howard Margol and his twin brother went from college to Army life in 1943 and then the real learning began. They learned not to volunteer, not to go to Officer Candidate School, not to send your son to military school, and how to get a hot shower when only officers have hot showers.
He was on track to become a pilot, navigator or bombardier, but first, Arlie Aukerman had to get through a mean, ignorant drill instructor and hazardous coal smoke to complete basic training.
Irv Press had a neat trick for avoiding KP and it worked for three weeks after he was drafted. Then, standing in the hot sun one day, he decided to volunteer, despite all advice to the contrary, when the call went out for anyone with a specialized skill.
He had desert training and mountain training, so Howard Margol figured that with the way the Army usually worked, he would be sent to the Pacific. What he wanted was a transfer to the 42nd Rainbow Division where his twin brother was serving. Told there was no way short of a letter to President Roosevelt from his mother, he decided to try that.
In training, Arlie Aukerman was warned not to fire the 50 cal machine gun continuously to avoid overheating. But what happens when the barrel is already hot when it's your turn? At least the physical effects of flying made the Atlantic crossing easier for the Air Corps recruits than the Army recruits.