5:20 | His brother had already been drafted and he gave Will Jasmund this advice about going into the Army, don't get sent to Texas and don't get assigned to the engineers. Never one to agree with his big brother, he wanted both. He was anxious to go, but first he had to break the news to his parents. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Keywords : Will Jasmund St. Louis MO Depression Jefferson Barracks Camp Crowder Texas engineer Pearl Harbor draft
Will Jasmund was on a train with no idea where he was going. A corporal told the young inductees that they would soon be able to say they had seen Paris. That caused some raised eyebrows but they were soon in the plains of Texas training for an engineer battalion. France would have to wait a bit. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
It was total blackout. Newly arrived in England, Will Jasmund was led through the darkness to a mess hall for the worst meal yet, powdered eggs and terrible coffee. Quartered on the grounds of a castle, his engineering battalion prepared for the coming invasion. They knew it was on when the aircraft activity became constant, with damaged planes coming in and going right out again. Finally the word came, it was their turn. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
They worked within two miles of the Normandy coast, repairing roads and bridges. Will Jasmund and the others in the engineer battalion had no doubts they were in the middle of a war. The strafing, shelling and, eventually, the friendly fire made them sure of that. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
The brass wanted to go into Paris for a fun evening. The city wasn't completely secure, but driver Will Jasmund had a good time anyway. There was only one problem. The jeep was gone when he woke up. He hitched a ride back to his outfit where he was informed that there was a much bigger problem. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
After his good friend was killed, Will Jasmund would not get close with anyone else. He was camped outside Bastogne when the Germans surged into the area, causing cooks, clerks and engineers like him to man the front line. He recalls an incident in which six soldiers wandered into camp on foot after abandoning their truck convoy in the face of enemy tanks. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Will Jasmund was helping a friend get a large trailer rig turned around, when a jeep with an officer and two enlisted men drove up. They asked directions to a town that he knew was held by the Germans, and he told them so, but they insisted. Before he knew it, he was staring at his own weapon pointed at him. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Combat Engineer Will Jasmund got plenty of action along with the road and bridge repairs he was there to do. The German surge meant that he was defending those bridges along with the line companies. One of the men in his company took out a tank with a bazooka, and once, he found himself one the wrong side of the line, facing the gun barrels of his own army. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
He was driving a jeep when he felt something like a splinter or a bee sting on his leg. Will Jasmund put his hand down to feel the area and when he put his hand back on the wheel, it was covered with blood. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
When Combat Engineer Will Jasmund reached the Rhine, it was at the Remagen bridge. When it fell, he was on the German side and had to be ferried back across to rejoin his unit. The urgency had eased to the point that he was able to nap under a jeep on a warm day. Someone then kicked his foot and told him the best news he could ever hear. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Before he left Europe, Will Jasmund had the task of driving the mess hall garbage to the dump. When he saw the French civilians digging through it, he felt so sorry for them that he began to save good food and brought it for them. He volunteered for the Pacific, but the war ended there, so he made a triumphant return to New York. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Following his French contact at a discreet distance, George Starks parked his bicycle and watched the man enter a bakery. In the back of that bakery, he met Maurice, a member of the Free French Resistance. He was getting close to Switzerland, but he would need Maurice's help to get over the border. Part 4 of 7.
Chan Rogers experiences a couple of close calls on the Siegfried Line. His unit stumbles upon a nest of sleeping Germans, suddenly finding themselves in a harrowing firefight. Later, when facing off against a group of German pillboxes, they are showered with deadly shrapnel from tree bursts. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
The Russians were close enough that the American POW's could hear the fire in the distance. Their guards roused them all and put them on the road in a forced march, leaving their camp in Poland and heading for Germany. It was seventy nine days of freezing cold out in the open, with very little food. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
George Starks enlisted as an aviation cadet in 1942 and made his way up the training ladder to B-17's. He got out of an assignment as an instructor in the small trainers because he wanted to fly the big aircraft. He excelled along the way and at nineteen years old, he prepared to go to war as the commander of a ten man crew.
Jack Houston had just helped his buddy dress a wound when he volunteered to return to the Okinawa hilltop where they were getting the enemy cleared out. When he got the jump on three of them, his muzzle flash gave him away and he had to leave in a hurry. He flung himself off the hill where he came face to face with a rifle. Part 5 of 6. (This interview made possible with the support of JOHN & BARBARA MCCOY.)
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.
On his fifth combat mission, his first as aircraft commander, B-17 pilot George Starks was on the outside edge of the formation when the plane was hit by German fighters. With a wing on fire, he gave the signal to bail out and he was soon in free fall from high altitude over France. He landed hard, hid his chute, and hid in the woods as he heard German troops approaching. Part 1 of 7.
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.
After a long trek across France, George Starks was finally next to the Swiss border. From the time he hid his parachute until the time he stepped across the creek that was the border, he had been helped by sympathetic locals. When he was finally out of occupied territory and free in Switzerland, he was surprised when someone else showed up. Part 5 of 7.
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 in his last year of college pursuing a mechanical engineering degree when Bob DeBoo was drafted into the Navy. They sent him to finish his degree, then to midshipmen's school, and then he was ready to deploy. He was assigned to an LSM, which is Landing Ship, Medium.
The new B-17 crew was part of a provisional group that, once in England, would be parceled out to units that needed replacement crews. George Starks was the young Lieutenant in charge of one crew that had been selected as the best of the group. He barely got away from Labrador in a storm and the flight across the Atlantic was the toughest instrument flying he ever did.
The going home banner was strung aloft after victory in the Pacific was won, but before the USS Dorsey left the dock, a typhoon struck and grounded the ship. Mother Nature had done what the Japanese could not. Roy Scribner was given the task of securing the sensitive communications material.
When the war in the Pacific ended, Marine Lieutenant Dan Magill did two things. The first occurred with him on his knees in thanks. The second involved the stash of medicinal alcohol and coconuts. (This interview made possible with the support of ANITA E. MANUEL.)
After bailing out, evading German troops and hiding in the woods, B-17 Pilot George Starks was helped by French civilians and put on his way over land toward Switzerland. He had a broken bone in his foot, but he managed to make good time, with some help from locals. German troops were everywhere but his young looks and beret gave him a chance when he encountered them. Part 2 of 7.
As the USS Dorsey approached Pearl Harbor for repairs, the pet dog smuggled on board got very excited. He was about tired of Navy life. Almost as soon as the minesweeper returned to action, the war ended. Roy Scribner tells the story of the typhoon that nearly put them under off the coast of Japan.
The battles were over, but Marine Lieutenant Dan Magill was ordered to investigate reports of straggler Japanese troops up in the mountains of the Philippines. They were a pitiful lot when he found them, and their leader presented him with a keepsake. Another assignment involved a Marine who had an eye for the local girls. (This interview made possible with the support of ANITA E. MANUEL.)
George Starks had evaded capture all across France and was safe in Switzerland, where he had it easier than downed airmen who had actually come down in Switzerland. They were supposed to stay put and wait, but he had other ideas, which led to the liberation of Evian on the other side of Lake Geneva. Part 6 of 7.
Dan Magill recalls a couple of funny stories from his boot camp experience. One involves the notorious aiming capabilities of the .45 caliber pistol and the other is about the dreaded last shot from the Corpsman. (This interview made possible with the support of ANITA E. MANUEL.)
After leaving his safe haven in Switzerland, downed B-17 pilot George Starks finally met up with American forces near Evian in France. Then began a long, sometimes pleasurable trip back to his unit in England. After debriefing, he was sent around to give lectures on evasion for other airmen, then back home to Florida. Part 7 of 7.
The USS Dorsey, a destroyer/minesweeper, had a number of weapons to protect itself. Roy Scribner was a loader on one of the 20mm guns which was primarily an anti-aircraft weapon. The 40mm gun at the stern was the best protection they had against kamikazes, which were a constant threat. They had already taken out three of the ten ships in his group.
As he made his way through France in disguise, downed B-17 pilot George Starks encountered German troops, stole a bicycle and made friends with many locals. In one town he was sheltered by the chief of police, who had a very friendly daughter. Part 3 of 7.
It was cold and raining as huge ships pounded the tiny island of Iwo Jima ahead of the landing. Roy Scribner was on the USS Dorsey, a minesweeper. In his diary, he sketched the raising of the flag as well as noting the staggering casualty figures. When the ship broke away from the battle for refueling, the crew nearly met with disaster during the routine task.
Malhon Shoemake's first beachhead was Guam and after a long wade into shore, he saw the terrible devastation of war. The deaths of women and children were difficult to bear. He soon learned the tricks of the enemy, who liked to fight at night and sneak into your foxhole. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
The living conditions were terrible during Malhon Shoemake's Pacific tour. Sleeping in wet holes combined with three wounds to give him trouble for the rest of his life, but he had no regrets. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
The hazing that Roy Scribner got the first time he crossed the equator included the eating of a bitter pudding that came with an unusual health benefit. He was on a minesweeper on the way to the Philippines and, once there, the ship became a target for kamikazes.