Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans

COMBAT STORIES FROM World War II

Fred VanLaningham | Composite Squadron VC-80 - Navy

5:47   |   His training completed, Fred VanLaningham joined a special composite squadron of fighters and torpedo bombers as an aviation machinist's mate. He had dual roles as a mechanic and a gunner.

More From Fred VanLaningham

Keywords   :     Fred VanLaningham    Aviation Machinist's Mate    composite squadron    aircarft carrier    Grumman F4F Wildcat    Grumman TBF Avenger    Seattle WA    North Bend OR    James Rollet    Donald Shoemaker    machine gun    hearing loss    Holtville CA    Gerald Jillens

Videos ( 9 )
WWII
  • Fred VanLaningham  |  WWII  |  Multiple Units  |  5:16

    Once Fred VanLaningham decided he was going to join the Navy, he had to get his parents permission because he was only seventeen. No way, you must graduate first. So he went to see if the principal could help him.

  • Fred VanLaningham  |  WWII  |  Multiple Units  |  6:07

    After boot camp at Great Lakes, Fred VanLaningham had excellent test scores because his high school principal altered the physics course to prep young men for military tests. He had his pick of training locations and headed to aircraft mechanics school.

  • Fred VanLaningham  |  WWII  |  Composite Squadron VC-80  |  7:05

    The machine gun in the turret of the torpedo bomber had a fire interrupter that was supposed to prevent the gunner from shooting the tail or the wings of the aircraft. Fred VanLaningham was on a training flight over the California desert and manning the gun when it went haywire and did just that.

  • Fred VanLaningham  |  WWII  |  Multiple Units  |  6:59

    Aviation machinist's mate Fred VanLaningham was stationed in San Diego when he got the news that his brother had been killed in Normandy. He finally shipped out to the Pacific but his commander had him transferred to another unit where he wouldn't have to fly as a gunner.

  • Fred VanLaningham  |  WWII  |  Multiple Units  |  7:47

    Aviation machinist's mate Fred VanLaningham kept 'em flying in the Pacific and he was very happy when President Truman dropped the bomb. He could go home now but there was a problem. The trains and planes were full and the highway had a long line of hitchhikers. How would he get there?

  • Fred VanLaningham  |  WWII  |  Multiple Units  |  4:39

    On the island of Anguar, two sailors decided to have a quick draw contest. No one's going to shoot, we just want to see who's the fastest. What could go wrong? Fred VanLaningham remembers that fiasco. Years after the war, he traveled to the Pacific again as part of his job and got to see Ground Zero at Hiroshima.

  • Fred VanLaningham  |  WWII  |  Multiple Units  |  4:18

    In high school, Fred VanLaningham had played the marimba and the drums, so it seemed natural to join the Drum and Bugle Corps when he joined the Navy. It didn't sit well with one of his commanders, though. During his technical training, he got to meet up with his brother, who was on maneuvers nearby.

  • Fred VanLaningham  |  WWII  |  Multiple Units  |  4:44

    All sailors remember what happens when you cross the equator. Fred VanLaningham recalls that day and the outrageous rituals. It was special because they also crossed the International Date Line.

  • Fred VanLaningham  |  WWII  |  Multiple Units  |  3:07

    During a stop at the Admiralty Islands, Fred VanLaningham had a nice R&R. A little too nice because his buddies from his old unit were there.

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