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.)
Recalling his first visit to Normandy years after WWII, Bob Phillips describes the hill where he originally saw dead bodies. He also reflects back to the wartime vision of a burned out barn full of dead slave laborers.
His first ship assignment and voyage was memorable. Naval Armed Guard John Laster was knocked out by a loose firing lanyard and, later, had to help round up 500 monkeys, who were bound stateside for research, after their cage broke open.
Tanks weren't used the same way in the Pacific as they were in Europe, but Curtis Banker was a loader on an unusual armored vehicle that came ashore at the Luzon beachhead. The 105mm howitzer mounted on a tank chassis was an effective weapon where the terrain allowed, but the lack of cover for the loader meant that bullets were always whizzing by his ears.
After crossing the Rhine River, John Buchanan recalls a "nasty" firefight his platoon got into while trying to take over a pair of gun emplacements near Duisberg, Germany, where they, including Bill Friendshuh, nearly became cornered by German troops.
Al Mampre says the medics were fastest on the mountain, fastest on the obstacle course and better on the firing range, except for him. He tells how a sergeant in his outfit inspired the story of the Band of Brothers. And he reveals his parting comments to his commanding officer and his girlfriend's premonition.
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.
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.
His company was in the 1st wave to land on Red Beach Two. Under attack from the moment he left the amphibious tractor, George Alden lost 4 of his men. Forced to keep moving in order to protect his remaining comrades, the group pushed further up the island towards the first landing strip. However, George was injured when he and his squad found themselves pinned down under Japanese fire. Injured and alone, George was forced to wait nearly a full day before he was discovered and rescued.
Tinian was a little easier time than Saipan and Iwo Jima, says Merrill Burroughs, who was with an Anti-Aircraft battery. He still had close calls when Japanese planes strafed the island. On the way in, he managed to hide a case of pork and beans, which was a precious thing.
Lou Smith was evacuated from Iwo Jima to Saipan, then to a hospital in Hawaii. That was tough duty, recuperating with the swimming and the girls. One thing haunts his sleep, though, until this day. He had been throwing enemy grenades back the way they came when he was wounded, and this is key to his nightmares.
When Marine Joseph Hiott arrived in Guadalcanal, he was assigned to the 2nd Raider Battalion, a new unit created under orders from Franklin D. Roosevelt, who admired the British Commandos and wanted an American unit to perform special operations. The Raiders, like the enemy, would fight to the death but for a very different reason. They also considered themselves the best of the best and trained accordingly.
It was thirty six straight days on Iwo Jima with no change of clothes or regular meals. Phil Wells carried an extra bandolier stuffed with fruit bars. He had come ashore with the fourth wave just as Japanese gunners really began to fire on the landing force. As a runner, he didn't come face to face with the enemy, though once he was sure he had. What's that password?
The German interrogator knew more about his bomb group than he did and after a short questioning, Michael Gold was off to a POW camp where he was lucky to share a barracks with the other officers from his crew. The German rations were supplemented with Red Cross parcels that arrived from Sweden.
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.