Honor Flight: Stories of Wisconsin's WWII Vets
The following are stories of World War II veterans from Wisconsin who experienced the Honor Flight and the WWII Monument in Washington D.C. and talked about it with Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Charlie Sykes.
"The Germans attacked our position. It was in Belgium. They attacked us with the 'King Tiger' and that's why they overran our position. My company pulled back, and I dragged (a wounded soldier) into the basement, the Germans walking back and forth, my packs on his chest, trying to stop the bleeding.
"He died anyway in my arms, and I laid with him there in the basement before my outfit counterattacked."
- A soldier named Bill, who was 18 when this incident occurred.
"I wanted to fly. They said, 'Yeah, you can fly.' "
On flying WWII missions over Europe: "You don't know what cold is. Oh, boy. I tell ya, that was one things that was just unbelievable."
On whether he felt confident to complete the missions given to him: "Hardly. I didn't know what the hell I (was) doing, to tell you the truth."
"One of our guys, he volunteered to fly. Wrong day to go. Don't volunteer"
- William Zauner, who flew 37 missions with with the 91st Airborne
"I got shot down over Bremen, Germany, and I spent the last year and a half of the war as a prisoner of war."
"I was at (a camp up at) the corner of the Baltic Sea. If you think it gets cold (in Milwaukee), try that sometime."
"It was my first and last parachute jump. We didn't practice."
- Robert Frank, who flew B-17 bombers in the 8th Air Force based in England
"We captured the German submarine that's (now) in Chicago, U-505. That's the license number on my car."
- James Mau, who served in the Atlantic on the U.S.S. Guadacanal
"I lost a brother in (Iwo Jima), a Marine, so that will be kind of nostalgic for me."
- Bill Kaiser, who served in the Pacific theater for the U.S. Navy when he was 17
"The best part about my tenure in the service was coming back into San Francisco after 18 months, no neon lights, the bridge was there, Alcatraz, it made you cry."
- Kenneth Weber, who served in the Army
"I saw it with my own eyes. There were thousands that died that first day. It was like you threw pepper on the water, with all the bodies. The sacrifice."
- Ralph Culver (talking through tears), who served in the southwest Pacific on a destroyer and lent support to the landing at Iwo Jima
"(I was on the) east side of three rivers, south of Buna. It took us 60 days to go across that gol-dang river. We attacked it with C company from the right flank, and we had the ocean on one side. The captain thought, 'Oh, I've got 40 men, I can cross that river,' but it didn't take long. We had 12 men laying down.
"We did that three times, and we didn't get across that river until the 4th time. I was wounded three times. They shot the helmet off me three times."
"I tried to talk the (Japanese soldiers) into turning around and going home, but they wouldn't listen, so what do you do?"
- An unnamed veteran who fought in the Pacific theater