6:17 | 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.
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The tool and die factory looked dark and bleak so Gilbert Jensen wanted to enlist and join the war effort. It took a family meeting to convince his mother to let him become a Marine. Boot camp in San Diego featured an erratic drill instructor and a surprise swimming coach.
Gilbert Jensen thought Guadalcanal was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. The only danger the first night was from local sea creatures but soon he was face to face with the determined Japanese occupiers.
Marine Gilbert Jensen recalls when a Japanese force of 500 men landed on Guadalcanal and was beaten. Then they landed 900 with the same result. What happened when they upped the ante to 1500?
You were always close to the enemy in the jungle on Guadalcanal, according to Gilbert Jensen. And he had the stains on his shirt to prove it. You could see strange things as well, like the time the Kansas farmer of the unit thought he saw the Japanese climbing coconut trees with lit cigars.
In the daytime, it was Japanese artillery. At night, they brought their naval guns to bear on the Marines in the jungle. If that wasn't bad enough, Gilbert Jensen couldn't cross a river without checking for their hygiene conscious troops, who would bathe anytime they got near a body of water.
Years after his duty on Guadalcanal, Marine Gilbert Jensen saw his unit's exploits turned into a Hollywood movie, Battle Cry. He says it was pretty accurate, but they did change the commander's nickname to something a little more flattering,
He can laugh, now, about the t-shirts the chaplain gave the native girls, and about the fruitcake his sister sent that he still has. But Gilbert Jensen doesn't laugh about contracting four tropical diseases at the same time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
In the nose turret, B-24 gunner Arlie Aukerman could see all the flak, but his friend and tail gunner Harry Hecht did not realize the danger they were in until he saw photos of the action. Sometimes, it was Aukerman's job to operate the toggle switch that released the bombs and, years later, he was haunted by thoughts of casualties from his action.
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?