5:34 | 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.)
Keywords : Tom Hanlon telephone wireman Adige River tracers German Bronze Star
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
Upon joining the Army Air Corps, it was Grace's job as the plane's nurse to care for any injured passengers on board until they reached their destination. She talks about what it was like to care for her patients and the process of doing so. When the war ended in Europe, her job was far from over as she was transferred to duty in the Pacific.
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.)
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.)
Grace remembers the pain of the soldiers involved in the Battle of Corregidor who were taken prisoner. When it was her time to return home from the Pacific, she and her team did so by going to Chicago. From there, she went back to university to finish her studies, until the war in Korea began to start up. Then it was right back to caring for wounded soldiers.
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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. (Interview conducted in partnership with the Eisenhower Foundation as part of their Ike's Soldiers program. https://eisenhowerfoundation.net & http://ikessoldiers.com)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Grace Chicken was born in Hutchins, Kansas and moved to Missouri during the Great Depression. Ironically, her family was known for owning a large chicken farm to go along with their last name. As she grew up, she attended junior college for nursing and eventually joined the Red Cross, with her ultimate goal to become a nurse for the Army and she did eventually join the Air Corps. Her first assignment as a nurse was in Newfoundland.
The German forces were scattered as the Americans made their way into Germany, and Charles Mahaffey recalls how they would combat them as they approached the towns along the way. (This interview made possible with the support of JOSEPH MANN.)