Category Archives: The Greatest Generation

Band of Brothers

Above is the source for this documentary.  This was not an easy find; one that doesn’t require a subscription, or downloading (thus risking malware).  Don’t change any settings;  just click on the appropriate chapter to view.  Chapter one in the menu autoplays after clicking on above link.  Clicking on the timeline approx 2.5 min past the start on succeeding chapters allows you to “cut to the chase” rather than going through the intro on each episode.

It’s been fifteen years since the documentary was first aired;  Two years ago, I made a post on “Wild Bill” Guarnere, one of several participating survivors, shown in interviews preceding the episodes, who has since passed on. Never forget them !


Freedom is not free… WW II Documentary

WW II in HD covers the personal accounts of twelve individuals throughout WW II including Jack Werner, and Shelby Westbrook.  Whom you say? From The Hollywood Reporter, dated 7/18/2011 by Mike Barnes:

“Jack C. Werner, a war hero and the father of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution president Ken Werner, died July 17 at the Encino home of his son. He was 93.

A native of Vienna, Werner escaped the Nazi takeover of Austria by walking over the Alps into Switzerland, then made his way to Paris and eventually New York in May 1939.

Werner enlisted in the U.S. Army in January 1941 in Los Angeles. He served in the 7th Infantry Division, 13th Combat Engineers of the H and S Company, receiving promotion from private to first sergeant. He participated in four major campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations: in Attu in May 1943; Kwajalein in February 1944; the initial invasion of Leyte Island in the Philippines; and, finally, in the first of three waves of the American forces invasion of Okinawa.

Werner was wounded during a counterattack by the Japanese in May 1945, evacuated home, discharged from the army on V-J Day in 1945 and awarded four battle stars, a Purple Heart and a Presidential Unit Citation.”         His complete obituary HERE

Shelby Westbrook was a Tuskegee Airman. [Useful information on these airmen not properly covered elsewhere is HERE .  His account is in episode seven of this series.

10-7-17    PLEASE notify me if the channel become inactive.

(the video pane will become blank instead of showing “WW II in HD” w/ an image)

I had to search several channels to obtain all episodes; # 4 was difficult to find [“copyright” which blocked several channels.]  Others had to be embedded instead of using the URL due to a weird fluke which would not show the appropriate part, substituting one on d-day.   My last update was 8-12-16.



Interview with Retired Brig. General Robert L. Scott – American World War II Ace Pilot and Hero

“The sun was going down now, even from our vantage point up there at twenty-five thousand, where Holloway and I were patrolling.  We called to the other ships to land, and as we saw them go into the Lufbery circle and the rat race that fighter pilots like to land from, Holloway rolled over and dove straight for the ground.  I started to roll with him–then I turned back for one more look at the setting sun.  Down on the earth, to those earthbound creatures, the sun was down.  There the shadows of the approaching night covered the ground, but up here I could see above the mountains, and the sun still shone on my fighter.  I pulled almost straight up in the steep climb that I like to make before diving home, and looked into the vivid blue of the Yunnan skies.  Some verses were running through my thoughts.  Against the drumming of the engine I heard my own voice repeating the words of another fighter pilot, John Magee, who has died with the RAF in the battle of Britain.”

“Up, up the long delirious burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark, or even eagle flew,

And while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untresspassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”


Their world was so far removed from the one I knew, when I first read a copy of God Is My Co-Pilot.  The world now, makes that time seem as if it were a distant dream; a reality the millennials, as they have been labeled,  couldn’t begin to understand.  I made this link to an online copy of Scott’s book; for your perusal. USE the magnifying glass symbol to turn the pages of the book. It is the second of many personal accounts I read, by people who have now “gone home”.  Scott passed away on Feb 27th, 2006, at age 97.  Below is an excerpt from the interview with him:

During World War II, Robert L. Scott’s name was synonymous with the U.S. Army Air Forces. Born in 1908 in Waynesboro, Georgia, and reared in nearby Macon, Scott developed a fascination for flying at the age of four when he saw his first airplane. He became famous in World War II for his daring exploits in China with Brigadier General Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers, and was dubbed ‘a one-man air force.’

Credited with shooting down 22 enemy aircraft, Scott was awarded three Silver Stars, three Distinguished Flying Crosses and five Air Medals. His fame was enhanced by his first of 12 books, God Is My Co-Pilot, which inspired a hit movie that still runs from time to time on television.

Today, at a very vigorous 87, Brig. Gen. Scott is national director of the board of the Museum of Aviation, in Warner Robins, Georgia. Founded in 1984, the museum displays 85 aircraft spanning the entire history of flight. Almost every day Scott can be found working in his office, which is full of memorabilia from his long and distinguished career, including a large tiger-skin rug with ferocious fangs on the floor in front of his desk. A tall, slender man, Scott answers questions about his World War II experiences with the zeal of a young boy recounting some adventure he just had.

WWII: During World War II your flying exploits were well-known nationwide. How did your interest in planes begin?

Scott: Mama said that when I was 4 she took me to Central City Park in Macon, Georgia, to see a demonstration of a plane flying. The flier’s name was Eugene B. Ely. He crashed and burned that day. I dragged my mother by the hand to see the dead pilot in the cockpit, and she said that from that day all I ever wanted to do was fly.

WWII: What other early adventures did you have?

Scott: I was in Scouting, and I wanted to get the aviation merit badge. The requirements included building a model plane that could fly 75 feet. Hell, I wanted to do more than that, so I made a glider large enough to hold a man. We tried to tow it with a Ford automobile, but the police ran me off the road, so I decided to try to fly it from some high point. There was a very large two-story house on Napier Avenue, in Macon, owned by Mrs. Bessie Napier. I asked her if my friends and I could fly my plane from the top of her house. She naturally thought that we were referring to some small, hand-held plane. We had to hoist it up on the roof with a pulley attached to a 4-by-4 we put on the roof. I jumped off the roof strapped in the plane and managed to fly about 40 feet before the main spar broke at the point where there was a knot in the pine 2-by-4 I had used. I fell down more than 60 feet into a Cherokee rose bush. I was picking thorns out of myself for days!

WWII: When did you get your first plane?

Scott: I bought it at the age of 13. They were auctioning off a number of World War I surplus Curtiss JN-4 Jennys, over near Americus, Georgia, and I bought one of them. As soon as the auctioning opened, I blurted out ’75 dollars,’ because that was all the money that I had, but I was outbid by several hundred dollars by a man in the back who continued to outbid me on other planes. Finally, he came up to me and said: ‘Look, kid. Buy your one plane for $75 and get on out of here. I’m buying for an airline.’ That’s how I came to own my first plane.

WWII: How did you learn to fly it?

Scott: I was taught by a local streetcar conductor — I’ve forgotten his name — who taught me in Central City Park, where the flier had been killed when I was 4.

WWII: You graduated from West Point, but it seems that you attended a little later in life than most cadets. Why was that?

Scott: I had not taken enough of the proper courses in high school to gain admission, so after several tries I went back to high school to take the necessary subjects, math mainly.

WWII: How did you get along with the other cadets?

Scott: I was popular with the upperclassmen because I could already fly and many wanted to learn. They would come to my room for flying lessons. We would put two straight-back chairs together, one in front of the other, pretending they were the seats in the cockpit of a plane. That was my classroom.

WWII: After graduation from West Point, you were admitted to the Army Air Corps. Where did you go for training?

Scott: I went to Randolph Field, Texas. My teacher was Robert H. Terrell, who taught us to take off and land into the wind. Truman H. Landon was another of my teachers. He later became a four-star general. He told me that I was too rough on the controls. You were expected to solo after only four hours of flying with an instructor. They only wanted men who had confidence in themselves. When they asked you so early if you thought you were ready to solo and you showed any hesitation, they washed you out. It was the screening process.

WWII: I expect you were an eager student.

Scott: Yes. I tried to anticipate what Lieutenant Landon would say even before he said it. Once I thought he said, ‘Dive.’ We were at a low altitude for diving, but I tried to please. As we went into the dive, he took the controls and brought us over the trees into a cotton field. He said to me, ‘Scott, what in blazes were you trying to do? I said, ‘Glide.”  Another time, he got out of the front seat with his parachute after a few rough landings, and I knew he thought I was good enough to do my first solo. Yet as he got out of the plane, he commented that he wasn’t going to let me kill him while I practiced. He told me that when returning I was to land as close to him as possible. I tried to do what he wanted. I could have landed right on top of him. Yet he threw his parachute down and ran. After I passed, I looked back and I thought I saw him waving. Waving your hand meant to come around again. I later learned that he was shaking his fist at me. I came around on him again and landed near the hangar about a mile from where I left him. He had to walk back. I later realized what I had done, but my ship had been taken by another student, so I couldn’t go get him. When he finally walked up, he said as he passed me, ‘It’s kinda hot out there.’ The next day after a lesson he took me down at the exact spot where I had left him the day before. He told me to get out of the plane and he would show me what he wanted me to do. He blew dust all over me taking off, and three times buzzed me, making me run like hell. Then he landed near me and taxied to the hangars, leaving me with the long, hot walk back with my parachute. The next day I soloed again, but this time I didn’t forget to go back and pick him up.

REMAINDER of this interview at:


“They fought two wars: One against the Nazis abroad; one against racism at home.”

In posts by Pacific Paratrooper, and IHRA, [International Historical Research Associates] I gain insight into many of the triumphs and tragedies that abounded in the Pacific Theater of WWII.  Pacific Paratrooper ends his posts with a section labeled “Farewell Salutes”.  Reading the names always causes a twinge of sadness; they represent the last group of those folks Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation”.

Here is another of those, one who had to “Fight to be able to fight” for his country; a fellow who flew bombers, not the fighters associated with Tuskegee Airmen. Indeed, JP; they all are due a Farewell Salute. From the Dana Point Times:

Mitch Higginbotham: Tuskegee Airman, Longtime DP Resident Dies at 94












WWII Tuskegee Airman and longtime Dana Point resident passed away on Feb. 14 in Rancho Mirage. Higginbotham proudly donned his red Tuskegee Airman jumpsuit for a 2010 interview with the Dana Point Times for a cover story written about him. Photo: Christina Scannapiego

By Andrea Swayne

Longtime Dana Point resident and World War II Tuskegee Airman, Mitchell “Mitch” Higginbotham, died on Sunday, Feb. 14 in Rancho Mirage. He was 94 and would have celebrated his 95th birthday on March 2.

A 16-year resident of The Fountains at Sea Bluff, the popular and civically active veteran moved to a nursing home in Rancho Mirage about two years ago to be closer to his brother Robert, also a Tuskegee Airman.

Mitch Higginbotham gets a visit at his Rancho Mirage nursing home from longtime Dana Point friend Willa Porter. Photo: Pete Hammer

Mitch Higginbotham enjoys a Feb. 8 visit at his Rancho Mirage nursing home from longtime Dana Point friend Willa Porter. Pete Hammer was also along for the visit and snapped this picture.

“Mitch was well-thought-of and highly-regarded by everyone here at The Fountains,” said Terry Brown, executive director at The Fountains. “He always had a moment for anybody who wanted to talk with him and would never hesitate to have an opinion on any topic, whether politics, the Lakers—which he loved—or his experiences during the war. He was missed from the moment he left Dana Point.”

As a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the United States’ first all-black aerial combat unit trained in Tuskegee, Ala. at the Tuskegee Institute Airfield, 2nd Lieutenant Higginbotham and his fellow airmen played an early role in breaking down the racial segregation of African Americans in the Armed Forces.

He was assigned to the 477th Bombardment Group (medium) and served in active duty from 1942 to 1946 and then in the reserves until 1962.

Higginbotham served as a consultant to movie director George Lucas for the 2011 movie, Red Tails, a historical fiction film telling the stories of Tuskegee Airmen. A 1995 HBO movie also chronicled the Red Tails’ story and was promoted with the tagline: “They fought two wars: One against the Nazis abroad/One against racism at home.”

WWII Tuskegee Airman and longtime Dana Point resident passed away on Feb. 14 in Rancho Mirage. Higginbotham proudly donned his red Tuskegee Airman jumpsuit for a 2010 interview with the Dana Point Times for a cover story written about him. Photo: Christina Scannapiego

WWII Tuskegee Airman and longtime Dana Point resident passed away on Feb. 14 in Rancho Mirage. Higginbotham proudly donned his red Tuskegee Airman jumpsuit for a 2010 interview with the Dana Point Times for a cover story written about him. Photo: Christina Scannapiego

Following WWII, Higginbotham earned a master’s degree in labor relations from the University of Colorado and then went to work at the Urban League of Pittsburg. He was also employed at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport before relocating to Los Angeles where he worked as an LA County probation officer until retirement.

“Mitch was a walking piece of history and a hero we in Dana Point were fortunate to have in our midst for so many years,” said friend Pete Hammer. “He will be sorely missed. May Mitch fly high with the angels and rest in peace—my hero.”

Higginbotham is survived by his brother Robert (also a Tuskegee Airman), sister-in-law Margaret and two nephews, Robert and Michael.

Higginbotham will be buried at the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial of the Greater Pittsburg Region in the Sewickley Cemetery in his hometown of Sewickley, Penn. Seven Tuskegee Airmen hailed from Sewickley. Higginbotham will be the first to be buried at the memorial. A formal Tuskegee Memorial service will be held there in May. A private memorial service will also be held in Rancho Mirage.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations in memory of Mitchell L. Higginbotham be made to the Tuskegee Airmen National Scholarship Fund, he and his brother helped found. For more information about the fund, call 213.742.9541 or visit .

To learn more about Higginbotham, see the 2010 cover story profile on Higginbotham below.   Note – This image can be read by clicking on it HERE

The article was commented on, and noted under the image.  X.














Ron Brewington

February 21, 2016 at 8:12 pm

Greetings…I’m Ron Brewington, a Tuskegee Airmen historian. While reading the article about the passing of Tuskegee Airman Mitch Higginbotham, I noted an error in paragraph 4, sentence 2 : “..was one of the 450 of the airmen, nicknamed Red Tails…” – Not true – Higginbotham was a twin bomber pilot, not a fighter pilot. There were 355, not 450, fighter pilots who served overseas in combat. Higginbotham was not one of those pilots, who were nicknamed “Red Tails.”

I also noted an error in paragraph 5: “He was assigned to the 477th Bomber Group…” – Not true – He was assigned to the 477th Bombardment (Medium) Group.

  • Dana Point Times

    February 22, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

    Thanks Ron.




PAN – William “Wild Bill” Guarnere has died at age 90, from the original Band of Brothers


William “Wild Bill” Guarnere has died at age 90, from the original Band of Brothers

Director     Posted by Darla Dawald, National Director on March 10, 2014

William “Wild Bill” Guarnere, one of the World War II veterans whose exploits were dramatized in the TV miniseries “Band of Brothers,” has died. He was 90.


His son, William Guarnere Jr., confirmed Sunday that his father died at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. Guarnere was rushed to the hospital early Saturday and died of a ruptured aneurysm early Saturday night.

The younger Guarnere told that like so many of his generation, “Wild Bill” didn’t talk about his service, even though he lost his leg in combat.

“All we knew was he lost his leg, and that was it,” William Guarnere Jr. said. “People knew more about (his service) than we did.”

The HBO miniseries, based on a book by Stephen Ambrose, followed the members of Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division from training in Georgia in 1942 through some of the war’s fiercest European battles through the war’s end in 1945.

Its producers included Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. Guarnere was portrayed by the actor Frank John Hughes.

Guarnere, whose combat exploits earned him his nickname, lost his leg while trying to help a wounded solider during the Battle of the Bulge. His commendations included the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.

Although he gained fame following the book and miniseries, Guarnere remained “the same person,” his son said. More at Fox News

Staff Sergeant William J. Guarnere (April 28, 1923 – March 8, 2014) was a former non-commissioned officer with Easy Company, 2ndBattalion506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army during World War II. Guarnere wrote Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends: Two WWII Paratroopers from the Original Band of Brothers Tell Their Story with Edward “Babe” Heffron and Robyn Post in 2007. Guarnere was portrayed in the 2001 HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Frank John Hughes.


William Guarnere was born in South PhiladelphiaPennsylvania on April 28, 1923,[2] the youngest of 10 children, to Joseph “Joe” and Augusta Guarnere, who were of Italian origin.[3] He joined the Citizens Military Training Camp (CMTC) program during the Great Depression. Guarnere’s mother told the government her son was 17 while he was, in fact, only 15. He spent three summers in the CMTC, which took four years to complete. His plan was, upon completion of training, to become an officer in the United States Army. Unfortunately, after his third year the program was canceled due to the pending war in Europe.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor and six months before graduation, Guarnere left South Philadelphia High School and went to work forBaldwin Locomotive Works, making Sherman tanks for the Army. This greatly upset his mother, because none of the other children had graduated from high school. In response, Guarnere switched to the night shift and returned to school, earning his diploma in 1941. Because of his job, he had an exemption from military service, but did not use it.[4]

On August 31, 1942 in his hometown,[5] Guarnere enlisted in the paratroops and started training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia.

Military service

Guarnere joined Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He made his first combat jump on D-Day as part of the Allied invasion of France.

Guarnere earned the nickname “Wild Bill” because of his reckless attitude towards the Germans. He was also nicknamed “Gonorrhea“, a play on the pronunciation of his last name, as seen in Band of Brothers. He displayed strong hatred for the Germans because one of his elder brothers, Henry, had been killed fighting the German Army in the Italian campaign at Monte Cassino.

Guarnere lived up to his “Wild Bill” nickname. A terror on the battlefield, he fiercely attacked the Germans with whom he came into contact. In the early morning hours of June 6, he joined up with Lieutenant Richard Winters and a few other men trying to reach their objective, to secure the small village of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and the exit of causeway number 2 leading up from the beach. As the group headed south, they heard a German supply platoon coming and took up an ambush position. Winters told the men to wait for his command to fire, but Guarnere was eager to avenge his brother and, thinking Winters might be a Quaker and hesitant to kill, opened fire first, killing most of the unit.[6]

Later, on the morning of June 6, he was also eager to join Richard Winters in assaulting a group of four 105 mm Howitzers at Brécourt Manor. Winters named Guarnere Second Platoon Sergeant as a group of about 11 or 12 men attacked a force of about 50. The attack led by Winters was later used as an example of how a small squad-sized group could attack a vastly larger force in a defensive position.[7]

Guarnere was wounded in mid-October 1944 while Easy Company was securing the line on “The Island” on the south side of the Rhine. As the sergeant of Second Platoon, he had to go up and down the line to check on and encourage his men, who were spread out over a distance of about a mile. While driving a motorcycle that he had stolen from a Dutch farmer across an open field, he was shot in the right leg by a sniper. The impact knocked him off the motorcycle, fractured his right tibia, and lodged some shrapnel in his right buttock. He was sent back to England on October 17.[8]

While recovering from injuries, he didn’t want to be assigned to another unit, so he put black shoe polish all over his cast, put his pants leg over the cast, and walked out of the hospital in severe pain. He was caught by an officer, court-martialed, demoted to private, and returned to the hospital. He told them he would just go AWOL again to rejoin Easy Company. The hospital kept him a week longer and then sent him back to the Netherlands to be with his outfit.[9][10]

He arrived at Mourmelon-le-Grand, just outside Reims, where the 101st was on R and R (rest and recuperation), about December 10, just before the company was sent to the Battle of the Bulge inBelgium, on December 16. Because the paperwork did not arrive from England about his court-martial and demotion, he was put back in his same position.[10]

While holding the line just up the hill south west of Foy, a massive artillery barrage hit the men in their position. Guarnere lost his right leg in the incoming barrage while trying to help his wounded friend Joe Toye (who could not get up because he had also lost his right leg). This injury ended Guarnere’s participation in the war.[11]

Guarnere received the Silver Star for combat during the Brecourt Manor Assault on D-Day, and was later decorated with two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, making him one of only two Easy Company members (the other being Lynn Compton) to be awarded the Silver Star throughout the duration of the war while a member of Easy Company. A third man, Gerald J. Loraine (27 March 1913—19 May 1976),[12][13] received the Silver Star for his participation on D-Day, but he was a member of Service Company, 506th, not a member of Company E.[citation needed]

In his autobiography, Beyond Band of Brothers; Memoirs of Major Richard WintersRichard Winters referred to Ronald Speirs and Guarnere as “natural killers”. In making those statements about both men, Winters expressed respect, not negativity.[14][15]


Medals and decorations

Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star
Bronze oak leaf cluster

Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster

Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster

Presidential Unit Citation with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Army Good Conduct ribbon.svg Good Conduct Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star

European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 service stars and arrowhead device
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal
Croix de guerre 1939-1945 with palm (France) - ribbon bar.png Croix de guerre with palm
French Liberation Medal ribbon.png French Liberation Medal
CombatInfantry.gif Combat Infantry Badge
Cp2j.jpg Parachutist Badge with 2 combat jump stars

Thank You Wild Bill for your service! May you rest in peace! 

Remembering: Charles Durning, US Army Ranger – D-day and WWII veteran dies at 89

Charles Durning, US Army Ranger – D-day and WWII veteran a true BAMF and ‘king of character actors,’  dies at 89

| December 25, 2012

Charles Durning joined the US Army when he was 17 years old, and during World War II he was seriously wounded by a mine and suffered severe bayonet wounds in hand-to-hand combat with Nazis. His unit was eventually defeated in Belgium by an SS Panzer unit, but Durning escaped and was spared the fate met by many of his friends — the infamous Malmedy massacre, in which German officer Joachim Peiper had over 100 American prisoners shot dead without warning as they stood in a field. On 6 June 1944, Durning was with Allied troops for the invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings. For his military service, he was awarded three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star. He later had a long career as a movie actor.

Durning’s impressive 50-year acting career has been crowned by a Tony Award and nominations for two Oscars and four Emmy awards, yet he never lost sight of his wartime experiences. In 1990, when he was making his Tony-winning star turn as Big Daddy in the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, he opened up in a People Magazine feature. “There’s only so much you can witness,” he said of his time overseas. Indeed, his war decorations were hard-earned. Durning was the only man to survive a machine gun ambush on Omaha Beach – and he had to rise above serious wounds and kill seven German gunners to do it.

In late June 1944, Charles was seriously wounded by a mine at Les Mare des Mares, France but refused to seek a military discharge and spent almost 6 months recovering .

Months later in Belgium, he was stabbed eight times by a German teenage soldier wielding a bayonet; Durning eventually bludgeoned him to death with a rock.  He was released from the hospital in time to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was taken prisoner. After escaping a subsequent massacre of the other prisoners, he was obliged by American forces to return to the scene and help identify bodies. Finally, a bullet in the chest a few months later ended his relentless tour of duty – and began four years of repeated hospitalizations for his physical and psychological injuries.

In an interview with Parade Magazine, Durning said of his initial post-war years, “I dropped into a void for almost a decade. The physical injuries heal first. It’s your mind that’s hard to heal.” And, as he points out, it’s not just a matter of what is done to you, but what you find yourself capable of doing. “There are many secrets in us, in the depths of our souls, that we don’t want anyone to know about. There’s terror and repulsion in us, horrifying things we keep secret. A lot of that is released through acting.”

Rest easy sir,  RLTW!