tv World War II Veterans CSPAN November 15, 2014 11:47pm-12:31am EST
they have the fields there for the pilots to be trained how to fly the planes. the enlisted personnel like myself went to a field in illinois not too far from chicago for our training. my training was as an aircraft sheet metal worker. my occupation was to repair bullet holes. our job was to keep the plane flying. i was stationed in kentucky. most of my time in the military was spent at the field in kentucky. 1944-1945. the unit of the group that i was
assigned to was the 477th bomber group. general benjamin davis later became the commanding officer of that group. the 477th bomber group never saw action. before we completed our training, the war ended. we remained stateside during the war. i was discharged for the convenience of the government in that is my career with the 1945. military. >> thank you. [applause] >> gentlemen, i have another question for each of you. i would like to ask you, what is your most vivid memory of serving in the military? i would like to start with mr.
pride. go to pride, please. >> my most vivid memory was during gunnery school. at central field, florida. we started off with shotguns, shooting skeet. during the training, we ended up shooting skeet out of the backend of a truck. on one particular day, i made 50 out of 50. i went back to the squadron. they said, you have the day off from gunnery school because you did so well. you have kp tomorrow. [applause] [laughter]
gunnery was something i enjoyed. that was one of the schools i finished. the other was radio operator, maintenance guy. i flew 1600 hrs during world war ii. thank you. >> thank you, sir. [applause] your most vivid , memory. >> solo. me,r a hours of teaching they asked me to pull up into the middle of a field. it was just a field, no runways, just a grass field. we pulled up. he stood on the grass and looked
up at me. he said go on up there and kill , yourself. i took off. i knew what to do. i took off. went through the pattern, came down. bounced all over the place. never landed, i just kept going. i came back and landed properly. he had taught me to do that. i pulled over to pick him up. he said, no, go over and kill yourself. that was one of the things i remember. after you solo, for three more days, you have to shoot three more landings. i shot the three landings. on the fourth day, they said, you are on your own.
i am supposed to practice what they taught me. believe me, that first hour out there, all i did was ride and think how proud my mother would be to see her boy flying an airplane. [applause] >> dr. ware? >> thinking back the memory i , cherish the most occurred when i was in korea. it was a night when i was assigned to be the officer of the day. as night was approaching, my
responsibility to be in charge of the flag detail. all of you know, handling the flag is a significant task. very meticulous, carrying of that responsibility. the headquarters for the air force and army are side-by-side. when he went up on top of the roof to lower the flag, each one had its own flag, they were on the adjacent ends. i can look across to the next building. there was an army lieutenant who is doing the same thing i was doing. he was in charge of the flag detail, lower the flag. as they played in the notes, it struck me that i was the person representing all the people in korea. they were hard at work, doing their jobs. my duty was to safeguard the flag and represent them.
i felt an unusual feeling. i can't really describe it. witnessing the flag come down. i may have held that salute a little longer than i have ever held a salute. it struck me we were many thousands of miles from home, doing our duty. that was significant to me. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, at this point in time, we will keep the program moving. i have a few brief comments i would like to make, and then we are going to close. we, the members of the east coast chapter of the tuskegee airmen, thank you for joining us.
i would like to impress upon you that we are still in service to the country today. the mission is to expose you to education opportunities specifically in the aviation realm. to achieve our goals we have , established a youth in aviation program where we expose youth to career opportunities in aviation. we currently operate a flight school, aircraft maintenance facilities, and an air traffic control exposure class to enlighten our youth. we also provide educational grants to college-bound students. please continue to support us and follow us online. ecctai.org. as we work to enlighten our youth to the opportunities that aviation provides. and to promote the legacy of the
tuskegee airmen. i would like to thank you. a round of applause for our panelists. [applause] >> also speaking at the conference last week were members of the legendary doolittle raiders who conducted the first raids on japan in world war ii. the panel included the man who served as jimmy doolittle's copilot. that is in the spring of 1942. they talk about their experiences and make a historical comparison between nazis and isis. this is about 45 minutes. [applause] >> thank you. i appreciate your support. a little nervous in the front row. can you guys hear me in the back?
we want you to think of some questions. we want to make this an interactive panel. it is not so much me asking the questions. i'm going to ask we want you to one. be able to ask the questions of these legends of world war ii. a quick introduction before the speaking program begins. on my left, james is the highest decorated officer in the history of the 82nd airborne division. he fought in italy. he jumped into market garden. also fought in the battle of the bulge, where he should have won the medal of honor, but due to a army snafu, he did not. he is a great platoon leader from world war ii. a guy who i am happy to call a friend. the gentleman to his left is
lieutenant colonel richard cole. airplane number one of the doolittle raid. jimmy doolittle's copilot and the pride of dayton, ohio. we talk about moments of history and having a front row seat to moments in history. he had a front row seat to one of the most amazing moment in history. to his left, ed saylor, the pride of montana. plane number 15. .n amazing man, an engineer [laughter] no offense, navy guys. no offense. you were an engineer.
so before we begin the program, i wanted to have the honor of opening remarks by the ambassador of the taipei economic and cultural representative of their office. during world war ii, the republic of china suffered at the hands of the japanese but fought with great valor. the chinese obviously risked their lives to help the doolittle raiders, helping many of those guys to safety. as a result of the sacrifice of the chinese and in retaliation for their helping the americans, gain their freedom after the raid, 250,000 chinese were killed by the japanese in retaliation for what happened. their help of the doolittle raiders. to this day, there remains a bond between the raiders, america, and the republic of
china that remains strong. we are happy to have the ambassador here to say a few words before the panel begins. ambassador? [applause] >> i have more than just a few words. [laughter] morning, i am speaking in my dual capacity, first as ambassador or representative from taiwan. the official name is still the republic of china. also i think i am qualified to , be a spokesman for the world war ii china. under generalissimo chiang kai-shek. who in mind it was he issued the order to the province that you were supposed to land. to tell all the people and soldiers in the province that
you had to offer -- even at the risk of your own life -- that you have to offer the best protection, the best help, to american flyers once they reach your territory or airspace. [applause] thank you. even though chiang kai-shek has away, for 40d years, believe it or not, today in taiwan, his political party is still the ruling party of the country. we know the doolittle mission is a big success. probably the most daring, the most stimulating, the most heroic morale booster in the early part of world war ii. it is a retaliation against the japanese surprise attack at pearl harbor. and this is also the first time
the japanese homeland was attacked. now, thank you, colonel, the japanese warmongers realized their own security was at stake. when president roosevelt was heard about the great news, he held a press conference. and as you know, at the press conference, when he was asked, where did the bombers take off from? he said, from a secret base in shangri-la. [laughter] we know that this is not a fantasy. in the first place, it is very difficult for a b 25 to take off from an aircraft carrier. the runway is not long enough. and then, because the aircraft carrier has to stay away from the japanese homeland, from early, it isd too almost 700 miles in between. it is too far.
even though the b-25s can fly to japan, it does not have enough fuel to fly back. but as a miracle, all 16 b 25's they all took off as planned. , the penetrated into japanese airspace. almost uninterrupted. they bombed the japanese cities. not heavy bombing but symbolic bombing. they bombed tokyo, nagoya, yokohama. to warn the japanese. and it is a surprise, it is a miracle, they managed to get out almost unharmed. but where would they go to land? so the original plan was to have a chinese airport. they fly across the east china sea to a chinese city. on the coast. the chinese government built an airport there just for them to land at.
however, just a few hours before the mission started, colonel, you remember well, the fleet was spotted by japanese ships. so the general decided to move up the take up time two hours earlier. but this message did not get to the chinese authorities. properly. the wartime communication was not so good. so by the time they finished our mission and get across the east china sea, they reached the airspace, the airport, during the night. it was in a blackout. and they had no place to land. they do not know where to land. 15 of the 16 b-25s, except for one, which went to the soviet union, where the crewmen were detained for many years,
the others had to crash land or bailout. now, out of 75 crew members, 65 -- almost 90%, thankfully because of chang kai-shek's order. that was a dangerous province. because it was partially occupied by the japanese and they controlled the big cities. there, colonel, you were they were rescued by the chinese guerrilla soldiers. chinese people risked their lives to rescue the american flyers. they offered them the best protection, sanctuary. they assembled them and sent them to the airport the next province. from there, a c-47 pick them up and took them to the wartime chongqing.ital they were warmly received by generalissimo chiang kai-shek. right in chongqing, colonel doolittle got the order to have
him promoted directly to general. it is a beautiful story, but the story did not end there. now you know, and you can imagine how angry the japanese were. so they mobilized nine divisions and started what they called a punitive campaign against the chinese. more cities were taken. more villages were burned down. and tens of thousands of chinese soldiers and civilians as well as, including women and children were massacred. at that time, the japanese used chemical weapons. so the chinese suffered a lot because of the american mission. selfless chinese only feel regret that that night, they did not receive
and his flyersle well. because there are 10 crewmen who did not make it, some of them were captured by the japanese and executed. some of them die in the japanese prisons. only four survived until the end of the war. the chinese people always feel a little sorry, a little regret. let me tell you a story. you have probably never heard about this in the past. general doolittle, believe it or not, in may of 1976, he visited taiwan. this time, of course, he was no longer a general on active duty. he was a business executive representing the mutual of omaha. he went to taiwan for an international insurance conference. and, of course, it became big news of his arrival. a chinese gentleman living in taipei wrote him a letter.
and who is this chinese gentleman? he was the provincial commissioner for the civil defense during the war of the province that the general and crew were supposed to land in. and this gentleman had already retired. but all those years, he felt regret, sorry for not receiving the general and his flyers. properly. so he wrote the general a letter to the hotel where the general was staying. and the general was so gracious. he expressed his regret, asking why, general, you did not land in our airport as scheduled. and the general was so gracious, he wrote back. i have this letter. i found it in the gentleman's memoirs. it is in chinese but i translated into english. now allow me to read this letter from a general doolittle to our gentleman to you.
it says, i was delighted to receive your letter of may 18. we are very grateful that our chinese friends built in airport for us and helped our crew members. unfortunately, the aircraft that carried the navigation equipment crashed on the way to china. therefore, there was no beacon to guide us. japan, we didver not provide you with enough information. indeed. however, we were successful in creating an astonishing result. signed, jimmy doolittle. may 27, 1976. my dear friends, this is why i will say that the doolittle will be the most heroic most touching, most moving episode of the u.s. china wartime cooperation when china was in the leadership.
of chang kai-shek. and that episode deserves our heart felt remembrance generation after generation. this is why i was very surprised that last month i went to a special photo exhibition about wartime u.s. china cooperation co-sponsored by a research institute in china and a think tank here. and i was surprised that out of some 150 or 200 photos there was not even one about general doolittle and his missions. instead to my surprise, maybe there was one hiding somewhere i didn't find. but to say the least he was outnumbered tremendously by the picture of american army colonel. and who was this colonel? and he was the chief of u.s. military liaison section during the wartime. so the colonel had lot of
pictures of people like mao zedong so they showed those pictures instead. this is why today i appreciate this opportunity offered by the center even more because i can get this chance to tell you the true story, the true spirit, the true legacy. and this today is honored, it's well preserved and inhittered by the people of taiwan. now, ladies and gentlemen, once again our sincere, most profound salute to the general and the crewmen and those chinese people who sacrificed or even died for the success of the american mission. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you ambassador. thank you very much. very nice. our first question is for colonel cole.
colonel, the impact of the raid of 1942 was felt by the entire nation. it was a huge morale builder for a country that had only known defeat up until that point. 72 years later plus now, it doesn't seem to have lost any of its importance. how come the raid on april 18 of 1942 has not lost its impact and importance on america? that is your microphone. we will give you that one. >> well the raid on japan was very important to president roosevelt. after pearl harbor, he continued to badger the chief of the army
air corps and he continued to battle the navy chief of operation. not many people that i have contacted with realize that the idea of the raid came from a navy captain who was a submariner who happened to be flying over norfolk naval air station one day and the runways at norfolk are marked off and i don't know the distances but they are carrier markings. and looking down he saw an army bomber take off from the runway. and he got the idea and he
passed it on to his superior and it ended up on roosevelt's desk and he said do it. >> he did say do it. no question and he chose the right man to lead the mission. ed. on t.n.t. plane number 15 you had a problem with the plane getting off of hornet and something you had to fix. you guys on plane number 15 almost didn't make it off, correct. could you tell the crowd a little bit about that? >> well, the right engine on my airplane developed a problem which meant it couldn't fly anymore. i had to remove the engine and repair it on the deck of the carrier. general doolittle asked me if i could fix it and i said probably. i didn't say it very loud.
[laughter] i was about to get in over my head. see, i knew i would have to take the engine off the airplane, take it half apart, put it back together and hope i done it right. this was a job we did not do at squadron level. it all worked out. the navy helped me get the engine off the airplane. this is a 2000 pound 14 cylinder engine swinging around on the end of a chain hoist on the flight deck of the carrier. the navy helped a lot with tall ropes. they kept it from getting out of control. took the engine down below and
took it apart and put it back together. the tricky part was taking the engine off the airline on the flight deck of a carrier and the carrier refused to hold still. [laughter] you couldn't lay anything on the deck of the carrier, not a nut, bolt, tool, anything would go right overboard. the suggestion was made by some friends i ought to toss something overboard and be done with it. but i didn't. anyway, that complicated the job. everything had to go up inside the airplane. i had 100 items up in there. i didn't know what they all were or where they went. got the job done. had no parts left over. so at that point i felt pretty good about it. [laughter] and every bolt and nut is somewhere on that airplane. hopefully they are in the right holes but we'll see. [laughter] the engine ran fine.
for the rest of the flight. we flew about 12 hours or something around that. after that everything went fine. so i was kind of given credit for us having the full 16 airplanes. could have well been 15. i got away with it. it worked out. [applause] >> plane number 15's -- >> it's still in the bottom of the ocean but a different ocean. [laughter] >> that's not your fault though. >> plane number 15's target was kobe, japan. you did an incredible job. >> maggie, you've talked about fighting in the mountains of italy and fighting in anzio and fighting the germans and you
always said that you learned a lot from watching the germans and how they fought and you applied that to yourself as a soldier. could you talk to the crowd a little bit about what you learned from watching the germans? i mean, you're not only in charge of watching the germans, but you are in charge of shooting a few as well. but you had a deep respect for their soldiers. >> thank you. i'd be delighted to talk about that. i'd like to interject one thought here if i may about our presence here. the three of us, and i am pleased here to be with my colleagues and with ed who i appreciate and have known for a long time. and what i have to say i want to put in some historical chronology. our presence of veterans of the great war as they call it of world war ii. and i remember going through the grade schools and i remember on november 11, we all stood up and we faced east and all the
whistles and horns sounded, church bells sounded and we were celebrating the armistice. world war i had just ended. i want to you know that i was born 52 years after the end of the civil war. and we're talking here about world war ii that ended almost 70 years ago. now, i also remember the parades we had downtown in wisconsin. civil war veterans were riding in cars because they weren't capable of marching. there were a few that followed along and also the world war i veterans, that was their time when i was in grade school. and also spanish american war veterans. and i scood out there and watched the veterans go by in great amazement. i was like what a great thing this is and what a wonderful
thing it would be if i had something from one of these veterans from the civil war, what it would mean to me. now here we are from world war ii and we're talking about that. and i always say that because i remember at that time the way the country had responded in world war i, how we were united and how we fought together. and when we honored veterans people stood up when a flag came by and saluted it and honored it somewhat different than the way we honor it now. and so it was that so we stood up on november 11 which is coming soon, now known as veterans day. but in regards to your question about what i learned in combat or what i learned as an officer in the war.
i had graduated from rotc and had a commission when i went in the service and i was a second lieutenant and i had gone to summer camps and i had done other things. and we were learning about war from the manuals from world war i and how we moved in large forces and jumped out of trenches and charged into enemy fire and the like. and that was pretty much my training. parachute school we learned other things. some new thoughts about jumping behind enemy lines and securing lines of communication and to aid the troops that would be making landings wherever it was we were jumping. and so that's the way that was my training. so when i got to africa and went to the airborne training center and after that into the
anzio andof italy and everything, i really had not had any training that was appropriate for what we were about to nays italy. -- about to face in italy. but the germans did. and let me say this: i highly respected the german soldiers as an enemy. they were good. they had ravaged most of europe. they had taken over everything. they had military down to a science. it is still called a science in some places but they know what it was. and what i watched them do in and theor instance, mountains of italy, whenever they went in to attack, they prepared their target. they came in with bombers or artillery or whatever to soften up the target for their infantry that would follow. that was preparatory. we didn't do that. i wasn't taught that at all in my training. we didn't do that. but the germans did. and when they charged out of their position, they didn't come
in mass but they came in units. if it was a rifle company, there would be three squads and they'd all approach it from another angle. and what they did that from behind them machine guns would fire overhead. so here these guys come charging at you and machine guns firing overhead. and if things really got bad you ftwaffe.ok for the lu in other words, they brought all of their weapons to bear on the target in a way i had not been taught. i said -- i was wounded twice. at anzio. and eventually evacuated and went to england before i jumped in holland. i learned more from the germans fighting against them in italy than i had learned in all the training i had before that. i don't knock the military training now. i think it's adequate for our purposes. but in world war ii, i want you to know that when we -- when the
war clouds were brewing over the pacific and over the atlantic, we had a military force in 1940 of 140,000 people, 140,000. but in short order, after the draft was instituted and the japanese bombed pearl harbor we went to 16 million people, 16 million people that had to be trained, that had to have offices of that had to have -- officers, that had to have leaders and all of that. and the question that i was asked, i write about that because i was sincere in what i had to say that i learned an awful lot from the germans. not only did i learn a lot from them, but it was obvious they were an enemy and their purpose in being here was to kill us. and so it was either we killed them or they killed us. i would like to tell a story
that kind of sticks in my craw when this story comes up. after i got back to wisconsin sometime after the war, i was invited to a grade school to tell what it was like to jump out of an airplane, what it meant and all of that. and so i did. and in talking about it, i said when i jumped in holland, i carried with me a thompson submachine gun strung over one shoulder and an m-1 rifle over the other, a pistol and hand grenades all over and i was loaded down with ammunition and guns. and i said to these young students, why do you think i jumped with all those guns. they raise their hands and -- raised their hands and they all had something to say but one boy
got up and this is what he said. the side that kills the other side's soldiers wins. i thought, my god, this guy is smarter then the historians writing about world war ii who would have us believe it was won elsewhere. he said the side that kills the other side's soldiers wins. and i learned that in germany and they were out the kill us. and so it was a matter of them or us. and i can tell you that while i'm on this subject and i've got the floor, i may not get back here again. >> i will not argue with you. >> they may not invite me. all of us, when we went in service, we knew we were in a cause greater than ourselves. we knew that. what we were fighting for is those values we hold dear in this country and we fight for. and that's what has made this country great. that every generation has come forward when the occasion demanded young men and women who responded to the challenge to protect those values.
but it was not until the latter part of the war when we liberated a concentration camp and we came in one gate and the ss troopers out the other and we saw it as it existed on an everyday basis. and what i saw then shocked me. and it pointed out man's capacity for inhumanity to man. i saw it right there. and i said then and i've written and i have said since i then fully realized what the cause that we were fighting for that was greater than ourselves and that was to destroy the monstrosity the nazis created or it would engulf freedom loving people everywhere. that was the cause greater than ourselves. [applause]
so i not only learned from the germans, but also in the terms they would kill me or i would kill them. but i had to adopt some of their tactics which i thought were more effective than ours and that enabled me to be a leader. and i want to say one other thing since i represent the infantry. that what i learned was and what i tell soldiers today and elsewhere where i speak is you lead from the front but you command from the rear. you lead from the front. and whether a battle is won or lost depends on the outcome of a battle. and you can look back in history. i like to use the example, and that is let's say that the germans had captured stalingrad
and russia surrendered we'd be living in a different world. and then you go back in history and point out where those battles were fought. they weren't fought in the capitol cities. they were not fought by large armies. they were fought by young men and women. young men who believed in a cause greater than ourselves. and i like to point those things out to put in perspective anything i might say. as i said, this is a chronology, a historical chronology, born right after the civil war and i recall all of that. >> that concentration camp was in germany and i've been maggie and a smaller concentration camp, not that size, but still there are remnants there as well. when you go back to europe with this guy, it's like going back with jay-z or drake or one of
those guys. i mean, he's a rock star over there. give applause for the hair. [applause] the hair. the hair. used to tell me that you cannot have hair and brains both. while, you have both. , you have both. >> we'd like to take some questions now if any of you would like to ask some questions. what is your question? >> i was going to ask it's such an honor to have you guys here and such an honor to be in your presence and take advice from you. going off of that, you are known as the greatest generation of america, you are known as the ones who built what the country is now.