4:38 | The Ranger battalion was supposed to make it to a certain point in Italy by nightfall, but rain and mud slowed them down. The result was that the Germans were already there and had a distinct advantage. Jack Roan describes the humiliating surrender of hundreds of Rangers that followed.
Keywords : Jack Roan Italy Mussolini Canal German Thompson submachine gun surrender
He thought some of the things he had to do in basic training were stupid, like getting up early and running, but Jack Roan came to appreciate later the preparation he got there. He went first to North Africa, where he encountered the legendary General George Patton.
Jack Roan has a scar on his arm that he received from a mounted German soldier who attacked him in a manner that was straight out of the nineteenth century. It took place in North Africa, where he was found himself without a unit after being in the hospital. They had shipped out, so he volunteered for Ranger training. Big mistake.
On his way to a German stalag, Jack Roan was shown a camp where prisoners were starving, perhaps to scare him. When he got to his own camp, it was large and filthy. He jumped at the chance to become a laborer for a German farmer.
He was sick with dysentery, but Jack Roan was determined to escape. The Germans were marching prisoners aimlessly on the road, so security was lax. He and two others made their move during a big storm. They hid in the woods and took potatoes from fields until they made contact with allies.
In Dachau, Rogers witnesses thousands of starving prisoners in a concentration camp. He remembers the many other displaced civilians, forced into labor, who suffered at the hands of the nazis. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
From the information they had and the mock-up of the island they saw, the Marines figured Iwo Jima would be an easy operation. Bill Richardson went ashore with his artillery battery as soon as they could get on the crowded beach. It was immediately apparent that it was going to be a monumental battle. Part 1 of 3. (This interview made possible with the support of JOHN R. ASMUS.)
The Russians were close enough that the American POW's could hear the fire in the distance. Their guards roused them all and put them on the road in a forced march, leaving their camp in Poland and heading for Germany. It was seventy nine days of freezing cold out in the open, with very little food. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
Chan Rogers experiences a couple of close calls on the Siegfried Line. His unit stumbles upon a nest of sleeping Germans, suddenly finding themselves in a harrowing firefight. Later, when facing off against a group of German pillboxes, they are showered with deadly shrapnel from tree bursts. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
Senator Bob Dole was sent to Italy in 1945 and assigned to the 10th Mountain Division as a young second lieutenant. Although the war in Europe would soon be over, Senator Dole found himself in the thick of combat outside of Castel d'Aiano. In an effort to try and save his downed radioman, he himself was badly wounded and had to remain on the battlefield through the heat of the battle. (Interview conducted in partnership with the Eisenhower Foundation as part of their Ike's Soldiers program. https://eisenhowerfoundation.net & http://ikessoldiers.com)
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.
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. Vaughan 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.
After he nearly killed a man in a brawl, Jake McNiece thought it was finally time to enlist. It was 1942 and he had a mind to take on one of the most dangerous jobs in the military, the parachute infantry. From the beginning, he was a troublemaker, but he was too good to wash out.
Alexander Jefferson is a Detroit native with a very notable lineage. Like many in his family, he’d attend Clark College in Atlanta, but when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred he answered the call and found himself on the path to be trained as a pilot, something that had never been offered to black men in the military before.
The mortar round landed just a few feet from Jake McNiece and his eyes filled with blood and debris, but that didn't make him nearly as mad as discovering that his Copenhagen didn't make it through the battle.
A new program was set up to train black men to fly, and Alexander Jefferson, having some college education, was one of the early participants. As black men, they were already under a lot of scrutiny, but he describes how their instructors helped push them through the difficult training.
It was the night before D-Day and paratrooper Jake McNiece was hunkered down in a hedgerow trading fire with Germans. Looking across at the next hedgerow, he was sure he saw a shadow moving. The enemy was closing in and he knew he had to do something. With his bayonet ready, he charged.
When they weren't flying, Harold Brown and the other airmen would pass time doing things like writing home or playing games. He describes one game of poker before one fateful mission where he'd get his hands on a very nice pair of boots.
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.
The acceptable estimated loss for Normandy paratroopers was 50 per cent. Jake McNiece's unit lost 70 per cent. The next mission was the foray into Holland called Operation Market Garden. His outfit outperformed their mission during the initial fight, but had to linger on forever as the operation ultimately failed.
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.
Harold Brown was raised in a multicultural neighborhood in Minneapolis, MN. They didn't have much during the Great Depression, but he remembers life being good for what it was. As a young man, he caught interest in flying, but getting lessons in those days for a teen would be an expensive undertaking.
It was a desperate attempt to resupply the men surrounded in Bastogne. Jake McNiece would make the jump with some special radio equipment to guide the aerial resupply. Despite making it possible for the Americans to survive the battle, he got some static from an Army Major when he sought quarters for his unit.
The mission of the Red Tails was to protect the Air Corps' bombers as they struck vital targets across Europe. Alexander Jefferson recalls one such mission over Ploesti where the incoming flak took down one of their B-17s.
As the fires of WWII burned both in Europe and the Pacific, Harold Brown knew he’d be drafted, and enlisting would at least give him some better options in an assignment. He didn’t even know about the new program, but he was excited to learn that they were training new pilots, so he threw his hat in.
Jake McNiece led a demolition squadron of paratroopers who jumped into France at midnight before the Normandy invasion. The men were scattered and many were killed, but he pulled together a small group and managed to destroy his targeted bridges and secure another to wait for the advancing Allied force. It wasn't going to be that simple.
Once he had gotten enough flight hours under his belt, it was time for Harold Brown to move on to something a little more powerful. He describes moving into a P-40 Warhawk and learning the more complex maneuvers that would keep him alive overseas, as well as some of the men that made an impact on him during training.
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.
He'd been liberated from Stalag 13 and the war in Europe had come to a close. Harold Brown was lucky to be alive, but he still had to wait for the C-47s to remove some of the other thousands of men from theater. Little did he expect, the journey home would be just as dangerous as the war itself.
They crossed the Atlantic in a brand new B-24 and landed in Marrakesh. At the air field there, Robert May saw some of the first B-29's. After flying to their base in England, and practicing formation flying for a month, his crew were excited that their first mission was to be on D-Day.