THE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER issue was brought to my attention by my sister, who recognized the cover photograph. It was taken just before 9 a.m. on June 15, 1944, on Saipan’s Charon Kanoa Beach. I was there, landing with the 2nd Platoon of G Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines, 4th Marine Division. Our commander, Lieutenant James Leary, was standing and shouting, “Get off the beach!” Before we could, a combat correspondent photographed us. On Saipan, 40 G Company men died—including Leary, and Windol Nightingale, kneeling at far right. I’m the other kneeling man, and I was wounded.
That photo is said to be the second most used Marine photo of the war, behind the flag raising at Iwo Jima. Our identities were unknown until a filmmaker thought he recognized Lieutenant Leary. I was his runner, so I would have been near him; I was sent a large copy of the image, and I also spotted myself and Nightingale by his rifle. The Parks Department confirmed our identities.
Fast Times at Stalag USA
“COMING TO A TOWN Near You” by Ronald H. Bailey reminded me of an incident I witnessed in spring 1943 when I was with the 7th Armored Division at Fort Benning, Georgia, guarding Afrika Korps POWs harvesting peanuts.
One day I accompanied my boss, Major Owen Woodruff, when he decided to drive out and observe the men of Command Company B who were doing guard duty at the various peanut farms. After we had parked our jeep in the shade, we watched a GI with a Thompson submachine gun slung over his shoulder, walking with 10 or 11 German prisoners along a dusty dirt road that ran between the farms. Soon a 7th Armored truck went by, then stopped for the POWs. The truck started rolling as the men climbed aboard— except for the guard, who had to run to catch up! When he finally caught the truck, he reached up—and handed his gun to a POW, while another helped him up.
Major Woodruff looked at me, smiled, and shrugged his shoulders. Those POWs weren’t going anywhere!
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MICH.
THE ARTICLE BY Ronald H. Bailey details the wonderful treatment that Nazi POWs received in hometown America. I remember my local newspaper reported how the POWs went to local dances and movies. At the same time, our African American soldiers in uniform were barred in many towns from the same movies or restaurants. In some cases, they were beaten and arrested by local authorities or attacked by thugs.
We were fighting for a double V in World War II: victory over fascism, and victory over racism.
BERRIEN SPRINGS, MICH.
THIS ARTICLE WAS intriguing to me, since I spent 22 months at Stalag Luft III.
Naturally the part about food was of interest—nothing like we were fed. If it hadn’t been for the American Red Cross food packages I would not have come home in fairly good health. We also did not have the use of a canteen, but did enjoy many of the same activities as the Germans thanks to the YMCA.
THE PULL-OUT MAP doesn’t show any POW camps in the far end of Long Island.
I was stationed at Camp Upton, and in the spring of 1945 there were indeed German prisoners located there. They were still there when the camp closed in 1946; some of them helped me move.
JOHN B. PRICE
SAN ANTONIO, TEX.
I RECOGNIZE THE “Challenge” patch in the September/October issue: it was issued to the Russian Liberation Army by the Nazis toward the end of the war.
I was born in Leningrad. My father, Gregory Zelenin, was a 17-year-old scout among the first Red Army troops to force the Svir River in the 1944 offensive against the Finns. That battleground happens to be mentioned in the same issue’s review of the Finnish assault gun model.
My father was twice a survivor, the second time during Stalin’s purges against the Jews in 1952. He just turned 87. He now lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and every morning he goes for a jog.
I WAS PLEASED to see the “Weapons Manual” on Independence-class aircraft carriers in the September/October issue.
I was in Torpedo Squadron 22, which went aboard the “Big I” in June 1943. We hit Marcus, Wake, Rabaul, and Tarawa. On November 20, 1943 we were attacked by 12“Betty”bombers.We splashed six, but we were hit by a torpedo. We lost 16 men. The Independence went to California for permanent repairs, and our air group was reassigned to the Cowpens (CVL-25).
S. H. GOODMAN
LEST YOUR READERS think that the Independence was the last CVL in service as of 1951: I was discharged from the USS Saipan (CVL-48) in May of 1956, having been its radio officer. The Saipan was still going strong as the training carrier at Pensacola.
FRANK X. KASEL JR.
MY SHIP, THE SAN JACINTO (CVL-30), wasn’t named, so I thought the best ship needs to be mentioned. I am a plank owner; I took her out, and brought her home.
EDWARD N. HAHNEMANN
AS A STEAM POWER plant operator/ engineer I quickly spotted an error: “oil fired boilers driving four Babcock & Wolcox turbines.” As a student of steam engineering and a former employee of B&W, I know they never made steam turbines: they make boilers, the finest in the world, according to Thomas Edison. The turbines used on the Independence were from General Electric.
LARRY J. MARSHALL
Originally published in the February 2013 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.