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.
Dr. Harold Brown discusses the formation of the Tuskegee Airmen. Previously, black men had been prohibited from serving as pilots, but thanks to the advocacy of people like A. Philip Randolph and General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., funds were set to train them to fly. This was only the first hurdle for them to overcome.
Following the invasion of Lae, LCI-27 would make two more landings. The last of these would be to deliver U.S. Marines to the Battle of Cape Gloucester, where Robert Hegel recalls keeping the Captain up to date as best he could so they could get out safely.
Fighting against the Germans in Europe was nearing its conclusion in early 1945, but Dr. Harold Brown recalls still seeing some of their pilots and flak on his missions. He was tasked with protecting bombers so that they could destroy high-value targets and help Allied forces get closer to Berlin.
They left many of the fallen Marines buried on Iwo Jima, but leaving the Marshall Islands, they performed two more burials at sea to make space on the ship. Jack Thurman remembers these vividly. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
Bob Passanisi recalls a perilous trek along a mountain trail in Burma as Merrill's Marauders attempted to out-maneuver the Japanese. It was so dark that radium compass dials and phosphorescent plants were relied upon to follow the man, or mule, in front of you. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
The training took many weeks but Dr. Harold Brown was finally bound for Europe. He describes the journey overseas on their way to Ramitelli, Italy where he'd witness how dangerous war could be, even if he wasn't in combat.
The Japanese had dug themselves into the island of Iwo Jima with a series of caves which made them difficult to observe, and Japanese aircraft was giving the Americans a tough fight. Jack Thurman describes what he saw overhead on Iwo Jima. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
Pooch Pace would conduct his basic training at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. There he'd learn to be a control tower operator in charge of managing the departures and landings of hundreds of planes. He recalls one tragic event where they lost a B-25 and it's crew and he spent the evening guarding the morgue.
The initial class sizes were large, and Dr. Harold Brown remembers how many people were washing out. This new program was under a lot of scrutiny and the Tuskegee Airmen had a lot to prove, and their basic training would be the first step on a long journey.
The trek across India was slow because the railroad gauge changed frequently and Bob Passanisi had to change trains every time. He spent three months in a tent in an empty field while the British command wondered what to do with the American volunteers. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
He never had problems being Jewish in the Army except for one run in with a towering hillbilly. In fact, to Irving Margulies, his years in service were the best years of his life. You held that rifle, you ruled the world.
Jack Thurman grew up on a farm in South Dakota, but when the attacks on Pearl Harbor occurred, he knew he had to serve. His family didn’t want him to go as he was needed on the farm, and by the time he was on the train his parents ran to see him off. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
Bob Passanisi was shocked when he disembarked in Bombay. How could the the USA send him to such a place? The locals were shocked by the GI's casual shower habits and the food was horrible. At least when he visited the Taj Mahal, it was pleasant. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
The wet weather took a toll on the GI's in the Fall of 1944. The boots would not dry out and trench foot was creating a lot of casualties. Irving Margulies describes how you could avoid it and how it was fighting the other enemy, the one that shot at you.
Outside of Motoyama Airfield 1, the Marines were pinned down by Japanese fire. As the casualties mounted on both sides, nature took its course and Jack Thurman recalls the horrific image of the flies moving between bodies. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
As the U.S. continued operations in Europe, Alexander Jefferson would graduate from his flight training and make way for an airbase in Ramitelli Italy. It was from there he would get his first taste of combat, flying as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen.
His Yiddish made him the logical choice to communicate with the German speaking civilians in Lorraine. Irving Margulies came to realize one thing. He really liked those people. There was serious work to be done, though, like patrols behind enemy lines.
There aren't a lot of perks to being the captive of the German Army, and as the Allied powers made their way closer to Berlin, the prisoners would need to be relocated during the harsh winter. Alexander Jefferson describes the journey to Stalag 7A and his life as a prisoner.
Surprise was a big part of Merrill's Marauders' campaign against the Japanese. Bob Passanisi describes one such attack which caught them unaware. Operating in the jungle was a challenge, and food and water were never in good supply. Most of their meals consisted of the dreaded K-ration. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
By the time the Marines had landed on Iwo Jima, the Japanese were fortified on the island with a series of bunkers and caves. Jack Thurman describes the devastation caused by advancing on them, and what he’d find when he was lucky enough to get there. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
The Germans took Dr. Harold Brown to Nuremberg where he'd be sat down in front of a well spoken Officer. He recalls the interrogation where the questions were quite specific, but he realized they could've gotten that information in any number of ways. Then, he was reminded that this war was coming to a close.
After 9 months a prisoner, Alexander Jefferson was liberated, the war was over, and he was on his way home. In spite of all that he and the other Tuskegee Airmen accomplished, the U.S. was still unwelcoming. He describes the years following the war, and the lasting impact the Tuskegee Airmen had on not only the military, but the country.
Irving Margulies was a Jewish kid in the infantry who had no idea that just miles from places he'd been in Germany, terrible war crimes were occurring. He had developed a liking for the civilians he'd met there. Did they know about it?
It took a couple weeks to get from Nuremberg to Stalag 13. When he arrived, there were already many enlisted-men taken prisoner, and their supplies were already running thin. As he figured, it wasn't long before General Patton came to liberate them.
He'd been rescued from the frigid water of the English Channel, but John Reitz was still cold as he made it to the docks of Cherbourg. He got dry clothes, thanks to the hospitality of a quartermaster unit, and he also got a large glass of some unknown beverage. Part 3 of 4. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)