5:05 | Bill Garrison was standing in a chow line when a man up the line suddenly dropped, shot dead by a sniper. That was only one hazard at the air fields in China; the others being Japanese air raids and infiltrators. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
Keywords : Bill Garrison China sniper Japanese air raid Chinese Charge of Quarters (CQ) Liangshan Laohokow Kweilin Liuchow Manchuria Communist
He went to school for aircraft mechanics, but when they shipped Georgia boy Bill Garrison up north to work, he couldn't take the cold weather and went back home, even though it meant he would be eligible for the draft. In the Air Corps, they put his job skills to work and his first destination overseas was Oran in North Africa. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
Aircraft mechanic Bill Garrison was astounded at the strangeness of India when he landed there. He made his way up to Burma by way of uncomfortable trains and flew over the Hump to China. There, he was a member of the Chinese American Composite Wing, where his job was to maintain P-40's in the air war against the Japanese. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
Bill Garrison was in China wishing he had some good American food. The aircraft mechanic at least came up with a way to get some whiskey. He worked at a long list of air fields repairing P-40's, moving frequently to stay near the front. The Japanese bombed these fields, but the Chinese had good intelligence and used a traditional method for the warning system. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
Awakened by gunfire and shelling, Bill Garrison was told that the Japanese were going to overrun the base and that there was a plane evacuating personnel. Unfortunately, the plane was overloaded. What was he supposed to do now? Someone pointed down a road and said, "Go that way." (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
Bill Garrison worked out of many air fields in China repairing aircraft, mostly P-40's. When he was based at Liangshan, he flew out all over China, pulling downed planes out of rice paddies and repairing them on the spot. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
He was sleeping on the flight line at a far flung air field in China when he was awakened by a big commotion. The war was over and Bill Garrison was elated. He had been away from home for three years and he'd never had a furlough. Why? The old Army run around. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
When the Airborne volunteers got to Fort Benning, they were told by the sergeants, "We are here to make you quit." That didn't faze Dan McBride, who was in real good shape. They lost seven men just on the double time run from the buses to the barracks.
He would go to a designated place in Nazi occupied France and wait for a French Underground contact. Then, after gathering knowledge on German activities, he would make his way back to England. Ubert Terrell was in mortal danger on these missions and he was detained by German soldiers twice. They messed with the wrong guy.
Dan McBride came to the Army fully ready. He'd been shooting since the age of three and he attended the Citizens Military Training Camp during his high school summers. At age sixteen, he was qualified on every weapon he would be exposed to later in Basic training. He was scared of heights, so, naturally, he volunteered for Airborne.
Dan McBride couldn't stand the Brits and he was stuck in a British Army hospital in Brussels. He had a broken ankle, but when he was told they were going to ship him to a replacement depot, he and some more GI's hatched a plan to get back to their own unit. They finally made that happen and were reunited just in time to react to the news about a German breakthrough.
Naval Intelligence Officer Verner Chaffin recalls meeting Gen. Douglas MacArthur in postwar Japan. He shared the general's vision for the rehabilitation of Japan and, when the next war came, he lamented that his strategy for victory was not followed.
While on maneuvers after jump school, Dan McBride had a real close call when his chute did not open. He had a new platoon leader who made a great first impression with the men. This is the kind of officer we like!
The Navy Japanese language school was concentrated, intense and psychologically taxing. Vern Chaffin cultivated an air of detachment that kept him from washing out. In fact, he was near the top of the class. Most of the teachers were Japanese Americans from the internment camps.
Dachau was just one of many forced labor camps for Norbert Friedman. One of the first built, it was run internally by German political prisoners. At the next camp, it was Gypsies. Along with his father and two uncles, he was fortunate to be classified as skilled labor, which was in high demand at German aircraft plants.
Dan McBride and his buddy were dating a couple of English girls and were lucky enough to be invited over for Christmas dinner. They were sitting around afterwards and he began to feel a rumbling in his belly. His Army diet of beans and Brussels sprouts was about to betray him.
Naval Intelligence Officer Verner Chaffin had often been chided for his "Southern" Japanese accent, but he found in Okinawa that the locals spoke the language that way, so he felt at home. After a chance meeting with Tyrone Power, he reported to a new assignment in occupied Japan.
He was shot in the arm so they gave him some German prisoners to take to the beach. When Dan McBride got down there, the prisoners saw the great armada that had crossed the channel. Definitely disheartening. After a short recovery, when his unit had returned to England, they were given what was called a short, easy mission jumping into Holland. It didn't work out that way.
At Camp Ritchie in Maryland, Navy Japanese linguist Verner Chaffin pored over documents shipped from the Pacific, but most of them had already been gone over and sorted as less important. Later, he was assigned to the translation section at the Joint Intelligence Center at Pearl Harbor and he picked out the plum documents.
It was a difficult experience. Army nurse Mary Ann Koontz was sent up the Burma Road to a camp to care for a lot of sick Chinese soldiers. She was glad to return to Ledo but it wasn't long until she was traveling up the Burma Road again, this time to Myitkyina, where she cared for people in bamboo hospital wards.
Paratrooper Dan McBride's account of Operation Market Garden is colorful and exciting. He relates several tales, including the fate of an ill tempered sergeant, the improbable capture of a German unit four times the size of his, the reason you should not stop for tea and how he was injured by his own weapon.
Verner Chaffin had a special pass that allowed him to go nearly anywhere in occupied Japan. He and his team were looking for secret Japanese weapons facilities and they found one at a place called Turtleneck Island. Later, in Tokyo, he endeared himself to Japanese civilians because of his ease with their language.
Before his first mission with his real crew, B-17 co-pilot Ken Rohde was told he was flying in the lead plane with a different crew in the tail gunner position. He was there to be the eyes of the air commander for that flight. He was baffled by the flak suit and those black puffs of smoke, which he found out later were closely related.
Occupation duty in the mountains of Austria was a great chance for some deer hunting. Dan McBride and his friends were hunting when they heard sounds coming from a barn and discovered an Austrian family hiding there. They gave them some gifts and told them to go back to town. When the points system came around, he had more than enough to head home.
During his time in Nazi forced labor camps, Norbert Friedman came to the conclusion that there is no limit to evil inclinations in men. He gives an example of this and then relates the story of Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a dissident German Lutheran theologian, who was in the concentration camp with him.
When Dan McBride was fighting his way across France, he thought the French civilians did not like Americans and didn't want them there. Decades later, at a ceremony in Normandy, he found out how wrong he'd been.
His sniper rifle was too long to jump with so the plan was to carry it in a bundle. Dan McBride had successful test jumps in England, so he was confident that it would work on D-Day. As the paratroopers were leaving, they got a surprise visit from General Eisenhower, who spoke to each of them. They took off and as soon as the planes got to the French coast, Murphy's Law began to take over.
It wasn't the short, easy mission they were promised. It was continuous combat for weeks. Paratrooper Dan McBride had jumped into Operation Market Garden in Holland and right away nearly got killed by a mortar round. During the attack on Best, he got pinned down during a German ambush and had another narrow escape.
If you really try, you can do anything. Dan McBride was scared of heights, but he managed to jump from an airplane many times. Having survived some of the biggest battles in Europe, he settled into a normal life back home.
Dan McBride recalls his first jump. Once he managed to get through the door, he started enjoying it. After he got his wings, he chose the 101st over the 82nd because he liked the patch better. When the unit headed for South Carolina for more jumps, every chimney in the area was in peril.
It was constant attacking. Hit and run battles with Germans between the drop on June 6th to around the 12th. Dan McBride was in the thick of it, including a bayonet charge at Carentan. Later, in an encounter with a German soldier, he faced a moment of truth when they both raised their weapons and fired point blank.
It was an old tub, the ship that Dan McBride boarded to cross the Atlantic. They turned back and docked in Newfoundland because of technical problems and that began a bizarre turn of events that wound up causing them to take longer to cross than did Christopher Columbus. Once they got to England, they discovered a great new hobby, fighting with the Brits.
He landed alone and had lost his compass. Paratrooper Dan McBride was moving slowly in the dark through the hedgerows. He encountered a cow, then a German soldier and then finally someone else from his unit. After joining a small group from another unit and commandeering a car, they finally found a road sign which got them back on track and headed for the intended drop zone.