6:19 | When he tried to enlist, he was told one of his legs was too short, but when Don Lacy was drafted, he convinced the same doctor to let him into the Navy. Showing an aptitude for electronics, he was sent to Chicago to be an instructor in a new radio school.
Keywords : Don Lacy Ellsworth KS Kansas State University Farragut Naval Training Station Coeur d'Alene ID electronics test radio school Bugsy Siegel Frank Hogan
Don Lacy was a radio school instructor when the Navy came looking for technicians to participate in an atomic bomb test. He'd not yet been to sea, so he jumped at the chance. He studied the effects on radio equipment during Operation Crossroads, the detonations at Bikini Atoll.
While participating in the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll, Don Lacy had to change to new clothes frequently because they became so radioactive. The second test was underwater, which contaminated the sea for miles around. His job was to inspect radio equipment on the target ships, so he was fortunate to have no lasting effects on his health.
Don Lacy was managing a radio shop in Atlanta when he got the notice. The Navy wanted him back on active duty. He was sent to Tripoli to work at a communications facility and it turned out to be good duty.
Fred Scheer was a go-getter in high school, running his own dairy operation. He volunteered for the Army in 1943 and, after infantry training, made the Atlantic crossing. The forces were amassing for the upcoming invasion.
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.
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.)
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.
The prisoners were loaded into boxcars and sent from Reims into Germany. Fred Scheer recalls the two transit camps through which he passed, each divided with a Russian side to the camp. The Russians were treated very badly and Scheer knew that if they discovered he was Jewish, an even worse fate awaited him.
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.
Fred Scheer had a big problem. He was captured by the Germans as soon as he arrived at the front and he was Jewish. He was determined to conceal this as he was moved deeper behind their lines. Both he and his captors were very young, and some of them were almost friendly. At Reims, he was put on a train headed to Germany.
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.
When he tried to enlist, he was told one of his legs was too short, but when Don Lacy was drafted, he convinced the same doctor to let him into the Navy. Showing an aptitude for electronics, he was sent to Chicago to be an instructor in a new radio school.
Fred Lott was first gunner in a machine gun squad, training in England at the end of 1944. Half his battalion was sent to help at the Battle of the Bulge. He was left behind and began trying to get used to the new replacements. Finally, the day came for him and he went down the cargo net like so many before.
The four Allied POW's had attempted to escape, but were captured by Germans. Back at the prison camp infirmary, Fred Scheer and two others were determined to try again. They made it further the second time, but again they were captured. This time, the impending end of the war led to such slack security that it was possible for them to slip away and continue towards the west. Part 2 of 3.
At night the GI's would stay in German houses. Fred Lott recalls the time they threw a lot of the resident's belongings into the yard and a woman began weeping. From then on, they treated the displaced German civilians with respect, which was returned. At one house, a howitzer battery was placed a little too close for comfort.
The guards at the POW camp were mostly old men, too old for the front. Fred Scheer details the daily life and struggles at the small camp where he was interred. Food was a big concern. Red Cross parcels were a Godsend, but you could also utilize some outside sources, if you were willing to take the risk.
It was on a Sunday morning that Fred Scheer heard the sound of American planes overhead. They smashed the rail yard where the Allied POW's had been working and set off a chain of events that would allow Scheer to attempt an escape. Part 1 of 3.
The fighting had moved inland to Saint-Lo when Fred Scheer went down the cargo net to a landing craft. While waiting to go to the front, some of the men amused themselves by looking for French brandy. Finally, the day came and the unit was put on the line.
The escaping POW's were walking westward toward the Allied lines when they began to notice white flags on the houses. It was over. Picked up by advancing GI's, Fred Scheer made his way to Reims and then Camp Lucky Strike. Soon, he was on a ship home. Part 3 of 3.
Fred Scheer, who was a POW in Germany, collected and published the stories of other POW's and this is one from Lester Schrenk, who was held in a Luftwaffe camp. One day, the men were given two Red Cross parcels each. This was unheard of, but there was a catch.
His unit had just got to the front when Fred Scheer's squad was sent back on ammo detail. When they returned, everyone was gone, and as they searched through the hedgerows, they began to take German mortar fire. Then they heard, "Hands up, my boys!"
Fred Scheer describes the men in his work gang, who walked every day from the prison camp to the rail yard where they repaired the tracks. Most distinctive were the three paratroopers, who were kind of aloof. The POW's were paid for their work, though there was little they could buy.