4:37 | He had experience on small boats, so Bill Newman did not get sick crossing the English Channel on an LST. It was weeks after D-Day, and his division set up camp just inland from Omaha Beach, where they waited. Their trucks were needed for the Red Ball Express, so they were sidelined for a while. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
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Bill Newman had some experience with coastal artillery from college ROTC, so, when he was drafted, they put him in the field artillery. Coastal artillery had been rendered irrelevant in the new age of air power, but there was new weaponry to learn. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
He was in anti-aircraft training, but Bill Newman was selected for the communications group so he didn't fire guns at towed targets. He did have to make the grueling 50 mile final hike. Then he was picked for the Army Specialized Training Program, which placed soldiers in college. That didn't last very long, since every soldier was needed for the coming invasion of Europe. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
In the Army Specialized Training Program, Bill Newman was placed at Penn State, where he was to get some education that the Army could later use. The important thing about this was the male-female ratio at the university. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
In his final training before shipping out to England, Bill Newman, and most of the men in his unit, failed spectacularly at rappelling. No matter, they departed on a converted cruise ship and set up camp across the pond and waited. D-Day came and they were still waiting. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
Bill Newman was a communications specialist with a field artillery unit when he joined the push across France. He didn't face much enemy fire at his first battle, but he did face a problem related to the unrelenting rain. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
The song rang out from the rail cars loaded with American soldiers. It was "The Yellow Rose of Texas," and Bill Newman knew instantly what unit it was. He was in the communications group of a field artillery battalion, so he was often stuck with KP and guard duty. He vividly remembers his first night on guard duty in a combat zone. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
The German fortifications at the Siegfried Line were formidable. Some were centuries old and some were built right into the shops of the towns. Bill Newman recalls the Thanksgiving dinner that got delayed several times until it was a problem in itself. At Saarlautern, he was pressed into front line duty after the forward observers were injured. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
The going was slow and German artillery cut the field telephone lines nearly every night. Bill Newman describes how he and his partner would find the break and repair the line. During the Battle of the Bulge, he was doing just that one day when he was startled by a tap on the shoulder. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
Bill Newman describes how American ingenuity solved some big problems during the push across France into Germany. First up, the hedgerows. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
Bill Newman remembers fondly the family he stayed with in Felsberg, France, just before the Battle of the Bulge. There was little action at his position during the German attack, but the extreme cold was an enemy in itself. This was made worse by the fact that the Americans had no proper cold weather gear. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
There was little action when Bill Newman's unit reached the Rhine. The Germans had fled to the other side but they did manage to blow the bridge he was waiting to cross. He made it across at Remagen and moved into the Ruhr Valley. It was there that he ran into a hometown friend, who recounted to him the tale of the ill-fated 106th Division at the Battle of the Bulge. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
During the campaign in the Ruhr Pocket, Bill Newman could tell that the Germans were disheartened. Their failure at the Battle of the Bulge had sealed their fate. His field artillery unit had a new proximity shell that could clear the battlefield of all enemy personnel. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
As a communications specialist with a field artillery unit, Bill Newman sometimes had to carry half of a hundred pound radio on his back. He had other duties and when he and his partner were clearing buildings in a town, he had a strange encounter with a German child. When he picked up a pack of bazooka rounds, he wound up using them, to his own amazement. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
It was a standoff that didn't look good. Three German tanks were threatening Bill Newman's unit and air power was summoned and promised. The tanks left but the P-47's arrived and, to the horror of everyone, they circled and came in for an attack run on their own countrymen. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
The captain asked, where is A Company? Bill Newman had just seen them and he agreed to take some men and go back and retrieve them. This led to some grief given by his comrades. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
They were holed up in a basement for the night when the lookout yelled down for everyone to come up. What Bill Newman saw when he came up meant that the war was over. For a while after that, his unit was assigned to guard a Polish slave labor camp.(This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
He was glad to be home, but Bill Newman was distressed that, after the campaign in Europe, he was slated to be part of the Japan invasion force that was gearing up. Thankfully, that operation never happened and he was able to finish his degree and raise a family. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Roy Walker had a pretty good set up on one trip. The Merchant Marine steward had cornered the market on decks of cards and Coca-Colas, plus he got tips out of the kitty because he ran the officers mess. He also had an identical twin brother on the crew, which could lead to some confusion.
On a visit to Miami, Clyde Milam saw Navy personnel training and immediately sought out a recruiter. He was very young, but he was ready. It was 1943 and he was eager to contribute. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
He wanted to choose his service instead of getting drafted, so Curtis James went for the Marine Corps in 1943. As part of the V-12 program, he attended college for a year, then had his training and got his commission. Assigned to the occupation forces in Japan, the friendliness of the Japanese was a big surprise to him.