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Old 07-09-2008, 11:40 AM   #1
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Default Listening to a WWII Veteran.

Last night I had the honor and privilidge to talk an 86 year old WWII vet ,who was on the U.S.S. Liscome Bay. An aircraft carrier that was lost to a submarine attack during Operation Galvanic during the Allied invasion of the Gilbert Islands.

He talked about how 15 minutes after he left the engine room ..a torpedo hit the ships aircraft bomb stockpile just aft of the engine room and incinerated everyone even remotely near that end of the ship....

He had noticed, during the initial tour of the ship that the Captains pantry had dozens of bottles of vinegar....so in the confusion after the attack,he and several men were lost in the dark and smoke...but the smell of vinegar helped him figure out where he was and which way he need to go.

The concussion had knocked off one of his shoes and by the time he got on the upper deck...it was so hot that he had to hop on foot to get to the side and jump off into the water with large patches of flaming oil all around.

Only 272 of her crew of 916 were rescued ...For those of you who know anything about Pearl Harbor...Dorie Miller, the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross (played by Cuba Gooding Jr in the movie Pearl Harbor)..was one of those aboard the U.S.S. Liscome Bay who lost their lives. The ship sunk in 23 minutes.

He told how he met Admiral Nimitz , and how the Admiral cried as he handed out medals to those on the hospital ship...and with pride amd humor called them "the most ragged bunch of shipwrecked sailors" he had ever seen.

This is the second WWII vet that my family and I have been able to talk to in the last couple of months...The first served in Africa under Patton and most certainly remembered the unforgettable general, having once gotten a haircut beside him, and watched the cursing he gave a soldier who entered the barbershop without saluting.

I want my son and daughter to hear the stories from these heros...and to be able to tell their children about them when the last of that generation has been laid to rest. Its just stories...words on a page to all of us...but my children and I got to hear about history from vivid memory and not just from a book

Just wanted to share...It was a special night.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: Listening to a WWII Veteran.

Thank you for sharing. I recently lost the last surviving WWII veteran in my family, my great uncle and always sat and talked with him and listened to his stories with a heavy heart. I miss him very much as well as both of my WII Vet Grandfathers. They all had their stories and each made me very proud of my blood line and heritage as an American. They are a great generation of men and this world is less when one of them passes on.

Thanks again for sharing the story.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:18 PM   #3
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Default Re: Listening to a WWII Veteran.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dino 5 Rings View Post
Thank you for sharing. I recently lost the last surviving WWII veteran in my family, my great uncle and always sat and talked with him and listened to his stories with a heavy heart. I miss him very much as well as both of my WII Vet Grandfathers. They all had their stories and each made me very proud of my blood line and heritage as an American. They are a great generation of men and this world is less when one of them passes on.
Thanks again for sharing the story.
I am so sorry for your loss...and as you said...the world loses something very special with the passing away of each and every one of those incredible people.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: Listening to a WWII Veteran.

That is awesome. I've met quite a few; there are some amazing stories. What's interesting is most of them didn't think there was anything all that special about what they did.

I have some good stories that were told to me, I'll add them to this thread when I have time, if you don't mind.

My favorite is Carmen Staino, who became a good friend. He was a POW of the Germans, captured at the Battle of the Bulge; he'd been with his unit less than 24 hours. In the morning he was in the replacement depot; he arrived at the front line late in the afternoon, had dinner, went on guard duty, got off at midnight, and woke up at 4AM with Germans pointing guns at him.

He was in a cattle car that was strafed by American P47s as it traveled into Germany. He spent 4 months in a prison camp, and escaped in early April; the way he put it, "As winter went on, our guards got older and older, as they were sent to the front. Finally one day, we were on a work detail in the town, and we were standing there and our guard was about 75 years old. We looked at him, and he looked at us... and we looked at him, and he looked at us... and he lit a cigarette and turned around, and we started walking west. And a few days later, maybe a week, we came across our advance troops."

Carmen used to bring me issues of a magazine called POW Digest. He's passed away now, for a few years. He was a good guy, maybe 5'6", and quiet and unassuming, a factory worker.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: Listening to a WWII Veteran.

On a similar note, my wife's grandfather passed away yesterday. I loved him very much. He fought in Europe in world War II and I spent countless hours talking to him about his experiences in the war. I was really the only one he would talk to much about it and I was honored that he felt comfortable sharing things that were so personal, and difficult..... He shared a story with me that when he and two of his fellow soldiers were standing at the top of a hill, an enemy artillery shell blew up right in front of him. It instantly killed his two friends immediately to his left and right and he was left completely untouched......my father is 89 and he was a captain and fought in Europe as well. It is very difficult for him to talk about but some of the stories, liberating a concentration camp, etc. are unbelievable. I am incredibly thankful for those who did their duty for this country, many of whom sacrificed their lives.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:45 PM   #6
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Default Re: Listening to a WWII Veteran.

Great stories. I always have a hard time wrapping by head around how many lives were lost in the great naval battles in WWII. Its so crazy to read about engagements like Guadalcanal and see how many ships were lost on both sides. And then to think about how many men went down with those ships in an instant. And how the loss of those effected so many more family members and communities. It wierd to think about how awful the loss of life in Iraq has been for America, and then think what it must have been like to read about hundreds or thousands of men being lost every day during WWII. Must have been pretty numbing.

Just to throw in another interesting story. My wife's grandfather served in the army in WWII and Korea. He was captured in Korea and was a POW for many years. The story of how he was captured was pretty interesing...

He and another guy were at a forward position. They crested a hill and saw a US Jeep on a road below with casualties around it. They went down to see if anyone was alive. Unfortunately all the men were dead. He was checking to see if there were any signs of US guys off the road when he turned around to see his Army buddy with his arms in the air and a "Chinaman" point a rifle at him. My wife's grandfather raised his M-1 to shoot and his gun jammed. Which ended up being a good thing, because at that moment he discovered he had two rifles pointed at his back and would have been shot dead had his gun fired.

He did three years in the POW camp, came home, raised his family and lived a great life until he died a happy guy a few years ago.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:55 PM   #7
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Default Re: Listening to a WWII Veteran.

Wow...thanks guys...I love these stories. We have all been blessed by the memories of men who did so much but asked so little in return. Please keep the stories coming.

The gentleman I talked to last night mentioned how his brother was an aerial photographer who had flown dozens of missions...he was ready to take off towards the end of the war ..and his captain stopped him and told him that a new recruit would be taking his place. The plane took off and crashed into the sea three miles from the airfield.

As a side note..there is a book called "23 seconds to Eternity", that tells the story of the U.S.S. Liscome Bay. I saw it on Amazon.com and am considering adding it to my library.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: Listening to a WWII Veteran.

Great story.

Reminds me off my grandpa who passed a long time ago. But he was in the Navy at Iwo Jima. He used to tell stories about it when I was a kid and he had a Japanese rifle with a pig sticker on it to prove it. He said he got it from a japanese soldier that tried sneaking up on him at night and stabbing him with it.
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:15 PM   #9
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Default Re: Listening to a WWII Veteran.

I talked with another vet who flew as a gunner on an A-20 Havoc. He brought me the clippings, pictures, etc, so I know it wasn't smoke. His plane had been on a "skip-bombing" mission, sort of like dive bombing; they would fly low and fast toward a tunnel, and then drop the bomb outside, where it would then skip into the opening and explode.

He got his medal when a bomb got hung up in the bomb bay. He climbed down into the bay and through luck, strength, and fortitude worked the bomb out... it exploded seconds after leaving the plane. You see, skip-bombs aren't pressure bombs... they're fused. He had 20 seconds to leave his station, enter the bomb bay, and kick the bomb out, or his plane and crew were going to be the victims of a 500lb explosion of TNT. He didn't have any orders; he just saw it and did it.



He would have been at the crown gun, right above the bomb bay.

Funny thing, he wasn't a very nice guy at all. He was kind of a jerk. But, so what; that is just another lesson. Jerks can be heroes, too. One doesn't preclude the other. Something to keep in mind when you have a personality problem with someone.

Edited: I remember it as an MOH, but I looked through all the MOH honorees of WW2 and didn't see any situation describing what I wrote; I'm sure it's my faulty memory. I edited out the type of medal he'd received.

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Old 07-09-2008, 03:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: Listening to a WWII Veteran.

My father was a college classmate of Dick "Yogi" Milana, who was in the L 3-5 Marines and was in the first wave to land on Guadalcanal. He is mentioned prominently in the book On the Canal, which I highly recommend. Here is an excerpt you can read on line. I actually have a memoir that he wrote to my father that is fascinating; I transcribed it, misspellings and all, and I'll post it up later if that's OK with everyone.

Sorry if I get carried away; this history of these men is a passion of mine. I've met with many of them, and written a lot of it down and saved it. As long as no one minds, I'll search my archives of what I've transcribed to the computer and post it.
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