5:21 | At war’s end, Stan Hodsdon was offered a commission if he would stay on for a year, but it didn't matter to him what the rank was, he was done.
Keywords : Stan Hodsdon forced labor Antwerp
Air Corps Cadet Stan Hodsdon signed up for flight training but before it was completed, manpower needs in the European Theater caused the entire class of pilots to switch to other crew positions and ship out.
After a miserable Atlantic crossing with sick troops and British rice, Stan Hodsdon settled into a routine of rising at 0400 to fuel up B-17s for the day’s bombing missions.
First, they told Stan Hodsdon that his broken hand wasn’t broken. Then, they put a huge cast on it, which kept the B-17 ground crew member from doing his job. Then, they told him that he was in the infantry.
When Stan Hodsdon was reassigned to the infantry and put on the march in the push after Normandy, he never even knew what his unit was, his pay was messed up, and he went through the worst winter on record with no winter gear. Part 1 of 2.
Infantry soldier Stan Hodsdon continued moving through France, and he continued to have no idea what unit he was in because of the constant reassignment. He does remember the tree bursts, the Screaming Mimis, and eating in the rain with an unusual placemat. Part 2 of 2.
Stan Hodsdon did not last long as an MP after he balked at arresting black Red Ball Express drivers for driving too fast. Reassigned to the field artillery, he promptly got lost looking for his new unit and nearly drove into a German position.
An avid photographer, Stan Hodsdon was among the first to enter the Ohrdruf concentration camp when it was liberated. His photographs were in an article he wrote, which he believes was one of the first accounts of the Holocaust to be seen in the US.
Stan Hodsdon finally got to fly when the spotter plane he maintained for his field artillery unit needed a fill-in pilot. On a side trip to find camera film, he refused the surrender of an entire German town and shared a liquor warehouse with the Russians. Part 1 of 2.
Stan Hodsdon recalls when he flew a captured German spotter plane back to base, without knowing the fuel gauge was backwards, and also the time when, on night guard duty, he had a confrontation with an unseen enemy. Part 2 of 2.
At a baseball game after the war, Stan Hodsdon spotted Dwight D. Eisenhower in the stands and managed to chat with his former commander for a while.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
He was trained in the Army Air Corps as an aircraft mechanic, specializing in hydraulics. Ralph Way would put his training to work in Karachi, which was in India at the time. He serviced cargo planes flying over the Himalayas to supply the war effort against the Japanese in China.
James Parish volunteered for the US Army on November 17th, 1942. He went to Camp Adair in Oregon for his training, and also endured desert training. At one point during training, he became a cook for the rest of the men.
Jack McBrayer was born in Birmingham, Georgia, and wanted to be a sailor all his life. When he joined the Navy, he had to use dummy guns during basic training because they were underfunded at the time. He talks about his shakedown cruise to Bermuda, and how it felt being right at the heart of a hurricane.
While in training for the US Merchant Marine, Roy Walker had to be pushed into the water. He couldn't swim, but when he was at sea, he didn't even think about it. The ships he sailed on kept the war effort supplied with fuel and ammunition.
McBrayer was able to make it safely to North Africa. From there he escorted tanks to Aruba. His typical missions consisted of making trips to North Africa, the Caribbean, and sometimes he would go back to the ship's home base located in Northern Virginia.
It took four days to send him to war by plane, but when the time came to return from India, Ralph Way spent a month on a ship. At home, he got married and went to college, thanks to the educational benefits from Uncle Sam.
Stationed in Japan after the war, Curtis James had the opportunity to see the devastation at both atomic bomb sites. It was hard to believe. Marines went into occupation duty with a lot of animosity for the Japanese people, but were surprised to find out how friendly they were.
The men at the air base in India were due for some badly needed R&R, so they were shipped off to a rest camp. Ralph Way remembers watching the monkeys in the trees and thinking how nice it would be to have one of those monkeys. How, exactly, could you make that happen?
Ralph Way was an aircraft mechanic in India, maintaining cargo planes. He recalls one incident in which a pilot couldn't tell if the landing gear was up or down. That was resolved successfully, but there was another incident regarding propellers which did not end so well.
They crossed the Rhine on a pontoon bridge. George Wilkerson's field artillery unit moved fast and were in five countries in as many months. It was cold, their mail couldn't catch up to them and George Patton managed to make them hate him, the one week they were under his command.
The men of the destroyer escort USS Straus were very busy. It was their job to spread smokescreens to protect the fleet from kamikazes and they were credited with one shoot down of a suicide plane. Bombarding coastlines was another important job. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
Expecting to be a part of the Japan invasion force, George Wilkerson went home for a 30 day leave. While he was there, the atomic bomb lifted that weight from his shoulders. He had to stay on for a while as a supply sergeant, but he was soon back at the University of Missouri.
The streamer was flying from the bridge. It was the heading home streamer and the men of the USS Straus were overjoyed, including Clyde Milam. He was soon to discover that his short stop at Nagasaki had left him with a terrible problem. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)