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A Soldier Strips the Romance Out of Life at War

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by JCFalkenbergIII, May 31, 2008.

  1. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    "The death and destruction was unbelievable. Dead bodies were stacked, like logs, awaiting recovery. Whole sections of forests were sheared off 50 to 60 feet above ground by incoming artillery tree bursts. D Company, full strength being 193 men, was reduced to 8 men, a sergeant and 7 privates. I was one of 110 replacements. Three months later there would be 10 of us left. I was hit once by shrapnel, a half inch cube of steel, was embedded in my wallet, having passed through my Virgin Mary Prayer card."


    Huertgen Forest and Beyond - American Profile
     
  2. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    His was 'the worst job in the Army'
    Anthony Cherry fought his way across Europe with the 94th Infantry Division
    By Paulette Perhach | paulette.perhach@staugustine.com | Posted: Monday, November 12, 2007
    "That's the funny thing about a man dying," said Anthony Cherry. "You always remember their last breath.
    "They go, huuuuuugh," he said, sucking in air and flaring his eyes open. Then he shoves the last breath out of his lungs with a huff, dropping his head to the side.
    So Hollywood was right.
    But it wasn't a movie set Cherry crawled across in the frozen winter of 1944. The deaths he saw, hundreds or maybe thousands of them, plenty at his own hand, were real.
    He went to war when the draft nabbed him at 22.
    "Anybody that volunteered was nuts," said Cherry, now 89.
    Starting three years, one month and seven days of service, he joined the 94th Infantry Division, which, as part of Gen. George Patton's 3rd Army, became known as "Patton's Golden Acorn."
    There was no easing into war for the 94th. The division went to the Lorient and St. Nazaire sectors in September 1944, to contain some 60,000 Germans in those submarine ports, according to the National Archives and Records Administration. They were replacing the U.S. 6th Armored Division, which had suffered heavy losses.
    Cherry worked as a machine gun section sergeant, or "the worst job in the Army," as he put it.
    "You have to set up your positions," he said. "And there are 30 men depending on you getting the right placement. Even one man is a big responsibility."
    Cherry was part of the heavy artillery Company M in the 376th infantry.
    "You don't hear much about them," he said. "But that was probably the best division in Europe."
    "To me, you had heroes that were unsung out there," said Cherry.
    He credits displaced persons, working in camp ammunition factories, for saving lives by damaging German ammunition.
    "I had an 88(mm shell) hit within five feet of me, but it didn't explode," he said. "They sabotaged the shells. That's a real hero."He thinks there has been too much emphasis on Patton, nicknamed "Old Blood and Guts."
    "You hear 'Patton, Patton, Patton.' You never hear '94th, 94th, 94th,'" he said. "His guts and my blood."
    Plenty of his buddies' blood splashed the snow of the Ardennes Offensive, otherwise known as the Battle of the Bulge.
    They were supposed to get parkas to battle in the 20-below-zero weather, but they got frostbite instead while fighting the deadliest battle in WWII.
    At one point they were cut off in a farm area for three days when rations ran out. Hunkered down with hungry soldiers, Cherry ran up to the farm attics, and found hams and sausages smoking in the attic. He beat the ham to break it apart and fed the troops.
    The trail of the 94th went to Saar-Moselle Triangle in 1945. That January they captured Tettington and Butzdorf, then Nennig, Wies and Berg.
    They crossed the Saar River under a smokescreen in little boats that had machine gun holes in them.
    "Then it was battle, push, battle, push until the triangle was taken," he said.
    On the way to Ludwigshaven, "We must have destroyed 100 pillboxes," said Cherry.
    It was at the Saar-Mosel triangle that Cherry ran into Germans from an army desperate for men. From 500 yards, a soldier can't tell if he's aiming at a man or a child. Sometimes it wasn't be until he was standing over the body that Cherry realized he'd taken aim at a boy of 13 or 14.
    Sometimes the enemy was too close, like when he jumped face-to-face with a German at Ludwigshaven.
    "I looked at him, bounced back and fired three shots," he said.
    He searched the soldier and took a souvenir Luger.
    He pulled his trigger many times during his service.
    "I heard this command often: 'I want you to take this prisoner and be back in five seconds,'" he said.
    Trekking across Europe, the 94th used shells to announce their approach to towns along the way. Troops arrived at ghoulish scenes.
    "A lot of times you'd walk into homes with tables full of food and people sitting around them, all dead," said Cherry. "So we'd push them out of their chairs and eat their dinner."
    Cherry became a war businessman, trading cartons of cigarettes for kilos of cabbage and potatoes. He got himself a Calthorpe 250cc motorcycle.
    "That was liberated," he said.
    And, as in most war stories, there were good times.
    "I had volunteered for kitchen duty when a shipment of Scotch came in," said Cherry. "We sure had a good time the next two or three days. As bad as it was, there sure was some fun."
    Cherry's major injury happened during an attempt to capture Nenning, Germany, when a house door swung out, broke Cherry's nose and loosened his teeth. His hearing suffered the heaviest losses, and post-traumatic stress disorder followed him off the battlefield. Surviving these, he would be awarded a Victory Medal, Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, Combat Infantry Medal and a European Ribbon with four battle stars.
    Though he suffered no physical injuries from the enemy, he was surrounded by war.
    "They were all close calls. There was no such thing as a close call," he said.
    He saw one soldier in a huge tank open the door just six inches. Then blood squirted out, and the weight of his body thrust the door open as it fell out of the tank to the ground.
    There were tears, too. Cherry once walked into the barracks once to find a soldier crying on his rack. He said, "I sure miss my mama." Cherry put an arm around him.
    Cherry's brother, Sam, was a medic in the same war. Both made it back to see their mother.
    As she said to Cherry's wife, Bonita, later, "My boys were never the same. They were never the same."

    Anthony Cherry fought his way across Europe with the 94th Infantry Division
     
  3. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Crew members that were able to bail out in time, often found the parachute descent just as fatal. Some, though, were lucky enough to be rescued.
    "When we bombed a lot of those cities that were seaports, like Tokyo and Yokohama, and different places, the United States Navy had submarines right in the harbor," said James. "When we were briefed before the missions, they would say there's a submarine here, there's a submarine there. I was amazed at the fact that the Navy could put submarines right there and they saved a lot of our men who bailed out."
    But, "The big problem though, if you were lucky enough to bail out, the Japanese would shoot you as you were floating down and then they'd shoot you in the water if you landed in the water. It was a typical war."

    wjz.com - 'Naughty Nose Art' From WWII At Easton Airport
     
  4. JCFalkenbergIII

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    "He later learned four other soldiers from his hometown of Huntingburg were at Iwo Jima. All were killed.
    Broeker also fought in the battles for Guam, Guadalcanal and the Marshall Islands. At Guam, he recalled "snipers in the top of coconut trees picking off a lot of our guys." This was after a beach landing where the "first hour was really rough, there was a lot of fire coming at us."
    Guam was also where Broeker contracted dinghy fever, losing about 30 pounds he didn't regain for two years.
    "I remember waking up with rats on me, running over my face," he said. "And they were big fellas, too."
    Like other soldiers in the Pacific theater, he was slated to be part of the planned invasion of Japan. But when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending the war, he recalled that "we shot our ammunition up in the air."

    World War II veteran recalls Iwo Jima : Local News : Evansville Courier Press
     
  5. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    I find it funny how some Videogames and movies call themselves "Realistic". Yet they cannot portray nor convey how war really is. These memories and experiences are what is realistic.
     
  6. skywalker

    skywalker Member

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    Sure war is hell, but what about the soldiers who return an continue with their lives normally or stay in the army to become colonels, field marshalls, generals etc. These soldiers where usually normal people before they entered the army so its plausable that some of these soldiers already suffered from depression, Bi-Polar, anxiety etc etc. Its something Ive wondered about. How many soldiers with severe PTSD already had mild depression or some other kind of mental disorder.

    That guy down the street who fought in vietnam, whos quiet, never talks about his war and sometimes looks depressed could very well have had those symtons, perhaps in a milder form before he went to war.

    EDIT: I just read the article on PTSD on page 9. That article stated that soldiers lost their battle edge after 180 days of fighting, is there actually anything substantial to back that up. Not saying its wrong, just wondering how they came to that conclusion.
     
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  7. skywalker

    skywalker Member

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    Do we really want them to be too "realistic". I believe in years to come videogame producers are going to have to have a serious think about how realistic their games should achieve. In 15 years time when your playing Call Of Duty: Operation Olympic the enemy will look "real"
     
  8. JCFalkenbergIII

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    And yet you miss the point of the thread. Yes war is hell. But this thread is to point out to some here that war is not "Cool","Awesome","Fun","Glorious",ect that they think it is. They pick these views up from videogames,movies and TV.These stories and memories are what it really was for quite a few who served. Yes some came home fine. But quite a few were effected both mentally and physically.Sometimes both. That would effect them for years or until they died. These are more personal,more intimate. The exact opposite of the what Hollywood and games portray. These events happened to people of all walks and ways of life. Whether they had "Mental" problems or not before the war. The war changed what they had thought war was actually like. This thread is a counterpoint to the "Knight in his amoured steed fighting off the evil hordes" propaganda BS.
     
  9. JCFalkenbergIII

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    WWII vet was POW at Dachau



    By Ron Simon • Telegraph-Forum staff • January 26, 2009

    ASHLAND -- The array of medals Porter Stevens earned during World War II include Bronze and Silver Stars, a Purple Heart and the Combat Infantry Badge.
    There is no medal to commemorate his 11-month survival as a German prisoner of war. Nothing to signify that last month of the war he spent in Dachau, a concentration camp near Munich.
    "It was awful. I saw them (German guards) take people in a room and shut the doors," the Ashland man said. "When they opened the doors everybody inside the room was dead. The walls were red from the blood."
    Stevens, now 83, was one of eight American POWs who wound up in Dachau.
    "I remember the back door. There was a rail line that came into the camp through that back door," Stevens said. "I saw them unload bodies from the cars and bury them in a ditch alongside the tracks."
    "Most of the inmates were Jews or Polish. We stuck by one Polish boy who could speak English. He kept asking us when the Americans would liberate the camp."
    When the Americans did come, Stevens weighed just 98 pounds and could barely keep any food down.
    He remembers the anger American soldiers felt when they saw what had happened at Dachau.
    "They rounded up guards and lined them up," Stevens said. "I think they were going to load them on trucks, but somebody gave the order to fire."
    Which is the point at which Stevens stops talking about Dachau, except to wish now and then he could contact some of the veterans who helped liberate that death camp.
    Stevens said he was interviewed by Army lawyers and filled out lots of paperwork concerning Dachau, but that nothing ever came of it.
    "A lot of people denied there was ever anything like Dachau. Some of my neighbors in California were like that after the war," Stevens said. "They just didn't want to believe anything that awful could ever happen."
    A native of Findlay, Stevens lived for a short time in California with his sister before the war. He never finished high school and admits he lied about his age to get into the service in 1943.
    "I was thinking about that nice uniform and about going overseas and seeing a new part of the world. I never thought about getting shot at.
    "I got sworn in and within 10 minutes I was on a bus headed for Camp Atterbury, Indiana."
    Trained as an infantry rifleman, Stevens volunteered for airborne but broke two fingers on his first parachute jump.
    So it was back to infantry, where he carried a heavy Browning automatic rifle.
    Not long after D-Day, PFC Stevens, a member of 7th Infantry Battalion of the Third Infantry Division, landed in France. He stepped off the edge of his landing craft into deep water and nearly drowned because of the weight of all the ammunition he was carrying.
    From that point on he said it was a long fight.
    "The hedgerows were the worst," Stevens said. "There was always somebody in there firing at you, and all you could do was strafe the hedge as much as you could."
    While he never met his commanding general, George S. Patton, Stevens remembers seeing the general several times.
    "He was stocky with broad shoulders. That pistol he carried on his hip made him look like an old cowboy," Stevens said. "He didn't give orders. He made demands. He was a rough old boy."
    Stevens earned his Purple Heart when he took shrapnel in his left arm and hand in Belgium.
    In the same way, he earned two battle stars, one Bronze and one Silver.
    Then, one day, he and his buddies ran into a German ambush.
    "I was firing back with my BAR and had used up seven or eight magazines of ammunition when I felt something poking my back. It was a German soldier with his rifle pointed right at me," Stevens said.
    With his boots taken away, Stevens was marched barefoot into captivity.
    "We traveled by train and were strafed three times by our own planes," he said.
    At Hammelburg he was put into Stalag 13, where conditions were "Bad! Real Bad!"
    "The commanding officer there was a mean son of a gun. He had a dog and we used to dream about killing that mutt and eating it," Stevens said. "All we had was soup that I think was just hot water and bugs."
    One day the dog disappeared and the commander offered to kill several POWs on the spot if the dog were not found and returned to him unharmed.
    "They found the dog in a slit trench (latrine) and the commandant had the dog cleaned up with our soup and then made us eat the soup," Stevens said.
    After two months, Stevens was sent to another camp, where he tried to escape.
    "I got as far as a river and found a boat but they found me," he said. "They worked me over good for a couple weeks. They would put a kettle over my head and beat on it until I passed out.''
    But the worst was yet to come when Stevens wound up in Dachau.
    "I remember one of our stops was at a big stadium where somebody who looked like Hitler addressed us. At least he looked like Hitler to me," he said. "When we were finally liberated it was just hard to believe. The first thing they wanted as to do was take a bath and then to eat.
    "But all food was too rich for us and we got sick."
    Stevens underwent a long recuperation at Camp Lucky Strike in France and then at various camps in the United States. He didn't get out of the army until mid-1947 with a medical discharge.
    As a civilian, he came to Ashland, where he married his wife, Ruby, who was from Loudonville. They've been together more than 60 years.
    They had two sons, Michael, who lives in Seville, and Mark who is deceased. There are two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
    The Stevens also lived in Southern California, where he worked as a maintenance electrician for Litton Industries for 30 years.
    "Ruby never liked California. When I retired she decided it was time we came home," Stevens said.

    WWII vet was POW at Dachau | bucyrustelegraphforum.com | Bucyrus Telegraph Forum
     
  10. JCFalkenbergIII

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    Professor's book dispels myths of World War II

    War is hell. Most Americans understand that as a concept, if not a reality.

    There are a small number of Americans that understand the concept well beyond the glamorized version depicted in books, films, and newspapers. Robert Humphrey, a communication studies professor at Sacramento State, interviewed 350 of these Americans to better understand what it means to serve in the infantry during a foreign war.

    Humphrey spent 10 years chronicling survivors who served in the United States Army's 99th Infantry Division on the western front during World War II. He tells their unsterilized account in the recently released Once Upon a Time in War: The 99th Division in World War II. The division served on the front lines in Western Europe during the Battle of the Bulge, the Crossing of the Rhine and the invasion of Germany.

    "I wrote this for the general public," Humphrey said. "I'm not a military historian. Military history is too often 'we took this hill,' 'so and so was killed', 'we moved up here' and 'the Germans counterattacked', it's just impenetrable. I didn't want to write that kind of book and I'm not capable of writing that kind of book. But I am capable of writing human interest."

    David Perlman is a former soldier of the 99th Division, now living in Maryland.

    "I will buy each of my grandchildren a copy of Humphrey's book," Perlman said. "I hope that they will make it part of their family history and pass it on to their children and grandchildren."

    What started out as a few interviews and articles for The Checkerboard, a journal for the 99th Infantry Division Association, turned into a book published by University of Oklahoma Press.

    "Originally, when I started it, I said to my wife, 'I don't think there is enough here for a book,'" Humphrey said. "She told me to just keep writing and see what happens."

    William Galegar is another former soldier of the 99th Division who now lives in Oklahoma City. He was injured while trying to cross the Rhine River at the Ludendorff Bridge.

    "I really appreciate the tremendous amount of time and effort (Humphrey) put into the book," Galegar said. "The public is never told what it costs to win a war, but this book does a great service in getting the message out to the public."

    After decades of relative silence about their experience, the GIs were willing to talk about the hardships during their few months of service during the winter and spring in Europe in 1944 and 1945.

    "I think had I gotten them (soldiers) right after the war, which would have been interesting in a different way, they wouldn't have talked like they did," Humphrey said. "A lot of them told me I was the first person to ask them questions. I had people break down while talking to me."

    Jim Larkey, 84, who now lives in Florida, said most of his memories of service have, over time, become rather pleasant.

    "Humphrey's book got me thinking and reminiscing about the service on the front line," Larkey said. "Many of us tend to idealize our time in the military over years, and it takes really remembering all the hardship to get over the idealization of the war."

    The 99th Infantry Division didn't have any special claim to fame in the liberation of Europe. It arrived after Operation Overlord (D-Day) and the liberation of France. Soldiers in the division assumed they were in Europe to mop up after earlier divisions. They settled into their foxholes in December of 1944 to wait out the winter, assuming Germany's surrender was imminent.

    "We were told the war would end by Christmas," Galegar said. "We were stuck in foxholes and put where there was almost no activity, with our job being to hold the position until spring."

    It took Adolf Hitler to give the 99ers a place in the war. Hitler's plan never included surrender, and in what is often written as a desperation strategy, he moved 30 divisions to the Ardennes mountains in Belgium. Against the advice of his generals, his plan was to drive through the green 99th Division and divide the American and British forces, taking Antwerp, Belgium, and its critical ports.

    There are countless books that describe the military strategy known as the Battle of the Bulge in the United States, the Ardennes Offensive in Europe. Humphrey does not try to repeat or put a different spin on what has already been written. He aims to take a fresh look at the war from the view of the grunts, the GIs on the front lines.

    "There were times when we kept going simply because the guys around us kept going and we would have been ashamed to do less," Perlman said. "Our grandchildren should know that real war is not parades and medals."

    Frank Hoffman lives in Richmond, Va. and turned 92 earlier this month. He said Humphrey did an excellent job describing the "trials and tribulations" of the 99ers over those few months.

    Humphrey doesn't get into much of the strategy or plans for either side. Small mentions of Hitler, General Dwight Eisenhower, General George Patton, President Franklin Roosevelt or Prime Minister Winston Churchill are told only in relation to how they affect the lives of the 99ers.

    General Walter E. Lauer is viewed as someone whose hope for glory often ran counter to the interests of the GIs.

    "The fighting man in the front line is always a cog in the machine," Larkey said. "It has been true every war and remains true today. The infantry is considered dispensable by the strategists."

    After arriving from training in Texas, the 99th Division took its position in the Ardennes, along the German and Belgium border. The division did so with the assumption the war was going to end by Christmas.

    Even before the German attack, U.S. forces faced hardships from the weather, small skirmishes and lack of winter equipment. Once the German surprise attack happened, U.S. troops would face the hardship of a concentrated attack right over their location: the Bulge.

    Fred Kampmier, 84, is a former 99er who was a valuable resource for Humphrey in the book. While stationed in Czechoslovakia immediately following the war, he wrote numerous letters to his parents, letters that he shared with Humphrey.

    "(Humphrey) has written an unbelievable book," he said. "He is such a creative writer, it makes me jealous to read what he wrote and see what he did with the material I gave him."

    Oakley Honey, 85, was one of the few 99ers that made it through the entire history of the 99th Division, from training in Louisiana and Texas to return stateside in September of 1945.

    "I was leery of Humphrey at first," Honey said. "I thought it would take someone who was there to write a book like this. Someone relying on interviews would have a tendency to overlook things those of us on the front line thought were important. I was pleasantly surprised by the work he did and his excellent writing."

    Humphrey said a possible criticism of the book could be the personal level it reaches.

    "I wanted to know what it was like, what they did, and how they reacted to it. That could be a criticism of the book, but I realized from the beginning I would be limited to the number of words, and wanted to be sure to include their story," Humphrey said.

    Kathleen Benson, sales manager for University of Oklahoma Press, said the response to the book has been very positive. The first printing of 3,000 copies is almost gone and a second printing will be coming out at the end of February.

    "We are getting many multiple orders for the book which leads us to believe it is going out to lots of family and friends," she said. "It is also doing well with wholesale outfits."

    Many of the veterans said they have purchased multiple copies for their children and grandchildren. Perlman said his granddaughter is still too young to appreciate the story, but he gave her a copy with the hope that she gets older, she will better understand what her grandfather did in the war.

    http://media.www.statehornet.com/media/storage/paper1146/news/2009/01/28/Features/Professor.Publishes.Wwii.Book-3599987.shtml
     
  11. JCFalkenbergIII

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    Im glad to see another book out that portrays what the individual soldiers experienced and went through during the war.
     
  12. JCFalkenbergIII

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    "smelling the decaying human and horse flesh after the massacre of the Falaise Gap, with what seemed like mile after mile of dead bodies and abandoned equipment, and being surprised that the Wehrmacht still had<BR>to rely so heavily upon horsedrawn supply wagons and gun limbers; on one occasion we fired HE shells from a concealed position upon a German supply column, scoring direct hits on two ammunition wagons which disintegrated in balls of fire, then driving over to examine the result _ by an odd quirk of human nature we were more saddened by the dead and dying horses than by the mangled human corpses we found there;"


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/s...a4485440.shtml
     
  13. JCFalkenbergIII

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    Here is a quote from a former member in another thread. I think this is a prime example of what some seriously think war is all about. Makes you wonder where they get these views and ideas from.

    "if look back and think about ww11,all I see is me shooting ak47s and going up to a guy and slitting there thotes.I would want to fight in ww11 so bad because I would want to go into a tank and shoot there machine guns and there conon and shoot out the hach.I would ambush a sworm of guys with a bar.I would thow a garnade down a tanks hach and use a panzerfouse Thats all I would do in ww11."
     
  14. JCFalkenbergIII

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  15. JCFalkenbergIII

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    War's Silence

    Even the 'greatest generation' was changed forever in the fight</B>
    By Rob Loughran
    My father, Patrick Loughran, a gregarious Irishman from County Tyrone, and Chuck Morrison, my taciturn uncle from Albany, N.Y., were united by much more than the fact that they'd married sisters. They were members of Tom Brokaw's "greatest generation"—my father, a SeaBee; my uncle, a Marine. Both veterans of WW II, they had been beaten and battered by the world in precisely the same way. They'd been through the Depression and then the war and had shared in the freedoms and economic booms that followed. They knew the rules. They knew what was expected of them. They knew how to live without doubt or regret.
    Or so I thought.
    In 1987, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Following the surgery, radiation was necessary to zap any remaining possibility of cancer. Even though Redwood Radiology in Santa Rosa was near my house, my father insisted on driving up from Petaluma to chauffeur me to my appointments. As often as not, my uncle Chuck would accompany us.
    It wasn't only a kindness that they provided for me; it was something for them to do. They were both retired from busy and active careers, and there is a limit to how much weeding, watering and gardening a tract-home-sized piece of earth will endure. And so every Thursday for a few months I sat in the car, more worried about my health than the banter, listening to stories about things that mostly occurred before I was born: the virtues of the Studebaker vs. the Buick; the wild times they used to have in Monterey with my uncle Mario; how America had gone to hell in a hand basket.
    Then one day, my father asked Chuck why he never talked about the war. Chuck didn't answer. He waved away the question and stared out the window.
    My father had pictures of himself in the Aleutians and South Pacific; I'd seen pictures of other uncles in uniform. But I don't recall any pictures or memorabilia of Chuck. He had fought with the Marines in WW II and Korea; I couldn't tell you where or with what battalion, company or unit. He simply never spoke about it.
    On this day, as well, Chuck just shook his head and didn't answer the question. It was not unusual for Chuck to be quiet. He was the most quietly sociable man I'd ever known. He never missed a party (after all, they were usually at his house) or a joke. His interjections into conversations were always terse, telling, funny and conclusive.
    But I'd never before seen him so discomfited as he was by my father's question, "Why do you never talk about the war?"
    My uncle Chuck was a generous and gracious man. A success in business. A loving father. A respected, substantial and beloved cog in a large, extended family. A veteran of probably the last popularly supported and undoubtedly necessary war this country will ever wage. And yet even an interloper from another generation could see that while he had survived that war successfully, he was not unscathed. A portion of his life, years of it, had been ruined to the point that he refused to recall or speak about them.
    There are the KIA, the MIA and the wounded, but every war also produces a more restrained casualty. For every reminiscing veteran that Tom Brokaw or Ken Burns interviews, there is another survivor, another hero, another victim whose wartime experience is simply unspeakable. They can't and don't talk about it.
    There is a generation at war now who will return to have children, attend college, buy houses and live "good" American lives. We can explore the reasons for Gulf War II and the reasons against it. The costs in political clout and world credibility are important and debatable. But we cannot forget that beyond the obvious expense in dollars and lives, as with every war, there is another toll, a mute and tragic carnage.


    The tragedy of silent lives forever changed.

    News & Features in The North Bay | Open Mic | War's Silence
     
  16. JCFalkenbergIII

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    "There are the KIA, the MIA and the wounded, but every war also produces a more restrained casualty. For every reminiscing veteran that Tom Brokaw or Ken Burns interviews, there is another survivor, another hero, another victim whose wartime experience is simply unspeakable. They can't and don't talk about it."

    So very very true. My father was one of those who wouldn't speak about it until his dying day.
     
  17. JCFalkenbergIII

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    Yucaipa man experienced the atrocities of World War II

    WESLEY G. HUGHES, Staff Writer
    Posted: 02/10/2009 11:25:42 PM PST




    YUCAIPA - He was a medic by training, a medic in combat, a medic as a German POW, a medic in a Nazi slave labor camp and now "I'm back as a medic," said World War II Army veteran Anthony C. Acevedo.
    The 84-year-old Yucaipa man smiled as he made that comment Saturday about caring for his invalid wife, 88-year-old Maria.
    For a few months in the winter of 1945 in Europe, the intrepid soldier and his comrades in arms went through what can only be described as hell on Earth.
    That story will be told in a major production on CNN hosted by Christiane Amanpour. The date for the broadcast has not yet been set. In addition, Acevedo and his fellow survivors have been invited to Washington, D.C., by the Army in an apparent attempt to make amends.
    It all began in a famous moment in history called the Battle of the Bulge, in which 19,000 American troops were killed, 47,500 were wounded and 23,000 were captured or missing.
    Acevedo, a member of the 70th Infantry Division, 275th Regiment, Company B, which landed at the recently liberated port of Marseille, was on special assignment with a small detachment of 17 to 20 men on a hilltop.
    They were in foxholes and surrounded. The commanding officer, a captain, had been gravely wounded, the medic caring for him was killed, and Acevedo took over his care until their capture. The young corporal and his fellow soldiers were taken to Stalag 9B, a prisoner of war camp at Bad Orb, Germany.
    While at Bad Orb he was called out for questioning by the SS, an elite group of Nazi soldiers directly under Hitler's command.
    "They put needles under my fingernails and (the interrogator) knew everything in my life," Acevedo said. He was even accused of spying against Germany while he lived in Mexico.
    A group of 350 GIs made up of Jewish soldiers and so-called "undesirables" was shipped off to a slave labor camp at Berga, and Acevedo was among them. He believes he was included in the 350 because of the accusation of spying.
    When he was captured, Acevedo weighed 149 pounds, and when he was freed his weight had dropped to 87 pounds, a loss of 62 pounds in about two months. He was at Berga just 45 days.
    The rations were 100 grams of bread, about 3.5 ounces, a week. The bread was filled with sawdust, ground glass, sand and barley "for camouflage as black bread and we got barley soup," Acevedo said.
    "It caused diarrhea and all that," he said.
    Acevedo had preserved his medic's gear and was allowed to care for the medical needs of his fellow prisoner until and after he ran out of morphine, sulfa and bandages.
    He was fortunate that he wasn't sent into the tunnels. The tunnels were being deepened and enlarged as part of a last ditch defense effort by German forces, which in the final effort weren't used anyway. The work was devastating for the tunnelers: the dust, the backbreaking effort, the malnutrition.
    Acevedo created a ledger and began to record the deaths of his fellow soldiers. The list grew and grew. The survivors went from the original 350 to 220 then to 160 to a final count of 120 at the end of a 217-mile death march.
    The medic told what happened:
    Allied forces were closing in. The Russians, the Americans, the British. The guards at Berga didn't relish the idea of surrendering to the Russians. They took their prisoners and began to march in the opposite direction.
    The prisoners were already half-dead from the brutal treatment at Berga, and many who couldn't keep up were shot.
    On the last day of their captivity, they had stopped at a farm. The guards tried to rouse them in the morning for another day's march but this time the prisoners said, enough, and refused to go on. They expected to be shot for their stand.
    The sounds of U.S tanks and artillery could be heard in the distance. The already nervous guards, who had hoped to use their prisoners as shields, decided it was time to go. They disappeared into the countryside.
    The former prisoners made contact with U.S. forces and were transported to the port of Le Havre for return to the United States.
    Acevedo still gets angry when he thinks about a couple of incidents that happened after they were liberated. "Our own officials said we were never to say anything about our imprisonment or otherwise we would be punished by court-martial."
    To add insult to injury, Acevedo growls, "When we got back to the U.S., the Red Cross charged us for cigarettes and coffee."
    He was sent to a recuperation center in Santa Barbara. "We couldn't eat much; our stomachs would blow up," he said.
    They were back under Army control. They told us, "Don't do this and don't do that, and we went ahead and did this and did that.
    "We didn't know what PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) was" but now he knows what caused some of his behavior.
    He was discharged on Dec. 10, 1945, and made his way to Pasadena. Not long after his discharge, he visited his father, an engineer and industrial designer in Mexico. He still feels the pain of that visit. "My father asked me why I surrendered. In other words, he was saying I was a coward. I didn't see him for seven years after that."





    Yucaipa man experienced the atrocities of World War II - Redlands Daily Facts
     
  18. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    More from Anthony C. Acevedo

    "The story of the Berga soldiers is now well-documented. In 2003, PBS aired a documentary that featured Acevedo.
    Even now, 64 years after his release, recounting his nearly four months as a prisoner brings occasional tears to Acevedo's eyes.
    Besides his diary, he has files of old photographs relating to his war experience. Among the service memorabilia laid out on a coffee table in his living room is an American Foreign Legion cap and a Red Cross armband -- the same armband he wore as a medic. It is signed by many of his fellow soldiers. None of the men who signed the armband is alive.
    Acevedo's voice is calm and steady as he talks of being beaten and tortured. He recalls the Jews he saw systematically shot in the head. And there were his fellow soldiers, some of whom died in his arms.
    Acevedo also drew sketches in his diary. One shows Nazi soldiers striking the working prisoners with batons and bayonets. He says he remembers one prisoner too weakened by malnutrition to stay on his feet. A guard threw a bucket of ice water on him. The sudden shock killed him.
    Acevedo's captivity began on Jan. 3, when he and his company surrendered to the Germans. They had been fighting for six days on a mountaintop near Philippsburg, France.
    "We fought until the last bullet," he says. "Our captain was very badly wounded."
    They were taken to a prisoner-of-war camp at Bad Orb, a German peacetime resort. "

    WWII veteran from Yucaipa who survived German camp awaits final honors | Inland News | PE.com | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern California
     
  19. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    A Firsthand Account from a World War II Veteran

    By: MediaVillage (View Profile)
    At the start of the seventh and final installment of Ken Burns’ landmark documentary The War, Seaman First Class Maurice Bell, of Mobile, Alabama, describes in deep detail what it was like to be on the U.S.S. Indianapolis when it was struck by a Kamikaze, March 31, 1945, in the Pacific theater. Nine sailors died on the Indianapolis that day and twenty-nine others were wounded. The Indianapolis was sent to Mare Island off San Francisco for repairs.
    Bell’s story, and the breathtaking footage of the Kamikaze strike that accompanies it, is just one of dozens of extraordinary events chronicled in Burns’ seven-part film. For many viewers, it will be the first time they hear a first-person account of the horror of a Kamikaze attack, but it was chillingly familiar to me. My next-door neighbor of the last ten years, Bill Wright, is another World War II veteran who survived a devastating suicide attack. He was serving his country on board the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Belleau Wood CVL-24 at the time.
    Bill’s war story is one of thousands that are not included in Burns’ masterpiece. Of course, every person who served in World War II (and every person who waited for a beloved family member or friend at home) has many stories to tell about his or her experiences during that turbulent time. Many of those stories have already been lost, but as Burns’ film makes clear, it is critically important that as many as possible be documented and remembered by generations to come. (Certainly this is true of all war stories, including those of military personnel currently serving in Iraq.) We cannot do enough to preserve and honor as many of those stories as possible.
    The War is largely structured around the personal stories of four WWII veterans (including Maurice Bell) and that’s what makes it stand out from the hundreds of documentaries about the same subject matter that have come before. Most stories about the Second World War are told from a broad point of view—detailed stories about individual valor are almost never heard. That’s due in part to the fact that so few veterans of the war ever speak about the things they saw or did while fighting for freedom. As the harrowing details of so many of the stories told in The War makes clear, wartime violence is more than anyone should ever have to endure or carry in their memory. For these and other reasons, most veterans of World War II chose never to speak about their experiences once they returned home.
    Bill Wright, who is now eighty-two years old, has spoken very freely about his experience on the Belleau Wood during the decade I have known him, but he recently told me that he only started opening up about it when he was in his sixties. He didn’t talk about the attack on his ship for more than forty years. When I asked him why, his response was a simple, “I just didn’t.”
    On October 13, 1944, Bill, a Seaman First Class and Aviation Metal Smith Striker, was on board the Belleau Wood when a Japanese fighter plane slammed into the deck of the U.S.S. Franklin, which was sailing alongside the Belleau Wood en route to Okinawa. The crew of the Belleau Wood swiftly launched six fighters of its own when another Japanese plane appeared. Seconds later it slammed into the after end of the Belleau Wood. There were 245 casualties by the time the inferno was extinguished, many of them severely burned. Ninety-seven men died.
    Bill and one of his fellow seamen were at their stations in a small room below deck that housed controls for the ship’s sprinkler system, which happened to be very near the point of impact. Their petty officer had been killed when the plane hit. As the room began filling with smoke, the door opened and two officers appeared with a wounded seventeen-year-old seaman. Amid the chaos and the carnage, Bill was ordered to tend to the injured young man. He was eighteen-years-old at the time and had no medical training.
    At first, Bill couldn’t tell where the younger man had been injured. Upon closer inspection, he realized that the “kid” (as Bill now refers to him) had an enormous hole in his side.
    Here’s a part of the story that I have not been able to shake since I first heard it, many years ago. As the injured young man lay on the floor crying out for his mother, Bill looked into the wound and saw what appeared to be “two hard-boiled eggs” inside his body. He later learned those were the man’s adrenal glands.
    After calling the bridge and seeking medical advice, and barely able to see through the smoke around them, Bill and the other seaman in the room administered morphine to their injured shipmate. Then they poured sulfur powder into the wound, packed it with “about thirty small cotton pads” and taped it over, while also following orders to operate the ship’s emergency sprinkler system. The injured man survived.
    There are other parts of Bill’s story I cannot forget: Gathering the bodies (and body parts) of the deceased, cleaning the blood and viscera from the deck once the fire was out, and the mass burial at sea the following day.
    The burial date, October thirty-first, was Bill’s mother’s birthday. While Bill has never remarked about the fact that he narrowly escaped injury or death that day, he recently said to me, “Wouldn’t it have been horrible if my mother leaned that I had been buried on her birthday?” (In fact, Bill was able to return home to Bridgeport, Connecticut, for a brief family visit two months later. He arrived at his mother’s doorstep at 9 pm on Christmas Eve.)
    Remarkably, the story of Bill’s time in hell has a spectacular happy ending. Following the attack, the Belleau Wood was sent to San Francisco for repairs, and while walking on Market Street on leave one day he met Margaret Ehlert, the woman who would become his wife seven months later. They celebrated their sixty-second anniversary this year.
    Bill never returned to sea after the attack on the Belleau Wood. He was transferred to Alameda Naval Air Station outside of Oakland, California, where he served until the end of the war in August 1945. He left the service with nine battle stars, a Presidential citation, a Philippine Liberation Medal with two stars, a Philippine Independence Medal, an American Area medal, a Victory Medal and a Halsey’s Commendation Bar (the latter for saving the life of the injured man on the ship).
    When I marveled at all of the awards he had received, Bill smiled and replied, “They never put food on the table.”
    Then he quietly added, “War is hell.” Bill spoke those words with such conviction it was as if I had never heard them before.
    By Ed Martin

    A Firsthand Account from a World War II Veteran - Page 4
     
  20. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    A Firsthand Account from a World War II Veteran

    By: MediaVillage (View Profile)
    At the start of the seventh and final installment of Ken Burns’ landmark documentary The War, Seaman First Class Maurice Bell, of Mobile, Alabama, describes in deep detail what it was like to be on the U.S.S. Indianapolis when it was struck by a Kamikaze, March 31, 1945, in the Pacific theater. Nine sailors died on the Indianapolis that day and twenty-nine others were wounded. The Indianapolis was sent to Mare Island off San Francisco for repairs.
    Bell’s story, and the breathtaking footage of the Kamikaze strike that accompanies it, is just one of dozens of extraordinary events chronicled in Burns’ seven-part film. For many viewers, it will be the first time they hear a first-person account of the horror of a Kamikaze attack, but it was chillingly familiar to me. My next-door neighbor of the last ten years, Bill Wright, is another World War II veteran who survived a devastating suicide attack. He was serving his country on board the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Belleau Wood CVL-24 at the time.
    Bill’s war story is one of thousands that are not included in Burns’ masterpiece. Of course, every person who served in World War II (and every person who waited for a beloved family member or friend at home) has many stories to tell about his or her experiences during that turbulent time. Many of those stories have already been lost, but as Burns’ film makes clear, it is critically important that as many as possible be documented and remembered by generations to come. (Certainly this is true of all war stories, including those of military personnel currently serving in Iraq.) We cannot do enough to preserve and honor as many of those stories as possible.
    The War is largely structured around the personal stories of four WWII veterans (including Maurice Bell) and that’s what makes it stand out from the hundreds of documentaries about the same subject matter that have come before. Most stories about the Second World War are told from a broad point of view—detailed stories about individual valor are almost never heard. That’s due in part to the fact that so few veterans of the war ever speak about the things they saw or did while fighting for freedom. As the harrowing details of so many of the stories told in The War makes clear, wartime violence is more than anyone should ever have to endure or carry in their memory. For these and other reasons, most veterans of World War II chose never to speak about their experiences once they returned home.
    Bill Wright, who is now eighty-two years old, has spoken very freely about his experience on the Belleau Wood during the decade I have known him, but he recently told me that he only started opening up about it when he was in his sixties. He didn’t talk about the attack on his ship for more than forty years. When I asked him why, his response was a simple, “I just didn’t.”
    On October 13, 1944, Bill, a Seaman First Class and Aviation Metal Smith Striker, was on board the Belleau Wood when a Japanese fighter plane slammed into the deck of the U.S.S. Franklin, which was sailing alongside the Belleau Wood en route to Okinawa. The crew of the Belleau Wood swiftly launched six fighters of its own when another Japanese plane appeared. Seconds later it slammed into the after end of the Belleau Wood. There were 245 casualties by the time the inferno was extinguished, many of them severely burned. Ninety-seven men died.
    Bill and one of his fellow seamen were at their stations in a small room below deck that housed controls for the ship’s sprinkler system, which happened to be very near the point of impact. Their petty officer had been killed when the plane hit. As the room began filling with smoke, the door opened and two officers appeared with a wounded seventeen-year-old seaman. Amid the chaos and the carnage, Bill was ordered to tend to the injured young man. He was eighteen-years-old at the time and had no medical training.
    At first, Bill couldn’t tell where the younger man had been injured. Upon closer inspection, he realized that the “kid” (as Bill now refers to him) had an enormous hole in his side.
    Here’s a part of the story that I have not been able to shake since I first heard it, many years ago. As the injured young man lay on the floor crying out for his mother, Bill looked into the wound and saw what appeared to be “two hard-boiled eggs” inside his body. He later learned those were the man’s adrenal glands.
    After calling the bridge and seeking medical advice, and barely able to see through the smoke around them, Bill and the other seaman in the room administered morphine to their injured shipmate. Then they poured sulfur powder into the wound, packed it with “about thirty small cotton pads” and taped it over, while also following orders to operate the ship’s emergency sprinkler system. The injured man survived.
    There are other parts of Bill’s story I cannot forget: Gathering the bodies (and body parts) of the deceased, cleaning the blood and viscera from the deck once the fire was out, and the mass burial at sea the following day.
    The burial date, October thirty-first, was Bill’s mother’s birthday. While Bill has never remarked about the fact that he narrowly escaped injury or death that day, he recently said to me, “Wouldn’t it have been horrible if my mother leaned that I had been buried on her birthday?” (In fact, Bill was able to return home to Bridgeport, Connecticut, for a brief family visit two months later. He arrived at his mother’s doorstep at 9 pm on Christmas Eve.)
    Remarkably, the story of Bill’s time in hell has a spectacular happy ending. Following the attack, the Belleau Wood was sent to San Francisco for repairs, and while walking on Market Street on leave one day he met Margaret Ehlert, the woman who would become his wife seven months later. They celebrated their sixty-second anniversary this year.
    Bill never returned to sea after the attack on the Belleau Wood. He was transferred to Alameda Naval Air Station outside of Oakland, California, where he served until the end of the war in August 1945. He left the service with nine battle stars, a Presidential citation, a Philippine Liberation Medal with two stars, a Philippine Independence Medal, an American Area medal, a Victory Medal and a Halsey’s Commendation Bar (the latter for saving the life of the injured man on the ship).
    When I marveled at all of the awards he had received, Bill smiled and replied, “They never put food on the table.”
    Then he quietly added, “War is hell.” Bill spoke those words with such conviction it was as if I had never heard them before.
    By Ed Martin

    A Firsthand Account from a World War II Veteran - Page 4
     
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