9:20 | 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.
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After basic training, where he learned the art of fire fighting aboard ship, Eugene Whitfield went to a Naval air group in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. New aircraft for carriers were received and prepped for battle, and this task began a long career for him in aviation munitions.
He decided to stay in Naval Aviation and soon, Eugene Whitfield found himself on the brand new aircraft carrier, the USS Ticonderoga. After a shakedown cruise in the Atlantic, the ship passed through the Panama Canal and on to Pearl Harbor, which was still reeling from the surprise Japanese attack.
The routine for an Aviation Ordnanceman meant rising long before dawn to prepare the planes for battle. Daylight meant they were on their way. Eugene Whitfield recalls how they worked with lamps strapped to their arms.
Aviation Ordanceman Eugene Whitfield recalls the stoic actions of Captain Dixie Kiefer during the kamikaze strike on the Ticonderoga. As if the crippling attack wasn't enough trouble for the crew, a typhoon lurked nearby.
Eugene Whitfield said goodbye to the USS Ticonderoga after it returned to Seattle, too damaged to continue. Put in charge of ordnance at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, he didn't have to dodge any more kamikaze attacks and he even had time to develop a special skill and teach it to new pilots.
After the war ended in the Pacific, Eugene Whitfield decide to make a career of it and served aboard many different carriers. A visit to Hiroshima was a sobering experience, and a search for a missionary led to an amazing coincidence.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rotation home after the war was based on points and Jack Simpson had them, having seen a lot of action starting with Anzio. He became a Special Agent with the FBI and then achieved a singular status as a Peace Officer in Georgia.
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.
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.
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.
You had to pass the final physical test to be certified to fight overseas. Irv Press recalls how the ones who faltered were carried by their fellow recruits to the finish so they could all pass. Once they were on a Liberty ship, they faced a different kind of test. Can you make it to the railing?
The ROTC at the University of Florida had artillery but it was horse drawn. The horses were pretty smart, recalls Howard Margol. As his modern, mobile artillery unit prepared to embark for France, two jokers figured out a novel way to stretch out a half day pass.