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Stories of Our Fathers


Don't have any particularly interesting stories, but some small stuff:
My great-uncle was part of the German night fighters. He was the radio operator/gunner in most likely a Bf. 110 G. He was, for some time, stationed in Ploiesti, Romania (roughly 100km north of Bucharest). There are some photos of him there where he looks like he had a good time there, but I don't have them here right now. He died on Christmas eve 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. I couldn't find out what squadron he was part of though.

 

One of my granfathers was forced to join the Wehrmacht in 1945 when he was old enough. He spend most of his time in Danish prisonship though.

My other grandfather wasn't quite old enough to be forced to join, but instead he was forced to volunteer for the paratroopers (which he never was part thanks to the war ending before he was ould enough). After a propaganda event for the Fallschirmjäger they were interviewed and asked if they had volunteered, he and a friend of his both lied and said yes but became afraid they'd get in trouble because they'd notice so they "volunteered" shortly after. If he had been older he might have joined the Luftwaffe, he could fly gliders and probably had no interest in being part of the Wehrmacht.

 

And that's really everything more or less interesting, I know of two more great-uncles who died while they were prisioners of war in France and Russia and I know of some more distant relatives who died during a bomb raid that was most likely aimed at a viaduct, but that's it.

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My grandfather witnessed a number of late war dogfights between USAAF P-38s and IJNAS Zeroes over Anping Harbor on the southwestern coast of Formosa. The Americans shot down all the Japanese fighters with no losses of their own on each occasion.

My grandfather also survived the USAAF bombing raids targeting the southern city of Tainan, and after the war he ended up serving in the ROCAF as a flight surgeon.

One of my grandfather's best friends, and a close family friend, served in the Volkssturm as a Hitler Youth conscript. After emigrating to the US for medical school, he had a pretty normal career in internal medicine until the US Army offered him a colonel's commission to run a field hospital during the Gulf War. He took the offer and apparently enjoyed his brief stint in the army.

I also once had lunch with a Marine aviator who served in the P-38 squadron that shot down Yamamoto. He didn't go on that mission since he was the squadron rookie at the time, but he had some cool stories about his post war career as a PanAm commercial pilot. IIRC, he was the father in law of one of my father's college buddies, so that was how I got to meet him
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Starting with one of my Grandgrandfathers Wilhelm Meyer, he moved from rhineland to poland became a polish citicen after ww1 and got conscripted to the polish army, 2 months before we (the germans) invaded poland he deserted and went to danzig, when the short war ended he bought some land and wanted to become a farmer (he had to do medical test to do so it was called "Blut und Boden" Blood and Ground) also he had to make a Ahnenpass(a certification that you are of german origin) then in 40 he got conscripted into the wehrmacht in which he fought till 44, he fought at the eastern fron the fought in krim aswell as in stalingrad. he got the first time wounded in  42 in stalingrad he sayd he was happy about it because he thought he would get deployed to the west in france, but it had proven to be wrong. after he recovered he got promoted to an oberfeldwebel and got flown into the stalingrad pocket (he lost 11 of 15 man there) he didnt told allot what he had done exactly but some stuff he did, for example they violated orders to dig in at night instead he and his man were hiding in forrests or somewhere else (because russians sent assasins at night to slit sleeping soldiers throats) or that he faced a russian on a hill and that they aimed each other for half an hour but nobody of them shot because both were just terrible afraid, and the russian then just ran away,  a few hours later he said he lost his leg because of a frag grenade, which he statet saved his life because he got stationed into a hospital in speyer till 46 and didnt had to fight anymore

my greatgreat uncle however had less luck, he didnt had to fight in particular he got conscripted in 39 but catched a dicitis so he didnt had to fight either he was however in prague garrisoned and when the russians came he and his troop was retreating with trucks, he and his war buddy jumped of and tried to run (his comrades shot after him because of deserting) they run to heidelberg because they wanted to get captured by americans and not by russians, however they forgot to throw away their papers, so the americans gave them into russian captivity he and his buddy were sent into a gulag until 56

the two brothers of my grandgrandmother were also at eastern front one of them felt 43 in stalingrad the other 44 in krim and her husband is still MIA (though definitly dead) 

another grandgrandfather of mine was in the SS in the age of 18 but i dont know much about him

 

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So here is couple more stores that I have.

 

Back in 2004-2005 time frame my father was deployed to the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq. On morning my family was doing our routine call to him. All of a sudden sirens start going off and he says 'Hold on minute, we are about to be attacked', and hung up. For the next 10 minutes we were worried sick as to what happened. Then he calls us back. My mom, worried the most, asks what happened. He responded with this.

'Well, every now and then, the Taliban will do a mortar strike against us. But they never get anywhere close to us. Their philosophy is that they will aim the mortars in the general direction that they want to hit. But Allah will guide the mortars, and have them land where he wants them to land. It is not up to them to decide where they will hit. But this time, they were off by about two miles. This strike ended up mortaring the Baghdad Zoo.'

 

About 3 years ago, my brother was stationed at base in Kurdish Iraq. One day while he was there, he was walking back from the DEFAC (Dining Facility) back to his room, which was a good mile. While walking, a van full of soldiers, males and females, goes past him. With all the windows all the way down, and the stereo blasting the song 'Jar of Hearts' as loud as they could. But that is not all all the soldiers where also singing to it at the top of their lungs. He said it was the funniest thing he has ever seen, a van full of soldiers in full combat uniform, singing a love song.

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all i know is my great grandfather went from normandy to france and apperently as he said they were on a hike to take out german aaa site and low and behold it turns out its aaa on a train so they start placing charges on the rail road and as the train was coming there was a squad of p47s or p51s cant rember what he said i was about eight or nine when he told me this but as they floew they strafed the train and started trying to strafe him because they thought they were german but luckily the only thing they hit were the trees around them and the train but they did end up blowing the tracks and watching the train explode 

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So here is couple more stores that I have.

 

Back in 2004-2005 time frame my father was deployed to the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq. On morning my family was doing our routine call to him. All of a sudden sirens start going off and he says 'Hold on minute, we are about to be attacked', and hung up. For the next 10 minutes we were worried sick as to what happened. Then he calls us back. My mom, worried the most, asks what happened. He responded with this.

'Well, every now and then, the Taliban will do a mortar strike against us. But they never get anywhere close to us. Their philosophy is that they will aim the mortars in the general direction that they want to hit. But Allah will guide the mortars, and have them land where he wants them to land. It is not up to them to decide where they will hit. But this time, they were off by about two miles. This strike ended up mortaring the Baghdad Zoo.'

 

Good story, but no Taliban in Iraq. They had Shiite militias and Sunni paramilitary groups and Al-Qaeda backed foreign fighters, but no Taliban. Those are in Afghanistan and Pakistan North West Frontier.

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I asked my mom about if we had any relatives that fought in wars and couple of them on my Grandpa's and Grandma's side did fought in WW1, WW2, and Vietnam War.

 

On my Grandma's side:

- Her father's brother (my great-uncle) was a priest and was a chaplain for General Douglas MacArthur . He was there on the USS Missouri for the Japanese Instrument of Surrender.

-  Mom's great-uncle was on the USS Arizona when Pearl Harbor bomb happened. He survived the bombing on USS Arizona but end up getting burn injuries. He did recovered but couldn't fight because of the burn injuries he got.

- My mom's cousin fought in the Vietnam War. Sadly he was killed in action when he stepped on a land mine.

 

On my Grandpa's side:

- His father (my great-grandpa) was a veteran of WW1 and WW2, did saw actions in both World War. In WW1, he was in the American Expeditionary Forces that was send to fight in Europe, and he fought in the trench in France, and also fought in Alsace forest (Vosges Mountain) against the german. In WW2, he landed on Normandy beach on D-Day, and came across one of the concentration camps (no idea which camp it is).

- My Grandpa's two brothers were also veterans of WW2, and they both also landed on Normandy beach on D-Day too! They also came across one of the concentration camps with their father (my great-grandpa).

- Mom's great Uncle was a pilot of the Flying Tigers (The 23rd Fighter group, not the "Flying Tigers"). All I know that he flew 240 missions, and I don't know how kills he had while flying the P-40 Warhawk and P-51 Mustang.

 

 

 

 

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my grandfather fought as a U.S marine in the Korean War. His job was to cover a south Korean  regiment when it had to fall back. And one nigh while in his fox hole, his officer said ''here is some extra ammunition for tonight, we are expecting a overwhelming Chinese attack''. And my grand father just sat there stunned as the officer went to each foxhole and did the same thing. But thankfully there was no Chinese attack and Soon™ after that night one of his close friends got his head chopped off by a north Korean with a sword. And my grandfather to this day wont even tell me about some of his experiences in Korea.

Edited by ryan97226
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My grandpa's father and his brother fought in "Jatkosota", The Continuation War against the USSR.

His father's brother died. That's about all I know about them, never got to hear any stories.

But my grandpa's sister, who still lives is always telling me stories about hers life when the war was still going on.

Some of the stories that I remember;

Her family owned a farm in Karelia. She was young and was going to go get some milk from the barn. Later on when she was coming back to their house a Russian two seat bi-plane flew over the town, came back around and the other pilot started to shoot civilians with a rifle.

Bi-plane was getting closer to her. She started running and could hear the rifle shooting behind her. She prayed the god to not get hit. She got inside the house slammed the door shut and seconds later a bullet hit the door.

Later on they were forced to leave Karelia.
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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is one. 

 

My great granddad, join the Red Army at the start of the Great Patriotic War, where he was an commander of the 57mm Anti Tank Gun Zis-2 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/57_mm_anti-tank_gun_M1943_(ZiS-2) ) and 5 other people. They took out tanks and carried their gun by hand from when the Germans attacked till he got to the Reich-stag. He fought in the Battle of Kursk, where they took down multiple German tanks, including the Tiger tank.  Before Kursk, his horse got shot that was carrying the gun, so his crew had to carry the gun and ammo by hand. He kept fighting, all the way to Berlin, and he was one of the troops to put their name on the Reich-stag saying they fought to Berlin. He stayed there for 2 years still with the original unit till 1947 when he came back home. 

 

My great grandma was a worker making bread. When she had to retreat back when the Germans were moving in, she got shot at but they didn't hit her. The next time the exact same thing happened, except that she got shot in the bottom. She survived and went back to produce food for the motherland. 

 

Here is a picture of my granddad, who was in the Soviet Army during the Afghanistan War as a radio technician in his full uniform. His left medals are from all the sports his team in the army won, and right are service medals.

http://i.imgur.com/l9ILqIU.png

Edited by Mr_RexehTheDot
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I don't really know much about my grandfather, my dad said he used to have flashbacks.

 

What I do know from what I was told is that he took part in the south east Asian theatre protecting the British commonwealth of Burma ETC from falling into Japanese hands, and that coming from a family with military history he was reasonably well ranked.

He was captured in the fall of Singapore at my age now (20) and sent to work on the Siam–Burma Death Railway. ( One of the lucky few to survive ) He learnt Japanese just by listening to the POW Camp guards.

 

I was told that when the camp was liberated by the US troops they asked for the highest in command and by this point it was my grandfather, they told him that they were liberating the camp and to get people away from the fire fight, he agreed, got the men to safety then picked up a shovel and went for the Prison camp commissioner or officer or whoever was in charge. 

I'm told he killed him but I'm not sure.

 

 

He was recommended for a medal for bravery but never got one but did get a mention in dispatches.

He ended his career as a Major and did something secretive in Malaya.

I'm not sure how many of the stories are true but my family used to still possess the Rising sun flag from the camp still with bullet holes in it but I haven't seen it for many years.

Edited by LTKapal
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  • 2 weeks later...

My Grandmother has an unbelievable story. (I believe it because she has a wood carving she made of a concentration camp the Japanese put all foreigners in during WW2). She was born on Hawaii before the war, her mother Japanese and father Hawaiian in the USAAF. She witnessed Pearl Harbor and after Pearl Harbor, her mother and herself went to Japan because her mother was afraid that they were going to bombed again and that Japan wasn't (rotten luck there). Somehow, she had her named changed to her dead younger sister's because of customs officials and so she can get into school. Still uses that name to this day. Her mother married a well to do man who may have or may not have had connections with the yakuza and had a sizable fishing fleet. Still keep good connection with her half brother still in Japan. While the war was going on, her mother couldn't say anything about her former husband was in the USAAF and was most likely a bomber pilot. She lived outside of Yokohama, remembers seeing the Imperial Fleet and the big flat tops and later in the war, hiding in the rice paddies in the countryside when the Americans were firebombing. Her mother became a nurse, and sometime later in the war, she was shot by a drunk Japanese army officer. She doesn't talk much about the years in WW2 but she does talk about the years afterwards and during the Korean War. She met my Grandfather during then.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My grandfather on my father's side lived in Germany in his twenties, until Hitler rose to power and he chose to come back to Northern Ireland, leaving the life he had there. He served in the Faroe Islands as an AA gunner, at which he was quite an expert. He trained unexperienced men the art of gunnery. At home I have a 2-pounder cartridge with a detailed description, saying it was fired at a Ju-88. What is extraordinary is that he claims to have spotted the brother of the girlfriend he had had in Germany spying  near his headquarters. My father, I've heard from my mother, served in the RAF, although he never told me anything about it, and I doubt he ever saw combat.

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  • 4 weeks later...

My father was a quartermaster in the RAF during the 70's-80's and was still in reserve after he left when the first gulf war kicked off.

He like the rest of the troops was forced to have a weird cocktail of drugs and to this day suffers from gulf war syndrome. He and my mother always blamed his stomach cancer on this.

He never saw much action seeing he was based in Saudi-Arabia however he was on one of the few bases to fall victim to the SCUD's.

However my mother always comments on the fact after he came home he constantly asked for steak at meal times.... turns out they were given free steak every day at the hotel they stayed out while he was based in Saudi-Arabia... typical! lol


Have a pretty long history of my family in the armed forced. My Grandfather was in the SBS in the pacific (so god knows what they did) and survived having his coat throat cut by metal wire laid across a road while he was driving along in a vehicle. We only found out the cause of the scar due to medical reports we found after his death. My great-grandfather also survived the war having fought during the battle of France, Dunkirk, North Africa and Operation Market Garden. My Uncle was released from the Navy a month before the Falklands war kicked off and was devastated he didn't get a chance to serve (mind you to the relief of my grandmother).

Edited by Baldeagle91
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A now retired work mate of mine told me a story he had heard from an older work mate(who was old enough to be in WWII) of his at his former work place. Anyway at that work place they had a meat grinder in the kichen and that guy told my work mate he really disliked the sound of meat grinders. He had been part of a tank crew in the Finnish army during WWII. During a mission or patrol they had encountered on a narrow forest road a Soviet infantry company marching in file and rank. Well after a short massacre of the infantry company the tank crew(s) climbed out and started moving the bodies to the side of the road because they didn't want to  squash the dead soldiers under their tank tracks. But the tank commander(s) thought it was taking too long(in case more Soviet troops shoved up and they were not in their tanks). So they decided they would move ahead with their tanks. And the sound of the meat grinder gave that guy flashbacks from grinding those dead soldiers under their tank tracks.

 

Real war is very nasty and cruel.

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I somehow completly missed this thread, that's why I posted the story of my grandfather here.

 

Anyway, I'll post it here too, seems to be the better place for it.

 

*********************************************************************************************************************

 

My grandpa and his twin were old enough to actually fight in the 2nd world war...

 

...in their youth they recieved the full broadside of Nazi propaganda to make them ready for a war...

 

They wanted to become officers, but they lacked the Abitur (Higher School Certificate), and so they joined the Waffen-SS, in this unit they could become officers without "Abitur"...

 

My grandpa's twin recieved a headshot by a russian "tree-sniper" two days after the launch of Operation Barbarossa...

 

My grandpa survived the war, he was a member of the 3. SS-Panzer-Division „Totenkopf” (since 1939Divisonsbegleitschutz-Gewehrführer beim Divisionsstab),

after he got wounded in Russia (Demyansk in March 1942) he became Ausbilder in the "SS Unterführerschule Radolfszell", later in the "SS Unterführerschule Posen-Treskau" and then (in 1943?) the "SS Unterführerschule Laibach", and after a succesful Lehrgang at the Junkerschule Prag (in 1944?) he came as "Führerersatz" to the 10. SS-Panzer-Division „Frundsberg” (Stabskompanie, als Ausbilder von Ex-Marine & Luftwaffensoldaten zu Panzergrenadieren, frontnahe Ausbildung..., participating in the battle of Arnheim (Operation Market Garden)  and stayed with the „Frundsberg” until the end in the "Halbe Pocket" in the East.

 
He was part of a small unit that tried to break through the russian lines around Spremberg (?), he told me that they had a few halftracks (SdKfz 251s ?) and a Panther with them when they stumbled into a russian AT gun position, they quickly lost all their vehicles in the crossfire and had to run for their lives...
 
My grandpa found 2 of his comrades in the woods and they sneaked through the woods until they met a Wehrmacht Hauptmann with some of his men, who wanted to surrender to the soviets.
 
My grandpa (SS-Hauptsturmführer at that time) and his 2 comrades didn't want to surrender to the soviets, they feared they would be shot on the spot or send to Siberia to work to death, because of being members of the Waffen-SS.
 
So the denied the offer of the Hauptmann and watched the Wehrmacht soldiers marching out of the woods to surrender to the soviets...
 
While watching the spectacle, they were surprised by other soviet soldiers...
"Ruki vverh!" (Руки вверх! Hands up!), and my grandfather and his comrades slowly turned around while raising their hands to see: (this is how my grandpa told the story to me)
 
Tall, clean shaven russian soldiers aiming PPSh-41 submachine guns at us.
One of the russians, a lieutenant came forward and grabbed my collar, to see which unit I was from.
When he recordnized the SS-runes he jumped back and aimed his submachine gun at my chest...I imagined how the bullets would strike me down any moment...
But the russian lieuteneant said:
"Ihr Hitler's Garde, wir Stalin's Garde.
Krieg kaputt. Ihr heim zu Mamuschka und Babuschka"
(You are Hitler's guard, we are Stalin's guard. War is over, you return to mother and grandmother)
 
Then the russian lieutenant led my grandpa and his comrades to some fallen Wehrmacht soldiers and told them to throw away their Waffen-SS uniforms and pick the Wehrmacht uniforms...
 
Now they were marched off to an improvised POW camp...on the way the stream of POWs steadily grew, and my granpa so0n found himself in a column of several hundred men marching into captivity.
 
One rather small soldier marching beside my grandpa whispered something to him, but my grandpa didn't understand him until he had repeated it 3 times ..."Deine Mütze!" (your cap!)...
 
...the cap! My grandpa had already thrown away his "Puukko" (a dagger which he recieved as a gift from finnish Waffen-SS volunteers which he had trained)
and he had removed the silver death-head from his cap, but he had worn that cap for several years, and the death-head was still clearly visible...
 
...so he threw the cap into the nextbest bush and marched on....
 
After a while they reached the prison camp, and settled in as best as they could....my grandpa estimated that there were approx. 6000 german soldiers in that camp...
 
3 sides of the camp were closed, but one side still offered some gaps to squeeze through where the latrines were....
 
Grandpa said that he never had smelled something as awful as that latrine for 6000 men....
 
He waited near the latrines with his 2 comrades for a good opportunity, and when most of the guards seemed busy celebrating their victory they took their chances and made a run for it.
 
Grandpa said that it was only a few hundred meters to the woods, some shots were fired but they were lucky, their escape caused and uproar in the camp and they were cheered with shouts of "Lauft!" (run!) and the guards then fired into the air to restore order in the camp....
 
And their luck held....
 
After marching for several days the comrades parted, and after two weeks of marching, hiding, sneaking and swimming through rivers,
my grandpa reached a small village in northern Germany called "Rullstorf", the village where I grew up.
 
Here he met my grandmother (she had lost her husband in the war), and fell in love with her...later they married and had 3 children.
 
One of their children was my father...
 
If my grandpa hadn't been such a tough (and lucky) soldier he would never have survived 5 years of war and pulled of such an escape from the improvised prison camp...
 
...he would never have met my grandmother, and my father and me would never have been born.
 
May he rest in peace, I loved this man, he is my personal "hero".
 
Here are some of his early war memories, I still haven't translated all of them...it all takes too much time....
 

 

***************************************************************************************************************************************

 

:salute:

Edited by Trommelfeuer
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My grandfather (born December 1926) hardly ever speaks of his time in the war. All I know is, he was 17 and came straight from school when he enlisted to the Wehrmacht.

 

He remembered his basic training somewhere in Austria, where the recuits had to crouch and were being overshot by live round MG fire. "Kriegsnahe Übung" they called it (roughly translates to "warlike exercise"). And he remembers that during a hand grenade exercise that one of his comrades threw the grenade out of the trench they were all sitting in, but the grenade bounced off a nearby tree and tumbled back towards the trench, exploding in the vicinity and badly injuring 3 of my grandpa's comrades.

 

After training (must have been around Summer/Autumn '44) he was assigned to a Panzerjäger Kompanie on the Ostfront as the Gunner of a Hetzer. But as he remembered, they didn't have the tank for very long before it got shot up during a breakthrough of russian T-34s. The whole crew could bail out though and return to their unit, but from then on until the end of the war they never got any replacement vehicle for it.

 

He vividly remembers a night attack by russian infantry, where he and 3 others were stuck in one foxhole with a fixed MG 34. He said he never had a more frightening experience then when the russians started coming towards them in the pitch black darkness, yelling "Uraaaa", "Uraaaa", firing rifles and submachine guns. He and his comrades operated the MG as long as they could before a russian grenade exploded in or very near to their foxhole. After being unconscious for several hours my grandpa woke up to the sounds of german soldiers looking for wounded. He could hardly describe what he saw after that night's fighting, all he said was there was tens of badly shot up russian bodies covering the ground in front of their foxhole and his 3 comrades had all been horribly killed by that grenade. My grandpa himself was the "lucky" one, having caught shrapnel to the head and hand, but otherwise not harmed. He still bears visible scars from those shrapnels.

 

Another thing he remembered was being ordered to firing squad duty on one occasion where a young soldier of another Kompanie had stolen supplies and tried to make it back home to his parents. Up until today, he only told us about this incident twice and both times he couldn't finish his story, being overwhelmed by his feelings.

 

At the end of the war he remembers his unit being somewhere in Czechoslovakia, having been ordered to surrender to the russian forces in front of them. The commander of his unit told them that they were free to try to make it to the demarcation line and surrender to the Americans that were not far behind. My grandfather and 5 others decided to try and instantly marched in a general "homeward" direction. On their way they were lucky not to encounter any military personnel, but instead they met some friendly farmer at the german/czech border who provided them with civilian clothes. The 5 other soldiers soon after split off, being from northern Germany, while my grandpa was from Rhineland-Palatinate. Having almost made it home, he got stopped by an american patrol, who picked him up since he still had kept to his EKII, and his military drivers licence. After a short questioning and finding out that his family lived nearby, the american officer, a Captain, gave him a pack of Lucky Strikes, and a Hershey bar and told him to "Go home, boy!"

 

Again, my grandpa hardly ever talks about his war experience and thus I never found out what Unit he was with exactely.

 

Same goes for other relatives that had been in the war. All I know is that 2 brothers of my grandma's died, one to a russian MG near Kertsch, the other one starved to death as a russian POW, having been captured during the evacuation of the Kuban. Finally, the third brother to my grandma was a fighter pilot in North Africa for some time, but spent most of the war in hospital after he caught jaundice down there and had several fallbacks.

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My father served in the navy on board the Intrepid during Vietnam. He shared many stories, and I hope I do them justice by sharing them here.

 

 

Once, after returning from an operation (He was a RIO) he was helping move a plane out of the way so they could get medics to the crew (The second seat had taken a round through the cockpit) when someone called his name. Dad looked up and got conked on the head by the wing of the plane. Split his flight helmet in two, and tore a massive gash in his scalp. Dad shrugged it off, and headed down to medical himself to get stitches.  On his way there, blood covering his body and flightsuit, he turned a corner and came face to face with one of the ship's crew.  The man took one look at him, screamed quote "Man, YOU DEAD!"  and took off running. Dad noted it was the only time he ever saw anyone manage to run through the knee knocker doors.

 

Another time, he was sitting in the "hot" plane on the number two elevator (a plane loaded with nukes kept ready to launch at a moment's notice) watching as a flight of F4's were launched from the bow cats.  As the plane went off the deck, he heard over the radio the pilot say he had a fire warning light suddenly come on.  The RIO quickly punched out of the plane, ending up floating in the drink. The pilot however noted that as soon as the second seat had bailed out, the warning light went out. So, the ship cleared the deck, sending the hot plane to the hangar, while the pilot flew around dumping fuel before coming back in for a landing. Supposedly, though lacking a large portion of his canopy, he managed to make a perfect three wire landing.  Much to the RIO's chagrin.

 

While serving on board the Shangrila, he remembered one incident that could have turned disasterous, though it ended up being more funny.  A plane was coming in for a landing with ordinance stuck on. While on a ground strike mission, one of the five inch Zuni rockets had failed to start, and was still stuck to the plane's hardpoint. The pilot made a perfect landing, though the shock of the landing must have made a connection for the rocket. The instant the plane hit the deck, there was a loud FWOOOSH! and the rocket took off, flying roughly six inches off the deck. It flew the length of the deck, and for about four miles out front of the ship before it crashed into the water.  Dad noted that people around him didn't dive for cover. Rather they just stood there watching it zip past like it was something you saw every day.

 

The best story is one now told at the Intrepid museum. It was recounted by my father, then confirmed by their research.

 

During the time on the Intrepid, a flight of skyraiders was launched about an hour before the jets. (The jets would catch up.) This flight of Skyraiders was going to the same target as the jets, though for some reason one of them decided to go around one side of a mountain, while the attack jets went around the other side.  Probably a shorter route, all things considered. As the spad (as dad called it) pilot came round the mountain, he came face to face with a MiG 21 coming the other direction. Knowing the MiG likely saw him and was aiming for an attack, the Spad pilot pulled the nose up slightly and fired off his zuni rockets....OBLITERATING the MiG. The gun camera caught it all on tape, and when the pilot landed some six hours later, he was awarded the only Air to Air kill of a Jet by a Propeller plane, of the Vietnam war.  The CAG would joke with them afterward, when the Jets were going on an attack, that he wasn't sending any fighter cover along.  Meaning the Spads weren't going with them.

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My grandfather’s uncle, Leo 'Buddy' Crowe served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War in the Pacific Theater. He received 16 weeks of training at the radioman service school in Farragut, Idaho. After completion of his training on July 3, 1943, he was promoted to radioman third class. From there he spent a year and a half at sea, while being stationed on the USS Nashville.

 

On December 13, 1944, whilst en route to take part in the assault on the Philippine island of Mindoro, a Japanese plane carrying a two bomb payload, piloted by a Kamikaze pilot of the 201st Air Group, Shimpu Attack Unit, Mabalact Airfield, Philippines, struck her port side amidships at nearly 800 km/h.

 

The Nashville remained at her battle station and continued to fight off an air attack as her crew fought the fire and tended to the wounded. The attack resulted in the loss of almost a third of her crew, 190 men were wounded, and 133 died. 

 

Leo was at his station when the Kamikaze struck his ship, he sustained severe burns throughout his body and was hospitalized for several weeks. On January 22, 1945, his mother received a telegram from the Ninth Naval District notifying her that her son had died in the service of his country. He died of his wounds, aged 21 years old. Due to wartime conditions he was buried in the Philippine Islands, after the war his remains were returned to the United States and given proper burial.

 

My grandfather’s mother Daisy, who was Leo's sister, later spoke of a great secret she wanted to tell, but would take to her grave, to which she did. It wasn't until her death in 1990 when it was revealed by her sister, that Leo was in fact not my grandfather’s uncle, but his brother. He was born out of wedlock when Daisy was 22 years old, shortly before moving from Kansas to Minnesota, and was instead raised by his grandmother Ida. To my knowledge, Leo never knew his sister was actually his mother.

 

My grandfather would later go on to join the U.S. Army. In 1951, his unit was activated and sent to Korea, he served as a forward observer, with “H” Companay, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division 1951-1952. He rarely spoke of his wartime experiences or his brother, though he did remain active with the Veterans of Foreign Wars administration, Color Guard, Drum & Bugle Corps, Honor Guard, and was twice promoted to commander of his post. He passed away April 6 of this year.

 

He never resented his enemy, noting "They were just like me, fighting for their country."

 

My family is still awaiting his service records, I will update this post if any new information becomes available.

 

Images

[spoiler]The USS Nashville

[spoiler]'Humble Heroes' book summary[spoiler]

“Top Secret” mystery missions, many without other ships in support, were becoming uncomfortably familiar for the crew of the USS Nashville CL43. It started like a Hollywood thriller, secretly transporting from England $25 million in British gold bullion, delivered to the ship in unguarded bread trucks, a pre-war “Neutrality Patrol” that was really an unofficial hostile search for the far bigger and more powerful German battleship Prinz Eugen, and sneaking through the Panama Canal at night with the ship’s name and hull number covered for secrecy.

Now, with the ship bulging with an unusual load of fuel and supplies, in the company of a large fleet quietly passing under San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the crew was about to learn of their latest (but not last) and most improbable adventure yet as the captain made an announcement that would change the war and their lives forever, “We are going to Tokyo!”. Over three years, scores of battles and hundreds of thousands of ocean miles later, the Nashville and her crew had earned 10 Battle Stars, served from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific, from the Aleutians to the Yangtze River, as McArthur’s flagship and suffered heavy casualties from a devastating kamikaze attack. Tokyo Rose reported her sunk, repeatedly.

Earlier, with goodwill trips that included France, England, Scandinavia, Bermuda and Rio de Janeiro, the new, sleek Nashville built a pre-war reputation as a “glamour ship”. But with war came the secret missions, capturing the second and third Japanese POWs of the war, having a torpedo pass just under the stern, being strafed and bombed by Japanese planes, losing a third of the crew in a single devastating Kamikaze attack, swimming in shark infested waters protected by marines with machine guns, enjoying the beauty of Sydney and her people, planning a suicide mission to destroy the Japanese fishing fleet, and bombarding Japanese troops and airfields across the Pacific.

 

The Nashville crew served their ship and country well. They came from Baltimore row-houses, New York walk-ups, San Francisco flats, Kansas wheat farms, Colorado cattle ranches, Louisiana bayous and Maine fishing towns. Many had never traveled more than 25 miles from home and had never seen the ocean until they joined the service. They were part Irish, part Italian, part Polish and All-American. Battered, burnt and bombed, they made the USS Nashville their home and lived and died as eternal shipmates. Historical narrative enriched with the personal stories of the crew, this is the story of a ship and crew of ordinary men who did extraordinary things.[/spoiler]

 

The Ship[spoiler]

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Leo

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[/spoiler]

 

Documents

[spoiler]

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cJSVS8Z.jpg [/spoiler]

 

My Grandfather ‘Archie’

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Archie in Korea - Bottom right

 

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One of his last services with the Honor Guard[/spoiler]

 

[/spoiler]

 

Full album at imgur due to image limit. Link

 

Thank you guys for allowing us to share our stories here!

 

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I'm not entirely sure if I should pass this story on or not. Not because I'm not related to the man in question, but because of who he was. No, he wasn't famous or anything of the sort. It's just... well. he was a Japanese pilot.

 

Back in 2000, I took a position with a program called the "JET" program. Japanese/English Teachers. Basically, I lived in Japan for over a year and taught English as a Foreign Language at a Japanese high school.  For a time I lived with a host family before getting my own apartment, though I always stayed close to the family, and would often have dinner with them.  The story I'm about to pass on comes from that time, and is about the kind gentleman who was my host.

 

He joined the Japanese military in his second year of University, because like many, he became wrapped up in the politics of the day. The whole nationalistic currents got the better of him, Because of his education, and to some degree his own father who was in the military at the time, he entered flight training. Only the best and brightest were accepted, and it was something of a status to be able to say you were a pilot then.  I suppose today is no different than then, as it's still something of a status symbol. Kids all want to be "fighter pilots" while few if any want to join the infantry.  

 

After his flight training, he was placed in command of a Kate torpedo bomber. He told me at great length the training leading up to pearl harbor, and related what happened to a pilot who had fallen short in his studies.

 

You see, they were trained rather extensively how to recognize US ships from the air, and to prioritize their targets based on that. They were also tested regularly on this, to the point that they were expected to be able to glance at an aerial drawing of a ship and tell its class, name, and the best points to attack it from.  This one young officer, he related, made a rather simple mistake. He wrongly identified a ship, claiming it to be a heavy cruiser, when in fact it was a light cruiser. The training officers beat the boy soundly, before stripping him of his rank and sending him to the infantry to serve in China. A death sentence to say the least, as the pilots didn't go through the same basic training as infantry.  

 

That was the standard procedure of the day. Fail even once, and you were washed out and sent to China, where it was expected you would die. What was worse, your family was shamed, and nothing you could do would change that. Even if you died in battle, that shame would still exist. Everyone would know, and your family would be targeted.  There were even stories of the Kempi Tai, the Japanese Gestapo, making families vanish after their sons failed; though he always thought that was fearmongering.  Not that he was willing to find out otherwise.

 

In any case, the day of the attack came. He related how it felt taking off, and the long flight to Hawaii, adding that he spent most of the time dealing with a gunner who apparently had gotten airsick. The smell in his plane...well he described it as being "ripe." He related that he considered just having his navigator toss the guy out of the plane, but figured they probably needed him, as the Americans would have been alerted to the attack. Or so he thought.

 

He didn't recall, or wouldn't tell me which ship he torpedoed, saying that it was some battleship, but he did note that he thought it strange that so few planes rose to attack them as they took their runs.  The flights returned to the carrier, the attack was deemed a success...and that's where the feces hit the air moving device.  Word filtered down that the attack had been a sneak attack.   I asked him how he felt about this, and he said that he felt ashamed. Bushido was part of the tradition of the military at the time, and one major part of it held that you NEVER attack someone who does not know the attack is coming. He was beside himself, and honestly considered suicide.  Of his squadron, he noted that, five men went "missing."  A nice way of saying they threw themselves off the ship in shame for what they had done. The command ordered the crews put on a watch, and effectively kept them in their quarters for the rest of the operation.

 

The war ended for him shortly before the Battle of Midway, when while landing in a storm he misjudged his height  and struck the rear of the carrier, shearing off his landing gear. He fractured three vertebrae in his back, broke his pelvis in two places, one ankle, and one femur. He ended up in traction, and then a wheelchair, which he did not leave until 1946, after the war had ended.

 

I asked him if he had ever been back to Hawaii, after the war ended, and he related that he had. He went back in 96, where he spoke with survivors from the attack. He told his story, and how ashamed he was of it, and was told by those men there that he had nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, it was a sneak attack, and yes, he had likely killed many sailors, but that wasn't his fault. He was a pilot, and had a job to do; horrible that it may have been, but years had passed and he should not be held responsible now for something that happened because his military had lied to them.  That he still felt bad about it was proof enough to the men there that he, unlike so many in war both then and now, had a heart.  

 

When he died in 2005, I attended his funeral. There were a number of wreaths and condolences sent not just from his family, but from those men he had met on that single, tearful visit in 96. His wife told me that he wrote those men regularly, and they he. Guess it just goes to show, while war may bring out the worst that man has to offer, when two old enemies can look past the darkness and memories, and find the heart to forgive; well maybe there's hope for us yet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had family members on both the maternal and paternal sides who participated in WW2 and thankfully all but 2 came home at War's End. My father's eldest brother was an Artillery Forward Observer with the 83rd Division, and killed just SW of Carentan by a sniper from the 17th SS Panzergrenadier Regt. My maternal grandfather was a pilot with the 635 Squadron (Pathfinders) of 8 Group, Bomber Command, flying the Avro Lancaster Mk. III. His plane was lost over Bonn, in April 1945.

 

Another paternal uncle was an M4A3E8 (Sherman Easy Eight) driver in the 37th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division, III Corps of Gen. Patton's Third Army, and was part of the first tanks to enter Bastogne, ending the siege during the Battle of the Bulge.

 

Myself, I began my Navy career as the forward dual 50 gunner on a PBR mk II, Section 524, River Assault Division 52, based on the Mekong River at Vinh Long, Republic of South Vietnam. After the division was transferred to the SVN Navy (1971), I was transferred to Coronado, CA, for training as an assault boat coxswain (BM-0164), which culminated in a 24 year career in the Taxi Service to the Marine Corps.

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  • 1 month later...

One of my relatives of my mother's side fought for the Austro-Hungarian army. He was shot and killed while fighting near the River Piave.

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Here's another:

 

In WW2 when the Germans came to my mother's grandfather's village in Slovakia, they rounded up all the men and took them to the local school. They would stay there all night, and in the morning they would be marched to the nearest concentration camp. Anyway, my great grandfather decided to escape. He and a buddy managed to sneak out of the school and live. In the morning the Germans kept their promise, and the men were sadly taken away, though thankfully my great grandfather lived. He was captured by the Germans like this again, and again he managed to escape! Without the bravery (and luck) of my great grandfather I would not be here today, neither would be my mother, brother, etc.

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  • 4 weeks later...

My grand father worked as a navigator for the cargo ships that either sailed out from Portland Maine or Bath Maine heading for England. He told me that they headed out with 5 cargo ships and made it to England with 3 and it turned out that the 2 others had been sunk only about 10 miles behind them and didn't even have time to send out a distress call.

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