6:41 | 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.
Keywords : Lawrence Snowden Roi-Namur Japanese camouflage rifle company Saipan Tinian Iwo Jima twill uniform tank lagoon camaraderie amphibious
Lawrence Snowden’s family dentist would regale him with tales of his Marine Corps service and invariably finish by telling him that it would be too tough for him. The young Snowden took this as a challenge.
After a stop at Camp Lejeune, newly commissioned Lieutenant Lawrence Snowden was sent to Camp Pendleton to help put together the new 4th Marine Division. His was the first unit to train at Pendleton.
On Saipan and Tinian, Lawrence Snowden discovered huge green flies and poor use of artillery. He also had a profoundly moving experience when he heard soft crying coming from a pile of bodies.
Marine Captain Lawrence Snowden learned two things made Iwo Jima a valuable prize for the Allies: its position halfway between B-29 bases in Saipan and Tokyo, and the fact that it was, legally, a part of the Japanese mainland.
During the difficult landing at Iwo Jima, company commander Lawrence Snowden dove into a bomb crater for shelter and found Sgt. Leonard Ash there with a gruesome wound.
Lawrence Snowden was told that the campaign for Iwo Jima would take maybe 5 days. Instead it was 36 long, bloody days and when the flag was raised, no one in his unit stood up and cheered. That Marine would have been a dead Marine.
Iwo Jima was a unique battle in that the victors suffered more casualties than the defeated. Marine Captain Lawrence Snowden says that you came to feel that like it wouldn't happen to you, and that spirit enabled the men to reach their objective.
Lawrence Snowden knew that the machine guns on the wings of the Zero could not be aimed at him, so he stood up in the bomb crater he was using for cover and waved to the pilot of the low flying plane.
Lawrence Snowden was wounded on Iwo Jima and discovered that the policy was to not return any wounded troops to the battle. He wanted to return to his men and persevered because he knew there was always someone around who could change policy.
Aboard a troop ship, Lawrence Snowden found out what it means to be a union chef when he had to finish cooking his own eggs. Then he reveals the reason he loves sardines.
Captain Lawrence Snowden was transferred to the 3rd Marine Division on Guam, where he readied for the expected invasion of Japan. The commander was Maj. Gen. Graves B. Erskine, who had a reputation as a “tough cookie.”
Lawrence Snowden points out that the lasting effects of WWII go far beyond the fighting. The makeup of America’s labor force was forever changed, as women stepped up, and provincial attitudes were swept away.
Lawrence Snowden was one of only 95,000 active Marines when war broke out in Korea, drawn down from a force of over 500,000. His superiors wanted him to stay in his planning role, but he pushed for a transfer to the action.
During the Korean War, Lawrence Snowden visited postwar Japan for the first time. During a train ride from Kyoto to Tokyo, he became aware of an essential truth regarding wartime enemies.
In Vietnam, Regimental Commander Lawrence Snowden saw the dirty part of the war operating down in the Delta. Later, working at HQ making bombing assessments, he began to realize the aerial assault on the North was not working.
Lawrence Snowden had a long and varied career as a Marine officer, but the most important lesson on leadership, he learned as a newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant at Camp Lejeune. His men were not there to serve him. He was there to serve them.
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.
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.
The chief commissary steward would give you some tough jobs, says mess cook Curt Beckham. It could be hundreds of individually wrapped sandwiches or a breakfast cream sauce, but it was always too much work. There was a screwball in the outfit, though, and he had a joke backfire that involved one of the sandwiches.
You don't want to mess with a newly liberated POW. Ed Laporta had to dress down an imbecilic MP when he arrived back in the states and not long after, could be seen leaping over a steam table to get at a non-compliant German prisoner who was serving the food.
When Lyman Taylor arrived in Leyte as part of Gen. MacArthur's technical team, he had to ask about the gruesome sight he saw in the street. He was a Cryptographic Technician in the Navy but his rating was "Electrician." Lyman Taylor had to explain this when he got in theater and they put him in an engine room aboard ship.
While sailing in formation between ports in the Pacific, Ed Bean recalls a destroyer running off path and cutting in front of the USS New Jersey, a much larger battleship. The anchor alone of the USS New Jersey inflicted heavy damage to the other ship, enough to kill the captain of the destroyer and injure another crew member.
Fred Chiao gave his P-40 a Chinese name and lovingly sanded the skin to make it smooth, but he had to bail out when he was hit while attacking advancing Japanese troops. Fighting for control of the plane, he realized a bullet had pierced his jaw.
The Russians had liberated them but when they were told they were going to Russia, the answer from the GI's was swift, "No way!" An American convoy caused the Russians to back off and the destination became Camp Lucky Strike and then, the Statue of Liberty.
After battling across rugged Italian mountains in a fierce rainstorm, the company commander lost his cool. Leonard Dziabas recalls how the Captain just left the company there, with no idea of orders or mission. Told by the Colonel to look for a wayward unit, they nearly ran into a German battalion before finding the lost company nearly annihilated.
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.
When the 1st Armored Division hit Casablanca, there was no opposition, but along the coast at Oran, it was a different story. Ed LaPorta had the landing craft blown out from under him, but thanks to his training, he made it to shore. By the time the German fortress was knocked out, his company had suffered 80 % casualties.
The volunteers had to put a testy train conductor in his place on their way to Ft. Sam Houston. Once there, Leonard Dziabas was reclassified as a machine gunner, without any benefit of training on the weapon. After an absurd, meandering train journey across the Midwest and the South, he faced one last test before he could go overseas. It seems he was never qualified with his sidearm.
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.
While Edgar Dunlap was stationed in the Pacific, he was given the chance to meet Senator Richard Russell. Not only were Senator Russell and Ed from the same state, but the Senator was also a friend of Ed's father. While Ed was digging a latrine, the Senator's aide approached him, and told him to get in formal clothes to meet the Senator. Unfortunately, Ed was already wearing his best clothes.
At first they were confident a relief convoy would appear around the corner at any moment. That convoy never came. As MacArthur left for Australia and Bataan was written off by the men at the top, Bert Schwarz and the rest of the Battling Bastards of Bataan faced an overwhelming enemy force and were captured. Rocky Gause was one man who wasn't going to take it.
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.
Bert Schwarz tells the story of the cross built by POW's when a Japanese guard gave them a sack of cement for a shrine to their dead comrades. The most able bodied were sent to Davao Penal Colony which had farms and orchards. This was where Schwarz became an expert at rice farming.
Ira Bray talks about how American Jeep drivers had a habit of driving with their windshields down, which led to a nasty German trick of running piano wire neck-high across roads. The Americans, in turn, devised a means to disable the wire without having to raise their windshields.
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.
The POW's had no food or water and now, in the hold of a cement freighter, they couldn't breathe either. In transit to yet more labor for the Japanese, liberation for Bert Schwarz came in the form of an American torpedo. With friends Gene Dale and Johnny Playter, he swam to shore where guerrilla leader Joaquin Macias welcomed them to freedom.
The lack of food was the worst part of life in a German POW camp, says Ed LaPorta. On the positive side, they were able to get orchestra instruments and put on plays, but more importantly, they were able to tunnel out and secure more valuable things, like parts for a radio.
Returning to America after years as a POW in the Philippines, Bert Schwarz returned to the textile industry, then took a government position in Japan, where he was wooed to work for the most prestigious Japanese textile firm. He underwent a very substantial change in attitude about his former enemies.