5:23 | 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.)
Keywords : Dachau Dachau concentration camp displaced civilians displaced persons (DP) forced labor sniper canal liberation
When Orlando native Chan Rogers is accepted into the Army Specialized Training Program, he believes he will enter the war as a fully trained engineer. But the army, desperate for combat leadership, pull him from school early and train him for infantry duty. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
While crossing the Atlantic, Rogers' convoy encounters a powerful hurricane, rendering half of the regiment seasick. They pull into Marseilles, France to find the ports completely destroyed by the German Army. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
Rogers travels 500 miles into France, destined for combat in the Vosges Mountains. While on patrol, he discovers a gruesome scene that he has trouble shaking off. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
What is it like for a Florida native, seeing snow for the first time, while simultaneously making first contact with the enemy? When Chan Rogers jumps into a freezing creek, he comes to regret it. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
Chan Rogers describes what would come to be his worst 4 days in the infantry. Assigned to protect a captured German position, his unit faced attacks from unrelenting Germans, and he must bring fallen buddies down the hill on pack mules. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
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.)
Reassigned to the 45th Infantry Division as a platoon sergeant, Chan Rogers deals with deserters. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
Rogers and his men take Aschaffensburg, where they are engaged in several days of house-to-house combat. When facing a group of entrenched German soldiers, they must execute a clever plan to catch them off-guard. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
While occupying a small German town, Rogers encounters an infamous Nazi sympathizer - a former American. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
As the war starts winding down, Rogers and his men secure the highway out of Nuremberg, stopping those attempting to escape. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
The taking of Munich becomes a symbol, for Chan Rogers, that the war has come to its end. Now transitioning to an occupying force, he faces the possibility of shipping out to the Pacific for an impending invasion of Japan. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
Chan Rogers returns to the US a hero, but is convinced that America's new role as peacekeeper will keep the country at war indefinitely. He has a career with the Army Corps of Engineers, and makes efforts to honor his fallen brothers. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
Retired Army Colonel Chan Rogers briefly describes the breakdown of infantry combat units in WWII. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
The Red Cross parcels were supposed to augment the food provided by the Germans but it became the primary food source for the American airmen in Stalag 17B. Clyde Burnette describes how they kept distracted from the hunger, including making some homemade booze from raisins and holding rat races in the barracks. When a prisoner stole food from another, the punishment was harsh and memorable.
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.
Don Scott's fateful mission started out badly for him at his radio operator's position. As soon as the B-17 was aloft, his first duty was to power up the classified identification unit, which had a self destruct charge. The charge went off causing a minor fire. They pressed on to the target and successfully dropped their payload and then came the flak. Part 1 of 3.
They told Clyde Burnette that if he enlisted instead of waiting for the draft, he could pick his specialty school. He held out for aircraft maintenance school while they tried to make him accept others, and was soon training as an engineer and gunner on heavy bombers.
The ball turret was "the worst torture chamber ever," according to Clyde Burnette. He was very happy when the bombing mission didn't call for it and he could man a waist gun instead. Wherever he was positioned in the plane, it was cold, so cold that layer upon layer of clothing was necessary.
When his unit was bogged down in the village of Wingen in Southern France, Howard Margol's commanding officer turned down an offer of a crate of glassware for every man from the town glass factory. 25 years after the war, an obituary caught his eye which led to a return trip to the village.
The atomic bombs had ended the war and B.E.Vaughan 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.
One of B.E. Vaughan'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.
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.
Ralph Pannell explains the difficult boat trip to India for him and the other members of the Army Air Corps. They departed November 1944 and even though they made several stops, they were not allowed off the ship during the journey.
It was Condition One Easy, which means B.E. Vaughan 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."
Bombardier and navigator Charlie Gribi recounts trying to knock a bomb loose after it failed to release during a bombing mission, only for it to fall out later on its own within 20 miles of his air base. Video provided by the Clermont County Public Library. Visit charliegribi.com for more information on his life and missions.
Shipping out on a newly commissioned destroyer, B.E. Vaughan 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.
Don Ogden was actually relieved to be in the hands of German guards after months of mistreatment by his Hungarian captors. When he got to the prison camp in Poland, he witnessed a bizarre accident during latrine cleaning and the even more bizarre sight of German guards killing their own.
The interrogator was very cordial at first, says Don Scott, who had just bailed out of a doomed B-17. The pleasantries turned to threats, but they soon gave up on him and it was off to a camp. Part 3 of 3.
They kept stretching the number of required missions, according to P-47 pilot Richard Fleischer, but the tension was relieved by R & R at a beach house in Sydney. He felt more homesick when he was there than when he was in combat. A picture of his wife on the dashboard helped with that. (Provided by LifeCairn, Inc.)
Captured airman Clyde Burnette says his German interrogator spoke better English than he did and already had a complete dossier on him. He kept quiet and was soon in a prison camp where all anyone could think about was food and the lack of it. There were hi-jinks, like throwing rocks at the commandant's plane, disappearing infantry, and the sergeant who was really a doctor.