13:09 | 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.
Keywords : B.E. Vaughn task force bomb Tokyo carrier plane radar Betty torpedo range typhoon Okinawa screen duty Corsair burial at sea yardarm shrapnel dog tags poker billfold money
While plowing behind a horse one day, on his family farm in South Carolina, B.E. Vaughn decided he didn't want to be stuck behind that plow forever. "I want to be somebody." So he enlisted alongside three friends who were drafted.
B.E. Vaughn already knew how to drill. In a Home Guard group he'd done well but when he got to boot camp, they executed the "Halt" command a little differently and this led to a little tension with the Drill Instructor.
Shipping out on a newly commissioned destroyer, B.E. Vaughn went straight into the chaos of the Normandy invasion. All around him was "a slaughterhouse," but the crew performed a valuable role as soldiers struggled to get a foothold, knocking out pillboxes on the bluffs.
Setting out from Portsmouth after a short break following the overwhelming experience of D-Day, B.E. Vaughn and the O'Brien joined a task force with the battleship Texas supporting the landing at Cherbourg. Their support was so good that they drew the fire from the Texas onto themselves.
One of B.E. Vaughn's shipmates on the O'Brien went over the hill as they prepared to head to the Pacific, sure that he wouldn't make it back. He walked up the gangplank in Hawaii, though, after a change of heart. In one of their first Pacific actions, they came to the rescue of the USS Ward, whose captain had fired the first shot of the war an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor began.
It was Condition One Easy, which means B.E. Vaughn could step outside the gun mount and have a smoke. But before he did, everyone started running by and he saw the sailor just outside the hatch look up and "his eyes just about popped out of his head."
The atomic bombs had ended the war and B.E.Vaughn had the experience he'd hoped for, sailing into Tokyo Bay in dress blues. The things he'd seen haunt him to this day and he wonders how it was that he lived and others died. He recalls the moment when, as a typhoon bore down on his ship, he decided he was ready to die and it was OK.
While still in Tokyo Bay before heading home, B.E. Vaughn was tasked with running the whale boat to shore to transport some personnel. It didn't work out so well.
The war was over but B.E. Vaughn faced one more trial, getting home without any money. As in war, those who served looked out for each other.
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.
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.
At the end of World War II, Carswell Wynne recalls a conversation with a local Japanese man about how he felt about the atomic bomb. The civilian also suggested one of the main reasons Japan surrendered was because they had run out of much needed scrap metal.
Like many others at Pearl Harbor, Marine Bill Braddock was having some breakfast when the tables and dishes start shaking. He describes in vivid detail the chaos of that day, the unbelievable sight of a sky filled with Japanese planes and the desperation of men shooting at the bombers with their .45's.
Don Worrell shares the fortuitous story of how a gift from a religious relative, a pocket Bible, helped save his life during World War II. He recalls his injuries from shrapnel while fighting in the Colmar Pocket in France, and also a humorous interaction with actress Madeleine Carroll while in recovery.
The water was rough that day, recalls Bill Braddock. The LST was pitching up and down as the Marines loaded up for the assault on Iwo Jima as planes, bombs and smoke swirled around them. The first enemy troops he saw disappeared into a hole and the last one he saw that day crawled right up to him in the dark.
Bill Braddock saw many Marines head for home after the Japanese surrender but it was off to Japan for him as part of the occupation force. They got the glory but he got to supervise the Geisha houses. How was that assignment? "Heaven." Less pleasurable were the faces of hungry children and the ssenes of devastation from the atomic bomb.
Don Worrell recalls a moment of both humor and horror while in Aachen, Germany, as he and a fellow soldier stumbled upon a group of German soldiers in an abandoned house. He also talks about his three closest calls, how he only fired two shots during the entire war, and getting in contact with one fellow soldier decades after the war.
As a boy learning to hunt in the delta swamps of Louisiana, Bill Braddock developed the animal sense that he credits with his survival in the war to come. When he saw two Marines in dress blues, he knew that was the outfit for him. Serving at Pearl Harbor, he was in heaven with the girls, the music and the surfing. What could mess up such a great thing?
Don Worrell remarks about how, during World War II, his men were under threat from V-1 buzz bombs created by the German engineer Wernher von Braun. After the war, incidentally, both Worrell and von Braun worked for NASA, where Worrell ended up writing speeches for the engineer.
When the harbor at Leyte was loaded with ships, Japanese kamikaze pilots started flying in. The enemy pilots were near impossible to hit, so there was no way to stop them. Levin even witnessed an Australian transport ship fall victim to the kamikazes.
They looked like they were turkey hunting, just waiting with rifles raised, remembers Bill Braddock. Taking a look got his friend shot right between the eyes. The defenders of Iwo Jima could also pop up behind you from their elaborate complex of tunnels and caves. Before it was over, cooks and bakers were taking shifts in foxholes.
After 3-4 months on the Admiralty Islands, Levin and a massive convoy of ships bombarded the beaches of Leyte. The sky was ablaze with explosions, and Levin and his men did their best to secure the beaches and bring in the LST’s and LCI’s.
After breaking his left ankle during his first jump, Deibler was instructed to be moved out to Texas. However, Deibler was determined to get to Camp McCall with his company, and he made sure the medical staff knew he was fit to go with them.
The night before leaving for the bombardment of Tarakan, Levin’s beach master Danny Meyers had a bit too much to drink. Meyers came into the barracks claiming that their troop had invaded Halmahera. Levin thought nothing of it and told Meyers to go to bed. The next morning, Meyers had a meeting with the Commanding Officer of the beach.
After waiting a day and much deliberation from General Eisenhower, Deibler and the other paratroopers finally jumped into Normandy. Deibler and his company were not shy about jumping out of the plane as heavy anti-aircraft fire was coming from all directions.
Two nights after landing at Leyte, Levin saw flashes of light out in the gulf. Levin approached his beach commander about the incident. When the men finally realized what the flashes were, all they could do was watch, and a gruesome aftermath awaited them the next morning.
Upon landing in Normandy, Deibler and his company were assigned the task of taking the bridges that led to Carentan. The bridges were heavily surrounded by the Germans, so the men took the lochs in order to gain an advantage over them. When Colonel Johnson called upon Major Allen’s troops in Abbeville to help take the bridges, Deibler and his company were fired upon by 88’s.
Levin and his company were training an Australian beach party on the island of Morotai. After spending a few weeks with the Aussies, Levin quickly learned that their standards of cleanliness were a bit different from that of his American troops.
What was worse than the German occupation of Czechoslovakia? The Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, says Barry Malac, who was drummed out of the Czech Army as an enemy of the state. The Nazis were from outside, but these were his own people and it caused him to start planning his escape.