tv 101st Airborne in World War II CSPAN November 27, 2016 9:10pm-10:01pm EST
see four of the most recent arguments. click on the view all-league -- view all link. it will include one-on-one interviews with justices kagan, thomas and ginsburg. there is a calendar for this term. follow the supreme court at c-span.org. >> next on american history tv, colonel edward shame recalls his world war ii experiences. he tells the story of the screaming eagles jumping into normandy on d-day and the fight to capture kettler's eagles nest
-- hitler's eagles nest. the veteransd by center. incolonel edward shame began 1942. he was enlisted with the 101st airborne. he received a battlefield commission. he was transferred to easy company as a platoon commander. he has quite the sassy attitude. are you ready for that? it is and gentlemen, i give you colonel edward shame. [applause] let this guy for
you, my kitty cat did this to me about four months ago. incidentally, all of you familiar with battlefield commissions, probably not. people familiar with battlefield commissions wanted photo ops. they can put all the names in the cap. that was me. see, now you know. that was supposed to be funny. the american army almost lost a hitler's eagles nest. after we landed in normandy. if you noticed your programs for , you'll knowse
that they gave me a second 30 minutes to go from normandy to the eagles nest. i asked for 10 minutes, they said five, i settled for six. maybe they are trying to get rid of may. ofe had these types occasions all over my military career. we want to tell you about them. the very first day, i directed my reception. i knew absolutely nothing about anything pertaining to armory. nothing. some at the corporal flag me down. my first mission as a soldier, the first thing, that was before i received my uniform, they gave me a pair of white pants and an you don't have kp anymore.
i fixed the pastors. i left all of the eyes and the potatoes. i don't like to get mad but i do get even. i do recall that i was on duty for 14 straight hours. then i was assigned to i company, instead of being selected to become a rifleman when i would just carry in and .ne michael -- and one rifle i carry machine guns that weighed 28 pounds and then i had to carry the rifle on the other shoulder. lucky. incidentally, on the record, the regimen that went from atlanta to fort benning, georgia with a full combat load as if we were jumping from a plane into animate -- enemy territory.
i carried that machine gun and my rifle on one shoulder and then on the other shoulder, the m1. everything else that you would for 149use in combat miles for 3.5 days. don't doa record, they that anymore, that would not be put up with. it is still on record worldwide because no other idiots would attempt to do such a thing. my first promotion came in pfc'sry, 1943 from a origins and then in 10 days, i was promoted to staff sergeant. the operations sergeant of the battalion. incidentally, we knew people, getting way to go into service, the operation started when the toughestunit was the job in the army. i'm getting to the point of
blowing my own horn. my grandma had a word for this. after receiving a battlefield commission, i was assigned to the biggest, worthless truck that was ever made. the f -- s3 of us the battalion. i was given the command of elevation developed after normandy. a designated, president of -- residential platoon for the regimen. eyes and ears for the regimen. get was a job that would you guarantee to have your tail shot off in combat. at this lecture, what do i get? i'm behind one of the most famous citizens in the entire aited states, you heard him minute ago. the next one is the middle of honor winner. so they put me in the middle. now who is going to listen to me
? our grandma said that he who blows his own point is only making a lot of noise. my own point.low ladies and gentlemen, good morning to all of you. good morning. age, i am pushing 95. i've developed -- delighted to be anywhere that i know where i am. [laughter] [applause] >> what the hell was that for? incidentally, a case you have not heard on one of the original -- i am one of the original band of brothers. that is why i wear that cap. the gentleman here today we developed these caps have a lot of money. genuine yet he
and maybe 30 or 40 of them i believe. they have numbers in them and so forth and we have the honor that -- only three of us are still alive that are in original band of brothers. familiar,u are not the parachute infantry won the war, single-handedly. anybody who was an original member of that unit was a hero. these know that i am one of them. [laughter] [applause]
of you infatuated with the band of brothers, i have a proposition for you. i have developed a beautiful way to shine military shoes and for a few bucks, i will help you out in it. maybe we can get some people to join this corporation. see me after the thing. have you checked. if you're not familiar with the parachute regiment, the 506 regimen, is anybody, hands? not by chance or by design, there was a total of 15 combat companies within the regiment. not a single one was better.
we all had the exact training and the same quality of men. i was there. i know. i got into the regimen, i don't know. i felt through the cracks. it started as a experimental -- of the assessing subsidy. what made of the bibles is and what made it so great, it began volunteers with an iq minimum score of 110. at the time it was very good. you do to have peak physical condition and you need to be a little nuts as well. army men were able to join the unit. they had to teach us army.
they were selected from various rotc units and select facilities. they were very selective. there were no initial refinements. all volunteers, every single one of us. the training was so intense that at the end of 18 weeks of brutal , the army would allow us to go to perish in school. they had good men to begin with. the long marches, the first one made was 49 miles from to court, georgia. you have probably never heard of that.
that was the lungs once as the revolutionary war. had thosebattalion tattered uniforms. shiny boots, you always had shined boots. jumpuld listen to the school tell us that at least 40% of you people will not make it because you were too tough. the physical training of jump tough that 40% of you will be bumped up for you even start. then we began running. he said that is the first phase. the whole battalion started running. andwe ran for about an hour we looked around and we watch the guys in jump school pouring
off of them. sweatedthink we at once in the whole group because we had been feeding our present on the mountain for months. they stopped us and asked if we had enough. we looked at him like he was crazy. we thought we were just warming up, no as do some real running. they put it on us. things that you people have never heard of. people going to jump school and some of you who have never been to jump school. they have what they call a highbeam and they called it a fancy name. they tended to the highbeam and they called you up to 250 feet with a doing to paul. counted 123, when you counted three you're supposed to
call the rank and drop about 150 feet. straight down, you had to transfer that ring from one hand to another or you have to do it again. all of these funny things do ite he wanted to because the regular army said you cannot take people from and make super soldiers out of them and 18 weeks. it has ever been number four. -- it has never been done before. they didn't believe it until after. they didn't assign us to a division until six or eight weeks before the normandy invasion. we were assigned to the 101st airborne division. they were all waiting for us to fall on our faces. a historic 97% completed the program.
they received their solo jump wings. finally, we had advance parachute training. can call, if you know about it, is adjacent to north carolina. fort bragg, north carolina said they don't want to because they were losers. ward had gotten around. for betty said we don't need another loser. place calledthis georgia and we settled down there. no one had ever heard of it. it was an old ccc camp. it had been there for about 40 years. that is where we get our training. by that time, we were tough, we were very tough. they didn't know what to do with were not awe
sustainable unit, they thought. great forces red forces and blue forces. we cut the hell out of the regular army, anyway we could. i don't you if you have ever seen the dirty dozen movie pictures, they let these people in and they chopped up the regular army. that is what we did. they said get out of here and go back to fort bragg and get ready to go overseas. which we did. 1750nded in liverpool at in september, 1943. there were two dresser hassles dresssser insults -- rehearsals. were playknow we
acting we closed the door. we were told we were not going that day. we were told we were going the first week of may. they did that to throw the germans off so they would not know when we were coming or where we were coming. on the 20th of may, on the telly commander told me to pack for an overnight. he loved they because i knew my stuff and he was the finest soldiers, one of the finest bid kind -- other than my platoon sergeant. we followed a jeep in front of us went and asked to or as for supply officer. he -- npd paid -- and from the holders.
that evening, we were briefed. it was near ft. smith england. i could count number with a 25 enlisted men. the rest were military officers and if you civilians. i knew i was way out of my pay grade. any questions or anything. we were read the right act -- right act. i recognize that there were a lot of european countries. this was one time in my life that i get my big mouth completely shut. one after another, eight ranking officers with 15 foot corners outline missions.
one officer pointed out that bridges that we were to defend at the time, i had no clue that those bridges would be our objective. shown various regimental objectives at the briefing. the next morning, we drove back to raspberry. jeep and our supply officer was behind us. i wondered why. know that our driver was told to go no more than 35 miles per hour back to base. we had some important step in the jeep that i didn't know what it was. she was told not to stop anything until we reached our headquarters. april, then battalion was uncoupling for action.
-- on top alert for action. we did the same thing we were presented for. this time there were four people in the battalion that knew this was to be different. one of them was scared to death, me. writing about going into combat, the fact was that i knew all of this stuff. it was very frightening. we knew that that was the real thing. of may, we drove to the airfield, our previous staging area. twiceme one that we had before. my battalion commander had it made a that he had carried since fort smith. that all the info you need is in that case. you can build the best sand table that you had ever done.
that was one of our jobs. best for the job at hand. i took 18 men to build a sand table. he wanted it built at night. the engineers prepared a table , they got the map out and it was ready for us to go. all of this in a single huge tent. for sleeping cost for my section. timed to stay there with waiting for the actual time to get on a plane. the colonel told me to have the table ready. it would be by oh 700 and . this was about 11:00 at night when he handed me his briefcase. fourth,ight of june the we had planes ready to go into normandy. we were called off because of
horrible weather. you read about that. we waited another day and jumped into normandy on the fifth of june in the morning. and on d-day, the sixth of june. the man unfunny -- in front of decided to push the guys out of the plane with the plane went on. he slept. -- slipped. the parachute was left behind. before i got him out of the door, i jumped into where i had no clue but landed on top of a bunch of cows. cows. a milk plant. they started to move like heck.
i thought that was a good idea, i started to move with them. i thought it was a good way to keep out of that jam. if i had known we were there, i would have dropped dead right there. i found out that was about 10 minutes later. the boys said let's get over here right now. people.flag on the i voted it at all costs because it was shown on the photo up there was to engineers with armor.
there was scared the echo of may. when we got organized, we brought a demon to the objective. we stayed there for three days. that morning, i was received, i was told i would receive the mission at 4:00 in the morning. one in normandy, it was a big deal. later, we gave the landing forces room. we were trying to get them to the beach themselves. of june.was the 12th 1944. it was a hard-fought battle but we were successful. that same evening, and officers
call came for a briefing at 2200 hrs. i attend that meeting because i was told we would be in officer. in normandy to begin a battlefield commission. here comes the black cloud that i am here today on. at this briefing, our next mission was a kickoff at oh 400 that morning. the 13th of june, their day, 13th of june, 1944. that was my birthday. all i could see was june 13 and killed june 13. with my own radio operator. my assignment was to keep my eye across this whole thing and keep at company insight on my right flank.
incidentally, the germans also -- at 0400,t oh 402 they kicked us out of the beaches because there was nothing between us and them. we had our jobs cut out for us. we prevail. we stayed in normandy until the fifth of july, cleaning up. i don't know if you people were at the embassy last night, it was here. they had the hennessy people have a tasting. does anybody remember that? you people weren't invited.
i reminded those people that hennessy was a pretty good friend of mine. shovel to gop to back home to england, we came across the whole warehouse full of 55 gallon barrels of some stuff called hennessy cognac. of course, we were not used to what cognac was but we found it pretty quick. take threeowed to barrels back to england. one barrels for the officers and to barrels otherwise. they were big. we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. while we were in england, 80 2nd avenue, i think it still exists. leave to gon
anywhere in england because after we had fought in normandy, we got back to england. 35% ofd out that we lost our officers. also 35% of our men. excuse me, 35% of the officers. we had a hell of a flight back to england. i was not given a lead because there was commission there. they had the facilities. i had to wait around. i cannot go on leave. now let me change pages here.
operation market garden, has anybody heard of it? think?ter, do you normandy was for waiting for general bradley. was going toey come over and commission made as a follow-up because i was number one to be commissioned in normandy. because to discharge me you cannot become an officer the day that you, the same day that you were kicked out of the army. discharged rather, it had to be a day in between. i don't know if you knew that or not. that was the law then. or so they told me. they said the general brother was coming over. that was to check in every
morning to see a general bradley was coming. i did for two weeks. of course, i was waiting. i knew them well that general bradley wasn't going to leave normandy to commission me. weeks, theyr 2.5 said look, as do something. i am walking around, doing nothing. that was going to. that one always charged as for sergeant. some idiot came up with that idea about general bradley. after 10 days of waiting for nothing, they went to complain. he agreed, somebody was there. the next day, general taylor.
as a secondn made lieutenant in the regular army. timenly thing about that was that i had to leave. if any enlisted men became an officer for any reason, he would be removed from his division at once. out of the battalion, the regimen, out of the division. i found that the army was correct, it did not take me long. half of the officers hated me. ment 75% of the enlisted hated me. one day i was shooting crab with women tricking whiskey and the next day i was giving orders. i knew the skinny on every officer that we have in the regimen because i was in operation sergeant and i knew who the good ones were and who were the mediocre ones and who were the yellow ones.
we had yellow want as well. in fact, i had a couple of them. because i was such a valuable piece, such a valuable soldier, he requested the army to allow me to be retained in the 506. our very happy about that. valuable thanore any other men in the regimen, believe me. it never bothered me but the army was right about mixing officers and men. i received no money. i received money and transportation to get my officers here and return to duty as a second attempt. i look like a clown i came out of that tailor shop. had ashe same job that i a staff sergeant. as three in the second battalion to the drugs.
-- drunks. he stayed drunk 24/7. seriously, it was a very simple expedition. -- simple explanation. he had billions. him for 10 days. i couldn't handle it anymore. i went over the battalion commander's had because he told me to get out of his office. he needed me. i decided to see the kernel. hen i went to the kernel, was one of the finest soldiers ever born. him,od at attention from he said who give you parade rest? he knew i was there, he said you
sonk you are the meanest you?his outfit, don't i said no sir, i think i am the toughest son and this outfit. -- in this outfit. he wanted a leader. leader of the platoon of the regimen. couldd him i said, sir you make me a assistant but tune -- platoon leader? he said, don't you understand, you're going to be a platoon leader. you know i was very important.
i was very popular with the rest of the officers in that regimen. i am not kidding about that. i prevail. time?ning out of not yet? do you want to hold your hand up? on september 17, we were on the plane for holland at about 10:00 a.m. in the morning. in broad daylight, we were headed to holland. they were thousands of planes in the air that morning. but it planes, bombers and cargo planes. incidentally, the life or that bunch of trains was so long that when people were dropping in holland, the troopers were dropping in holland, it was still taking off in england.
there were so many. had 101st, 82nd, they had everybody jumping into holland. at first, they would say that that was a total loss. i asked the people that were enslaved by the germans were almost five years that they were freed by the 101st airborne division. they are still fantastically rageful and even today, they are grateful. accomplish theot total mission. the total mission was to cross the line and go to birdland -- early in -- go to berlin, germany.
it had two sections, the russians and the israelis. people thate only were in combat more than we were and holland. .e lost a great deal of men mostly because of the ways the british handled the entire operation. michael take was that with the intel that the british received from the dutch underground in august, it was enough for the breast to call off the entire operation. -- thedge will be brits british will be british. it cost them a whole army. my expert there is is that the british art expert planners but when it comes to executions, not so much. they are not nearly as forceful as we are. they must stop to have their teatime anywhere. i am not kidding about that.
i have seen that with my own eyes. we left holland a few days after thanksgiving in 1944. i remember the base giving dinner that we had. we had biscuits that tasted like sand. in edible. we were told we would be in france. up, weg of living it were in the heart of the champagne district. that it yet, only 80 miles from all of our dreams in paris. we thought we had died and gone to heaven. tax of cigarettes cost a nickel at the time. much, just all i
could. you think that is in heaven, what is? the icing on the cake is that we would get passes to paris. my name is one of the first offices on the list because i had not gone on leave. how about that? hot dog. it had that uses 411. we were told it will be set there until spring. almost two months from when we were there. the list was posted in paris. , it was lieutenant james. commander left at 0800 on 1944.
48 hours in paris. just the dayaid before and i had more money than i had ever had in me life. i was going to blow it all in paris. all that evening, before we go on the trucks, the radio was blaring. who the cares. let them take care of it. we were going to paris in the morning. ofs have another jug champagne. we loaded about 18 gis in one truck. the same amount and another truck. there were a lot of bottles of champagne that were for the trip. road, ouriles on the driver said to me, said sir, .here was a motorcycle
i said forget him. they like to joke with me because i am the young guy. that was a captive on a motorcycle. see what helet's go wants. i got out and he said the tenant, we have to turn this around at flank speed. i said what for? onbeing loaded as we speak vehicles and trucks. you have been alerted for combat. why would they send a captain out to turn us around on a motorcycle. he said that when they request the captain, we asked the same thing. a sovereign or a lieutenant, they told him to go to hell because he was headed to paris. they were right. ran, wetes later, we
got to camp, it was pandemonium. they said to grab your weapons and get on the track. the truck was out there waiting for us. we had to do that. there was a class a uniform tailor-made, never one before. that was on top of my coveralls. the only thing i had as far as close was a g.i. jacket. it was made out of cotton. that was the way i went into battle. most of my men with the same way. -- were the same way. did grab weapons. some of us did not have weapons. i had mine incidentally. i was the only officer to carry the m1 rifle.
officer, they an wanted me to turn it in. i said i began to turn this in. they said that his orders. i said to hell with orders, that is what i'm carrying. that is another story. all of the men had turned in their heavy stuff. we had no overtures whatsoever. had trucks with no cover. we were heading to where we did not know. a couple of the men had no weapons. we huddled together through the night. thought we sleet, we could ever get colder than we were. we thought. we got tout that when bastogne, that was a joy ride. as far as the weather was
concerned. finally, we unloaded. we got the trucks. coming through the woods on the road that we were on it was like a stampede in front of us. there were not hundreds of men, there were thousands coming through the woods. they were running, screaming. they said that they were going to get killed. they were running away from the wall. we were going that way, we were coming this way. i was ever more ashamed of the american army or anything else as what i saw that morning. never. we waited until the crowd had faded and when things had settled down, a jeep with the my battalion
commander came to my area. he walked up to my platoon, came up to me and said i want you to pick up a platoon and go through these woods. make contact with whatever is up there. we don't know. that was nothing unusual. i was my job. i was the platoon commander of the control platoon. i wanted to know if you wanted me to use a combat patrol or an observation patrol. i turned them all. aswere to observe and report soon as possible and that that now. he was waiting. at the time it was no big deal. and we got the call, we went. this was a job for the sergeant. i had several teams, different sergeants.
given that any officer would be with a team. my being the only officer in the platoon meant may. again, nothing unusual. they were my orders that an officer had to go on patrol. there was no such thing. it was time to get ready. we will wrapping it up. later, we reported back to the kernel. there were 19 hazard -- panzer tanks ready to go. days and wee for 29 the 101st1,300 of
airborne division. we held off 180,000 germans to prevent them from crossing into bastogne. they could have split the allies .nto those all we did it. that was the end of our war. that was the end of our fighting. we finally got to the eagles nest. i promised myn -- men that we would be to stop alone. we went into people's houses. they had suffered enough. when you got into germany, it was yours. when we got into the eagles nest, they took everything
except the wallpaper. they hit was the nickel. i hated myself because i went to and got somebinet hennessey cognac. ladies and gentlemen, i am delighted to be here this morning. thank you very much for listening, i hope you have learned something, god bless you and god bless america. thank you mr. roberts for allowing us to do what we are doing here and for many years. if it wasn't for you, they would not know who any of these other people were. thank you sir, again. [applause] [applause] >> sit down, sit down. [applause] [applause]
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