Veterans' Voices: World War II

23 July 2018 By Zach Waddle 0 Comments

CONTENT WARNINGThis post deals with difficult subjects such as suicide, combat, sexual assault, and other traumatic events. I strongly urge ANY veteran to use the available resources that the VA provides. Visit the nearest VA, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, or visit the Veterans Crisis Line website -- there are people who want to help! For more information, please visit the Veteran and Military Center’s Psychological Counseling page on the WSU website.

The second World War ravaged Europe, Asia, and North Africa from September 1st, 1939 to September 2nd, 1945. No one could have predicted the unspeakable atrocities or countless casualties that would transpire following the German invasion of Poland. As the war passes further and further into the distant past, however, many of the men and women who endured it are no longer here to tell their stories. This highly publicized war has inspired many books, films, documentaries, and the like, but Veterans’ Voices has given several WWII veterans the opportunity to share their first-hand experiences.

A WWII Veteran Shares His Stories In Person, Via Social Media

Jim Martin, Jeremy Dobbins, Will Davis

Thanks to the efforts of Veterans’ Voices and history teacher Doug Barber, stories like those of Jim Martin are being shared and made available for generations to come. Jim Martin is a 93-year-old Army veteran and was a member of the 506th Parachute Infantry regiment—the same regiment depicted in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. Despite having found celebrity status after taking to social media to share his story, Martin remains very humble. “I’m nothing special, I am a representative of our unit," he said in his interview. "I feel it was an obligation to go.  I do not consider it a sacrifice, I consider it an honor and privilege to have been a part of history.”

Dayton Codebreaker Highlights Pride In Contribution To WWII

John Harshman, Jeremy Dobbins, Will Davis

Before joining the Army in 1945, John Harshman worked at the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. Unbeknownst to Harshman, he was building the machines responsible for decrypting secret German messages during the war. After enlisting, Harshman still had no idea what the true purpose of his previous work at NCR had been. It would be fifty years before he learned that his top-secret efforts with the Dayton Codebreakers are believed to have shortened the war by two whole years. More information is available at Dayton Codebreakers.

Paul Ross

Terry Ramirez, James C. Mitchell Jr., Jeffrey D. Briggs

Paul Ross served 25 years in the U.S. Army Air Corps, later the Air Force, seeing duty in both WWII and Korea. Ross discussed becoming an engineer prior to his enlistment, which gave him the opportunity to work on military aircraft. He then talked about being sent to Korea without knowing that preparations for the imminent war were already being made. Ross even piloted alongside copilot Buck Newsome of the famous Tuskegee Airmen.

Clifford Wayne Waibel

Eric Wiete

Cliff Waibel served in the Navy for three years during WWII. Throughout his term, he served aboard the SS Antonio, SS John Murray Forbes, and SS Fleetwood. He explained how after he saw the Navy uniform of his brother-in-law’s brother, he knew that was where his future lay. Waibel was so eager to enlist that he nearly committed a crime to make it happen, but wisely thought the better of it. Be sure to check out the photos of military memorabilia that Waibel has shared!

Buell Hoagland

Anne Moore, Bradley Weng

After being shot down over Belgium while on an espionage mission, Air Force veteran Buell “Hoagy” Hoagland was captured and taken to the Stalag Luft #1 prison camp in Barth, Germany. He remained there, a war prisoner of the Nazis, until the camp was liberated in 1945. In the course of his 37-minute interview, Hoagland discussed growing up during the Great Depression, wanting to be a pilot, and his time in the service.

Donald Stupp

Adrian Hill

Donald Stupp discussed being drafted into the Air Force and having to make the best of it. Although he struggled at times during the interview to recall events and specifics from so long ago, Stupp remembered being an Air Traffic Controller aboard a ship.

Paul McClain

James C. Mitchell, Jeffrey D. Briggs

Paul McClain served in the Navy as a radio operator aboard an LSC(L)-113. His father had served during the first World War as a lineman running communication cables, and his brother served as a navigator in the Air Force. McClain shared many stories such as learning Morse code, receiving amphibious training, and his adventures at sea, which included his first combat experience in the Battle of Okinawa.

Robert Oppenheim

Anne Moore, Bradley Weng

Army veteran Bob Oppenheim served under the 33rd Division Quartermaster Trucker Company and the 24th Infantry Division. Oppenheim experienced a lot during his short time in the military. During his interview, he discussed a horrific basic training accident, and recalled witnessing the devastation of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima. He also shared his experience readjusting to civilian life, and using his GI bill to finish college. He remains optimistic despite all that he’s been through, saying, I'm going to be 88 and I've still got fairly good health, I still have my wife, the kids, they're pretty blessed. No complaints.

Don Hamrock

Bradley Weng, James C. Mitchell Jr.

Marine Corps veteran Don Hamrock shared many interesting stories, ranging from his time as a 3rd Marine Division machine-gunner to his experience scouting caves in search of Japanese soldiers. Hamrock and Mitchell had both spent a lot of time in Guam while in the service, which led to them sharing stories of life on the island.

Fred Karabaich

Adrian Hill

Fred Karabaich enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps just one week after the attack on Pearl Harbor, serving as a radio operator. He recalled his whereabouts on the day of the attack, and how it compelled him to enlist. His story then went to basic training, followed by his time as a radio operator and in repair school, before detailing his time in places like India and China. He also discussed his parents being from different countries, and how they met.

Gailard Ketcham

Jeniffer Seavey, Robert A. Stucky

Gailard "Red" Ketcham served as an aerial photographer in the Army Air Corps. The son of a WWI veteran, Ketcham described living through the Great Depression and his father taking a job in Dayton assembling machine guns. Aspiring to be a pilot, Ketcham found in basic training that he would instead be an aerial gunner. With the formation of Project Casey Jones, he found himself in a new role as an aerial photographer.

George W. Snook

Jeniffer Seavey, Robert A. Stucky

A lifelong lover of airplanes, George Snook was flying before he enlisted in Army Air Corps. Snook had 7 siblings, with four of them also serving at the same time that he did. Originally entering the field of aircraft mechanics, Snook took up the opportunity to become a gunner. He recalled the people he worked with as well as his combat experience. He also shared how he and his mother worked around censorship to communicate through letters while he was away.

Lawrence Hone

Jeniffer Seavey

As a U.S. Merchant Marine, Lawrence Hone spent a lot of time aboard ships. Hone recounted his high school career, including a student he knew who had died shortly after being drafted. Facing his fears, he chose to join the Navy to avoid the draft. Before volunteering to join the Merchant Marines, Hone learned calculus from his roommate during training. Hone described the terrifying experience of surviving an attack on his ship.

Robert Eisenach

James C. Mitchell Jr., Jeffrey D. Briggs

Bob Eisenach was sworn into the Navy on Armistice Day at just 17 years old. He explained the initiation process that took him from being a ‘pollywog’ to becoming a ‘shell-back’ as a young officer. He reflected on taking part in amphibious landings and the looming threat of Kamikaze attacks. Eisenach spoke of the pride he takes in his military career, and how important our history is for future generations to learn from.

Anthony Barga

Adrian Hill, Jeffrey D. Briggs

Growing up with 17 siblings, Anthony Barga's reaction to being drafted into the Army was one of delight. He gladly left behind the farm life in Frenchtown, Ohio to travel abroad to places like England, France, and Germany. Barga shared stories such as witnessing a training death, laying telephone wire during combat, and even being arrested!

Art Kemp

Jeniffer Seavey

During his time in the service, Art Kemp trained in radio and gunnery before becoming a link printer instructor. He recalled the harrowing experience of exchanging fire during aerial combat. "I was scared to death. I never moved my head, never moved the guns, which is the best thing I ever did in my life," he explained, "and I didn't even know that I was doing it.” And that was just one of the missions he endured!

Stephen Ananian

Jeniffer Seavey

It was the attack on Pearl Harbor that compelled Stephen Ananian to enlist in the Army, but his career path led him to becoming a commissioned officer in the Army Air Force. He found himself performing different duties during his service, from fighter pilot to marching band to photo reconnaissance. He has flown in many combat missions, and has even destroyed a jet while piloting a conventional aircraft.

E. Dwight Griswold

Jeniffer Seavey

Serving as an officer in the Army, Dwight Griswold was assigned to the SS Mactan. He went over his experiences in his deployments and explained how military life forced him to grow up quickly. Although he is no longer active in veteran organizations, Griswold described the wonderful time he had with Honor Flight Dayton, which is another great organization that takes veterans of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam to the national memorials in Washington, DC.

Thomas Jones

Jeniffer Seavey

Despite measles and scarlet fever delaying his training, Thomas Jones would go on to work as a radio repairman, and later found himself driving a semi truck in the Philippines. Jones was part of a support unit, but still witnessed the devastating effects of war up close. At the end of the interview, Jones shared his thoughts on war and left a message for future generations.

Rolla Malan

Jeniffer Seavey, William R. Corkum

Rolla Malan enlisted in the Navy months before the start of WWII. He was on the ground in Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack, and shared his memories of the tragic event. He also described what life was like aboard the USS Preble.

William Moore

Jeniffer Seavey

William Moore came from an Air Force family, so it should be no surprise that he found himself serving as a fighter pilot in the Army Air Corps. On September 13, 1944, Moore was shot down on a combat mission. He offered an interesting look into German society at the time through his story about what happened after being shot down.

Robert Sites

Jeniffer Seavey, Robert A. Stucky

Bob Sites performed his duty as an Army Air Corps radiosonde operator in Alaska, before Alaska was even a state! Sites explained the ins and out of the work he did as part of the Weather Service while adapting to a climate unlike that of his hometown in Springfield, OH.

Joe Weist

Adrian Hill

With a military history going back two generations in his family, Joe Weist made the decision to join Ohio’s Army National Guard not long after the end of WWII. Weist left the military after four years to embark on a different journey.

I’d like to give a huge thanks to these veterans for their service and for taking the time to share their stories! They have honorably defended their nation and have provided future generations with an incredible insight into our history. Their service and their stories are nothing short of extraordinary! I would also like to thank everyone involved in making these interviews happen.

In my next blog, I’ll be looking at stories from Korean War veterans!

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