9:22 | When at anchor in Pearl Harbor, Jesus Cepeda would attend mass on Sunday with his friend from back home in Guam. As he waited for him on deck, he heard a big rumbling noise, like hundreds of planes at once, but as he searched the sky, he could see nothing. Then he turned to the north.(This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Keywords : Jesus Cepeda Guam mess attendant Pearl Harbor Jose Ramirez Honolulu HI Catholic torpedo bomber bomber fighter Japanese USS Honolulu (CL-48) USS Arizona (BB-39)
Following in the footsteps of his father, Guam native Jesus Cepeda eagerly joined the US Navy in 1939 when a sailor he befriended recommended him. All he could be was a mess attendant but it was still the best opportunity on the undeveloped island. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Ten young men from Guam were recruited into the US Navy per month and in 1939, Jesus Cepeda was one of them. The training was simple, since they were only going to be mess attendants and personal assistants for officers. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
As a mess attendant, Jesus Cepeda's duty was to take care of the personal needs of officers aboard ship. This "lowest of the lowest" position, as he calls it, did not prevent him from having an informed opinion on the way commanders were relieved of duty in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack, the top Army and Navy commanders in the Pacific were recalled to Washington and relieved of command. Jesus Cepeda was on the admiral's staff and followed the new commander to the southern Pacific, where the ANZAC force was being organized. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Jesus Cepeda was a mess attendant who followed his officer from the Pacific to the Atlantic when he was promoted to rear admiral. It wasn't long before they were reassigned back to the Pacific aboard the USS Pasadena, a cruiser which was involved in every major naval engagement for the rest of the war. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Guam native Jesus Cepeda had joined the US Navy before the war started. He was witness to nearly ever major battle in the Pacific from an unusual perspective, as a personal attendant to commanding officers. This gave him a front row seat to amphibious landings, kamikaze attacks and massive bombardments. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Anchored off Iwo Jima, Jesus Cepeda heard the news about the atomic bomb on the ship's radio. He wondered, what is this? When he found out what it had done to an entire city, he knew it was the right thing to do, to bring the war to an end. After his release, he rushed home to Guam, to find out if his family had survived the Japanese occupation. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Guam native Jesus Cepeda returned home after the war and began work as a government clerk, then he followed his brother into a business distributing alcohol to the stores on the island. It was in one of these that a pretty cashier caught his eye. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Was joining the US Navy in 1939 the best choice for him as a young man on the island of Guam? Jesus Cepada responds to that question and then has some sharp words for Harry Truman's post war policy. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
What did he learn from his service in the US Navy? World War II veteran Jesus Cepeda lets you know in no uncertain terms. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
When he jumped on D-Day, Canadian paratrooper Dennis Trudeau was way off target, but he finally found his unit in the small town of Varreville. Assigned to clear out a German pillbox near a bridge that was scheduled for demolition, his situation went from bad to worse when the bridge was blown. (This interview made possible with the support of SUZANNE & RALPH HUDGENS honor of Malcom Skinner.)
Frank Gleason talks at length about how Japan began pushing their way into China in early 1945, and the last ditch efforts by his crew to destroy bridges and other vital structures along the way while U.S. troops pulled out of the area.
After breaking out at Anzio. Hubert Aaron's unit marched into Rome, the only American unit to capture an enemy capitol during World War Two. He received a Silver Star for actions during that operation. When he went into St. Tropez, with dry feet for a change, he ignored his platoon leader's order to move out through an open field. Then he let his Thompson submachine gun do some talking.
The British had battled the Germans back and forth across North Africa and American P-40's had arrived to provide some additional air power. Crew chief Gordon Markle describes what that was like with the sandstorms, the C-rations from another war, and the German air attacks. He also learned that you don't want to cross the Gurkhas.
Hubert Aaron says, "I know I'm going to heaven because I spent three months in hell at Anzio." During this battle, he directed some artillery fire that was highly accurate, but then he was on the receiving end as an incoming enemy round put him in the hospital with a concussion. After being pinned down for three months and nearly being pushed back into the sea, the Americans finally prevailed.
The pilot was ready to die. Louie Clark saw him after he crashed his kamikaze into the deck of the destroyer USS Haynsworth. There were many casualties, including a big pot of beans that caught a machine gun from the kamikaze after it crashed through the deck. Clark describes the bravery of men that day and the solemn ceremonies of the burials at sea.
Herman Buffington was hunkered down in his foxhole on Okinawa when a mortar round hit close by and a piece of red hot shrapnel tore through his leg. It sounded like bacon frying, but a medic got the bleeding stopped and he was going to be OK. He refused the morphine because he was already exhausted and didn't want anyone else to tend to his tourniquet.
After capturing an entire German Panzer division, Hubert Aaron's outfit was moving up the Rhone River Valley when he was wounded in an ambush. Evacuated to Naples, he found out how great was his sacrifice.
Herman Buffington was taking some potshots at Japanese troops on the other side of a large ravine where they were foolishly cooking their rice out in the open. When an officer came by and asked how he was doing, he remarked that he was trying to mix a little lead with the rice. The man asked for the rifle so he could give it a try and he proved to be an excellent shot. Buffington could smell the brass and he was right. It was General Simon Buckner.
Trained as a Beachmaster, Mortimer Caplin shipped out for England on the Queen Mary. His unit had a lot of specialized gear and he had to form a guard detachment to keep other units from walking away with it. After they got it all to the Southern English coast, they participated in the ill-fated Exercise Tiger out of Slapton Sands.
When he arrived in Burma to join Merrill's Marauders, Stanley Sasine had to jump from a moving plane, run for cover and dig a foxhole. He did not have to face the daunting challenges of the original Marauders, but the perils were plenty. When the General found out that Sasine was color blind, he was made 1st Scout because he could spot the hidden enemy so well. His first kill came suddenly, though, when he came face to face with a Japanese scout.
The man had been shot up pretty bad, remembers Herman Buffington, who carried him back to the camp. All the way the wounded soldier had pleaded with him to leave him there, but once safe in a foxhole, he wouldn't let go of Buffington's hand, even when the medics prepared to evacuate him.
Navy Corpsman Frank Walden went ashore at Omaha Beach with the Beach Battalion, a unit charged with managing the beach during the assault. After the shock of seeing the first bodies, and after a frightening rush to find safety in the chaos, he began to treat the wounded.
When his buddy George Farris was hit by a sniper, Bob Royce and two others started back to battalion headquarters to get help. They had to hit the ground when the same sniper targeted them. Royce decided to get up and run for it. After he secured aid and was returning to the front, the sniper struck again.
They were trying to take a ridge on Okinawa where the Japanese had dug trenches and the persistent Americans tried repeatedly to take the position. Herman Buffington got close enough to vault over into a trench where he used the old helmet-on-a-bayonet trick to judge the enemy fire. He received the Bronze Star for his actions in this firefight.
Gilbert Jensen had a best friend named Billy Ricketts. The war caught up with their friendship on a three man patrol in the jungle of Guadalcanal. Other combat memories from this time include a night attack on a Japanese camp and nighttime Japanese banzai attacks.
As Al Brown's unit moved North from Italy into the Rhone Valley, the Germans fought very skillful delaying actions. Digging in near Belmont, France, he noticed an officer and a radio operator casually sitting in the open. Before long, they were all running.
It was late night guard duty and Herman Buffington heard something. Then he saw a figure crouched in the brush. When the next flare went up, he sighted and fired. The figure didn't move so he shot him again. When he found out why there was no reaction, all he could do was laugh. He did get a souvenir out of the encounter, a silk Japanese flag.
Eugene Whitfield tells the story of the twin kamikaze attacks on the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga. The first plane caught them by surprise when the Japanese pilot came straight down out of the sun. The second one hit the bridge and the captain was wounded, but he proved to be very tough.
After a mission, Mitch Touart and his crew notice that one of the planes has gone missing, only to find out that it has crashed into an embankment. COL Dunning ends up having to make a tragic decision about SGT Edelman, who is trapped in the aircraft.
He could not see anyone else. In the predawn, he gathered up his parachute and began a futile search for his unit and his gear, including his weapon. Canadian paratrooper Dennis Trudeau joined with an American captain he found on the road and they made their way toward the small Normandy town which was his target. Suddenly, there was the ominous whistling of aerial bombs right on top of them. (This interview made possible with the support of SUZANNE & RALPH HUDGENS honor of Malcom Skinner.)