Category Archives: War Heroes

Veterans Day 2020 Roy “Roxy” Oxenrider survived Korean War’s Toughest Battle

 Roy D “Roxy” Oxenrider

Photo added by Volunteer #46577499

Roy D “Roxy” Oxenrider

BIRTH
DEATH 15 Dec 2013 (aged 81)
BURIAL

Benton, Saline County, Arkansas, USA

MEMORIAL ID 121824360 · View Source

Below is an article that was published in November of 2010 in the Saline Courier:

Saline County War Hero

Bryant resident Roy “Roxy” Oxenrider Survived Korean War’s Toughest Battle in 1950

The Battle of Chosin Reservoir took place in Korea from November 26, 1950 to December 11th. The United Nations (UN) forces included soldiers from  South Korea, United States, and the United Kingdom. The UN forces numbered 25,000 soldiers and 2836 were killed and 7500 suffered cold related injuries. The Chinese had 120,000 soldiers and 35,000 killed.

China had entered the conflict just days earlier and huge numbers of Chinese Soldiers swept across the Yalu river, surrounding the UN troops at the Chosin Reservoir. A huge battle in freezing weather followed, and the UN troops were able to cut through Chinese lines in what can be described as a fighting withdrawal.

Roy Oxenrider has been a Saline County resident for over 30 years and currently both he and his wife Mildred live in Bryant. He was born near Harrisburg, PA. Below is his story concerning his experience in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir:

On September 13, 1949, age 17, I entered the U.S.Army through the recruiting center in Philadelphia, PA. After basic training in Ft Knox, KY, I was sent to Ft Benning, GA for advanced infantry training with the 3rd Division. Four days after the Korean war broke out, my name was posted on the board for duty in Korea.

I was assigned to 1st Battalion, 32 Regiment, 7th Division, Company A. On December 1, 1950 the weather started to clear around noon and the Corsairs appeared to give us cover. Someone yelled, “Able Company on the road.” I jumped out of my foxhole and started toward the road and realized my ROK soldier,  Joung He Su, was not by my side, this was unusual. I was between the road and railroad near the front of the truck column when I turned to look for Joung He Su. As I turned, I heard a plane and just looked up in time to see a napalm dropping from the bottom of the plane, prematurely hitting in our perimeter area. I jumped for a nearby foxhole but did not make it all the way in. You could smell the scorch of my clothing. The men coming across on their way to the front of the truck column were hit by napalm. There were 10 to 12 men completely on fire and several others with blotches of fire on them. We yelled for them to roll in the snow. I believe Joung He Su to be one of those that was on fire because I did not see him anymore. We still were having to fight hand to hand with the Chinese as the men were burning.

A machine gun had started firing on us and small arms fire was coming from the high ground on the left. We managed to cut down enough of them to move up to take our place at the rear of the truck column. The trucks were not moving. A Chinese MG on the high ground to the left was firing. It was accompanied by a hail of small arms fire. My squad went down the bank on the right side of the road to the edge of the reservoir. We used the bank for cover to get behind the MG to knock it out. As we moved along the reservoir edge we came to a little opening, like a cove. As I started across the open space, the MG switched fire zones. I was shot through both thighs, and knocked to the ice. There was no pain. Perhaps because of the extreme cold, I did not yet know that I had been hit.

My buddy and squad leader, Harold Verseman, was behind me, and said, “Come on, Roy, get up. We got work to do.” I thought my feet had slipped from under me on the ice, but as I tried to rise, I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed. I called to Harold, “I can’t get up, I’ve been hit.” Harold turned, came back through a storm of bullets, the ice chipping and shattering around him and me as well. He got me by the arm and pulled me to the bank out of the line of fire. How he escaped being hit, I will never know. Of one thing I am certain, Harold Verseman saved my life. I could not have gotten off the ice by myself. I had dropped my carbine. Harold called a medic, turned to get my carbine, but it was gone. Someone had picked it up. He turned, and said, “Roy. I’m sorry, but I have to go.” He left at a run for the head of the column.

The medics cut my pants in a cross pattern, bandaged my legs, and carried me up the bank to a truck. They moved other wounded forward in the truck bed. I was placed parallel to the tailgate. My head was on the driver’s side. By this time, a Corsair plane had knocked out the Chinese MG. The truck began moving. I was in the last truck in the column. One thing that sticks in my memory is the courage of the soldier/truck drivers who manned those improvised ambulances loaded with wounded. Any man who slipped into the seat of one of those trucks was committing suicide. All knew it, but it stopped none. The trucks never lacked drivers. As one was hit he would be dragged out, another took his place. I think they deserved our nations; highest award. The Medal of Honor. Each of those guys was a hero. There was only one narrow road. The Chinese could concentrate fire on the driver. They had the advantage of the high ground on the left, looking down the driver’s throat. Blown bridges and road blocks also slowed the column. It was a nightmare scenario.

By the time we reached the first blown out bridge our fifth driver had been killed or wounded. This time the truck went into a shallow ditch on the right and leaned at a 45% angle, exposing the rear of the truck to direct enemy fire. The Chinese were firing into the truck, wounding and killing already wounded men. The bullets sounded like great gravel thrown against the truck, only much louder. My arm was jammed against the tailgate, as bullets hit the steel it felt like my arm was being torn off.  The Chinese were now streaming down the hillside. John Parker of A Company got out, followed by a wounded officer. I kept trying and finally was able to roll over the top of the tailgate. As I felt, my rib cage hit on the trailer hitch, knocking the wind out of me. I thought, this is it. I can’t move. The Chinese will shoot me because I can not walk.

This thought enabled me to roll into the ditch and crawl into the brush with the wounded officer and Parker. We hid until dark. We heard screams, grenades and shooting. We knew no one else would get off that truck alive. That scene haunts me to this day. Some of those men stuck fast, frozen in the their own blood. I knew there was nothing I could do. Nevertheless, the self questioning has never stopped. I can still hear those cries for help. The bitter cold helped some like myself because blood froze so that one did not bleed to death, but to others it was tragic.

The officer wanted to follow the road. Parker and I did not agree with him. We parted. Parker had no shoes, only socks. He had suffered a stomach wound at the perimeter. The medics had removed his boots since he was unable to change his own socks, and placed his feet in a sleeping bag to prevent frostbite. I had extra socks under my shirt and an extra pair of insoles. We put the insoles on the bottoms of the first pair of socks, then pulled on the second pair to hold the insoles. It wasn’t much in that -25 degree to -40 degree weather, but better than what he had. When it is that cold, a few degrees did not seem to make much difference. I had regained some feeling in my left leg. Finding a tree limb for a crutch, we followed the RR, moving cautiously throughout the night. At one point, the Chinese walked by us. We lay doggo among the dead, there were so many they never noticed us. We left the RR, too many Chinese. We must have gone around the back (west) side of Hill 1221.

Next day we would go a short distance, stop, listen, then go on again. We did this all day. After dark we came to a village. It must have been Sasu. John was in bad shape. he could not walk. His feet were frozen. Pushing open the door of a L-shaped Korean house, I remember the frightened faces of the elderly couple who lived there. There were three other GI’s in the hut, one badly wounded. We decided we three unwounded would leave early in the morning to find our lines. I left my .45 pistol with one round for John, and promised the two of them to send help if we found anyone. Next morning, December 3rd, in total darkness, the three of us left. I moved very slowly, but the other two men did not leave me.

 Throughout the morning we were fired upon by the Chinese. About 10 AM several marines stood up and zeroed in on us with their rifles. I thought, My God, we have come this far, and now our own people are going to shoot us. They came out to us, two marines slung their rifles, picked me up, carried me bodily for some distance. They loaded us into a 3/4 truck that was brought out of the Marine perimeter. We told them about our other two buddies in the Korean village, and they promised to go find them. In 1988, scanning some morning reports I had requested, I learned that John Parker was flown out on December 3rd on the same plane I was on. I don’t remember leaving the truck. Perhaps I passed out.The next memory is being loaded onto an airplane. My litter was dropped in loading. I came to for a brief few seconds. A temporary airstrip had been completed at Hagaru-ri. We were flown from there to a clearing station, then to Osaka Army Hospital in Japan. In an article I later read, one of the pilots described the wounded evacuees as filthy, unshaven, stinking from dried blood, the smell of smoke, gun powder and unwashed bodies. He was not critical, merely literal and honest in his description.Roy Oxenrider received three battle stars, the Purple Heart Metal, National Defense Service Metal, Field Medical Badge, United Nations Service Metal, Korean War Presidential Unit Citation, Good Conduct Metal, and the Combat Infantry Badge.

Everette Hatcher is a regular contributor of the Saline Courier and he is the fourth generation in his family to work in the broom manufacturing business. Everette and his wife Jill have four children and live in Alexander.
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Veterans Day 2011 Part 2 (Bataan Death March)

My longtime friend Craig Carney is originally  from Jacksonville, and  he told me a couple of years ago about a friend of his parents from Jacksonville, Arkansas named Silas Legrow. Legrow  was going to speak at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History on April 17, 2008 about his experience in the March of 1942 when […]

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Veterans Day 2020 (Black Hawk Down and North Little Rock’s Donavan “Bull” Briley)

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CWO Donavan L “Bull” Briley

Photo added by Christina Atkinson

CWO Donavan L “Bull” Briley

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The movie Black Hawk Down was based on an actual event that took place in Mogadishu, Somalia. This documentary explains the event.

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On October 3, 2003 my son  played quarterback at the Arkansas Baptist High School Football game that night. However, I can not remember how he performed that night, but I vividly remember the singing of the national anthem. That is because his fellow student Jordan Briley sang the national anthem on the 10th anniversary of the day her father Donavan “Bull” Briley gave his life for his country.

CW3 Donavan “Bull” Briley grew up in North Little Rock, Arkansas.He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for gallantry in action during combat operations in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 3, 1993 in operation Gothic Serpent.  His actions as the pilot of an assault into a highly contested urban objective were heroic.  After a brilliant assault of the objective, he held his position and fought to support the ground forces during their actions.  His “Black Hawk” aircraft was subsequently downed by enemy fire and, through his exceptional skill, the passengers’ lives were saved. The movie Black Hawk Down (2001) directed by Ridley Scott shows his heroic actions.

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Bataan Death March Survivor Silas Legrow of Cabot, Arkansas Rest in Peace

We lost a great man recently when we lost Silas Legrow. He was 90 years old. I had written about him before. Back then I wrote:

My longtime friend Craig Carney is originally  from Jacksonville, and  he told me a couple of years ago about a friend of his parents from Jacksonville, Arkansas named Silas Legrow. Legrow  was going to speak at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History on April 17, 2008 about his experience in the March of 1942 when he and his unit were forced to participate in what became known as the Bataan Death March in the Philippines. My 11 year old son Wilson and I went to hear him speak that night and were able to get a front row seat. 

Legrow started off his talk that evening by stating, “I want to tell you that prayer and faith meant a lot to me during those 39 months. Each day on the march, we plodded along like zombies.Words can’t explain the mental and physical abuse your body takes when you go without food and water.”

Legrow said he weighed 175 pounds at the beginning of the march, and 110 when the 10-day trek was over. About 100,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war were forced to march about 60 miles with no food and little water from the Bataan Peninsula to prison camps. Over 10% of that number died during the march.

“Many died, many lived, and only a few of us are alive today to tell the story,” Legrow said. “I feel both blessed and grateful to be one of those few.”  

After the talk was over I got to visit personally with Mr Legrow (who was 85 yrs old at the time) and he thanked us for coming. I told him  that his talk seemed only a few moments long since it was so interesting. In fact, you could have heard a pin drop during his talk because of the respect the people had for Mr. Legrow. 

 

OBITUARY SUBMITTED BY:

Roller-Owens Funeral Home

5509 John F. Kennedy Blvd., North Little Rock, AR

Phone: 501-791-7400

Below is an excellent story on Legrow’s experience.

 

Pfc. Silas B. LeGrow


    Pfc. Silas B. LeGrow was born in August 12, 1918.  He was raised, with his brother, at 3512 Tacon Street in Tempa, Florida, where he attended school.  While he was a child, he was orphaned and raised by his aunt and uncle.  He later moved to Toledo, Ohio, where he lived with a cousin at 1116 Starr Avenue.  He would later work on a farm as a hired hand in Portage Township, Wood County, Ohio.       While a resident of Toledo, Silas attempted to join a local Ohio National Guard Unit, but since there were no openings, he could not join the company.  With the help of Lt. Col. Roland B. Lee of the Ohio National Guard, Silas was able to join the Company H Tank Company of the Ohio National Guard.

    On November 25, 1940, Silas’s National Guard company was called to Federal duty as C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  The company was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky were it joined three other National Guard companies from Wisconsin, Illinois, and Kentucky to form the battalion.  For most of the next year, the soldiers trained and attended school. In Silas’s case he became a tank driver.

    In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd Tank Battalion took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  It was after these maneuvers that Silas learned that the battalion was being sent overseas.  He and the other soldiers were given furloughs home to say goodbye to family and friends.

    From Camp Polk, Louisiana, Silas traveled west to San Francisco by train. Upon arrival, the battalion was taken by ferry to Angel Island.  There, the soldiers were inoculated and received physicals.

   Sailing for the Philippine Islands, the battalion arrived in Manila and was transported by train to Ft. Stotsenburg.  For over two weeks the soldier prepared their tanks for maneuvers.  

   The morning of December 8, 1941, Silas learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Around 12:45 in the afternoon, while Silas was serving lunch to C Company, the Japanese attacked Clark Field.  During the attack, Silas could do little but watch. Silas recalled, “It seemed like a false alarm. No one could believe that the Japs would ever attack the United States.” 

    For the next four months, Silas attempted to feed the soldiers of C Company in whatever manner he could.  The morning of April 9, 1942, he became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.  

    Two days after the surrender, Silas and the rest of C Company made their way to Mariveles.  It was from there that they started what became known as the Bataan Death March.  “I weighed 175 pounds at the start of the two week march and was down to 110 when it ended.”  Suffering from malaria, Silas had to be helped on the march by other members of the company.  “We all had to help each other.  The men were ready to drop from exhaustion and anyone who lagged would be prodded along with bayonets and rifle butts.”

    Silas and the other POWs made there way to San Fernando.  There, they were packed into small wooden boxcars and taken to Capas.  At Capas, the dead fell out of the cars as the living climbed out.  From Capas he made his way to Camp O’Donnell.

   Silas was next held as a POW at Cabanatuan.  He remained in the camp until October 1942, when he was selected for shipment to Manchuria.

       On October 5, 1942, Silas and another 1600 POW’s were sent to the dock area of Manila,  They spent two days housed in a warehouse on the dock before being boarded onto Tottori Maru. 

    Silas and the other men were placed into the ship’s hold.  They would remain there for two days before the ship sailed.  The trip would take 31 days before the ship docked in Korea. According to Silas “All we had to eat was fish and wormy rice. We had to pick out as many worms as we could, but we couldn’t get out all of them.  Sometimes we got so hungry, we ate the rice, worms and all.”

    The ship sailed for Takao, Formosa.  The prisoners were divided into two groups. One group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck.  The lucky POWs remained on deck.   The conditions on the ship were indescribable, but those in the hold were worse off than those on deck.  This situation was made worse by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed.  Many POWs died during the trip.

    Shortly after leaving Manila, the Totori Maru came under a torpedo attack by an American submarine.  The captain of the ship maneuvered it to avoid torpedoes.  Woody and the other POWs watched as the two torpedoes fired at the ship missed. 

    The ship continued its voyage arriving at Takao, Formosa on October 12th.  The ship remained at Takao for four days before sailing.  It returned to Takao the same day and sailed again on October 18th.   When it reached the Pescadores Islands, it dropped anchor. It remained off the islands until October 27th when it returned to Takao.  During this stay, the POWs were disembarked and washed down with fire hoses.

   The ship sailed again on October 30th.  On October 31st, the ship stopped at Makou, Pescadores Islands before continuing its trip to Pusan, Korea.  During this trip, the ship was caught in a typhoon which took five days to ride out.  It was during this storm that Woody’s friend lost the vision in one eye because he was hit the face by salt water spray.

    After 31 days on the ship, the Totori Maru docked at Pusan, Korea on November 7th.  1300 POW’s got off the ship and sent on a four day train trip north to Mukden, Manchria.   The 400 POWs who remained on the ship were sent to Japan.  There, they worked in a sawmill or a manufacturing plant.

    At Mukden, Manchuria, Silas was given a set of clothes and a overcoat.  These were the only clothes he received while he was held at Mukden.   At Mukdan, the POWs were housed in wooden barracks.  The prisoners slept on double-decker shelves with only a thin mat between them and the wooden boards. He and the other POWs had to sleep on their sides since there was no room to stretch out.

   Silas remained in Manchuria until he was liberated by Russian troops in 1945.  He returned to the United States and visited his relatives in Florida. Later, he returned to Port Clinton to be reunited with the other surviving members of C Company.

   Silas married and became the father of four sons.  Today, Silas B. LeGrow resides in Cabot, Arkansas.  He is one of the last two surviving National Guard members of C Company.

Rel

 

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My longtime friend Craig Carney is originally  from Jacksonville, and  he told me a couple of years ago about a friend of his parents from Jacksonville, Arkansas named Silas Legrow. Legrow  was going to speak at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History on April 17, 2008 about his experience in the March of 1942 when […]

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Veterans Day 2020 (A look back at Okinawa)

Photo of Walter M. Dickinson

LT. COLONEL WALTER M. DICKINSON SR., age 97 met his Heavenly Father on December 14, 2018. He was the son of Ruby and Walter M. Dickinson of Worcester Massachusetts.

This portion below appeared in an article I did for the Saline Courier about 18 months ago:

I went to the First Baptist Church in Little Rock from 1983 to 1997, and during that time I became friends with Walter Dickinson Sr. In fact, we used to attend a weekly luncheon together on Thursdays.
Just this week I was told that Mr. Dickinson fought in War World II. I called him up yesterday, and he told me his story.
In 1939 Walter joined the National Guard in Wooster, Mass., where he grew up. He was activated in January 1941 and was trained in Fort Benning, Ga. The military moved him down to Little Rock, and that is where he met his future wife, Carlice, and their first date was at Little Rock’s First Baptist Church in downtown Little Rock in 1943.
He was shipped out in May 1943 to Leyte Island in the Philippines, but before he left, he told Carlice if she would wait for him, then he would marry her upon his return. He did that in December  1945 at the First Baptist Church of Little Rock.
Dickinson remembers Easter Day, April 1,1945, like it was yesterday. He landed as an infantryman on the island of Okinawa in what was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War, and lucky for the Americans the Japanese were not there to meet them on the beaches. Instead, they were dug in the side of the mountain waiting for them.

He was a 2nd Lieutenant, which was the group that got wiped out the most. Dickinson said that he was a replacement lieutenant.
The main objective of the operation was to seize a large island only 340 miles away from mainland Japan. The plan was to use Okinawa as a base for air operations on the planned invasion of Japan.
On April 20, 1945, Dickinson was hit by shrapnel, and he was sent to the army hospital in Guam. He got fixed up and then prepared for the invasion of Japan. However, President Truman had two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan surrendered  shortly before the invasion of Japan was to begin.
Japan lost over 100,000 troops, and the Americans suffered more than 12,500 dead and 35,000 wounded at Okinawa.
Walter Dickinson will turn 89 in three months, and he is still active today. He received the Purple Heart, and after the war he got his law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and set up his practice in Little Rock.

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Joe Speaks of Arkansas was captured twice during the European battles

File:117th Infantry North Carolina NG at St. Vith 1945.jpg

American soldiers of the 117th Infantry Regiment, Tennessee National Guard, part of the 30th Infantry Division, move past a destroyed American M5A1 “Stuart” tank on their march to recapture the town of St. Vith during the Battle of the Bulge, January 1945


I have so much respect for war heroes and I wanted to remember them today which 68 years after D Day. Below I have the story of Joe Speaks who fought in Europe and was captured twice by the Germans.

Photo by Associated Press

American GI's clamber into a landing craft as they prepare to hit the beaches along France's Normandy coast in June 1944. The World War II operation was part of the massive Allied D-Day invasion to chase German forces out of France. An armada of landing vessels sits in the background under barrage balloons.(AP Photo/Wartime Pool) AP

American GI’s clamber into a landing craft as they prepare to hit the beaches along France’s Normandy coast in June 1944. The World War II operation was part of the massive Allied D-Day invasion to chase German forces out of France. An armada of landing vessels sits in the background under barrage balloons. (AP Photo/Wartime Pool)

If you would like to read some great stories about some fine soldiers who fought to defend our country then click on the links below. All the soldiers are from Arkansas and I have been writing their stories for a local paper called “The Benton Courier” (now known as “The Saline Courier”).

Photo by Associated Press

In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a U.S. Coast Guard landing boat, tightly packed with helmeted soldiers, approaches the shore at Normandy, France, during initial Allied landing operations, June 6, 1944. These vessels, known as Higgins boats, ride back and forth across the English Channel, bringing wave after wave of reinforcement troops to the Allied beachheads. (AP Photo)

A U.S. Coast Guard landing barge, tightly packed with helmeted soldiers, approaches the shore at Normandy, France, during initial Allied landing operations, June 6, 1944. These barges ride back and forth across the English Channel, bringing wave after wave of reinforcement troops to the Allied beachheads. (AP Photo)

Story of Joe Speaks:

On Sunday June 27th, 2010 in the article “Heroes among us,” Benton Courier, there was a story about Larry’s father Joe. Here is a portion of that article:

Larry Joe Speaks of Cabot is my wife’s cousin, and recently he told me about his father’s time in World War II. Joe Speaks (originally from Waldron , Ark. ) arrived in Normandy six days after D-Day (June 6, 1944), and he was involved in the Battle of the Bulge and he fought at Bastogne . The Battle of the Bulge was the bloodiest of the battles that U.S. forces experienced in World War II; the 19,000 American dead were unsurpassed by those of any other engagement. 

During one day of intense fighting, Speaks was so focused on shooting and reloading during the heat of the action that he did not realize that his leg had been struck by shrapnel during the battle. As soon as the battle was over, a fellow soldier pointed out that his boot was filled with blood. Speaks said he had not felt a thing.  

In another battle, Speaks was on the second floor of a building involved in a machine gun battle with the Germans. Then in the middle of the battle, the soldier in charge of getting the ammunition from downstairs did not return. So Speaks went downstairs to get the ammunition and discovered the Germans were holding everyone at gunpoint. Speaks asked the lieutenant upstairs to come down because the situation was hopeless, but the lieutenant refused.  

Then the Germans took their prisoners and backed off some and bombed the building. For the next two weeks, the American prisoners were forced to march back and forth next to that building with the lieutenant’s boot still sticking out of the rumble.  

When the Germans were not looking, Speaks and another soldier took off running and escaped. They made it to a farm owned by a German lady, and they made up a story that Hitler had been killed and the lady broke down and cried. She allowed them to stay in the barn until the end of the war.  

Joe Speaks passed away on March 1, 1999, at age 73 and was buried in Sheridan . He had received two Purple Hearts, a Silver Cross and a Silver Eagle.

Photo by Associated Press

Original caption: "Into the Jaws of Death: Down the ramp of a Coast Guard landing barge Yankee soldiers storm toward the beach-sweeping fire of Nazi defenders in the D-Day invasion of the French coast.  Troops ahead may be seen lying flat under the deadly machinegun resistance of the Germans.  Soon the Nazis were driven back under the overwhelming invasion forces thrown in from Coast Guard and Navy amphibious craft."

In this June 6, 1944 file photo, while under attack of heavy machine gun fire from the German coastal defense forces, American soldiers wade ashore off the ramp of a U.S. Coast Guard landing craft during the Allied landing operations at the Normandy. (AP Photo)

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War Hero Joe Speaks and D Day pictures

 Below I have the story of Joe Speaks who fought in Europe and was captured twice by the Germans. Photo by Associated Press American GI’s clamber into a landing craft as they prepare to hit the beaches along France’s Normandy coast in June 1944. The World War II operation was part of the massive Allied […]

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German prisoners of war are led away by Allied forces from Utah Beach, on June 6, 1944, during landing operations at the Normandy coast, France. (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

German prisoners of war are led away by Allied forces from Utah Beach, on June 6, 1944, during landing operations at the Normandy coast, France. (AP Photo)

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower visits paratroopers, including Bill Hayes, at center behind Ike's right hand, in England on June 5, 1944, moments before the troops boarded transport planes bound for Normandy and the June 6 D-Day invasion. Hayes, who now lives in Fargo, N.D., recalls how he told Eisenhower that he was 'damned scared' before the mission, his first combat jump of the war.  This photo became a pre-invasion classic and continues to bring Hayes a measure of celebrity. (AP Photo/File)

Photo by Associated Press

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower visits paratroopers, including Bill Hayes, at center behind Ike’s right hand, in England on June 5, 1944, moments before the troops boarded transport planes bound for Normandy and the June 6 D-Day invasion. Hayes, who now lives in Fargo, N.D., recalls how he told Eisenhower that he was “damned scared” before the mission, his first combat jump of the war. This photo became a pre-invasion classic and continues to bring Hayes a measure of celebrity. (AP Photo/File)

This was the scene along a section of Omaha Beach in June, 1944 during Operation Overlord, the code name for the Normandy invasion during World War II. Large landing craft put troops and supplies on shore at Omaha, one of five invasion beaches. In background is part of the fleet of 2,727 ships that brought the allied troops from Britain.  In the air are barrage balloons, designed to entangle low-flying attack aircraft in their cables. (AP Photo/files)

Photo by Associated Press

This was the scene along a section of Omaha Beach in June, 1944 during Operation Overlord, the code name for the Normandy invasion during World War II. Large landing craft put troops and supplies on shore at Omaha, one of five invasion beaches. In background is part of the fleet of 2,727 ships that brought the allied troops from Britain. In the air are barrage balloons, designed to entangle low-flying attack aircraft in their cables. (AP Photo/files)

Members of an American landing unit help their exhausted comrades ashore during the Normandy invasion, June 6, 1944. The men reached the zone code-named Utah Beach, near Sainte Mere Eglise, on a life raft after their landing craft was hit and sunk by German coastal defenses.  (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

Members of an American landing unit help their exhausted comrades ashore during the Normandy invasion, June 6, 1944. The men reached the zone code-named Utah Beach, near Sainte Mere Eglise, on a life raft after their landing craft was hit and sunk by German coastal defenses. (AP Photo)

U.S. Air Force photograph of P-38's streaking towards France on D-Day.

Photo by U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force photograph of P-38′s streaking towards France on D-Day.

Men of the American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming a coastal area code-named Omaha Beach during the Allied invasion of the Normandy, wait by the chalk cliffs at Collville-sur-Mer for evacuation to a field hospital for further treatment, June 6, 1944.  (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

Men of the American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming a coastal area code-named Omaha Beach during the Allied invasion of the Normandy, wait by the chalk cliffs at Collville-sur-Mer for evacuation to a field hospital for further treatment, June 6, 1944. (AP Photo)

Veterans Day 2020 Leon McDaniel of World War II (second post)

Okinawa

U.S. Marines on Okinawa

U.S. Marines on Okinawa

U.S. Marines battling for control of a ridge near Naha, Okinawa, May 1945.

U.S. Department of Defense

_____________________________________________________

This story was originally published in the Saline Courier and the first part of the story about Leon McDaniel can be found at this link.

Okinawa
Leon McDaniel said the battle of Okinawa proved to be the roughest on the Army, Navy and Marines. More men and ships were lost during this battle because of Japanese kamikaze attacks than any other battle.
The USS George Clymer was targeted by a kamikaze plane, but it missed. The USS Bunker Hill aircraft carrier was not so lucky. On the morning of May 11, 1945, 346 men were killed in one attack by kamikaze pilot Ensign Klyoshi Ogawa of Japan.
During the very intense battles, McDaniel would wait in the landing crafts a half-mile from shore for the troops to bring the wounded men down to the shore, where he then picked up the wounded and carried them to the waiting hospital ships.
After Okinawa, McDaniel said, the USS Clymer and many other ships were near the Philippine Islands when they were hit by a typhoon. The ships were in the storm for close to 24 hours. Ships became separated, and a destroyer was never seen or heard from again.
The swells were 80 feet high, McDaniel recalled, and the ship would ride to the top of many swells and then the whole bottom would fall out. McDaniel did have to serve on deck during part of that storm. He was tied to the watch station and at other times he was tied to his bunk.
McDaniel had a twin brother named Louie (now deceased) who served on the USS George Clymer with him. Before receiving ship assignments they were told to ask for no special treatment or assignments. However, Leon had made a promise to his mother to bring Louie and himself home again. So he asked for special permission to be kept together because of being twins and was granted his request.
Leon McDaniel said he participated in the attacks on Guam, Saipan, Leyte, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and for these battles he was awarded five medals.
I have known McDaniel’s daughter, Linda Matyskiela and her husband, Terry, for 10 years as the owners of Bobby’s Country Cookin’ in Little Rock. Linda recently told me, “Daddy, for the last few months, seems to be living in those days that he once would never talk about. My sister Karen and I are so proud of what he did for our country in those many months. He lost friends and shipmates. He kept in touch with several of these men from the ship (from Texas) until the last few years. My family thanks you very much for wanting to share part of his time in World War II. We are so proud of him.”
Linda told me that McDaniel was humbled by my plans to write this article. However, it is I and the readers of this newspaper that should feel humbled to have brave heroes such as Leon McDaniel who have served our Armed Forces and did what had to be done to get us to the point where we could celebrate our nation’s first VJ Day 65 years ago today.

Everette Hatcher is a regular contributor to The Saline Courier and is the fourth generation in his family to work in the broom manufacturing business. Everette and his wife, Jill, have four children and live in Alexander.

_______________________________________________

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Veterans Day 2020 :You have heard of Jimmy Doolittle, but what about Leon A. McDaniel?

https://i2.wp.com/www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/photographs/large/c29738-13.jpg

Lt. General James Doolittle, head and shoulders.jpg

General James Doolittle

I love the movie “Pearl Harbor” with Ben Affleck and it tells the story of Jimmy Doolittle.  He was born in 1896 and died in 1993. He is pictured above with Ronald Reagan.  He enlisted in the army in World War I and became an aviator. After the war he earned a Ph.D. in engineering and remained in the Army Air Corps as a test pilot until 1930, when he became head of aviation for Shell Oil Co. In 1932 he set a world air speed record. Returning to active duty during World War II, he led a daring raid on Tokyo (1942), for which he received the Congressional Medal of Honor. He commanded air operations on many fronts, including attacks on Germany in 1944 – 45. After the war he remained active in the aerospace industry. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1989.

Here is a clip from the movie “Pearl Harbor” about Doolittle.

WWII Battle of Leyte Gulf

This was published earlier in the Saline Courier.

(I have known McDaniel’s daughter, Linda Matyskiela and her husband, Terry, for 10 years as the owners of Bobby’s Country Cookin’ in Little Rock. Here is a story about Linda’s father Leon McDaniel. Both Leon and his wife Joyce recently passed away, but were able to read and enjoy this article when it was published two years ago.)

A little after noon, Japanese standard time on Aug. 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito’s announcement of Japan’s surrender was broadcast over the radio in Japan. Some Japanese soldiers, crushed by the surrender, committed suicide, and well over 100 American prisoners of war were also executed by the Imperial Japanese Army. Nevertheless, the USA had arrived at Victory over Japan Day, or VJ Day.
Getting to this day did not come easy for the United States. Major sacrifices had to be made by our soldiers, and many of them were from Arkansas.
I wanted to recognize the service of just a fraction of the dedicated soldiers that have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Today I wanted to start with Leon A. McDaniel.
Currently McDaniel, 84, lives in Mount Ida with wife Joyce of 64 years, but he was born and raised in Nimrod in Perry County.
McDaniel joined the Navy at age 17 and served from October 1943 until August 1946. He was based in San Francisco and served 23 months on the USS George Clymer APA 27. The USS George Clymer was a Marine and Army transport ship and was involved also in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
After boot camp, McDaniel was trained to be the coxswain of the landing crafts. The coxswain is the person in charge of the steering of a boat.McDaniel drove both the larger crafts that landed the tanks on the beaches and the smaller crafts that landed the troops on the beaches. McDaniel said he transported many Japanese POWs to ships that took the Japanese to POW camps.

Guam
The Second Battle of Guam was from July 21 to Aug. 8, 1944, and resulted in the capture of the Japanese held island of Guam. The battle started with the Americans numbering 36,000 and the Japanese 22,000. It ended with 1,747 Americans killed and over 18,000 Japanese killed. There were 485  Japanese POWs taken captive.
When the USS George Clymer was anchored off Guam from July 21 to Aug. 21, every other day at dusk Leon McDaniel would be responsible for driving the landing craft around the ship that carried the commanders of the task force. His all-night duty would end at dawn. It was his duty to make sure Japanese divers or torpedo boats did not surprise-attack the ship.

Leyte
The Battle of Leyte Gulf was fought from Oct. 23 to 26, 1944,  in waters near the Philippine islands of Leyte, Samar, and Luzon. It was and still is the largest naval battle of all time.
The Imperial Japanese Navy brought together almost all of its remaining major naval vessels in an effort to keep the Americans from cutting off their supply lines to their fuel reserves.
After their defeat at Leyte, the Japanese had to keep the majority of their surviving large ships at their bases because they did not have enough fuel to operate them. This remained the case for the rest of the Pacific War. Another interesting fact is that the Battle of Leyte Gulf is the first battle in which kamikaze attacks occurred.
McDaniel remembers that the morning of the invasion of Leyte, 16-inch shells from battle ships and bombs from airplanes hit the invasion site every three seconds for approximately two hours. During the bombardment, McDaniel drove his landing craft along with hundreds of others, carrying tanks and troops and rendezvoused away from the ships until the shelling stopped. They were ordered then to land troops and tanks.
On the first night in Leyte, the USS George Clymer was anchored off the beachhead of Leyte. McDaniel and others had to stay in their landing crafts tied to their ships. The air raid warning was sounded. A smoke screen was laid out all over the convoy of several hundred ships. This was done to keep Japanese bombers from seeing the ships. The difficulty of breathing and seeing your hand in front of your face was described as very trying and difficult by McDaniel.
The second night of the smokescreen, several landing craft were untied from their ships to find the outer edges of the screen. But instead of finding the outer edge, they became lost in the screen, and McDaniel did not know whether they were close to their own ships or close to the Japanese beach somewhere. When the screen lifted they were able to relocate their ship and eased back in without anyone realizing they were gone. McDaniel said it felt like being back at home once they were reunited with their ship.
During the three days in Leyte, there was a constant bombardment of the Island. The third night, as the ships were being escorted out, the sound of bombs, shells, planes, thunder and lightening echoed through the air as they left.
Japan had lost more than 10,000 men while the United States lost nearly 2,000.

(Next post we will look at some more war stories from Mr. McDaniel.)

Battle of Leyte Gulf part 2

Battle of Leyte Gulf part 3

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Bataan Death March Survivor Silas Legrow of Cabot, Arkansas Rest in Peace

We lost a great man recently when we lost Silas Legrow. He was 90 years old. I had written about him before. Back then I wrote:

My longtime friend Craig Carney is originally  from Jacksonville, and  he told me a couple of years ago about a friend of his parents from Jacksonville, Arkansas named Silas Legrow. Legrow  was going to speak at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History on April 17, 2008 about his experience in the March of 1942 when he and his unit were forced to participate in what became known as the Bataan Death March in the Philippines. My 11 year old son Wilson and I went to hear him speak that night and were able to get a front row seat. 

Legrow started off his talk that evening by stating, “I want to tell you that prayer and faith meant a lot to me during those 39 months. Each day on the march, we plodded along like zombies.Words can’t explain the mental and physical abuse your body takes when you go without food and water.”

Legrow said he weighed 175 pounds at the beginning of the march, and 110 when the 10-day trek was over. About 100,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war were forced to march about 60 miles with no food and little water from the Bataan Peninsula to prison camps. Over 10% of that number died during the march.

“Many died, many lived, and only a few of us are alive today to tell the story,” Legrow said. “I feel both blessed and grateful to be one of those few.”  

After the talk was over I got to visit personally with Mr Legrow (who was 85 yrs old at the time) and he thanked us for coming. I told him  that his talk seemed only a few moments long since it was so interesting. In fact, you could have heard a pin drop during his talk because of the respect the people had for Mr. Legrow. 

 

OBITUARY SUBMITTED BY:

Roller-Owens Funeral Home

5509 John F. Kennedy Blvd., North Little Rock, AR

Phone: 501-791-7400

Below is an excellent story on Legrow’s experience.

 

Pfc. Silas B. LeGrow


    Pfc. Silas B. LeGrow was born in August 12, 1918.  He was raised, with his brother, at 3512 Tacon Street in Tempa, Florida, where he attended school.  While he was a child, he was orphaned and raised by his aunt and uncle.  He later moved to Toledo, Ohio, where he lived with a cousin at 1116 Starr Avenue.  He would later work on a farm as a hired hand in Portage Township, Wood County, Ohio.       While a resident of Toledo, Silas attempted to join a local Ohio National Guard Unit, but since there were no openings, he could not join the company.  With the help of Lt. Col. Roland B. Lee of the Ohio National Guard, Silas was able to join the Company H Tank Company of the Ohio National Guard.

    On November 25, 1940, Silas’s National Guard company was called to Federal duty as C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.  The company was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky were it joined three other National Guard companies from Wisconsin, Illinois, and Kentucky to form the battalion.  For most of the next year, the soldiers trained and attended school. In Silas’s case he became a tank driver.

    In the late summer of 1941, the 192nd Tank Battalion took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  It was after these maneuvers that Silas learned that the battalion was being sent overseas.  He and the other soldiers were given furloughs home to say goodbye to family and friends.

    From Camp Polk, Louisiana, Silas traveled west to San Francisco by train. Upon arrival, the battalion was taken by ferry to Angel Island.  There, the soldiers were inoculated and received physicals.

   Sailing for the Philippine Islands, the battalion arrived in Manila and was transported by train to Ft. Stotsenburg.  For over two weeks the soldier prepared their tanks for maneuvers.  

   The morning of December 8, 1941, Silas learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Around 12:45 in the afternoon, while Silas was serving lunch to C Company, the Japanese attacked Clark Field.  During the attack, Silas could do little but watch. Silas recalled, “It seemed like a false alarm. No one could believe that the Japs would ever attack the United States.” 

    For the next four months, Silas attempted to feed the soldiers of C Company in whatever manner he could.  The morning of April 9, 1942, he became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.  

    Two days after the surrender, Silas and the rest of C Company made their way to Mariveles.  It was from there that they started what became known as the Bataan Death March.  “I weighed 175 pounds at the start of the two week march and was down to 110 when it ended.”  Suffering from malaria, Silas had to be helped on the march by other members of the company.  “We all had to help each other.  The men were ready to drop from exhaustion and anyone who lagged would be prodded along with bayonets and rifle butts.”

    Silas and the other POWs made there way to San Fernando.  There, they were packed into small wooden boxcars and taken to Capas.  At Capas, the dead fell out of the cars as the living climbed out.  From Capas he made his way to Camp O’Donnell.

   Silas was next held as a POW at Cabanatuan.  He remained in the camp until October 1942, when he was selected for shipment to Manchuria.

       On October 5, 1942, Silas and another 1600 POW’s were sent to the dock area of Manila,  They spent two days housed in a warehouse on the dock before being boarded onto Tottori Maru. 

    Silas and the other men were placed into the ship’s hold.  They would remain there for two days before the ship sailed.  The trip would take 31 days before the ship docked in Korea. According to Silas “All we had to eat was fish and wormy rice. We had to pick out as many worms as we could, but we couldn’t get out all of them.  Sometimes we got so hungry, we ate the rice, worms and all.”

    The ship sailed for Takao, Formosa.  The prisoners were divided into two groups. One group was placed in the holds while the other group remained on deck.  The lucky POWs remained on deck.   The conditions on the ship were indescribable, but those in the hold were worse off than those on deck.  This situation was made worse by the fact that for the first two weeks of the voyage the prisoners were not fed.  Many POWs died during the trip.

    Shortly after leaving Manila, the Totori Maru came under a torpedo attack by an American submarine.  The captain of the ship maneuvered it to avoid torpedoes.  Woody and the other POWs watched as the two torpedoes fired at the ship missed. 

    The ship continued its voyage arriving at Takao, Formosa on October 12th.  The ship remained at Takao for four days before sailing.  It returned to Takao the same day and sailed again on October 18th.   When it reached the Pescadores Islands, it dropped anchor. It remained off the islands until October 27th when it returned to Takao.  During this stay, the POWs were disembarked and washed down with fire hoses.

   The ship sailed again on October 30th.  On October 31st, the ship stopped at Makou, Pescadores Islands before continuing its trip to Pusan, Korea.  During this trip, the ship was caught in a typhoon which took five days to ride out.  It was during this storm that Woody’s friend lost the vision in one eye because he was hit the face by salt water spray.

    After 31 days on the ship, the Totori Maru docked at Pusan, Korea on November 7th.  1300 POW’s got off the ship and sent on a four day train trip north to Mukden, Manchria.   The 400 POWs who remained on the ship were sent to Japan.  There, they worked in a sawmill or a manufacturing plant.

    At Mukden, Manchuria, Silas was given a set of clothes and a overcoat.  These were the only clothes he received while he was held at Mukden.   At Mukdan, the POWs were housed in wooden barracks.  The prisoners slept on double-decker shelves with only a thin mat between them and the wooden boards. He and the other POWs had to sleep on their sides since there was no room to stretch out.

   Silas remained in Manchuria until he was liberated by Russian troops in 1945.  He returned to the United States and visited his relatives in Florida. Later, he returned to Port Clinton to be reunited with the other surviving members of C Company.

   Silas married and became the father of four sons.  Today, Silas B. LeGrow resides in Cabot, Arkansas.  He is one of the last two surviving National Guard members of C Company.

Rel

 

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Veterans Day 2011 Part 9:Roy “Roxy” Oxenrider survived Korean War’s Toughest Battle

Picture of Roy after he had recovered at the hospital. Picture of Roy below in the hospital recovering from his injuries followed by a picture of Roy encouraging another soldier who was in the hospital:  Below is an article that was published in November of 2010 in the Saline Courier: Saline County War Hero Bryant […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 8 Leon McDaniel of World War II (second post)

Okinawa – At the Emperor’s Doorstep” episode from “WWII: GI Diary”….. This old 1978 TV docu-drama was narrated by Lloyd Bridges and told the stories of real soldiers/sailors/pilots and their first-hand experiences in battle. Archival footage and good background music really made the stories come alive…..about 25 episodes were made. Video converted from really old […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 7:You have heard of Jimmy Doolittle, but what about Leon A. McDaniel?

President Reagan and Senator Barry Goldwater present the fourth star to General Jimmy Doolittle during a White House ceremony in the Indian Treaty room, OEOB. 6/20/85. I love the movie “Pearl Harbor” with Ben Affleck and it tells the story of Jimmy Doolittle.  He was born in 1896 and died in 1993. He is pictured […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 6 (A look back at Okinawa)

This portion below appeared in an article I did for the Saline Courier about 18 months ago: I went to the First Baptist Church in Little Rock from 1983 to 1997, and during that time I became friends with Walter Dickinson Sr. In fact, we used to attend a weekly luncheon together on Thursdays.  Just […]

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Veterans Day 2011 Part 4

  This is taken from an article that appeared in the Saline Courier about a year ago: Bravery is not just limited to one generation, but Americans have had it in every generation. It makes me think about those who are currently serving in our military. Jon Chris Roberts who is graduate of Benton High […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 3 (A look back at World War 1)

I was born in Tennessee and everyone in Tennessee knows the name of Alvin York. Above is a clip about his accomplishments in War World I. Cara Gist of Shannon Hills tells me that her grandfather Herbert S. Apple of Salado, Arkansas (near Batesville) fought in World War I. He served in France and fought […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 2 (Bataan Death March)

My longtime friend Craig Carney is originally  from Jacksonville, and  he told me a couple of years ago about a friend of his parents from Jacksonville, Arkansas named Silas Legrow. Legrow  was going to speak at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History on April 17, 2008 about his experience in the March of 1942 when […]

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War Hero Joe Speaks and D Day pictures

 Below I have the story of Joe Speaks who fought in Europe and was captured twice by the Germans. Photo by Associated Press American GI’s clamber into a landing craft as they prepare to hit the beaches along France’s Normandy coast in June 1944. The World War II operation was part of the massive Allied […]

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Saving Private Ryan – Omaha Beach Part 1 – HD Saving Private Ryan – Omaha Beach Scene Part 2 – Super High Quality Saving Private Ryan – Omaha Beach Scene Part 3 – Super High Quality Saving Private Ryan opens with a 30-minute cinematic tour de force that is without a doubt one of the […]

War Heroes from Arkansas can be found here on www.thedailyhatch.org

Below I have the story of Joe Speaks who fought in Europe and was captured twice by the Germans.

American GI's clamber into a landing craft as they prepare to hit the beaches along France's Normandy coast in June 1944. The World War II operation was part of the massive Allied D-Day invasion to chase German forces out of France. An armada of landing vessels sits in the background under barrage balloons. (AP Photo/Wartime Pool)

Photo by Associated Press

American GI’s clamber into a landing craft as they prepare to hit the beaches along France’s Normandy coast in June 1944. The World War II operation was part of the massive Allied D-Day invasion to chase German forces out of France. An armada of landing vessels sits in the background under barrage balloons. (AP Photo/Wartime Pool)

If you would like to read some great stories about some fine soldiers who fought to defend our country then click on the links below. All the soldiers are from Arkansas and I have been writing their stories for a local paper called “The Benton Courier” (now known as “The Saline Courier”).

A U.S. Coast Guard landing barge, tightly packed with helmeted soldiers, approaches the shore at Normandy, France, during initial Allied landing operations, June 6, 1944. These barges ride back and forth across the English Channel, bringing wave after wave of reinforcement troops to the Allied beachheads. (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

A U.S. Coast Guard landing barge, tightly packed with helmeted soldiers, approaches the shore at Normandy, France, during initial Allied landing operations, June 6, 1944. These barges ride back and forth across the English Channel, bringing wave after wave of reinforcement troops to the Allied beachheads. (AP Photo)

Story of Joe Speaks:

On Sunday June 27th, 2010 in the article “Heroes among us,” Benton Courier, there was a story about Larry’s father Joe. Here is a portion of that article: 

Larry Joe Speaks of Cabot is my wife’s cousin, and recently he told me about his father’s time in World War II. Joe Speaks (originally from Waldron , Ark. ) arrived in Normandy six days after D-Day (June 6, 1944), and he was involved in the Battle of the Bulge and he fought at Bastogne . The Battle of the Bulge was the bloodiest of the battles that U.S. forces experienced in World War II; the 19,000 American dead were unsurpassed by those of any other engagement. 

During one day of intense fighting, Speaks was so focused on shooting and reloading during the heat of the action that he did not realize that his leg had been struck by shrapnel during the battle. As soon as the battle was over, a fellow soldier pointed out that his boot was filled with blood. Speaks said he had not felt a thing.  

In another battle, Speaks was on the second floor of a building involved in a machine gun battle with the Germans. Then in the middle of the battle, the soldier in charge of getting the ammunition from downstairs did not return. So Speaks went downstairs to get the ammunition and discovered the Germans were holding everyone at gunpoint. Speaks asked the lieutenant upstairs to come down because the situation was hopeless, but the lieutenant refused.  

Then the Germans took their prisoners and backed off some and bombed the building. For the next two weeks, the American prisoners were forced to march back and forth next to that building with the lieutenant’s boot still sticking out of the rumble.  

When the Germans were not looking, Speaks and another soldier took off running and escaped. They made it to a farm owned by a German lady, and they made up a story that Hitler had been killed and the lady broke down and cried. She allowed them to stay in the barn until the end of the war.  

Joe Speaks passed away on March 1, 1999, at age 73 and was buried in Sheridan . He had received two Purple Hearts, a Silver Cross and a Silver Eagle. 

In this June 6, 1944 file photo, while under attack of heavy machine gun fire from the German coastal defense forces, American soldiers wade ashore off the ramp of a U.S. Coast Guard landing craft during the Allied landing operations at the Normandy. (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

In this June 6, 1944 file photo, while under attack of heavy machine gun fire from the German coastal defense forces, American soldiers wade ashore off the ramp of a U.S. Coast Guard landing craft during the Allied landing operations at the Normandy. (AP Photo)

Related posts:

Veterans Day 2011 Part 9:Roy “Roxy” Oxenrider survived Korean War’s Toughest Battle

Picture of Roy after he had recovered at the hospital. Picture of Roy below in the hospital recovering from his injuries followed by a picture of Roy encouraging another soldier who was in the hospital:  Below is an article that was published in November of 2010 in the Saline Courier: Saline County War Hero Bryant […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 8 Leon McDaniel of World War II (second post)

Okinawa – At the Emperor’s Doorstep” episode from “WWII: GI Diary”….. This old 1978 TV docu-drama was narrated by Lloyd Bridges and told the stories of real soldiers/sailors/pilots and their first-hand experiences in battle. Archival footage and good background music really made the stories come alive…..about 25 episodes were made. Video converted from really old […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 7:You have heard of Jimmy Doolittle, but what about Leon A. McDaniel?

President Reagan and Senator Barry Goldwater present the fourth star to General Jimmy Doolittle during a White House ceremony in the Indian Treaty room, OEOB. 6/20/85. I love the movie “Pearl Harbor” with Ben Affleck and it tells the story of Jimmy Doolittle.  He was born in 1896 and died in 1993. He is pictured […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 6 (A look back at Okinawa)

This portion below appeared in an article I did for the Saline Courier about 18 months ago: I went to the First Baptist Church in Little Rock from 1983 to 1997, and during that time I became friends with Walter Dickinson Sr. In fact, we used to attend a weekly luncheon together on Thursdays.  Just […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 5 (A look back at the “Battle of the Bulge”)

The Lost Evidence: The Battle Of The Bulge (1/5) This article was published in the Saline Courier about 18 months ago: When we celebrate July 4th we are focusing on the freedoms that so many soldiers have fought for over the last 234 years. That focus has been highlighted for me since my son Hunter […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 4

  This is taken from an article that appeared in the Saline Courier about a year ago: Bravery is not just limited to one generation, but Americans have had it in every generation. It makes me think about those who are currently serving in our military. Jon Chris Roberts who is graduate of Benton High […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 3 (A look back at World War 1)

I was born in Tennessee and everyone in Tennessee knows the name of Alvin York. Above is a clip about his accomplishments in War World I. Cara Gist of Shannon Hills tells me that her grandfather Herbert S. Apple of Salado, Arkansas (near Batesville) fought in World War I. He served in France and fought […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 2 (Bataan Death March)

My longtime friend Craig Carney is originally  from Jacksonville, and  he told me a couple of years ago about a friend of his parents from Jacksonville, Arkansas named Silas Legrow. Legrow  was going to speak at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History on April 17, 2008 about his experience in the March of 1942 when […]

Veterans Day 2011 (Black Hawk Down and North Little Rock’s Donavan “Bull” Briley)

The Background Facts of The Black Hawk Down (1/7) Uploaded by WarDocumentary on Feb 14, 2011 The movie Black Hawk Down was based on an actual event that took place in Mogadishu, Somalia. This documentary explains the event. _______________________________ On October 3, 2003 my son  played quarterback at the Arkansas Baptist High School Football game […]

War Hero Joe Speaks and D Day pictures

 Below I have the story of Joe Speaks who fought in Europe and was captured twice by the Germans. Photo by Associated Press American GI’s clamber into a landing craft as they prepare to hit the beaches along France’s Normandy coast in June 1944. The World War II operation was part of the massive Allied […]

D-Day Landings,”Saving Private Ryan” most frightening and realistic 15 minutes ever

Saving Private Ryan – Omaha Beach Part 1 – HD Saving Private Ryan – Omaha Beach Scene Part 2 – Super High Quality Saving Private Ryan – Omaha Beach Scene Part 3 – Super High Quality Saving Private Ryan opens with a 30-minute cinematic tour de force that is without a doubt one of the […]

German prisoners of war are led away by Allied forces from Utah Beach, on June 6, 1944, during landing operations at the Normandy coast, France. (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

German prisoners of war are led away by Allied forces from Utah Beach, on June 6, 1944, during landing operations at the Normandy coast, France. (AP Photo)

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower visits paratroopers, including Bill Hayes, at center behind Ike's right hand, in England on June 5, 1944, moments before the troops boarded transport planes bound for Normandy and the June 6 D-Day invasion. Hayes, who now lives in Fargo, N.D., recalls how he told Eisenhower that he was 'damned scared' before the mission, his first combat jump of the war.  This photo became a pre-invasion classic and continues to bring Hayes a measure of celebrity. (AP Photo/File)

Photo by Associated Press

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower visits paratroopers, including Bill Hayes, at center behind Ike’s right hand, in England on June 5, 1944, moments before the troops boarded transport planes bound for Normandy and the June 6 D-Day invasion. Hayes, who now lives in Fargo, N.D., recalls how he told Eisenhower that he was “damned scared” before the mission, his first combat jump of the war. This photo became a pre-invasion classic and continues to bring Hayes a measure of celebrity. (AP Photo/File)

This was the scene along a section of Omaha Beach in June, 1944 during Operation Overlord, the code name for the Normandy invasion during World War II. Large landing craft put troops and supplies on shore at Omaha, one of five invasion beaches. In background is part of the fleet of 2,727 ships that brought the allied troops from Britain.  In the air are barrage balloons, designed to entangle low-flying attack aircraft in their cables. (AP Photo/files)

Photo by Associated Press

This was the scene along a section of Omaha Beach in June, 1944 during Operation Overlord, the code name for the Normandy invasion during World War II. Large landing craft put troops and supplies on shore at Omaha, one of five invasion beaches. In background is part of the fleet of 2,727 ships that brought the allied troops from Britain. In the air are barrage balloons, designed to entangle low-flying attack aircraft in their cables. (AP Photo/files)

Members of an American landing unit help their exhausted comrades ashore during the Normandy invasion, June 6, 1944. The men reached the zone code-named Utah Beach, near Sainte Mere Eglise, on a life raft after their landing craft was hit and sunk by German coastal defenses.  (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

Members of an American landing unit help their exhausted comrades ashore during the Normandy invasion, June 6, 1944. The men reached the zone code-named Utah Beach, near Sainte Mere Eglise, on a life raft after their landing craft was hit and sunk by German coastal defenses. (AP Photo)

U.S. Air Force photograph of P-38's streaking towards France on D-Day.

Photo by U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force photograph of P-38′s streaking towards France on D-Day.

Men of the American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming a coastal area code-named Omaha Beach during the Allied invasion of the Normandy, wait by the chalk cliffs at Collville-sur-Mer for evacuation to a field hospital for further treatment, June 6, 1944.  (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

Men of the American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming a coastal area code-named Omaha Beach during the Allied invasion of the Normandy, wait by the chalk cliffs at Collville-sur-Mer for evacuation to a field hospital for further treatment, June 6, 1944. (AP Photo)

 

Pearl Harbor 71 years ago

Below is a story from One News Now:

Pearl Harbor survivors share stories of attack

AUDREY McAVOY- Associated Press – 12/5/2011 5:55:00 AMBookmark and Share

HONOLULU- Clarence Pfundheller was standing in front of his locker on the USS Maryland when a fellow sailor told him they were being bombed by Japanese planes.

“We never did call him a liar but he could stretch the truth pretty good,” Pfundheller said. “But once you seen him, you knew he wasn’t lying.”

The 21-year-old Iowa native ran up to the deck that Sunday morning to man a five-inch anti-aircraft gun. Seventy years later, he remembers struggling to shoot low-flying Japanese planes as smoke from burning oil billowed through the air.

“This was the worst thing about it _ yeah, your eyes _ it bothered you. It bothered your throat too, because there was so much of that black smoke rolling around that a lot of times you could hardly see,” he said.

Now 91, Pfundheller will be returning to Pearl Harbor on Wednesday for the 70th anniversary ceremony honoring those lost in the Dec. 7, 1941 attack that brought the United States into World War II.

Accompanying him will be fellow survivors, other World War II veterans, and a handful of college students eager to hear their stories. The student and veteran group will be among 3,000 people attending a ceremony the Navy and the National Park Service hoist jointly each year at a site overlooking where the USS Arizona sank in the attack.

The College of the Ozarks program aims to preserve the stories of veterans _ something that’s becoming increasingly urgent for Pearl Harbor survivors as the youngest are in their late 80s.

Pfundheller said he enlisted in the Navy in 1939 because he kept hearing there was going to be a war and he wanted to know what to do when the fighting started. By the time Japanese fighter planes and torpedo bombers invaded the skies above Hawaii, he was well-trained.

Even so, the scene was utterly chaotic.

Commanders hadn’t expected Japan to strike from the air, so Pfundheller’s anti-aircraft ammunition was locked away in a gun locker. Then, when he gained access to the 3-foot-long, 75-pound shells, Pfundheller said the Japanese planes were flying too close for him to take aim.

“You could see them pumping their fists and laughing at you,” he said.

The Maryland’s crew scrambled to prevent their battleship from going down with the USS Oklahoma, which rolled over after being hit by multiple torpedoes.

“We had to cut her lines tied up to us because it was pulling us away,” he said.

Altogether, 2,390 Americans lost their lives in the attack. Twelve ships sank or were beached, and nine were damaged. The U.S. lost 164 aircraft. On the Japanese side, 64 people died, five ships sank, and 29 planes were destroyed.

After the war, Pfundfeller returned to Iowa where he worked as a district feed salesman and became an elementary school custodian. He now lives in Greenfield just 12 miles from Bridgewater, the town where he was raised.

Many veterans didn’t talk much about their experiences after World War II, and Pfundheller’s own children didn’t hear what he went through until he began sharing his stories at schools and libraries.

“People in the Midwest where I lived _ why, you just went back, got your job and went to work and nobody asked anything,” he said.

Today, efforts are under way to make sure stories like his are handed down to younger generations.

Pfundheller and four other World War II veterans are traveling to Hawaii with 10 students from the College of the Ozarks, a Christian school in Branson, Mo. After Hawaii, the group will travel to Japan to visit Okinawa, where the U.S. and Japan fought a brutal battle in the last few months of the war, and Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb.

Heather Isringhausen, a 21-year-old senior who will be one of Pfundheller’s two student escorts, said she wanted to join the trip in part because she’s never been able to get her grandfather to tell her about his experiences serving in World War II.

She wants to know what the veterans were thinking at the time, and what life was like in the 1940s.

“If most of the veterans are anything like my grandpa, they probably haven’t talked much about it,” Isringhausen said. “Once they’re gone, all we’ll have left are history books and movies and different tales that people have been told and written down.”

Guy Piper, who was brushing his teeth in his barracks on Ford Island when the attack began, said he was honored to go on the trip. He said programs like this make “us older people feel good.”

The sailor who served in World War II and the Korean War said he would share with the students his hope that younger generations won’t have war.

“When you see young men like I saw on Dec. 7 _ a bunch of blood _ it just stays with you. You can’t get rid of it. That’s what war is about. Just plain hell,” he said.  “I’d like people to stop and think about staying away from wars.”

Daniel Martinez, the National Park Service’s chief historian for Pearl Harbor, said the program fits in with the theme of this year’s events: how the legacy of Pearl Harbor will be carried on by future generations. But he lamented more survivors aren’t alive to tell their stories.

“It’s a little sad because it’s coming a little late,” he said. “I wish it could have happened at the 50th anniversary when there were so many of them around.”

In a reminder of how many are passing on, the ashes of two survivors who died after living until their 90s will be interred within their sunken battleships this week.

Navy and National Park Service divers on Tuesday will lower Lee Soucy’s cremated remains into the USS Utah, which rolled over and sank next to Ford Island after being hit by a torpedo. Soucy died last year at the age of 90 in Plainview, Texas. He’ll be joining some 50 men who perished when the ship sank and eight survivors whose ashes were interred there after their deaths decades later.

On Wednesday, divers will place Vernon Olsen’s ashes in the USS Arizona, where many of the sailors and Marines who served on the ship are still entombed. The Arizona lost 1,117 crew members during the attack. Olsen was one of the 334 who survived. Olsen died in Port Charlotte, Fla. in April at the age of 91.

Dec. 7 events in Hawaii this year will feature a parade. Marching bands, military families, and dignitaries are expected to walk along Waikiki’s main drag, Kalakaua Avenue. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions as a soldier in Italy in 1945, will be grand marshal.

Related posts:

Veterans Day 2011 Part 9:Roy “Roxy” Oxenrider survived Korean War’s Toughest Battle

Picture of Roy after he had recovered at the hospital. Picture of Roy below in the hospital recovering from his injuries followed by a picture of Roy encouraging another soldier who was in the hospital:  Below is an article that was published in November of 2010 in the Saline Courier: Saline County War Hero Bryant […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 8 Leon McDaniel of World War II (second post)

Okinawa – At the Emperor’s Doorstep” episode from “WWII: GI Diary”….. This old 1978 TV docu-drama was narrated by Lloyd Bridges and told the stories of real soldiers/sailors/pilots and their first-hand experiences in battle. Archival footage and good background music really made the stories come alive…..about 25 episodes were made. Video converted from really old […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 7:You have heard of Jimmy Doolittle, but what about Leon A. McDaniel?

President Reagan and Senator Barry Goldwater present the fourth star to General Jimmy Doolittle during a White House ceremony in the Indian Treaty room, OEOB. 6/20/85. I love the movie “Pearl Harbor” with Ben Affleck and it tells the story of Jimmy Doolittle.  He was born in 1896 and died in 1993. He is pictured […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 6 (A look back at Okinawa)

This portion below appeared in an article I did for the Saline Courier about 18 months ago: I went to the First Baptist Church in Little Rock from 1983 to 1997, and during that time I became friends with Walter Dickinson Sr. In fact, we used to attend a weekly luncheon together on Thursdays.  Just […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 5 (A look back at the “Battle of the Bulge”)

The Lost Evidence: The Battle Of The Bulge (1/5) This article was published in the Saline Courier about 18 months ago: When we celebrate July 4th we are focusing on the freedoms that so many soldiers have fought for over the last 234 years. That focus has been highlighted for me since my son Hunter […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 4

  This is taken from an article that appeared in the Saline Courier about a year ago: Bravery is not just limited to one generation, but Americans have had it in every generation. It makes me think about those who are currently serving in our military. Jon Chris Roberts who is graduate of Benton High […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 3 (A look back at World War 1)

I was born in Tennessee and everyone in Tennessee knows the name of Alvin York. Above is a clip about his accomplishments in War World I. Cara Gist of Shannon Hills tells me that her grandfather Herbert S. Apple of Salado, Arkansas (near Batesville) fought in World War I. He served in France and fought […]

Veterans Day 2011 Part 2 (Bataan Death March)

My longtime friend Craig Carney is originally  from Jacksonville, and  he told me a couple of years ago about a friend of his parents from Jacksonville, Arkansas named Silas Legrow. Legrow  was going to speak at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History on April 17, 2008 about his experience in the March of 1942 when […]

Veterans Day 2011 (Black Hawk Down and North Little Rock’s Donavan “Bull” Briley)

The Background Facts of The Black Hawk Down (1/7) Uploaded by WarDocumentary on Feb 14, 2011 The movie Black Hawk Down was based on an actual event that took place in Mogadishu, Somalia. This documentary explains the event. _______________________________ On October 3, 2003 my son  played quarterback at the Arkansas Baptist High School Football game […]

War Hero Joe Speaks and D Day pictures

 Below I have the story of Joe Speaks who fought in Europe and was captured twice by the Germans. Photo by Associated Press American GI’s clamber into a landing craft as they prepare to hit the beaches along France’s Normandy coast in June 1944. The World War II operation was part of the massive Allied […]