4:12 | While searching for his plane in the Indian desert, downed aviator George LaMar, was fascinated by the local camel races. He asked if he could give it a try. Part 4 of 4. (This interview made possible with the support of ANDREW DESMARAIS.)
Keywords : George LaMar India camel North American B-25 Mitchell
George LaMar was an Army Air Corps recruit in training when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The population of the west coast was immediately put on edge by the fear of further attacks. He was put into a squadron that consisted of old, slow bombers that went out on anti-submarine patrols with a curious payload. (This interview made possible with the support of ANDREW DESMARAIS.)
In the early days of the war, George LaMar was an engineer/gunner who was assigned to deliver British bombers to Chiang Kai-shek's forces who were battling the Japanese invaders in China. The two man crews followed a long tortuous route which included a refueling stop in an extremely remote location. Part 1 of 4. (This interview made possible with the support of ANDREW DESMARAIS.)
It was just the pilot and him when a storm hit the plane they were ferrying to India. George LaMar, who was the flight engineer, wound up bailing out and landing in utter darkness in shallow water. With his flashlight, all he could see around him was water. Part 2 of 4. (This interview made possible with the support of ANDREW DESMARAIS.)
George LaMar was one of two aviators stranded after bailing out near the coast of India. They found some local officials but their sign language left something to be desired. Eventually, they got organized and he stayed behind to search for the downed plane. Part 3 of 4. (This interview made possible with the support of ANDREW DESMARAIS.)
As an engineer/gunner on a B-25, George LaMar monitored instruments during takeoffs and landings. His squadron was based in India, with targets mostly in Burma. The Japanese were moving a lot of war material north into China. (This interview made possible with the support of ANDREW DESMARAIS.)
His first bombing mission was memorable because of the anti-aircraft shells bursting around the plane. As the engineer/gunner on a B-25, George LaMar inspected the plane after every mission and what he found in the front wheel well was alarming. (This interview made possible with the support of ANDREW DESMARAIS.)
The B-25 squadron had crossed into Burma when it was jumped by 25 enemy fighters. George LaMar was in the upper turret furiously raking them with fire, when the lead plane was hit and fell back. They watched as the Japanese planes pounced on the crippled bomber. Suddenly, the crew bailed out. (This interview made possible with the support of ANDREW DESMARAIS.)
Their B-25 had developed engine trouble so they made an emergency landing at a small British air strip near the Burmese border. As the engineer, it was George LaMar's job to stay with the plane until it was repaired. It took several weeks, during which he learned that the British were great singers and that there was some dangerous wildlife around. (This interview made possible with the support of ANDREW DESMARAIS.)
After flying fifty missions, you got to go home. George LaMar explains the truth about the flight medals they all got and he recalls the ill feelings of the men when they heard a famous flyer speak. (This interview made possible with the support of ANDREW DESMARAIS.)
What was his state of mind when he parachuted into the darkness and landed in the shallow ocean on the coast of India? George LaMar answers that by invoking the state of mind of the entire nation during the early days of the war. Despite all that, he was ready for it to end when it did. (This interview made possible with the support of ANDREW DESMARAIS.)
The Japanese were so well dug in on Iwo Jima in that the field artillery couldn't get to them. The flag had been raised on Mt. Suribachi but there was a long way to go to secure the island. When he wasn't wondering where that Japanese round was going to land, Bill Richardson had to deal with the cold, wet conditions. Part 2 of 3.
It was his 29th mission, a bombing raid over Austria, when Bob Honeycutt's luck ran out. First they lost an engine. Then, when they dropped behind the formation, they were swarmed by German fighters. As the gunners fell one by one, a rocket finally set the plane on fire and blew him right out into the air. Part 1 of 6.
In the fall of 1942, Texas A&M student Lloyd Pittman took and passed the Army Air Corps tests for potential aviators. Like many, he was told to continue college for now, and like just as many, that didn't last and he was sent to training. He worked his way through a series of ever larger planes.
From the information they had and the mock-up of the island they saw, the Marines figured Iwo Jima would be an easy operation. Bill Richardson went ashore with his artillery battery as soon as they could get on the crowded beach. It was immediately apparent that it was going to be a monumental battle. Part 1 of 3.
With a commandeered truck, newly liberated POW Bob Honeycutt made three trips into Belgium, loaded down with as many freed US airmen as he could carry. He'd lost half his weight and was eaten up with lice, but he'd made it. When he got back home to Chattanooga, both he and his family had a big surprise. Part 6 of 6.
When at anchor in Pearl Harbor, Jesus Cepeda would attend mass on Sunday with his friend from back home in Guam. As he waited for him on deck, he heard a big rumbling noise, like hundreds of planes at once, but as he searched the sky, he could see nothing. Then he turned to the north.(This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Senator Bob Dole was sent to Italy in 1945 and assigned to the 10th Mountain Division as a young second lieutenant. Although the war in Europe would soon be over, Senator Dole found himself in the thick of combat outside of Castel d'Aiano. In an effort to try and save his downed radioman, he himself was badly wounded and had to remain on the battlefield through the heat of the battle.
Injured and dazed from his bail out at 18,000 feet, Bob Honeycutt was taken into the home of an Austrian family until the local officials came to arrest him. He was cared for so well, he had to wonder, why were these civilians treating him like a friend? Part 2 of 6.
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. (This interview made possible with the support of DOROTHY J. D'EWART.)
After a hearty breakfast with his German guard, Bob Honeycutt left the comfort of the Alps, where he had bailed out, for the misery of the German POW system. First came the mind games of the interrogation. Then, he wound up at Stalag Luft IV, one of the worst camps, where he learned new meanings for "cold" and "hungry." Part 3 of 6.
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.)
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. (This interview made possible with the support of DOROTHY J. D'EWART.)
After eight months in the prison camp, Bob Honeycutt could hear the guns of the Russian Army approaching, but he was not going to be free anytime soon. The German guards forced 10,000 men out of the gate and onto the road, where they began a forced march, with no known destination. The deprivation and cruelty was mind numbing. Part 4 of 6.
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.)
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. (This interview made possible with the support of DOROTHY J. D'EWART.)
The little known "death march" of the men of Stalag Luft IV lasted 86 days. That was when an Allied tank column rolled up and the Russian prisoners took their revenge on a particularly sadistic German guard. With a friend, Bob Honeycutt set out toward a small town, where they spotted a truck in a garage. Mighty tempting. Part 5 of 6.
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.)
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. (This interview made possible with the support of DOROTHY J. D'EWART.)
In Dachau, Rogers witnesses thousands of starving prisoners in a concentration camp. He remembers the many other displaced civilians, forced into labor, who suffered at the hands of the nazis. (This interview made possible with the support of TIMOTHY R. COLLINS.)
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. (This interview made possible with the support of DOROTHY J. D'EWART.)
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.
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. (This interview made possible with the support of DOROTHY J. D'EWART.)
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.
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. (This interview made possible with the support of DOROTHY J. D'EWART.)
Lloyd Pittman piloted a B-24 in the 492nd Bomb Group, a special operations unit that only flew at night. Beside high altitude bombing runs, they were called on to drop supplies to various underground organizations. While over Germany, they encountered radar controlled searchlights, which didn't have to search.