5:05 | The units on the Italian front were all connected with long telephone lines quickly strung out on the ground. Tom Hanlon had the job of finding breaks in the line and repairing them. Sounds easy, but on his second outing, he wound up covered with something unbelievable thanks to a German mortar round. (This interview made possible with the support of MS. KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
Keywords : Tom Hanlon telephone wireman switchboard mule German mortar carbine Bibbiano
He felt guilty because others his age were fighting, so, in 1943, Tom Hanlon left college and notified his draft board that they could have him. After basic training, he sailed in a convoy for Italy. (This interview made possible with the support of MS. KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
At the Royal Palace in Caserta, GI Tom Hanlon was busy being an electrician, making the huge building into a place the US Army could use. It was good duty, so, naturally, he was sent away as a replacement on the front. (This interview made possible with the support of MS. KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
Tanks were heard rumbling nearby, so a platoon of men was sent to find out if they were German or if they were from the nearby British unit. Tom Hanlon recalls the tense moment when they were challenged from the bushes for the password. While on the move, the rain was a constant, miserable companion. (This interview made possible with the support of MS. KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
While offline on the Italian front, Tom Hanlon very much enjoyed the resort area where his unit had moved. He was issued winter gear and moved back on line where he found himself with a new job, telephone wireman. (This interview made possible with the support of MS. KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
Tom Hanlon was a telephone wireman with an infantry battalion moving through the snow in Italy. He recalls the time a planned assault had to be cancelled because of the heavy snowfall. His unit pulled back and trained for more action. (This interview made possible with the support of MS. KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
Tom Hanlon recalls when his unit received brightly colored markers to lay out on the road when they were traveling, to keep friendly planes from mistaking them for Germans. Just because he was a telephone wireman, it did not mean he was not in danger and he has the decoration to prove it. (This interview made possible with the support of MS. KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
The Germans were retreating, but Tom Hanlon still had to worry about snipers. The telephone wireman suddenly had nothing to do when communications procedure was changed due to the ongoing rout of the enemy. (This interview made possible with the support of MS. KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
Ton Hanlon's unit was on the move when a group of Italian children waved them over. Would you please come liberate our town? (This interview made possible with the support of MS. KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
Tom Hanlon's unit moved across northern Italy, from mountain to mountain, until they were ordered to stop where they were. The war in Italy was over. He came down from his lofty final advance to run a telephone exchange in Pisa until it was time to go home. (This interview made possible with the support of MS. KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
Tom Hanlon was riding down the road in a jeep pulling a trailer full of empty water containers. What could go wrong? (This interview made possible with the support of MS. KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
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.