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Everything posted by vette97

  1. UPDATE: 6 part interview with George: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=BC2738D08E1055C7 Thank you for creating this forum. I found it when I was searching for more information the 326th. This came about after I shared a long conversation about WWII with a man who I had known for the past 2 years, George Jackson from Landingville, PA. George started going to my dad's church back then and we shared a nice handshake and greeting when I'd be there on a visit from out of town. However, it wasn't until the day after Thanksgiving, 2010, that George's visit with my dad resulted in me learning more about his time in the war. George was talking about the post war, and I thought he was referring to a time after Korea, but when he corrected me and said he was one of the Battered Bastards, my jaw hit the floor. George told me he was drafted to be an engineer. He went through basic training and then on to school where he built and the disassembled bridges. He said that aggravated him, tearing down what he just built, so he volunteered to go Airborne. He was accepted and made it through with no problems. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne, 326th AEB and sent to England. While in England, he trained to make combat jumps into Europe. However, he ended up as a replacement, rather than a 1st wave soldier. He was slated to enter the war in Holland. Instead of jumping out of a C47, he and his buddies were assigned to a glider. He hated the gliders as they were fabric lined and he wouldn't get to actually jump. When I asked him if he landed during Operation Market Garden, he didn't know what I was talking about. They never told him what operation he was in, only that he would land and secure a bridge. He explained that his unit landed in gliders very close to an undamaged bridge and that they were supposed to defend it, but also rig it for explosion, in case the Germans attacked. He remembers seeing British Armor and working with the Brits, but his unit disliked them with their aloof nature and their "mandatory" tea times. They didn't seem like real soldiers to his group but they were told by superiors to keep negative comments about the Brits to themselves, as they were all in the war together, so he did. When the Germans were closing in, he remembers digging a fox-hole just as fast as he could with his bare hands. During his time there, he got his first shots off at the Germans with his M1 Garand. He stated that the M1 Carbine was only used by officers is his unit the whole time during the war. After explaining Market Garden to him and showing him maps, he realized I knew more about the missions than he did but he reiterated, they just told him where to go and what to do and he did it. After Market Garden, his unit transitioned back to France, although he doesn't recall what they did. He does remember partying in Paris, drinking way more than he should have been, when the word came in that they had to leave immediately. His unit was trucked to Bastogne where they were situated on the south side of the city and told to defend the area. He remembers southern Bastogne being flat with German pill boxes but they just dug fox-holes next to the road and told to take out anything that attacked. They each were given 8 rounds (1 clip) of ammunition for their Garand's and 4 grenades. After the weather cleared and the resupply drops started coming in, which were very welcome, his unit was able to get machine guns and bazookas. He recalls helping carry bazooka ammunition between the resupply and their outfit, but when they got to their destination, the guy with the bazooka tossed it aside along the road march, since it was too heavy for him to carry. So, there he was with all this ammo and no bazooka, and ticked off! Anyway, there were other Bazookas. His unit was dug in when the Germans started shelling the center of the city of Bastogne, since they had it dialed in on their artillery. His unit was also shelled but many survived it. However, during the early morning on Dec 25, 1944, a Tiger Tank had made its way between his unit and Bastogne. He recalls being told to man a machine gun, while another man in his unit prepared a Bazooka. The bazooka round bounced off the Tiger, and as the main gun swung in his direction, they ducked and watched as it passed just overhead. Upon impact, shrapnel hit him in the back of the shoulder and medics were immediately on top of him. He said something else took out that tank and he was evacuated away from his unit. The next day, Patton's Army reached his unit first and he was then evacuated back to England. He said that protocol was to carry him on a stretcher, although he was able to walk. During his time back in England, he recuperated and was sent back with his unit that was in mid-Germany by this time. He traveled with them to Berchtesgaden and eventually Austria. It was pretty uneventful during these times and he cannot recall traveling through any specific towns. He does remember seeing Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest and also catching fish at a lake very easily as it was stocked well for the Nazi's. He spent some time there training before they were finally told they were being shipped back to America. After the war, he worked in the gas business, eventually owning 3 gas stations and raising his family. His wife wanted a farm, so they moved from NJ to PA where she eventually passed away. I had known George for about 2 years, a frequent visitor to the church where I grew up in Landingville, PA. He started going there after his wife passed away and met a widow who was a friend of my family for decades. I’ve spent about 3 hours talking to George, around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and in between those visits, I printed out information from the web for him. He told me I knew more about the war than he did, but that’s understandable. We have access to much more information now than he didn't during the war. He's very surprised that we have the history we do and is even more amazed that someone wants to hear an old man's stories. He doesn't realize the awe we have for vets like himself. He said he enjoyed the time he spent in the war, unlike many others. His small group of friends survived it and made the best of it when they were there. He is very animated when he talks about his time there and doesn’t hesitate when asked questions. He’s such a great guy! I plan on visiting him again soon. I want to take a video camera and record him, if he would allow me, and am planning on devising some questions for him. If anyone wants me to ask him any questions, please let me know. I’d be happy to ask. I think I have hit saturation, however, with his memory. I had hoped to learn more about his exact location during Market Garden and post-Bastogne, but to no avail. However, I’m happy to learn what I have learned! During my most recent visit and 2nd interview with him, he brought some pictures taken of him while he was deployed. I forgot to get a picture of them and will ask him to bring them again. However, I am a WWII firearm collector and made sure to bring my Garand for him to see when I was up there. Prior to showing him the Garand, I asked him when was the last time he handled one, and he said right after the war. He and a group of buddies were able to get permission to do some shooting in NJ as they were still owned by the gov’t. His eyes lit up when he saw mine, battle scars included, dated from 1945. He said it was so heavy and said he obviously didn't think so when he was 20 years old. He handled it for about 5 minutes saying how nice it was. When I asked if I could get his picture after that, he said sure! He told me he wanted it taken just like this: Edited to add... George brought some photos for me to scan in, and this is the same pose from back in the war. I couldn't believe it! Before he left, he told me that when he was going through his pictures, he found the belt buckle he wore during the war. He gave me the buckle, which was unique. The airborne wings are soldered to the buckle. He said that even though this was not regulation, it was permitted. US soldiers in the states did this work when they were prisoners. He didn’t say exactly where, but I’ll try to find out which fort. The rest of the uniforms, metals and trophies he brought back went to his kids. It's an honor to meet him and to have this buckle! Edited to add: I am excited to report that I have successfully uploaded the video interview with George to Youtube. The playlist, separated into six, 15 minute parts, can be viewed by visiting this link: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=BC2738D08E1055C7 Pat Freeman Eldersburg, MD ex-SPC, Morse Interceptor, Military Intelligence, US Army, 1992-1996
  2. It truly is amazing how he's become quite the celebrity. Shortly after this round-table, the local news interviewed him for a short piece on the 6pm news. https://wnep.com/2019/09/24/75-years-later-wwii-vet-tells-his-story/
  3. It's been yet a year since I posted, so I wanted to provide another update on George. He's been quite the celebrity, travelling and giving interviews. He met a group called the Central Pennsylvania WWI Roundtable in Hummelstown PA when he attended the Reading, PA WWII weekend this summer. They asked him to come speak, last night, to a crowd of about 100 people. He recounted many of the stories he shared in my interview with him on YouTube. At the end, he stuck around and shook hands, and signed autographs. And made the front page of the paper in preparation for this event. Props to the folks who helped get George to the event, about 1.5 hours away from his home. What an amazing group of people, enthusiastic about learning the history from our veterans, in person. I made the 2 hour drive to attend and here are a few photos I took at the event.
  4. Sgt james F. O'Laughlin's company, C Company, would have jumped and landed in Market Garden on Sept 17. George Jackson's platoon in B Company came in with the gliders on Sept 18. However, they might have known each other. I still need to have this chat with George. In addition, Frank Gubbels recently visited Bastogne to take photos and send them to me, in hopes that we can get confirmation of the location where George was during the battle. I'm working on sending that to him via mail. Exciting times!
  5. Thank you Marion! I will reach out to Raphael and see if I can help. I've been in close contact with Frank Gubbels, as well. George sent him a letter and included a drawing of the area where he was located in Bastogne. We gathered some information from George to help identify the outpost where he performed his watch duties, as well as the area where he was dug in when he was wounded on Dec 25, 1944.
  6. I'm so glad to hear that you go the letter, Frank! He called me last week, super surprised to hear from you, and to let me know that I was "quite a great guy" for helping you get in contact with him. He was truly happy. He called me to confirm that he was writing your address correctly. I looked it up on the Internet and verified it for him. He has had letters lost before and was worried that you wouldn't receive it. But, I'm very happy that you did get it! I think George would be very happy to see any photographs you could share with him. It might help solidify his memory of the area. You're a great guy, Frank! Thanks for helping make George's day! Pat
  7. Thank you all for the kind words. Frank Gubbels, I sent you a private message. I'm always grateful to you, Marion, and all the other folks on here who engaged with me prior to me doing that interview. He was so very receptive of all the questions that came out of this forum, and it truly has changed his life. He feels like quite the celebrity no matter where he goes. In fact, I found this video taken of him at Reading this summer and never knew it was out there. I just searched. Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvxAhm6PBfI
  8. It's been 7 years and I've neglected this thread. My apologies. I just wanted to report that George is still doing very well. As time has gone on, he has been interviewed by many different folks, including the Nat'l WWII Museum, and local historians. He wears his WWII Veteran hat and rarely has to pay for meals when he's out in public. The cold weather in Eastern PA hasn't kept him down. His truck battery died in the cold so he went out to charge it so he could plow the driveway. He's still very active! He even came to WWII Weekend at Reading, PA in June 2017 year and did some dancing! I have a photo of he and I at the dance, attached. I didn't expect him to be there, because we were unable to sync up on the phone prior to the event. During the playing of the Army Song, he came out of the crowd and I ran to him after it was over for a hug. It was great to see him again as it's been a few years, even though we talk on the phone. I also recently started using Ancestry.com to look into my family tree. While I was there, I found the grand-niece of George and shared with her the link to his interview. She was amazed to hear the details and her family is going to get in touch with George soon to talk with him about family information for their family tree. I also looked up his buddy Dick Werner, who died on Oct 5, 1944 in the Netherlands. I was able to find some other family trees that had Dick in them, but none of the owners have gotten back with me yet. George regrets he never reached out to Dick's parents when George made it home to the states. I hope to find someone who might have old photos, letters or memories of Dick, that I can get talking to George. I would love to have George's wish to talk to Dick's family completed. He also wishes he could have seen Dick's grave marker. I found that pretty easily through Ancestry: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56305115/richard-w-werner/photo Finally, I picked up the book Bridging Hell's Highway: The 326th Engineer Battalion During Operation Market Garden, July 2011, by John Sliz, ISBN: 978-0-9783838-6-2. I didn't know this existed until it turned up on a search I did recently. Amazon delivered it today and it's very small, but has valuable information in it which I want to share with George. I believe we can now identify the exact area and bridge his unit was responsible for. Happy New Year! Pat
  9. vette97

    Letter sent home from Anzio - Sgt Joe Miller - 36th Eng

    Thanks so much for posting this. It is quite interesting how he could take something as scary and deadly as being shelled by Anzio Annie and turn it into a tounge-in-cheek poem.
  10. Thank you! He's really high on life right now. He's so amazed at all the attention. It's a great thing to enjoy it with him when I do get to see him. He passed along to me that the unit he was with was the 167th Combat Engineers prior to volunteering for Airborne duty. I was able to find him in the roster: http://167thengineercombatbattalion.com/Documents/HS%20Transferred.htm It's neat to come across this stuff, bits and pieces, as time goes one.
  11. I just got off the phone with George. A member of the National WWII Museum performed his own interview after finding out about George on the Internet. He was surprised and happy! Apparently, his story is spreading. George finally got the answer he was looking for, as to why he had to be selected to go with those gliders, rather than jump in Holland with the rest of his unit. Larry Miller, a historian with the Museum, let him know that they needed engineers to come in on that glider on that day to help repair a bridge if it was blown up. George is finally happy to get an answer after 60-some years. I'm so happy for him!
  12. vette97

    Best Day of My Life....

    A very nice experience indeed! Thanks for sharing this touching moment!
  13. It's with great pleasure to announce that I was able to perform the necessary editing of the interview, and I found a utility which allowed me to change the bitrate, so that the 6 part series wouldn't take 3 weeks to upload to YouTube (it only took the greater part of one day). The link to the playlist can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=BC2738D08E1055C7 Many thanks to everyone, especially Marion, for the guidance and feedback throughout this process. It has been an honor to produce this interview and I hope that everyone who watches it can learn a little bit more about what it was like to participate in the war. Even though this interview is very long, George is very fun to listen to! I'm honored to have him as a friend. Thank you, Pat Freeman
  14. Progress! Finally, I finished up editing the interview. We discussed so many things throughout nearly 2 hours of discussion and I wanted to keep it in chronological order and relevant to his time in the war, so this required a lot of time set aside to concentrate. I also needed to adjust the audio since my camera placed a very annoying hiss into the recording which I was able to notch out. Now, I just want to include an introduction, some of his pictures and then split the clip so it can be uploaded in sections. I should have about 1 hour 30 minutes when complete. I received a letter from George a few weeks back saying how meeting me, talking about his time in the war, and conducting this interview has brought up so many good memories from the past and how this has made a huge positive impact on his life! I was so deeply touched by this. I can't wait to share his stories!
  15. Hi folks. I've been extremely swamped as a lot of things have come up over the past few weeks. I don't mean to disappoint but I haven't worked on editing the video at all. I promise to make more time for it but it is a task that is going to take a lot of concentration. I want to add some personal discussion and include some of the pictures he allowed me to scan, so I don't need to do that much, but I want to set time aside specifically for this. Marion - I was able to purchase and watch the 2 DVD set of No Bridge Too Far, Part 1. I love it. The stories and the history are great and the music, well, I dance to that stuff so it really helps put me back in that era. I can only imaging how much work this is for you!
  16. vette97

    WWII Dancer

    I'm not really a reenactor, but Erin and I (Pat) dance the Lindy Hop, so we've spent some money on replica clothing and dress the part. Here we are in Westminster, MD at a hangar dance. While there, I got to meet Dulias Gottfried. I've met many WWII vets and children of vets at these types of events. They are always enjoyable to attend. My interest in WWII began when I was in high school and I've studied a lot about the war in Europe, both US and German, but there is always more to learn. Thankfully, Erin and I visited Europe 3 years ago, rented and RV, and drove from Normandy to Berchtesgaden, visiting many important war sites along the way. She was a good sport, even though she got tired of seeing bunkers in Normandy. But, I spent the most time in one spot there, as I was really drawn to the area. We met some others from the US at the Luxembourg cemetery who grew up just a few miles north of where I was born (small world). We hiked the Kall Trail in the Huertgen Forest. We camped on the ground of site of the Nuremberg Rally. The snow wasn't cleared from the Eagle's Nest in time, however, when we were there. It was an awesome 2 weeks. We did it alone (no tour guides) and many of the sights we saw were based on memory over the years of study. Link to my post on Geo. Jackson 326th AEB
  17. Marion, that would be great to have a page for him on the main site. I clarified to him that his video, story and pictures would be posted online and would be searchable by the world and he said that was fine, he had nothing to hide. He joshed me about being in the witness protection plan and that this would blow his cover at first. What a guy! But, after that, I got his permission. I would be honored if you could host it. I'm working with a few free tools to perform my editing, just like I did for my European Vacation WWII related videos. I may host the video on YouTube, obviously separated due to 10 minute per video upload restrictions, but as a playlist. They can afford the bandwidth. Let me know if that would work. Thanks again!
  18. Thank you so much for the encouragement and the suggestions, Marion! We really got a lot of things discussed here and it is so neat to hear what he experienced. I told him he has a much better memory than me, as he could remember details, but not dates, so we avoided questions about dates that I knew he didn't know. But we did get into a few tangents that were terrific. However, he did keep a lot of personal stories off camera and his privacy will be respected. Let's just say that boys will be boys!
  19. Thanks for the suggestions as I made sure to ask these questions. It's going to take some time to get this video ready for upload but I got some answers to your specifics and want to share them. Now, this is based on his memory, and that's a long time ago, so other vet stories may not match. According to George, they didn't jump with anything extra, no extra clothes just their gear, 2 chutes, etc. He only jumped during training, none in Britain and none into Europe (flew in on a glider). There wasn't really much discipline at all back then, other than making sure you shaved and keeping a coordinated uniform. No hazing among the troops. The guy who dropped the Bazooka wasn't punished because no one outside his squad knew about it. There was only one time where they took a situation into their own hands. After training with the 101st as an Airborne Engineer, they were transitioning to Europe, and one time some higher ups thought they could push those guys around. George don't know who did it, but after some guys in his unit put together some dynamite and placed it under the floor of the orderly room, and it was discovered the next day, those higher ups quit pushing those AEBs around. George said that today, they all would have been sent to the stockade and gone through court martial. But, back then, they needed the guys so whatever happened came with some discipline but nothing like we would go through today.
  20. Let me say that this was one heck of an experience. I have over 1.5 hours of material. He recounted some of what I typed in the first post in this thread, and added a whole lot more. He was really excited to do the interview and it really boosted his spirits. I honestly prepared 5 pages of questions (large font, double spaced) but after 2 or 3 questions, he just ran with it. I'm glad I had the questions which helped provide some clarity to what he was already talking about. But, I made this HIS video and he was a ham. He said he wished he would have met me a long time ago and that he hasn't talked about the war like that since the days right after the war when people would BS about some of the stuff they went through. He still can't believe that anyone would care about his stories, but he also said he had seen documentaries over the years about this officer and that officer, but "what about George?" Well, he's going to have his time in the limelight. I'm going to work on getting this video sorted out, hopefully, sooner than later. We covered some odds and ends at the end of the session, which I'd really love to have added to other portions of the video. I may have to splice them in with a fade. Marion, any suggestions? Anything I should avoid? I haven't seen your documentary yet (life is hectic and I need to make that happen one day) but since you have some experience in this, it's best to ask you now before I start. Thank you! ETA: When he brought this photo with him, before the interview, my jaw hit the floor... http://97vette.com/~pat/images/geo1.jpg Adding it to the original post now...
  21. vette97

    WWII Dancer

    Thanks for the nice comments! Sometimes, at famous war sites in France, they have signs posted with pictures of the way it looked during the war, which is true in St. Mere Eglise, for example. For other locations, I found the WWII photos from random places on the 'net. For example, Googling Zeppelin Field, I found many Nuremberg rally photos and copied them to my Picasa album after I discovered I had the same shot. I took a ton of pics at Nuremberg and it's not because I'm more fascinated with the Germans but that this is the only architecture in Germany that is obviously related to that time in Europe. The Germans tore a lot of stuff down and I expect this stuff to be knocked down sometime in the future. I didn't take any pictures of WWII Europe with me to avoid the risk of getting into a bind. In Germany, especially, there are many laws over there forbidding Nazi symbols or anything that may make you look like a Neo-Nazi. It's not worth it to openly hold up a photograph to eye up a shot. So, I based everything from memory and just asked my girlfriend Erin to take a picture. Maybe I'd get lucky like I did in front of the Eiffel! I knew where the Germans were standing and I stood in a spot and had Erin take the picture. Same with Paris, I remember pictures of troops marching, so I tried just stood in the area where the cameraman might have been back then. It wasn't until I came back to the US that I realized it was the same spot. Here's something I'll share with the forum. I didn't want to put it in the web album for fear I'd get tagged as a freak. Now, imagine standing in a not so famous spot, asking the person your with to "stand over there and take a picture" then coming home to the US and realizing it was an exact angle of a picture in a book... Link to the photo. No lie, I didn't force this to happen!
  22. vette97

    WWII Dancer

    Thanks! I know what you mean. During my 4 years in the Army, I saw the East Coast of the US (SC, MA and MD). All my friends were deployed and came back. I got used to hearing "You're still here?" But, I was lucky enough to be close to home and got to see my mom a lot. She passed away from cancer shortly after I ETS'd.
  23. vette97

    WWII Dancer

    Thank you Marion! Please make time for this trip. We did it by RV and paid probably $20 more per day than it would have cost to rent a car and get rooms, but we had the flexibility and freedom to go where we wanted to. Campgrounds are in every town in France, and the signs that point them out are attached to the same signs that point you in the direction to the next town. So, it's so easy to find a place to stay. We got a book that showed the locations of campgrounds and we needed that for Germany, as they are not that big into camping as the French. We learned a little German and French before we went and it helped us get a lot of respect from the locals. I always thought that I'd never make it to Europe. My Girlfriend and I were invited to a friend's wedding in Strasbourg, France. We made the trip after she told me "I just want to go to the wedding and see one particular sight, but if you want to see anything else, go for it!" So, I took all those years of learning and put them to use. That poor girl was drug all over Europe to see many WWII related sights but it was enjoyable for both of us to experience together. I programmed the GPS with the places I wanted to go, and everything fell into place. It was shocking how pulling up to a site, I remembered it from black and white photos, and it all fell into place. I had a unique surprise, some German writing was on the wall at one emplacement on the Normandy Beach. And in another, I remember the GPS having me turn onto Grossestrasse in Nuremberg. That's the VERY wide road built by the Germans that runs the length of their party grounds. I didn't know that my campground was actually on the site. When I made the turn, my jaw hit the floor. I remembered how wide it was from pictures, how the road was built from individual blocks, etc. I could barely get out the words that I knew this place. After parking, we walked to the different places on the grounds from memory. Here are the pictures I took and some videos as well. I have a lot of work to do. I never finished putting captions on all the photos I took, and I never finished editing the videos I took there. Life got in the way, ha! But, I want to make this happen as I have a lot of it that I want to make available. My WWII Picasaweb Photo Album My WWII YouTube Page
  24. Marion - Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! I've never done this before and I appreciate the guidance. I feel very lucky that he has been a friend of the family for many years. It really takes the edge off of things and I hope that after the camera is on, that continues. I'm glad I spent a few hours getting to know his story and get all my personal wanderings and questions out of the way. I really want to make this all about him to share his story. What I know about the war differs so much from his experience that it has made this whole process such an awesome learning experience. I never gave much attention to the engineers, and the more I hear about what he did, as well as all the stories I've been reading here, have opened my mind to very new and exciting people and events. I'm very glad we have the technology we do can capture this history so well. At least there's one good thing about the internet. Wish me luck! And if this doesn't work out the way I hope it does, I'm grateful to live only 3 hours from a great man who comes to my dads house every week like clockwork and enjoys to talk.
  25. Thanks so much!! I will definitely be adding such questions to the list. I let him know that I'd burn DVDs for him to give to the family, so, I'm not quite sure how much he'll hold back. I'll tell him I'd be happy to edit that stuff out for them if he prefers, so he will be more open. ;-)