8:04 | Ed Harrell describes in detail the sinking of the USS Indianapolis from Japanese torpedoes, which left nearly 900 Sailors and Marines in shark-infested Pacific waters. Part 1 of 4.
Ed Harrell remembers his first impression of the USS Indianapolis and his first experience being at sea headed into combat during World War II.
Ed Harrell recalls the bombardment and successive invasion of Saipan during World War II.
Stationed aboard the USS Indianapolis, Ed Harrell remembers his ship being hit by a kamikaze aircraft near Okinawa.
Ed Harrell describes the events leading up to the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the threat that kamikaze aircraft posed to U.S. ships during that battle.
Ed Harrell makes the case that invading the island of Peleliu was a costly mistake on the Pacific front.
Ed Harrell recalls the bombardment of the island of Okinawa prior to the landing-force invasion.
Ed Harrell recollects the mystery surrounding a very important and dangerous package the USS Indianapolis was tasked with delivering to the Pacific front - the first atomic bomb.
After his ship was sunk by Japanese torpedoes, Ed Harrell continues his story of survival, fighting off hallucinations and sharks, while adrift in the Pacific Ocean. Part 2 of 4.
Ed Harrell continues his story of survival into the third day adrift in the Pacific Ocean. Part 3 of 4.
After being adrift in the Pacific for four days, Ed Harrell concludes his story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, which only a quarter of the crew ultimately survived. Part 4 of 4.
Ed Harrell describes the injuries he suffered after surviving the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and floating in the Pacific Ocean for four days, for which he received a Purple Heart.
Ed Harrell shares the efforts he and other former crewmembers went through to clear Rear Admiral Charles McVay's name after the admiral was court-martialed for his accused role in the sinking of the USS Indianapolis.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The age limit to become an officer was lowered to 20. Jim Tysinger took advantage of this opportunity and headed towards Camp Davis in North Carolina. After being commissioned, Jim was ordered to transfer into the 214th Coast Artillery Anti-Aircraft regiment in California. He then visited New Caledonia and went on to Guadalcanal. During this time, his battery commander got promoted which resulted in him being his replacement.
With no real winter gear, there was a lot of frostbite among the troops in that bitter German winter. Charles White's unit was summoned to the Battle of the Bulge, but then sent back to France, where he was wounded by shrapnel and had an eyeball-to-eyeball shootout with Germans in the forest.
Jimmy Adams describes the living conditions in India. He recalls the bad weather conditions, having to accumulate his own supplies for their living quarters, and getting to know one of the Indian locals who had effectively been his servant.
Fred Chiao’s 29th Squadron never lost any of the young American pilots flying for him. But he had to venture toward enemy territory in a small trainer to rescue one who had bailed out.
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.
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.
He saw Russian tanks crossing the river using pontoon skirts around the sides. When the tanks rumbled up and a hatch opened, Bud Sosebee could hardly believe his eyes. That was his last surprise of the war. He waited a while in Bremerhaven learning to speak German, then it was home.
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.
As he raced toward Rome, machine gunner Leonard Dziabas took out his machete to clear some corn stalks when he startled some German soldiers who cowered at the sight of cold steel. After that heroic capture, which earned him a Bronze Star, he was soon marveling at the sunset glow over the great city as he approached from the hills above.
Ed Bean recalls his 200,000 mile journey into the Pacific on the USS New Jersey during World War II, and describes the impressive artillery the battleship used to bombard countless Japanese-controlled islands. Bean himself manned one of the ship's five inch guns.
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 Peleliu. 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 machine gun squad was waiting on ammunition, but when they heard a noise coming from a cave, they pointed the unloaded weapon and soon Leonard Dziabas was accepting the surrender of an entire company of German soldiers.
There were plenty of crashes aboard the USS Lexington says Bill Bates, who commanded the Marine detachment aboard ship. He describes the hazardous landings that were routine for Navy pilots and tells how the crew managed to shoot down a kamikaze before he could finish his work.
He had a family by then, but Hugh McNeil was called back into service for the Korean War. This war was tougher on him than World War II because he was older and worried about his family. Serving on a carrier where the napalm was prepared and the Corsairs launched, his efforts helped stem the tide of the Chinese swarming over the Yalu River. Back in civilian life, he had to deal with PTSD, a condition which didn't even have a name yet.
Although he didn't choose to become a mess cook, Curt Beckham learned that, in the Navy, a cook is godlike. He recalls the great leave policy they had while in port and he remembers some bad things, like having to wake up other cooks and not seeing land for three months.
Jim Tysinger explains that, in 1940, the Army was small which resulted in outdated equipment. The Army had to use WWI equipment, 2x4s as machine guns, and anti-aircraft guns as their guns. At that time, the Army didn't even have tanks. In order to do maneuvers, the Army wrote the word tank on the side of a truck.
Chinese pilot Fred Chiao remembers how homesick the young Americans were, sent to the Chinese front from their farms back home. But they got to rotate out after 24 missions while the Chinese got no reprieve from the fight for their homeland.