I am US Army Air Force Sergeant Joe Makowski. I first served in North Africa and Italy as a B-17 Flying Fortress crewmember in the 99th Bomber Group, Twelfth Air Force. After completing 52 missions with the 99th, I could have returned to the States but I volunteered to go to England and was assigned to the Eight Air Force. As a radio operator and often a gunner in a B-17, I saw the teamwork and dedication of the crews as we flew into defended target areas in Sicily and Italy. The German Luftwaffe fighter pilot was exceptional combat flyers and we knew our engagements would be deadly. However, my friend and fellow crewman, Staff Sergeant Ben Warme, shot down eight Messerschmitt fighters making him an "ace" just like our fighter pilots who shot down five or more enemy planes. I have been assigned to the Eight Air Force since January of '43 and am a member of the Headquarters Squadron. Our Commander is Lieutenant General Doolittle, the famous Tokyo Raider. This distinguished unit, with both fighters and bombers, carried the war to the enemy throughout Europe and destroyed Nazi support base and the Luftwaffe. The Eighth flew 10,631 missions, lost 4,145 aircraft, had 5,221 personnel killed and had 16,127 men wounded, or missing or taken prisoner before the end of the war in Europe in May 1945. Even with these losses, the airmen of the "Mighty Eighth" followed General Doolittle to the Pacific to intensify the strategic bombing of Japan and end that war too. However, that mission changed when our new President, Harry Truman, decided to use the Atomic Bomb which forced the Japanese to surrender. This really saved as many as 20 million lives, including Allied and Japanese troops and Japanese civilians. While the eight is staying in Okinawa and standing down, the General is back in Europe to restructure the forces for the post-war period. I am still with him as a high frequency (HF) radio operator. I have heard the General and his staff officers saying that a true peace is not at hand. As we stand down combat units here in Europe, we see Russia, now called the Soviet Union, as the next threat to freedom. They occupy about ? of Germany and are forcing the people to embrace communism. The shooting was is over but it appears another kind of nonshooting or "cold" war is just beginning.
I am Marine Sergeant Arno Wilhelm, US Marine Detachment on the battleship USS Missouri, "The Big Mo". Back in Waterloo, Iowa in 1942, my life changed. Just before Christmas, my family learned that five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo were killed in November in the Naval Battle at Guadalcanal. Their ship, the USS Juneau, was in a fierce naval battle when it was severely damaged by a torpedo, and had to withdraw. Later that day, as she was leaving the Solomon Islands' area, the Juneau was struck again by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine. The resulting explosions from her gun magazine split the cruiser in half and in less than 20 seconds she went down with her 550 crewmen. Eight days later only 10 survivors were rescued. All five brothers Frank, Joe, Matt, Al and George Sullivan perished. Their parents, Thomas and Alleta Sullivan, toured the country promoting war bonds asking Americans to support the war through the purchase of war bonds so that their sons did not die in vain. My mom was so moved that I was encouraged to enlist. I chose the Marines. After Boot Camp, I deployed to the Pacific. I landed on Tarawa on 21 November 1943. We Marines took the island in a four-day fight costing 3,000 causalities. I was lightly wounded twice. I was in the first wave of the 15 September 1944 landing on Peleliu Island. Heavy fighting ensued and organized resistance lasted until 26 November. I suffered a slight flesh wound during the landing and a week later I was evacuated to the Hospital Ship USS Samaritan with severe wounds. As, I healed up, the Marines were going to send me to the States and have me be a Drill Sergeant, A Chaplain worked on a deal for me. I was assigned to the BB-63 "Big Mo". Once aboard, I was part of the Admiral's guard detail. I heard more about the war as the offices talked. In spite of our successes, including victories at IWO Jima and Okinawa, the Japanese forces showed no sign of accepting defeat. Regular bombing of their homeland had no effect. The officers all chattered that our new president, Harry Truman, used a new type big bomb, the ATOMIC BOMB and leveled two cities: Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. After the atomic bombs were dropped, the Japanese surrendered here on the Missouri in Tokyo Bay. I wondered if the people could accept defeat and recover. Captain Baldwin was saying the Allies, as the occupying forces, had to assume the responsibilities of the government and slowly re-establish Japanese self-rule.