5:05 | 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. (This interview made possible with the support of OLAF FRANK GOUCHIE.)
Keywords : Lloyd Pittman San Antonio TX Dallas TX Wichita Falls TX College Training Detachment (CTD) Knoxville TN University of Tennessee Nashville TN pilot navigator bombardier Lakeland FL Fairchild PT-19 Courtland AL Vultee BT-13 Valiant solo parachute (chute) Beechcraft AT-10 Wichita Seymour IN
Lloyd Pittman got his wings in May of 1944 and began flight training in the B-24 bomber. Once the crew was assembled and the final exercises completed, he boarded a ship for England. Unlike many of his fellows, he enjoyed the trip. (This interview made possible with the support of OLAF FRANK GOUCHIE.)
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. (This interview made possible with the support of OLAF FRANK GOUCHIE.)
He flew an older D model B-24 on his first five missions. Lloyd Pittman had some tense times in that plane, including once when he readied the crew to bail out during a blinding storm. When he got a newer M model aircraft, it felt like driving a new car. (This interview made possible with the support of OLAF FRANK GOUCHIE.)
What was it like up there in that B-24? Well it was cold, really cold. Lloyd Pittman recalls the heated suits and the oxygen bottle you had to carry when you moved around the plane. They used the Norden bombsight, which was top secret technology. (This interview made possible with the support of OLAF FRANK GOUCHIE.)
He got through the war safely, but B-24 pilot Lloyd Pittman remembers a few times when others weren't so lucky. One morning he awoke to a disheartening sight at the adjacent tents. (This interview made possible with the support of OLAF FRANK GOUCHIE.)
After the war, B-24 pilot LLoyd Pittman was taking some supplies to Norway when the war weary plane he was flying lost an engine. The navigator steered them to Bergen, where a small air strip was their only chance. (This interview made possible with the support of OLAF FRANK GOUCHIE.)
Lloyd Pittman was lucky enough to be among the first in his unit to be sent home from England after the fall of Germany. He had a nice leave back home but the war in the Pacific had him scheduled to learn to fly the B-29. (This interview made possible with the support of OLAF FRANK GOUCHIE.)
After finishing his job in New Guinea, duty called again for Gruenfeld and his unit when they were shipped off to patrol in Luzon in the Philippines. By then, the Japanese had retreated up into the hills and it was up to him to help weed them out. Gruenfeld talks about the times he threw grenades into caves to target hiding Japanese as well as when he was caught in a surprise firefight with 9 Japanese soldiers.
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. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
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. (This interview made possible with the support of JOHN R. ASMUS.)
Since the beginning of his life, Jay Gruenfeld has had military exposure. His father fought in the first world war before he went off to fight in the second. Even before the war, he had a lot of prior ROTC experience and was therefore ready for the full training ahead. He still remembers where he was when he heard the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.
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. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
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. (This interview made possible with the support of JOHN R. ASMUS.)
During his time overseas, Jay Gruenfeld was given a battlefield promotion. At first, he was skeptical about leaving his group that he had bonded with, but it was ultimately demanded that he do it. He also talks about a total of 5 different injuries he got during his 5 months in combat. One of those injuries could have been very damaging, and he nearly got paralyzed from the waist down because of it.
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.)
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. (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.)
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 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. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
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.
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.)
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. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
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.)
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. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Soon after the US was pulled into WWII, Jay Gruenfeld packed up what he could and went to Camp Croft in South Carolina for training. He was then shipped overseas to New Caledonia, New Zealand, and finally to New Guinea. In addition to combat, he did a lot of patrolling which gave way to many of the stories he tells including a humorous event about the time he was the most scared.