11:28 | 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.
Keywords : Don Scott B-17 turret gunner parachute pilot hatch radio chaff Sweeney bail out crash slipstream Rhine Koblenz Germany Swastika civilian Boy Scout wristwatch interrogation
There was a tremendous need for B-17 crews and this led to Don Scott being drafted right out of his sophomore year at Virginia Tech. His first training stop was Miami Beach where he was billeted in a hotel right on the beach. That was very nice but the next stop was Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He didn't mind a bit since it was the radio school he wanted.
The new B-17 crews crossed the Atlantic but there was still more training to be done before they could start their missions. They had to fly in formation and that was very tricky, according to radio operator Don Scott. With that skill mastered, the bombing began.
Don Scott's fateful mission started out badly for him at his radio operator's position. As soon as the B-17 was aloft, his first duty was to power up the classified identification unit, which had a self destruct charge. The charge went off causing a minor fire. They pressed on to the target and successfully dropped their payload and then came the flak. Part 1 of 3.
The interrogator was very cordial at first, says Don Scott, who had just bailed out of a doomed B-17. The pleasantries turned to threats, but they soon gave up on him and it was off to a camp. Part 3 of 3.
After the interrogation, Don Scott never saw his crew mates again. In fact, when he got to the Stalag, he was assigned to a barracks full of British prisoners. He became very good friends with the British and way too familiar with potatoes, and black bread.
The war was nearly over but the Russian Army was approaching from the East, so Don Scott and the rest of the POW's from Stalag Luft 4 had to hit the road on a forced march. He wasn't doing too bad until his British hobnail boots rubbed his heels raw on the cobblestones. They healed while time ran out for the Germans.
Don Scott explains why he celebrates the second day of May every year. It was that day in 1945 when British soldiers found him on the road in a forced march of Allied prisoners. The guards had fled and soon there were happy men walking west toward relief.
B-17 crew member Don Scott had to bail out of his plane and spent time in a German POW camp. He displays some of the objects from his internment and other memorabilia.
They were successful on Peleliu, says Marine Braswell Deen, if you can be successful with an 80% casualty rate. He was disturbed to later learn that the airfield that was the objective of the assault turned out to not be needed due to a change in MacArthur's Philippine landing plans. At least his exhausted platoon got a much needed break.
Don Ogden was actually relieved to be in the hands of German guards after months of mistreatment by his Hungarian captors. When he got to the prison camp in Poland, he witnessed a bizarre accident during latrine cleaning and the even more bizarre sight of German guards killing their own.
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.
Back then they called it psychoneurosis. Men spent from battle would sit and stare off into space according to Braswell Deen, who was lucky to survive Peleliu and preparing for Okinawa. Only one man from his unit, Odell Evans, emerged from those two battles unscathed.
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.
Braswell Deen was relieved when he landed on Okinawa, but that feeling was short lived. The enemy was mostly on the South end of the island and his unit spent the first few weeks cleaning out the North. He was the talker when they were clearing caves, yelling in Japanese for them to come out before the grenades came in.
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.
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.
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.
Inspired by Lindbergh, Bert Schwarz became an Army Air Corps pilot and was assigned to the Philippines. Arriving ahead of their planes, the flyers and their crews became provisional infantry when war with Japan broke out. As American forces consolidated in Bataan and formed lines, there was no hint of what was to come. A tough Georgia boy named Rocky Gause kept spirits up.
The requirement was fifty missions to go home. Nose turret gunner Don Ogden describes several of his missions that were memorable, including the time he watched a parachuting man bring down another bomber and the time he nearly fell out of the turret. Then there was the mystery of small explosions heard around the air base.
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.
Whatever you have heard about the Bataan death march, you can believe, says Bert Schwarz. His determination kept him going while many died from deprivation or a bayonet. After the unbelievable ordeal, they got to Camp O'Donnell, which was even worse. Men continued to die and burial details were a constant duty.
After months of indifferent medical care and abuse at the hands of his Hungarian captors, which included being sentenced to death in a court where no one spoke English, Don Ogden finally met a German. After a week in solitary, the officer interrogated him without success.
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 Peleiliu. 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.
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.
There were only a couple of dozen Marines holding the position. With the help of a nearby mortar platoon, they held off Banzai charges and approaches from the water side. The next morning, there were hundreds of dead Japanese all around, recalls Braswell Dean, who was soon on the advance again.
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.
They were prepared to hold their own in Bataan, but Air Corps pilot Bert Schwarz was one of many who felt their commander, a retired WWI balloon pilot, was not up to the challenge. Helped by Ed Dyess and Joe McMicking, he flew to Corregidor to pass his concerns on to Reggie Vance, his friend at headquarters. By the time he got back, the man had been replaced.
After that first day on Peleliu, they were Marines says Braswell Deen. They did what they were trained to do. On the second day, he was once again sent out in advance and narrowly escaped as others were killed. His company suffered 80% killed or wounded, including Fred Fox, who survived an epic bayonet fight.
He was flying his 22nd mission in the nose turret but Don Ogden had only engaged enemy fighters once. He never saw the two that brought down his B-24 and wounded him with shell fragments. He tells the story of his exciting escape from the plane, the fall from high altitude, and his miraculous landing.
They took and lost the Okinawan village three times, says Braswell Deen. It was flame thrower tanks that eventually led to the Marines victory there. As they moved on, he had to leave the man next to him who was shot through the head. It was about this time that an enemy grenade landed in a foxhole and Bill Foster threw himself on it, earning a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor.
It was a forced march and the POW's were quartered in a barn listening to frightful artillery, when a British soldier opened the door and said, "Cheerio, chaps!" They were free, but the British did them no favor by feeding them all they wanted. Don Ogden had survived it all but suffered one more indignity, this time at the hands of his own government. He couldn't go home, because he looked too bad.
The Japanese were dug in on Okinawa, like on so many islands, and the Marines were mounting a furious assault. Charging Wana Ridge with a Thompson submachine gun in his hand, Braswell Deen felt like he was hit with a ton of rocks. It was shrapnel and it knocked him out of the fight. Evacuated to the rear, the brave Marine faced a needle.
He had survived a fighter attack, a bail out landing without help from his parachute, a prison camp and a forced march, so there was no way Don Ogden was gong to take a chance sleeping below deck on the liberty ship back to the States. Once home and no longer struggling against Nazis, he began a decades long struggle against the VA and against his own demons.
Submarine Commander Robert Gibbs describes a rescue training exercise that involved a watertight tank lowered from the surface vessel. Later, after that training duty, the sub was finally outfitted with radar, it broke down immediately, but a persistent technician saved the boat with his efforts.
Two weeks after his discharge, Marine Braswell Deen entered the University of Georgia law school and two weeks after he graduated, he was running for office. After decades of public service, he still thinks about those nights on Peleliu.