Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans

COMBAT STORIES FROM World War II

Bill Pontow | LSM-96 - Navy

4:45   |   Bill Pontow was ready to go home after the Japanese surrendered, but there was one more job for him, ferrying Marines to occupy northern China. It wasn't as good as going home, but it was better than invading Japan.

More From Bill Pontow

Keywords   :     Bill Pontow    occupation    Japan    China    Communist    Mao Zedong    Chiang Kai-shek    Japanese    torture    Philippines

Videos ( 7 )
WWII
  • Bill Pontow  |  WWII  |  LSM-96  |  4:42

    Bill Pontow tried for the Marines but they declined to take him, so he joined the Navy. After his training, he was assigned to a Landing Ship, Medium, LSM for short. Then it was off to the Pacific.

  • Bill Pontow  |  WWII  |  LSM-96  |  3:56

    When Bill Pontow's ship arrived at Pearl Harbor, there was still wreckage everywhere. Crews were working to clear passage through the capsized ships. After that sobering experience, he headed for the Philippines for the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the landing on Leyte.

  • Bill Pontow  |  WWII  |  LSM-96  |  4:12

    Bill Pontow was a boatswain's mate on an LSM, responsible for all topside duties. At general quarters, he became a gunner on a 20 mm gun. A frequent target of that gun was the Japanese kamikazes that swarmed the American ships, beginning in the Philippines and increasing at Okinawa.

  • Bill Pontow  |  WWII  |  LSM-96  |  4:11

    The landing area was choked with coral and Bill Pontow had to wait for a long, frightening time while it was cleared. The kamikazes had not started yet, but it wasn't long before they crowded the skies around Okinawa.

  • Bill Pontow  |  WWII  |  LSM-96  |  7:29

    In the waters around Okinawa, ships were getting battered by kamikazes. His LSM had landed it's cargo, so Bill Pontow was assigned fire and rescue duty. He recalls an eerie incident aboard a stricken hospital ship as he searched below, unsuccessfully, for survivors.

  • Bill Pontow  |  WWII  |  LSM-96  |  4:00

    The preparation for the Japan invasion was underway when the atomic bomb made it unnecessary. The crew on Bill Pontow's LSM was unsure about the news, but they were glad not to be invading the enemy's home. They knew that every Japanese would be fighting them with everything they had.

  • Bill Pontow  |  WWII  |  LSM-96  |  5:54

    Bill Pontow knew how men could get spooked fighting in the Pacific, especially from kamikazes. He made it through the war without losing his cool, but he had a tough time adjusting when he returned home. Eventually, reunions with his Navy brothers proved to be a big help.

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