4:45 | After his 65 combat missions, B-26 pilot Dick Bailey returned stateside, where excitement meant ferrying WACs to a baseball game.
Keywords : Dick Bailey Orlando Command and General Staff School Leavenworth Congressional Medal of Honor
Dick Bailey wanted to fly ever since childhood. He traded labor for flight instruction at a local airport and then became an aviation cadet, where he never mentioned his previous training for fear of being singled out.
In early 1944, B-26 pilot Dick Bailey headed to the war in Europe. Based in Braintree England, he recalls the dank conditions in the slit trenches where they sheltered during bomb raids. If he was going to die, he would just as soon be comfortable in bed.
On D-Day, B-26 pilot Dick Bailey flew his aircraft on a mission to support the beach landing, but terrible weather forced him to return to base with a full bomb load. He got to do his part with two missions later in the day.
On one memorable mission, B-26 pilot Dick Bailey dipped under cloud cover for visibility during the bomb run. They were so low, the planes were damaged by their own bombs. On another, they sustained the most damage of the war from their own waist gunner.
To B-26 pilot Dick Bailey, the most outstanding of his 65 missions was Christmas Eve 1944, the Battle of the Bulge. Usually the Germans would fire flak, then stop and attack with fighters. This time, the flak and the fighters came together.
Before pilot Dick Bailey arrived in the European Theatre, the standard bombing tactic was a low level run. After disastrous losses, it was decided that runs would be made at higher altitudes, where the new Norden bomb sight could be used.
What was that smoking fragment that landed in the cockpit? B-26 pilot Dick Bailey describes that, as well as two battles that bogged down the Allies. Saint-Lo and Cannes where a 48 hour timetable for Gen. Montgomery turned into 6 weeks.
The escaping POW's were walking westward toward the Allied lines when they began to notice white flags on the houses. It was over. Picked up by advancing GI's, Fred Scheer made his way to Reims and then Camp Lucky Strike. Soon, he was on a ship home. Part 3 of 3.
Two engines were out, a third smoking, and they were were losing airspeed and altitude, but they were flying level and pointed home. Then time ran out for the B-17 and Don Scott had to slip down the hatch into the slipstream. Part 2 of 3.
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.)
It was their third mission over Berlin and they were heading home. Four German fighters pounced on the B-24 and it was engulfed in flame and going down. Clyde Burnette fought for consciousness as the other crew in the back of the plane bailed out. He woke in free fall with no idea how he had made it out, and soon he was in German custody. Everyone made it out of the plane except George "Danny" Daneau, the nose turret gunner, who went down with the aircraft.
After a nerve-wracking mission to bomb Tokyo and a typhoon, B.E. Vaughan and the destroyer O'Brien suffered a second kamikaze attack which killed all three of his hometown pals who served with him on board. Then, began the grim task of collecting the personal belongings of the dead and preparing them for burial at sea.
The first operation for the 4th Division was the landing on Roi-Namur. Lawrence Snowden remembers that, though it was an easy victory, valuable combat experience and important lessons were imparted on the Marines.
While in the CCC, Lofton Hill helped build the Fort Benning jump field. Two years later, he was training there as a paratrooper. After training, his unit was sent to the west coast, so he figured he was bound for the Pacific.
What went on in the decrypting room and why couldn't Japan break the code? It was the Navajo code talkers, says Julius Rainwater, a radio operator. He was not a big drinker, so when the officers brought out the booze on VE Day, it got a little out of hand.
Fred Scheer was a go-getter in high school, running his own dairy operation. He volunteered for the Army in 1943 and, after infantry training, made the Atlantic crossing. The forces were amassing for the upcoming invasion.
They were packed in like cattle on the troop ship. When they docked at Pearl Harbor, Lofton Hill watched the flag raised every morning on the wreckage of the USS Arizona. He was soon in the Philippines, fending off banzai attacks and enjoying the canned tangerines he found in the Japanese camps.
The destination was unknown when Juius Rainwater boarded the liberty ship and headed out into the Pacific. The first stop was Hawaii, where he had a chance meeting on the street with his brother, who was also in the service. When he shipped out again, he asked the captain if he could start a newspaper on board the ship. Good idea.
The prisoners were loaded into boxcars and sent from Reims into Germany. Fred Scheer recalls the two transit camps through which he passed, each divided with a Russian side to the camp. The Russians were treated very badly and Scheer knew that if they discovered he was Jewish, an even worse fate awaited him.
Julius Rainwater had a chance to meet his brother after the war ended with the Japanese surrender. It was in Inchon that the two crossed paths. Julius would go on to Okinawa where he waited for the points system to allow him to go home. He made very good use of his time while he was waiting. Finally, the day came.
Joe Turner wanted to be a pilot, but they didn't need any more pilots when he joined the Army Air Corps, so he became part of the ground forces. By the time he got to his assignment in the Philippines, the Japanese had surrendered and the task became one of recovering equipment.
After the Japanese surrender, Lofton Hill was certain the enemy troops in the hills in Luzon did not know about it. Soon, his unit was in Japan, freeing and sending home American POW's, who had received harsh treatment from their captors. He was put on MP detail, where he couldn't make much sense of what he was hearing from the civilians.
He'd never been up in a plane. Joe Turner was part of the crew at an Air Corps base in the Philippines and a sympathetic pilot offered to take him along on a flight to Japan. It went well until the word came from the cockpit. Put on your Mae West and your parachute.
He'd already been studying radio communications, so the Army sent Julius Rainwater to the Signal Corps. He learned Morse Code and became adept at copying coded messages. Most of the men were from the northeast, but the Georgia boy made fast friends while training.
En route through the Pacific on a liberty ship, Julius Rainwater heard Tokyo Rose threaten his convoy on her broadcast. It was an empty threat and he made it to Anguar, an island near Peleliu, where he set up a radio communications station. There were still Japanese in the hills, so they had guard duty and, when it was his turn, he was sure he saw something creeping up in the darkness.
Sherman Howard tried to enlist in the Marines, but he was too small, they said, so he went to the Navy in 1943. They had him on US coast patrol in a PBY and then put him to work as a mess cook but he wanted to go to sea. He shipped out for the Pacific in a retrofitted supply ship.
Starting at Guadalcanal, the USS Volans distributed supplies to fighting forces and ships in the South Pacific. Sherman Howard was a striker, or assistant, to a carpenter's mate. It was their job to fix nearly anything on the ship that needed repair.
One of the most memorable things for Sherman Howard about his Pacific tour was the initiation ceremony at the crossing of the equator. Just don't ask for details. His supply ship was in Tokyo Bay just weeks after the two atomic bombs ended the war.
The guards at the POW camp were mostly old men, too old for the front. Fred Scheer details the daily life and struggles at the small camp where he was interred. Food was a big concern. Red Cross parcels were a Godsend, but you could also utilize some outside sources, if you were willing to take the risk.