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.
The regular Navy looked down on reservists like him, according to Harry Beeman, but when the points were totaled at the end of the war, he had 139 when it took 80 to earn a discharge. That led to the 22 year old sailor getting the Bronx cheer from his elders as he walked off his ship and headed 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.
On his destroyer, Harry Beeman's nickname was Little Deadeye because of his prowess shooting down Japanese planes. He attributes his anti-aircraft gun skills to a childhood filled with BB gun adventures. One particular plane gave him a little trouble, though.
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.
Harry Beeman was excited to be leaving home and heading out to fight the Japanese in the Navy, but that excitement was nearly crushed by boring home front duty. He nagged the Chiefs every day until it paid off with an assignment aboard a combat ship.
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.
During the battle of Midway, Harry Beeman was part of a crack swim team aboard the USS Ellet that pulled survivors from sinking warships out of the water. They did this while dodging torpedoes from a Japanese submarine, and months later, they got their revenge on that particular ship.
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.
Harry Beeman should have a Purple Heart. His wounds were serious but he didn't want to get sent to a hospital ship, so he hid in the tiny sick bay until he recovered. Now he wishes he had played it straight. He also survived the routine medical care on a US Navy destroyer, some of which rivaled enemy torture.
Destroyers were the cowboys of the fleet, says Gunner's Mate Harry Breeman. They rode herd on carrier task forces like Old West cowboys rode herd on cattle drives. He got a break from his regular duties when the call went out for volunteers to pilot Higgins boats that were ferrying troops to shore.
Harold Darden, along with 3 fellow students, decided to enlist in order to, "Whip up on them Germans." After an unusual problem involving a urine sample, they were sent back to Auburn for pre-radar school. As it turned out, this training was never used.
Dick Bailey wanted to fly ever since childhood. He traded labor for flight instruction at a local airport and then became an aviation cadet, where he never mentioned his previous training for fear of being singled out.