2:45 | John Neel grew up in Louisiana before going to boot camp in Texas and getting accepted into the Army Specialized Training Program at Brooklyn Tech. However, his time there was cut short for infantry training in Louisiana and Kentucky. When he went overseas, his original post was diverted to Belgium after the Germans broke through. (This interview made possible with the support of DARLENE SANDS.)
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Neel was assigned to Company A as a machine gun squad leader. On the way to Belgium, he and his company witnessed a buzz bomb that exploded way off into the distance, which gave him a small idea of what he was in for. It's very easy for him to remember just how unbearably cold it was in Belgium, especially when you're forced to sleep in a snowy foxhole with nothing but a sleeping bag to keep you warm. (This interview made possible with the support of DARLENE SANDS.)
As he was moving through Belgium, Neel came across his first sight of dead GIs on the battlefield. There would be times afterward he would see more, but he'll never forget what he felt the first time. His company was moving along the Salm River, still staying in foxholes every night. Eventually, they came under machine gun fire and lost a man named Buzz Buzzell. In the Ardennes, two Germans unexpectedly came up to them and surrendered. In addition, Neel talks about two stories where he lost his glasses and a package he received from home. (This interview made possible with the support of DARLENE SANDS.)
After his time in the Ardennes, Neel's division moved into La Ville-du-Bois. He has a humorous story about a bunch of chickens running loose on the streets and the mortar squad chasing them down for food. When Christmas came, Neel was surprised the dinner spread was as good as it was. Later on, Neel spotted German soldiers in the distance. His sergeant said not to give away their position, but he went against orders and tried to shoot them down. German mortar fire rained down and he and another fellow soldier named Dick Jones were hit in the leg. (This interview made possible with the support of DARLENE SANDS.)
After being wounded in combat, both John Neel and Dick Jones were sent from the aid station tent to a hospital. Neel went back across the channel afterwards to hear that the war was already over in Europe. His biggest fear was being sent to the Pacific after, but fortunately he never was, and was promoted to Corporal. (This interview made possible with the support of DARLENE SANDS.)
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Newly minted Marine Ralph Dunlap was sent from Camp Lejeune to Hawaii, where he volunteered for the Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion, a highly specialized force that approached beachheads ahead of landings to assess the obstacles and dangers. This required some Olympic class swimming. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)