World War II, Pacific Theater
Born in 1924, St. Marco Argentano, in the province of Cosenza in the Calabria region of southern Italy; Family of farmers; Father Angelo was a WWI veteran; Father and mother’s marriage arranged by family; Father came to America in 1923, worked and became citizen; returned to Italy, 1929; Mother passed away 1935; Father returns to work in U.S.; Life under Mussolini; Father returns to Italy and moves children to U.S. in 1937; Attended School #3 (later became Steele School) and Baldwin High School in NY; Enlisted in the Army Air Corps, November, 1942 after graduation; Processed at Camp Upton; Basic training, Miami Beach, FL; Radio Operator training, Sioux Falls, SD; Radio mechanic training, Traux Field, Madison, WI; P-39 and P-38 training in CA; Special training in air control/direction finder, and homing; Assigned to 51st Fighter Control Squadron, 10th Air Force; Departed for China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater of Operations, April, 1944; Spent 16 months in jungles of Burma; No fresh food, snakes, evidence of Japanese atrocities; Worked closely with Army Corps of Engineers; Flew “The Hump” as a radio operator; Many aircraft lost in January, 1945 due to bad weather; Last unit to leave Burma in December, 1945; S.S. Callan return to Seattle, WA; Discharged Feb. 9, 1946 at Fort Dix, NY; Enrolled at night school at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, graduated in 1959 with Masters in Electrical Engineering; Married in 1951; Worked in the electrical and microwave research and development field, Sylvania Research Labs, 1952-1960;
Foster D. Arnett
Born in Knoxville, TN on November 28, 1920; father a traveling salesman; discusses impact of the Great Depression; TVA; member of the Methodist Church; Studied History and Political Science at the University of Tennessee in 1939-42; ROTC at University of Tennessee; Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, 1942; trained at Camp Wheeler, Fort Hamilton; Camp Upton; Paratrooper in World War II; 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment; Wounded in the Philippines; Served in New Guinea; “Pathfinder” at the Leyte Gulf Campaign; post-war lawyer; University of Virginia School of Law, 1948; Silver Star.
Gordon R. Beem
Born February 1, 1927 in Niles, Ohio; Father a veteran of the 130th Ohio Engineers in World War I; Describes WPA in Maine; Description of naval scene in Portland, Maine in World War II; enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 6, 1944; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign; Served on the U.S.S. Athene; GI Bill; Bowdoin College; Participant in the Korean War as Air Force Sergeant; 4th Interceptor Wing; Retired major of the U.S. Air Force; Stationed in Wieshaden, Germany in 1950s-60s; Returned to Loring Air Force Base, Maine.
G. Gordon Bonnyman
Born Fall 1919 in Knoxville, Tennessee; father worked for Campbell Coal Mining Company; Member of the Catholic Church; Early life in Knoxville; Attended school at French Boarding School in 1930s; attended Princeton in 1941; studied engineering; Battery Officer School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma; 97th Field Artillery Battalion; 4th Field Artillery Division; trained at Fort Bragg, NC; battery commander with Merrill’s Marauders; contracted malaria; later 112th Infantry Division; Wounded at Michenau; contracted dysentery; wounded again in 1944; traveled through Calcutta to U.S.; taught mule packing at Fort Riley, KS.
Charles Bray, I
Born in Hitchita, Oklahoma, 1921; father a farmer; life on the farm in Hitchita; activities with Civilian Conservation Corps; discussion of Works Progress Administration and other New Deal programs; visit to Chattanooga, Tennessee; February 1942 takes civil service position in Washington, D.C.; work in Veterans’ Administration; joins Navy, June 1942; assigned as a clerk to the Naval Department; discussion of Naval war room and impressions of General Staff; volunteers for active service; boot camp, Bainbridge, Maryland Navigation School, Samson, NY; assignment to destroyer USS Shannon, September 1944; travel to Pacific Theater; life on board ship; participation in the invasion of Iwo Jima and Okinawa; kamikaze attacks; fire support during invasions; mine sweeping; early post war Japan, visits to Sasebo and Nagasaki; return voyage to the United States; transfer to the Office of Naval Intelligence; discussion of the origins of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Charles Bray, II
Central Intelligence Agency, 1948; cover identities of agents; CIA culture and off duty activities; composition of early CIA personnel; influence of former FBI personnel on CIA; J. Edgar Hoover and FBI professional culture; communications intelligence from Eastern Bloc and code breaking; Germany, 1954; interception and translation of East German radio signals; tunnel into East Berlin; assignment to Taiwan and interception of Chinese radio signals; financing of operatives; reassignment to Miami, Florida, 1965; discussion of CIA operations against Cuba prior to his arrival in Miami; returns to CIA headquarters 1968; Vietnam, 1970-1972; support of South Vietnamese expatriates after 1975; changes within CIA post-Vietnam.
William I. Butler
Pre-war life in Martin, TN; Weakley County; farming; University of Tennessee Agricultural College, 1938 to mid-1941; drafted and sent to Ft. Oglethorpe; Savannah Air Base, ordnance of the 27th Bomb Group; Departed Savannah for the Philippines, October, 1941; Arrived Philippines 18 days prior to Japanese attack; Surrender of Bataan; taken prisoner and begins Bataan Death March; Held at Cabanatuan Prison Camp; also imprisoned for several months in Bililibid prison; Liberation on September 4th, 1945; Return home to Martin, TN; Graduated University of Tennessee, 1947; Worked for Agricultural Extension Service in Benton County, TN; 20 years with Pet Milk Company; Agricultural Extension Service, 1968, Hardin County, TN; Retired 1985.
Rev. Melvin Carr
Born in Sugarlands, Tennessee; father a World War I veteran in Meuse-Argonne Campaign; worked as a CCC medic at Camp Sugarlands in summer 1942; enlisted in U.S. Navy January 7, 1943; trained in San Diego; sent to Aleutians in May 1943; served aboard the U.S.S. Pennsylvania battleship; served in Australia; served at Leyte Gulf; Luzon; Surigao Sea Straight Battle; ship torpedoed in August 1945; Postwar; worked at Oak Ridge, TN as a security guard; Pastor of Baptist Church for 47 years.
David Dale Dickey
Born in Williamston, NC, 1927; father a minister and WW I veteran; also grew up in Morristown, TN; life on the home front, warÂ’s impact on returning veterans; changes in American society after 1945, segregation; Merchant Marine Cadet School, Pass Christian, MS, 1945; student, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, 1946; enlisted Army 1946 Fort Oglethorpe, GA; Infantry training, Fort McClellan, AL; Paratrooper training, Fort Benning, GA; training injuries and reassignment; 1946-1947 occupation duty in the Philippines; encounters with Filipinos; propaganda images of the Japanese and interactions with POWs; return to University of Tennessee-Knoxville, graduation 1950; newspaper reporter in Knoxville 1950s-1970s; life in city; Chamber of Commerce; Executive Director Industrial Development Board; freelance writer 1970s-1990s.
Rev. Buck Donaldson
Born August 23, 1925 in New Verda, Louisiana; father was a country doctor; enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942 in Shreveport; trained in San Diego; attends radio school in Los Angeles; active in the Zoot Suit War; served in the Tahiti Islands (Tasmania); Karachi India; Marshall Islands; Admiralty Islands; Palau Islands; Saipan; engaged in the Invasion of Peleliu; served aboard the U.S.S. Cape Canso and U.S.S. Cyrus Adler; joined the Fleet Post Office in the navy; traveled all over the world with Fleet Post Office; served on the U.S.S. Suison; postwar; missionary, pastor; Vanderbilt Student Director; served in Africa with family.
Born in June 14, 1920 in Gadsen, AL; early life in Alabama and Florida; enlisted with the United States Marine Corps on September 3, 1941; basic training; served with the Fleet Marine Force from 1941 until 1945; describes assault on Iwo Jima; postwar; journalism school at Emory University; career in journalism; work as author; discussion of books The Friendly Dead and On Valor’s Side.
Born 1921, Fort Smith, AK; childhood in Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina; Great Depression; enlistment in the Aviation Cadet Program, October 1942; basic training Fort Jackson, Aviation Cadet Program, University of Tennessee Knoxville and Maxwell Field; pilot training, Jackson, TN and Fort Meyers, FL; training with B-24s; 307th Bomb Group, 13th Airforce; deployment to Noemfoor, and Morotai, New Guinea; camps life; bombing raids on Balikpapan and the Philippines; leave to Australia and encounters with Australians; Battle of Leyte Gulf; Japanese atrocities on Palawan, VJ day; return to the United States; Post War life; activities with veterans’ groups.
Richard L. Graham
Born in Hazel Green, AL, 1923; father a World War I veteran; studied Agriculture Administration at Auburn in 1942; ROTC; enlisted in Army, 1943; trained at Fort Bragg and Fort Leonard Wood; 475th Infantry Regiment, Company G of “Mars Task Force”; route from Newport News, Cape Town, Bombay, Burma; arrived in Burma in June 1944; march through Burma toward the Burma Road; promoted to Sergeant; march from August 1944- Spring 1945; encountered combat in Myitkinya; travels home through China, India; Egypt; returned to Huntsville, AL; married with three daughters; real estate agent.
Ray H. Higgins
Born June 18, 1921 in Woodbury, TN; grandfather a Union veteran of the Civil War; trained as a radio operator; Radio school in Boston, 1942-43; enlisted as a radio operator for the U.S. Navy; trained on the U.S. towboat, Vicksburg; training on the Mississippi River, Chicago to Mississippi; sent to Port Hueneme, California in 1944; worked on U.S.S. Christopher S. Flanagan and U.S.S. William H. Taggett; Ensign; sent from Hawaii to Marianas Islands; Yokohoma Japan; experience at Eniwetok, Phillipines; Mindanao; Manila; Luzon; Postwar; Southern Fire and Casualty Company in Knoxville; owned own business for twenty years.
John E. Kesterson
Surgeon, Medical Corps; 114th Gen hospital, UK; 84th field hospital, France; Served in Philippines, Newton Baker Gen Hospital, Mayo Clinic.
Charley T. Odom
Pre-war life; Great Depression; work at Standard Oil Company; Pre-war Navy life, training, and experiences aboard the USS Stone, a World War I era submarine; left Navy 1940 and worked for the Merchant Marine; returned to Navy 1942; assigned to USS Billfish; life on board a submarine in combat conditions; Perth, Australia; Post-war; service on a Navy tanker ship during the Korean War; duty as an Instructor at naval schools in New London, Connecticut, and San Diego and Tiburon, California; Jimmy Carter as one of his naval students; retired from the Navy 1956 and taught at Fulton High School, Knoxville; received his undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee, 1976; work in writing group in Knoxville and activities in veterans’ organizations.
P. Neal O’ Steen
Prewar life in Bedford County, TN; Enlisted Jan. 1941; Philadelphia Naval Hospital until Dec. 7, 1941; Naval Recruitment Station, Philadelphia until June, 1943; Sole medical staffer aboard USS ATR-23, rescue tug, in eastern Pacific, 1943-1946, Pharmacist’s Mate, First Class; U.S. Navy Reserve 1947-1951; Korean War at Norfolk Naval Air Station 1950-1951, Chief Hospital Corpsman; Postwar; UT-Knoxville, Class of ’50, Journalism; Kingsport Times, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot; Director of Publications at UT-Knoxville, 1957-1985.
Thomas N. Parlon
Childhood in Lafayette, Indiana; Prohibition; Great Depression; education at Perdue University; Navy 1941, training Great Lakes, Illinois; officer’s commission; U.S.S. William K. Vanderbilt; Fiji Islands, South Pacific; sinking of ship; assigned to U.S.S. Abercrombie; reassignment to U.S.S. Mormactern; escort of supply ships from Wellington, New Zealand to the South Pacific; life on board ship; post war civilian life.
Childhood, Lebanon, TN; family history, experiences during the Great Depression; ROTC; enlistment as aviation cadet, 1941; training at Camp Tullahoma OK., Fort Oglethorpe, GA., and Visalia, CA.; training with B-25 bombers at Greenville, SC.; trained by veterans of the Doolittle Raid; assigned to 70th Squadron, 13th Airforce, Pacific Theater; Henderson Field, Guadalcanal; bombing raids against Japan; encounter with a Japanese prisoner; Rabaul; supply runs to Australia; night raids; Russell Islands, Bougainville; Port Moresby; impressions of Australian airforce, interactions with island inhabitants; relationship to crew; supersitions among crew; V-J Day; return to United States; G.I. Bill; university; post war career.
Sam Smith (I)
Navajo Nation family history and growing up on the Reservation in the Gallup, NM and Cornfields, AZ communities; Educated at Ganado Mission School, Fort Wingate Indian School, Albuquerque Indian School; At age 17, enlisted in U.S. Marine Corps, April 3, 1943; Departure and homecoming ceremonies on the Reservation; Basic Training at San Diego; Camp Pendleton and Code Talkers school; 4th Signal Company, HQ Battalion, 4th Marine Division in the Pacific.
Sam Smith (II)
Navajo Code Talker and combat communications; Combat in the Marshall Islands, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima from January 1944 to March 1945; Post-war homecoming; Marries into Acoma tribe, builds first home; Various jobs—Santa Fe Railroad, Navajo water resources, heavy equipment foreman, Chief Ranger; Special Officer for FBI; Director of heavy equipment reconditioning center for Navajo Tribe; reunions; Windtalkers, the movie.
Born 1917, Newport, TN; childhood; impressions of Tennessee Valley Authority; Great Depression; tobacco farming; business school; Roanoke College, Salem, VA.; Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, SC.; school fraternities; enlistment as chaplain, 1942; Navy, training at Great Lakes Naval Center; promotion to lieutenant, junior grade; assignment to U.S.S. Sangamon; strafing attack, Philippines; duties as Chaplain; Sangamon hit by kamikaze at Okinawa, May 4, 1945; reassignment to U.S.S. Fall River; return to the United States; post war life.
Born, 1924, Athens, TN; childhood; enlistment in Marines, 1941; training San Diego, volunteered for Special Airborne Infantry; training; deployment to a Raider battalion, Second Marine Division; Tulagi, Tanambogo and Gavutu; Guadalcanal; discussion of jungle fighting and Raider tactics; interactions with locals in New Zealand; tensions between American and Commonwealth troops; Tarawa; instructor, jungle warfare school, Parris Island; VJ Day, efforts to run a veteran candidate in McMinn County, TN; tensions between veterans and police; Battle of Athens, TN; hired as a deputy with the Athens Sherriff’s Department; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and readjustment to civilian life.
Howard K. Williams
Pre-war life in Blackstone, VA; National Youth Administration school at Manassas 1941; Received exemption and sent to shipbuilding apprentice school at Newport News, VA1941; Stayed on at Newport News as civilian shipbuilder; Exemption ended, 1943; Enlisted in U.S. Navy, March 1944; Basic training, Bainbridge, MD; Further training at Gulfport, MS; Motor Machinist Mate, LCVPs [Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel]; More training, Oceanside, CA; USS LaGrange APA 124, January, 1945; Okinawa and adjacent islands; Kamikazes; Stayed in Navy until May of 1946; Postwar in VA, FL- drafting, 30 years with Bethlehem Steel estimating and sales; Retired to TN.